Yearning for the presence

Whitetail-Deer-B-Female-Drinking-WaterExodus 33:11:Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.

Those who walk with God always yearn for his presence. Take note of the seeking habit of Joshua who we have his record from the focus verse as being in the habit of not departing from the presence of God.

Where is the presence of God? Though God is everywhere, in a personal sense and for the purpose of this discuss we would take the presence of God as that place where Jesus described when he said when you want to pray, go to your closet and pray to your father in heaven and the one who sees in secret would reward you openly (Matthew 6:1-6 [6]) (He said similar things about fasting [which should be a reflection yearning for the presence {Matthew 9:14-15}] and giving alms). That is the context of personal prayer time.

Various adjectives have been used in the bible to describe the act of yearning for God’s presence. Jesus used the phrase hunger and thirst (Matthew 5:6), David used the word panting (Psalm 42:1-2), he also used the phrase long for (Psalm 84:1-7). All of which means an intense desire that needs to find an outlet. Intense desire that cannot but be expressed even in the hustle and bustle of earthly occupations.

To set out time to pray as an expression of hunger for God is different from praying out of a sense of duty, as something to observe to pacify the conscience, or something to engage in because of fear of something bad happening to you otherwise.

It is not comparing your self with your neighbor, you spiritual brothers and sisters in the measurement of devotion and therefore rating yourself as okay (2Corinthians 10:12). It is beyond whatever excuses that may come up against seeking God with single minded devotion, but you are actually looking for excuses to seek him.

David is the quintessential seeker of God who stood out in the area of praise and worship (2Samuel 23:1). He accesses the presence of God via the praise channel which is also a kind of prayer. Jesus was the one who said in the first line of what is called the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9): Our father in heaven hallowed be thy name, and that is a praise line. It was David who wrote that God dwells in the praises of his people (Psalm 22:3).

There can be no expression of love without the desire to be with the object of the love. Various loves occupy people in the time and age we are in, contending with the love of God. That is why the bible says that towards the end of time, the love of many shall wax cold (Matthew 24:12).

Watch it in yourself. Do you constantly look for excuses, maybe business related etc, to avoid the presence of God? Does your change in social status mean that there should be a downward change in the expression of your love for God, yearning for his presence and spending time with him?

The married should be especially watchful. As the bible says, watch and pray that you will not fall into temptation. There is a temptation to tone down on devotion in the event of marriage.

Paul was especially weary of this and at one time in his writing to the Corinthians, he told them that it is better to remain single and not marry (1Corinthians 7:8, 32-35). He said the one who is single is concerned with issues of pleasing God 100 percent (as a single is that your case?) but the married is partly concerned with how to please the spouse and rightly so.

But don’t go running away with that thought and conclude that maybe the will of God is for you not to marry? It’s not. Balance those words of Paul with his warning against doctrines of devils where people are be forbidden to marry (1Timothy 4:1-3).

Just recognise the potential to wane in devotion to God in marriage, with the added roles of and make it part of you premarital consideration. You don’t want to be married, prepared in all other areas, and have your devotion to God suffer because you did not prepare in. Which one would you be among the virgins: the foolish ones or the wise one (Matthew 25:1-13)? Take extra oil with you going into marriage by putting the are of you devotion to God into first consideration. Or is it not written that seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33)?

Beware of the antics of Satan to create alternative devotion for you along your path. Even Jesus was not spared. In the temptation he experience in the wilderness, before he commenced his ministry in power, the devil said to him that he would give Him  all the glory of this world if He would bow down to him. Jesus Christ answered him: it is written, you shall the serve and worship only the Lord your God (Matthew 4:8-11). Service and worship are to be outflows of love and devotion to God (Jeremiah 8:2).

But don’t think that the devil has retired that tool/tactic in his arsenal. Using various other guises, he wants to steal kill and destroy your yearning for the presence. And God allows it to test the genuineness of your love for him. It could be busyness or bitterness or a false sense of satisfaction and security, or needing nothing (Revelation 3:17-18).

However, with Adam and Eve, it was sin. They stopped yearning for the presence after they sinned. Because you cannot say Lord, Lord, as if you want the presence, going through all the motion, and not do what the Lord says in a life of obedience (Isaiah 29:19, Luke 6:46). That is nothing short of self deception

Adam and Eve withdrew from the presence because of their sin (Genesis 3:1-11), that does not have to be your case. You should without delay make use of the avenue of asking for forgiveness and allow the blood of Jesus to quickly wash you from that iniquity (1John 1:9-2:4).

We are always to have a conscience void of offence towards God and man (Acts 24:16). We should not allow the root of bitterness (Hebrews 12:14-15), holding a grudge against God and others to make us unfit for the presence, to cause us to draw back. We should lay all issues at the foot of the cross and walk free.

Jesus’ yearning for the presence was seen in his daily activity. It is written that early in the morning he departs into a solitary place and prayed (Mark 1:35).

The apostle in the book of acts, in the hustle and bustle of the ministry needed to check themselves in their usage of their time when quarrel arose among certain of the people concerning the sharing of food. They discovered that they needed to devolve some of the ministry roles so some deacons. Why? Partly because they needed to devote themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.

The mighty apostles needed to have a mighty reality check on their relationship with God. They needed to affirm what is important to them, which is the presence of God. They definitely saw how Jesus prioritise the presence (Luke 11:1), and his love of God expressed in yearning for His presence. They know nothing less is expected of them. Nothing less is expected of you too.

 

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