Becoming Aware of the Presence of God
Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland
22 July, 2007 AM BBC Ballincollig
May 1, 2016 PM BBC Ballincollig
I. Introduction (Hebrews 13:5,6)
A. We have invented all kinds of sensors these days: radar, sonar, heat sensors, temperature sensors, motion sensors, light sensors, rain sensors – these are things can sense faint starlight in telescopes, faint winds, faint echoes of enemy airplanes at vast distances, etc
B. But too many have no way of sensing the presence of God. Believe me, God is present – it is sensing Him that is our problem!
1. Does He REALLY promise to never leave us?
2. Why don’t we feel Him more?
3. How Can We Become More Aware of His Presence?
4. What’s it like when He is Near?
D. Young David had trouble sensing God’s presence
1. Psalm 10:1 Why standest thou afar off, O LORD? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?
2. But most of the time had the right awareness (Psalm 139:1-13)
a. 139:1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.
b. 2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
c. 3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
d. 4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.
e. 5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
f. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
g. 7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
h. 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
i. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
j. 10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
k. 11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
l. 12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
m. 13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.
E. Job had a real hard time with handling it (Job 23:8-12)
1. Job 23:8 Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him:
2. Job 23:9 On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him:
3. Job 23:10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
4. Job 23:11 My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined.
5. Job 23:12 Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.
6. But in the end, he spoke as if face to face with GOD (Job 38:1-4)
F. You and I are in good company!
II. Message - Experiencing The Presence of God Today – Part 1
A. The Promise of Christ’s Presence (Hebrews 13:5,6)
1. God’s Presence was Lost at First (Gen 1:26-28; 3:8)
a. God and His creation were together at first – no divisions at all! All of creation had it good!
b. Adam and Eve knew only the presence of God – never knew what it meant to be without God in all their thoughts, and in every aspect of their daily lives – every aspect!
c. Then Satan drove a wedge between mankind and God (Gen 3:8) – a gap the size of this universe! Now all of creation groans because of the separation
2. But THANKFULLY, God wanted us back! He seeks to be with us, and for us to want to be with Him (2Co 6:16)! Not just to be with good people, but us rebels (Psa 68:18), and the harlots, and publicans, and ALL sinners.
3. God is not far from anyone (Act 17:27) That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
4. God’s Presence was Typified (shown) THROUGHOUT the Old Testament
a. Mount Sinai (Psalm 68:8) – awesome, fearful, VERY real!
b. Cloud by Day and Fire by Night during the travels through the Wilderness to the promised Land (Ex 23:20-22) – THE Angel of the Lord (Ps 34:7)
c. The Holy Spirit would come and go on people’s lives – as on Samson, Saul, David (Psalm 51:10,11)
d. Fire filling the Tabernacle and the Temple – the glory of His presence (Ex 33:7-11)
5. God promised that one day, He would dwell with His people, personally and permanently, by the efforts of the Messiah (2Cor 6:16)
B. The Problems with that Presence (John 1:10,11)
1. He is already near and therefore easily taken for granted. That’s why the atheist does not find God
2. He can be missed – go unnoticed
a. He can be in our lives and we not notice Him (kind of scary to think that we can miss the Almighty God in our midst)!
b. He was not overpowering when He was here – He is not overpowering now either
c. People misunderstand the goodness, and quietness of God - mistake His grace and kindness and patience, for absence!
d. Jesus, as the Man, was missed by so many people because they had the wrong expectations of Him – wanted a Genie, a King, but not a Saviour!
3. He really is not wanted. By nature, we don’t want Him around – anymore than we want our little brother, or our big brother around! (Psalm 14:1)
a. The wicked wish that there were no God; he practically believes that there is none.
b. Psalm 14 expresses the prevailing feelings of a sinner about God:
1) He wishes there were none, and practically believes that there is none – he has a secret wish to have no dependence upon him
2) He doesn’t want to recognize his dependence upon any being;
3) He doesn’t want to confess that he himself is a sinner in trouble with God;
4) He doesn’t want to pray;
5) He doesn’t want to seek aid of God, in the business of life, in the pursuit of his plans, or even in sickness and affliction
6) He doesn’t want to accept to the terms of reconciliation and salvation proposed by God, unwilling to repent, to believe, to submit to His sovereignty, to acknowledge his indebtedness to mere grace for the hope of eternal life.
4. He is by nature, against us, and we against Him (Gal 5:17; James 4:4)
a. His very nature upsets us, rubs us the wrong way! As a preacher once declared, TURN THE CAT AROUND!
b. He is the very opposite of what we like, and want – He is holy
1) Wicked people will not seek after God - they live without prayer, and they live without God.
2) They have many thoughts, many projects and devices, but no seeking to God in any of them, no submission to His will nor aim at his glory.
3) Men will not seek after God because they think they have no need of him, their own hands are sufficient for them; they think it a thing below them to be “religious”.
4) Self-Sufficiency, not thinking we need God (PRIDE) sends most people to a devil’s hell!
5. When we DO want His presence, our sin that we hold onto, blocks Him (Isa 59:1,2)
6. When you DON’T sense God’s presence (like king Saul), THAT should be all the warning you need to get alone and get right with God!
C. The Person of that Presence (Matthew 1:23) is Jesus! The Jesus of the Bible! Not the Jesus of your own imagination, or of the modern church, or of the movies!
1. Not just a spiritual “force” or feeling, but a real Person! Physically here! (1John 1:1,2)
a. Just as REAL as your wife, your husband, your child, your parent
b. Their presence gives a feeling, but take note of their PRESENCE before looking for a feeling!
2. His name is “Emmanuel” - Jesus is “God With Us!”
3. He was here, 2,000 years ago, but not known (John 1:10, 30,31)
4. He grew up as a tender plant among people (Isaiah 52:1,2) – He was not immune to pain, and troubles
5. He was actually, physically present with mankind for 33 and 1/2 years
6. Then He had to physically leave – why?
a. He was only in one place at a time
b. So He HAD to leave – so that He could be with everyone, no matter where they would be. He came to prove He wants to be with us, and then He left physically so that He actually COULD be with us, in in our hearts, and in our spirit (Eph 3:17; Rom 8:9)!
c. His ascension would allow Him to be present everywhere in the Person of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16; 16:7; 14:23)
III. Conclusion - How Can We Become More Aware of His Presence?
A. Pray always – That is your signal to Him, that you are seeking HIM! He is in the place of prayer (Proverbs 8:17), not of work! To sense God (who is a spiritual being), you must be in spirit yourself (praying) – (Rev 1:10)
B. Listen to Him speak from His own words – you will have “fellowship” with him (1John 1:1-4). Take the time to read and listen! He will show up!
C. There are six more things to do…
D. Next Week!
E. Until then, I will give you this one last Scripture… Jeremiah 29:13