Shekinah Glory

Psalm 97: 3

All around him burns a blazing glory-fire consuming all his foes.

This passage reminds me of the Shekinah Glory of God. What is that, you ask. Do you remember the burning bush? It was engulfed in flame but did not burn up and the voice of God spoke to Moses from it. Then there was the pillar of fire that the Israelites followed in the desert. In the second book of Acts, “flames or tongues of fire” appeared to the assembled (v. 3 TLB). The Shekinah Glory of the Lord is His presence and often appears as fire. In the Azusa street revival of 1906 passersby actually thought the building was on fire and alerted the fire department.

God’s presence was often experienced as fire and also represented as fire in verses like today’s. The author tells us that this “glory-fire” consumes all the enemies of God. That is in keeping with the vision God showed me recently, (See the Word of the Day for March 19, 2020). The blazing glory of God’s presence defeats all foes. I would say that includes viruses because a virus certainly works against God’s desires. It is an enemy and is burned up in the all-consuming fire of God. That fire burns out every impurity. It cleans and sanitizes like nothing else can.

Wherever there is the presence of God, there is victory. So, you can see that our job is to carry the presence of God into every corner of the earth and into every situation. We do that through prayer, through confessing Jesus and with all the words of our mouth and, importantly, through the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12: 4 – 11). The presence of God is powerful for healing and for setting captives free. That power is resident in us, and it is what the entire world needs. Don’t criticize the Chinese for what they may have not done well. Pray the power and presence of God into China. Pray the glory fire presence of God throughout the world carrying His healing power which defeats all foes.

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Restful Presence

“My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Lest there be doubt, this is the voice of God speaking – to you!

What a fabulous statement and promise. Perhaps this is one of those “promises” that you want to claim as your own. Maybe post it in your office or on in your car.

Even while you are the go, while you are active, God is not only with you, but He will give you rest. You do not have to go in the power of your might, but rather by His. He will be the fuel in the gas tank. As much as I love biking, this is the perfect time to realize that you don’t have to pedal. He is giving you rest while you go.

The more I see of the Bible the more I see how God has always intended to be an active partner with us. We remind me of young adults who are so intent on their independence that they do not realize they have willing partners. It is as though, in our spiritual life, we never outgrew adolescence. Somehow, we have the idea that we must make our own way in this world. That was never the plan. God always intended to walk with us, daily.

I know that when people hear that, they have little appreciation that those words could speak of a real world, tangible partnership. We get so spiritual and have such spiritual ideas that we have forsaken the reality. “I know God is with me daily,” we say but we have such a distant, ethereal viewpoint of that partnership as to relegate it to the world of fiction.

The promise that He will go with you and along the way give you rest has real world, everyday implications. It is the way we get things done, especially when we have neither the time nor the energy. I remember once when a friend was over-taxed with work and simply did not have the time to do all that needed doing. I advised her to take a few minutes and focus on God. Now, what sense does that make? She didn’t have enough time as it was and yet I recommended spending time on something other than the myriad of tasks on her burgeoning list. She heeded my advice and guess what, it worked. Somehow God was able to multiply time. She was able to get more done in less time with less stress. I am telling you; this stuff really works but you have to remove it from the realm of fantasy to real world application. You have to believe that God is here with us, right now, ready and willing to make things happen. If you can do that, you will be amazed at the results.

God wants to give you rest even as you go. He wants to be the wind beneath your wings and a shelter from the storms. These sound like clichés; I know, but they are not. They are reflections of how God thinks. Let Him be your strength today, while you rest.

Fullness of Joy

Psalm 16:11

You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

There are easily several messages contained in this passage. The one that shouts most loudly to me today is there is fullness of joy in His presence. There is joy in Jesus, which means there is an answer to depression. I want to say it this way, there is no need to be depressed. Here me though, this isn’t to make light of depression and anxiety. Rather, the purpose of my comments is to extend hope and compassion. Jesus came that we might have life in its fullest expression, and one cannot enjoy abundant life while plagued with depression. Jesus also said that he came to proclaim liberty to the captives, and I would hope that my ministry might be known as setting people free. There are all kinds of bondages which weigh us down in life. Living with depression is certainly an unwelcomed burden. Jesus came to set us free from the oppression of depression.

Today’s verse does not say there is no such thing as depression for Christians. And, I do not wish for you to judge yourself or feel any sense of guilt because you sometimes suffer from depression. What this verse says that in the presence of our Lord, there is no depression because there is fullness of joy.

Understand that joy and happiness are not the same thing. I am not after happiness today as much as joy. Joy is a deep-seated belief that all is well. It has to do with Shalom, perfect peace, nothing missing, nothing broken. When we are conscious of being in the presence of Jesus or our beloved Father, then the worries, anxiety and fear of the troubles of this world fade away. The more we bask in the light of His presence, the more the worldly issues dissipate. Depression is dark and gloomy. Jesus’ presence is light. Remember that our God and Father is our sun. He is shining the glory of His presence and the warmth of His love upon us every time we move into His presence. Now, how do we partake of His presence.

When you are down or depressed, it is hard to reach out and touch the joy of the Lord. It is difficult to connect with His presence. Of course, deep meditation will take you right into the Lord’s presence but if you are in a state where that is a challenge, the best thing to do is to get out of your house and into a Spirit filled worship service. Sometimes even leaving the house is a challenge but getting out of the house is often a major help. Still, if that is impossible, there is so much online content these days that it is easy to reach out for music, praise, worship and teachings. You can become a member of church groups online. You can call prayer lines and talk with an actual human. There are resources which we can employ to help bring us into the Lord’s presence.

One of my favorite blue funk day tools is music. Please understand that I am not comparing a blue funk with clinical depression. None the less, the power of praise music should not be underestimated. I especially like songs about the blood but there is so much opportunity, musically, that everyone can find something that speaks to them.

As you praise, focus your attention on the presence of Jesus and the angelic host all around you. Let the light begin to penetrate your body and your consciousness. Release your tension to that flow of light and music. Relax all the stress from your body and then release it from your mind and spirit. Be at peace and enjoy the presence of the Lord.

Don’t let the devil steal your joy. He sure wants to. Get into the presence of our beloved and allow Him to fill you to overflowing. Remember, Jesus came to bring abundance, not a little trickle.

Mostly, please don’t feel alone. There are people, including myself, who care about you. Reach out to others. Get together with a group of believers, go to a church service, or just call someone. Don’t isolate yourself. God has promised He will never leave you nor forsake you. He is with you right now and in His presence is fullness of joy. Let this, and Him, minister to you.

Presence

Hebrews 13: 5                  Passion Translation

Don’t be obsessed with money but live content with what you have, for you always have God’s presence. For hasn’t he promised you, “I will never leave you alone, never! And I will not loosen my grip on your life!”

I was listening to some old music the other day when Desperado by the Eagles played. I was only half listening, but this line grabbed my attention, “Your prison is walking through this world all alone.” I reacted, “How true but we need never be alone.” Our Father has promised to be with us always, and He is.

The Amplified Bible is even more effusive on this point, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!” How do you like that? By no means, will He ever leave you or forsake you, not even for a moment. Now you might say privately, “I don’t think God is always with me. I don’t feel Him or see Him.” Many people would agree with you. We seldom have a consciousness of “God with us.” Here is where your theology comes to a test and you have to make a decision. In what do you place your trust, what you feel or what the Word says. You are not alone if you do not feel that God is always with you. Many people believe this Bible promise intellectually but their hearts are unconvinced. You may believe it but you still feel alone at times.

Living the Bible is very different from believing it. Further, there are levels of what we call belief. At the first level, we mentally accept or agree. In other words, there is no conflict in your mind about what the Word says. That is not to say, however, that your heart holds these to be absolute truths. At this first level your mind engages in simple acceptance and that is all. The second level is when your mind is convinced. You become intellectually, mentally persuaded that the Word is true on a given point. That’s great! Your mind begins to become a strong tool for you. At this level, though, your heart may still call you a liar. A good example of this is when you believe what the Word says about healing. Your mind is intellectually persuaded that “by his stripes you are healed.” You know the scriptures on healing and feel very strong about them. However, your heart is still calling you a liar. It says, “Sure you believe that but I am still sick.” You will find an internal conflict if you pay attention to it.

That is where you may be with this idea that God is always with you. If you believe that in your heart, you will never be lonely. In fact, you will begin to develop a very strong sense of God with you. For example, even when you are “alone” you may excuse yourself for a rudeness. This is where your consciousness of “God with you” has trumped all other information. Another example of your God consciousness is when you find yourself speaking to Him, not praying mind you, just speaking as if He is walking along with you.

Ultimately, the test of this scripture is whether or not it will prevail in your life. Will you come to KNOW God is with you all the time or will these be words that you accept without debate but do not live. I pray you know God with you. I hope you increasingly have the sense that He is with you every moment. And, I pray you derive much comfort from that truth.

Changed Heart?

Psalm 77: 10       TPT

Lord, what wounds me most is that it’s somehow my fault that you’ve changed your heart toward me and I no longer see the years of the Mighty One and your right hand of power.

Yesterday we saw the angst of Asaph. He groaned at the mere thought of the Lord because He felt that he had lost favor with God. What he felt was real chagrin. It pained him to think about where he stood with God and this verse explains why that thought pained him so. In his heart of hearts, he suspected that God’s coldness towards him was his own fault. I think we can all relate.

There are times when we feel very close to God and times we don’t. There are times I know He is with me in a very real sense and other times when it seems He is in heaven looking down on me. I would much rather have Him with me as I know you would too.

If you once enjoyed the power of God in your life, then the absence of it makes life mundane. If you have ever tasted the glory of God, then an existence without it loses its luster. Worst of all, deep down, we know that something in our lives has changed which is impeding those moves of God and even, as in Asaph’s case, God’s very presence. Knowing this truth grieves the heart but, it also empowers us because it means that we have power to affect change and I like that. If I am the problem, then I can seriously impact the outcome. I can change me and the best part of that is that God will help me. He is always waiting to bring us back into closer fellowship. Ain’t that great?

Asaph made an important declaration above and he made it to the right person. He shared his heart and misgivings with God. Once you get to the point where you can share your heart with God, the problem is all but rectified. Expressing those tender emotions, doubts, fear, and even thoughts is the gateway to resolution. Once you get that out, especially when articulated directly to Yahweh, He can move in and begin to help you. “Dad, I might not be where I want to be but I know you are the one who can help me.” With that, the hard work is done. Really!!

If you are not enjoying all the presence of God you wish to, then tell Him your thoughts and desires. Invite Him to help you grow closer to Him. Then listen to the quiet thoughts of your heart. You are going to be so surprised and how quickly He responds and some of the lovely thoughts He has.

And, have fun drawing closer, and closer to Him.

Face to Face

Psalm 16: 10 – 11           TPT

For you will not abandon me to the realm of death, nor will you allow your Holy One to experience corruption. For you bring me a continual revelation of resurrection life, the path to the bliss that brings me face-to-face with you.

I am not ready to leave behind the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. Perhaps you are still in the Easter mood, or if you prefer, Resurrection Sunday. Forgive me if I still use the term Easter. I guess I am nostalgic about the whole Easter season, as an event that encompasses more than one day.

We’ve kept with our Monday psalm, but I went back to the sixteenth psalm just to think a bit more about Jesus and the resurrection. David wrote this psalm and it seems pretty clear that he was moved by the Holy Spirit to write these words. He wrote that God would not allow His Holy One to experience corruption. Other translations say that God did not allow His Holy One to decay. Though David wrote this long before Jesus was born, he had a revelation about the Messiah’s journey in the earth. Jesus had to come and had to die and be buried as any other human, but God did not leave him in the grave. He never experienced decay because life returned to him and, as you know, he arose from death to live evermore. There is great exultation in that event. It is fascinating that David celebrated it long before it became a reality.

Truly, as we read this psalm, we can hear that it speaks of Jesus and us at the same time. Because we are in him, his resurrection is ours too. David wrote that we can have a continual revelation of resurrection life. The life that Jesus died to give us is continually, day by day, being revealed to us. There is more resurrection life than we first realized, in other words. The revelation of the fullness of life Jesus give us takes a lifetime and beyond to realize. It keeps getting better and better as that revelation brings us face to face with the Father. We are intended to dwell in his presence continually. So, the day after resurrection day is a whole new life for us. What the Father did on that momentous day has given us life and today we live in the resurrection life of Jesus. It is eternal. There is no death in it because Jesus will never die. He died once for all and death has been defeated.

Today, you can live in the presence of God because of what He and Jesus did for us on that fateful day. Father wants us all to live face to face with Him. We can live in a bigger and bigger revelation of what that means daily. What is it to be face to face with God? What does God have in mind? As you continue to revel in the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection, ask yourself what living in the continual revelation of resurrection life means in your daily walk.

Veracity

Psalm 24: 3           Passion

Who, then, ascends into the presence of the Lord? And who has the privilege of entering into God’s Holy Place?

How would you answer this question? Which of us is qualified to stand int God’s presence, of entering His throne room?

Here is God’s answer from verse 4, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully” (NASB). Perhaps this doesn’t fully explain. The Passion translation reads, “those who never deceive, whose words are sure.” Verse four reveals the importance of clean thoughts and clean words which we heard in Psalm 19. This goes just a bit further, though, because it culls out those who speak falsehood or deception. What is falsehood? It is a nice way of saying lying. Deception is more insidious than lying. One can actually speak the truth and yet intentionally mislead, deceive. This is done by leaving out key data or even sometimes by the inflection in the voice. According to God’s Word, people who do this are not fit to enter His presence. That’s a pretty big deal.

We live in a time when lying has actually become, not only commonplace, but acceptable. For example, some people, even some Christians, think it is okay to lie on tax forms. What do you think God would say? For one thing, it demonstrates a complete lack of faith if you feel you have to withhold what is due. Another common example is the “little white lie.” Let me tell you, there is no such thing as a white lie. They are all dark because they all originate with the father of lies, Satan. God has never told a lie, will never tell a lie and, in fact, lacks the ability to lie. So, tell me, how is it that Christians can lie? It astounds me. Satan is also known as the deceiver. He is the master of telling a half truth. That is what he did with Jesus in the desert and Adam and Eve in the garden. He tries to get us to sin by questioning the truth or by leaving it half hidden.

I know that you know that lying is wrong and I hope you aren’t convicted because you do know better, but it is wise to be on our guard that we be not swayed by popular culture. Truthfully, this psalm is not a reprimand. It is good news. David is looking to enter God’s presence and to show us that we, too, can stand confidently in the very presence of God. David asks who can enter God’s presence. He did not phrase the question as, who is forbidden to enter the throne room. The answer is people who have not lifted up their souls to falsehood. There is nothing in their souls which is attracted to lies, misconceptions or deception. These people, honest people, get to hang out with God. However, that is not all.

Verse 5 says, “He shall receive a blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” The honest person gets to enter into the Father’s presence and when you are in God’s presence, He gives you a blessing. I want that, don’t you? How would it be if every day you entered into the Father’s presence and every day He gave you a blessing? That would be okay wouldn’t it?

So here is what I ask of you. Practice being very forthright and honest. If someone asks you a question that you do not wish to reveal the truth of, then rather than lie, refuse to answer the question. Eliminate even the little white lies. Most of all, since I believe you do this already, help me to teach others that no lie is acceptable. Help us to stand on firm soil as Christians and depart completely from the ways of the devil. Let us distinguish ourselves by our honesty. I admit it is tough, but it is what our Father requires of us. It is the way into His presence and that is a good place to be.