We Need God's Presence
Adapted from a sermon by Ronald Wyncoop
It is the end of another year. At this time we start to reflect on all that happened during the past year. We assemble our list of top 10 things (e.g. top 10 news events, top 10 songs, top 10 people, top 10 movies, etc). In the church, we also look back at what the year held, which is usually done at the annual business meeting held at the end of January. But rather than just looking back today, I want us to start to look forward to what the New Year holds for us. I want us to reflect on the fact that we must enter this New Year with the presence of God in our lives and in our church. We need God’s presence to go with us in the New Year.
"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. Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew 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. And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. 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. 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." Ex 33:12-17
As we begin the year 2010 I have a burning desire to know the presence of God in my life and church like I have never known it before. Like Moses, I believe that if God does not go with us, then we need not go anywhere at all. I truly believe that 2010 will be a different year for Peru Church if we have God’s presence with us.
Moses felt the need for God’s presence so he questioned God about it in vs. 15, "And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence." Ex 33:15
.” Now, this is an odd statement because each day since they had left Egypt the presence of the Lord had been with them in the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.
"And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:" Ex 13:21
Yet, Moses is obviously crying out for something more. The reason I believe he was asking for more of God’s presence was because he wanted a more intimate and personal relationship with God.
In fact Moses felt he needed God’s Presence so strongly that he said, "And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. 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." Ex 33:15-16
” I think these are 2 valid questions for us to consider today.
1. How will others know that God is pleased with us?
2. How will others know that we are God’s people?
How will others know that God is pleased with us?
Moses said that the only way others would know that God was pleased with them was because of His presence in their lives. But how would they see or know that God’s presence was with them? Was it that they would see God Himself? No, because God clearly told Moses that no man could look at God and live (vs. 20). So if no one could see God, then it must be that they would see the reflection of God in His people. Now does this mean that God’s people go around with a glow around them or walk 2 feet above the ground? No, it means that the reflection of God must be in how they live their daily lives.
If we do please God, then others should be able to see it. So what is it that pleases God and how will others know that we please Him?
"That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:" Col 1:10-12
"Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness." 1 Th 4:1-7
"By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." Heb 13:15-16
These are the things that people will see in our lives that testify to God’s presence in us, which means that He is pleased with us— love for God, love for others, strength and patience in the storms of life, a life of joy, giving thanks to God with our lips (not just in church), maintaining sexual purity in a world gone sex crazy, not taking advantage of each other in business matters, doing good and sharing with others—that is what it means to live a holy life. Of course we cannot do any of things through our own strength, but only by faith in God.
"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Heb 11:6
It is our love for God and our desire to please our heavenly Father that will affect the way we talk, walk, and act. Then what we do and say will be a reflection of His Presence to those around us.
What will distinguish us from the people around us? Or How will others know that we are God’s people?
In this question, I think is the idea of how we are different from the world. The word used in vs. 16 for distinguish means “to be separated, to be distinct, marked out.”
6395 פָּלָה [palah /paw·law/] v. translates as “sever” twice, “separated”, “set apart”, and “put a difference” 1 to be distinct, marked out, be separated, be distinguished. to make separate, set apart.
This difference is not because of what we wear, how rich or poor we are, what jobs we do, or any other physical attribute. It is not that we are peculiar or strange people. Instead it is because we are a people with a different nature and character—the very nature of God.
"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." 2 Pe 1:4
In the scriptures we looked at that talk about how we please God, you will notice that they are talking about practical living, not our religiousness. It is not by how many times we go to church that others will know God’s presence in our lives, but because of the nature of God in us. Oddly though, some believers today think that they can hear a sermon on an Ipod or TV and never darken the door of a church. But what they do not realize is just how important the fellowship of the believers is to their spiritual life. Yes, the Word of God is extremely important, but also we need each other to help us grow. So besides holy living, the primary evidence of God’s presence in our lives is the love that we have been given by His Holy Spirit. This is God’s nature being lived out in us.
"And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Ro 5:5
"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." Jn 13:35
"In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother." 1 Jn 3:10
In fact, holy living is not possible without God’s love in our hearts and His presence in our lives. It is our love for God that causes us to want to read His Word, pray, witness, go to church, and live a life that is pleasing to God. But it is also our love for God that causes us to love one another and to love those who do not know Him.
Although the children of Israel had left Egypt they still had a lot of Egypt in them. They had to have their thinking changed to no longer go along with what they had learned in Egypt. So God had to teach them to be a holy people through the Law.
Like the children of Israel, once we are born again we still have a lot of the world left in us and must have our thinking changed so that we no longer do what we did when we were in the world. We have God’s Law written on our hearts and must be taught by it to get the world out of us. It is the renewing of our mind with God’s Word that makes us able to be a separate people.
"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Ro 12:2
Moses said, if God’s presence did not go with them, then they did not need to go on in their travels to the Promised Land. He knew that only the presence of God would cause them to live holy lives pleasing to the Lord and make them a separate people.
This morning as we think about these words from Moses, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here” let us apply them to Peru Church as well as to our own lives. As we think about the New Year, how much is God is going with us? Will we strike out on our own trying to make things happen to cause this church to grow or will we only go as the Lord’s Presence leads us? Will we seek His Presence in everything that we do, or will we blindly wander in our wilderness of disobedience until we die? Will people know that we have God’s Presence in our lives or will we be just like everyone else and live unholy lives that do not please God? Will Peru Church be a church that is known for the Presence of God or one that is known by its music, preaching, fellowship, etc?
My challenge to us today is to really seek the Presence of God like we never have before as we enter the New Year. I am asking God to send His fire down upon us in this next year. I am also asking each one who calls Peru Church their home to pray earnestly for God’s Presence in this church and our lives. I am asking each of us to search our hearts and minds to see if those around us can see that we belong to God and His Presence can be seen in our lives. As we pray, if we discover things that are hindering the Presence of God in our lives as well as in the church, I’m asking that each of us have the courage to surrender them to God so that nothing will interfere with His Presence in us. If God’s Presence does not go with us in 2010, then we will not accomplish anything in this community and we will simply dry up and die as a church. But, I believe that if God’s Presence does go with us, we will become a lighthouse of holiness in a dark world of sin. We will be a holy church that those around us will notice and desire to be a part of!