His Presence/My Strength

Matthew 28:20 [widescreen]

Have you ever had that experience when you keep seeing the same thing over again, and wonder if maybe someone is trying to tell you something?

For some reason, everything I’ve been reading lately has been coming back around to the fact of God’s presence with His people.

Last weekend I led a Bible study on the life of Gideon. If you’ll remember when the Lord called Gideon to service, God said, “Go in the strength that you have.”  Gideon quickly replies that he is not a mighty man, nor does he come from a strong family; how could he possibly deliver Israel? Then the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man” (Judges 6:16). It was the presence of the Lord that was Gideon’s strength in service.

Again, tonight I led a study on the story of Joshua at the battle of Jericho. Not much of a battle. All Israel was called to do was march around the city for 6 days, and on the 7 day, march around the city 7 times; blowing their trumpets as they marched.  I’m not sure that this tactic has been repeated in battle since.

What then was the source of victory of Israel. It was the presence of the Lord.  As they marched around the city, the ark of the covenant was carried in the midst of the people, reminding them that the Lord was with them with every step. Joshua 6:27 reminds us, “So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land” (Joshua 6:27).

Then I was reading with a church member the passage from Ephesians 6 on the armor of God.  Having already been thinking about the importance of God’s presence, this verse at the beginning of the reading jumped out at me: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Ephesians 6:10).

It is in the presence of God in our lives that our strength lies. This is the wonder of Jesus’ promise, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Finally, I’ll leave you with this from A.W. Tozer that I came across today:

The spiritual giants of old were those who at some time became acutely conscious of the presence of God. They maintained that consciousness for the rest of their lives. How otherwise can the saints and prophets be explained? How otherwise can we account for the amazing power for good they have exercised over countless generations? Is it not that indeed they had become friends of God? Is it not that they walked in conscious communion with the real Presence and addressed their prayers to God with the artless conviction that they were truly addressing Someone actually there? Let me say it again, for certainly it is no secret: we do God more honor in believing what He has said about Himself and coming boldly to His throne of grace than by hiding in a self-conscious humility! Those unlikely men chosen by our Lord as His closest disciples might well have hesitated to claim friendship with Christ. But Jesus said to them, “You are my friends!”

He concluded with the verse: “Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence” (Psalm 140:13).


Presence more than Program

Still thinking about worship this week, and I came across this gem from A.W. Tozer that I thought I would pass along.

The fast-paced, highly spiced, entertaining service of today may be a beautiful example of masterful programing – but it is not a Christian service. The two are leagues apart in almost every essential. About the only thing they have in common is the presence of a number of persons in one room. There the similarity ends and the glaring dissimilarities begin.

Whether it be a communion service, morning worship, evangelistic meeting, prayer meeting, or any other kind of true Christian gathering the center of attention will always be Christ. “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mat. 18:20)… Never do the disciples use gimmicks to attract crowds. They count on the power of the Spirit to see them through all the way. They gear their activities to Christ and are content to win or lose along with Him. The notion that they should set up a “programed” affair and use Jesus as a kind of sponsor never so much as entered their heads. To them Christ was everything. To them He was the object around which all revolved; He was, as He still is, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end… Christ was everything in the minds of those first believers and that mighty fact dictated not only their conduct but their inner attitudes as well. Their mood, their demeanor, their expectations sprang out of their childlike conviction that Jesus was in the midst of them as Lord of creation, Head of the Church and High Priest of their profession.

The point we make here is that in our times the program has been substituted for the Presence. The program rather than the Lord of glory is the center of attraction. So the most popular gospel church in any city is likely to be the one that offers the most interesting program; that is, the church that can present the most and best features for the enjoyment of the public. These features are programed so as to keep everything moving and everybody expectant.

We’ll do our churches a lot of good if we each one seek to cultivate the blessed Presence in our services. If we make Christ the supreme and constant object of devotion the program will take its place as a gentle aid to order in the public worship of God. If we fail to do this the program will finally obscure the Light entirely. And no church can afford that.

Tozer, A.W. The Root of the Righteous (Harrisburg, PA; Christian Pub, Inc., 1995) Pg. 92-96.