Life Without God’s Presence

Have you ever heard someone say, “I know God is in my heart, I just don’t feel His presence?” Many people today have these same thoughts. They not only have worries of government and world crisis but trouble with personal problems and setbacks as well. Worry and fear are the opposite of faith and any number of unrepentant sins can make us wander away from God.

It’s all about relationship. Personal problems are the hardest because they hit closest to home. There was a time when I couldn’t feel God’s presence either. It was a black time in my life.

Quite a few years ago, as my wife and I were working at keeping our marriage together, I’d developed a bad attitude toward her. I was hurt because I felt she didn’t appreciate or need me enough. As I struggled with the sulking, aloofness, and the pity-party of my childish persona, I quickly developed the spirit of un-forgiveness.

It is difficult at best to explain the feeling that I had during that time of my life. However, it felt as if my blood had drained from me. It was total emptiness, despair, and nausea. I did not feel any hope within me. I didn’t care whether the sun rose or fell. It was the ugliest and blackest feeling that I have ever experienced.

The spirit of un-forgiveness had me so immersed in its sin that I felt far away from God. I thought that He was the one who’d given up on me because of my attitude toward my wife. Everything that God was to me, I now felt was gone – assurance, encouragement, approval, support, love, I couldn’t feel any of it. The wages of sin is death and I felt like I was dying inside.

I struggled with myself a couple of days and finally concluded that the reason for my pity-party was because I didn’t get my own way. I only knew I didn’t want to feel like this anymore. I missed the Lord’s presence.

The Lord was not the one who pulled away or hid Himself from me but my guilt had made me pull away from God. It was my fault that I felt condemned. His Word says that He will never leave or forsake us. I was lost and didn’t know what to do. In desperation, I finally called out to God, “Lord, where are you, I need you.”

God, in His infinite wisdom brought 1 Peter 3:7 to my attention, which declares, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” I immediately realized in my spirit what I needed to do.

I went to my wife to ask for forgiveness of my attitude toward her. The second that I asked for her forgiveness, God immediately restored my life and my health. If I were to speak for God, I’d say to me, “It sure took you long enough.” Instead, I felt that warm presence ooze over me and engulf me as I felt His voice in the pit of my stomach saying, “I’m proud of you son.” For a season, I had forgotten that forgiveness was, and still is, the basis of our faith. I never want that black empty feeling again.

Because God chastises those He loves, I believe that the Lord allowed this to happen to me so that I would know what it was like not to have Him around. He never causes bad things to happen but He allows certain things to teach us.

I thank the Lord every day for allowing me my hissy fit, because it ultimately brought me closer to Him. My daily prayer now is Psalms 51:2, 11, which says, “Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.

My lack of forgiveness and guilt put me so deep in that I had nowhere to go but up, up to Jesus. This was His plan all along, to look up to Jesus. Guilt and un-forgiveness are dangerous spirits and can destroy us if we allow them so take it from me, don’t let them get a foothold.

I leave you with Romans 8:38, 39 KJV

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

“Wilt Thou Be Made Whole?”

Waverly Lake murky water The Waverly Park in Albany, Oregon is a beautiful place, complete with a large lake, well-kept grounds, and paddle boats. I really enjoy relaxing there at the lake and admiring its beauty, so I bring my pad and pen here frequently to write. I have taken many pictures of this peaceful, still, and serene environment.

Recently, however, the water has become filled with algae, is very murky, and quite honestly, it is very ugly. Moreover, the ugliness has spread across the entire lake and has affected almost every inch of the shoreline and some in the middle. There does not seem to be any movement of water from the tributary that feeds Waverly, which is most likely due to the heat, so much so that the once beautiful lake [1] is now becoming murky and stagnant.

As I thought about the ugliness of the stagnant waters, the Lord began to speak to me. Not in that audible voice, but in the voice that you feel deep within the pit of your psyche. He said, “You are looking at the ugliness through your natural eyes. Look again, only this time, look at it through my eyes.”

Therefore, I looked at the algae infested water again. All truth is parallel. For every natural truth, there is an equal and corresponding spiritual truth, and the Lord began to share His heart with me. He showed me some things in my mind’s eye that I hadn’t seen when I looked at the lake’s ugliness with my natural eyes.

All of a sudden, my vision began to change. I could see the lack of movement in people’s souls and how they still mire themselves in the world’s plight and concern themselves with the plans of the enemy in these days. We have lost sight of our identity and who we are in Christ. We have lost sight of our destiny and who Christ is in us. Some have even lost sight of their significance to God. I could see the lack of desire for the knowledge of God. . .the emptiness, the detachment, and the hopelessness in people’s consciousness.

God said, “My children are yet like babes, they still feed on milk and are in great need of meat [2]. They do not seek or love me with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. There is not much movement in their desire to know me and they are neither hot nor cold and have become stagnant. Many are even lost.

When there is no flow or movement in our spiritual life, we will also become murky and stagnant as well, and trust me, it will spread. Just like Waverly Lake needs a stirring and movement to dispel the murkiness and algae, Christ can trouble the waters of faith to bring about knowledge and healing to the hopelessness of men’s souls.

v6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?
v7 The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. [John 5:6, 7 (1-9)]

Faith is the current that moves the water of man’s soul that displaces the murkiness to make him whole and clean again. Christ stands at the edge of our faith and looks into the murkiness of our indifference, indecision, unrighteousness, sinfulness, and then asks us, “Wilt thou be made whole?” Because of our free will, the decision is ours. However, remember that faith is a process. Just remember your identity, destiny, and the significance you have with God.

The lukewarm condition of men’s hearts creates a stagnant faith and a lukewarm faith is loathsome to Christ. A stagnant faith does not allow growth in the Lord and turns to complacency in the soul and a lack of growth does not permit the renewing of the mind [3] nor can it receive any fresh manna from Heaven [4]. God is not coming back for a beat up, scarred, and wounded Bride. He is coming back for a glorious church, a Bride without spot, blemish, or wrinkle [5].

When we seek His face [6], seek the knowledge of His Word [7], and pray without ceasing [8], we can expect to grow in Christ [9]. Like the impotent man at the pool of Bethesda, do we look for our wholeness by any means other than Christ? Let Christ trouble the waters of your faith to create a flow that will discharge the muck and mire. Remember that it is impossible to please God without faith [10]. Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life [11].

I could feel the pain of God’s heart as He opened my eyes to what He was trying to show me that day at the water’s edge of Waverly Lake. As I sometimes do, and because we are all human, many of us have a tendency to look at the world with our natural eyes instead of looking at the world with our spiritual eyes. God convicted me that day at the shoreline when He showed me that the fields are white unto salvation [12] and that we should set our minds on things above, not on Earthly things. For we died, and our lives are now hidden with Christ our Lord [13].

It is not only We the People, but it is We the Christians that need to stand up and be counted. America. . .no, the world, needs to return to Christ and a revival. In fact, there is a great outpouring of the Spirit that is coming soon, but first, we have to partnership with God and move in that direction. To use a sport metaphor, we can’t hit the ball unless we swing. Revival is not coming to us; we have to go to it.

These are the times that the body needs to rise up and not be ashamed of our faith [14]. Rise up and preach the Gospel to every living creature [15]. Each of us is a part of the body [16] and a corporate church that’s on the move starts out with many individual efforts toward the goal and of the renewing of the mind [17]. Therefore, be not concerned with earthly troubles, but seek those things that are above [18]. Occupy [19], but don’t be concerned.

Finally, and most importantly, God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. [20]. Now it is our turn for some reciprocity. In other words, return His love in like kind, thusly.

v30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
v31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
[Mark 12:30, 31]

-OR-

v16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. [Revelation 3:16]

Again, the choice is ours.

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[1] As seen in the above Home Page banner picture.
[2] 1 Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:12
[3] Romans 12:2
[4] John 6:35, 48, 51, 58; Revelation 2:17
[5] Ephesians 5:27
[6] 2 Corinthians 7:14
[7] 2 Timothy 3:16
[8] 1 Thessalonians 5:17
[9] 2 Peter 3:18
[10] Hebrews 11:6; Romans 12:2
[11] John 14:6
[12] John 4:35
[13] Colossians 3:2, 3
[14] Matthew 10:32, 33; Romans 1:6
[15] Mark 16:15
[16] 1 Corinthians 12:12, 13, 19
[17] Romans 12:2
[18] Colossians 3:1-4
[19] Luke 19:13
[20] John 3:16

EQUALLY YOKED

Part Two of Two: Abigail and Nabal

What was Paul actually telling the church at Corinth in 2 Corinthians 6:14 and why did he make the unequally yoked statement? Let’s look at that.

A time long before John Deer Tractors and motorized farm equipment, the people in biblical times used oxen to plow their fields. To do so, the farmer attached a beam to a team of oxen across the shoulders and to the load that they were to pull. Both oxen needed to be of equal size and strength for the desired outcome. Otherwise, the animals would plow in circles. Deuteronomy 22:10 says not to plow with an ox and a donkey.

v10 Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together. [Deuteronomy 22:10 KJV]

The meaning behind this Deuteronomy Scripture is that the ox and donkey were of unequal strength and mindset. The significance to this passage is basically to foreshadow 2 Corinthians 6:14, which is not to unequally yoke to unbelievers. Isaiah 1:3 says that the ox and the donkey also knew their place but His people did (do) not.

Believers invite trouble when they unequally yoke to another as the Corinthians, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, and many other Scriptures suggest. You can read about a case in point in 1 Samuel 25, as Scripture tells the story of Abigail and Nabal. We can get a lot of generic help from 1 Samuel 25. Maybe not so much on the specific side of the problem, but there is a lot of usable information and help there.

Abigail and Nabal
The first thing we notice as we read 1 Samuel 25 is that Nabal was wealthy and although he was a calebite, his character did not reflect a biblical spirituality. On the contrary, he was surly, mean rough, stingy, harsh, ill tempered, and evil in his dealings. Abigail on the other hand, was an intelligent, beautiful, and sensible woman. She had to take responsibility for the union, and apparently wore the beam of intelligence, morality, and holiness for the family.

As was the custom of the day, Abigail’s father probably arranged the marriage. Her father looked at Nabal’s wealth and no doubt honorably thought that Nabal would take good care of his daughter, despite the fact that Nabal was a despicable man. Whether Abigail’s father knew of Nabal’s disposition and propensities, the Bible does not tell us. Neither does the Bible tell us whether the father arranged the marriage or not. I would have to say that he did, because what woman in her right mind would want to marry such a man. In lieu of the wealth, somewhere along the line there had to be communication, love, and a relationship.

Unequally yoked
As we can see, Abigail and Nabal were about as far apart as any two people could possibly be, but she stuck it out [1]. Abigail even interceded to David on Nabal’s behalf [2]. This teaches us that once the couple marries, they should stick it out. A marriage needs much prayer and how do we know that we will lead them to salvation or not. However, the believing spouse sanctifies the unbelieving spouse, but they still need salvation. There is a big difference between sanctified and salvation.

It takes two for a marriage to work. Actually, it takes three for a marriage to work [3], and therein lays the rub, for what partnership does righteousness have with lawlessness the English Standard Version says. What fellowship does light have with darkness says the King James Version.

v14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? [2 Corinthians 6:14 KJV]

Therefore, according to 1 Corinthians 7:16 Paul, through the anointing of the Holy Spirit exhorts us by saying,

v16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife? [1 Corinthians 7:16 KJV]

As Abigail’s father probably arranged her marriage, believers have their heavenly Father to arrange their marriages. . .as long as they listen to Him. He will always let us know if the person is right or wrong for us, guaranteed.

We should mingle with unbelievers because this is a field that is white unto salvation [4] but we should not hang with them as buddy buddies. However, when someone catches our eye for a business partnership, friendship, relationship, or marriage, the litmus test should always be, “Is she/he a believer?” Of course, what makes our choices a little easier is that we will know them by their fruit [5].

For those contemplating the bonds of matrimony, I strongly exhort you to consider — for your own health, happiness, and life that you do not unequally yoke with them. Don’t shoot the messenger, because as we have learned, this is a commandment of God. Of course, through our free will, the decision is ours. However, take it from someone who has been there. It doesn’t work.

Somewhere along the line, you have to live with that person and actually talk to them about your beliefs, values, and interests. The best time to do this is BEFORE the wedding. Seek guidance from a pastor who can lead you in the way of God.

God bless you all in your search for that special someone.

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[1] 1 Corinthians 7:16
[2] 1 Samuel 25:23-31 Since David is a type of Christ and Abigail became his bride, this foreshadows the Bride of Christ.
[3] Ecclesiastes 4:12
[4] John 4:35
[5] Matthew 7:16-20; Galatians 5:22, 23