If Thy Presence Go Not With Me

stone-trustConsider the following passage – paying close attention to Moses’ outright refusal to go any further without the LORD’s presence…

Exodus 33:12-23

12 And Moses said unto the LORD, See, thou sayest unto me, Bring up this people: and thou hast not let me know whom thou wilt send with me. Yet thou hast said, I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight. 13 Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. 14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. 15 And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. 16 For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.

17 And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. 18 And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory. 19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. 21 And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: 22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: 23 And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.

Taking that Next Step

Occasionally, I find myself in situations that push me beyond my comfort zone. Situations I personally feel inadequate to handle. Certainly, I understand the Lord is always with me, but the situations I’m describing are situations that will require a supernatural confirmation and reassurance. In reading the scripture above I learned I am not alone in feeling this way. Even after the mighty things God accomplished through Moses, he still needed the reassurance that the next step he was to take would be accompanied by the LORD. Moses realized early on, that there was not enough talent, skill, ability, charisma, or clout that could make up for not having the presence of God with him. Wouldn’t you think that past experience would have built up a certain level of confidence? Try as we may we can’t placate that feeling of being overwhelmed. The feeling that the next step we take is going require an extra level of certainty from the only ONE that can give it…God himself!

Dare I say, this present generation is at that junction. Our faith is being challenged. Our loved ones are under attack by sicknesses, some unto death. Our finances are in turmoil. Our economy, our way of life, our government, and dare I say our freedoms, are on the endangered list, if not experiencing outright extinction. If ever we needed that reassurance we need it now.

What About Trust?

But, all of this begs the question, “where does trust come in?” Surely Moses could have based his trust on past performance with God. He could have even based his trust on the Word of God. God continuously spoke to Moses, as a man speaks to his friend, face to face. How much more reassurance would you need? Perhaps this wasn’t about trust at all – maybe it was more about Moses’ willingness to stay put until he knew that God had called him to the next level.

Exodus 14:13-14 – And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will show to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. 14 The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

You see Moses learned, as we all should, that there are times that we must stand still! We mistake activity for productivity. Movement for progress. Busyness for business. Not so with God. If ever there was a time we need to stand still and see the hand of the LORD fight for HIS people it is today!

That’s not to say we should leave ourselves vulnerable or unprotected. Paul writes to the church at Ephesus, 10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:(Ephesians 6:12-14)

The Great Shaking

Hebrews 12:26-29Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29 For our God is a consuming fire.

There appears to be a shaking of sorts happening now! Globally our financial systems are in dire straits! Globally we are not only financially bankrupt, we are morally bankrupt! And as this world is shaking and reeling from the calamities it faces, this truly will be the time that the chaff will be separated from the wheat!

As Christians, we should echo the opening chorus in Psalms – 1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree plantedby the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. 4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

In Closing

And he (Moses) said unto him, “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.” Moses’ remarks were far from being rooted in distrust, uncertainty, and disbelief. They were essential to the direction of the nation of Israel – God’s chosen people. We should mirror this pattern in our lives as God’s Elect! Wherever I go the Presence of the LORD must be a pre-requisite! I never want to GO where the presence of the LORD hasn’t led me. I never want to BE where the presence of the LORD hasn’t directed me. I never want to know what it’s like not to have the presence of the LORD, not just WITH me, but INSIDE of me!

James bluntly states in chapter 4 verses 13-15:  Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

We are such a blessed people to have a God that cares about our future. In fact He not only cares about it…He’s creating it as you read this posting! Prayerfully consider your next step. It could be that God doesn’t want you to step at all – He may want you to stay!

21-Day Fast (Days 18-21) Feasting on the Fast

Scripture: Philippians 3:12-14

12Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Waiting on God

As I reflect over the past 21 days, I can’t help but criticize myself for my attitude during moments of the fast. I deliberately tried to absorb myself in the fast. Trying to glean as much as I could spiritually, while denying myself physically. I would catch myself though, wanting to hasten the fast. You know, “get it over with!” This was something of an endurance test to be sure, but I had a difficult time making the distinction of enduring the sacrifice, while enjoying it at the same time. If that’s too deep, let me say it like this. I have been known to “rush” things along in my life. Even as I type this, I’m in a hurry to get out how it is I’m feeling. Fasting forced me to wait. I had to wait out the hunger pangs (some people call them hunger pains…I see why). I had to wait on the presence of the Lord to sustain me. I couldn’t rush the clock, I wasn’t living meal to meal. When I would have loved to have been “waited on,” I was doing all the waiting on the Lord.

Don’t Dismiss the Fragments

There are many insights God has given me on this fast some of which will surface later. But when I took my first bite after the fast was over, it dawned on me how good each morsel of food tasted. Even the fragments, or crumbs that I would have ordinarily dismissed and shoveled into my mouth without thinking, tasted delicious. Part of the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5000 wasn’t JUST the fact that he fed 5000 men (plus women and children). Don’t forget, there were 12 baskets of fragments that were picked up AFTER everyone was fed. So, I’ve learned during the fast, that yes, the meals are wonderful, but don’t dismiss the fragment; smaller things that are still quite tasty and deserve to delight my spiritual taste buds. They too work to sustain me, and are deliberate blessings God intends for me. I shouldn’t dismiss them as inconsequential. I should scoop them up, and savor each blessing, no matter how small.

It’s Not Over

I will not be able to close the chapter on this fast for a long time. I thought once I had eaten, I would be able to say that I have arrived at the end of a journey. I can’t say that. In fact, not only is it NOT over, it’s just begun. Laying aside your flesh for several weeks like that can leave an indelible mark on you spiritually, if you allow it. I’m going to allow it.

Paul said he didn’t consider himself to have apprehended perfection, but he was still pressing. While at one time I thought the end of the fast meant the end of a journey. I now know today, as odd as this sounds, I’ll be feasting on the effects of this fast for a long time to come. This fast has set my journey off on the right trajectory for 2008. I’m going to forget all the failings, faults, and trials of 2007, and I’m going to do what Paul did…I’m going to press on toward perfection.

21-Day Fast (Day 17) When God Gets Quiet

Scripture: Psalms 139:7-10

7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

If you’ve lived for God very long, you’ve likely had a point in your walk where you just couldn’t feel God’s presence. Try as might, whatever it was that you equated with God’s presence just wasn’t there. Doubt is quick to creep in and discourage you from praying, or waiting any longer on God presence. The Reality is…the Lord never leaves us.

David

By the time David penned this Psalm, he more than likely had gone through a great deal of turmoil in his career as king of Israel. His personal failures and challenges to his authority brought with them some dark and dreary days for David. If ever there was a man prone to highs and lows in his life, David was the man. So, who better to remind us that regardless of whether we feel it or not, God’s divinely inspired word through David, tells us…God IS THERE!

Paul

More than qualified to weigh in on this issue, the Apostle Paul defines for us the boundaries of God’s love in Romans. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39). Essentially, there are no boundaries. So if you’re “feeling” like God no longer loves or cares about you, get your nose in the Book and remind yourself of this glorious promise!

In Closing

We don’t base our walk with God on emotions or feelings. This is a walk of faith. We are all prone to emotional peaks and valleys. But, you can be certain, God’s presence in our lives, nor His love for His people, will ever change.

How Do I Feel?

Hungry! Yes, hunger has returned with a vengeance, but I’m still committed to this fast. I have to say, even though I have been on this fast, I have had days where it was still hard to feel God’s presence in my life. But, if I based it on feelings though, I would have given up a long time ago. I know God’s there, and I know He hears my every prayer!