Presence...Or His Existence?
By Andy Zoppelt
We are either living our lives based on God's presence or based on His existence. God showed me some time ago that I acknowledged His existence in my daily walk, but ignored His presence. There were many things in my life I was free to do because I saw God in terms of a vague existence rather than a presence in my life. I began to realize I did not recognize His actual presence as I went through the day. My decisions proved that; I would do things I would not have done if He were present. If we ignore His presence, can we benefit in His relationship with us? Are we living in His presence or His existence?
A practical example:
some time ago I was driving down the road at about 80 miles an hour and the Lord said, "Would you be speeding if I were sitting in the car next to you?" I answered, "No." He then said, "You are willing to accept my existence, while denying my presence." It became clear to me what He was saying. I had no problem defending and acknowledging the existence of God and believing in Him personally, but to acknowledge His presence could hinder my sovereignty, my freedom. if we are truly living in His presence, wouldn't we be doing those things that please Him and not our selves?
I was keeping my relationship with God in a protected position, where He was welcome to be my Savior, but not positioned in my life to be my Lord. I had areas of desire which excluded Him and areas which included Him. Jesus didn't call me to watch TV, but I watched it anyway.
If you would have asked me, I would have told you that I loved the Lord and served Him with all my being. But if this were true, then why was I willing to do things that were displeasing Him? What belief system, what attitude and what knowledge permitted this action? Surely if God were present, I wouldn't say and do most of these things. What permitted me to think I loved God while denying His presence?
Some answers we hear are: "The devil made me do it." "I guess
I am too weak." "I tried, but have always failed." "My parents raised me wrong."
"I had no parents." "I was an abused child." But these excuses are but a license to continue to sin and yet believe we still love Jesus.
In the church we experience very little of the real presence of God that convicts and brings about continual change.
What result is the presence of God having on our lives? Is it because we don't have the presence of God as Lord in the church?
We live in His existence, but not in His presence. We have denied His presence and have been content living by our own understanding. We are content with the
"idea" we are His, but not really recognizing or fully accepting His authority over us.
If God seems far away when a sick person needs to be healed or a brother in bondage needs deliverance, what does this tell us?
"Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them." Luke 5:17
Why do we experience so little of God's presence to heal? Is it not because of the order and priority in which we direct our lives?
A member of our fellowship gave an example that illustrates this principle. He said he was driving down the road one day and as he looked in his rear view mirror, he saw a police officer following him. Well, he checked his speed, his seat belt; used the proper turn signals, lane changes and made sure he wasn't speeding through any
"yellow" lights. The presence of the officer caused him to conduct himself differently and be more diligent in following the law.
Though this seems like a funny story, it is rather a sad one. It shows we live our lives without being aware of His presence.
I once counseled an addicted smoker and listened to his complaints that he couldn't stop smoking. I asked him a simple question,
"would you quit smoking if I gave you 50 million dollars?" Well, he smiled, and I know you know his response. He was willing to do for money what he was unwilling to do for God. If he was standing before Jesus at judgement day, would he light up a cigarette?
Why are we so willing to acknowledge His existence while keeping a distance from His presence?
Could the following verse be addressed to us also?
"For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with the hearts and turn, So that I should heal them." Matt 13:15
Many think they are there. The Pharisees, teachers, priest and elders of Jesus' times were absolutely convinced they were the children of Abraham. But evidence proved otherwise. Why didn't the evidence cause them to admit their condition and seek His presence? Why didn't they experience, on a regular basis, the healing power of God? Why is dying more the rule than healing? We may be producing the deepest teachings, but we lack life, power and His presence. How long are we going to be satisfied to live without His presence? I am not referring to the goose bumps we got from the last thrilling teaching, but the cry for repentance and the unwillingness to move without His presence.
Some years ago I met a man from China. He said something that shocked me. He said,
"When I come to the churches in America, I do not see the presence of God. You
handle the affairs of God rather well without God's presence. If God were in
your meetings, you would see many healings."
We speak of a personal relationship with God, but how personal is He when we do things without His presence.
We often look for His presence in an emotion or in some elevated way or situation. We talk of meetings where we felt His presence. But when we turn the TV on or are in a hurry to get somewhere, why do we ignore His presence? If we acknowledge His presence, we are faced with His authority.
Being a Christian and knowing God exists poses no threat; we can keep Him as God without making Him relevant to how and why we live.
The only way we are going to be able to be a part of God's remnant, is to be a part of His presence. The only way we are going to have His presence is to walk in His presence every moment and in every decision we make. The only way the world is going to acknowledge that we are God's children is to have His presence with us.
I am worn out with good teaching without power. I am worn out with being on God's cutting edge, while my blade is so dull it cannot cut the saints free from demon oppression.
Until we recognize the missing ingredient in our lives, we will not seek it.
"And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover..... And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen." Mark 16:16-18, 20
I would recommend you read "Power vs. Form"
There are many scriptures that reveal the significance of walking in His presence. Exodus 33 is probably my favorite, but certainly not the only one. I recommend you read it.
We must recognize that it is the Lord's work and life we are dependant on to direct us. It is not our responsibility. Many of us get caught in the burden of our children and their salvation. We get under the burden of our finances, our marriage, and our job. We worry and plead to God to deliver us. But would we have such worry if He were standing next to us or if we saw we were seated with Him in Heavenly places as it says in Colossians 3?
The reality of His presence has not affected us to the point where we have turned everything over to Him.
The disciples were told to wait for the power of God before they did anything. (Lk 24:29) The book of Acts is filled with the power and presence of God. Without the presence of God we, like the early followers of Christ, have no power.
Our lives must be more than need-oriented; our lives must be His leading us. For the church leader, His leadership cannot be replaced with good ideas, good programs or a bunch of good biblical things to do. It matters little how biblical our works are if the hand of God is not leading. So it is with raising our kids or paying our bills. We must totally rely on Him and acknowledge we are not standing alone. Waiting under the situation brings worry, but waiting under the shadow of the wings of the Almighty brings peace. We too often live under the shadow of the situation rather than in the presence of God.
We can still be faithful and responsible to His word, but we must rely on His presence.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him
(His presence), and He shall direct your paths." Prov 3:5-6
We don't have time for successful agendas, and just "good" teaching. No, we need His presence.
The next move of God will be a move of His presence and men and women who are lead by Him. It will be men and women filled with life and with His authority. It will be men with a prophetic word, a power and presence that will cause the world to stand up and take notice. It will be a power and presence that cannot be resisted by demons or the world. A power and presence that will draw the hungry, the lost, the new wine skins, the sick... the remnant!!!
Do we want to go on without His presence? If He sees we can lead without Him, He will let us go on without Him. What can we do without His presence?
Moses understood there was only one way they could be recognized as His people: His presence! What the world saw in the early church was His presence in their midst. It was the presence of God that caused the world to call the disciples Christians. The world recognized the disciples' faith and love for one another. What says the world of us today? Is there a need for His presence in our midst? Are we carrying His presence to our jobs, to our families, to our world, and to our brothers and sisters?
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