7 Steps to Experience the Presence of God

7 Steps to Experience the Presence of God

Scripture: Revelation 21:3, 2 Chronicles 12:14, 2 Chronicles 19:3
Date: 06/09/2018 
We have been separated from God because of our sin. God created us to be with Him. The plan of salvation is about how to get back into the presence of God.

Steps to Christ

Steps to Christ
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Sleepwalking or somnambulism is a troubling condition where people arise in a state of low consciousness and perform activities normally performed while awake. These can be as harmless as walk into the bathroom or cleaning, or as hazardous as driving, starting fires, or walking in traffic. The person's eyes can be open, but have a glassy "look right through you" expression. These sleepwalking episodes might last 30 seconds or 30 minutes. In 2005, a 34 year-old- man was reportedly caught sleepwalking by his wife. He was mowing the lawn at 2 am naked. His wife didn't wake him, but in the morning he didn't believe her story of what he'd been up to. It wasn't until he looked at the soles of his feet that he finally believed her. They were filthy. Is it possible to be a sleepwalking Christian walking through life in a low state of consciousness about the things of God? The parable of the ten virgins divides sleeping saints in the church into two groups. Only half are prepared for the Bridegroom's arrival. Are you prepared for Jesus' coming?

Our message today is talking about the presence of God. In particular, I'd like to give you from a story in the Bible, seven steps that you can take to experience the presence of God. Most of our time today is going to be looking at a story you find in Exodus chapter 33 and 34. So if you have your Bibles, you may want to turn there. Exodus 33, and I probably ought to set the stage a little bit. Most of you know the story in Exodus chapter 32. God had given the Ten Commandments to the people in, of course, chapter 20 of Exodus. Moses goes up the mountain then, he gets the written copy. God spoke the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. He goes up the mountain then to get the written copy, but he's up there 40 days and 40 nights, and people didn't know it was going to take him so long to come back. And while they knew he'd come back, they didn't know when and in waiting, they lost faith.

Now, did Jesus tell us He's coming back? But sometimes in the waiting, we lose faith. And they said… we don't know 'cause Moses is getting kind of old and who knows we can't go up the mountain because the glory of God's up there, he may have died, let's pick another leader. Let's go back to Egypt. Made a golden calf, had a wild party. It says that they made themselves naked, so it got pretty wild. And, you know, right at that crucial moment. Matter of fact, the party got so rambunctious said, Joshua said, "Hurry, Moses, there's the sound of war in the camp." and Moses shook his head and he said, "That would be okay if it was war," he said, "but this is not the cry of those who cry for being overcome, neither are they shouting for victory but it's the voice of those who party," If I can paraphrase "that I hear." and he came down, he saw the golden calf and the people dancing and carrying on, and he threw the Ten Commandments out of his hand. It was a great sin against the Lord. They've broken all their commandments, they just promised to keep. They had said, "Lord, you're our God, we want you with us." and then they broke all His commandments.

Moses goes back up the mountain, and the Lord… Lord is ready to wipe them out. And so it's during this time of waiting that something happens. So you take up the story now in chapter 34, and you're on chapter 33, sorry. Exodus 33:1, "And the Lord said to Moses, 'Depart and go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt," said you and your people go, "which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, 'to your descendants, I will give it.' and I will send My angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, and the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Hhivites, and the Jebusites, and the termites, and all of them. And go to the land flowing with milk and honey," now catch this, "for I will not go up in your midst lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people."

That's kind of a frightening thought that God would say, all right, you wanted the Promised Land, I promise to give you the promised land. You don't seem to want me. Go, I'll give you, deliver, so I'll give you the land but I'm not going to go with you because you are a stubborn, and a proud, and a stiff-necked people. You want to do what you want to do. You don't want to obey Me. Go, My presence will not go with you. Now, would that make you shudder or would you say, "Well, you know, Lord, actually, You do make me uncomfortable, but I do want the Promised Land, but I don't want You.

Heard about a man that was pushing his cart around the supermarket, a young man. And he noticed pretty soon that there is this old woman that had her cart full of stuff and she was following him. And he stopped, she stopped, and he looked and she'd be staring at him. He'd go up the aisle, she'd follow him up the aisle. And this went on for a while. And finally when he got to the checkout stand, there she was. And she said, "I hope, I haven't made you uncomfortable." she said, "but you know, you look so much like my late son, and I just couldn't stop staring at you," and she said, "you know, I'm going to take my stuff, I'm going to check out, but could you do something for me? It would mean so much to me as I leave the store if you could just say Goodbye mom." and so he said, "Sure." So she got her stuff, she going out the door. He said, "Goodbye, mom." She smiled and waved back. And he thought, you know, that was such a simple thing to make that lady happy to say goodbye mom. So as he's checking out, the bill comes to $121. And he says to the cashier, he said, "What's up? I got five things here." he said, "Well, your mother said, you were paying for hers."

And sometimes the church has done that to the Lord. We want everything God can give us, He says this in the prophets, but we don't want Him, because He makes us uncomfortable. Well, if you do want the presence of the Lord, I'm going to give you seven steps so that you can have the presence of the Lord, and these are the steps that we see Moses going through. How much do you want the presence of God? If you don't want it in this life, you're probably not going to want it in Heaven, you won't get it then. So if you hunger after God's presence, say knowing the Lord is the most important thing to you, you can.

First thing is, you need to have a determination. So God says in Exodus 33:15 when Moses said, "We are not going up without you." He told the Lord, Lord said, you know, "I'm not going, you go." and Moses said, "If Your presence does not go with us, do not bring us up. We are not going without You." It's like when Jacob wrestled with the Lord there, and he said, "I will not let You go, except You bless me." Do you want the blessing of God's presence? Do you want the blessing of God's Spirit?

One, what do we need? Determination. There needs to be… you need to have your mind settled on that nothing is more important to me than God. He said in Exodus 33:17, all right, Moses, "I will do this thing that you've spoken of, for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name." So Moses said, "Look, Lord, we are not going without You." So God said, "Okay, if you want My presence, here's what you've got to do." and He gives him these steps, but it starts out with a determination. So next there was preparation. Now, we're jumping to Exodus chapter 34. And if you go to Exodus 34, God gives some instructions to Moses. And He said in verse 2, "Be ready in the morning…" Doesn't say get ready, said be ready. "And come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself to Me on top of the mountain.

He said, "You need to prepare. I'm telling you in advance, I'm making an appointment with you. I'm willing to meet with you. Are you going to put that on your day-timer? Are you going to meet with Me?” Do you know that some people never experience the presence of God because they missed the opportunities when God meets with His people? How sad it would be if Pentecost happened and you stayed home that day. And that's why it's important when God's people gather together that you're there. God says, "If they meet, I'm meeting with them." Are you and I going to prepare to be with Him? So there's a preparation that happens in the heart before you meet with the King. If we're in the practice of getting up and seeking after God every day, something happens to us in the seeking. You might be thinking, you know, I prayed and nothing happened. I read my Bible, I didn't get anything out of it. You don't realize you're being changed in the ways you don't know. So prepare your heart every day to seek after God, you're being transformed in the process.

Now, the Bible says… I'll give you a couple of examples, there's many. It's a bad thing if you don't seek the presence of God, if you don't prepare your heart to seek after God. For example, the son of King Solomon. You remember his name? Rehoboam. Rehoboam. He didn't listen to the wise counselors. And the Bible says in 2 Chronicles 12:14, "He did evil because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord." Are you preparing your heart to seek God every day? Is that a priority with you? If it's not a priority, if you're not seeking after God in your life on a daily basis, if your prayer isn't Lord, give me this day our daily bread, then you're probably not going to be ready when Jesus comes. Why would you want to be in God's presence for eternity if you don't want to do it for half an hour in the morning? It's got to begin by seeking His presence now.

On the other hand, you've got a good king by the name of Jehoshaphat. It says in 2 Chronicles 19:3, "Nevertheless good things are found in you, in that you have removed the wooden images" you've obeyed the land, you've obeyed me "and you prepared your heart to seek God." So you got determination, you have preparation.

Next, you have isolation. Exodus 34:3, God said to Moses, "And no man shall come up with you, and let no man be seen throughout all the mountain…" You need personal time with God. I know there's a lot of people that come to church and they like maybe the social interaction. But they don't have their personal time where Jesus is your personal Savior. I used to wonder why these pastors would say, "Is the Lord Jesus, your personal Savior?" Are you just doing it sort of as a group thing, or because your parents were in the church, or do you have a personal relationship with God?

You notice God said to Moses, "I know you. You're My friend." He talked to him face to face as a man talks to his friend because he had a personal relationship. How do you get that? By spending time alone with God. It cannot always be group therapy. Gathering together for corporate worship is very important. Hopefully you'll be blessed by being here today. But do you have personal time with God? And there's a lot of Bible examples for that. Abraham was alone with God when God gave his covenant to him. Gideon was threshing wheat alone with God. And when you're working in the world alone, you're threshing wheat. Elijah was alone in the wilderness, God spoke to him. Paul was alone in Arabia and in jail. John was alone on Patmos. Jesus went out a great while before it was day to pray alone. Now, if the Lord does it, that's a pretty good example for you and me. You want to see the presence of the Lord? You need to seek after Him, find time. Sometimes somebody said that, that special time with God isn't found, it's made. In other words, don't hope that you run into that private time, you need to set an appointment with God. It's something you prepare for.

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All right, we talked about the preparation, determination, the isolation, now expectation. When you do this, expect that God is going to keep His word, and He's going to speak to you. So when God calls Moses back on the mountain, He says in Exodus 34, "He cut two tablets of stone like the first ones. And Moses rose early in the morning, and he went up Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and he took in his hand the two tablets of stone." So you're bringing Me up something, you're expecting for Me to write the word for you. You're expecting for Me to communicate with you. You're expecting for Me to meet with you. And so he did what he was told. He rose up early in the morning. He goes up the mountain, he's got a prayer in his heart, Lord, please show me Your glory.

Now, what does it mean when he came up and God was going to write something for Moses? Where do we want God to write? Where's the new covenant? It's written on the heart. So when you come, you expect the Lord to write something on your heart. It tells us that "This is the covenant I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I'll put my law into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them." Someone said, "Dusty Bibles lead to dirty lives." We need to be asking God to take His words. We bring these tablets and we say, you know, the reason that the Ten Commandments were written on two stones that really represents the dual nature of the law. It's a sword with two edges. It's like the law and the prophets, Moses, Elijah, the New and the Old Testament.

And so we come up with the Word of God, and we want God then to write on our hearts. Ezekiel 3:10, "Moreover He said to me: 'Son of man, receive in your heart all My words that I speak to you, and hear with your ears." being able to take it in. We got two ears, like those two tablets. We want God to write His word on our heart. If you come to church to pray for rain, then bring your umbrella. That's called expectation. Are you expecting something? And sometimes people come to church and they got the attitude, oh, I got to go. I don't ever expect to get anything. Well, you won't.

You know, Jesus said, "Be it unto you according to your faith." If you meet the requirements of seeking after God, spending time alone with God, praying that He'll reveal His glory to you, then believe He wants to. Expect something from God. That's part of the answered prayer is believing. And so you got expectation. And when you do that, then you have a revelation. God keeps His promise. Exodus 33:21, "And the Lord said to him, 'Here is a place by Me…" This is when he comes up the mountain. "and you will stand on the rock. So it will be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and I'll cover you with My hand while I pass by. And I'll take away My hand, and you shall see… you'll see My back, My face will not be seen." It says in Exodus 34:5 when God finally does this. "Now the Lord descended in the cloud and He stood with him there, and he proclaimed the name of the Lord." when you talk about the name of the Lord, doing this in the name of the Lord, and praying in the name of the Lord, what does it mean in the name of the Lord? It's much more than the utterance of a certain name.

You know, there's kind of a whole diversion, bunch of people getting distracted with how you pronounce the name of God. Have you run into that? They've even got separate Bible translations. They say, "You can't say Jesus anymore. You got to say Yeshua." And you don't say the Lord or Elohim, you're supposed to say Yahweh. And no one really knows whether it was Jehovah or Yahweh because it's still a mystery with how to pronounce those sacred words. But the emphasis of God in the Bible is never on the pronunciation when it talks about the name of the Lord. It means the spirit of God and who God is, knowing who He is. What is eternal life? John 17. "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee and the only true God, who He has sent. Knowing Jesus Christ, knowing the Father. This is eternal life. What will the Lord say to the lost? “I don't know you.” So we need to experience the presence of God. If we're not going to hear Him say, “I don't know you”, then we need to know Him now. Amen?

That then leads to adoration and worship. And you read here in Exodus 34:8. "So Moses made haste and he bowed his head towards the earth, and worshiped." You know, we can't really worship God unless we know God. We can't know Him unless we take time to know Him. Moses prepared himself when he went up the mountain. Have you noticed in the Bible, how often the great prophets and kings when they got a glimpse of the glory of God, it inspired them to real worship. They understood something about the greatness of God.

Some people think we're old fashioned because we still at some point during our worship service, we get on our knees those who are able. And it's because by our physical posture we are saying something about the glory of God. And it's important, it said, Daniel knelt on his knees, Paul knelt on his knees, Jesus knelt, Solomon got on his knees. We're talking of the King of Kings and it represents that you're recognizing who He is, and we humble ourselves before Him. Moses fell down to worship. When Ezekiel saw God. You can read this in Ezekiel 1 and Ezekiel 3:23, "Behold, the glory of the Lord stood there, like the glory that I saw by the river Chebar, and I fell on my face before that glory." That's what happened to Daniel when he saw the glory of God. It's what happened to John. You read Revelation 1:17, "And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead." This is a holy apostle who walked with Jesus. When he saw the unveiled glory of Jesus, he couldn't bear it. He fell down before him. And Jesus put out His hand and touched him, he said, "Don't be afraid."

God is a loving God, but He's a powerful God. You know, this is something I think we all struggle with, finding the balance between Jesus is our friend, He's our Savior. But don't forget, He's a king. He is a mighty king. And, you know, some people talk about addressing the Lord in this very buddy-buddy way. And I think you got to be careful because we can lose an idea. You lose a concept of the majesty of God. You know what that does? It diminishes your concept of the wickedness of sin. Understanding something about His holiness and His majesty, it leads to that, that worship.

And then you go to the seventh part. After he's seen the glory of God revealed, he worships God, and the next thing after you've had that experience with God is you think of others, and that's when you come to mediation. Moses was the great mediator. It's very simple, but some of you remember the old gas stoves. Now they're very complex and computerized, but I remember grandma’s stove that had the knob and these are three words, it had low, medium, and high. Medium goes between low and high. We're low, God is high. We need a mediator who's in the middle. Moses was a type of that. The people said when they saw the glory of God, they heard them, the mountain was on smoke and shaking, and the thunders, and the lightnings, they said, "Don't let God talk to us anymore. You talk to Him. You tell us what He said. You be our mediator." You and I should be thankful Jesus came because He is the mediator between God and man. He came, He said, "If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father. As much as you can handle, I've come to show you the Father." And so Moses then begins to mediate. As soon as he worships God, he then begins to think about others.

After you have the vertical relationship, love for God, and God reveals His presence to you, what's the next thing? Love the Lord with all your heart. What's the next command? Your neighbor. He starts thinking about the people of God. He says, "I've seen the glory of God." What about the people of God? Read Exodus 34:9, "Then he said, 'Now if I have found grace in Your sight, o Lord, my Lord, I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff-necked people, pardon our iniquity and our sin…" He begins to intercede. You become intercessors, mediators. Do you just pray for your needs or do you pray for the needs of others?

Philip Yancey wrote a book on prayer and he talked about a soldier in Iraq who was stationed there and he couldn't get relief. He heard from his wife that she had a very serious stage of cervical cancer. And they had a five year old boy and the prognosis wasn't good without some miraculous intervention. And that soldier, he sent a note, an email to his church and he said, "Please pray for Cindy. And then after you pray for her, forward this to anyone you know to pray for her." You ever gotten an email like that? And he wanted everybody to intercede.

I got a question for you. The Bible says, "The fervent, effectual prayer of a righteous man avails much." Is God more likely to answer a prayer where many pray? Are you afraid to answer that? Is there additional power in corporate prayer as opposed to a single prayer? I think so. If the effectual prayer of a single righteous man avails much, what if you get a whole room full of them? Yeah. If My people which are called by My name will humble themselves and pray, then I will hear from Heaven. So I do think there's added weight in collective prayer. And so, after you prayed for your family and your respective needs, you should be interceding for others. Amen?

And then as a result of all this, notice what happens. Moses spends his time on the mountain. You've gone through your seven steps. He's experiencing the presence of God, he sees the glory of God, and then you get an added benefit. It's called transformation. It says in Exodus 34:29, "Now it was so, that when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, and the two tablets of the testimony were in his hand, he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know the skin of his face shone." Look at Paul refers to this experience in 2 Corinthians 3, you could read the whole chapter, I won't do that now. But if you read verse 7, he said, "But the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones," meaning the old covenant, "if it was glorious, and that glory was so great that the children of Israel could not look directly into the face of Moses, because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away…" it would eventually fade. " How much more will the ministry of the Spirit be more glorious when we have the real law of God written in our hearts? For if what was passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious." And I especially love the last verse in that chapter. 2 Corinthians 3:18, "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."

A Christian is a follower of Christ, if you would like to be transformed. Moses was glowing like God because he spent time with God. If you want to look like Jesus, spend time with Jesus. You’ve got to be looking into His beautiful face as that song said, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus." It says, "As staring, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, we are being transformed." You ever heard the expression, ‘changed by beholding’? Our souls are something like a photographic plate. It doesn't matter if it's the old film or the modern digital camera. They both use the same principle. Light is captured whether it's done by the chips on the disk or it's done by the plate, light is captured, and image is captured, and it's retained. Your souls are transformed into what you look at. That's why idolatry is so awful to God. It's an abomination because it lowers your concept of what God is and it lowers you. If you spend time in the presence of God, it changes you and you are elevated. So what are you looking at? What are you beholding? Christ said, "If I am lifted up, I will draw all men."

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