#631 (26/6/22) COME CLOSE TO THE GOD WHO IS PRESENT
(During the summer, I will not be producing our usual daily devotionals. Each week, I will only produce one group study based on the Sunday message. Daily devotions will resume - God willing - on Monday 5th September)
On Sunday, we looked at Psalm 139 and the wonderful promise that God is always. with us.
‘You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.’ (Psalm 139:1-12)
We particularly focussed on the question:
‘Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?’ (Psalm 139:7)
How would you answer this question today? How is your spiritual health? Do you know and feel God’s love, presence and power? Or are you asking, ‘where are you Lord?’
The book, Unbroken, tells the biography of Louis Zamperini the American Olympic athlete. Whilst serving in the U.S. Airforce in 1943, he crashed his plane in the Pacific Ocean. He spent 47 days adrift, barely surviving the ordeal of sharks, lack of food and water whilst being attacked by enemy aircraft! After drifting onto an island, he and one other survivor, spent the rest of the war being terribly treated in a prisoner of war camp. However, after the war, he became a Christian and an evangelist. I share this story to make the point that, we may not have this kind of extreme experience, but we can feel lost at sea - lost from God’s presence.
This psalm helps us to prepare for and how to weather spiritual darkness. In essence, we need to come close to the God who is present. Here are some ways we can do this:
i. COME CLOSE IN CHRIST
This psalm is written by someone who is a part of the people of God. God has made it clear that only through faith in Christ can we be justified and adopted into the people of God. Paul writes,
‘Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.’ (1 Timothy 1:15-17)
God is everywhere and with everyone. However, only those who have been justified in Christ can know His presence as a loving Father.
ii. COME CLOSE IN FAITH
‘Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?’ We must answer this question: with faith. This psalm tells us the kinds of truths that we are to believe and confess. We are to take up the ’shield’ of faith; let’s speak to ourselves about God’s truth rather than listening to ourselves and believing our doubts.
iii. COME CLOSE IN PRAYER AND WORSHIP
Finally, we come close to the God who is present through prayer and worship. Prayer is to enter God’s presence. Prayer is to speak to our Father. Prayer and worship are to encounter Him and be filled with the Spirit. We read of it’s effects:
‘For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.’ (Hebrews 4:15-16)