Scripture provides endless examples of how the presence of the Lord empowers his people to live for him. Take Moses, for example. He 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 stated boldly, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here” (Exodus 33:15). He was saying, “Lord, if you’re not with us, we are not going to make it. We will not go a single step without the assurance of your presence.”
God’s presence is what sets us apart from nonbelievers. The Old Testament is filled with accounts of great blessings that came to those who had God’s presence with them. For instance, God’s presence was so evident in Abraham’s life that even the heathen around him recognized the difference between their lives and his. The heathen king Abimelech said, “God is with you in all that you do” (Genesis 21:22).
God promised Joshua that no enemy could stand against him when his presence was with him: “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage” (Joshua 1:5-6). When God’s Spirit is present in your life, you can be a conqueror because you trust his promise to be with you in everything you do.
God shared with Isaiah a special promise he makes to those he loves: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine … I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior … Fear not, for I am with you” (Isaiah 43:1, 3, 5). With God’s presence abiding in you, you can go through any fire and not just survive, but be kept safe and protected through it all. Just as it was with Moses, Abraham and others, you have a powerful testimony of God’s presence in your life today.
“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:1).
“Let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God; yes, let them rejoice exceedingly” (Psalm 68:3).
“Let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You” (Psalm 5:11).
God is serious about wanting his children to serve him with joy and gladness — which is the result of one great foundational truth: we are under his protective wings! He does not want us to be defeated and downcast, living as unbelievers do.
The Bible abounds with the glorious stories of those who maintained joy through their trials — even when everyone else had given up. In one instance, all Israel murmured and complained except for two men of God, Joshua and Caleb. They never once wavered in their faith and joy, even though all those around them had given in to despair and defeat (see Numbers 13).
In another, three young Hebrew men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, leapt for joy as they declared, “We will serve our God with trust and gladness.” They rejoiced in the Lord, immovable in their faith, as they were miraculously delivered from the fiery furnace (see Daniel 3).
The apostle Paul said, “I am exceedingly joyful in all [my] tribulations” (2 Corinthians 7:4). Total trust in the Lord produces joy. Even today, the Lord has a people who will not bend. They lift up their heads through all their trials and glory in the Lord. They shine forth as beautiful examples of how the joy of the Lord is possible in any trial.
If your heart is right with God, you have every right to rejoice and be glad! Over and over God makes it clear that he yearns to be enjoyed by his children. Remember, “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
When the children of Israel were delivered from Egypt and they crossed over the Red Sea, their faith was at an all-time high. They sang, danced and shouted the praises of God for revealing his mighty arm of deliverance. “The Lord is my strength and song … your right hand, O Lord, has become glorious in power … the Lord shall reign forever and ever” (Exodus 15:2, 6, 18).
But the Israelites soon forgot his works and turned away from his guidance. They reverted to doubt and unbelief, and the heavenly Father was incredulous. “Now the glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle of meeting before all the children of Israel. Then the Lord said to Moses: ‘How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?’” (Numbers 14:10-11). What a profound cry from the heart of God: “What do I have to do to find a people who will fully trust me?”
Just as in Moses’ day, God’s people today trudge blindly on in unbelief, seeming to believe that the grace of God exempts them from the penalties of sin. But the Word makes it clear that even followers of Christ can possess a heart capable of unbelief, “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12). It is not talking of degenerates here; it is talking to believers. “Brothers, beware, because you could have a heart of unbelief — in you!”
The Scriptures say, “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (3:14). Some of God’s people today are losing the unwavering confidence they once had because of severe testing. Jesus warned of fiery trials of faith that would immediately precede his coming but do not fall back into fear and unbelief.
“Your faith [is] much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire” (1 Peter 1:7). Though you will go through trials do not allow your faith to be diminished by the fire. Instead, allow your faith to be purified. To be made holy. Endure the temporary hardship for an eternal blessing. The God you serve loves you and can be trusted to bring you through any test!
“In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).
Christians are growing further dissatisfied with the way things are in the world and in the church. These saints are saying, “God has something more for us! He is calling us to know him better and we want to walk in obedience to that call.” They are beginning to fast and pray in their quest for more spiritual depth.
When the Lord wants to touch you supernaturally, he will stir your nest. An inexplicable divine restlessness will come upon you and you will become disinterested in much of what you have been doing in life. All your accomplishments will leave you feeling empty and unfulfilled, and you will sense a deep, unmet need in your spirit.
The mark of this supernatural dealing is a hungry heart. Every waking hour your heart will reach out to him, and his thoughts will always be on your mind. God wants you to turn loose of the things of this world and find your completeness in him.
Is your soul hungry for more of the Holy Spirit in your life? Do you sense his call to a deeper walk with God? If so, end the war inside your heart by yielding everything to the Master. You can know true peace and happiness the moment you quit striving to acquire greater success or more “things” to satisfy your ego. Seek nothing but Jesus, and your life will take on new meaning. Anxiety will be gone, worldly ambition will die, and your spiritual eyes will be opened to truth.
When the Holy Spirit gives you revelation knowledge, you will experience true riches in Christ Jesus. You will awaken each morning with overflowing joy and your soul will cry out, “I have found what my soul has been longing for. Rest — beautiful rest in my Lord.”
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.
“For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:3-11).
The apostle Paul was writing to the Philippian church from a Roman prison. More than any other church, these believers had supported him in his ministry and they were very dear to him. Paul expressed his affection for them and his appreciation for their partnership. Also, he wanted to encourage them to keep their eyes on Jesus and trust God to complete the work he had begun in them.
Paul is a perfect example of one who goes through great suffering and keeps his faith in the power of God. Further down we read, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (4:13). Paul was sure of his own relationship with Jesus and knew that God would sustain him in his hours of greatest weakness.
Likewise, we have assurance that God sustains us when life seems unsustainable. That in our hours of greatest weakness we have a strength that is unmovable. We have a sincere hope—God is with us in our need.
When you walk through trials, be confident that God will sustain you. Furthermore, that he will complete in you one day the work begun in you. Keep your eyes on him.