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A People of His Presence

By Larry R. Lasiter

2001

"Hello?". . .

"Hi Dad, this is Michael." . . .

"Hi Son, it's great to hear your voice, how are you?"

"I'm doing fine, I just wanted to let you know that I made the Dean's list."

"That's wonderful son, your mother and I are so proud of you. When will you be able to visit, we miss you so?"

"I'm not sure Dad, I am so busy with school and I promised some friends that I would join them for a ski weekend next week."

"Well, please be careful son, and call us when you get back."

"I will Dad, I love you, tell mom I love and miss her too, and I will keep in touch, goodbye."

 

After Michael earned his degree in business management he was offered a lucrative position with a well respected company in a city 1500 miles from his parents home.

Through the years Michael thought of his father much. Remembering the times they spent together fishing, playing ball or just enjoying each other's company. He often reminisced of the times his father would give of his time to teach him how to do something, or explain how something worked.

In a world practically devoid of parental affection and guidance, Michael knew that he had been blessed with a father who cared about him and loved him deeply.

Michael never neglected to keep his promise to keep in touch with his parents. He called them by phone regularly, and always remembered to send a note or card at the appropriate times assuring them that he was thinking of them.

It was only after his father's death that Michael began to ask himself some very difficult and hard questions.

His father had suffered a fatal heart attack and lived only a single day afterwards.

Michael tried desperately to get to his father's bedside before he passed away but arrived too late to see his father alive one last time.

His mother told him that his father fought valiantly, trying to cling to life just long enough to feel his son's touch one last time.

Michael's heart was pierced, and he wondered "If I really loved my father as much as I believed, then why is it that I have not hungered for his presence, his touch, as he hungered for mine?" "Why have I been content with a long-distance relationship with my father when he wanted so badly to embrace me, to touch me, to spend time in my presence?"

It seemed Michael was always too busy, though his father was always there anxiously waiting, willing to make time.

Still, the hard questions remained unanswered,- "Why did I not hunger and thirst for my father's presence as he hungered and thirsted for mine?" "Why didn't I value his presence as he valued mine?"

How precious is a father's love for his children. When God brought His children out of bondage in Egypt He assured them- "My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest." (Exodus 33:14)

My friends, our Heavenly Father still desires to have a people of His presence. A people who will willingly receive the consuming fire of the Lord that it may purge and purify them, allowing them to come ever closer to Him.

John the Baptist said of himself and of Jesus, "I baptize you with water, but He that comes after me will baptize you with spirit and with fire." (Luke 3;16)

It is the fire that will test every man's work. (1 Cor. 3:12) It is the fire that is able to purge the dross and impurities from the gold and silver of our devotion.

Let those who have an ear to hear pray, "Father, send your fire that it may consume me and prepare a place in me for your manifest presence."

Surely God values a people who want more than a long-distance relationship with Him. Clearly, our Father prefers dialogue over monologue.

How wonderful it must have been for Him to hear Moses say,- "I pray Thee, show me Thy glory!" (Exodus 33:18)

Of the twelve Apostles only three were given the honor of seeing Jesus manifested in glory, notice,- "And six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and brought them up to a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. And Peter answered and said to Jesus, "It is good for us to be here." (Matthew 17:1-4)

Can there be a people today that can endure the manifest presence of a holy God? That, like Peter could say "It is good for us to be here?" The answer is "yes", if we are obedient to the command to "be holy for I am holy", to allow God to purify us. Remember Jesus' promise,- "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." (Matthew 5:8)

God told Moses that His presence would go with him. Possessing the manifest presence of the Almighty is greater than merely having the indwelling of His holy spirit.

Moses had the indwelling of the holy spirit, as also did the seventy elders whom were chosen to assist Moses, yet they went up the mountain to experience the manifestation of the presence of the Lord. Notice,- "Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they beheld God, and they ate and drank." (Exodus 24:9-11)

Of Christians, Paul says, we have not come to Mount Sinai but to Mount Zion,- "But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, AND TO GOD, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel." (Hebrews 12:22-24)

Yes, brethren, we receive an unshakeable Kingdom and can only enter into God's presence holy and pure, for our God is a consuming fire, Notice,- "Therefore, since we receive a Kingdom which cannot be shaken, LET US SHOW GRATITUDE (Praise of Thanksgiving), BY WHICH we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a CONSUMING FIRE." (Hebrews 12:28-29)

As David said, "Enter into His Gates with Thanksgiving, and His Courts with Praise."

One cannot enter into God's presence in an acceptable way without entering with the praise of thanksgiving.

Notice that Paul said that "Showing Gratitude" is "By Which" - "we may offer to God an ACCEPTABLE SERVICE."

Praise and Thanksgiving is the altar of service which the fire of the Lord rests upon, ready to receive our spiritual sacrifices of devotion.
 

Let us understand that God does not accept spiritual sacrifices offered on "Strange Fire." (Leviticus 10)

God inhabits the Praise of His Saints.

Dear brethren, are your Sabbath Services filled with Praise and Thanksgiving? Are you offering a Praise which God can inhabit? We cannot come before our Father in an intellectual manner, we are His children. We must come before Him with the meekness of a child.

When Moses spent time in the manifest presence of God, his face radiated with glory from the experience. And sadly, even the radiance of God's glory on Moses face frightened the children of Israel so that he had to veil his face in their presence.

After delivering His children out of bondage in Egypt, God told Moses to tell them,- "If you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a KINGDOM OF PRIESTS and a holy nation." (Exodus 19:5-6)

Notice that God did not say "I will give you a priesthood from the sons of Levi," but that the whole nationwould be a Kingdom of Priests. (I believe of the order of Melchizedek) This was the offer of the Abrahamic Covenant which Christians have since entered into,- "And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise." (Galatians 3:29)

Moses delivered the wonderful news and told Israel to "consecrate yourselves today and tomorrow and wash your garments, and get ready for the third day, for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people." (Exodus 19:10-11)

They were excitingly getting ready for the manifestation of the presence of Almighty God. To actually hear His voice speak to them.

But when the glory of the Lord descended the mountain quaked violently,- "And all the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, and when the people saw it they trembled and STOOD AT A DISTANCE. Then they said to Moses, "Speak to us YOURSELF and WE WILL LISTEN, but LET NOT GOD SPEAK TO US lest we die." (Exodus 20:18-19)

Moses pleaded with them saying "God is only testing you!" "He is only instilling fear so you will not sin."

God's chosen children would listen only to Moses not to God. They felt as though they could not endure hearing His voice. They "stood at a distance," wanting only a "long-distance" relationship with their God.

They had no hunger for the manifest presence of God. God wanted to reveal His glory, He wanted His children to receive His presence, but it simply pushed them out of their "comfort zone."

They had rejected the Abrahamic Covenant. They had rejected being His anointed, Royal and Holy Priesthood ministering in His presence.

What about our "comfort zone" today among the people of God? Are we comfortable only with learning and studying about God? About His ways?

Israel wanted to learn about God, about His ways, receive His protection and blessings, but they did not want to behold His presence or hear His voice. They were comfortable only when Moses was between them and God. They wanted veiled from God's presence, and even asked that Moses veil his face so that they may not see even the reflection of God's glory. But this is not what God wanted, was it?

Because of these transgressions, God made a different covenant, the Sinai Covenant based upon inferior promises. The Sinai Covenant included the Ten Commandments but also had 613 laws called the Book of the Covenant.

These were added because of the transgressions associated with rejecting the first Covenant, notice,- "Why the (Book of the) Law then? (Gal.3:10) It was added because of transgressions. . .until the Seed (Jesus) should come to whom the promise had been made." (Galatians 3:19) It was the first Covenant that carried the offer of the Promised Seed, which is Jesus sown in us by the power of the holy spirit. It is the seal of God, which connotes our ownership to Him and our earnest of eternal life. It is our hope for glory.

After Moses received the terms of the second Covenant, the Sinai Covenant, he read the Book of the Law to the children of Israel.

After hearing, the children were happy and in agreement. God then instructed Moses to build an Ark to house the Covenant. The Ten Commandments, written by the finger of God in stone, were to be placed inside the Ark, under the Mercy Seat. (Showing its enduring nature) The Book of the Law (Book of the Covenant) was to be written on dried animal skins and placed on the outside of the Ark.

Israel would be sealed in the Sinai Covenant until Jesus would come and then the Abrahamic Covenant would be offered Israel again.

John writes, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1)John goes on to say that this Word, namely Jesus Christ, came to His own (Israel) and His own received Him not.

As we understand, only a remnant of Israel believed and accepted Jesus, the "Promised Seed" which came through the first Covenant. As the story goes, we see that God turned then to the Gentiles and many of them received the Covenant ratified by the blood of Christ.

God then instructed Moses to construct a Tabernacle for the dwelling of His presence. Inside would be the Holy of Holies where the manifest presence of God would dwell, and the Holy Place containing a Golden Lamp Stand, a Table of Incense and the Table of Shewbread also called the Table of Presence.

Upon this Table would rest twelve loaves of bread, one representing each tribe of Israel.

Now notice, although these loaves were in the House of the Lord, they were separated from His presence by a thick veil which covered the entrance into the Holy of Holies where His presence abided.

So brethren, we can regularly come to the House of God to worship but never pass through the veil and into His manifest presence. We can find that our "comfort zone" is in the Holy Place and not the Holy of Holies.

But He has invited us in. Like Michael's father, our Heavenly Father hungers for our presence so much that He laid down the life of His only Son to make it possible. Like Michael's father, our Heavenly Father desires more than a regular check-in.

He has purchased our way, not with gold or silver, but with the precious blood of His Son. But we must come into His presence holy, pure and with the meekness of a child.

Please don't be content as Israel was to "stand at a distance." God is calling His children to come near, to be touched by His presence. To be purified with His consuming fire.

As Christians, we are one with Christ. We are His Body. We are not twelve loaves in the Holy Place, but are in fact, one holy, unleavened loaf designated for the Holy of Holies, notice,- "For we being many are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread." (1 Corinthians 10:17)

We are "in Christ" and Christ stands in the Holy of Holies with His own shed blood in order that you and I may enter and enjoy His presence in fellowship.

When Jesus gave His precious life for you and me, the veil in the Temple was torn from top to bottom. We now have access to the very presence of God. Let us come before Him with praise and thanksgiving.

God said of David, "He is a man after My own heart."

What did David do differently from other obedient, faithful men of God?
 

We may think of Moses of whom God said was "His friend." Abraham may come to mind when we remember that God calls him the "father of the faithful." Or perhaps, the devotion of Daniel as he was thrown into a den of hungry lions.

But the one quality that David possessed that God found irresistible was his joyous heart for praise.
 

David once said, "I will praise You in the morning." then later said, "I will praise You in the morning and the evening," then still later said, "I will praise you in the morning, at noon and in the evening," and then finally, "I will praise you continually."

David also had a burning desire to build a dwelling place for the presence of God.

Though God would not allow him to construct it, He promised that his request would be realized during the reign of his son, Solomon.

Likewise, let us pray, "Father, create in me and in my congregation a place for the dwelling of Your presence."

David once said, "I would rather be in the House of the Lord than any other place."

Quite a statement for a King!

As Christians, do we feel the same way? Would we rather be in the House of God than any other place? Do we look eagerly look forward to Sabbath Services, anxious to worship and release our lips in praise and thanksgiving?

Let us examine the attitude of a man after God's own heart.

"As the deer pants (longs for) for the water brooks, so my soul pants for Thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God." (Psalm 42:1-2)

"He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors, Me; And to him who orders his way aright, I shall show the salvation of God." (Psalm 50:23)

"My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises! Awake, my glory; Awake,harp and lyre, I will awaken the dawn! I will give thanks to Thee, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praisesto Thee among the nations." (Psalm 57:7-9)

"O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly; My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee."(Psalm 63:1)

"Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise Thee. So I will bless Thee as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Thy name." (Psalm 63:3-4)

"Let the godly one exult in glory; Let them sing for joy on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth." (Psalm 149:5-6)

"Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord while I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being." (Psalm 146:1-2)

There is "the sound of joyful shouting, and salvation is in the tents of the righteous." (Psalm 118:15)

"Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing."(Psalm 100:1-2)

"How blessed are those who dwell in Thy House! They are ever praising Thee." (Psalm 84:4)

"O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms." (Psalm 95:1-2)

"Come let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. Today if you would hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts." (Psalm 95:6-8)

"Praise Him with trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!" (Psalm 150:3-6)

"Let them praise His name with dancing; Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and Lyre. For the Lord takes pleasure in His people;" (Psalm 149:3-4)

Dear Brethren, let us examine our approach to God. For He truly takes pleasure in His children and He finds a habitat in their praises.
 

Our Father loves us with an everlasting love and draws us near with His lovingkindness, notice,- "I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore i have drawn you with lovingkindness." (Jeremiah 31:3)

He is longing for a people to touch with His love and affection and He says,- "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13)

Let us diligently seek him and prepare a place in us. . . that we might be a people of His presence.

 

 


 


 

 

 

 

Points of Truth Ministries