Tag Archives: God’s manifest presence

Making a Place for God’s Presence (Part 2)

Modified Hubble Image, by Lee Ann RubsamIn our last post, I explained what we mean by experiencing the Presence of God. I mentioned that worship, meditating on the Word, and intimate prayer are ways we can, as individuals, invite God to manifest His Presence to us.

Why should we want God to manifest Himself to us? Aren’t mature believers supposed to walk by faith, not by sight?

The truth is, God has built into humankind a hunger to know Him experientially. He is intimately acquainted with us, but He also longs for us to know Him intimately. That’s the way it started out in Eden — mutual knowing of one another between God and man.

In Exodus 33:12 through 34:9, we have the story of Moses’ quest for God’s manifested Presence. “I beseech You, show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:18). God readily granted his petition. He hid Moses in a crevice in the rock and allowed him to see His glory in limited measure as He passed by.

And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and … passed by before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin ….”

And Moses hastily bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. — Exodus 34:5-8

God has made us spiritual beings, who happen to reside in physical bodies. Because we are spiritual in nature, and because we were created to fellowship with God, we quite naturally long for God’s supernatural evidences to show up in our natural world. Encountering God in a manifestation of His supernatural Presence keeps us alive to Him. We need this intermingling with His Presence to sustain us and empower us to do the “greater works” of God, mentioned in John 14:12, which were to be poured out on believers with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Physical healings often take place in us too, as we worship in the Presence of our Healer.

We can encounter God’s Presence when we are alone with Him in prayer and worship, but experiencing Him tangibly should also be a regular occurrence when the Church gathers corporately. In fact, the magnitude of His revealed glory should be multiplied when we join with other believers. We are not meant for a “just me and Jesus” lifestyle. We are all members of the Body of Christ, fitted together as one entity. And when that joining together takes place, God is eager to come down among us.

Yet, many have never experienced the manifest Presence of God in the church setting. Why? We have learned to do without sensing Him in the congregation for so long that we don’t even know we can expect Him to show up.

We fill the void of His Presence with all sorts of substitutes — glitzy worship teams with all the right gestures and singing techniques, flashy lights, beautiful video presentations, music loud enough to blow the doors out. While these things are not necessarily bad in themselves (well, the excessively loud music might be!), they are calculated to appeal to our soul, not our spirit. They stimulate excitement for the mind and body, but they do not connect our spirit to the Lord. So, when the show is over, our inner man has not been satisfied. A gnawing emptiness remains.

Why are so many leaving the local church? They are not hearing the simple gospel of Jesus preached (which is a subject for another day), and they are not being given opportunity to truly meet with God in worship. When little room is made for genuine interaction between man’s spirit and the Spirit of the Lord, disappointment and boredom result. Somehow, the Church has bought into the false notion that we need to artificially entertain people, in order to compete with the world system for their attention and affection.

We can change this. It is not all that hard. It will take a few adjustments, starting with our attitudes and expanding into our actions. That’s where we will pick up next time.

Previous — Part 1
Next — Part 3

Making a Place for God’s Presence (Part 1)

Modified Hubble Image, by Lee Ann RubsamRecently, someone attending one of our prayer gatherings commented that he so enjoyed the weighty Presence of God among us. He asked, “Why do I feel that here, but not in other groups I have participated in?”

My answer was that many Christians are not aware that they can experience sensing the Lord’s Presence, and so they don’t make room for Him to move among them. In our house of prayer, we do a few simple things to make the Lord feel welcome. Basically, we prepare a place for Him, and then He does the rest. The results are glorious!

In this series, I’m going to share with you what we mean by the Glory-Presence of God, why it is important for us to experience Him tangibly, and how to tap into His Presence as individuals and in group settings, such as church services and prayer gatherings. I will provide practical how-to ideas for worship leaders and pastors who desire to see God manifest His Presence in their congregations. In this initial post, we’ll talk about the individual aspect.

When we are born again, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us. We begin to interact with God. He speaks to our inner man, convicting us of sin, comforting and reassuring us, and guiding our lives day by day. There is a further experience, clearly laid out in the Bible, which every believer can and should have — the Baptism in the Spirit — which is a full immersion in the Holy Spirit. We are filled up with Him, and fully enveloped by Him. It is a gateway into a deeper, more powerful life in Christ. For those who are skeptical, or who have never heard of being baptized in the Spirit, I have an inexpensive audio teaching for you at my website: The Baptism in the Spirit: Why You Need It & How to Get It. I have also written an article on the subject, What Is the Baptism in the Spirit?

So, every believer already experiences the Presence of God in some measure. We maintain and increase our connection to His Presence through heartfelt worship, absorbing and meditating on His Word, and intimate prayer, where we converse with Him and listen for His responses to us. Ephesians 5:18 exhorts us to “be filled with the Spirit,” indicating that there is an active part we play; worship, the Word, and intimate prayer are how we go about it.

We can experience the Lord both internally and externally. At times, He manifests Himself to His people tangibly in corporate gatherings. We may feel like the air around us becomes heavy, or thick, with Him, as if He is brooding over us or resting upon us. We may sense that He has suddenly entered the room, or, there is a gradual increase in awareness of Him. The gifts of the Spirit, mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, may start evidencing. A fog or mist which can be seen with the natural eye might appear. We become very conscious that He is with us, touching us, even though we cannot see Him.

What we are encountering in such times is the kabod, a Hebrew word translated “glory” in our English Bibles. The word also means “weight; splendor; glorious honor; abundant fullness.”

On a personal level, you may experience a warm feeling in your heart, or great peace settling in, or a sense that Jesus is standing right by your side. You may have stronger physical manifestations of God interacting with you:

1.) Fire is coursing through you or enveloping you. The Holy Spirit often reveals Himself and what He is doing as fire.

Jeremiah said “He has sent fire into my bones” (Lamentations 1:13). Moses described Him as “a consuming fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24). John the Baptist said Jesus would “baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Luke 3:16).

2.) You feel a breeze or wind. The Hebrew word ruach and the Greek word pneuma both mean “spirit; breath; wind.” They are the words used in the Bible for the Holy Spirit.

3.) Many believers have felt what they described as overwhelming sensations of “liquid love” pouring over or through them.

4.) During intense manifestations of the Lord’s Presence, you may find it hard to stand, as if you are being pushed downward, or your balance may become unsteady. At the dedication of Solomon’s temple, “… The cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD” (1 Kings 8:10, 11).

These are just a few of the ways you might encounter the Glory-Presence of God personally or in a group setting.

While we should greatly desire God’s Presence in these tangible ways, we must never get off into pursuing the manifestations for their own sake. We go wholeheartedly after the Lord, not how He shows up. We can ask, as Moses did in Exodus 33:18, “Lord, show me Your glory,” but then we let Him decide how and when to release supernatural evidences of His Presence with us. He will not disappoint us.

Next — Part 2

Savoring the Sanctuary of His Presence (Part 7)

In previous posts, I spoke about the corporate worship setting at great length.  But what about our personal worship, just Him and us? 

And there was also Anna, a prophetess …. She was very old … who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. – Luke 2:36, 37 

And the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle. —  Exodus 33:11

Here we see an old woman and a young man with something in common that set them apart from everyone else: they loved the sanctuary of God’s Presence.  They loved ministering to the Lord’s heart by lavishing themselves on Him.  They did not go in and out of His Presence: they stayed there — because they wanted to be wherever He was.

In Anna and Joshua’s day, the Lord’s Presence rested in the structure where corporate worship was conducted.  (By the way, there are still physical places in our time as well, where God has been so sought after by true worshippers that His Glory-Presence continually rests tangibly in the building.)   But we have something that Anna and Joshua did not have.  Jesus promised that when He ascended into heaven, He would send the Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of believers (John 14:16, 17), and that we ourselves would be the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19).

The Lord is still looking for people who desire not to depart from His Presence.  Worship and awareness of Him can be a lifestyle.  We do not have to step out of dwelling in His glory.  We all do step out of it and into natural-man ways from time to time, but we don’t have to.  The goal is to stay there.  It is what Jesus referred to in John 15 as “abiding in Him.”

Some of us think we have to go from one great conference to the next to experience wonderful worship, miracles, and glory manifestations.  But Jesus wants us to learn how to tap into dwelling in a state of worship, having communion with Him throughout every day, not needing the hype that is part of some corporate worship gatherings in order to be satisfied.  We are to find our complete satisfaction in Him, not in the tools that are used to facilitate worship.

Corporate worship is wonderful, and I dearly love being in that setting, but we must somehow learn to go beyond only experiencing God’s touch in that way.  Pure worship flows out of relationship with Him.  And since we are the temple of His Presence through the Holy Spirit indwelling us, we can stay in the sanctuary of worship all the time, beyond what Anna and Joshua had.

Previous: True Worship (Part 6)

You may also like Lee Ann’s 2016 article series on worship,
Making a Place for God’s Presence

NewIntMan100

Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual

 

 

The Marriage of Worship and Intercession (Part 4)

Worship and intercession go hand in hand.  The person with a true heart of intercession will quite naturally find himself slipping into worship, because both of these aspects of prayer are fueled by the Holy Spirit and flow out from our spirit-man.  Worship is the propellant which sends our prayer-rockets heavenward and gives them the “boost” to make it all the way to the throne.

Those of us who are intercessors have a very important role in the corporate worship setting, especially within church fellowships where entreating God for His Presence to settle in is understood.

Let me explain about His Presence, first of all, for those who may not have experience with what I am speaking of.  God is omnipresent, meaning that He is capable of being everywhere at the same time.  So, in that sense, He is always present among His people.  When I refer to His Presence being among us, however, I mean a tangible sense that He has drawn very near (termed by some His “Manifest Presence”).  For the spiritually attentive person, God’s Presence will be suddenly felt, whereas it was not felt moments before, and we know He has “entered the room” or “come down” among us.  When we worship with clean hands and a pure heart, experiencing communion with the Lord in this way should be the norm, once we know that we can expect it.

Within my church family, it is a rare gathering where we do NOT have His Presence manifest among us.  In fact, we normally do not shift out of our corporate worship into the sermon portion of the service until we know He is among us tangibly and that He has been pleased with our adoration.  Sometimes our worship goes on long past an hour, and sometimes we never do get to a sermon, because lavishing our love on the Lord and reveling in His response is what He wants for our entire gathering time.

Obviously, a worship team that can flow with the Spirit is key in both bringing the congregation to a place of pure focused adoration and attracting the Lord’s Presence.  But the intercessors are also important in accomplishing this goal.  When I am in the corporate worship setting, I know that I have work to do.  Both worship and warfare for breakthrough into His Presence may be necessary.  (And remember, worship is a form of warfare in itself.)  I stay sensitive to what is happening around me, listening for the Spirit, paying attention to the current atmosphere in the room, intensifying my intercession for breakthrough if I sense that it is not easily happening.

Without intercessors who are paying keen attention to what is going on around them spiritually during the corporate worship setting and taking the intercessory steps needed, the manifest Presence of God may never come down upon the congregation during its gathering.  Intercessors are needed to discern and follow up with prayer (and possibly prophetic responses) concerning what we are discerning.  Our intercessions, warfare, and prophetic responses can be done discreetly, so as not to draw attention to ourselves and thereby distract others.

Why would warfare be necessary during worship?  There are several reasons.  People can hinder heightened worship by bringing spiritual baggage with them into the corporate setting – sin issues, demonic problems, bitterness, unforgiveness, worries, lack of peacefulness, lack of being prepared for worship through prayerlessness, and just general distractions.  These things affect the atmosphere and hinder worship for the entire body, and require overcoming intercession / warfare.  Even when our hearts are right, and we have prepared ourselves for corporate worship, distractions can be presented deliberately by Satan to hinder us from connecting with the Lord.

Next time we will talk about why Satan makes such an effort to hinder worship.

Previous: Worship Establishes God’s Kingdom in the Earth (Part 3) 
Next: Worship and the Holy War (Part 5)

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Excerpted from Lee Ann’s book, The Intercessor Manual

Out of the Fire Ministries