Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Spirit of Grace: Hungering for His Presence?

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. 2 Corinthians 13:14 NKJV

We've been in a study in the recent weeks concerning the Spirit of God. We've seen that the Spirit is our comforter. He is our ever-present help in time of need. He is with us always. 

 In our previous study, we looked at the concept of spiritual hunger. We answered some of the objections or concerns some may be holding too. As with any truth, there exists a ditch on both sides that we can fall into when we embrace extremes. 

 New Covenant Grace understanding was breathed upon the hearts and minds of those seeking for truth. Those of us who grew weary of religion and tradition and performance traps, but still desired relationship with our Father received the truth the Father longed to bring. He has always wanted His Church to know and understand who He really is. He is a good and loving Daddy God who loves us with an everlasting love.

 This truth of Radical Grace wasn't designed to remove truth and uproot every single thing we've ever been taught. Grace is not about averting truth. It isn't a rebellion against rules and traditions. Grace and truth came by Jesus the person of Grace. It was given to enhance truth and to assist us in getting a clearer understanding of the truth of the Word of God. Certainly, it has uprooted errors, and traditions and performance based ideologies. With this understanding, let's explore the concept of spiritual hunger and the presence of God.

He is with us always

 This is the foundation we must always hold fast to. He is with us always. He said He would never leave us or forsake us. This is the truth, take note this doesn't require an emotion or feeling for it to be so. He declared it, therefore, it is settled. If we really understood this, would we continue making statements or singing songs to the contrary?

 "Draw me close to you, never let me go."
"Open up the doors to Heaven and let us enter in."
"Savior, while on others thou art calling, do not pass me by."
"Come by here my Lord, come by here."
Singing songs or praying prayers with verbiage such as this undermine right thinking and dissipates hope in the hearers.

 Resting on the truth He is with us always, does this mean we should not hunger or desire His presence among us?  Some would say if you're still hungering or thirsting then you haven't received of the New Covenant. In one sense, they are correct. That being He is with us always. We need not pray prayers like King David prayed. We shouldn't be praying things like don't take your Spirit from me. Or ask for God to allow us to enter into His presence. He is with us already, we are in His presence continually because He abides in us.

 This is true, but is there a positive hunger and thirst that doesn't deny His abiding presence? Yes, as we concluded in the previous study, when we hunger or desire what He desires, then we are in perfect rhythm with God. Rightly dividing the Word will help us reconcile both of these absolute truths.

 Jesus stated He is always with us when we gather in His name. This is a promise and again feelings or emotions don't alter it. Jesus also said this:
17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. John 14:17 NASB
 So there is an abiding presence and a tangible presence of God. Some then suggest, His abiding presence is always there but His tangible presence is not and we must chase after it. No, that isn't the idea here. They both go together. Does this still sound like a riddle or a puzzle? The Word of God gives us true clarity.

To hunger or not to hunger?

The simple answer is found in an account in the ministry of Jesus.
17 Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. Luke 5:17 NKJV
 Here we see Jesus presence was abiding in their midsts. The tangible presence, the power of God, was also clearly there. Yet, the Scripture records no one received anything. His presence was there to heal, to help and yet nothing was happening. 

 Why wasn't anything happening? Jesus Himself lets us in on the secret in another passage here. Jesus is teaching us to desire for what He desires. We who have received the Lord have His abiding presence and His tangible presence is also with us. Yet, there are times when our meetings, our Bible studies, our fellowships, and gatherings appear just like they did in Luke 5.

 All too often, we see the depressed come into our gatherings and they leave depressed. We see the discouraged come in and leave with the same discouragement. We see the downtrodden, those in despair and destitute come in and leave the same way. We see the sick and broken enter and then leave with the same condition.

 So what is the answer? Again, why wasn't anything happening in Luke 5? So are we to hunger or simply rest in the truth He is with us always? The answer is this, we have the abiding and tangible presence with us always. However, we have a choice presented to us as in Luke 5.

An active or inactive presence?

 This is the answer to the question. Jesus taught us to hunger and thirst. We are to hunger for or desire what He wants. Jesus and His power were present in Luke 5 and yet no one received. The reason being because they chose an inactive presence. They didn't desire for God to do anything. 

 This is what we desire for when it comes to hungering for His presence. We don't desire for Him to show up because He is already present. We don't ask Him to come down and envelope us in His presence because we already have that. What we need to do is simply get on board with the Spirit of God and desire for what He wants to do in our midsts. We should have a passion and desire for His presence to be active in our midst.

 Instead of using our faith to "bring His presence down" we should be using our faith to find out God's heart and what He wants to do in our gatherings. This is what true spiritual hunger is. God may want to use you to give someone a kind word. God may want you to hug someone and reassure them it will be alright. He may want us to be a financial blessing to someone. 

 In summation, should we hunger for His presence? We should desire intimate fellowship, but we shouldn't hunger for what we already have, instead we should hunger or desire His presence to be active in our midst. When we hunger for an active presence, we aren't denying the truth that He is with us always. What we are doing is saying, God, we desire what you desire. Your heart is my heart. We want to cooperate with your leading and guiding. We want you active in our midst.
Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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