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Guided by God's Presence

The Importance of Recognizing God's Presence

1 Kings 19:1-10(NKJV) - And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb, the mountain of God. And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

Elijah, the most powerful prophet of his time was scared. He had just pulled off one of the most improbable miracle in history. He called fire from heaven to douse a wet sacrifice in the world's first and only "Fire from Heaven Competition". Yet, he was so scared of Jezebel's words that he took off running. Don't forget that in 1 Kings 18, he outran the King's chariot so he probably took off pretty quickly. What's interesting to note is that The Bible doesn't show us anywhere if Jezebel actually sent anyone to pursue Elijah. Perhaps, she had nobody to send because he had a reputation for calling fire from heaven on people who came after him. Nevertheless, he did have one pursuer and that was God. In the worst season of his life, every time Elijah stopped to rest God was there. Under the broom tree, God fed him there. In the cave, God met him there. God valued Elijah so much that even though Elijah was straying from God's Will for his life, God still went after him.

1 Kings 19:11-13(NKJV) - Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

In 1 Kings 19:11-13, God told Elijah to stand on the mountain before Him. He then conducted a simple exercise. He passed by and caused a powerful windstorm to hit the mountains, breaking rocks in pieces. However, even though He caused the windstorm, He was not in it. Then, He shook the ground with an earthquake but though He caused the earthquake, He was not in it. Then, He caused spontaneous combustion right before Elijah's eyes but though He caused the fire, He was not in it. Wait, what? How could God not be in the wind, earthquake or fire? He caused them, didn't He? Yes, He caused them, but God didn't want to direct Elijah with storms, earthquake and fire. He wanted to guide Elijah with His presence.

That's why The Bible said that God was not in them. It didn't say that God didn't speak through them which is what we typically extrapolate by reading between the lines. It said He was not in them. Hence, the writer placed the emphasis on the presence of God. In fact, if you keep reading, you would recognize that Elijah did not move until He heard the still small voice which we can safely assume contained God's presence. Yes, there's revelation in the stillness of God's Voice when compared to the grandeur of wind, earthquake and fire. However, today God wants us to recognize the importance of being guided by His presence.

Why was it so important for God to distinguish the value of His presence to Elijah from signs and wonders? Think about this a little. Elijah called fire from heaven at least three times; once to burn up a wet sacrifice and twice to burn up Ahab's armies. In 1 Kings 17:1 Elijah called a drought on the spot and rain didn't fall for three years. In 1 Kings 17:6 ravens fed Elijah bread and meat. In 1 Kings 17:8-16, Elijah showed the widow and her son how to have their cake and eat it too for the duration of a multi-year famine. In 1 Kings 17:22, Elijah called the soul of the dead child back into his body. In 1 Kings 18:11-12, Ahab's servant said that Elijah had a reputation of instantly translating from one place to another.

In other words, signs and wonders were commonplace for Elijah. Hence, the wind, earthquake or fire from God may have moved us but unless God Himself was in them, they didn't move Elijah. Neither, did God want them to, especially with Elijah's state of mind at the time. Elijah's life was in complete turmoil. He was running for his life from Jezebel. He was scared. He was tired. He felt all alone. He knew God's power. He knew God's miracles. He knew the power of God's Word. He didn't need another sign. He just needed God's presence. He was at his lowest point and he just needed to know that The Lord was with him. He didn't want what was in God's hands. He just needed to be in God's face.

Exodus 33:12-17(NKJV) - Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.” And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.” So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”

Moses understand the value of God's presence. He spoke to God face to face. He knew God's personality. He shared God's heart for His people. So he chose to be guided by God's presence. If God's presence moved, they would move. If God's presence stayed, they would stay. Wherever God's presence would go was the place that the Children of Israel needed to go. Wherever God's presence would not go was the place the Children of Israel needed to avoid. From the days of the pillar of fire by night and cloud by day, they understood that following God's presence was the best way to remain in God's Will. Today, God also wants us to get to that stage of our relationship with Him. He wants us to move away from simply following signs, impulses, trends or crowds to following His presence. If you believe God is leading you somewhere or to do something you should use His presence as confirmation that you're on the right track because God doesn't show up where He doesn't want to be.

2 Samuel 6:12-15(NKJV) - Now it was told King David, saying, “The Lord has blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with gladness. And so it was, when those bearing the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, that he sacrificed oxen and fatted sheep. Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet.

Why did King David dance before God with all of his might when they finally got their hands on the ark of The Lord? The ark represented God's presence and wherever God's presence rested so did His blessing. That's the essence of this entire message. If we only understood the intrinsic value of God's presence we would stop running after every other thing and pursue His presence for the rest of our lives. In His presence we will find joy and pleasures (Psalms 16:11). Where His Spirit is, we will be free (2 Corinthians 3:17). It's His presence that's the difference maker for our present and our future. It's His presence that will keep us through difficult seasons of our lives. It's the people who have God's presence who will be confident that all will be well with them. It's all about His presence.

Psalm 51:10-12(NKJV)- Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

This is my prayer and should be yours too. Enjoy God's presence today.

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