Presence and visitations could sound ominous if it weren’t for Who we are talking about here. The Song Lifestyle in one in which we are continually in the presence of God. We are visited by the Spirit of God and angels are around us. If any of this seems weird, just keep reading. It’s not all that crazy.
Being Presence Minded
Bill Johnson has a book out called Hosting the Presence where he argues that we are called to host the Spirit of God. “Our true nature and personality will never come to fullness apart from His manifest Presence. Learning to host Him is at the center of our assignment, and it must become our focus so that we can have the success He desires before Jesus returns,” writes Johnson (loc 192).
The Presence of God is not some ethereal spiritual moment where something comes on us and we are caught up into spiritual enlightenment. The presence is a Person!
We are continually walking in the presence of God because He is continually around us. Even better, the Bible affirms that He is on the inside of us (1 Corinthians 3:16).
We cannot escape His presence. Trying to escape Him is like trying to escape your own heart. It’s not possible to separate yourself from yourself, so likewise, it’s not possible to separate yourself from God.
I Don’t Feel Him
You may be thinking, “Yeah, right. God’s always here. I still feel terrible or I don’t feel anyone here except me and the cat.”
We’ve all been taught that it’s not by feelings that we trust God. This is true, definitely. However, feelings aren’t bad either. God has given us the ability to feel complex and pleasurable emotions. He loves it when we act like “a real hedonist…[and] embrace Jesus (John Crowder, from Money.Sex.Beer.God, taken from The Ecstatic Magazine, spring/summer 2016).”
**Yes, I know a hedonist is a negative term for a pleasure seeker. But let’s get straight here: If we are in love with Mr. Mighty and we are living the Song Lifestyle, we’re going to live our lives in Christ Centered Hedonism because Jesus is the ultimate pleasure. We love Jesus and get inexplicable pleasures from Him. We’re the best kind of hedonists around!**
Something I’ve been learning is that I need to acknowledge the presence of God even when I don’t feel His presence at work in my life. In the midst of a tough moment or even in a restful moment where I feel a little bland I say, “God, your presence around me is great. You are good and you turn all things around for my good.” It’s amazing at how quickly I begin to feel His presence surround me and how suddenly my mood or situation begins to change.
Strengthen Yourself in the Lord
If things aren’t going right for you. Do what David did. He was going to be stoned to death, the situation was grim. He was scared. 1 Samuel 30 tells the story. “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters; but David strengthened himself in the LORD his God (1 Samuel 30:6 JPS Tanakh 1917).”
What is strengthening yourself in the Lord? It’s declaring who you are in Him. It’s taking the promises that He’s given you from the Bible and prophetically and actively believing them. Actively believing is stating out loud what is true, choosing to live out that truth even when it looks crazy, and not wavering. If you do waver, stand back up stronger by re-reading and immersing yourself in those promises again.
I think this falls right in line with the Shulamite in Song of Songs. I’ve discussed this verse before, but it’s worth going back to for this example. Chapter 1:8 in The Passion Translation is from the King’s perspective: “Listen, my radiant one. If you ever lose sight of me, just follow in my footsteps where I lead my lovers.”
We step out of God’s presence sometimes. He hasn’t gone anywhere, but by circumstances we sometimes take a step to the side and live outside the stream of His influence. The King here, who represents our Eternal Lover, is encouraging the Shulamite to just follow all the other lovers and to “Come with [her] burdens and cares” and find Him again.
Watchman Nee, in his book The Song of Songs (pg.18), suggests that the Shulamite following in the footsteps of the King’s lovers indicates following in the experience of both believers today and believers from the past (think Hebrews 11).
If you’re feeling like you can’t get into His presence, find some Christ Followers to surround you, read about past believers, historical revivals, crack open the B.I.B.L.E, and/or drop some hot tracks from David Helser. Acknowledge that His presence is already there, because He is already there, and surround yourself with His promises and encouragement. It’ll happen. I promise.
The Secret to His Presence
You want a guaranteed way to getting into the presence of God? I have the answer. And it’s a doozy.
I’m not kidding.
Worship brings Him close. James 4:8 says to draw near to God and He’ll come into your space. God’s not an egomaniac who needs to be praised. That’s the job of a politician. God inhabits our praise because He loves being around us. When we worship something, we become like that thing. Worship makes us like Him! We are transformed into the likeness of God. It’s not at all because God needs to be doted on; It’s about God getting near to us and changing us than it is about Him feeling special.
Getting into His presence is as simple as spending time loving Him.
So many good things are coming this week, this month, this year! Be on the lookout for goodness to splash over into your life and work and family. I heard today from God that the last 7 years, although not entirely terrible because of His grace and His hand, belonged to the enemy. The last 7 years was trials and we were allowed to be tested like Job, but that we are in a time of redemption now, a time where God is redeeming our time. So many deferred dreams are going to break open in this time! There are also a lot of prophetic words out there pointing to a season of “suddenlies” where suddenly this happens and that changes and now this is going on. God really does love everyone and has plans for prosperity both spiritually and relationally and financially.
Have a happy Monday…more to come on Thursday.