How Shall We Get The Manifested Presence Of God In Our Midst?
The ark of the covenant had been captured from the Israelites by the Philistines and was in their possession for some months before they sent it back across the border into Israel. For twenty years the ark remained in an outpost in Israel (1 Sam. 7:1-2). After David became king, he was determined that the ark, which was closely associated with God’s presence in the midst of His people, should be in its proper place in Israel, and he enthusiastically set about to get this done.
On his first attempt to bring the ark to Jerusalem, David conformed to the worldly methods of the Philistines, who had put the ark on a new cart (1 Sam. 6:7-12), and he did the same. He and all the house of Israel met with terrible failure because they were not doing God’s work in God’s way (2 Sam. 6:1-7). "We sought Him not after the due order," David said (1 Chron. 15:13). Uzzah put his hand on the ark to steady it in the cart and was smitten – a warning to us never to grieve the Holy Spirit, never to quench the Spirit, never to resist the Spirit of God (Eph. 4:30; 1 Thess. 5:19; Acts 7:51).
Though David failed in this first attempt to bring back the ark to get the manifested presence of God in the midst, he was not discouraged. With fresh courage he set himself to do God’s work in God’s way. "How shall the ark of the Lord come to me?" David asked (2 Sam. 6:9). This time, instead of trying to do the Lord’s work with worldly methods, he had the ark borne on the shoulders of the Levites as God had commanded through Moses (1 Chron. 15:15).
God’s Manifested Presence In This Day
We must have the manifested presence of God in our midst in this, our day! Nothing short of a resolute and fixed determination is going to get the desired results that will count for eternity. Yesterday’s blessings will not suffice for today’s great needs. The fact that we HAVE HAD God’s manifested presence in our lives and in our church is not enough. We must CONTINUALLY HAVE the presence of God with us!
Evangelist Charles G. Finney, who was so mightily used of God in this country and Great Britain over a century and a half ago, was saved one morning, and received a mighty baptism with the Holy Spirit that same night. For years God blessed his ministry to the saving of multitudes of souls. But sometimes he found that he had "leaked out," and that God’s presence and the manifested power of the Holy Ghost did not accompany his words. Then he set himself to again receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit would return to him with power.
Take the marriage relationship as an example. To be married is one thing but for husband and wife to have continual and loving fellowship is another thing. The wife should always be the bride, the sweetheart, and love should abound at all times. But there are storms on the matrimonial sea from time to time, and only the very grace of God can keep that true union and sweet fellowship as an abiding reality.
If a wife has been offended or grieved by something her husband has done or has not done, that does not mean that she has left him, or that she is untrue to him, or that she does not consider herself still his wife. But fellowship should surely be restored lest the rift become wider, and if it be a Christian home, lest God’s purposes be defeated (see 1 Peter 3:1-7).
So, if we who have been saved and have received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and know from experience what it means for the Spirit of God to be in us and to work through us – if we have lost that anointing, it does not mean necessarily that we have voluntarily and completely left the Lord or that He has altogether left us. But we should never be content to live day after day without as much of the Holy Spirit’s moving in our lives as we have ever known before!
"Let the children first be filled" (Mark 7:27). We should be filled with the Holy Spirit all the time. It is a command of God’s Word (Eph. 5:18). Jesus, the Head of the Church, our Master and Lord, invites us to come unto Him and drink, and He says that out of us shall flow rivers of living water (John 7:37-38).
Are the rivers of living water flowing from me and from you? Is it not sadly true that from time to time flowing from us are waters of strife, anger, impatience, unbelief, evil speaking, scorn and contempt of others, indifference, lukewarmness, weakness, deceit, self-seeking, pride, lust, harshness, compromise, unkindness, envy and the like? Is it not a horrible fact that sometimes from us flow rivers of "killing" water? May God for Jesus’ sake, have mercy on us!
How Shall the Ark of the Lord Come to ME?
How shall I continually have the manifested presence of God in my own life? In my own prayers? In my own witnessing? In my own influence? King David went ahead and got the ark of God into place. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).
When Finney found that he had lost the anointing of God’s Spirit from his life, he faced the facts. He did not try to deceive himself by saying, "It is a trial of faith." He knew positively what it was to have the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and also, he knew what it was to temporarily lose that mighty anointing. So he would seek God earnestly until again the rivers of living water flowed from his life!
All to the Glory of God
1 Corinthians 10:31
Our lives, our words, our deeds, our influence must be all to the glory of God! And to this end, we must be always filled with the Holy Spirit! Am I, are you obeying the command that we "be filled with the Spirit"? Do we "walk in the Spirit" as God’s Word so plainly and positively commands us to do? (Eph. 5:18; Gal. 5:16). "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. 10:12).
Those who have once received the baptism with the Holy Spirit need re-fillings from time to time, and sin can creep into even the most holy life if we do not obey the Lord and "Watch…and pray always" (Luke 21:36). These are facts seen as we study the Epistles, and the Words of Jesus in Revelation.
Take, for instance, the church at Ephesus. They had the ministry of the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-6). They were outstanding in correctness of doctrine, in labors, etc. But the piercing eyes of the Son of God found things even in this zealous, orthodox church that called for severe rebuke. Jesus says:
"Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love" (Rev. 2:4). The Head of the Church did not pass this by with merely mentioning where the trouble was. He did not excuse them at all. He did not say, "Well, you have really gone through much for My sake. Just persevere and everything will be all right!" No indeed!
Hear these piercing words: "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent" (See Rev. 2:1-7).
In the epistle to the Ephesians, note these admonitions and warnings to the Ephesian Church: "I…beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called…forbearing one another in love…putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor…Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath…Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God…Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
"And be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you…Walk as children of light…Be filled with the Spirit…Put on the whole armour of God…Praying always" (From Ephesians, chapters 4-6).
"I Press Toward the Mark"
Might each and every one of us, stir up ourselves (Isa. 64:7), and with deep humility, wholehearted sincerity, honest facing of facts and with determined "to-the-death" resolution and fixed purpose, say, with Paul:
"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13-14).
May the Lord of Glory help us to have His manifested presence in our individual lives and in our midst!