Andrew Fountain - The Presence of God

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Full sermon notes - The Presence of God

  • I’ve heard it said that if you removed the parts of the Bible that deal with the presence of God, you would end up with the genealogies, Proverbs & Philemon, and maybe not even them!
  • I want to talk about God’s presence today.
    • Where is God right now? (don’t give answers right away)

Outline

  1. The Facts
    • Where is he present?
    • God’s Presence in the Old Testament
    • God’s Presence in the New Testament
  2. The Experience
    • Psalm 16

Where is God’s presence?

  • Omnipresent!
  • Nevertheless, the Bible speaks about God’s special presence.
  • Four levels at which God’s presence can operate.
  1. His presence everywhere (omnipresent)
  2. Intensified presence in a location
  3. & 4. A more specific kind of presence…

God’s Presence in the Old Testament

  • Genesis 3 (Just after Adam and Eve had been created.)
    1. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
  • Genesis 4 (When Cain had murdered his brother Abel.)
    1. Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden
  • Genesis 15:17 Abraham fell into a deep trance and the Lord appeared to him in the form of a smoking torch.

Old Testament cont’d

  • Geneis 28 (Jacob has a dream of a ladder from heaven to earth)
    1. He was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’
    • Jesus told Nathaniel in John 1:51 that the ladder is actually himself
  • Exodus 3 (Moses was in the desert and saw a burning bush)
    1. …God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
    2. Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”

Nation of Israel

  • Exodus 13 (God led Israel as they travelled)
    1. And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.
  • Exodus 33 (He promised to go with them)
    1. And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Tabernacle/Temple

  • Exodus 40 (Tabernacle «portable temple» completed)
    1. Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
    2. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
  • 2 Chronicles 5 (Temple itself completed by Solomon)
    1. …and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the Lord… the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud,
    2. so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.”

God’s Presence in the Psalms

  • Full of references (example of Psalm 16 later)

God’s Presence in the New Testament

  • God’s presence in the O.T. was nothing compared to what it was in the New
  • Jesus Christ came to dwell among us: Immanuel, God with us.
  • God’s presence in a greater measure than ever before
  • Is it possible to have God’s presence even closer than that? …than to be able to touch Jesus?
    • YES! promise of Spirit
    • God himself in our hearts
    • God’s glory takes up residence in us

John 14:15-23

  1. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
  2. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,
  3. even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
  4. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
  5. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.
  6. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

John 14:15-23 cont’d

  1. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
  2. Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?”
  3. Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

Reactions to God’s Presence

  • Old Testament
    • People were often afraid to start with—e.g. terror at Mount Sinai
    • But once people knew God’s grace, the terror was replaced with joy—e.g. King David
  • New Testament
    • Joy of Mary at Jesus’ feet
    • comfort to the disciples (and to Paul—2 Cor 1:3,4)
    • Paul and Silas in prison at midnight
    • There was still fear when the Apostles did mighty miracles

Four levels of God’s presence

  1. Omnipresent
  2. Old Covenant - External
  3. New Covenant God makes his home in us through the Spirit

When Gathered in Jesus’ Name

  • Special intensified presence
  • e.g. Matt 18:19-20
    1. “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
  • Experienced through the gifts of the Spirit, e.g. 1 Cor 14
  1. If, therefore, the whole church comes together…
  2. …if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all,
  3. the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.
  • This is experienced as we minister to one another through the gifts of the Spirit God has given to us.
    • prayer of faith
    • joining together singing and worshiping in his presence
    • giving prophetic words to each other
    • preaching & teaching
    • encouragement
    • wisdom and counsel as we share with each other
    • love, mercy & blessing as we serve each other

Outline

  1. The Facts
    • Where is he present?
    • God’s Presence in the Old Testament
    • God’s Presence in the New Testament
  2. The Experience
    • Psalm 16

2. The Experience

  • Is there any way we can sense that the Spirit is present with us?
  • How do we sense him?
  • Why do we so often not feel it?
  • Is there any way we can sense that the Spirit is present with us?
    • Very first recorded indoor meeting after Pentecost Acts 4:31
    • The building shook
  • How do we sense him?
    • Sometimes tangible events like the shaking, or a feeling in our body
    • but more commonly it is a spiritual sense
    • you don’t have to be a Christian—unbelievers can often sense the presence of the Spirit
      • and conversely, Christians (including me at one time) had trouble sensing
  • Why do we so often not feel it?
    • rush and hurry
    • wait on the Lord
    • You need to have a regular time with God set aside every day?
  • Here is a practical suggestion for how we can take steps to experiencing God’s presence:

Psalm 16:1-11 A miktam of David

1. Claim God as your only refuge and source of joy

Preserve me, O God,
      for in you I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
      I have no good apart from you.”

As for the saints in the land,
      they are the excellent ones,
            in whom is all my delight.

  • Remember your sins are washed away—don’t allow your guitly feelings (or Satan, the accuser: does he ever bother you?) to rob you of your joy.

2. Choose God, not sin

Their sorrows multiply:
      those who run after another god;

their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
      or take their names on my lips.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
      you hold my future secure.

  • Confess and repent of any Sin, and choose God instead.
  • Recognize the pressure around you to satisfy yourself in sin
  • Make an active choice to be satisfied in God.

3. Praise God with words of thankfulness

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

  • “Lines” are an image of the land grants, like saying “many good things have happened to me”

4. Quiet your mind

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
      in the night also my heart instructs me.

  • “wait” on the Lord. (Not “emptying” as in mysticism, but filling your mind with Christ.)
  • we come bustling into his presence, rattle off our list of requests & thanksgiving and then go.

5. Delight yourself in him

I have set the Lord always before me;
      because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

  • Having quieted your mind, you start to think about him and how secure you are in his love.

Therefore my heart is glad,
      and my whole being rejoices;
            my flesh also dwells secure.

For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
      or let your holy one see corruption.

  • As you think about him, allow the joy to well up in you.

6. Believe he is here and listening.

You make known to me the path of life;
      in your presence there is fullness of joy;
            at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

  • As David concludes the song he is filled with the joy of God’s presence.

7. Share

  • David shared by writing this song!
  • Share the effect of God’s presence (your gifts) with others and allow them to share with you

Experiencing God’s presence

  1. Claim God as your only refuge and source of joy
  2. Choose God, not sin
  3. Praise God with words of thankfulness
  4. Quiet your mind
  5. Set your mind on him & delight yourself in him
  6. Believe he is here and listening.
  7. Share it with others
  • How much is it worth to you?
  • is anything more valuable than God’s presence?
  • what would you give for it?
  • what would a bride give up for her husband’s presence?
  • God is here now!
    • think about it

Updated on 2011-10-25 by Andrew Fountain