The Presence is Here

Yes, God is with us. And the relationship He wants with me is way simpler than I have made it.

Enoch walked with God … Genesis 5:24 

One of the coolest things I have ever done lately was sitting in the big stuffed rocker beside my granddaughter, eating crackers and listening to music. We didn’t have to say anything, just being there together, savoring each other. I get that feeling about Enoch in the above verse. I don’t think Enoch did anything special. I think he and God just liked being together. Derek Prince put it this way: 

“Enoch just ‘walked with God’ (see Genesis 5:22, 24). As we go on further in the Bible, we meet the great father of faith, Abraham, with his most honorable title, which was ‘friend of God’ (James 2:23). He and God simply enjoyed one another’s company. I sometimes long to get away from all the theology and all the religious formalities and just have a relationship of being God’s friend—walking with Him and enjoying His company. I really believe God loves to be enjoyed by His people.” — Derek Prince 

I got a deeper revelation about this yesterday – maybe a deeper healing too as someone raised in a conditional love-based-on-performance home – as God sent my way this Prince quote and several other verses and messages from fellow bloggers. I love when He does that! Yes, God is with us. I just have to purposely remain aware of that. And the relationship He wants with me is way simpler than I have made it. He just wants me to know that he is sitting there in the rocking chair beside me, enjoying my company, walking along beside me on my dark path, loving me. 

“Just get down on your knees. There is an awful lot you do not need to know to find God. The light shineth, the voice calleth and the Presence is here.” — A.W. Tozer, And He Dwelt Among Us 

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? Psalm 139:7 

“As the years advanced I learned to rely upon His presence and lovingkindness regardless of any trials; He assured me in the dark times, and I was able to sing His praises regardless of circumstances. Yet in the darkest times, when I had no voice to sing I silently lifted my hands in surrender to Him. I remember them even today, the overwhelming comfort of His presence reassured me beyond any words I could write for you. It was the presence of His Spirit beyond any doubt.” — Alan Kearns https://devotionaltreasure.wordpress.com/2022/06/21/singing-in-the-dark/  

Why are you in despair, my soul? Why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God! For I shall still praise him for the saving help of his presence. Psalm 42:5 

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He Has Called Us Friends

“This is the essence of the gospel: the mighty God seeks a relationship with the people He created.”

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you … John 15:15-16 

He has called us friends, phílos in the Greek – “a friend; someone dearly loved (prized) in a personal, intimate way; a trusted confidant, held dear in a close bond of personal affection.”i 

Isn’t that amazing? You and I can hear God say this to us: I have called you friend, dearly loved and prized in a personal, intimate way, a trusted confidant, held dear in a close bond of personal affection. 

And can this mighty King 

Of glory condescend? 

And will he write his name, 

“My Father and my Friend?” 

I love his name, 

I love his word; 

Join all my powers 

And praise the Lord. 

— Isaac Watts, Psalm 169  

Condescend: To stoop or descend; to yield; to submit; implying a relinquishment of rank, or dignity of character, and sometimes a sinking into debasement. — Webster’s Dictionary 1828 

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8 (ESV) 

“The sovereign King does “condescend.” He does call Himself our Father and Friend. This is the essence of the gospel: the mighty God seeks a relationship with the people He created.The One Year Book of Hymns, February 23ii 

You did not choose me, but I chose you … 

“The Christian faith is not an ethereal, fluffy philosophy. It is the concretized, mystical union between Jesus Christ and his people. The meaning of our chosenness is waking up to the face of his choosing us and responding by reorienting our entire lives around seeking him and his Kingdom.” — J.D. Walt 

The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He makes known to them His covenant. Psalm 25:14 (ESV) 

i HELPS Word-studies for Strong’s #5384, Discovery Bible, 2021

ii One Year Book of Hymns, compiled and edited by Robert K. Brown and Mark R. Norton, devotions written by William J. Petersen and Randy Petersen

Image copyright by Jack Bair

The King’s Friend

Hushai was “just” the king’s friend.

Hushai the Arkite was the king’s friend. 1 Chronicles 27:33  

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13 (ESV) 

These are two verses that seem strange to put together. But that is what I felt the Lord doing recently. What could these verses have in common I wondered.

  The first verse comes after a long list of King David’s royal officials and their important responsibilities. One was in charge of the king’s storehouses, one was in charge of the field workers who farmed the land, one the vineyards, another the olive and sycamore trees. There were officials in charge of the cattle and the other livestock, the king’s property, the king’s sons, and Ahithophel the king’s adviser.  

And then at the end it says, “Hushai was the king’s friend.” As a performance-oriented person, tempted to salvation by works, that jarred me. Just his friend. The word for friend used here is a Hebrew word which means friend, companion, intimate. It comes from the verb form which means to be a special friend. But still, just a friend. 

So, what does that have to do with joy and peace in believing? I decided to look into the meaning of the Greek word for joy used in Romans 15:13 and I was pretty shocked. 

The Greek word is chara (χαρά). It means “cheerfulness, i.e. calm delight.” The verb form is chairo which means “calmly happy” according to Strong’s i

This surprised me because I’ve always thought of joy as expressed like David dancing with all his might – singing songs at the top of my lungs, jumping and clapping and dancing. 

Joy always has seemed like a doing thing to me, even something I had to manufacture, some kind of outward expression. Certainly not calm delight.  

There is another Greek word for joy or rejoice, agalliao (ἀγαλλιάω). And that one does mean “jumping for joy.” It is the word that Mary used in her song of praise: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices (jumps for joy) in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47). 

But the joy expressed in Romans 15:13 is a different kind of joy. It’s a believing, firm, standing on the Rock, I know-it-in-my-knower kind of joy. So, it makes sense to me for this calm delight to be paired with peace. Peace is the Greek word eirene (εἰρήνη). It means, among other things, the “tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God.” 

According to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament peace is, in its widest sense, the “normal state of all things.” Wow, I love that! Peace is what is supposed to be the normal state of all things, but especially between me and God. It is peace of soul. “Peace of soul is meant in Rom. 15:13, although this peace is possible only through the saving work of God which restores our normal state … it is a positive state inseparably connected with joy and faith.” 

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Romans 4:25-5:2 

Let not your hearts be troubled (agitated, troubled, anxious, distressed, take away your calmness of mind). Believe in God; believe also in me. John 14:1 (ESV) 

But what does all of this have to do with being a friend of God? It’s the “doing something” thing again. The salvation by works thing. All of King David’s royal officials had works they did. But Hushai was “just” the king’s friend. I see now that there is no “just” about it in God’s mind. 

The miraculous thing is that God wants us all to be called the King’s friend. I believe it is His ultimate goal and passion. 

I don’t know about you, but the command to be joyful has been accompanied by a certain amount of guilt for me. I am not always happy and jumpy and clappy. I get weighed down with the effects of sin and the oppression and sorrow in this world. But I know – I know – that I am the King’s friend. Calmly delighted and happy, tranquilly assured of my salvation through Jesus Christ my Lord. 

Because of what Jesus did on the cross, being the special friend of God, having peace with God, is my normal state. And that is joy. 

I have called you friends … John 15:15 

You too can be God’s friend – Salvation

i Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible

Image copyright Jack Bair 

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