In one sense, God is everywhere... omnipresent. On the other hand, God's "presence" cannot be found in a number of people, places, or things. Is He with you, or not? Is He in you, or not? In our message series at Life Church Buffalo, we are asking the question, "Where is God?" There are two weeks left. Come and get some answers.
But consider the opposite question... Where is God not?
God is not in your self-centeredness, unforgiveness, arrogance, lust, or "sin" in general. He is not in government corruption, love for money, or power hungry leadership. He is not in murder, hatred, or the oppression of the poor. He is not in laziness, deception, or exaggeration. The Bible says, "God is light and in Him is no darkness at all." (1 John 1:5)
The truth is, He may exist in the heart of any of those who participate in the above. But He will never claim involvement in their actions of this sort. He is in you if you are a believer in Christ. He is in your heart, in your life, and involved in the circumstances of your personal world. He will never leave you or forsake you.
But do not count on Him to be with you in activity that is not a part of His character or nature. He will be true to Himself and call you higher to live in who He is. Jesus can be in your heart yet bound by the prison bars of your dealings with darkness. He may be there, but you are shutting His voice and ways out of your mind and heart in order to do your own thing.
You don't want that.
This happened while Eli was priest. Eli had let his two sons mishandle the presence of God in the temple so much that, while in battle with the Philistines, his two sons were killed and the Ark of the Covenant (God's presence) was taken by the enemy. It was such a tragedy for God's presence to leave them that Eli fell over backwards and died. When his daughter-in-law heard about it on her death bed, she was more upset about the Ark being taken than she was about her husband's death. As she was dying, she gave birth to a son and named him "Ichabod" which meant, "The glory has departed."
My mother tells me of two ladies in her church when she was a child that were very controlling and manipulative. Nothing happened there without one of them saying that it could. Even the pastor's hands were tied unless he just did what they told him to do.
But one day the two ladies were on different sides of an issue and collided head on. People took sides and the church was splitting down the middle. The church was having a series of revival meetings with an evangelist who was from another town. When he caught wind of the problem, he confronted it head on from the pulpit and challenged the two women publicly, along with the rest of the church, to repent. They did. They came together, admitted their wrong, and forgave one another. My mother says that revival broke out in that church like never before. The power of God was restored, many came to Christ, and the unity of the Holy Spirit brought the church back together, better than before.
If you are a believer, God is in you. But you really want Him to be with you in all you do and say. His grace leads you to a life that is rich in His presence, and His favor follows your obedience to walk in His ways.
Do not accept the name "Ichabod" into your heart or into your church. Learn to walk with God every day. Learn to connect with His presence in you. Learn to enjoy the blessing that comes with staying in that place with Him.
There is no substitute.
Life is a whole lot better when God's presence can flow freely in and around you. Learn the power of worship and God's Word! Learn to fellowship with Him all the time. Learn to lean on Him under pressure. Learn to walk in humility and forgiveness. You will never be disappointed. You will never regret it.
Be where God is! Not where He is not!
Let's change the world together!