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God's Presents or God's Presence
By Dr. Beverly Medley Jones
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Rated "G" by the Author.
This story should motivate us to ask ourselves why we want to know God.
God's Presents or God's Presence
"In Thy presence is fullness of joy...." (Psalm 16:11)
As a parent, I recall many times coming home and my children meeting me at the door. I've learned to expect one of two responses from them; either, "Mommy, you're home!" or "What did you bring me?" Of these two, which do you think gives me more joy? You guessed it! Like most parents, I want to hear that my boys are glad to see me before they start asking what I brought them. God feels exactly the same way. He wants His children to seek His presence, not just His presents.
Presents are gifts. God wants to bless His children, and He enjoys giving gifts. In Mathew 7:11, Jesus tells us, "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" It gives God pleasure to give us gifts -- His presents, but He more enjoys it when we want to seek His face -- His presence.
When we seek God's presents without seeking His presence, we shortchange ourselves. True, everybody likes to receive presents. Presents make us happy. The word "happy" means feeling contented pleasure. This feeling is based on what happens to us. Good things happen -- we're happy. Bad things happen -- we're unhappy. In this world, as good and bad happen every day, to depend on happiness would throw even the best of us onto an emotional roller coaster. God wants much more for us. He doesn't want us to be merely happy, which is temporary. He wants us to have joy, which is eternal. Joy is not dependent upon what happens, but on the assurance that God is with us, ordering our steps.
There are obstacles to enjoying the presence of God. Sin cuts off our awareness of God. After we've sinned, we're often afraid or ashamed to approach Him. But God says to us, "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1John 1:9). God is eager to restore fellowship with His children when we admit our sins and allow His Spirit to cleanse and renew us. We can again be welcomed into His presence and experience the joy of His goodness.
The distractions of life can also be obstacles to enjoying the presence of God. There is a myriad of legitimate duties to be performed in the course of a day. As believers, we must put forth extra effort to make time and find a quiet place to commune with God. Jesus teaches us in Matthew 6:6, "But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly."
Sometimes that secret place of prayer is hard to find. Daniel, when he was captive in Babylon, found a place to pray in his house and did not fail to go there and fellowship with God three times a day, even when there was a law against it (Daniel 6). Even in the face of death, Daniel was faithful to pray. God rewarded him with divine deliverance from the lion's den. We should be diligent to overcome the distractions and make time in our day to pray.
Fear or unbelief can keep us from recognizing God's presence. Sometimes, particularly during our most difficult times, we may not be sure God is listening or that He even wants to hear from us. But God's Word tells us quite the opposite. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16. God wants us to approach Him, just as parents want their children to come to them for the love, attention, and support they need.
How do we get into the presence of God? Praise! Psalm 22:3 tells us that God inhabits the praises of His people. Praise is reminding God who He is -- not as though He needs reminding, but we need reminding. This is not thanksgiving for what God does for us (although we are also thankful), but praise is acknowledging who He is. He is all powerful, all knowing, healer, provider, sovereign....He deserves praise for His strength, mercy, forgiveness, love, grace....When we enter into His presence through praising Him, we put ourselves in a position to receive "joy unspeakable and full of glory."
"Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty." (2 Corinthians 3:17). Living in God's presence allows us the freedom to walk in the destiny He has chosen for us. That also includes the presents -- the gifts of the Spirit and the abundant life that only come through relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Live a joy-filled life. Seek God's presence, and the presents will come.
Site: A Seat at the Master's Table
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