Have you ever had a great time of Bible reading and prayer in the morning and then by 10:30 am you felt like you were already spiritually empty? Just a few hours after you experienced the sweet presence of Jesus it already felt like a distant memory. In this post I want to look at a Spiritual Discipline I call “practicing His presence” and how it can stir up our love and affection for Jesus. It by no means replaces being in the Word, prayer, or other healthy spiritual disciplines, but I think this “habit of the mind” is just as vital to our overall spiritual health. Being overwhelmed by God will lead us to constantly practice his continual presence. So what we are going to do is look at two foundational truths from Psalm 139 and then see how we can practice His presence.
Foundational Truth #1 – God Knows You
Psalm 139:1-6 LORD, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; you understand my thoughts from far away. You observe my travels and my rest; you are aware of all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you know all about it, LORD. You have encircled me; you have placed your hand on me. This wondrous knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it.
If we have any small thoughts of God, this Psalm smashes them. Yet for all its deep truths, it’s intensely personal. Don’t file under “doctrinal truths that I agree with.” Let the truth grip your heart and cause you to worship.
Isaiah 43:1b Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine.
God says “I know you when you feel good and when you feel bad. I know the parts of your life that you love to show and the parts you try to hide. When you feel lost and confused, I know what’s going on inside you, and I love you! God knows you better than you know yourself and he calls you his own.
Charles Spurgeon said after he read this passage “I cannot grasp it. I can hardly endure to think of it. The theme overwhelms me. I am amazed and astounded at it. Such knowledge not only surpasses my comprehension, but even my imagination.” God knows you. Now let’s look at verses 7-12 for the next foundational truth.
God knows you.Tweet
Psalm 139:7-12 Where can I go to escape your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I live at the eastern horizon or settle at the western limits, even there your hand will lead me; your right hand will hold on to me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will be night” — even the darkness is not dark to you. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to you.
Foundational Truth #2 – God Is With You
Whether we realize it or not we are as near to God as our soul is to our body. When we believe this sin loses its temptation, we gain courage and a satisfied spirit. This realization should lead us to worship. Check out the experience Jacob had in Genesis 28.
Genesis 28:16, 18-19 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” Early in the morning Jacob took the stone that was near his head and set it up as a marker. He poured oil on top of it and named the place Bethel, though previously the city was named Luz.
Once Jacob realized He was in the presence of God he worshipped. Jesus gave us this promise as he left earth.
Matthew 28:20b And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
God is in all places, at all times, and nothing can keep him from being with his children. But if we are honest, we don’t always experience his presence. We aren’t always aware of his presence. There are seasons when we become neglectful of God and give him no thought. There are times when we allow him to go unperceived as great and beautiful and valuable by the eyes of our hearts. His face — the brightness of his personal character — is hidden behind the curtain of our old nature and old, carnal desires. That is why we are told to “seek his presence continually.” (Psalm 105:4)
The face of God is a metaphor for His presence. And we are to seek it. Not because God is lost. But because we are neglectful. So, how do we practice His presence?
How To Practice His Presence
Regularly remind yourself that God is with you
This is true because of God’s grace and we experience it by faith. Regularly remind yourself of the first 2 foundational truths we just looked at. Renew your mind in those truths.
Make margin in your schedule to be wowed by God
Often times we put the burden of being wowed by God on external experiences. We put it on preaching, music, or some other experience. But God calls us too, by faith, be wowed by him again and again. He calls us to “let our heart rejoice.” Scripture makes it very clear that this is a conscious choice we must make. This is a conscious choice to direct our hearts toward God.
Psalm 4:4, Psalm 34:1, Psalm 105:3
Let everything in life be “arrows” that point you back to God
1 Timothy 6:17 – Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
John Piper said “Seeking God is the conscious effort to get through the natural means to God Himself.”
Here are a few things that can serve as “arrows” to point you back to God.
Creation – Psalm 19:1, People – 2 Corinthians 7:5-7, Trials and difficulties – James 1:2-4, The fact that you are alive – Psalm 118:24
Every year we as a family have a “thanksgiving pumpkin.” For the month of October and November, we write on one pumpkin all the things we are thankful for. Somethings are big, like the Gospel, or your family. Other things we put on it are small and fun, like our favorite movies. It has been a great way we practice this idea of letting everything in life point us back to God. Every time you see something good, let it point you back to the one who created it for you to enjoy.
Let everything in life be “arrows” that point you back to God.Tweet
Remind yourself of all that He has done for you
When we take the time to remind ourselves about all that He has done for us. Next time you are driving somewhere, instead of stewing about everything wrong in your life, think about everything that God has done for you. Keep lists of answered prayers and read them on a regular basis.
Now, you may be thinking, but what about the times when I need to focus on something? I can’t go to work and daydream all day. That’s not very helpful. Much of our days are filled up with things we need to focus on and think about. I want you to picture two bookends in your mind. Let’s say you are at work and you have to consciously focus on the task at hand. The first bookend is prayer. So before you begin the task you pray something like this:
“God, since you are with me, and I need to, in order to obey you, focus on this (whatever it is), I ask that you grant me the grace and faith to continue in your presence; and that You bless me with your assistance, receive all my works, and possess all my affections.”
Then, the last bookend is thanksgiving. So once you have completed your task thank God like this:
“God thank you for being with me while I did what you called me to do. Thank you for giving me the ability to perform it.”
Those are the two “bookends.” And in the middle? There is genuine faith and often times even enjoyment of whatever God has called you to do.
The way the world tries to communicate this idea is by saying “Stop and smell the roses.” It’s not bad advice. But I like what God says is in Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know me!” Constantly practice his continual presence.
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