This week we’ll spend time breaking down the individual components of First15 by sharing God’s desire for each of them. The majority of First15 is dedicated to encountering God and learning about his character, but every now and then we will cover some teaching and tools that will help in pursuing God to greater depths. This week we will get back to the basics and learn some spiritual disciplines that will help us encounter him in deeper, more transformative ways.
“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” Psalm 139:7
Nearness | Bethel Music feat. Jenn Johnson
One of the most important pieces of spending time with God is encountering his presence. His presence is meant to be at the core of all that we do. God so hated separation from us that Jesus was sent to pay the ultimate price. And at Jesus’s death the curtain separating the Holy of Holies from mankind was torn in two—signifying that God’s presence was no longer contained but made available to everyone.
Psalm 139:7-8 says, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” And Psalm 84:3-4 says, “Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise!” God’s presence is everywhere. There is nowhere you could go that he won’t be with you. There is no situation, conversation, job or place in which you can’t meet with God.
So how do we encounter the presence of God? How do we experience his nearness? Encountering God is similar to encountering another person. I don’t seek an experience with a friend; I simply seek to know him by spending time with him and gain an experience as a result. I don’t seek to hear the voice of a friend; I simply engage in conversation with him as an act of wanting to know him and hear his voice as a result.
The only thing about seeking God that makes it different is that he is spirit rather than flesh. John 4:24 says, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” But it’s for that very reason that we can truly know him! Scripture is clear that God is everywhere and that the Holy Spirit dwells within us. His presence is already with you. Encountering him is as simple as taking some time to become aware of his nearness.
God longs for you to know him. So great is his desire to meet with you Spirit to spirit, heart to heart, that Jesus gave his life. Take time to simply seek God. Meditate on his word. Allow Scripture to fill your heart with faith. And make space to rest in God’s presence that your heart might come alive at the revelation of his nearness.
1. Meditate on Scripture about God’s presence.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” Psalm 16:11
“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” Psalm 139:7-10
“And he said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'” Exodus 33:14
2. Allow Scripture to fill you with faith to encounter God. Center your understanding of encountering God around simply seeking to know him.
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17
“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
3. Make space to rest in God’s presence. Ask him to show you how to abide in him. He desires to make himself known to you all throughout your day. He wants to be involved in everything you are doing! Nothing is too mundane for the Lord! His desire is to be with you.
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8
“Abide in me, and I in you.” John 15:4
“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:16
Once you begin consistently encountering God’s presence you will find it becomes easier and easier to set aside that time to meet with him. So many Christians are calling the time they spend reading the Bible “time they spend with God,” without actually encountering him. We preach as Christians that Jesus is alive; our faith hinges on that fact. Yet we go so long without encountering our God who is alive and present. If we’re not regularly encountering the God we serve, we are living and preaching a false gospel by our actions. God’s presence is meant to be encountered. He is present, near, active, and full of love for you. May your time spent with him be marked by his satisfying presence as you experience the transforming power of encountering the living God every day.
Extended Reading: Psalm 16