Being aware of the presence of God can be wonderful–if we are aware of His love for us at the same time.
24 Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
These are the words that the LORD wants to speak to us. His eyes range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him (2 Chronicles 16:9). Whose hearts are fully committed to Him? Those who are contrite (recognizing our need spiritually, filled with a sense of guilt and the desire for atonement and right standing with God; penitent) and lowly in spirit. Here is what the LORD says in Isaiah 57:15 about these people:
15 For this is what the high and exalted One says—
he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place,
but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
and to revive the heart of the contrite.
James, Jesus’ brother, said, “God opposes [takes a fighting stance against] the proud but shows favor to the humble.” James 4:6 Peter quoted it, as well, in 1 Peter 5:5, and it is based upon Proverbs 3:34. Jesus even used a version of it in Matthew 23:12. When we recognize our need for Him in our lives, we find that He draws near to us. What kind of encouragement did He offer to those who were humbled before Him?
- “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Matthew 9:2, 6
- “Your sins are forgiven.” “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:48, 50
- “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” “I, the one speaking to you–I am He.” John 4:23, 26
- “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “Then neither do I condemn you…go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:10-11
When we allow Him to lead our lives, we gain much more than a pat on the head for our obedience–we gain the pleasure of His company! When we are in His presence, His love, joy, peace, hope and grace pour out of Him and into us. How do I know this? Because I experience it–when I am contrite and humble in heart! I also have it on His authority. In Luke 4:18-21, Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1-3, which was His Messiah-Mission:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
…”Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus’ mission was “to bestow on us a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair (Isaiah 61:3).” All He has ever wanted to do is pour His love on us! A favorite verse of mine is 1 John 3:1, which says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” Isn’t that incredible? Amazing? More than wonderful? Let’s get in on this good stuff by letting go of our pride and our intellect, and abandon ourselves to Him. Why? Because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
Tomorrow, we will discuss why we can sense His presence and yet still act like fools!
Abba, I need You more than ever! I need to feel Your presence with me and Your love upon me. When I am not feeling well, it is so nice to be able to rest in Your unfailing love; when I am in anguish or stress, I hide myself in Your peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). When I get cocky or indignant, I run to You and place myself under Your authority. Then, and only then, am I able to release my feelings of self-importance and to enjoy Your grace and joy. Continue to teach me, LORD, through experience. I love You. Amen.