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Experiencing the Felt Presence of God - 1

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Experiencing the Felt Presence of God

Purpose

To understand what the bible means by Presence

To practice various biblical techniques for experiencing God more intimately

To learn from one another’s Journey

To explore the nature, difficulty, purpose, and types of Prayer.

To understand the nature of Biblical Worship

To learn the practice of personal worship.

To begin a personal Journal

To develop discernment as to whether a certain experience is from God or not

Schedule
Date Subject
March 9 Orientation and Presence of Yahweh
March 16 Presence of Yahweh
March 23 Personal Worship
March 30 Entering God’s Presence
April 6 The Problem with Prayer
April 13 The Practice of Prayer
April 20 Discernment

The Mystical Presence of Yahweh

Hebrew

Here is the definition from BDB

Presence and “face” are the same word

Hebrew = paniym

The word is used 2109 times in the OT

We all know intuitively what it means to be in the presence of someone

If I send you an email, there is a limited sense of my presence

If you hear me speak on a tape, there is an enhanced sense  - you hear voice intonation and emphasis

If you see me on a video – it click up a notch.  You detect gesture, environment

If you are in front of me it is the highest level – gesture, intonation, environment, but also eye movement, shared sense of the environment and the space we are in.

•         To enjoy His favor

•         To appear before God in the sanctuary

•         Area around a throne or proximity to a royal person

•         A theophany in the sancturary

Types of Presence

The bible speaks of the presence of God in three senses:

His omnipresence – Psalm 139:1-10

Psalm 139:1-10 (NIV)
1 For the director of music. Of David. A psalm. O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. 5 You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. 7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

His Manifest Presence – John 14:21-23

John 14:21-23 (NIV)
21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” 22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” 23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

His Abiding Presence

John 15:5-8 (NIV)
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Aspects of His Presence

Quiet

Daman

To be motionless, rigid.

" “Terror and dread fall upon them; By the greatness of Thine arm they are motionless as stone; Until Thy people pass over, O Lord, Until the people pass over whom Thou hast purchased." (Exodus 15:16, NASB)

the quiet is a result of an external influence

the attitude of the individual which his being silent is only the result

Franken, p. 18  - refers to a situation of the soul conditioned by some strongly felt external circumstance.  It “expresses  the inner attitude of the subject, which sometimes manifests itself in an attitude of motionless and is conditioned by some strongly felt outward influence.” P 17.  If that outward influence is the presence of God “it causes people to stand in awe.”  P. 18  - this sense of awe can go in two direction, either fear or trust and longing.  Both are strong emotions.

“It denotes being obsessed by some strong influence and as a result of it the being motionless at the same time.”  P. 16.

Isaiah prophecies the terrible destruction of Tyre and then tells them to be still.  This is close to being struck dumb, overwhelmed.

Or consider Ex. 15:16

16Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased.

God’s mighty hand will completely destroy the Canaanites tribes in battle. As a result, they will be “still as stone.”  This sense of awe, of dread, of being confronted with the majesty of Yahweh cause them to petrify!

Similarly Aaron is silent when confronted with the sudden death of his two sons caused by the judgement of God.

3Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace. (Lev 10:3)

He is so overcome here that he holds “his peace”  There is more here than simply not speaking. There is a sense of being overcome.

Damah

Isa 6:5

5Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

Isaiah is overwhelmed with the holiness of God and with his own sin.  He is dumbstruck.

Niphal perfect

(piel) make smooth, make still, i.e., make a surface of a mass level and flat in contrast to wavy or bumpy, as the feature of an object (Ps 131:2; Isa 28:25+), note: for calmness as a weather event, see also domain 14.17–14.35

There were many “bump” in his life as described in vs. 1. These had to be smoothed out.

Delitzsch  - David has leveled or made smooth his soul so that humility is its entire and uniform state.  – it is like an even surface, the calm surface of a lake.

He also quieted himself.  Damam - – piel perfect, 1st common sing.

The piel intensifies the thought a bit, he shut himself up, he really shut down.

The weaning of a child took place at 3 years.  WBC

The imagry of the weaned child is significant.  Delitzsch, vol 3 – refers to one who has not just begun to be weaned but who actually has been weaned  - this child lies upon its mother  without crying impatiently and craving for his mother’s breast, but is contented with the fact that it has its mother  - like such a weaned child David’s soul is upon God  - his soul which is by nature restless and craving is stilled

There is a dispostion which leads to this quieted state. In vs. one David reveals that

His heart is not haughty

His eyes are not lofty

His mind is not involved in things to high for him

He is repudiating all pride

The opposite of great things is not insignificant, but small

The opposite of things too wonderful for me is not trival but that which is attainable.

Weiser, p. 776ff

131:1  - David confess what is really important to him.  He does not harbor in his heart aspirations for things which are too marvelous for him nor ambitios desires.There is only one thing he values, and that is to be unitede with his God in a relationship of sincere trust.  Humility is the prerequisite to trust.  He has learned to forgo his lofty projects  and proud thoughts.  It is not that he has no ambition in life but he has learned to be satisfied with what has been granted to him.

131:2  - he did not arrive at this point without struggle.  He had to quiet and still his soul.  We can imagine how many  battles he fought against his own arrogance, striving for honor, wealth, recognition, and how many renunciations of beautiful dreams of your and the headstrong ambitions of manhood are hidden behind this statement..  But at least he knows victory, the peace of God.

His soul has found a quietness of  and happiness in intimate communion with God, It is like that of a child which has already  been weaned   This child is happy being at his mother’s side, just happy being with her. He is no longer impatiently crying for this and that and to be fed..

A weaned child has broken the habit of viewing his mother only as a means of satisfying  desires.  He begins to love her for her own sake.  Similarly, the worshipper of God must come to a point after a long struggle where he reaches an attitude of mind  in which he desires God for himself and not a a menas of fulfillment of his wishes.  “His life’s center of gravity has shifted.”

Illus - From Phillip Yancey—“Reaching for the Invisible God.”  P. 167-168 While living in Africa, John V. Taylor observed how Africans experience a sense of personal presence.  In the West, he says, we converse with friends with our minds partly on something else, and the friends soon notice. Whereas in Africa he would be working and a friend would enter the room, give a brief greeting, and squat down.  After a few words of response, the missionary would get on with his chores while his visitor simply sat.  A half hour or so would pass, then the visitor would rise, say, “I have seen you,” and move on.  He had wanted no information, no conversation even; shared presence seemed enough.

Meditation

Siyach

(qal) meditate, muse on, consider, think on, i.e., ponder and so give serious consideration to information, or a situation

I Sam 1:16

15And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.  16Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.

Hannah had been often in the temple muttering to God and gave the appearance of being drunk with wine.  Instead she says that her speaking arises not out of drunkenness but out of her “complaint” and her grief.  The word “complaint” is the word for “meditation.”

Thus sound is not part of the word.  Here it describes an inner feeling.  Franken argues that a key to this emotion is a sense of total absorption in God. Franken. 18

It indicates, he says, “the absorption of the soul, being oriented towards something to which it is led or towards which it directs itself.”  P. 19

Hagah

hgÉh;

SN = 1897

TWOT

The basic meaning of haµgaÆ and its cognates is a low sound, characteristic of the moaning of a dove (Isa 38:14; 59:1 l) or the growling of a lion over its prey (Isa 31:4)

Another positive use relates to meditating upon the Word of God, which, like the plots of the wicked (Ps 38:12 [H 13]), goes on day and night (Josh 1:8; Ps 1:2). Perhaps the Scripture was read half out loud in the process of meditation. The psalmist also speaks about meditating upon God (63:6 [H 7]) and his works (77:12 [H 13]; 143:5).

Suggests that biblical meditation involves reading something out loud, speaking as well as pondering.

BDB  - groan, mutter, growl, muse, speak

HAL  - to read in an undertone, to mutter while meditating

Swanson - (qal) meditate, ponder, give serious thought and consideration to selected information, with a possible implication of speaking in low tones reviewing the material (Jos 1:8)

Ps 63:6

6 On my bed I remember you;

I think of you through the watches of the night.

"it is not the same as the western way of meditation, which is interested in the contents of hte texts, studying them with the heart as well as the intellect, but is the repeated recollection of well knon texts, looking for arbibtrary associations while reciting and hearing the sound of the words.  It is the activity of muttering hearing and reading the sacred texts, by which the memory and the heart become full of the contents."

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.  Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.  I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.  I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. (Ps 119:11-16)

David’s procedure for meditation

•         Memorize v. 11

•         Ask God to teach v. 12

•         Deliberate reading aloud v. 14

•         Musing v. 15

•         Delight v. 16

Assignment

Assignment

1.         Read the article by Madam Guyon

2.         Get a notebook or start a file on your computer, called my Journey. 

3          Take 30 minutes at least 4 times this week.  In two sessions, pray the Scriptures and in two sessions Behold the Lord,

4.         In your Journey Journal record you observations, feelings, and insights about your experience.  Be prepared to share them with the rest of the class.

To Make your My Journey.doc file private and secure

1.         Open Word for Windows

2.         Click Tools – Options – Security

3.         Enter a password for your file  - WRITE IT DOWN SOMEWHERE!!!!

4.         Do not check “Read only”

Madame Guyon (1648-1717)

INTRODUCTION TO THE AUTHOR

Madame Jeanne Guyon was born at Montargis, France. When she was only fifteen, she married an invalid who was thirty-eight years old. Unhappy in her marriage, she sought happiness in her devotional life. She lived in a con­vent under royal order for a year and then was imprisoned in Vincennes and the Bastille because of her religious beliefs. Almost twenty-five years of her life were spent in confinement. Many of her books were written during that period.

Writing that compels the reader to move into a living experience of Jesus Christ is Madame Guyon's great contribution to devotional literature. The following excerpts come from her book Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ (sometimes titled A Short and Very Easy Method of Prayer). This book has had a wide influence: Watchman Nee saw that it was translated into Chinese and made available to every new convert in the Little Flock; François Fenelon, John Wesley, and Hudson Taylor all highly recommended it to the believers of their day.

EXCERPTS FROM EXPERIENCING THE DEPTHS OF JESUS CHRIST

Two Ways to Meet Jesus

I would like to address you as though you were a beginner in Christ, one seeking to know him. In so doing, let me suggest two ways for you to come to the Lord. I will call the first way "praying the Scripture"; the second way I will call "beholding the Lord" or "waiting in his presence."

Praying the Scripture

"Praying the Scripture" is a unique way of dealing with the Scripture; it involves both reading and prayer. Turn to the Scripture; choose some passage that is simple and fairly practical. Next, come to the Lord. Come quietly and humbly. There, before him, read a small portion of the passage of Scripture you have opened to.

Be careful as you read. Take in fully, gently, and carefully what you are reading. Taste it and digest it as you read. In the past it may have been your habit, while reading, to move very quickly from one verse of Scripture to an­other until you have read the whole passage. Perhaps you were seeking to find the main point of the passage.

Reading Slowly

But in coming to the Lord by means of "praying the Scripture," you do not read quickly; you read very slowly. You do not move from one passage to another, not until you have sensed the very heart of what you have read. You may then want to take that portion of Scripture that has touched you and turn it into prayer.

After you have sensed something of the passage, and after you know that the essence of that portion has been extracted and all the deeper sense of it is gone, then, very slowly, gently, and in a calm manner begin to read the next portion of that passage. You will be sur­prised to find that when your time with the Lord has ended, you will have read very little, probably no more than half a page.

Penetrating into the Depths

"Praying the Scripture" is not judged by how much you read but the way you read. If you read quickly, it will benefit you little. You will be like a bee that merely skims the surface of a flower. Instead, in this new way of reading with prayer, you become as the bee who penetrates into the depths of the flower. You plunge deeply within to remove its deepest nectar.

Of course, there is a kind of reading the Scripture for scholarship and for study-but not here. That studious kind of reading will not help you when it comes to matters that are di­vine! To receive any deep, inward profit from the Scripture you must read as I have de­scribed. Plunge into the very depths of the words you read until revelation, like a sweet aroma, breaks out upon you. I am quite sure that if you will follow this course, little by little you will come to experience a very rich prayer that flows from your inward being.

Beholding the Lord

Let us move now to the second kind of prayer which I mentioned earlier. The second kind of prayer which I described as "beholding the Lord" or "waiting on the Lord," also makes use of Scripture, but it is actually not a time of reading.

Remember, I am addressing you as if you were a new convert. Here is your second way to encounter Christ. And this second way, al though you will be using the Scripture, has a purpose altogether different from "praying the Scripture." For that reason you should set aside a separate time when you can come just to wait upon Christ.

In "praying the Scripture" you are seeking to find the Lord in what you are reading, in the very words themselves. In this path, therefore,

the content of the Scripture is the focal point of your attention. Your purpose is to take every­,      thing from the passage that unveils the Lord to you.

Quieting the Mind

In "beholding the Lord" you come to the Lord in a totally different way. Perhaps at this point I need to share with you the greatest difficulty you will have in waiting upon the Lord. It has to do with your mind. The mind has a very strong tendency to stray away from the Lord. Therefore, as you come before the Lord to sit in his presence, beholding him, make use of the Scripture to quiet your mind.

The way to do this is really quite simple. First, read a passage of Scripture. Once you sense the Lord's presence, the content of what you have read is no longer important. The Scripture has served its purpose; it has quieted your mind; it has brought you to him.

Turning Inward by Faith

So that you can see him more clearly, let me de­scribe the way in which you come to the Lord by the simple act of beholding him and waiting upon him. You begin by setting aside a time to be with the Lord. When you do come to him, come quietly. Turn your heart to the presence of God. How is this done? This, too, is quite sim­ple. You turn to him by faith. By faith you be­lieve you have come into the presence of God.

Next, while you are before the Lord, begin to read some portion of Scripture. As you read, pause. The pause should be quite gentle. You have paused so that you may set your mind on the Spirit. You have set your mind inwardly in Christ.

You should always remember that you are not doing this to gain some understanding of what you have read; rather, you are reading in order to turn your mind from outward things to the deep parts of your being. You are not there to learn or to read, but you are there to experience the presence of your Lord!

While you are before the Lord, hold your heart in his presence. How? This you also do by faith. Yes, by faith you can hold your heart in the Lord's presence. Now, waiting before him, turn all your attention toward your spirit. Do not allow your mind to wander. If your mind begins to wander, just turn your attention back again to the inward parts of your being. You will be free from wandering-free from any outward distractions-and you will be brought near to God. The Lord is found only within your spirit, in the recesses of your being, in the Holy of Holies; this is where he dwells.

The Lord Will Meet You

The Lord once promised to come and make his home within you (John 14:23). He promised there to meet those who worship him and do his will. The Lord will meet you in your spirit. It was St. Augustine who once said that he had lost much time in the beginning of his Chris­tian experience by trying to find the Lord out­wardly rather than by turning inwardly.

Once your heart has been turned inwardly to the Lord, you will have an impression of his presence. You will be able to notice his pres ence more acutely because your outer senses have now become very calm and quiet. Your attention is no longer on outward things or on the surface thoughts of your mind; instead, sweetly and silently, your mind becomes occu­pied with what you have read and by that touch of his presence.

Oh, it is not that you will think about what you have read, but you will feed upon what you have read. Out of a love for the Lord you exert your will to hold your mind quiet before him. When you have come to this state, you must allow your mind to rest.

In this very peaceful state, swallow what you have tasted. At first this may seem diffi­cult, but perhaps I can show you a simple way. Have you not, at times, enjoyed the flavor of a very tasty food? But unless you were willing to swallow the food, you received no nourish­ment. It is the same with your soul. In this quiet, peaceful, and simple state simply take in what is there as nourishment.

Distractions

What about distractions? Let us say your mind begins to wander. Once you have been deeply touched by the Lord's Spirit and are distracted, be diligent to bring your wandering mind back to the Lord. This is the easiest way in the world to overcome external distractions.

When your mind has wandered, don't try to deal with it by changing what you are think-there to meet those who worship him and do his will. The Lord will meet you in your spirit. It was St. Augustine who once said that he had lost much time in the beginning of his Chris­tian experience by trying to find the Lord out­wardly rather than by turning inwardly.

Once your heart has been turned inwardly to the Lord, you will have an impression of his presence. You will be able to notice his pres ence more acutely because your outer senses have now become very calm and quiet. Your attention is no longer on outward things or on the surface thoughts of your mind; instead, sweetly and silently, your mind becomes occu­pied with what you have read and by that touch of his presence.

Oh, it is not that you will think about what you have read, but you will feed upon what you have read. Out of a love for the Lord you exert your will to hold your mind quiet before him. When you have come to this state, you must allow your mind to rest.

In this very peaceful state, swallow what you have tasted. At first this may seem diffi­cult, but perhaps I can show you a simple way. Have you not, at times, enjoyed the flavor of a very tasty food? But unless you were willing to swallow the food, you received no nourish­ment. It is the same with your soul. In this quiet, peaceful, and simple state simply take in what is there as nourishment.

Disciplining the Mind

As you begin this new venture you will, of course, discover that it is difficult to bring your mind under control. Why is this? Because through many years of habit your mind has ac­quired the ability to wander all over the world, just as it pleases, so what I speak of here is something that is to serve as a discipline to your mind.

Be assured that as your soul becomes more accustomed to withdrawing to inward things, this process will become easier. There are two reasons that you will find it easier each time to bring your mind under the subjection of the Lord. One is that the mind, after much practice, will form a new habit of turning deep within. The second is that you have a gracious Lord!

The Lord's Chief Desire

The Lord's chief desire is to reveal himself to you and, in order for him to do that, he gives you abundant grace. The Lord gives you the experience of enjoying his presence. He touches you, and his touch is so delightful that, more than ever, you are drawn inwardly to him.

Aspects of His presence continued

Pleasure

Psalm 16:11 (NIV)
11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

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