If you have been around Calvary at all, you know that I often say something like this, “what we need, what we should yearn for is the presence of God in our lives. We ought to make finding the Lord’s presence a top priority because if the Lord shows up, everything changes”. This statement is born out of my own journey and experience. It is when I have been in the presence of God that my life has dramatically changed.
Recently, I received this email question from a wonderful leader at Calvary about the language I use and asking for clarification.
Hi Pastor Ron,
I wanted to raise my hand in service today and ask a question 🙂 …can you elaborate on what you mean by “when God shows up”? I (we) might be looking for Him to show up in the wrong places. At first I was viewing this statement in a literal sense; trusting and waiting for God to show up to settle the chaos in our lives. Now I’m wondering if you’re meaning a deeper/non tangible, level.
So, what do I mean when I say that we need God to show up? What is the presence of the Lord and why should we seek it? So this is my aim in this blog post: first, I want to prove that we need to make seeking the Lord a priority; secondly, I want to show the good that can come from it; and third, I want to show you what are the signs that God is drawing near you. My aim is one: to show how the presence of the Lord in your life changes everything.
You Are Commanded To Seek The Lord
There is no doubt that the bible wants us to seek his presence:
Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! (1 Ch 16:11)
You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.” (Ps 27:8)
But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Dt 4:29)
The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. (La 3:25)
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Mt 6:33).
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Lk 11:9–13)
So, based on these various biblical examples, I think you will agree with me that seeking the Lord is a priority. I want to draw one logical conclusion from the scriptures above before I move on: these Scriptures above are to the people of God; this means that it must possible to be a follower of God and not live in the presence of God as described in these texts. This is an important point because these texts are not speaking about salvation. It is true that we are saved through the presence of the Lord but it is quite possible to be saved but not in the presence of the Lord in the way described above. The reason I want to point this out is because I want you to know two things:
- there is to be seeking as a Christian; salvation is not the end; it is just the beginning of a seeking-kind-of-life.
- there is a quality of life available to you that is eternal in quality. But God doesn’t just give it to you. You must seek it.
Why Seeking The Lord is A Great Idea
I looked at the scriptures above and pulled the numerous reasons why the bible commends seeking the Lord. Consider these:
-If you want strength, seek his presence.
– If you want intimacy, seek his presence–“Seek my face” is a command to be in intimate communion with God.
-If you want to know the goodness of God, the Bible tells us to seek his face.
– If you need life change or circumstance change, seek his face–The kingdom of God that Jesus calls us to seek is the manifest (made real) reality of God among us. The Kingdom of God is the goodness of God made real for his people (one just needs to read the gospel and read what happens wherever Jesus went–the lame walk, the blind see, the hungry are fed–this is the Kingdom of God.
So, seeking the Lord is a command and is the pathway to much good. One would be hard pressed to find something more good for a Christian than seeking the presence of God through Christ in one’s life.
But there is a final question, how do we know that the Lord has drawn near to us?
The Signs that God Has Drawn Near Us.
Ok, we know that the presence of God is something we are commanded to seek, and there is good in the seeking but how do we know that He is near us? Below are some of the biblical and historical signs of the presence of God in your life (For more, consider reading Martin Lloyd’s book on Revivals):
- A sense of your own sinfulness, God’s holiness, a desire for repentance and an experience Christ’s sweet mercy. In John 16, Jesus says he will send the Spirit who will convict us of our sin and point us to Jesus (glorify him). This is not just a one time event at conversion but a way of life–a cruciform life. When God draws near, you realize that your most righteous deeds are, “as filthy rags” and you can do nothing to clean up the mess of your life. Then in the same breath you come to realize that Jesus alone is your hope and righteousness. It is not just an abstract understanding of atonement but an experience of it in one’s life. When this is happening, God is drawing near.
- There will be power and you will have supernatural results in your life. Wherever the presence of God breaks through, supernatural things happen–healings, fear of the Lord, insight, amazing results, and the list could go on and on. The overwhelming testimony of Scriptures is that when God shows up things change. People change; circumstances change; eternities change; things change! So, if amazing things are happening in your midst, God has drawn near.
- Transformation. If your inner life begins to be transformed, if you begin to take on the character of Jesus’ life in your life, then God has drawn near. The most profound mark of God’s nearness as it relates to our character is being a people of love. When you are more loving–a servant over a consumer–God has drawn near.
- A season of dryness and trial. When Jesus was filled with God’s presence (the Holy Spirit) that very presence took him into the wilderness for a season of testing and trial… It is where the enemy spoke. It was a season of weakness. Though Christ is unique and his victory secure, our times of trials and troubles are specifically allowed and designed by the Spirit so that we can grow and mature… This is why Paul says we can rejoice in our trials in Romans 5 because the end of such suffering is our hope and joy. When trials are happening, God has drawn near.
- Worship. When you want to make your life about his fame then God has drawn near. When you want to lay down your life so that His cause will be forwarded then God has drawn near. Worship is the clearest sign of God’s nearness; it is the only response of the people of God when he draws near. If you ache to worship, then God has drawn near.
One final, important point: the presence of God is Not primarily a feeling. I think this is where we get confused. We are looking for some kind of emotional experience. Now, this might happen (it sometimes happened in the Bible) but this is really secondary to the signs I marked above. Some people have emotional experiences and none of the above is evidenced… This means whatever happened to them was not the presence of God drawing near. Other people have no emotional experience but these fruits of God’s presence are present…. This means that God has drawn near.
Conclusion With A Prayer
The presence of God is to be sought; there is good in it and the signs that God is near are obvious.
I hope this helps.
I guess I will close simply with a prayer. It is my prayer that we would seek the Lord. More than anything I want us to experience the life that comes from him alone.
This should be our aim, vocation and one desire as followers of Jesus. The good news in the midst of The Good News is that if we seek the Lord, he will reveal himself to us; then, everything will change.