April 12, 2023
If an honored guest was coming to your home, would you clean the house? Would you desire for them to be comfortable and blessed by the condition of your home? Would they have to clear a way through the trash to even find a place to sit? Would you turn off the television or be constantly looking over their shoulder to watch your favorite show, giving your guest no attention? Would you turn down blaring music to be able to speak and hear? Would they feel at home in the environment you had prepared or ill at ease?
There is a difference between God's omnipresence (the fact that He is everywhere all the time) and His manifest presence (the visible, conscious, clearly experienced presence of God). Although God is present everywhere ("Where can I go from Your Spirit?") we can be completely unaware of His presence.
There is a vital part we play in all of this. In obedience to the Lord, we can create environments where God is pleased to dwell. King David knew this. Study his life. He was in a relentless pursuit of God’s presence. “In Your presence is fullness of joy,” he proclaimed (Psalm 16:11). Listen to Psalm 101 and the expression of what he was doing to invite God's presence to dwell with him. Only God can cleanse us, but we must cooperate with Him.
I will sing of lovingkindness and justice, To You, O Lord, I will sing praises. I will give heed to the blameless way. When will You come to me? I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart. I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not fasten its grip on me. (Psalm 101:1-3)
Although, as a believer, Christ comes to live in us and will "never leave us nor forsake us," we all know that there are greater and lesser times of intimacy. Seasons when we sense the nearness of God in extraordinary ways and others where it seems God is distant. A conscious awareness and enjoyment of His presence should and can be the everyday experience of our lives. But what can we do to invite His experienced presence? To draw near? To be a man or woman where God is pleased to make Himself known?
… of His lovingkindness and justice. Praise uniquely invites God. It is the highest form of trust to rejoice and give thanks in all things. It is the acknowledgment that we believe in Him and trust His sovereignty regardless of the circumstances.
… to the blameless way. This means paying attention, acknowledging, and turning your mind in God's direction, not the world's. This is a deliberate, daily (hourly) exercise. If we are not careful, we can give our mind's attention to things that are not blameless but sinful and displeasing to the Lord.
… within our house in the integrity of our heart. We must not only give attention but fully surrender to God's way. Real integrity means walking with Christ in private as much as in public. There is no double standard. No hypocrisy.
… no worthless thing before our eyes. This is a massive problem in our visual-driven world. It may be the main reason we are not encountering God more fully. Hours and hours are consumed gazing on worthless, ungodly things. We may rationalize all of this, but God doesn't. He will not inhabit a room where his arch-enemy's productions are the main attraction.
This also applies to the people we watch, listen to, and associate with. The Psalmist said that he chose to disassociate from people who were perverse (vs. 4), slanderous (vs. 5), proud (vs. 5), deceitful (vs. 7), and wicked (vs. 8). This does not mean that we do not minister to those who are in need, but that we do not dwell there for pleasure. An illustration would be spending hours listening to such people for our entertainment, reading their worthless thinking in books or media.
David reminds us of the habitual nature of this also. "It shall not fasten its grip on me" is a powerful statement of reality. What you put before your eyes will take hold of you. If you don't think so, try to turn off your TV and computer for a month and you will quickly realize it has a firmer grasp than you’ve imagined.
Do you long to be aware of His presence? To enjoy more consistent intimacy with God in your life, your home, your church? There are very deliberate things you can do to create an environment where God is pleased to dwell. Think of preparing your home for a visit from your most beloved and honored guest. Now, prepare the home of your life for the King. Paying attention to our environments will illustrate what we really want.
Father, make me hungry for Your presence. Help me realize nothing is more valuable than walking in conscious awareness and tangible intimacy with You. Open my eyes to see what is distracting me. Let me ruthlessly deal with the things pulling me away from simple, pure devotion to You. Give me the willingness to turn away, not merely because of the wickedness of ungodly forces, but because of the loss of Your presence.
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