LOOKING BACK ON THAT ‘ONE PARTICULAR MORNING’:
The week before the awakening of a particular Sunday Morning– after the pastor’s message, my wife and I headed towards the church parking lot. I found myself in a quandary. Why had his words fell flat in my hearing? I was feeling the pastor’s presentation was being directed to a younger generation; my age group was being totally ignored, disrespected and my feelings were hurt . The more I thought about it as I left that day, the more outraged and disenchanted I became.
On arriving at our car, I opened the passenger side of the car for my wife (yep, after 48 years of marriage…I still open doors), then went around to the driver’s side and sat quiet in thought, as my hands rested on the steering wheel and finding myself in a trance.
My wife asked if I was alright. My response was hesitant in the beginning, and then… the floodgates opened wide. I told her I was dismayed with the Sunday morning message…then proceeded giving her all the reasons why this young pastor had missed the boat; he was preaching to the wrong audience. Maybe it would be better to just skip this series of pastor’s messages. I also went on to ask, “And besides…What did we get out of worship this morning?” I’ll rephrased the question: “What did I…get out of worship this morning?”
— Needed counseling began that afternoon...
Later that day, by the prompting of the Spirit of God, I realized that I had entered a designated place… of PRAISE & WORSHIP– out of my own needs, my selfish motives, without even thinking why I was there in the first place–to give PRAISE to Who praise was due.
–the following Sunday morning.
So Holy Spirit urged me to go to church the following Sunday. I knew He had something in mind. I was to go with a blank slate and not… with a predetermined outcome. I reluctantly obeyed.
To my surprise, the pastor didn’t continue with his message from last week. He had the flu all week and was unable continue in his message series. Since our pastor also leads the music on Sunday mornings, I sang out with everything I had with voice and spirit– with my focus on who God is and the glory due His name. Not the glory due to pastor…nor to my feelings, but to God’s Presence.
And after the music and singing stopped in the sanctuary, with my hands raised and head bowed, I waited IN SILENCE until praise began to rise in the heart of the people. GUESS WHAT? God turned up!
— It’s not about me, it’s all about You Jesus…
One of my favorite worship songs is a song that comes out of this tune by Matt Redman’s HEART OF WORSHIP:
When the music fades and all is stripped away,
and I simply come, longing just to bring something that’s of worth, that will bless Your heart.
I bring You more than a song, for a song in itself is not what You have required, You search much deeper within, than the things appear, You’re looking into my heart.
I’m coming back to the heart of worship and its all about You Jesus.
I’m sorry Lord for the thing I’ve made it, cause its all about you, all about you Jesus.
It’s not our singing that brings a change in the Atmosphere, it is our PRAISE and WORSHIP!
EXPERIENCING GOD’S PRESENCE:
Even though God is OMNISCIENT…”the attribute by which God perfectly and eternally knows all things that can be known past, present and future” [NIV Bible Dictionary]–He can and does manifest His presence in a realistic way in a place or in the midst of His congregation. We have to look for it!
“But You are holy, O You Who dwell in [the holy place where] the praises of Israel [are offered]” (Psalm 22:3 AMP).
— When God shows up, the atmosphere changes! Things happen!
ASCRIBE TO the Lord, O sons of the mighty, Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in holy array.
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; The God of glory thunders, The Lord is over many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful, The voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord breaks cedars; Yes, the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. And He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, And Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord hews out flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; The Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord makes the deer to calve, And strips the forests bare, And in His temple everything says, “Glory!”
The Lord sat as King at the flood; Yes, the Lord sits as King forever. The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace (PSALM 29 NAS).
— When we release a sound of praise, the Earth must respond. God’s Voice is manifested!
When Israel was ordered by the Lord, into ranks and tribes…
When they crossed the Red Sea…
Whenever they moved forward and traveled on in their journey (Numbers 2)…
Whenever they went to war (Judges 1:1-2)…
Whenever they were called to stand before the Lord…
ONE TRIBE always took the lead position–JUDAH
JUDAH in the Hebrew means PRAISE. So what the Lord was saying, in asking the Tribe of Judah to take the lead role was…PRAISE always leads us into the things of God.
— God’s Presence isn’t just a place to visit:
And the Lord said, My Presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest (Exodus 33:14).
JUDAH must go first! PRAISE must go first in our lives as well!
— Our church
— Our Ministries
— Our cities
— Our Nation
“What are the benefits in The Presence?”
One of the first questions asked in a job offer are these words. We are living in a “benefit-oriented” society; everyone wanting to know, “What’s in it for me?”
We don’t seem to realize that we are missing out on a greater source of benefits coming from living and dwelling in the PRESENCE OF ALMIGHTY GOD.
EVERYTHING you could ever need or want can be found in THE PRESENCE of the Lord.
— Do you need healing today? You will find it in His Presence!
— Do you need provision today? You’ll find it in His Presence!
It’s so simple, yet many Christians are missing out on the powerful truth. It’s so amazing that many believers fail to exercise or practice God’s Presence.
Think about it. Everyday in making decisions, we say no to God’s offer of fellowship and choosing instead, filling our minds with TV, gossip and mindless recreation. Am I saying all of that is bad? Not at all. But if it takes or gets in the way of His Presence…you make the decision.
Results of Training and Practicing God’s Presence…
“TRAIN YOURSELF…For physical training is of some value, but godliness [practicing GOD’S PRESENCE] has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:8 NIV–and my words added in the brackets).
— The experiencing of God’s Presence is the consciousness of His presence.
“And the Lord said, My Presence shall go with you, and I will give you REST ” (Exodus 33:14).
God’s Presence isn’t just a place you visit…it moves with you wherever you go! In fact, Moses goes on to say to God, I’m not moving from this spot until Your Presence goes with me:
“And Moses said to the Lord, If Your Presence does not go with me, do not carry us up from here! ” (Exodus 33:15).
Can you imagine yourself saying tomorrow morning before your day begins, Lord…I’m not going to start my day without Your Presence going ahead of me!
Experiencing God’s Presence is the direct consciousness of God’s Presence in our lives. It’s not making God become present on Sunday morning’s Worship and Praise, but it’s becoming more aware of the Holy Presence that is here and now!
One of the ways, the most basic, most powerful in experiencing the Presence of God is through His Word. How?
“IN THE beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself” (John 1:1 AMP).
GOD AND HIS WORD ARE INSEPARABLE!
When you are in the presence of the Word, you are in the Presence of God.
Something powerful happens when you spend quality time in your Bible. Something happens to your heart; it feeds your spirit, changes you right where you are and continues to actively work in you, even after you close the Book and walk away.
— Benefits of Two Partners Found In God’s Presence:
“Glory and honour are in His presence…” (1 Chronicles 16:27 KJV).
GLORY – the God-kind, appears any time something promised in the Word is manifested [made visible] in the physical realm.
AN EXAMPLE: When HEALING, as promised in God’s Word (Scripture), comes into someones life, that’s GLORY!
Where can you go to see the GLORY of God manifested…made visible in your life? According to the above verse, when you enter into the Presence! THAT…is a definitive BENEFIT!
— GLORY HAS A PARTNER: HONOR
What kind of HONOR? The HONOR OF GOD.
 “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of [earth-born] man that You care for him?
 Yet You have made him but a little lower than God, and You have [crowned] him with GLORY and HONOR” (Psalm 8:4, 5 AMP).
SOME PRACTICAL STEPS IN “PRACTICING AWARENESS OF GOD’S PRESENCE”:
— What works for one, doesn’t mean it works for every one.
Being aware of God’s Presence is not some kind of formula. I haven’t spent much time before this blog-post, in analyzing what I do to be more aware. I like to think it’s a work in progress.
These are but a few STEPS that I practice:
STEP #1. Make sure my awareness is not required by anything or by anyone else. EX.: i’M NOT DRIVING A CAR, CROSSING A STREET, TALKING WITH SOME ONE ELSE–or, with myself for that matter :-). Nothing that requires my attention.
STEP #2. I always practice my awareness in a quiet place; where I am not likely to be interrupted.
AWARENESS and ATTENTION are fleeting,jumping from one thing to another; one thought to another. I wish some churches who initiate “fellowship time” right after Worship and Praise on Sunday mornings, would re-evaluate their practice.
So, a quiet place with few distractions works best for me.
STEP #3. I close my eyes. Visual stimuli are distracting for me. Maybe it’s is just my age :-). The fewer the distractions, the more aware I become.
STEP #4. I turn my attention away from the daily activities in my life. I turn my attention towards God’s Presence in the ‘right now’. I sometimes have to take a deep breath and relax. Then start praising God in the Spirit of Who He is! Giving thanks that God so loves us “that each of us is in God’s Presence.”
So What Works For You?
Use your own creativity. It may be that the awareness you might have is unique to you.
In closing, my responsibility is to be aware of God’s Presence. I don’t somehow conjure up God in doing magical things that might cause God to be present in the moment. That’s already done for me, and, I believe for all.
It is up to me to do something about this Presence–not the pastors–not the music team–not the congregation–to reap the benefits available of God’s Glory; healing, provision, etc.
The “ball is in my court”, as, I believe, it’s in yours. So let ‘JUDAH PRAISE’ lead out, and then start practicing–being aware–of God’s Presence in your life. And maybe one Sunday morning, the music will stop…and you too will be aware of His Presence manifested in your Tabernacle. It’s a work in progress for me and I hope it will for you.