Monday, September 19, 2016



    An interesting, blessed, and challenging reality exists regarding the presence of God in the life of born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    "I am with you always" (Matthew 28:20).
    "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

    Always with us.  "Very" with us in trouble.  Thus, our potential for experiencing the Lord's abiding presence seems to be more accessible in the difficulties of life than in the delights.  This does not mean we do not rejoice in Him when the waters of our pond sparkle in stillness.  It does mean, however, that our natural tendency to view trouble as jeopardy rather than opportunity can be overcome as we walk in the Truth of "very present".

    This explains one of the Apostle Paul's more intriguing affirmations. "I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong" (II Corinthians 12:10).  Note Paul's language: "I take pleasure in infirmities…"  The Apostle felt what we all feel when trouble comes.  Of his challenges, he confessed, "In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness… who is offended and I burn not?" (II Corinthians 11:27; 29).  The flesh of even the most godly believer recoils when trouble arrives at the doorstep, including the threshold of our revered brother of old.  However, by the time Paul wrote II Corinthians, he knew the Lord and His Word well enough to "take pleasure" in difficulty.  He chose to believe in the "very present" dispensation of God's presence that transcends our capacity for experiencing our Lord on mountaintops and the aforementioned still waters.  "For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion: in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me; He shall set me up upon a rock" (Psalm 27:5).

   I would be less than honest if I did not admit that I find this a difficult subject about which to write.  A dear friend called as I worked on this message.  I told him the theme, and we both agreed that the truth profoundly challenges all of us.  Again, we gratefully rejoice in the pleasant times, as well we would when our Heavenly Father graces us with His presence in the good gifts He gives.  Moreover, we don't go looking for trouble.  But it's coming, to one degree or another, and in forms both expected and unexpected.  Most importantly, with it comes the "very" presence of God.  So, we  join Brother Paul in the "taking" of pleasure when difficulty comes our way.  We choose to believe that the Word of God is true, the Heart of God is near (very near), and the hand of God is active on our behalf.  We may not immediately see the obvious manifestation of such grace.  We certainly will not feel it.  But it will be there because He will be there.  He will "very" be there.  Indeed, the pleasure we take in such challenge involves the confidence of conviction rather then the fickleness of feeling.  The Psalmist wrote of such grace and such faith regarding the presence of God, and we close in the remembrance that our Father offers to us the pleasure of His presence on blessed mountaintops and in dark valleys...

"In Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore."
(Psalm 16:11)

Weekly Memory Verse
    "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

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