Today I implore you—as a pastor, as a father, as a brother—to get right with God. At times I feel like Noah, standing outside a place of complete safety as people casually pass by. In Noah’s day, many who heard him might even have agreed with him, yet they still refused to turn from their own ways and follow God. However, you and I must realize that we will not be able to stand in the coming days if we do not fully commit ourselves to obey the Lord. As the Scripture says:
“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).
In other words, the Lord commands us to have a change of heart; to agree with Him and turn from what is wrong.
LISTEN FOR GOD’S VOICE
Lately, I have been praying, “Lord Jesus, help me see if there is anything in my life that might lead me astray and, if so, give me the grace to put it away.” Over the course of my life, God has had His finger on attitudes I had embraced that I thought were acceptable but in reality had fallen short of God’s standard. Some practices were obvious, others were not. But I believe the one thing that has kept me up until this point in my life is that my heart has been open for the Lord to speak and reprove if needed.
And so I ask you again; Can God speak to you? Can God go after that issue of the heart; that practice in your life; that sense of self-righteousness? Or will you reject His counsel and end up locked out of His power?
CHOOSE TO HUMBLE YOURSELF
If you continually choose to come to Him in humility of heart and with a willingness to agree with His Word, God will bring down the mountains and raise the valleys. He will create a clear pathway between you and Himself, and you will find that He promises not only to keep you but to give you power, joy and victory in the coming days!
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001.
It is a wonderful thing to have quality time with the Lord. He promises that as you seek more intimacy with Him, His presence will break forth in your life, working His divine order all around you. Yet something even greater than this will happen: The continual pursuit of God’s presence will lead you into a revelation of Christ’s glory.
Moses sought God for a manifestation of the Lord’s presence “that I may know thee” (Exodus 33:13). Here is how God answered His servant: “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest” (33:14).
Moses’ request here would be enough for most Christians. Who among us does not want God’s promised peace and rest? What more could anyone desire? Yet, having the assurance of God’s presence wasn’t enough for Moses. He knew there was more, and he cried, “I beseech thee, show me thy glory” (Exodus 33:18).
And God did show Moses His glory!
The Lord’s glory didn’t appear in some luminous cloud or in an earthshaking demonstration of power. Instead, God expressed His glory in a simple revelation of His nature: “The Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:6–7). Do you see? God’s glory was a revelation of His goodness, mercy, love and compassion.
When God’s presence is missing, everything is out of kilter, with no guidance or righteous teaching. Everyone becomes a law unto himself, doing his own thing. This is a picture of many Christian homes today: everything out of order, with no peace or rest, everyone doing what he or she pleases. The Lord in His mercy grieves over such disorder.
Yet, it doesn’t have to be that way. God’s promises are unchangeable, and His Word pledges, “For the rest of your life, if you will continue to seek Me I will be with you. When you cry out I will be found of you” (see Jeremiah 29:13).
This isn’t some complicated theology. Anyone can have the abiding presence of God if he or she will simply call out in faith. We are promised, “The Lord . . . will be found of you” (2 Chronicles 15:2). The Hebrew word for found here means, “His presence coming forth to enable, to bless.” In other words, “Reach out to the Lord with your whole heart, and He will manifest His presence. It will be an almighty power enabling you to be steadfast and fearless.” Only when God’s presence is upon us can we behold and comprehend His glory.
When the Israelites were in the wilderness, God manifested His presence to them through a cloud. This cloud was a physical manifestation of God’s pledge to be with His people. It covered the tabernacle night and day, and it acted as a guide for every undertaking. When the cloud moved, they moved, and when it stayed, they stayed. The people never had to try to figure out their direction or future. They put all their confidence in that visible cloud of the Lord’s presence.
King Asa led God’s people to a miraculous victory over Ethiopia’s million-man army. Afterward he testified that God’s presence had scattered the enemy.
“Asa cried . . . Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us . . . for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. . . . So the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa” (2 Chronicles 14:11–12).
As Asa led his triumphant army back to Jerusalem, the prophet Azariah met him at the city gate with this message: “Hear ye me, Asa . . . the Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. Now for a long season Israel hath been without the true God. . . . But when they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them” (2 Chronicles 15:2–4).
Here is the secret of getting and maintaining the presence of God in your life. The Lord reminded Asa in no uncertain terms: “Asa, don’t ever forget how you got this victory. When you were in trouble, you sought Me with all your heart. Remember, it was My presence that brought you victory.”
Today, the cloud of God’s presence hovers over your secret closet of prayer. It will lead you, empower you and keep you in God’s rest, giving you guidance for your home, work and relationships. You can commune with the Lord anywhere, whether during your commute to your job or on your way to school. You can shut out everything else and say, “Lord, I’ve got half an hour right now and I want to talk with You.” This is your “closet time” with Him.
Moses was convinced that without God’s presence in his life it was useless for him to attempt anything. When he spoke face to face with the Lord, he stated boldly, “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence” (Exodus 33:15). He was saying, “Lord, if You are not with us, we’re not going to make it. We won’t take a single step unless we are assured of Your presence.”
Moses knew it was God’s presence among them that set them apart from all other nations, and the same is true of God’s people today. God’s presence “with us” leads, guides, and works His will in and through us. His presence also drives out fear and confusion.
Moses’ attitude was, “We operate on one principle alone: The only way for us to be guided or governed, to do battle and survive in these times, is to have God’s presence with us. When His presence is in our midst, no one can destroy us. But without Him we are helpless, reduced to nothing. Let all the nations of the world trust in their mighty armies, iron chariots and skilled soldiers. We will trust in the manifest presence of the Lord.”
God answered Moses’ bold statement: “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest” (Exodus 33:14). The Hebrew word for rest here means “a comfortable, peaceful confidence.” God was saying, “No matter what battles or trials you face, you will always be able to find a quiet rest and confidence in Me.”
Just a few decades ago, if a national leader was caught in any kind of scandal he resigned immediately. But today there is little shame attached to these acts. I think of the Lord’s words to Jeremiah: “Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among the fallen; when I punish them, they shall be overthrown, says the Lord” (Jeremiah 8:12, ESV).
As Christians we know our hope doesn’t rest in this world. Whenever we have put our hopes in a leader or institution, we have been disappointed. Yet, the open sin that has built up over the last twenty years has become an outrage. And as God told Jeremiah, He will not remain silent.
In just a few years’ time homosexuality has become normalized when the Bible clearly teaches against it. As Christians we love homosexuals and anyone else dealing with a sexual sin. Yet, no matter how you look at it, same-gender sexual practice can’t be reconciled with Scripture. (Some churches say it can be, but by trying to make it happen they profoundly compromise God’s authority.)
As we follow Jesus’ example to sacrificially love all people, including homosexuals, we’re labeled haters and bigots. But there is no hate speech in the Bible — only uncomfortable speech about sin. Right now society is basically commanding us to extract the passages that speak of homosexuality as sinful. My heart breaks over this, because homosexuals are being sold a lie. It doesn’t matter who we are; if we do not turn from sin, our relationship with God derails horribly.
“The people stayed in the tent of meeting. They murmured against Moses and Aaron and they were even blaming each other, saying, ‘It’s your fault.’ The plague had begun and multitudes were dying. Aaron took the flame from God’s altar and ran into the midst of the people. As he stood there, between the living and the dead, on behalf of the people, the plague stopped” (see Numbers 16:41-48).
We see in this passage a powerful and important image of so much of the modern-day Church—of ourselves—perpetually looking to stay inside, in “the tent of meeting,” locked in a mentality of “our needs are so great and the people outside, the heathen, the ‘unsaved’ are so evil.”
The egocentric congregation stays inside, with no time, energy or passion to take outside because of the battles waging within the four walls of the church. Religious ritual has a foot on the throat of any redemptive initiative and the church is dying. Platitudes have replaced passion. Rationalism has choked revelation. There is a religious hierarchy but no real heroes.
The disciples were on the Mount of Transfiguration standing in the presence of Jesus. The glory of God surrounded them amidst breathtaking prophetic revelation. Peter announced triumphantly what sadly became the rally cry, the anthem, for hundreds of thousands of modern believers, “It is good for us to be here. Let us build three tabernacles to dwell in and stay here.”
BE A HERO FOR GOD
The people wanted to stay in “the place of meeting” and Peter wanted to dwell on the Mount of Transfiguration. However at the foot of the mountain, there is a tormented, captive man, hopeless and abandoned by all, who needs a hero to come down from the mountain to bring him deliverance.
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.