Practices like examen and journaling make us aware that God is with us and active, now we get to choose to be with Him or we choose to quench Him. How many of us have head knowledge that God is with is, but it doesn’t make it to the heart, strength, soul, or mind? We try to compartmentalize our lives. Here is family, there is work, there is recreation and over there is spiritual. But God is not compartmentalized and He does not categorize (Galatians 3:28). He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is all three, always. He is One God, not three. Deuteronomy 6:4-5 reads,
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
He is not one god with two lesser gods. It is a concept that might be just out of our minds grasp until that Great Day when we will see Him face to face. 1 Corinthians 13:12 explains,
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
What an amazing thing that will be, to fully know and understand God and everything about Him. I imagine it a little like The Matrix, when John Anderson becomes Neo and he has all this information downloaded to his brain. He remarks in astonishment, “I know Kung Fu.” When we come face to face with God and we know Him perfectly, do you imagine we’ll sit back and say, “Oh that’s why you let roaches live” or “That is why I experienced that event in my life” or anything other than falling down in worship and adoration of the LORD of Lords, Jesus our Savior, King of kings, and Creator of the Universe? We will know Him fully and it will make us love Him all the more, the way He knows and loves us.
On that day the beginning of eternity with Him and in His presence, there will be no time constraints to the Jubilee, nothing to keep us from completely and copiously celebrating the Lord, and nothing separating our once temporary lives from enjoying our real lives forever. God wants us to understand now and here that our eternal lives in the kingdom of God have begun already, here on earth. Sure, we still live in these bodies that He calls tents, but our houses, our permanent perfect bodies await us in the City of God. It is not the 100 years or so on this earth that are the real matter, it is eternity with Him that is real. 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 reads,
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
And Colossians 3:1-4 says,
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Read that passage in The Message
1-2 So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.
3-4 Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.
We have to stop compartmentalizing our lives and understand that our spiritual lives ought to be infused into every part of our lives, that our lives, like the Lord are triune and inseparable, body, mind, and spirit. We are heart, soul, and might, and we love Him with our entirety, indivisibly. Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). Look back at 1 Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” Catch this, the way God wants us to know and love Him, He already knows and loves us that way! He loved us first (1 John 4:19)! He is with us. Deuteronomy 31:6 says,
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.
On the quickest and shallowest search of my concordance, I found 144 times that the Bible says, “God is with you.” Believer, He is with you. Child of God, He will never leave you nor abandon or renounce you! If I did a more indepth search, I have no doubt that I would find that phrase and similar ones many more times. But how often does God have to say it for it to be true? Once! How many times do we need to hear it before we believe it and live it?
Well, now we know God is present with us. Our practices of examen and journaling have opened our eyes to His attendance in our lives. How do we practice His presence? How do we celebrate His presence? We keep Him in mind, keep our focus on Him and remain aware of Who God is and What He is doing and we respond appropriately. Psalm 46 says this,
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Since we know God is not just present, but VERY present, we can respond with peace as we trust God to be God. We allow His water to flow through us, bring us life, nourishment, and growth as it produces steadfastness, joy, peace, and patience in us. There is chaos, destruction, and conflict around us, but God is with us, we have nothing to fear, no bad news can frighten us, we can remain steadfast (Psalm 112:7). We can be still amidst the chaos and know He is who He says He is. Psalm 46:4 which we just read says,
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
Are you aware of the river of living waters that you drink from, that makes you a mighty oak of righteousness (Psalm 1:3, Isaiah 61:3), and now flows through you to help others drink from Him? To celebrate God’s ever-present steadfast company with us, I think it helps to picture Him as He described Himself as the river of life.
Revelation 22:1-2 paints this beautiful picture
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Revelation 21:6-7 reads,
And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.
In John 4:14 Jesus said, “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
In John 7:38 He said, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
Revelation 7:13-17 reads,
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
We can allow the Living Water to flow into and out of us affecting the kingdom, bringing healing to the nations, and the lost to the Lord or we can quench the Spirit and ignore God being here with us. Can you describe your life as one where God is like a river filling you to overflowing and pouring out of you?
If not, how can we get there? How do we practice the presence of God? Proverbs 3:3-12 offers us some practical steps as well as promises of the blessings God gives if we practice His presence.
Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 So you will find favor and good success
in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth
and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
10 then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine.
11 My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
12 for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.
Since God is always with us, since His Spirit is actually imbued in us, we should be praying constantly and rejoicing always 1 Thessalonians 5:14-21 offers more practical steps to be aware of God’s presence.
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
Once God was not always with His people, they had to enter into His presence carefully, but now He has entered ours and we get to celebrate Him always! Nehemiah 8:8-12 tells us to enjoy Him and share what He has given to us.
8 They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. 9 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 11 So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.
The joy of the Lord is your strength, understanding His presence, His love, and His will gives you strength. What overjoys Him, a real relationship with us gives us strength.
Fellow Followers, I pray you will choose to be deliberate in knowing God is with you and living as if He is walking right next you hand in hand. He is so much more inexplicably with you than merely interwoven hands. Let your heart, soul, and might be interwoven with Him. Let springs of Living Water bubble from your heart and soul and take action with your strength.