The Quality of His Presence

I want to look at our interactions or encounters with His presence. Not to create some type of spiritual hierarchy but rather to look at our ongoing relationship with Him. In recent years I wrote a manual on Hearing His Voice and looked at the ways He speaks to us. In the introduction I made the point that while some have detailed prophetic dreams or visions that is not the norm for most of us. I also noted that not having these experiences does not make us less spiritual. At the same time I believe we are all called to an experiential relationship with Jesus. Which means we are all called to encounter Him at some level in some way.  

An important qualifier in looking at presence is Paul’s comment that we see dimly.

12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12 NKJV

We need to keep this in mind as we pursue and reflect on His presence. Jesus made a way for us to come before the throne of grace but we still live on this side of eternity and cannot fully see or know the realm where the Father dwells. John described some of our limitations here.

2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:2-3 (NKJV)

Knowing that in our walk here we will never see clearly or fully there is still the opportunity for an experiential relationship, one we can have here and now. I know many, myself included, regularly encounter His presence in worship. At the same time, many years ago I met a fellow who was a very solid and faithful believer who did not like singing and worshipping. He said it did nothing for him. While I personally have no grid for that I never doubted his faith. I just assumed he encountered Jesus in a different way.

That being said we are called to encounter and I use the term ‘Quality of Presence’ not as a measuring stick but as a barometer. I know the scriptures and Jesus’ commitment to always be with us. My faith rests in that. At the same time my experience of His presence varies. In that variation I continue to seek His face desiring not only an ongoing relationship, but a deepening one.

I have shared before that I encounter Him most deeply while sitting in His presence worshipping Him and focusing my mind and heart on Him. I also experience Him when hiking in the mountains or out in the woods, which leads to prayer and worship as I walk. I encounter Him reading His word.

What are your experiences and do you have things to share that will help others?

What are we Establishing? Part 4

Having looked at what David established we can now turn our gaze to what we can or are establishing. I frame it this way because there is no neutral ground. Decades ago, the Holy Spirit highlighted something to me in Galatians that is critical to how we live our lives.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. Galatians 6:7-8 NKJV

Now, you may have read these verses many times and in doing so may have noticed that there is no third field. In all that we do we are either sowing to the flesh or the Spirit. Our actions are not neutral, we are always establishing something. In terms of what to establish Jesus gave us The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and He gave us The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). So, we know what we are to establish. We are to live, share and teach the gospel and pray for His kingdom and will to be manifest in our lives and world as they are manifest in heaven. These things are the primary calling of all believers. Which brings us to the how.

I focused in my previous posts on what took place with the worship David established before the Ark of the Covenant and how the prophetic psalms released there established the future. The current prayer movement around the world frequently combines worship and intercession. I believe that done with wisdom this further establishes His kingdom on the earth. We may think that everything is set regarding times and seasons but this is not what scripture teaches. Look at what Peter wrote.

11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:11-13 (NKJV)

Catch the key phrase, ‘hastening the coming of the day of God’ preceded by ‘what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness.’ Our behaviour influences the timing of the manifesting of His kingdom in His return (see also Titus 2:11-14). Given that what we do influences the timing of His return we need to exercise wisdom in all that we do.

Now back to worship and intercession. My ongoing experience is that focused meaningful worship stirs something up inside of me. As I give my heart in worshipping Jesus, I find myself more sensitive to His voice and more attuned to the spirit realm. I find scripture passages rising up inside of me. I find myself more aware of what He wants to speak into the lives of those around me. This happens because I am merely continuing what David established. I am before His throne of grace, the real Ark of the Covenant in heaven, I am being internally stirred and drawn by His Spirit and I have the opportunity to release life into the lives of those around me and into my culture.

I am convinced that if we engaged in worship with focused hearts and an expectation of doing what David did, establishing the future, we would have a far greater impact on the culture we live in. This is the history of the Welsh Revival, which was marked far more by worship than preaching. Evan Roberts, the human leader, would sit in His presence in worship then share what he was sensing, seeing or hearing. It changed a nation and sparks from the fire fell at 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles and spread around the world, and that flame is still burning in many places. Every revival movement I have studied has been marked by fresh worship, transformed lives and cultural engagement.

I think key to seeing the scriptures below fulfilled is connected to intentional worship married to prophetic intercession.

14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14 (NKJV)

27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27 (NKJV)

10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10 (NKJV)

Look at the last phrase, ‘Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’ Let us embrace this and reflect on the question I started this series with. Individually and corporately, what are we establishing?

What are we Establishing? Part 3

As is clear from the scriptures previously presented in this series, David established two things that are relevant to what we are looking at. The Ark of the Covenant at Zion (Zion is the high point in Jerusalem) and open ongoing worship before the ark. Now we will look at what flowed from these two things.

I previously referenced David being given and giving a psalm when the ark first arrived in Jerusalem. Now I want to look at what some of the prophetic worship released. Our scriptures showed that David set people before the ark to worship and prophesy (1 Chronicles 16:4-7, 25:1-6). In the book of Psalms there are numerous prophecies regarding Jesus that have their fulfillment recorded in the New Testament. We will look at some representative prophetic psalms. An important note is who wrote these psalms. We have them mainly by David, then Asaph (Psalm 50, 73-83) and the sons of Korah.

We start with David. He wrote numerous prophetic psalms, one of which was Psalm 110. Here are the first two verses.

1 The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” 2 The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion. Rule in the midst of Your enemies! Psalm 110:1-2 (NKJV)

This is a Messianic Psalm referring to Jesus and is not only the most quoted Psalm it is the most quoted Old Testament passage in the entire New Testament. It is referenced in Matthew 22:44, Mark 12:36, 16:19 and Luke 20:42-43. It is also referenced in Acts, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians and Hebrews. These references relate to just the first verse! The example below is Jesus using Psalm 110 to silence and confound His challengers.

41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?”

They said to Him, “The Son of David.”

43 He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying:

44   ‘The Lord said to my Lord,

“Sit at My right hand,

Till I make Your enemies Your footstool” ’?

45 If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?” 46 And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore. Matthew 22:41–46 (NKJV)

Next we have Jesus’ resurrection foretold by David in Psalm 16.

8 I have set the LORD always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. 10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. Psalm 16:8-10 (NKJV)

This is the first post resurrection psalm quoted in the New Testament. The source is Peter on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:29-31.

29 “Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, 31 he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.” Acts 2:29-31 (NKJV)

Asaph prophesied the exaltation of Jesus.

17 Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself. Psalm 80:17 (NKJV)

We find the fulfillment referenced in Acts 5.

30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. 31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. Acts 5:30-31 (NKJV)

A last example, Psalm 45. It is a Messianic Psalm by the sons of Korah and is repeated in Hebrews as referring to Jesus.

6     Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;

A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.

7     You love righteousness and hate wickedness;

Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You

With the oil of gladness more than Your companions. Psalm 45:6–7 (NKJV)

But to the Son He says:

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;

A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.

9     You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;

Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You

With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.” Hebrews 1:8–9 (NKJV)

Many more Messianic Psalms could be referenced but I close with a non Messianic one, an honourable mention. Heman wrote Psalm 88, a lamentation and cry for help that has comforted many over the years. I reference Heman because was the grandson of the great prophet Samuel who anointed David as king.

So to our conclusion. David actually established three things. The Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem, open prophetic worship before it, and most importantly, David established the future! He and the other prophetic worshippers declared and wrote what was on the Father’s heart and declared and recorded things to come. 

In my next and final post in this series I will look at how we can each answer this question for ourselves – What are we establishing?

What are we Establishing? Part 2

To understand the significance of what David did in establishing the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem we need to do a bit of theological excavation. Our journey takes us back to Exodus. The verses below are the result of the tabernacle first being set up and close out the book of Exodus.

34 Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 36 Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys. Exodus 40:34–38 (NKJV)

Here we see the fire and cloud and Yahweh’s glory filling the tabernacle. The Ark of the Covenant within the tabernacle was His resting place on earth. Prior to the tabernacle being built according to exacting specifications, the cloud or pillar of fire went before or behind the people of Israel but not in their midst. There was a significant shift when the tabernacle was established.

In fact, in Exodus 33:3, 5 Yahweh is clear that if He were to come into their midst they would be consumed because they were sinful. We also see that Moses met with Yahweh outside the camp in Exodus 33:7-9 and that the cloud of His glory descended when Moses went to meet with Him.

9 And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. Exodus 33:9 (NKJV)

His glory descended and lifted but once the tabernacle was set up His presence was there between the cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant. In fact in giving the instructions for making the Ark of the Covenant Yahweh told Moses that He would hover over the ark and meet with him there.

21 You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. 22 And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel. Exodus 25:21-22 (NKJV)

Having done some theological excavation we need to look at what happened When David set up the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem. I referenced the verse below in my last post.

On that day David first delivered this psalm into the hand of Asaph and his brethren, to thank the Lord: 1 Chronicles 16:4–7 (NKJV)

The psalm David gave is repeated in the Psalms as Psalm 105. We can look at this a couple of ways. One way is to see this as David writing out a song to honour the occasion. Another way is to see this psalm being prophetically released through David as the result of the Ark of the Covenant coming to a resting place in Jerusalem and David receiving a prophetic release, the Psalm. I obviously favour this latter view and think it is the correct one.

David received a prophetic release as a result of being in the presence of the ark, hence his instructions in 1 Chronicles 25 pairing worship with prophecy before the Ark of the Covenant. David knew from his own experience and that of others what happened in worship before the ark. Consider the first few verses of Psalm 105 and compare it to what happened with the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost.

1 Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! 2 Sing to Him, sing Psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works! 3 Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD! 4 Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face evermore! 5 Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth, Psalm 105:1-5 (NKJV)

11 Cretans and Arabs – we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God. Acts 2:11 (NKJV)

There was a prophetic release and a glorifying of God at Pentecost and then a prophetic understanding by Peter of fulfilled prophecy. We will look at some further examples in my next post. For now it is important to see the connection between a prophetic release and worshipping before Him.