The song that has been in my heart this season is a simple Swahili song that says, “Shuka roho na utakaso, shuka na uwezo wako, ndani yako tunazo nguvu, wewe hututosheleza x2.” The translated message is, “come upon us Holy Spirit and fire, let your enablement be upon us, in you we have power, you satisfy us.” I am persuaded that this song is prophetically speaking of what God desires to do in this season, in the life of every believer.
God is calling us to be carriers of His glory in our generation. We are the Samuel’s of the 21st century, since God is calling us to carry His glory in a generation that is very familiar with religion and knows not Yahweh, the God of Israel. In fact, some Christians are not perturbed by the state of affairs because when they were introduced to Christianity, they never found the glory of God in their churches. They therefore do not know God’s manifest glory, and so they think that spiritual dryness and vicious rituals are the norms of a believer’s life. However, we learnt in part 1 of this message that many of us are “Biblically Abnormal”, for our lives and faith are not comparable to that of the Early Church.
Be consoled if you fall under the category of believers who have not encountered God’s Glory or have been nurtured in a church where all you know is religion and not God’s glory. Samuel, dedicated to the Lord as a young boy to serve in the temple of God, found himself in a similar scenario. 1 Samuel 3:1 states, “The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.” The Word of God, which is God Himself (John 1:1) was rare. What a tragedy!
What is the Glory of God? The Glory of God is His manifest presence, power and authority. Physical things often replicate spiritual truths, and may serve well to bring us spiritual understanding. The analogy of an earthly king/ ruler may better help us understand this subject. This discussion will focus on the first aspect of God’s glory, His manifest presence.
There is a certain presence that comes with an earthly king’s physical appearance to a place. In my high school days, we were privileged to have numerous visits by the late President Moi. He was fond of passing by the school, sometimes just to have a good time with the school community, even when there was no particular agenda/ occasion. I remember whenever the President decided to come over on an impromptu late afternoon/ evening visit, there was an indication that the President would be coming even though we had not been officially notified. One of the signs was that I would see new faces in the school; they would often be men in suits “pretending” to take a walk around the school, but I was smarter 😊. I knew that they were screening the school to ensure that it was safe for the President.
Once the President arrived, “presidential presence” set in. The ordinary school with ordinary girls and teachers enjoyed “presidential presence”. The security in the compound stepped up to “statehouse security” level. Often, these moments with the President were held at the school hall and drinks, snacks and food would be served. When the President stepped into the school, the community stepped up to presidential status in terms of the meals 😂 (trust a boarding school student to remember about the food and not the speech). In the presence of the President, there was “life”, especially to our tummies 😂.
When the Lord comes to us, He comes in His manifest presence- sometimes it may be through the baptism of the Holy Spirit; through angelic visitation, Christ Jesus appearing in person, only to mention but a few. When the Kingdom of God comes upon a place, God’s presence is felt. The effects of the intense, godly, spiritual presence are seen in the physical realm.
Jesus gave His disciples a promise in John 14:22 saying, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” The King of Glory is willing to come and make your heart His residence! If you obey Him, God is willing to make your heart His Statehouse/ Whitehouse! However there is a condition: obedience to His teaching. When He comes to us, He does so in the fullness of who He is! We however must be thirsty and empty to allow His fullness to fill us.
Paul made a prayer for the believers in the Church of Ephesus that they may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19). When the fullness of God indwells us, our inner man is transformed into His image. Just like Christ, we become a representation of God. Hebrews 1:3 states, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” God desires you to be a radiance of His glory! God desires that many will know Him through you, because you will be a true representation of His being.
You and I must desire God’s habitation in His fullness, more than any earthly thing. Samuel is introduced to the God of Israel at a time when God’s Word is rare. I can only imagine the havoc that the spiritual famine had caused in the lives of men. The physical attributes of the priest in the temple, Eli, reflected the pitiful spiritual state of the nation. Eli is described as a man “whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see,” (1 Samuel 3:2).
All was not lost though. While Eli “was lying in his usual place”, Samuel “was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was,” (1 Samuel 3:2-3). Scripture does not tell us where Eli’s usual place was, but we know for sure that it was not where Samuel was lying, near the ark of God. This is evidenced by the record of Samuel’s response when God called out his name. The Bible records that Samuel ran to Eli because he thought that Eli was the one calling him. Three times, the priest instructed Samuel to “go back and lie down.”
At a time when God’s word was rare, Samuel was positioned near the ark of God, which signified God’s presence. Samuel was rightly positioned to hear and commune with God. The right position of today’s believer before God, can only be attained through the righteousness that is provided for in Christ Jesus. God wants you to leave your “usual place” that perhaps is corrupted by unbelief, traditions, spiritual complacency and compromise. He is beckoning you into His presence, for therein is sweet, satisfying communion and lasting transformation. The way into His presence is through the Blood of Jesus. For this reason Christ Jesus died on the Cross, so that you may be able to access the Holy of Holies.
Disobedience, unbelief and religion, I think, are the greatest enemies of the Church today. These three work hand-in-hand to hinder believers from enjoying the blessings of their reconciliation to the Father. Often, God has kept off from us because He is Holy and cannot have fellowship with a person who is living in sin. In fact, He keeps away from us for our good, because He is also a Consuming Fire.
In the past few weeks, God has been challenging me that many believers want God’s presence but they do not want to prepare for His presence. The presence of God is fire. When His presence falls on a righteous man, the man is set ablaze for Christ. His inner man is sanctified to the likeness of Christ. His spirit is strengthen and re-ignited for God. However, when the manifest presence of God comes to a person abounding in sin, His wrath is provoked.
Have you been blaming God for His conspicuous absence in your life or church? Stop blaming God and prepare for the King’s presence. That preparation is simply through repentance. The Word of God that came to Samuel reveals to us that Eli and His sons were under God’s judgment. This explains why God had withdrawn from the nation. In His mercy, He was giving Eli and his family time to repent and to return to Him.
Moses was a man distinguished by God’s presence. The legacy that Moses left to Israel, was that of a man who was a friend of God. Exodus 33 is a powerful portion of Scripture that reveals Moses’ priorities with regard to pursuit of God as well as God’s faithfulness in rewarding those who diligently seek Him. Moses was so dependent on God that he refused to go forth to Canaan without God’s presence.
Exodus 33:15-16 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
Moses lived under the Old Covenant when God’s manifest presence would come upon Him periodically. Today, you and I, living under the New Covenant, have an invaluable blessing of God indwelling us! Not just in a Sunday service, or at a Gospel campaign meeting, but in every moment of our day to day lives.
In the age we live in, it is unfortunate that many believers are pursuing distinction through various initiatives other than God’s presence. We are living in an age where “branding” is highly exalted. Sadly, some churches are on branding and rebranding sprees, not cognizant that all these is futile without God’s presence. The preacher who needs their church to be packed with people needs to only set themselves on fire with the presence of God. Certainly, people will come to see them burn. This was John Wesley’s response to those who wanted to know the secret to his ministry success.
Are you willing to burn, or are you afraid that some of the worldly things that you hold dear may be consumed by the Spirit’s fire? The wisdom of God is foolishness to the world, and yet it is life to those who believe.
Exodus 33:13-14 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.”
Exodus 33:13-14 as quoted above is very profound. Moses asked God to show him His ways so that he could know God. God’s response was, “My Presence will go with you.” Do you want to know God’s ways? Do you want to know the Lord? What you need is God’s presence.
Those who spend time in God’s manifest presence never remain the same. They are distinguished. They become firebrands for Jesus. They become vessels of honor. The Late Evangelist Reinhard Bonke severally gave a story about how Jesus used to peep through his eyes. He had experiences where people would be so convicted when they looked at his eyes, and in that moment they would break down in tears and surrender their lives to Christ. The manifest presence of God that indwelt Him was impacting people and nations.
God is calling you and I to be rightly positioned, so that we may know the unspeakable joy of His manifest presence. His presence, not our talents, achievements or affluence, truly distinguishes believers. Samuel, a young boy, with no much knowledge of priestly functions and practices, was distinguished by the presence of God in his life. 1 Samuel 3:19-21 states, ” The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.”
God shows no favoritism. He was willing to introduce Himself and speak through a young boy who was rightly positioned, rather than maintain communication with a duly appointed, disobedient priest.
Desire that God will often peep through your eyes to introduce Himself to the lost. Desire that God will flow through you to be the comfort, healing and deliverance to those who need it. Ask Him to showcase Himself on earth through you. Ask Him to make your heart His home.
Moses was not a stranger in God’s presence. Exodus 33:7-11 indicates that it was Moses’ practice to seek God at the tent of meeting. While there, “the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” Moses might have been considered as one who had attained the mark in terms of knowing God. Yet Exodus 33:18 suggests otherwise. Moses, a man who had seen God’s manifest presence said to God, “Now show me your glory.”
What was happening to Moses at this point? His request seems, at least to me, misplaced. It seems that Moses had a holy thirst that desired more of God and refused to settle for yesterday’s experience and knowledge of God. Moses was taking a step of faith to launch deeper into seeking to know God. I pray that God will give you an insatiable hunger and thirst for Him. I pray that your pursuit of the depths of God will indeed lead you into His depths (Psalms 42:7).
Exodus 33:18-23 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
In the depths of God, where God reveals Himself in new ways to us, absolute surrender is mandatory. I have a clue in how to swim and I have had the privilege of teaching a few friends how to swim. One of the greatest hurdle that a learner must overcome is the fear of drowning. This fear is fanned by the awkward feeling of losing control in water. Once they overcome this fear, they are able to relax and allow the buoyance of water to enable them to effortlessly float. I know not fully this struggle because I learnt how to swim when I was young.
At the age of about 11 years, my friends in the neighbourhood told me that they were going swimming. I was excited since I had a swimming costume that I had never used (I had bought it with my savings, which reveals the desire I had to one day swim). I rushed home excited at the thought that I could actualize my dream of swimming. My elder sister was home and so I convinced her to give me permission to go out for swimming. Thankfully, permission was granted on condition that I returned home before my parents did 😂 (this is not to be emulated).
When I got to the swimming pool, my friends jumped onto the swimming pool, enjoying the splashing of the warm waters. Since I saw none of them drown, I followed suit. There was no thought of drowning in my head, and so the ability to float was gained easily. As we left the pool in the evening, I expressed my excitement that I had finally known how to swim. My friends were utterly surprised that I was a learner when I first jumped onto that pool, because I had not shown any signs of fear.
In my young mind, I did not think of maintaining control in water and so I had no reason to fear. Consequently, I thoroughly enjoyed the swim and learnt many things within a short time. For all who desire to plunge deeper into God, you need to let go and trust God to guide you through the deep waters. Some need to let go of their programs, knowledge and experience of how things need to be done, religious “niceties”, and so on. In His hands you are safe. Will you surrender to God and ask Him for more of Himself?
Ezekiel 47:3-5 As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits[a] and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross.
Move out of the shallow waters! God is beckoning you into His depths that require you to swim. He beckons you to depths that you cannot cross on your own; where you will need to lose control and flow with the Spirit’s guidance. God, the Master Trainer, wants you to become a deep-ender!