Practicing The Presence of God–2.3

Today, we are continuing a series on Practicing the Presence of God.  We are going step-by-step learning how to practice the presence of God.  To review earlier posts in this series click the following:

Practicing the Presence of God 2.0

Practicing the Presence of God 2.1

Practicing the Presence of God 2.2

In our last post, we saw God instruct Moses to prepare himself to meet with Him.  Following God’s instruction of preparation, God tells Moses to come alone. No one was to come with Him.  Here we find our next step as well.

Step 3: Isolation

“No one is to come with you” Exodus 34:3a

I love how God gives Moses such clear instructions regarding His presence. When Moses and the Israelites got determined to have the presence of God, Yahweh answered with a how-to list.

  • Prepare yourself to Meet with Me (God)
  • Come Alone

God tells Moses “Now leave these people. Moses, it’s just going to be you and Me–alone.” (Bobi Ann’s Revised Version)

Time away alone with God is vital to experience His presence in a real and practical way.  Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever your responsibilities–you need to get away alone with God.  God values time with you. He doesn’t take for granted the time you set aside to meet for Him.

The remainder of Exodus 34:3 informs Moses to not only come alone to meet with God but to clear  the mountain of people or animals or anybody.

God wasn’t messing around. He was ready to show Himself to Moses and He wanted Moses to Himself.

No One Said It Would Be Easy

Isolation isn’t always an easy task. In fact, I would wager for many it seems an impossible task.

At my house, I have young children that demand my presence constantly. I serve in a busy ministry with lots of meetings and lots of needs to be met. I work hard to stay connected to my parents who live several states away. There seems to be situations needing my attention and presence all the time.

There was a time when I attended to all of these needs. I would tell myself and God: “when the baby was asleep and the dishes were done and all the phone calls were made, then we would get alone.”

I soon discovered there was never time left to get away with God.

I had a friend tell me once that if you have to choose between cleaning your house and getting away with God, you must choose getting away with God. The house will get dirty again but you won’t get the time back that you could have spent with God.

 

If you’re anything like me, letting it all go is a challenge.  You feel the pressure to perform–to check it all off the list.

Please hear me, the best time you’ll spend for your children, your spouse, your boss, your parents, your ministry, whomever, is when you’re with God alone.

Isolate yourself long enough to get alone with God.

I’ve often heard my pastor tell the story of when he was in college at Baylor University, he had two roommates in the dorm. It was almost impossible to find a place of isolation in his small dorm room with two other guys. So, he would climb in the closet, shut the door and hide away with God alone.

For me, isolation is one of the hardest disciplines. It isn’t because I don’t want to be alone, but because there is so much demand for my time and presence.

Find a way to get alone. Get creative.

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:6

The King James Version actually uses the word, “closet.” I don’t think Jesus was actually referring to a clothes closet, but if that’s what does it for you, get in that closet with the clothes hanging around you, the door shut and your heart connecting to God.

For me it is in a rocking chair in my bedroom or sometimes my back porch.

Throughout Scripture, there are men and women who met with God alone.

  • It was when Abraham was alone with God that God gave him the great covenant.
  • Daniel was alone with God when he received an array of prophecies.
  • Paul was alone when he wrote the book of Romans and the letters to the early churches.
  • John was alone on an island when God revealed Himself through visions and John wrote the book of Revelation.
  • Jesus, Himself, withdrew, in the midst of a busy, fruitful ministry to meet with God alone.

If you want to experience God’s presence, if you want something real with God, it is a necessity to get alone with God.

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Practicing the Presence of God–2.2

We finished last week’s post, looking at Moses and the first step towards learning to practice the presence of God.  The first step is to: Get Determined.  Today, we’re looking at the second step.

Step 2: Be Prepared

I love the story of Moses and the Israelites. The Israelites remind me a lot of me. They often took God for granted but when it came right down to it, they knew they needed Him. God listened to their plea for His presence and He responded. He wanted them to be ready for His presence.

“And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto Mount Sinai, and present thyself there to Me in the top of the mount.” Exodus 34:2

Desiring the presence of God requires being ready to receive it. In short, we’ve got to do the work. We can’t flippantly seek the presence of God. Don’t misunderstand. This is not about cleaning up before you approach God. We can approach God with our ugliest sin and messiest messes. In fact, He wants us to come to Him. He is an approachable God. But, He is looking for the one seeking hard after Him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

Getting Down To Business

There is a clear theme throughout the Bible of God doing business with those who mean business.

In the 2012 Summer Olympics, there was an athlete named Kim Rhode. Rhode won the gold medal in skeet shooting. She was the first American to win 5 Olympic medals in five consecutive Olympic games. For 20 years she competed and won! She didn’t just win, she set records. In the 2012 games, she hit 99 out of 100 skeet and set a new Olympic record. In her first Olympic games in 1996, when she won, she became the youngest female gold medalist in Olympic shooting.

New York Times interviewed Rhodes and asked her the question, “How do you distinguish yourself from the rest of the crowd?

Very firmly she answered, “I shoot anywhere from 500 to 1,000 rounds every day of the week year round.” (To save you the math, that’s 3 million plus shots. That’s around 600,000 rounds per medal.)

If you look at those numbers, her medals and accomplishments aren’t that surprising.

She didn’t just show up to the Olympics to compete on a whim. She came prepared. She invested time and money. She would have had to reject things that would interfere with her training.

When so many people in our culture are living lives of desperation longing for fulfillment, how are we as believers going to distinguish ourselves? How can we be set apart from the culture, even many in the church?

The Answer:  According to the Bible, we prepare our heart to seek the Lord.

In 2 Chronicles we find the accounts of two kings. One who was evil.  Scripture clearly states of a king named Rehoboam,

“And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord.”–2 Chronicles 12:14

However, if you read just a few chapters down about another king named Jehu you would find these words:

“Nevertheless there are good things found in thee…in that thou hast prepared thy heart to seek God.” 2 Chronicles 19:3

Preparation means something to God. If you want to practice the presence of God throughout your day, it must begin with preparation. Experiencing God’s presence begins with a whole-hearted desire to meet with God. Like the Olympic star, reaching your spiritual goals will require an investment. It will mean turning down things that will interfere with the goal.

Choose everyday to get away with God. Close a door, get a Bible in a translation that is easy to understand and a notebook. Turn off your cell phone. Communicate to God that He is the priority.

Your time alone with God is not the only act of seeking God but will help as you prepare to continue to seek Him throughout your everyday activities.

Determine not to casually approach God but prepare to seek the conscious presence of God.

Question: In what ways have you communicated the priority of God in your life?

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