If you love somebody, what you long for more than anything else is that person’s presence with you. Photos are a comfort. Telephone calls, emails and texts are nice. Letters are good. Skype and FaceTime are great ways to communicate. Yet nothing can compare to actually spending time with them in person. That picture in your pocket is just a representation of the real thing. There is a feeling of the presence of my wife and family while I am here in Kenya because of all the memories I have of our lives together and a connection with them through the Spirit of God. I know I will see them again when I return to the states and our lives will be joined together again. We will be able to touch one another and communicate directly to one another. We will be in each others presence.
What Adam and Eve lost in the Garden of Eden when they sinned was the presence of God. Even more than possessing the law, the distinguishing feature of Israel was God’s presence with them. The temple was not primarily a place of sacrifice but a place of God’s presence. The exile was such a disaster for the people of God because they were away from God’s presence.
God promised to be in the midst of his people again. This promise was fulfilled with the coming of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. He promises to be with us. With the coming of Jesus and the coming of the kingdom of God, God came to dwell among his people. Jesus is ‘Immanuel... God with us’ (Matthew). Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is both ‘now’ and ‘yet to come’:
The Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would come. Jesus answered, ‘The kingdom of God doesn’t come by counting the days on the calendar. Nor when someone says, “Look here!” or, “There it is!” And why? Because God’s kingdom is already among you’. We are citizens of the Kingdom and God is on the throne of His Kingdom. We don't see the throne or the visible Kingdom but it exists none-the-less.
One day Jesus will return. Then everyone will see, ‘For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other’ This will be the day when the Son of Man is revealed in all his glory, then we will see him face to face (1 Corinthians ); and ‘we will be with the Lord forever’ (1 Thessalonians ). We will experience the visible presence of God forever.
Right now God’s presence is not visible. People focus on eating, drinking, marrying, buying, selling, planting and building, spending their resources upon themselves. (see Luke–28). None of these things is wrong in itself. They are part of regular, ordinary life. The problem in both Old Testament and today is that most people do not listen to the warnings. Jesus urges us to be ready. Our lives should be lived in the expectation of His return, doing what He desires us to do.
Unfortunately, whoever tries to keep their life will lose it and whoever loses their life will preserve it. If we are always trying to find ways of getting the most out of life for ourselves – the most money, highest work position, best reputation, most popular – we will miss out. If you lose your life in denying yourself and serving Jesus, you will actually find life in all its fullness.
As we live in this time between the first and second coming of Jesus, we shouldn't forget to thank God for all his blessings. Of the ten lepers whom Jesus cured, only one came back ‘praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him’. Shouldn't we be thankful for what we have received and let our lives exist in contentment with the abundance or riches he has given us? Shouldn't we be living in joy and praise for his loving kindness?
It is easy to be like the nine lepers who forgot to thank Jesus. We need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude – taking time to thank Jesus for answers to prayer, his constant love, his forgiveness, his kindness and especially for the promise of God’s presence with us. Yes, He is not physically and visibly in front of us to do thank, eye to eye, but our Father knows what we need and he provides what we need. We can be in the presence of God through His Holy Spirit and walk in that presence.
Sin is what takes us away from the presence of God. Therefore, God warns us to avoid idol worship, dishonoring families, theft, leading the blind astray, injustice, sexual immorality, murder and bribery. We forget or choose to do those things that dishonor Him and we disobey God. We turn to serve the idol of Self and self gratification.
God says if his people fully obey they will enjoy all his blessings. He promises to bless our homes, families, work and other activities.Obedience is not to be an occasional event; it is to be a way of life. There is a big difference between people who are willing to obey God daily and those who are willing to obey only in order to get out of trouble. God certainly shows people how to get out of trouble, but He showers blessings on those who decide to live wholeheartedly for Him and make obedience to Him their lifestyle. Our lives are not for our pleasure but for His pleasure.
I will be returning to my home and family soon and I am looking forward to seeing my wife and being with my family. I am hoping they will be as excited to see me as I will be to see them. When Jesus returns for his bride will his Bride be ready? The real question in my mind is, "How excited will the Bride be to see her Husband? Will the Body of Christ be rejoicing in the return of its head and King or will there be a reluctance and a fearful expectation of His return?
May we all be so in love with the "love of our life" that we do everything we can to show our appreciation and obedience to Him each and every moment of the day. The time is coming soon. He deserves our complete gratitude for giving us His life and His Love. We should be looking forward to running into the arms of Jesus and embracing Him, giving ourselves to him completely and submitting ourselves to Him in everything. It is the best gift I can think of to say "Thank You" to my Lord. May his return be soon and our wait be joyfully exciting to see Him face to face.
Portions of this article were used with references listed below:
Bible in one Year - firstname.lastname@example.org