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Living In His Presence

Nancy Taylor Warner

“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” Philippians 3:8

I once heard someone say, “;You are as close to God as you want to be!” I was shocked. I had always yearned for an ever closer relationship with the Lord. At times, I looked at others who had a strong sense of God’s presence in their lives, and thought how fortunate they were that God had chosen them for such a beautiful relationship with Himself. Yet, as I thought about it, I had to acknowledge that what I had heard was true—I was as close to God as I chose to be. It was me, not Him, making that choice.

In Genesis, when God created man, it was for a time of fellowship with Him. Adam and Eve were given responsibilities, then, in the cool of the evening, the Lord would come to fellowship with them.

 “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”;Genesis 2:15

 “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day… ”; Genesis 3:8a

Yet, the day came that, because of sin, instead of being able to respond to the Lord and His coming as they had in times past, they now hid from the presence of the Lord.

“And the serpent said… And when the woman saw… she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her… And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” Genesis 3:4-7

 “…and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.”; Genesis 3:8b

God did not leave man in that state of separation from Himself, but made a way for reconciliation, that fellowship might be restored between God and man.

“And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?”; Genesis 3:9

 “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.”; Genesis 3:21

The Lord God Almighty is omniscient; He knows all things. He knew Adam and Eve had disobeyed. He knew they were hiding. Yet God called out to man in redemptive love, enabling him to once again respond to God, first in confession—the first step of repentance and the restoration of fellowship with God.

God clothed Adam and Eve in coats of skin, the first shedding of blood we have record of in scripture. Today, because of the precious blood of Jesus shed for us, we too, clothed in His love and grace, can live and walk in His presence, as well as enjoy quality times alone with the Lord, in communion and intimate fellowship with Him.

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”; Hebrews 4:16

As I take my first step toward fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ through repentance, faith in His atoning sacrifice, and His love for me, I come to know the power of His blood, which cleanses me and gives me new life. In faith, I can now come boldly before the throne of God, accepting what Christ has done for me on Calvary.

Scripture tells me I have been saved, not through good things I have done, but by grace, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

 “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Titus 3:5

These verses speak of the new birth, or of being born again. The washing of regeneration is the cleansing work of the Spirit of God within a life, making a person new in a moment of time, as the Holy Spirit imparts spiritual life into the one who believes. Jesus said in John 3:7, “;Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Through this regeneration of the Holy Spirit, scripture says I now am a new creature in Christ Jesus.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

As a “;newborn babe” (1 Peter 2:2), I am able to enter into a new fellowship with God, through the Holy Spirit that now dwells inside me.

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3

Within mankind there is an emptiness that only can be filled by God Himself. This emptiness causes a desire or a hunger inside, that man seeks to fill in many ways. But only God can fill that space, because it was created for God Himself to dwell in.

I have been created with an instinctive hunger for God, but when I am saved, or born again, that hunger increases. Even as a newborn babe cries out to be fed, as a new creation my spiritual capacity is enlarged, and my spirit man longs for nourishment. That hunger is a key to my spiritual growth and to coming into a deeper fellowship with the Lord as He draws me to Himself.

“Draw me, we will run after thee…” Song of Solomon 1:4a

 The Lord will do His part: He will draw us. Within each of us has been created the ability to respond. But now I must make the choice either to cultivate the hunger the Lord has formed within me and allow it to grow, becoming filled with the Lord Himself through times of fellowship with Him…or to ignore it.

If I am going to come into a deeper fellowship with the Lord, there are choices I must make. Am I going to respond to the Lord’s drawing? Am I going to make time to feed that hunger? Or am I going to allow other things to stifle it?

These are choices I must make if I am going to grow in the things of the Lord. I must make time to feed on God’s word, spend time in prayer, and fellowship with other Christians:

“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” 1 Peter 2:2

 “…Lord, teach us to pray…” Luke 11:1

 “ Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…” Hebrews 10:25

Yet, it is not mere “religious activity” that will deepen my fellowship with the Lord. It is not merely going to church once a week, or even twice. It is not just the maintenance of a devotional time, where I have formed the daily discipline of reading my Bible and praying a prayer.

While all of these things are essential and a part of God’s plan for spiritual growth, there is something more the Lord is looking for, that brings deeper meaning even into these disciplines.

The Lord’s desire goes beyond religious routine. The longing of the Lord is for me to grow in my fellowship with Him. As I am spending time with the Lord, not as religious habit, but in communion with a personal God, who knows me and loves me and desires to be known, I will grow closer to God in my own personal fellowship and relationship with Him.

He already has called me and shown me the way through His word and by the guidance of His Holy Spirit. But I have to make the choice! How close do I want to be? How much time am I willing to invest? How focused do I want to become? Am I willing to pay the price to “;win Christ, and be found in Him”? (Philippians 3:8, 9)

Salvation is a free gift. But that which follows is not free; there is a price to be paid if we are going to enter into the fullness of His desire for our lives. It requires choice! And the choices are not always easy to make.

“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” Philippians 3:8

There are two aspects to the time that I spend with the Lord. One is quality time apart, alone in His presence. The other is my daily walk, as I learn to maintain my fellowship with Him throughout my day. I learn to share all of life’s experiences with Him.

Some have called this “;practicing His presence.” Scripture refers to it as “;abiding in Him.” (John 15:4-7) In essence, I train myself to be more mindful of the Lord and His presence, not religiously, but in an ongoing fellowship with Him, out of a hunger to know Him and serve Him more fully.

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

2 Corinthians 10:5

 “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death”;        Philippians 3:10

In I Thessalonians 5:17, scripture speaks of “;praying without ceasing.” How can I pray without ceasing? I do this as I learn to maintain communion with God, regardless of the activity I am engaged in. Everythingwe do can be time spent with the Lord, as we maintain an attitude of worship, inviting Him to be a part, staying mindful of Him in all we do.

If my attitude is right and I maintain the poise of my spirit, I can pray while I am driving the car, cutting the grass, or washing the dishes. However, I cannot pray when I am worrying, holding resentment, or preoccupied with thoughts not about God. The same part of me that prays can become busy with these other things, interfering with the fellowship I am being called to continually maintain.

The Lord is calling us up into a clearing of our lives: faith rather than worry,  forgiveness rather than resentment, and a poise of our spirit toward Him. As we come into this, we will be able to pray without ceasing, practice His presence, abide in Him—whatever you might want to call it, our lives will be marked by the fragrance of His presence.

“Abide in me, and I in you…” John 15:4a

“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-15

It is my choice to set aside these other things that He might have more freedom to manifest Himself in and through my life. Oh, that we would become a people in whom the Lord could be who He wants to be and do what He wants to do!

“Christ in you, the hope of glory!”; Colossians 1:27b

The greatest hour is yet before the church, as a people who are hungry for more than they are experiencing and seeing today, begin to set themselves apart, that the Lord might manifest Himself more fully in their lives. This is the kingdom of God established—God sitting on His throne in the midst of His people as His glory shines forth into the darkness round about, bringing light and hope.

How can this happen? As we simply learn to daily live, or abide in His presence in ongoing communion with the Holy Spirit within; as we set aside quality time to be alone with the Lord, so He can fill and refresh us; as we walk step by step in His presence throughout the day, sensitive to His Spirit within.

The Lord will manifest His presence in lives fully submitted to Him. There is a Habitation of God being established in the earth, where His government can flow out, that His glory might be made known in and through a people who have become activated, not through man’s methods, but God’s, as His power is released from within.

“And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:20-22

 “When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe.”; 2 Thessalonians 1:10

Christ, glorified IN His saints! Admired IN all them that believe! Christ being seen and glorified IN you and IN me! That corporate Habitation of God being built together begins with you and me and the choices we make.

A familiar song says longingly, “Just a closer walk with thee, grant it Jesus is my plea….”

It is available, if we will but make the choice!

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