When we have eyes to see, God is constantly inviting us to enjoy more of his presence. Here are 3 common ways he does that.
1. God Will Invite You to Enjoy His Presence More Through a Few Allies in the Faith with Whom You Are Building a Memorable Story With
While God has vast armies of the church throughout the world, within those larger groups are little pockets of intimate bands of brothers and sisters. It’s never a large number, but when you are passionately following God, he will always surround you with other likeminded people who will be your allies in the faith.
These partnerships are not only useful for the practical means of accomplishing ministry endeavors, they are also really important because we need people who we have history with and are building a history with. We need to be reminded of the war stories we’ve gone through with others so we can be encouraged to continue forward with the Lord. Notice in 2 Timothy 1:3-7 how often Paul recalls his history with Timothy:
I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
There’s always a story behind every tear. Timothy and Paul could share tears together because they shared a ministry history together. I can just imagine them sitting around a camp fire, recalling all the dangers they narrowly escaped, laughing about the amazing intervention of the Holy Spirit on their journeys, weeping over the betrayals they experienced by those they both trusted, and recalling each other’s personal struggles throughout the years.
Do you have someone who remembers what you’ve been through so they can then remind you of how faithful God will still be? Do you have people in your life where you are making new war stories with right now? When you get off the phone with someone you have a ministry history with, it motivates you to seek the Lord’s presence anew.
2. God Will Invite You to Enjoy His Presence More By Impressing on Your Heart the Importance of Devotional Discipline
People often assume the words “discipline” and “desire” are opposites. But spiritually they are very connected.
Desire for the Lord is like a flame. It burns hot and brings warmth in our hearts, but so often this flame ebbs and flows. We want this fire of desire to always burn hot for the Lord, but we all know it doesn’t do that naturally. But just like a real fire, our desire needs certain elements if we want it to burn hot.
A good camp fire needs wood and oxygen. And a healthy desire for the Lord needs fuel as well. Devotional discipline is like the fan to the flame of our desire for Christ. Choosing to do your devotionals with the Lord is like the choice to put a fresh wood log on a dying camp fire. Discipline is the choice you need to make to stoke the fire of your desire for the Lord. If you want to enjoy God’s presence every day, you need to put the word of God in your heart every day, you need to spend intentional time in prayer every day, and you need to purposely direct your thoughts towards heavenly things every day.
We already read how Paul told Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God.” But how are we to do this? Notice what Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:13-16. It states:
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
“Devote,” “do not neglect,” “Practice these things,” “immerse yourself in them,” “keep a close watch on yourself and on your teaching,” “persist in this,” – do you taste the flavor of what Paul is saying here? He’s telling Timothy to be disciplined, but he’s not telling him to just be dutiful or religious. This discipline has a passionate purpose.
A devotional discipline to the Lord is like a fan to the flame of our desire for his presence.
3. If God Is Strengthening You with His Grace to Endure Meaningful Suffering, This Is Also a Sign He Is Inviting You to Enjoy More of His Presence
If you want to be in God’s presence, you have to go where God goes. God is on the move to rescue the hearts of lost people. He has a purpose for this season of the story we are in, and it is not just comfort and quiet living for all who accept Jesus into their heart.
No, to be a Christian, it means more than to pray a prayer. To be a Christian means you seek to please your Master in whatever missions he sends you on. He will not call you into meaningless suffering. But he will call you into purposeful suffering that is meant to advance his kingdom and bring him glory. In 2 Timothy 2:1-4 Paul told Timothy:
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”
God’s grace is not just to help us feel his presence through producing peaceful seasons in our life. God’s grace is also given to us to strengthen us to “suffer as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”
When you go where God is going, you will then experience more of his presence.