Living in the Presence of God


14 Oct

Psalm 36:5-7,

"Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. 6 Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast. 7 How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings."

Psalm 91:1-6,

"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. 3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. 4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. 5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; 6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday."

"Under Shadow of thy wings".  What does this mean?

Remember the time in the N.T. when Jesus had entered Jerusalem on a donkey and the people were waving palm branches & shouting, "Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord!"? (John 12:13)

The Pharisees demanded that Jesus tell the people to shut up. He said if they shut up the rocks will cry out.  Later Jesus looked up at the temple and said,

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matt. 23:37)

Jesus used the term, "how often would I have gathered thy children together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings" as a way of saying, "I would have protected you just as a hen protects her chicks. I would have taken you under My wings and nothing could touch you without touching Me first."

It may sound like a silly question but did Jesus have "wings"?

In the scriptures, the phrase "under my wing" is a metaphor, or figure of speech. But yes, Jesus did have wings of a sort!  Malachi 4:2 says,

"But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings"

In the time of Jesus most people were familiar with that scripture. In those days men wore an outer cloak or mantle. The four corners of the cloak were called "wings". On each corner was a fringe or tassel called a tzitzit. The tassel was made up of white linen threads with one single blue thread running through it.  It was to remind them of the Commandments. (Num. 15: 38-39)

When the woman with an issue crawled up behind Jesus and touched the border of His garment, she actually touched the fringes on the corner of His prayer shawl.

Luke 8:43-44 "And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, 44 Came behind him, and touched the border (corner or wings) of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched."

Old Testament people had tangible things to remind them of God, His commandments, His presence.  They had the Tabernacle & Temple, the Ark of Covenant, the stones with the commandments, etc.   The prayer shawl was used as a portable prayer closet.  It was put over the head so only the face would show as the man prayed. 

TODAY: We have the Word and our faith to remind us of the promises of God.   Sometimes our faith comes hard.  That's why its good to look in the Word to see the faithfulness of God, both in the O.T. and the N.T.

An ancient custom was something called, "Coming Under The Shadow of My Roof"

When Jesus used the phrase "under my wings" it was a reference to an ancient custom that is still practiced today in some parts of the world. It is the idea of coming under the covering of someone or something for protection and provision. Let us pretend for a little while and go back to Old Testament times.

One day you are sitting at home enjoying a meal when there is a knock on the door.  You open the door and there standing before you is a perfect stranger.

According to the custom of that day, you would welcome this stranger into your home.   You do not ask him, "What are you selling? Or "What do you want at this time of night?" You do not kick him out and say, "Come back later after we are done eating!"

No, this is a total stranger but you are going to welcome him into your home as if he was an old friend.  He may have just gotten out of jail or maybe the law is hunting him but you are going to treat him just as if he had been sent to you as a gift from Heaven. You will not ask where he came from or how long he intends to stay because you might embarrass him.

According to the custom of that day, you assume that God has sent him your way and you consider it a great honor.  By honoring the stranger's presence, you will be giving praise to God for sending the man to your door.

This was a custom that seems strange to us today.  But it was a very serious custom.  It was called "coming under the shadow of my roof".  The man had come under the shadow of your roof and you are going to welcome him as one of the family.

Everything you own is at his disposal. There may be only one bed in your home but you will offer to this stranger that God has sent your way.  You will protect him with your own life if you have to.

One of the first things you do is offer him food and drink.  Eating a meal together even strengthens the relationship because the meal has established a covenant.

In ancient times an animal would be sacrificed at the door before the guest entered. With blood on the threshold the stranger would walk across it and be welcomed as a brother.  That was called the “Threshold Covenant”.

In later years, in place of an animal they would substitute salt for the blood.  Each person would take a little salt with bread as a covenant meal together.  That was called a “Salt Covenant”.  It sealed the bond between the two parties and guaranteed protection to the guest.

Several years ago my wife and I went to Israel.  When we entered the city of Jerusalem, the first place we visited was the tomb of Samuel.  It was a fenced-in area that was controlled by Muslims.   We were welcomed and then given salt and bread to eat.  That was part of the ancient custom of welcoming us.  We had their full protection while we were there.  They would defend us with their lives if it was needed. 

Back to the stranger at your door. He has now become part of your family.  You are going to show him all the love and kindness that you can because it is considered an act of worship to God Who has sent the man to come under the shadow of your roof.

Understanding this custom also helps us understand the story in the O.T. about Lot and the two angels.   Remember when Lot welcomed two strangers into his home in Sodom? Lot did not know it but the two men were actually angels.  The whole town heard about the two strangers in Lot’s house so they went there and demanded that Lot send out two strangers so they could have sexual relations with them.

Lot did something that is hard for us to understand.  He stepped outside to face the people and in place of the two strangers, Lot offered them his two virgin daughters instead.

In Gen. 19:8,

"Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men(The Two Strangers) do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof."

Today we would not think of such a thing as offering our own daughters but the story illustrates how serious the people of that day honored the ancient custom.

What does all this have to do with you and me?

Remember Lot taking in the strangers to protect them?  Before we were saved, we were lost.  We were strangers wandering around in a dark and lost world.  We were no angels.  But when we asked Jesus into our heart, we were taken in under the shadow of the roof of Almighty God!

Devils were outside the door yelling for us to come out so they could have their way with us, just as they always had in the past.  Like Lot offering his two daughters, God offered His only Son.  He may have said, "Look, l will give you My Son. Take Him and do what you want but do not touch ( your name here ) because he/she has come under the shadow of My roof.

When we came under His roof He offers Himself as the Bread of Life and tells us we are in a Covenant relationship.  Everything He has is at our disposal.

Then He tells us to remember our Covenant often with a meal of bread and juice.

The bread is to remind us that His Body was broken for our healing.

The juice is to bring to our remembrance how His blood was poured out for the remission of our sins.

The meal is called communion but it is to remind us that we are in Covenant with God through His Son and we have come under the safety of His roof.

  • Under that roof our sins are forgiven and our bodies are healed.
  • Under His roof there is deliverance and bondages are broken.
  • Under that roof every promise of the Bible is ours. It is our heritage as covenant Children of God.
  • Under His roof, He has promised to never leave or forsake us.

Proverbs 18:24 says, "There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother."  There is only one Friend that will stick that close.  That is Jesus!

God is everywhere. But there are certain places where He chooses to manifest His presence.

John 14:21,

"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”

The word "manifest" means "to make known".  Jesus will make Himself known to us.

In John 14, verse 22,

"Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?"

Judas wants to know why Jesus will make Himself known to His disciples and not to the unbelievers.

In verse 23,

"Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."

"And make our abode with him".  If we could just get the full revelation of that statement it would change our walk with the Lord.

Did you know that in the Greek the word for abode also means "mansion"?

See, if the Holy Spirit abides in you, your heart automatically becomes a temple.  It is a fitting place for His presence because it becomes a mansion.  It has been swept clean by the Blood of Jesus because the Holy Spirit is not going to live in a dirty house!  It is our duty to keep it cleaned.

A very sobering scripture is in 1 Cor. 3:16-17, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"

That is an amazing statement. 

But then verse says: "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."

The same verse but from the Living Bible: "If anyone defiles and spoils God’s home, God will destroy him. For God’s home is holy and clean, and you are that home".

If we could only see ourselves the same way our Lord sees us!

Question:  God is always with us. How often do we recognize His presence?

Is it just when we are in our prayer closet?  Is that where the Lord spends His time? Do we just go to visit Him in there now and then?

Is the only time we recognize His presence is when we are facing a real problem in our lives when there is no other way than to start praying?

No, He is always with us and we have His word on it. "I will never leave nor forsake you."

Heb. 13:6: From the Amplified Bible:

"God Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]"

David Lived In Gods Presence:

Psalm 23, "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."

The Lord prepares a table, or meal for us. It is a covenant meal to remind us He will never leave nor forsake us.

Here is the picture David is painting:  Although trouble is all around, God prepares a table of food for David.  He is eating in the presence of his enemies. (Not literally eating, its a metaphor, David is saying that is what it’s like to live in the presence of God.)

Have you ever camped out and made a fire at night? You sit around the fire knowing you are safe even though outside the campsite there maybe wolves walking around.

That’s the same thing David was saying in Psalm 23.  Wolves may surround you but you are in the presence of God where nothing can touch you.

Look at the last part of Psalm 23, verse 6,

"I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever."

What did David mean that he would dwell in the house of the Lord?  David never saw the Temple, his son Solomon built it after David’s death.  David was familiar with the Tabernacle made by Moses.  But notice he said, "I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever".  Did that mean he was going to move into the Tabernacle and live?

No. He could not live in the Tabernacle.  Especially forever because the tabernacle was temporary.

David knew Covenant relationships.  He had come under the shadow of God’s roof.  He lived in the presence of God.  Granted, he had his bad days, as we all do, but for the most part, David recognized the presence of God in his life and he let God know it.

Psalm 17:8,

"Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings".

The word "keep" comes from a "keep" in a castle. It was the high tower where you would go for safety when attacked by an enemy. You could look down at your enemy below and laugh at him because he could not touch you.

The "Apple of my eye" was a Jewish way of saying, "protect me just as you would protect the pupil of your own eye."

"Hide me under the shadow of thy wings". In other words, David is saying, "I have come under the shadow of your roof through Abraham."

We have come under the shadow of His roof through Jesus. We are living in a New Covenant with better promises.  Jesus lives in us by His Holy Spirit.  We should begin to recognize His presence 24 hours a day, 7 days a week because that is reality.

Our problem is that we usually put God "out there" instead of "in the heart”.

The world’s view of heaven is God is up there somewhere sitting in the clouds.  We live down here and He is way up there.  

But that is not reality.  God is on the Throne and Jesus is seated at His right Hand but through the Holy Spirit, He lives in us.

In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was with men.  He was "over" men or "came upon" men but He never dwelled IN men as He does in this New Testament period.

Remember when the Children of Israel came out of Egypt?  They traveled 40 years under God’s cloud of glory.  The cloud led them by day and by night it gave them light so they could move in the dark.

1 Corinthians 10:1, 2,

"Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;"

The cloud was like a canopy over them and was visible for miles around, especially at night when it blazed like a torch.  One commentary says that it was like a mist over the people.  It shaded them from the sun of the desert and the moisture gave a cooling effect like an air conditioner.

Israel had a hard time recognizing the presence of God.  They lived under His glory cloud but seemed to be unaware of it because they constantly complained of what they did not have, instead of giving God praise for they did have through His presence.

When the two spies went into Jericho and met the harlot Rahab she told them, "We have been talking about you people for the last 40 years.  We know God is with you and protects you. Our hearts have melted with fear knowing that someday you would come our way."

For 40 years all that Israel could see were the problems they had to deal with.  They saw a land without water and complained. They saw a land without food and complained.  God provided all those things and more but they were never satisfied.

Here is the problem with the Children of Israel and with the Body of Christ:  We live in what we think is reality here on earth.  But the things on earth are just temporary and in reality, all things in heaven are eternal.

When Jesus comes back we will know reality for what it is.  It is the Kingdom of God. The spiritual realm is reality.  We have been living in it from the time we were saved.  We are living in the Kingdom of Heaven but our eyes are glued to the kingdom of earth.

Here are some scriptures that illustrate Gods presence:

In John 14:20, talking about the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, Jesus said,

"At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you."

The word for "in" in the Greek is "en".  One description of the word is a bird settling down into a nest.   The Holy Spirit has not only come into our presence but has actually settled in us like a bird snuggling down into her nest.

Col. 3:3,

"For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."

That is reality.

John 15:4,

"Abide in me, and I in you".

"Abide" means to take up residence. The Holy Spirit has staked a claim on each one of us. He has taken up residence inside our hearts.

As Children of God, our birthright is the abiding presence of God. We may try to hide from God but He never hides His Face from His children.   

Here is an assignment for you to help you practice the presence of God.  From now until tomorrow night at this time,  pretend you are constantly living in the presence of God, as if you lived in a kind of "God bubble".  You do not have to pretend too much because you really do live in His presence.  Its like a sphere of love that begins on the inside of you and works out.

The powers of darkness are much more aware of this than we are.  When a really evil person walks into a room you know it you can usually feel the presence of evil.

The same thing happens when WE walk into a room full of evil.  They know it and they shudder.

A true story:  An Evangelist was in a foreign country. He walked into the foyer of the hotel where a fortune teller was sitting waiting for business. The fortune-teller looks at the Evangelist and he is clothed in light.  She screams, “Who are you? I know who you are, you are one of those born-again people . . . they all shine like that!"

For the next 24 hours, when you are driving, pretend that the Holy Spirit is in the car sitting next to you or just behind you.  He rides home with you.  He parks the car with you, then He goes to the recliner because He knows that is where you are going.

He watches TV with you.  He with you while you snack. He knows when its time for you to go to bed and hopes you know it too so you can get a good night’s sleep.

When you undress and get ready for bed, the Holy Spirit is next to you all the time. Do not be embarrassed to be naked in front of Him.  Remember, you were made in God’s image (or similar proximity thereof) so He has seen it all before.

He will be with you on the job tomorrow.  He will be with you as you wash dishes or do the cooking.  He is with you when you rotate your tires or check the oil.  He will be with you as you fill your car with gasoline.

But most of all, when a situation comes up that causes our temper to rise before we say the things we want to say, remember His presence.

If every Born-Again Believer in this world would just practice the presence of God in their lives 24/7, just think what a different world this would be.

So here is your assignment:  For the next 24 hours pretend that God is by your side from the time you get up in the morning until you go to bed. Carry something with you to remind you of His presence, a pencil, pen, book, clothespin, computer disk, etc.  Do not put it your pocket or purse.  When you need to use both hands put it your lap or somewhere that it has to be picked up again.

I pray you will always live in the presence of the Holy Spirit and will let Him know it.

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