Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Monday, January 30th. Do you feel lonely and isolated? Today, you'll see that a relationship with Jesus Christ is the only way to truly feel the emptiness. But I'm talking about a very personal, warm sense of the presence of God in your life. Well, how did He reveal Himself? That is, what was going on that made you feel the presence of God?
And how did you respond to that? How did you respond to being in the midst of the presence of God? God desires that every single one of us be aware of His presence in our life. And so I want you to turn, if you will, to Psalm 42 and the title of this message, His Empowering Presence. God does something in the life of a person who is aware of His presence in their life. The 42nd Psalm, and here David is expressing his hungering, thirsting desire for God.
Listen to what he says, beginning in verse one. As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all day long, Where is your God? These things I remember, and I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God, with a voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence, for the help of His presence. God desires that every single one of us be aware of His presence. And if you'll think about it for a moment as you think about the characters of the Old Testament and how God worked in their life, it's one thing that you're going to find over and over and over again.
I want to take you through a few of these because I just want you to remember some of them. And I want you to go back to Exodus chapter three. There's so much to be found in Moses' life. And you recall when God called him at the burning bush. And of course, Moses did not understand what was going on at the moment until he realized that God was speaking to him. Listen to what God said to him in Exodus chapter three, verse twelve, because he was concerned about what God had called him to do. He said, God said to him in verse twelve, certainly I will be with you.
Now they carried on a big discussion about the fact that he was not capable of speaking as he ought. And so God came to him again, spoke to him about something else. He said in chapter four, verse twelve, look at that. He says, the Lord said to him, who has made man's mouth?
Who makes him mute or deaf or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Verse twelve, now then go and I, even I will be with your mouth. He wanted him to be aware of his presence.
Very important. Then if you look in the thirty first chapter of Deuteronomy, look at that, if you will. Thirty first chapter of Deuteronomy.
And God is speaking to the nation through Moses. And he said in verse eight, the Lord is the one who goes ahead of you. He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.
Do not fear or be dismayed. Their one underlying basis of being fearless and courageous was the fact that God was with them, not because they were great warriors, not because they had great armaments, but simply the presence of God. Then if you turn over a couple of pages to Joshua chapter one, and you recall when God called Joshua. He said to him, you're going to take Moses place. Moses dead. Your responsibility of giving you the charge to take the people of the Promised Land.
Here's what he said. Verse five, no man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I've been with Moses, I will be with you.
I will not fail you or forsake you. Slip over to Judges Chapter six, Gideon. God spoke to him. And one of the first things he said when he appeared to the Bible says the angel, the Lord appeared to him in verse twelve of that sixth chapter and said to him, the Lord is with you.
Oh, valiant warrior. Knowing exactly what Gideon's response was going to be. The first thing he said to him, I want to assure you, he says, God is with you. Then if you recall, for example, the twenty eighth chapter of Matthew, when he sent his disciples out to evangelize the world, you recall what he said, go into all the nations, preach the gospel. And then he said, I'll be with you even to the end of this age. And then, of course, a very familiar verse in Chapter 13 of Hebrews. He said, I will not forsake you. I will be with you. It's interesting that all through the scriptures that God, when he calls his servants to anything, he reminds them over and over again, I will be with you.
Now, the question is this. Why is it that God has gone to such great detail to make it very clear to his servants and not only these that I've mentioned, but also the scriptures and many people down through the centuries and all of us. He says over and over and over again, I will be with you. Now, why would he take such pains to say that over and over again?
And he reminded Joshua several times. And so the question comes, why? Well, think about this for a moment. Well, first of all, God created us for fellowship with himself. So God desires the fellowship of us. He desires not only fellowship with us, but he desires an intimate relationship with us.
But now think about this. If you're going to have an intimate relationship with somebody, at least you ought to be able to see them, at least be able to touch them, to feel them, if you're going to have a real intimate relationship. We cannot see God. We cannot touch God with our hands.
There's no physical relationship here. And so what does God do? He makes his presence known in other ways so that you and I can have a loving, intimate relationship with him. And so he reveals his presence. He wants us to be aware of his presence. He desires that you and I know that he's a loving father who desires to have an intimate relationship with us.
And so he wants to make his presence known. He also understands that you and I will go through difficulty, hardship, pain, trying times, persecuting times, whatever they may be in life. And he knows that the one thing that you and I need above everything else in those difficult, stormy, trying times, we need to be aware of the presence of God. No one can do for us what God can do. No one can help us like God can help us.
No one can rescue us like God can rescue us. No one can undergird us, encourage us, comfort us, strengthen us, give us the peace and contentment we need in our life like God can. He knows that we need to be aware of his presence. And so God is willing to make his presence, listen, not only known intellectually because we know that theologically he is omniscient, but to make himself known to us experientially, that is, emotionally, spiritually.
We know we stand, sit, lie, whatever it might be in the presence of Almighty God. Not only that, he knows that you and I will go through those times of separation and abandonment or rejection. We will feel loneliness. And what is it that loneliness cries out for above everything else but presence? Loneliness wants presence. What is it that fear cries out above everything else?
And that is help, present help now. And if you'll think about it, for example, all through the Scriptures, God's servants are crying out to God for his help for some reason or other. And God is making his presence known over and over and over again. Once in a while, somebody says, well, but I know that there are some experiences in life that Jesus just absolutely could not understand because he's not been there. Well, he may not have experienced the very same thing you have, but he has certainly experienced those things and those difficulties and hardships and trials in life that are equal to or superior to anything that you and I have experienced.
And certainly he wants us to recognize his presence when we are, have a sense of loneliness. For example, people walk into a house when they live by themselves. One of the first things they do oftentimes is turn on the television.
Why? Because the sound and the sight means presence. It's like having somebody there.
Or they'll put on their favorite CD or whatever it might be. Somebody's voice, somebody's picture, somebody's voice, somebody's sound. What is it their hearts crying out for, that their emotions are crying out for?
Presence, the reality of presence, presence, presence. God wants to be present in our life. And when you think about how he certainly understands what it means to be separated from. He certainly had a relationship with the Father unequal by any other relationship that's ever existed. And so what did he experience? He experienced on the cross when he said, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? He was experiencing something he had never experienced in all eternity past. And that was to be broken off from, estranged from, separated from, divorced from. That is the Heavenly Father in those moments when he was suffering on the cross for your sins and mine.
And paying the penalty of sin which is ultimately eternal separation from God. So he does understand what it means to be lonely in those moments as he was dying on the cross. His critics were blaming him and crying out against him.
Few of his friends were there. But can you imagine the awesome sense of loneliness that he must have felt when the Father withdrew himself from him. And there he was without God the Father who had been the source of his strength all the times he walked upon the earth and his very life because he was and is God. It is the fact that God has made all of us with this desire within our heart for the presence of someone.
He's made us for the presence of himself. But because we live among others and because we're human beings and because we have relationships, godly relationships in this life, it is natural and normal to want someone to love, someone to be loved by, someone whose presence can cheer you up and encourage you and someone who can make your life as you would feel, so to speak, complete. And so what do people do when they do not have that?
They look for substitutes. And the world's full of substitutes for the presence of Almighty God. Sometimes maybe it's a hobby. Sometimes it's something out there that they've been looking forward to, some goal that they've set for their life.
And so they set their mind, their heart on it so that they won't think about what they don't have. Well, you know, God knew all about that. He knew all about the fact of how many people and multitudes of people who would go through all kinds of difficulty and hardship and feel lonely and abandoned, rejected, whatever it might be. Is God inadequate? No, because, you see, He is the only one who can adequately fulfill and feel that place of loneliness, heal that rejection, feel that place in your life that will make you feel complete without having somebody physically to touch or to feel or to relate to. He's a loving Father who desires that the first relationship you and I have, that is first in priority, is our relationship to Him. He wants us to realize that He's present in our life, whether we have somebody, a whole family, or no one. Because, you see, the most important person in our life in the eyes of God is the Lord Jesus Himself.
God Himself is to be first and foremost in our life. You and I learn the reality of that when you discover that nothing else and no one else can fill up that spot in your life that God has assigned only for Himself. He has a reserved place in your life that only He can fill. And no matter what you fill it up with, let me tell you something, there'll always be a sense of something missing. There'll always be a little bit of absence, a little bit of estrangement maybe, or if not that, a little bit of loneliness. Because, you see, God created us for Himself. And therefore, if my relationships and my associations and my things in life and all the surroundings in life, if all of this begins to be a part of my life to the absence of my Lord Himself, then what you're going to realize is, after a while, none of that works. So all these substitutes, ask yourself the question, is there anything in my life, some hobby, some recreation, maybe what I do, is this a substitute trying to fill up something in my life that I can't put my finger on?
I can tell you, I can put my finger on it for you. And that is, it is a relationship with Him. Until that relationship is right, you will never feel complete.
It doesn't make any difference who you have, what you have, how much. Until that relationship with Him is right, you will always be searching. There'll always be an absence. There'll always be something that is not there. You may not be able to put your finger on it, but that something that's not there is none other than the person of Jesus Christ Himself. You say, well, I just don't believe in all that stuff.
Then, my friend, you'll have to live without God until you start believing in Him. And what you're going to find is this, no place you go, no thing that you possess, and no relationship you have will ever be able to satisfy that place for the presence of God in your life. Now, in light of all that, how does God empower us with His presence?
That is, what's the effect of this in our life? You're in the presence of God. Remember this, He knows what you're facing at the very moment. He knows what you're asking, He knows what you're seeking, He knows what you need. He knows what's missing in your life, He knows what is in your life. If it's something that's there that ought not to be, He will show you.
Something that's not there, that He wants to fill that space, He will do that. But how does He empower us? How does the very presence of God empower us?
Well, I think there's several ways. Let me just give you a list, and you might just want to jot these down and let, you can add lots to them, I wouldn't try to exhaust it, just to give you a little bit to get you thinking in your own mind. You're going through some very difficult, painful, painful circumstances in your life. What does His presence do? One of the ways His presence empowers us is He empowers us with comfort. He comforts us. Listen, when you're going through real hurt and pain, there is not any substitute in the world for the awareness of the presence of God. Because in His presence, you're going to sense His love. And so, one of the ways He empowers us is with comfort.
He comforts us with the promise and the awareness of His presence. I am with you. I'm here. I'll never leave you. I'll never forsake you. I promise to go with you. I'm here. You're not going through this by yourself.
I'm going to walk with you through this no matter what. He's a great comforter. Not only that, He empowers us with peace.
When you go through the storms of life and everything around you is breaking loose, the sides are falling apart, the tops fell in, the clouds are dark, waves are high, winds blowing at a torrential speed against your life, and you think, God, what in the world am I going to do? And what happens when you're aware of His presence? There's a peace that Paul says is past all human understanding because the very word in the Greek, eirene, peace, means bound together.
And what is He doing? He is building intimacy within our life. When God gives us peace within the storms of our life, what is He doing? In His presence, we sense that being bound together with Him.
We sense that peace that Paul spoke of as being beyond human understanding. Another way He empowers us is by giving us courage. There's nothing that gives courage like the awareness of the presence of God.
You are walking in His presence. You are doing the will of God. You're being what God wants you to be.
You're doing what God wants you to do. Listen, there's no fear. There is nothing that can so threaten you that can steal your courage when you are sensing the presence of God in your life. He empowers us with confidence. God has given you a challenge and you have some trepidation about that.
You're not sure about how you're going to be able to do this and I'm not sure I can handle this. And you know what? You get on your face in the presence of God and what happens? You sense His presence and with His presence comes confidence. Listen, what God does, listen carefully. He tailors the empowerment of your life with whatever you need at that moment. That's what His presence does. He tailors, listen, so that His presence meets that need in your life, whatever it might be, and sometimes we need confidence. We need confidence to be able to speak out for God. We need confidence to be able to take the challenges that God has given us. Listen, for His very presence, we all need His presence.
We all want His presence. He empowers us, as the Scripture says, with His confidence. Likewise, He certainly will give us a sense of contentment.
And this is how you and I can face the most difficult trying times in life and yet somehow even we wonder why we're not upset. Even we wonder how we can feel such absolute completeness when maybe that which we desire or that person we desire is not there. And yet God does what? He knows how to complete our life. His very presence is His way of completing whatever we need in life, no matter what it is. He gives us a sense of contentment. But likewise, I think about all the ways He empowers us.
He gives us strength. There are times when you may feel very, very weary. Warn and thank God I can't keep going any further.
I'm tired, I'm weary, I'm exhausted. Then what happens? And how many times have I been in this position thinking, Lord, I just need you.
Get on my face before Him and tell Him I need to feel His presence. And before long, there comes this awesome surge of physical, spiritual, emotional energy in your life that you cannot explain. There's no explanation about it except you've been in the presence of God.
You know what happens? When you're in the presence of God, you're going to get whatever you need no matter what it is. There's this awesome sense of renewal, of renewing, of refreshing, of re-energizing. It's like your spiritual, physical, and emotional battery gets an absolute supercharge.
And what's happened? You've only been in the presence of power itself. You've been in the presence of an omnipotent God who loves you, who knows you're needed at that moment, and who's there to meet it. Thank you for listening to His Empowering Presence. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by, InTouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
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