Many of the issues we face in society are as a result of sin.
God has devised His plan of redemption to deal with the issue of sin.
It is “grace-based”, no longer requiring His forbearance (Rom. 3:25), nor demanding redundant, ineffective sacrifices for the sins of men (Heb. 10:11). He became, through His Son, the just and the justifier of him which believed in Jesus (Rom. 3:24). Faith would be the starting point and the end would be a righteous soul (Rom. 5:21)—a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). He would replace the stony heart of man with a new heart of flesh and place His Spirit within man that would cause him to “do right” (Ezek. 36:26-27). Then man and God would once again be reconciled (Col. 1:21).
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13 (NKJ)
This month we’ve been exploring the biblical truth that God is in and among us—continually, without interruption, 7X24. We experience God through our personal fellowship with Him and through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. However, there may be times when we don’t “feel” God. We feel estranged from Him, alone, and unable to hear His voice. Be assured, this is a common experience for believers. The resolution for this spiritual occurrence, however, is not to curb our prayer life or cease in reading His Word. During those times, it is imperative that we “press in.”
There are seasons in my life when it is extremely difficult to hear God’s voice. I’m not talking about unanswered prayer but times of “disturbing quietness” when l must strain to hear Him—if I hear Him at all. As I shared this experience, I found other believers had been through similar seasons of silence. Interestingly, we all described it as a period when we “didn’t hear His voice.”
In Search of an Answer
When I first experienced this quietness, I began to the search my heart for sins I might have committed yet failed to confess. It was the sin of Adam that separated him and Eve from fellowship with God in the Garden of Eden. Later Adam and Eve would experience the physical death of their body—the final separation from the world God had created for them. I asked God to forgive me of my sins, yet I still felt disconnected from my First Love (Rev. 2:4).
My next effort was to examine my devotion time with Him. I would increase my time of reading His Word. Psalm 119 became my “song book” as I sought to hear His voice.
- I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. (v. 16)
- I recounted my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees. (v. 26)
- Yet you are near, O LORD, and all your commands are true. (v. 151)
- May my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word. (v. 169)
I would rise early to pray—leaving more time to “listen” and less to speak. I would “draw near” with a sincere heart with expectations that He would do likewise (James 4:8; Heb. 10:22). I would dedicate my day to praise and worship. If God inhabits the praises of His people (Ps. 22:3), He would surely respond to me as I emptied myself to Him. Yet with all the modifications to my devotional time, I couldn’t hear Him. After many days of silence, I finally experienced a breakthrough.
Learning to Press in
In Secrets of the Secret Place, Bob Sorge shared his insight into my situation.
Many of us feel like we move in and out of God’s throne room. We have times of great connectedness, and then we suffer periods of disconnectedness. We can’t always analyze exactly why a distance has developed in our hearts toward the Lord, but most of us feel like our relationship with Christ is a roller coaster ride of feeling close, then far, then close, then far, then close again. In and out. And we hate it. We were created for constant intimacy and anything less drives us crazy on the inside. It is at those times that we need to press into God like you never have in your life! Allow the desperation of your soul to help you pursue God with absolute abandonment.
God’s periods of quietness were an invitation to draw closer to Him—to “press in.” More than proximity, He desires to establish an intimate friendship with us that is walked out through the course of our everyday lives. He is not looking for a segment of our day nor a day of the week. He desires unbroken communion with us. So on those occasions when it appears that “you can’t hear God”, press in! Be of good courage for He is ever near (Ps. 73:28). Press in! Eagerly and unabashedly pursue Him, the Pearl of Great Price (Matt. 13:46). Press in!
SELAH: Read Psalm 63:1-8. Write in your journal the ways that David “pressed in” to God during his time in the wilderness. Read the text again using a different translation or paraphrase. Then ask the Holy Spirit how He wants you to “press in”.
This past Sunday was designated as Pentecost on the Christian calendar. It is celebrated in churches across the nation and around the world fifty days after Easter. Many churches dress their altars in the color red to symbolize the fire of Pentecost as well as the apostles and early followers of Jesus who were gathered in the Upper Room for the empowerment from God to proclaim the Gospel throughout the world.
Pentecost or the Feast of the Weeks, was one of the three major feasts mandated by God for the Jewish people to observe (Deut. 16:16; Ex. 23:14, 15). It is to be celebrated fifty (50) days after the Passover Feast. With the completed work of salvation by Jesus Christ—His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension—Pentecost now takes on a new dimension and meaning for Christians with the arrival of the promised Holy Spirit (Acts 2).
It was the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence that would enable Jesus’ disciples to continue the work He had begun. As importantly, Pentecost marked the availability of the Holy Spirit to everyone who would “call upon the name of Jesus” (Rom. 10:13; Acts 2:38); collectively, individuals responding in faith would form the Church promised by Jesus to His disciples (Matt. 16:18). While we may know about the various ministries of the Holy Spirit, it is even more important to fully grasp the enormity of His Presence within us.
Deity is living within us!
I love the way Jesus described this phenomenon: “I (Jesus) in them (Believers) and You (God) in me, (so) that they may be made perfect in one” (John 17:23a). Like the disciples on the day of Pentecost we are in need of the Holy Spirit’s power and direction as we live for God’s glory. Pentecost is not only a day on the church calendar but it is an invitation to join with the Triune God in Their ministry of deliverance, wholeness, and grace (Eph. 2:10).
Stormie Omartian describes our ministry with the Holy Spirit this way:
God wants to lead you to places you cannot get to without Him, and He does that by the power of His Spirit. He can bring you into the realm of the miraculous-not as a show, but as a demonstration of His love and compassion for the lost, hurting, or needy. Who among us doesn’t want or need that?
SELAH: What question(s) do you have about the Holy Spirit? Ask God to reveal to you what He wants you to know about the Holy Spirit in order to make His presence real in your life. Journal what God says to you.
CLICK HERE to learn more about Pentecost
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. John 14:16-17 (NIV)
This month, we will be focusing on the topic “God in and Among Us.” We have chosen this topic because we believe that once we fully understand that God is present with us—continually, without interruption, 7X24—we will live more dependent upon Him and “to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:14). Last week we opened this series with the Pentecost event (Acts 2) and the arrival of the promised Holy Spirit. This week we will begin to examine how His presence impacts the life of believers and the Church.
For three and one-half years, Christ built a spiritual community with His disciples. It was one of great love and intimacy. As Jesus’ ministry expanded, the disciples grew in faith and confidence as they experienced the presence of the Pearl of Great Price (Matt. 13:46) who had the words of eternal life (John 6:68). In anticipation of His departure, Jesus promised the disciples “another Comforter” (allon parakletos)—another of the same kind to aid (John 14:16). The Holy Spirit would represent God to the disciples as Jesus did in his incarnate state. The Holy Spirit would direct the disciple’s decisions, counsel them continually, and remain with them forever. Jesus knew the heart of His disciples and the importance of His presence in their life. That same Comforter now dwells within each believer in Christ (Eph. 1:13).
“The world is perishing for lack of the knowledge of God and
the Church is famishing for want of His Presence.”
A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
Jesus knew that even in 2017, His Church and believers would need the loving reassurance of His presence. With the uncertainty of the world we live in, it is comforting to know that we are never outside the watchful eye of God IN ADDITION to being indwelt by the very presence of Jesus, who is the Holy Spirit living within us. God never changes and His promises are still true—“He will never leave or forsake us” (Gen. 28:15). It is critical that we grasp the enormity of God’s presence with us. We are never out of God’s watchful eye or reach. Now that’s “blessed assurance.”
SELAH: Find a quiet place and using your favorite Bible translation read Psalm 139:7-10. Write down any words or phrases that catch your attention. Then read this passage a second time from The Message paraphrase below. This time write down the emotions you feel as you read this text. (Click here if you need help in recognizing different emotions) Lastly, ask the Holy Spirit to share what He wants you to now know, do, or believe as a result of this reading.
Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
To the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
You’re already there waiting!