Anyone who sincerely seeks the abiding presence of the Lord will surely have it. “If you seek Him, He will be found by you” (2 Chronicles 15:2). The Hebrew word for “found” here is “matsa” which means “his presence coming forth to enable, to bless.” In short, this verse tells us, “Seek the Lord with all your heart and he will come to you with his presence. Indeed, his presence will be an almighty power that emanates from your life.”
God makes his covenant of grace with every believer — a covenant which is embodied in promises such as, “The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). “[Jesus] will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). He makes special promises to those who determine to seek him with all their hearts but this covenant is strictly conditional.
An unnamed prophet delivered a message to Eli, the high priest of Israel, who was backslidden at the time. The Lord had been warning him against sin and compromise but Eli had ignored all God’s words. This prophet said to Eli, “The Lord God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ But now the Lord says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed’” (1 Samuel 2:30).
The phrase “lightly esteemed’ has to do with the lifting of God’s presence — not that the person is damned but rather that he will have to walk in the power of his own flesh. God was telling Eli, “I intended to bless your house, to favor you, but you scorned me so I must take my presence from you.”
Many people come to Christ with an initial burst of great faith, yet over time their zeal wanes and they begin to neglect Christ. They lightly esteem his commands and turn back to their old ways. God never stops loving them, but his presence is not with them in the fullness that they once experienced.
God's promises never fail. But some - like the covenant of his presence - are absolutely conditional. They require more than merely our cooperation. Of course, God will never abandon us or stop loving us. But if we remain in sin, his presence will not be with us - and our lives will no longer be an instrument of his powerful presence.
Beloved, seek him with all your heart, and desire his presence in your daily life. Then you will know and experience the incredible glory of God!
Resigning yourself into God’s care is an act of faith. It’s easy for Christians to say in a general way, “The Lord’s will be done,” but it’s another matter entirely for us to resign ourselves into the Lord’s hands about a specific circumstance. In the Bible when someone approached this walk of self-resignation, it was done with great seriousness of thought.
Merely saying the words, “I trust the Lord completely,” isn’t sufficient to prove that we have total trust in him. It must be a free and willing surrender. Consider Egypt’s Pharaoh: Only when he couldn’t hold out against God’s plagues any longer did he resign to let Israel take their wilderness journey toward the Promised Land (see Exodus 12:29-32).
Likewise, many people living today have said, “I give in, I commit, I trust,” only after they have seen no other way out of their situation. But true resignation, the kind that pleases God, is done willingly, prior to our coming to our wit’s end. We are to act in covenant with the Lord, giving him a blank check and letting him fill it in.
God will accept no less than our all. If we resign our lives to him only half-heartedly, with any kind of reservation, we are as guilty as Ananias and Sapphira. They pretended to give their all to the Lord, but in reality they held back a part and they paid with their lives (see Acts 5:1-11). There can be no deals or restrictions placed on our Lord.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him” (Psalm 62:8).
Although the psalmist says we’re to trust in God at all times, our pride always makes us want to keep control of our lives. It is surprising how stubborn and willful we can be. Our surrender to him — in our thoughts, our actions, our desires — is by nature a daily, ongoing work.
We are reminded, “The just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). How reassuring to know that as we reach to him in faith, our Master will carry us through all hardships and natural impossibilities.
Moses was convinced that without God’s presence in his life, it was useless for him to attempt anything. When he spoke face to face with the Lord, he said, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here” (Exodus 33:15). He was saying, “Lord, if your presence is not with me, then I’m not going anywhere. I won’t take a single step unless I’m assured that you’re beside me!”
Moses knew that God’s presence in Israel was what set the people apart from all other nations. And the same is true in the church of Jesus Christ today. The only thing that sets us apart from nonbelievers is God’s presence — leading us, guiding us, working his will in and through us.
Moses was not concerned about how other nations received their guidance, formed their strategies, ran their governments or directed their armies. His philosophy was, “We operate on one principle alone. The only way for us to be guided or governed, to make war and survive in this wasteland, is to have the presence of God with us!”
God answered Moses’ bold statement in this way: “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (33:14). What an incredible promise! The Hebrew word for “rest” here means “a comfortable, quiet repose.” God is saying, “No matter what enemies or trials you face, you’ll always be able to find a quiet rest in me.”
A church body that has God’s presence in its midst will live, move and worship in a quiet confidence in the Lord at all times. The same is true for every individual Christian. If you have the presence of Jesus in your life, you will experience God’s divine order. You’ll have a peace and a calm, with no fretting or anxiety, no running to and fro seeking guidance, no sense that the bottom is falling out. What a wonderful way to live!
Consider what “normal” Christianity looks like today in the typical believer. This person is a bit self-seeking, a little materialistic, somewhat consumerist. Most of his daily choices are about improving his life. That includes his spiritual pursuits; from his church groups to the podcasts he downloads to the seminars he attends.
There’s nothing wrong with any of these things. Our Lord wants our lives to be blessed. But for some Christians these are nothing more than worldly pursuits. They’re about self-improvement, not the kingdom of God. And they can drain a believer of true gospel power.
Whatever happened to a life of total surrender to Jesus? What happened to being willing to lay down our lives for the gospel’s sake? Paul said of his own testimony, “My speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4). If we aren’t living a life empowered by God, we can’t blame the Lord. It isn’t because his grace lacks power. The problem is with us.
It is vital that the hearts of Christians be truly prepared to deal with hard things in life. Paul said, “Understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless … not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
Paul is speaking here of dedicated churchgoers but describes them as having only a form of godliness. He says further that these Christians were “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (3:7). When Paul said in verse one that times of difficulty would come in the last days, he makes it clear that “normal” Christianity won’t be sustainable. Hard times reveal the condition of our hearts and God wants us to be filled with Holy Spirit power.
Are you hearing God’s Word preached but not walking out what you hear? If you want to see his power released in your life anew today, determine in your heart that you are going to pursue God with intensity and follow him with total dedication.
When we walk in the Spirit, when the Holy Spirit controls us, he produces joy in our lives just as he produces love. Luke described Jesus as “full of joy through the Holy Spirit” (Luke 10:21). All joy comes from the Holy Spirit. We can’t manufacture it, call it up, or make it happen on our own.
Many of us walk around with scars that no one can see, but Jesus says that we don’t have to lose our joy when life is painful or when people act ugly toward us. Joy isn’t promised only to those with the least pain in their lives. Joy is for everyone willing to be controlled by the Spirit. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven” (Luke 6:22-23). To suggest that past suffering somehow gives us the right to be joyless is just one way to avoid the truth.
Even Jesus knew what sorrow was, and he knew what it was to weep. Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be a man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3), and that prophecy certainly came true. He suffered both on the cross and off the cross as he was mocked, beaten, and humiliated. But that is only half the picture.
In Hebrews we learn that God anointed Jesus with the oil of joy (1:9). Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and as we saw in Luke 10:21 above, Jesus was full of joy through the Holy Spirit. So Jesus was a man of sorrows who bore the cross, yet he was anointed with joy. And his joy, like ours, came from the Holy Spirit. To truly understand Jesus, we can’t see him only as a mournful Savior but we must balance that with the truth that he was filled with joy and spent much of his time rejoicing.
The basis of spiritual joy is in our never-changing relationship with Christ. We “rejoice in the Lord” (Philippians 3:1) by remembering and claiming all the benefits he has provided now, and in the hereafter.
Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.