When I am confronted with a plumbing problem I become stressed. I hate plumbing issues. I simply cannot find success at fixing them myself. When I call a plumber to come and take care of the problem, I relax and trust the expert to fix the problem. I know the presence of an expert will change things.
What issues cause you stress and anxiety? How do you handle them? Would you be happy to find a lasting solution to your most vexing issues?
Moses had embarked on a great task — leading the people out of Egypt and slavery and into the promised land. Then he became overwhelmed. He cried to God for help and for his hand to strongly lead the people. God assured him: “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14 — ESV)
Moses pressed God further: And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:15–16 — ESV)
No matter what you face in your life, this passage assures us that when God goes with us we can have peace and rest. The presence that Moses is desiring and that God is granting is the manifest presence of God, the very real and experiential presence that we can know and that changes our whole approach to every circumstance of our lives.
There are four realities that we can gather from this passage:
- We must have the presence of God to move forward. Following Jesus requires us to move with faith and boldness into his will. This requires the confidence that comes from knowing God is truly with us.
- Obedience yields the presence of God. When we are obedient to the will of God, he blesses us with his presence. When we are rebellious and sinful God withdraws. When we humbly accept his guidance, he blesses us. It is that simple.
- God’s presence is a demonstration that he is pleased with us. As we obey, we enjoy his presence. When we experience that presence we know that we have been obedient. It is a glorious cycle — a powerful way to live.
- God’s presence distinguishes us. When God is with us, we are changed. When God goes with us in his power, things happen that could not otherwise occur. His power opens doors, performs miracles, gives hope, spreads love and demonstrates mercy and grace.
Living in the Presence
It is possible for us to live with the presence of God. We know that we have the Spirit of God in our lives. The manifest presence of God is simply the enhanced experience of knowing he with us in a more tangible way. We probably won’t experience the pillar of smoke or fire that Moses and the Israelites had. But we can sense God’s powerful presence. We live in the presence when we:
Pray — Taking time to talk to God and to meditate on his awesome glory helps us remember who he is! We serve a merciful, powerful, loving, gracious, patient, perfect and all-knowing God! Prayer that lingers over the truth of God will usher us into his presence. This prayer should be daily, or even many times daily!
Read the Word — Remember that the Bible is the word of God. This is what he wants us to know. It tells us about him and it tells us about ourselves. He still speaks through his word. In fact, that is still the most important and reliable way we can hear him today!
Worship — Truly worshiping God focuses on who he is and is easily overwhelmed with that reality. We express worship in many ways including singing, shouting, silence and kneeling, standing or laying prostrate. However we respond to the holiness and power of God becomes our worship.
Fellowship — I find that when I am with friends who truly believe in the manifest presence of God I am more likely to experience his presence. There is power in a shared faith in God’s presence. If you fellowship with those who don’t really believe in his presence, it will be harder for you to overcome their doubt with your faith.
Pray the Moses prayer quoted above.
Believe God hears and honors that prayer.
Live with faith and confidence today.
And, by all means, share this with others to encourage their faith!