Monday, August 20, 2012

The Presents or The Presence

Have you ever heard someone say something and you had to listen again to see if what you thought you heard was what you actually heard? This happened to me last Sunday. I was sitting in church listening to the pastor and in his message he said "we need the presence of God in our lives". But what I thought he said was "we need the presents of God in our lives". A big difference. He repeated himself and put the words on the screen and that cleared it up for me. However, my mind started chewing on this thought - Do we want the Presence of God in our lives or just the Presents of God in our lives? There is a huge difference in the two, would you agree?

Often times our prayers are for non-spiritual things. We want to be healed of some sickness, we want to get the job we need, we want our relationship with our significant other to work out, we want our child to be safe in whatever he is doing. None of these are bad things but aren't they really just Presents from God? How many times have you heard someone pray for God to work in his life and draw him closer to God even if he does not recover from the illness, how many times have you heard someone ask God to allow him to remain unemployed even if it means losing every material possession he owns if it will draw him closer to God. 

Paul seemed to get this. If you look at the prayers of Paul you will only see him pray for one physical thing and that was to have the thorn in his flesh removed and God said no.
II Corinthians 12: 7b-10 - Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I believe this was probably a turning point for Paul. He "got it" so to speak. He realized that the Presents of God would never compare to the Presence of God.
Philippians 1: 18b - 23 - Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 
I am not saying we have to die to enter the Presence of God. Look at these verses:
Galatians 2: 20 - 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Romans 8: 9-10 - 9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.
Hebrews 13: 5 - 6 - 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
    never will I forsake you.”
6 So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?”
We need to try and shift the focus away from the physical Presents of God and move into enjoying the spiritual Presence of God. We have been given unprecedented access to God the Father through the finished work of Christ on the cross. Let's try to understand what an incredible blessing this is and enjoy His Presence every day. 

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