Hungry for the presence of Jesus

Exodus 33:1 – 18.

If I told you that God is waiting to meet with you in a way that is powerful, real and life-changingly meaningful, would you believe me? I’m convinced that this is true and today I want to share with you how and why you should always come to God, especially when you come to a time of worship, in a way in which you expect Him to move powerfully in your life.

Firstly, let me tell you about a morning a few years ago. It was a Sunday morning, and this week I decided to add some variety to my regular Sunday morning worship.  Long before the sun had risen, my daughters and I, met 3 friends at the foot of Mt Coolum, the third largest rock in Australia, and then we made the trek up the steep and rocky path to the summit, just in time for worship. 

40 or 50 others had also made the climb and we all found their places, scattered throughout the scrubby bush that covered the top of the mountain. There we sat, all on our own piece of rock. In silence, in wonder, in awe, and significantly, in absolute confidence that what we had come to witness would happen, it was certain, and we were not disappointed.  Just as we expected, the sun rose in the east that morning, and it was magnificent.

What do you expect?

We made the effort to climb the hill that morning because we expected to watch the sun rise.  It was magnificent, but it is a pretty common experience, in fact it happens every day.  But this prompts me to ask you a question.  Do you go to church, do you gather for worship, with the same expectation?  An expectation to experience something wonderful, something that will really make your week?  If not, then I want to prompt you, to inspire to change your expectations. Because I believe we should always gather for worship with great expectation.

In Exodus 33 verse 18, Moses prays a prayer that inspires me. He said to God:

“Show me your glorious presence.”

And I have to wonder, if Moses can pray that prayer, why can’t we?  And I can’t think of any reason we can’t or wouldn’t want to.  God, show us your presence?  Show me your presence? 

Is that your prayer when you throw off the covers on a Sunday morning?  Is that your prayer as you get into the car? Is that your prayer as you walk through the front doors and greet your brothers and sisters in Christ who all eagerly share your same desire?  Is that our prayer as we eagerly await the start of the service?  If not, then why not?

In Revelation 3 we are given a picture of a church who doesn’t care about God’s presence.

15“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! 16But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! 17You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. 18So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. 19I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.

20“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. 21Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.

The church of Laodicea doesn’t care about Jesus presence. How do we know that?  Because where is Jesus in this passage?  He is outside knocking on the door asking someone to let Him in.

And so I ask you again, are you hungry for the presence of Jesus?  Is that why you get up and come to church?  Is that what you are longing for as you walk in the doors?

Pastor and Author James MacDonald writes:

“There is only one place on the face of the earth where God has promised to reveal the glory of His great Son, Jesus Christ, and that is the church… Only the church of Jesus Christ can anticipate with confidence God’s active involvement whenever we meet His prerequisites to revealed glory.”  P 112

Just like we could be confident as we climbed Mt Coolum that the sun would rise, so we can be confident, when we come to church with the right heart and attitude, that we will experience the presence of Jesus.

Are you hungry for Jesus’s presence?  You should be!!  Because that is the one thing that sets believers apart from everyone else! 

And what happens when God is present among us?  There are so many things I could say, but here is just a few. 

  • When we experience the presence of Jesus we experience perfect love, a love which drives out all fear.
  • When we experience the presence of Jesus, we are lost in awe and wonder of who Jesus is.
  • When we experience the presence of Jesus, we are not concerned about what others are thinking, rather we are worshipping an audience of one
  • When we experience the presence of Jesus, hearts are changed and come into alignment with His will.
  • And when we experience the presence of Jesus, others, those who are yet to be believers, who are living broken lives, living in fear, lonely, lost, searching, when they see the presence of Jesus among us, they are drawn to Him.

That is what happened with Zacchaeus isn’t it? That is what happened when the four friends brought their paralysed friend. That is what happened for the Canaanite woman, that is what happened for the lame man on the steps of the temple who was met by Peter and John.  And that is what could, and will happen to members of your family, your neighbours, your colleagues and your friends when we are consumed with one purpose, and one purpose only when we throw off the covers on a Sunday morning; we are coming to worship and to experience the presence of Jesus Christ our Saviour and His glory.

I have a challenge for you

Today I have only one challenge for you, so it isn’t hard to remember.  Every time you get out of bed to go to church, go with a hunger to experience the presence of Jesus.

This morning I’ve included a few questions for you to meditate on during the week.  I invite you ponder these questions and my prayer is that the next time you gather to worship, you will do so with a greater sense of expectation.

If my expectation is to seek and encounter Jesus’s Holy presence at church:

  • What should I do personally to prepare for the service?
  • How does it change how arrive at church?
  • How does it change my behavior at church?