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-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: Rodney Hogue <rodhogue@aol.com> http://www.icgrace.org
Editors: Teresa Seputis, Earlene Bown
Transcribers: Sharon Farris, Rita Joyce, Erma Kummerer, Fred Pekkonen

Prayer-School Course #32

Grace and Christian Values

By Rodney Hogue

Lesson 4
Fear And God's Presence

In our last lesson, we learned that contentment is the enemy of passion for God. Contentment keeps us from pressing in for the full measure of His presence. We already talked a bit about contentment and some of its characteristics, some of the things that can keep us from pursuing the presence of God. There are actually three characteristics, not just two. Let's quickly review the two from the last lesson and then we will move on to the third one.

One of the characteristics that keeps us from pursuing God's presence is when we are preoccupied with ourselves, our own interests and our own agenda instead of embracing God's agenda. The second characteristic is withdrawal, or lack of healthy and godly interactions and relationships with our brothers and sisters in the Lord. We already talked about those things in lesson 3, so let us move on to the last characteristic: fear.

Sometimes we don't press into God's presence because God can be rather scary. Even in His encounter with Moses God said, "You can't look at Me and live." That's a little scary. I mean, the way He manifested to the people -- that was scary. If you look through the Bible, every time that you see somebody encounter an angel and the glory of God was present, what were the first words out of that angel's mouth? "Fear not!" Why do you think he said that? What do you think the person was going through right then?

When Daniel encountered the angel, he encountered the glory of God. Wham! He fell down on his face limp, and he couldn't even move. It was the glory of the Lord. "By the way, don't be afraid!" "That's easy for you to say!" God can be quite scary. One of the reasons is, every time you get next to the glory of God, all of your "stuff" gets exposed. His glory shines right into all your life, and you say, "Ooh, yuck!" Remember Adam and Eve? "Oh! Where are those fig leaves?" Every time you get near the glory, it's like He exposes everything.

What happens when God begins to really manifest His glory in the Church? When God begins to manifest His glory, (and we all feel this, no matter how passionate we are), when God begins to come into the house, there is something going on inside of us that gets exposed. Because the greater measure of the glory, the greater measure of exposure. For a lot of people, they come into the house, maybe here for the first or second time, all of a sudden the glory of the Lord fills the room, and they say, "Get me out of here! What was that?" It was the Presence! Each time I come into His tangible presence, it feels like I never experienced it before! I just feel like I'm naked when I'm in that place, so I want to get out of there. I feel uncomfortable.

Any time you encounter God, you're going to feel a bit uncomfortable. That is OK because God is a God of love. He already sees everything anyway. He knows everything there is to know. Nothing is hidden from His sight, and He loves you perfectly. You say, "Ok, just unravel me!" That is sort of what He does; He exposes those inner issues to you. And that's where we say, "Oh-unh -- I don't want to see it!"

Yes, His presence can be very frightening. It's a fear of being humbled, it's a fear of what He might ask me to do. "He might want me to go be a missionary to China or some place, and I don't know how I'm going to build my 401K if He does that. He might actually require it, and then what am I going to do? Oh, my!"

Sometimes there is a fear of failure of not being able to live up to God's expectations. Moses encountered all of those. But he still pursued the Presence. Joshua encountered all of those and he pursued the Presence. If you want to know Joshua's success, here it is: Joshua 1:5 "No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life, just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you. I will not fail you nor forsake you." Joshua had a passion for the Presence.

One of the tribes of Manasseh said this, "We ourselves will cross over armed in the presence of the Lord into the land of Canaan." I love that phrase: 'armed with the presence of God.'

What was the secret to David's success? David was the man who had a heart after God. Here it is, Psalm 42, verses one and two: "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for Thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?" Just read the Psalms, because God's presence is all over the Psalms. Psalm 16:11 says, "Thou will make known to me the paths of light. In Thy presence is fullness of joy. In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever." In this verse here, what's in the presence of God? Fullness of joy. Does anybody have a 'joy deficiency' every once in a while? Does anybody have all the joy that you'll every need? Anybody need a little more from time to time? Where do you get it? Right in His presence.

Let me give you another verse relating to that joy. It's found in Isaiah 9:3, "Thou shalt multiply the nation. Thou shalt increase their gladness. They will be glad in Thy presence, as the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil." He is saying that the only thing he can compare that joy to is like when you've already brought in all the crops, the work is done, the barns are full, and you have the harvest, and how does that feel? They would have parties. they would have big celebrations when the harvest was over and they were done with the work of bringing it all int othe storehouses.

Or it's like you've gone out to battle, you've won the battle, and now you are going out and picking up the spoil. Are you going to say, "Oh, I just don't want to do that! I just can't believe they're making me -- No!" These guys are excited. They're yelling, "Whooh! Look what we have here! Look what I found here! It's a cot. I've never seen one of these before." They are excited about this stuff. That comes from the Presence.

Joy comes from His Presence. Psalm 44:3 says, "By their own sword they did not possess the land, and their own arm did not save them, but Thy right hand, Thine arm and the light of Thy presence, for Thou didst favor them." It wasn't you -- it was God. He was with them, and because He was with them, they had victory.

What was David's greatest fear? When David sinned against Bathsheba and he cried out to God repenting, he said in Psalm 51:11, "Do not cast me away from Thy presence. Do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me." His biggest fear was that God would remove His presence. Is that your biggest fear? Is that the biggest caution in your life, that you don't want to do anything to remove His presence? Is that a driving force in your life?

Hebrews 11:6 says, "Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." What does God do for those who seek Him? There is a cause and effect here. You just seek Him, because everything comes from His presence. Joy comes from His presence. Provision comes from His presence (Isaiah 23:18). Victory comes from His presence. Life comes from His presence. Everything comes from His presence.

That's why I want you to get that Passion Scale, and look at it. Ask yourself, "Where am I on the scale? Where do I want to be?" I have to look at myself and say, "Am I content? Am I content with what I have? Am I content with the measure of the glory of God that I'm possessing now? Am I willing to go day after day saying I'm ok with what I have? I'm not pursuing or going after any more." It's like, "I know that I should, but I'm really not, and so I'm just content with this."

If you are content with where you are, is it because you are focused on yourself? Is it because you're withdrawn? Is it because of fear? In other words, what's keeping you from having a passion after God? Maybe your cry today is, "God it's not there, but I want it. God, I want your passion! I want it!" Because the truth is, you are as close to God as you want to be.

Proverbs 8:17 says, "I love those who love me; those who diligently seek Me will find Me." Can God be found? Yes. God always finds those who are looking for Him. Just look in Acts chapter 10, the story of Cornelius. He was looking for God, so God sent Peter. God gave Peter a dream or vision, orchestrated just to go talk to Cornelius, because he was a man who was looking for God. He was diligently seeking after God. If you are going after God, He'll make sure you find Him.

When we speak about destiny, one of the verses we frequently quote is Jeremiah 29:11, "'I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for prosperity and not calamity, to give you a future and a hope.'" That verse speaks of destiny. Verse 12 says, "'Then you will call upon Me, and come and pray to Me, and I'll listen to you. And you will seek Me, and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you,' declares the Lord, 'and I'll restore your fortunes, and will gather you from the nations, and from all the places I have driven you,' declares the Lord. 'And I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.'"

If you're looking for God, you'll find Him. If your 'passion factor' is high, if you're pursuing the Lord with great passion, you'll find Him.

Let me give you one more verse. Psalm 14:2 says this, "The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God." God is looking down from heaven on the sons of men. He's looking for people who seek after Him. When God looks down from heaven -- is He looking for you?

-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

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