Have you ever experienced the magic moment of God’s presence in a way where you felt you could touch him? It’s a presence like people in the Bible experienced. It was a ‘magic moment’ where God’s presence was so strong you couldn’t stand. God’s fiery presence was so real, so thick, so holy, you went down because there was nothing else to do.
THE PRESENCE OF GOD
By Pastor Delbert Young
This Magic Moment
This Magic Moment
Scriptures: Exodus 33:11-15, Psalms 139:7, Romans 8:26, Ephesians 5:18, Job 32:19, Genesis 4:13-16, Exodus 33:11
How does one break a bad habit? How does one stop using profanity? How does one calm their own self in hideously stressful situations? How does one stop vile thoughts from running rampant through their mind? You might say it’s impossible or extremely difficult to do those things. No, it’s actually not. However, those things will only happen by experiencing a continual presence of God.
Exodus 33:11-15 The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent. Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, TEACH ME YOUR WAYS SO I MAY KNOW YOU and CONTINUE to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” The LORD replied, “MY PRESENCE WILL GO WITH YOU, and I will give you rest.” Then Moses said to him, “If your PRESENCE does not go with us, do not send us up from here.
Let’s look at a few thoughts from the above scripture. We can talk to God face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. We can do things causing God to find favor with us. We learn his ways so we may know him and continue to find favor with God. His presence can go with us, or it can not go with us. Is it possible for you and me to have this kind of friendship relationship with God?
During our series on PRAISE HIM WORSHIP HIM, I felt the Lord instruct me to talk about God’s presence. I’ve never taught a series on God’s presence before, so for the next few weeks we will talk about the PRESENCE OF GOD. I fear many of us don’t know exactly what I mean by this. I fear more many of us have never experienced his presence, at least not as the Lord wishes we do. “Delbert, isn’t the presence of God with us all the time?” Absolutely! At least in one way.
Psalms 139:7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your PRESENCE?
God is omnipresent. You can’t go anywhere where God isn’t. However, this presence is available for Satan as well (Job 2:7). If you are a Christ follower, God’s presence is constantly available for you through his Spirit. Yet, there is a much higher dimension I want to talk about.
Have you ever experienced God’s presence in a way where you felt you could touch him? It’s a presence like people in the Bible experienced. It’s a “magic moment” where God’s presence was so strong you couldn’t stand. God’s fiery presence was so real, so “thick,” so holy, you went down because there was nothing else to do. At this moment going down and covering your face as Moses did at the burning bush was actually logical and not spooky spiritual. You were on holy ground even though you may have been in your own bedroom. You became as still and quiet as possible. You wanted to talk, but wanted more to listen. You were afraid to move and not because you would be doing something wrong. You were afraid to move for fear his presence would leave. Have you ever experienced this presence?
For those of you who haven’t, I pray this series will help you experience the first of many magic moments. If you’ve never experienced what I am attempting to describe, you don’t realize what you’ve missed. My prayer is this short series will help bring you to a place of a continual PRESENCE OF GOD as real as anyone experienced in the Bible. Those of you who have experienced the presence know exactly what I mean.
I’ve wrestled with how to begin this teaching. There’s a wealth of examples and scriptures in the Bible. We’ll look at many, but I’ve decided to tell you about what I remember as my first time experiencing a “magic moment,” the powerful presence of God. It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. I’d not been “saved” long. I was very young in the Lord. I was faithful to church, reading my Bible, praying, giving money, giving my time and talents, praising, worshiping, etc. I was falling in love with God. I worked the graveyard shift – midnight to 8 a.m. as an overseer at a textile plant. During my lunch break (around 4 a.m.), my routine was to lock the door to my office and pray kneeling at a metal folding chair. One early morning as I prayed, I began experiencing something I never experienced previously. Initially, I didn’t know what was happening. A peaceful yet fearful, calming yet exciting presence came into the room. I had an amazingly keen ultra-sensitive awareness of God. It was amazingly peaceful, but I was afraid. Not fearfully afraid. I was afraid to move for fear the presence and my super awareness of God would leave. I was afraid to open my eyes, not thinking I would see something frightening, but because I didn’t want to see something that would take my focus off the magnified presence I was experiencing. As I said, I honestly did not understand what was happening. I knew something was happening never happening to me before. I began to groan from my belly deep inside. I had no words. I didn’t know what to speak.
Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
I began to cry feeling the amazing love from God. Though I was already kneeling at the metal folding chair, I wasn’t low enough. I came totally off the chair and put my face to the floor in my hands. I was in fetal position crying. I began to “feel” the Lord speak to me. I didn’t hear words. I felt words. I “felt” words, but more, I felt experiences. I felt what I was supposed to do, what I was supposed to pursue with my life and it wasn’t working in a textile plant. It was teaching and preaching God’s word. This was forty-two years ago as I write. I’ve pretty much done with my life what I felt from the presence of God this early morning.
Eventually, the magic moment lifted slipping away just as it arrived. I remained there some time soaking in what happened. (It was after this experience I began speaking in tongues and operating more and more in the gifts of the Spirit.) I remember expecting his presence to come again the next night as I kneeled to pray and waited. It didn’t. In fact, this presence never came the same way again at my metal chair just as Moses never experienced the presence at the burning bush again, but he did experience God’s presence again many other times.
Those magic moments of God’s presence are monumental and precious. It was my first magic moment. When was my last? It was a few weeks ago (July 22 about 10 a.m.) in this room praying about this lesson. There have been several in between, but none like the first.
Though we have magic moments, something else unexplainable happens. We are so filled with his presence, so excited about God, we know we are going to feel pumped forever. However, it doesn’t work this way. There’s a screech at the end of the magic moment.
It was May of 1978 – a long time ago now – I committed my life to the Lord. I quickly became intoxicated with God’s presence. I was literally living Ephesians 5:18.
Ephesians 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT.
I could not get enough of God’s Spirit. I could not get enough of God. Like Moses, I desired the Lord to teach me his ways. I could not read the Bible enough. I could not learn fast enough. I could not get enough teaching, find enough tapes, read enough books. I could not pray and talk to God enough. I wanted to talk to people about God and his word. Witnessing was not something I was supposed to do. Witnessing was something I was. I wanted to teach and minister to people. I wanted to move in all his gifts of the Spirit. I wanted to lead people to Jesus. I wanted to lead God’s people. I was learning his direction. Today, I watch a similar thing happen to people, but just as with me, something happens. SCREECH! What happened to their magic moment intoxication with the Spirit? Why do we “sober” up? I heard someone say once, “We leak. We get filled with the Spirit, but we leak.” It means we fill up on God’s PRESENCE, but somehow it all leaks out.
Moses would go into the mount and presence of the Lord. He would come away with his face and his hands glowing. While radiant, Moses would talk to the people, then cover his face with a veil so the people would not see the radiance fade away (Exo 34:29-35; 2Co 3:7, 13). Even Moses leaked.
When I leaked, instead of God being in my nearly every thought, he was in fewer and fewer thoughts. A time came when things I once couldn’t wait to get to do, i.e. pray, read God’s word, tell people about Jesus, even teaching became “work” and those wonderful times became more scripted and regimented than the intoxicating pleasure they once were. I developed the “had to.” I felt I “had to” read a specific amount of the Bible for a specific time. I “had to” pray, “had to” go to church, “had to” give this much, and on and on with a “had to” regiment. God became something I “had to” do rather than a pleasure I “got to do.” It didn’t become this way on purpose. The absence of his presence seemed to simply happen. It leaked out of my heart and I was unknowingly becoming “religious.”
Add to this the disappointments of life such as strained finances. How could I give the amount I “had to” give and pay my bills? There were marital difficulties, problems with children, troubles at work, people you thought would be with you and supportive forever abandoning you then talking about you as though you were evil. My small leaks became huge holes. I found myself empty going through motions of the religion of man with no active relationship with God. There was little presence of God in my life. I became a dried up wineskin when once I was as Elihu filed so full I would burst.
Job 32:19 inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst.
I became dried, cracked, and leaky. I wasn’t something God could use to put his new wine into. I found myself slipping back into old habits. My language was becoming again foul. My thought life allowed negative even vile thoughts. I couldn’t help anyone. I was rigid with regiment and with my “had to” religion. I was disappointed. I was disappointed with church, disappointed with my life, disappointed with people, and in reality, though I wouldn’t say it, I WAS DISAPPOINTED WITH GOD. I FELT I WAS A DISAPPOINTMENT TO GOD AND FELT GOD WAS A DISAPPOINTMENT TO ME. My relationship with God, beginning so rich and full, became dry, empty, and disappointing.
As I’ve led a church, preached, and taught for thirty years, I’ve watched more people than I can even remember experience the magic moment, but go on the same journey. Some even make their entire journey in a week. They are here at church, raise their hand in response to God’s word, cry in their magic moment, and walk out having dedicated their lives forever, but I don’t see them again. In a week’s time, they’ve leaked out. Some, like me, take a few years to make the journey, but it seems all eventually make it to the land of disappointment. It’s the land of feeling a disappointment to God and disappointed with God.
Upon arrival to the land of disappointment, people do one of four things. They suck it up and religiously keep on doing the religious regimented acts, for it’s the right thing to do. “I’ve committed to it and, bless God, I’m going to do it.” God honors this, but goodness, it wears you out. There’s number two; they become “convenience Christians.” “If it’s convenient and I don’t have anything I’d rather do, I’ll do what Christians do, i.e. go to church, tip God, pray if I get in trouble, tell the preacher ‘Good sermon,’ etc.” Many do number three; they eventually stop everything and totally backslide reasoning they will give it a shot again another day, another place, another time. Probably many of you are struggling in one of those areas this very moment, or on the journey to the land of disappointment.
There is an interesting story in the Bible relating to this concerning Cain.
Genesis 4:13-16 Cain said to the LORD, “My PUNISHMENT is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I WILL BE HIDDEN FROM YOUR PRESENCE; I WILL BE A RESTLESS WANDERER ON THE EARTH, and whoever finds me will kill me.” But the LORD said to him, “Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. SO CAIN WENT OUT FROM THE LORD’S PRESENCE and LIVED IN THE LAND OF NOD, east of Eden.
Let’s look at a few thoughts. Cain was disappointed in life, of course, felt God was disappointed in him, and Cain was disappointed with God. Interestingly, the punishment he feared was hidden from the Lord’s presence. Without the Lord’s presence, he would be a restless wanderer on the earth. It’s the land of Nod. Many of us today wander through life living in the land of Nod hidden from, out from, God’s presence where we restlessly wonder aimlessly through life. With Cain’s help, we add another dimension of living in the land of disappointment – the land of Nod. We feel punished by God.
Outside God’s presence, life is a restless wandering full of fears and empty of hope. We might have God’s mark, but not have God’s presence. So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod – the land of disappointment.
I said people on the journey do one of four things, but I haven’t mentioned number four. Number 4 is what our series is concerning.
Exodus 33:11-15 The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.
It’s a continual experience of God’s presence. I want to talk about how your workstation becomes your altar, how cutting grass becomes an opportunity to talk and listen to God, and how standing in line at Wal-Mart is really an opportunity to pray. I want to show you how a man can turn lust and a vile thought coming when looking at a pretty woman into prayer and the love of God for her. I want to show you how God’s presence will turn anger and hate into honest concern and love, how pulling a weed out of a crack in the church’s parking lot is a ministry as valuable to God as preaching on Sunday morning. I want you to have the magic moment without the SCREECH. God’s presence will break bad habits, help you stop using profanity, calm you in hideously stressful situations, and bring you to a place of falling back in love with God.
If you’ve never experienced a magic moment, open yourself to one this week. God will be more than happy to show up for you. If you have had a magic moment, rehearse it. We will pick it up here next.
Other Related Sermons: