“My strength comes from the joy of being in God’s presence.”
We become more and more mature, build our faith and grow spiritually as we look with spiritual eyes into the mirror of Gods Word and see who we have become in Christ as His Born Again sons and daughters, becoming skilled in the word of righteousness (Hebrews 5:13″. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18).
As we mature and become more and more established in the knowledge, awareness and understanding of Him, it is our heart’s desire to be spiritually strong, not influenced by the ways of this world. God’s Word gives us some guidance here:
Where does our strength come from? Is it not the joy of the Lord? We read in Nehemiah 8:10, “the joy of the Lord is my strength.” Paul reminds us to “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4).
He reinforces the instruction, saying it twice. Why? We find out in the next verse: “…The Lord is at hand” (Vs. 5). He’s not just near, He’s “at hand.” He is with us and in us, and loves us. The Greek word for “at hand,” “eggus”, means, according to Strong’s, is “to squeeze, like a hug.” It is akin to the base of the Greek “agkale,” meaning “a bend, like a curved arm.” Do you see it? He has His loving arm around us in the spirit.
That also confirms another verse which tells us the source of our joy. “You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence,” (Acts 2:28 quoting Psalm 16:11). Where will I be filled with the Lord’s joy? In His presence? Where do we learn the paths for our lives? In His presence! That is where He speaks to our hearts and we can experience the joy of having Him at hand, that joy which is a great source of our strength.
Strength from the joy of being in God’s presence
We enter His presence by spending time with Him; paying attention to Him; communing with Him, praising and thanking Him. It is enhanced by our desire for Him. As with Moses: “The Lord spoke to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend” (Ex. 33:11). Moses told the Lord, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here” (Vs. 15).
Wow! Moses preferred the wilderness to going into the Promised Land without God’s presence. God’s presence is so KEY to our well-being. We can have all the blessings of His promises, but there is no lasting joy in them without an awareness of our relationship with Him. Our fulfillment isn’t in seeking what He can do for us; it is in seeking to be with Him, in His Kingdom, aware of His gift of righteousness within us, and then all His promises are simply overflow. (Matthew 6:33).
When we spend time in His presence, we are with Him alone, intimately communing, able to hear that still small voice. Here is another key to coming freely into His presence. As in the natural world, we can’t have two lovers. James 4:5 says “The Spirit who dwells within us yearns jealously.” That’s a strong word, “yearns.” He loves us so much He yearns for us to come into His presence and pay attention to Him, so we can experience His love, and He can lead and guide us, heal our hearts and teach us His ways.
The Lord is jealous for us to put Him first, and we will not enter into and experience His presence, even though He dwells within us, if we are unwilling to let go of the ways of the world. If we are willing, He will help us.
He’s jealous for our well-being
He is a jealous God, jealous for our well-being, which worldly ways rob, and He wants us to experience His presence, where He can build us up and strengthen us as we run the race of this life. If anyone wants us to succeed in life, He does, and He has made provision first through the blood of the Cross, and then through our relationship with Him.
Even as Egypt was still in the hearts of the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness, so many of the ways of the world are still in our minds, emotions and desires even after being Born Again. We can’t in the flesh get Egypt out; it must be replaced, replaced with the presence of the Lord, which transforms us so that we no longer conform to the ways of the world.
As my friend Kinfegabriel Matthewos wrote recently: “Time spent in the presence of God is not time wasted, never! Instead it is time invested, it is time invested into our spiritual well-beings and into our futures. It is also time invested into the causes of the kingdom.”
Let us summarize: We have His grace, received by faith, and the Holy Spirit, of which we are a temple, in our lives. Therefore, we want to be strong in the Lord and have these truths effective for daily living. That strength comes from the joy of our relationship with Him, being in His presence. We experience His presence as we set our hearts as one would set a GPS on our relationship with Him, paying attention to Him in our lives, communing with Him, and being willing to abandon the ways of this world for His ways.
“Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name” Psalm 86:11. Let us pray to prepare our hearts to experience His presence: Lord, I want to know you more richly, with revelation into your ways. I know my ways and the world’s ways only too well.
Lord, I ask for an undivided heart, that I may wholeheartedly honor and respect You and Your ways, rather than my own and the world’s ways.
His answers to that prayer help us to mature, to receive revelation, to know His ways more and more, to be wholehearted for Him in our lives, caring more about what He thinks and considers important than what the world does.
Let us ”be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10). The joy of His presence leads to the joy to give us the strength we need, in the power of His might, as we use God’s spiritual armor and the sword of His Word to overcome.
Father, help each of us to understand and value Your wonderful presence, and grow strong in You, overcoming every obstacle in life and available to You for Your purposes as Your Kingdom advances in these final hours, in Jesus name.
Some of this message was inspired by discussions men’s group as we went over our reading in John Bevere’s excellent book, “Good or God: Why Good Without God Isn’t Enough.” I was then spurred on to write this after reading brother Matthewos’ post, all the way from Ethiopia. The Spirit of the Lord draws on the Body of Christ, near and far, to get out revelation of God’s Word.