How to Practice the Presence of Jesus
"Lo, I am with you alway, even
unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20).
by Tom Stewart
Ask the LORD Jesus the following questions concerning your circumstances:
First, What wilt Thou have me do? God's answer, in plain speech: The necessity that is uppermost in your mind is what needs to be done. "I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me" (1Corinthians 9:16). That is the leading of the Holy Spirit. "And thine ears shall hear a Word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it" (Isaiah 30:21). Remember the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, the proud persecutor of the early Christians? It was not man but God that initiated the sequence of events that secured the conversion of the future Apostle Paul, i.e., "And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from Heaven" (Acts 9:3). God's timing was perfect. Saul was ripe for the picking. There was little else that Saul could do, so "he fell to the Earth, and heard a Voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" (Acts 9:4). He knew that the followers of Jesus of Nazareth claimed their Messiah to be the Divine One, so everything in Saul's troubled heart must have come crushing down, when Jehovah responded audibly to Saul's question, "Who art Thou, Lord? And the LORD said, I am Jesus Whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks" (Acts 9:5). At that time Saul's worst fears were confirmed-- Jesus is Jehovah! He truly is the Son of God, the Son of David, the Messiah! A converted Saul immediately began to Practice the Presence of Jesus with the query, "LORD, what wilt Thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6). A humbled, contrite Saul asked, and the LORD graciously answered, "Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do" (Acts 9:6). The same Gracious Jesus that answered Saul expects to do the same for you, as well. "And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20).
Second, How does this affect my understanding of Thee? If we were the world, we would not bother with any such investigation; but, we, as the Children of God, enjoy the company of God, as a loving family enjoys each other's companionship. "Grow in Grace, and in the knowledge of our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2Peter 3:18). Even more, our God is an Unlimited Reservoir for discovery that Eternity can never exhaust. "12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1Corinthians 2:12-13). This writer recalls past days of youth when the foolish talk of companions would repine: I wouldn't want to go to Heaven yet because I've got so much living left to do. Wouldn't Heaven be kind of boring? What would you talk about forever? "A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself" (Proverbs 18:2). If such thoughts should ever creep into your head, petition the LORD immediately for a fresh filling of His Spirit! "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18). We have not been left here accidentally but with the predesign that we grow in our heart-knowledge of God. "As newborn babes, desire the Sincere Milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby" (1Peter 2:2). "That ye might walk worthy of the LORD unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:10). Just as our necessity suggests the teaching occasion, our yearning to know more about Jesus, will give us fresh revelation of our LORD, even as the Holy Spirit provided the Ethiopian eunuch a human instructor in the middle of the desert to expound Isaiah's revelation of the Suffering Messiah. "26 And the angel of the LORD spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. 27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, 28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias [Isaiah] the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. 30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. 32 The place of the Scripture which he read was this [Isaiah 53], He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before His shearer, so opened He not His mouth: 33 In His humiliation His judgment was taken away: and who shall declare His generation? for His life is taken from the Earth. 34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same Scripture, and preached unto him Jesus" (Acts 8:26-35).
Third, What Scripture sheds light on my circumstances? Since 1999, world population surpassed 6 billion people. With people so many and life so cheap in many parts of the world, why should God be so concerned about me and my circumstances? "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole Earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him" (2Chronicles 16:9). If the world were exponentially more crowded, still the Father "gave His Only Begotten Son" (John 3:16) for all the world. And greater still, the Father and the Son have an even More Special Love for you and me, if we are numbered among those who obey Christ. "He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him" (John 14:21). That relationship between our obedience and further manifestations of the LORD Jesus to us, is also the key to a greater heart-understanding of God's Word. "Through Thy Precepts I get understanding" (Psalm 119:104). John Wesley (1703-1791), the founder of Methodism, wished himself to be "homo unius libri," a man of one book-- the Bible-- just as we need to be, if we would find Scriptural Light for our circumstances. "The Judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb" (Psalm 19:9, 10). The very fact that you are even investigating the Word of God indicates your willingness to be taught of God. "Lead me in Thy Truth, and teach me: for Thou art the God of my salvation; on Thee do I wait all the day" (Psalm 25:5). Do not neglect some unconfessed sin that would prevent you from being taught of God. "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded" (James 4:8). If we truly learn the Scriptures, then we will be taught about the Person of God, i.e., "Search the Scriptures... They are They which testify of Me" (John 5:39).
Fourth, What promises may I claim to help me overcome my situation? God has wisely designed life that our problems would be the occasion for our Ongoing Sanctification in which our necessities would draw us closer to the LORD Jesus-- our Overcomer-- when we choose moment by moment to trust Him again and more to overcome our problems. "These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892), an English Baptist preacher of London's Metropolitan Tabernacle, wrote for us a devotional, Faith's Checkbook ---New Window, in which he put forth a promise for each day of the month, to be cashed like a check. "Whereby are given unto us Exceeding Great and Precious Promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the Divine Nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2Peter 1:4). Promises are not just a special part of the Word of God, but the Scripture appropriates for All of Itself, the title, "The Word of Promise" (Romans 9:9). Whenever we receive the Word of God with the premise that something will happen if we fulfill the Divine Condition, then we are treating the Word of God as the Word of Promise. "God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?" (Numbers 23:19). It is in our best interest to accumulate as many promises as we can to fortify our claim upon God to fulfill His Word to us; but, in truth, we need but one promise. "We will rejoice in Thy Salvation, and in the Name of our God we will set up our banners: the LORD fulfil all thy petitions" (Psalm 20:5). Samuel Clarke (1684-1759), an English academic and theologian, gave to the Church a small handbook of promises, now called Precious Bible Promises ---New Window, in which God's promises are catalogued and classified-- waiting for some thoughtful, needy Saint to employ. "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required" (Luke 12:48). The overabundance of promises from Scripture make it easy for us to choose one, but we must not give up or we will never see the promise fulfilled. "36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the Will of God, ye might receive the promise. 37 For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul" (Hebrews 10:36-39).
Fifth, How can this help the rest of the Body of Christ? In keeping with the Law of Love, we are to seek the good of our neighbour as ourself, but "especially unto them who are of the Household of Faith" (Galatians 6:10). "3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others" (Philippians 2:3-4). Perhaps our intended action may be used by God to reach someone for Christ; but, even if that someone is not reached, it justifies God in the Judgment Day that He did all that could have been done to prevent that someone's Final Damnation. "For there is no respect [Greek, prosopolepsia, partiality] of persons with God" (Romans 2:11). We understand that the Presence of Jesus is with the humblest Saint, who seeks not "his own, but every man another's wealth" (1Corinthians 10:24). Since the rest of the Body of Christ needs as much of a revelation of Christ as we do, can this intended action help? "If I then, your LORD and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet" (John 13:14). Our attempted ministry to the Body of Christ is always received by the LORD as a ministry to Him. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me" (Matthew 25:40). Even if the Body of Christ is unable to receive our ministry to them because their preconceived notions of the Truth are imprecise and they misunderstand our message, then have patience that God will find a way to work it out for their good. "All things work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:28). And, if the Professed Body of Christ is adamantly unwilling to receive our ministry to them, again, be patient, for God will break the rock. "So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My Mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11). As we attempt to minister for Christ, we will become like Christ, for in so doing, we will "follow His Steps" (1Peter 2:21). Beg of the LORD for His Mercy that we would "not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Galatians 6:9). In the end, whatever we accomplish for Christ in this life will be a product of the character and life of Christ developed in us through our own Ongoing Sanctification. "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the Vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me" (John 15:4).
Sixth, How can this hasten Your Soon Return? God has always known when He would Return the Second Time to judge this planet. "Known unto God are all His works from the Beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18). Our confidence in Him Who Holds Tomorrow breeds in us Peace, i.e., "Thou wilt keep him in Perfect Peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee" (Isaiah 26:3), but that causes us all the more to render to Him the obedience in praying for the fulfillment of Bible Prophecy. "I the LORD have spoken it, and I will do it. Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them" (Ezekiel 36:36, 37). If indeed this is the Will of God that we contemplate performing, then we will certainly be advancing His Return and His Kingdom. "And He said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done, as in Heaven, so in Earth" (Luke 11:2). It has been the experience of the Church, as discovered from the Prophetic Scriptures, that certain actions are pointedly conducive to promoting the Return of the LORD Jesus Christ. "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, LORD Jesus" (Revelation 22:20). For example, the 19th Century Church understood Christ's words, "And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the End come" (Matthew 24:14), to compel them to evangelize the world in their generation (by the end of the 1800s), for if all the world had the Gospel preached to them-- "then shall the End come"-- the LORD Jesus would return. [See our article on a key promoter of this concept-- A. T. Pierson-- "Meet Mr. Philadelphia" ---New Window.] Another example that has only recently become forcefully apparent to this writer is the Salvation, in particular, of the Jews hastens the Coming of the LORD. An excerpt from the Preface of another of our articles, "His Resurrection Is The Highest Proof That Jesus Is The Messiah" ---New Window:
We may not always find such a connection, but we should try, for how do we know that the action we are contemplating may not be the last thing necessary to complete Christ's program before He Raptures His Church and begins the Tribulation Week preceding His Return? "37 For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by Faith: but if any man draw back, My Soul shall have no pleasure in him" (Hebrews 10:37-38).
Seventh, Will this stand for Eternity? If we lack wisdom, we are to "ask of God" (James 1:5) and Christ will reveal Himself to us as our Wisdom. "But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the Power of God, and the Wisdom of God" (1Corinthians 1:24). In truth, those things which are done with a right heart, unselfish, and without sin, regardless of how mundane, they are the "gold, silver, precious stones" (1Corinthians 3:12), for which we will be rewarded, and will stand for Eternity. At the Bema Seat Judgment for the Believer, the question of sin will not be discussed, instead rewards will be based upon the "gold, silver, precious stones" (1Corinthians 3:12) that result from Christ-centered, unselfish actions, while "wood, hay, stubble" (1Corinthians 3:12) will be burned up, since those actions are worthless because they were sinful. They will not be mentioned against us, because we have already repented of them; but, just as a "mortgage burning" signifies that a debt has been paid off, no debt is owed and cannot be mentioned against the former debtor. Just so, the "wood, hay, stubble" are ceremonially annihilated by fire. "13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward" (1Corinthians 3:12-14). [See our article, "The Judgment Seat of Christ" ---New Window , for a better understanding of this event that concerns all True Christians.] We only ask this question about our intended action's relationship to Eternity to insure that our focus is always on Christ. "Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of Our Faith" (Hebrews 12:2). How could the Presence of Jesus ever be with those "who mind earthly things" (Philippians 3:19), who do not look "unto the King Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, the Only Wise God" (1Timothy 1:17)?
[The above was excerpted from our article, "Nothing Happens By Accident" ---New Window .]
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