PRACTISING THE PRESENCE OF GOD

Two important Scriptures:

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

With God’s help, it is possible to be an image-bearer of Christ in the workplace — no matter how difficult. God will meet us right where we are in our lives.  Christians need to remember God initiated His relationship with us. He longs to commune with us. When we consider prayer as our identity, it is no longer an action as much as it is who we are in the world, as God’s beloved children. In prayer, we open ourselves to receiving this great gift of relationship and grace, especially needed when we are in our most difficult moments.

Practice of Presence of God - Brother Lawrence
At any moment and in any circumstance, the soul that seeks God may find Him, and practice the presence of God. Brother Lawrence, a seventeenth-century French monk, learned to practice the presence of God at all times. And you can, too. Many of the saints described prayer as “the breath of the soul,” including St Jane de Chantal, who defined prayer as “a wordless breathing of love in the immediate presence of God.” 

When we think of it this way, it is possible to envision a different practice of prayer: one that brings us mindfully to our breath and our life. St Francis of Assisi and St Francis Xavier both practiced breath prayer, which were very short prayers tied to the breath (St Francis of Assisi prayed “My God and My All,” and St Francis Xavier prayed “O beata Trinitas – O Blessed Trinity”). This approach to prayer is one that can help us connect with God amidst our busy lives.

It can be as simple as:

  • Taking a moment to breathe and acknowledge God’s presence with you.
  • Inhaling and picturing God filling you with love, mercy, goodness, or another attribute.
  • Exhaling slowly, releasing tension or other feelings that may be hindering you.
  • You can also develop a short prayer, similar to those above, focusing on a simple phrase or word, such as “Mercy,” “Grace,” or “Love.”

God is with us and dwells within us at all times (John 14: 16-17). Continuing to John 14: 23, we are invited to come and make our home within God. When we see that God is all around us and within us, we can rest in knowing that we are surrounded by God’s presence and invited to come home to God on a regular basis.

Knowing that we carry the Holy Spirit with us wherever we go means that we also carry the presence of Jesus into all of our interactions, spaces, and relationships. As we learn to listen to the Spirit better, we also learn to listen to God’s people. They offer us opportunities to gain the wisdom, guidance, or encouragement the Spirit wishes to impart upon us, as long as we are open to listen. As we carry the presence of Jesus wherever we go, we can also practice his gentle attentiveness and listening, which opens our eyes to God’s most valued treasure: humanity. In being present with people, we honour God and experience joyful grace.

A few things we can do to help us practice presence include:

  • Develop a daily habit of remembering you carry Jesus with you into every situation
  • Remind yourself that the person in front of you bears the image of, and is precious to, God.
  • Set an intention to be present with the person you are with. Give them your full attention.
  • Keep your eyes and ears open for the whispers of God in the various situations you find yourself in. What is God saying or doing? How can you discern God’s heart in the situation?

This article is based on Tricia Rhodes’ Spiritual Health Amidst Chaos course available at Fuller Theological Seminary. 

GOD’S GLOBAL PURPOSE

Why did God create the heavens and the earth? Why did God create men and women? What is His ultimate goal in all that He has made?

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
Psalm 46:10

We love the personal benefits of, “Be still, and know that I am God,” but we consciously or unconsciously disconnect that truth from its global implications and develop an evangelical theology that places man at the centre and neglects God’s purpose in the world.

Our lives tend to reflect a belief that God’s global priority is to make His disciples more comfortable. I do believe that God desires to bless us and that God’s desire to bless His people is a major theme of the Bible. But if we focus on the theme of blessing alone, we distort the truth and lose the context in which God’s blessings are given.

God’s global purpose as expounded in His Word, is His desire to redeem mankind, the nations, to Himself. It involves the active pursuit of worshippers from all the peoples of the earth who will give Him the glory. God’s blessings and His global purpose are beautifully woven together in the Bible.

“Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all peoples.

For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised;
He is to be feared above all gods.” Psalm 96:1-4

God is jealous for His name and for His glory. We were created to be the
image-bearers of God, to reflect and manifest His glory in the world (Genesis 1:26–28; Isaiah 43:7)

To the Glory of God the Father

Phrases like “for the glory of God” are not religious tack-on phrases, phrases like this are not to give emphasis to the main point––they are the main point.

“Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately.” John 13:31-32

“Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.John 12:27

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

Let the Nations be Glad! By John Piper

Do It All for the Glory of God

“For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:20 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” 1 Peter 4:11

“Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.” 1 Peter 4:16

“This He (Jesus) spoke (to Peter), signifying by what death he would glorify God.” John 21:19a

God’s passion for His own glory does not lessen the fact that He loves us; in fact, it strengthens the concept of His love for us. God’s passion for His name should be our central motivation for world evangelisation. God is not receiving the worship that is due His name; therefore, God is calling out worshippers from among the nations, and He’s doing it through the witness of the church. Every church and every follower of Jesus Christ is called to participate in this global activity.

Pastor and author John Piper sets out a challenge for us in his book “Let the Nations Be Glad”. Let us take up the challenge.
“God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshippers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the supremacy of His name among the nations. Therefore, let us bring our affections into line with His, and, for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts, and join His global purpose.”

THIS FALSE BELIEF IS THE ROOT OF THE CHURCH’S PROBLEMS

Francis Chan believes the modern church has an outreach problem. We pray and intercede with fervour for miracles and the supernatural—and yet few of us take that same passion into outreach ministry. Worse yet, he says, we rely on our own power to save people, believing we can do anything to persuade someone more or less to Christ. He diagnoses the problem—and offers a persuasive answer—in this sermon. Pastor’s you need to see this message. It will be 20 minutes invested in eternal life.