When preparing this message I felt God say, 'speak stillness - preach My presence'. So that got me started in unpacking exactly what His presence is and how we can experience it. You can listen to this message via the Thameside Church website.
We understand God’s presence most vividly when we experience the place without it.
Gen 4:4-14 The story of Cain and Able
God looked at Cain (his heart) and his offering (his gift) and wasn't pleased. This led to Cain, through anger and envy, murdering his brother Able. The blood of his brother Able then cried out to God - this was an evil sacrifice in God's eyes and therefore Cain was cast out of His presence.
Gen. 4:14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
Hidden from His presence - characteristics
• Restlessness - Suspicious of other people's intentions
• Insecurity – Cain tried to redeem himself from his wondering state by the activities of his own hand - building cities etc. How much of what we make and do are built over insecurity?
• Vengence – bringing retribution with your own hands. Gen 4:23-24 Lamech continued to live under the curse of Cain and a heart attitude of revenge increased in him. Out of God's presence we live in unforgiveness – 'Seventy Seven times he will avenge!'
Ps 16 King David was an old Covenant figure that foreshadowed the state we can all have as Christians of being in God's presence.
Found in His Presence – characteristics
• Satisfied – He has assigned me my portion
• Sustained and protected – He is before me, and at my right hand!
• Joyful – I like joy, but I like fullness better!
• Eternity secure – not afraid of death
• Knowing the path of life – The path of life is a path where His presence is. What helps keep you on that path?
Old Covenant encounters with God’s presence always involved sacrifice
New Covenant encounters with God always involve Jesus as God's mercy for us
1. Surrender: the encounter of His presence
• Rom 12 our acceptable act of Worship is Surrender
• Surrender is not doing nothing. It’s doing everything for a different reason
• John 15:5 To be grafted into the vine, our original source for life must be left behind. Without surrendering our individualism we cannot be united with Christ.
• Apart from Him I can do nothing – because I am not functioning from my old source of life - insecurity outside God's presence.
2. Worship: the language in His presence
• Rom 12 New English Translation (NET Bible) Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters,1 by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice—alive, holy, and pleasing to God2–which is your reasonable service.
• By becoming more aware of God in our daily lives and making mention of Him in our hearts before and after all we do, loving worship will become a natural language for our soul – Brother Laurence - The Practice of the presence of God
3. Mission: the action in His presence
• Our mission is Jesus’ mission. What are the attributes of God’s presence we see in Jesus?
• John 5 Jesus lived in relation to the father always - so for us to be near the father, we must be on mission with Jesus.
• John 15:9-15 No longer servants but friends – Servants are task driven, Friends are heart driven. Friends function from ‘presence’, Servants function from ‘commands’.
1 John 3:11-20
• Don’t be like Cain but like Able.
• As Jesus laid down his life…
Jude’s Doxology v24,25
To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.