Summary: God sometimes passes so near that you can feel His presence. You can know that He is there. Let me share 4 areas where I think we can sense the nearness of God. (PowerPoints available - #193)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(PowerPoints used with this message are available for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #193.)
A. In Exodus 33:15-23 we have a conversation between Moses & the Lord God Himself. Listen as I read from that passage.
Exodus 33:15-19 says, "Then Moses said to Him, 'If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that You are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us?
'What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?'
"And the Lord said unto Moses, 'I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.' Then Moses said, 'Now show me your glory."
"And the Lord said, 'I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.'
Continuing on with Exodus 33:21-23, "Then the Lord said, 'There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.
'Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.'
That’s an intriguing passage. Moses boldly asks God to reveal His glory. Job did something like that, too. Mankind has often asked God to show Himself in some special way.
"God, just reveal yourself to me, & I will be your boldest witness in all the world. God, just heal all the people that I know who are sick. Just perform some miracles & we will know beyond any doubt that it is You."
How strong our faith would be, if we could just catch a glimpse of God now & then & know that God is real.
But when Moses said something like that to God, the Lord replied, "Moses, the first thing we need to get straight is that I am going to do this my way, not yours. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy. I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."
Then He said, "I will pass before you. My glory will be there. But you're not ready to see it. So here is a rock, & you stand on it & get ready. The moment I pass by I will take you & put you in the cleft of the rock & cover you with my hand. Then I will pass by.
"Once I have passed by I will remove my hand & you will see my back. But you are not ready yet to see my face."
B. That passage of Scripture tells us something about the way God reveals Himself, even to us today.
First of all, it says that God sometimes passes so near that you can feel His presence. You can know that He is there. But at the same time, there is a dimension to God that you & I will never be able to see or understand.
ILL. Fosdick compared our understanding of God with our understanding of the sea. He said, "I know the sea but I don't know the vastness of the sea.
'There is a part of the sea that washes up on the sands of my life. I can bathe in it. It lulls me to sleep with its waves. And yet, I know only a very little part of the sea."
It is the same way with God. He is so close we can almost reach out & touch Him. And yet, He is so magnificent that we will never completely understand all about Him.
C. I think there are times when God reaches down & helps us in special ways, & we realize beyond any doubt that it's the Lord doing it.
ILL. I love a story told by Fred Craddock. In one of his lectures he spoke about a time when he says that God revealed Himself in a very special way.
He said that he was riding in the non smoking section of an airplane where he always sat. (Now you can tell that this is an old story because it happened back when smoking was allowed in certain designated areas in an airplane.)
While he was sitting there, a man across the aisle lit up one of these long black cigar type cigarettes & started puffing away & blowing smoke into the air.
Just then this lovely stewardess came by & Craddock motioned to her & asked, "Isn't this the non smoking section?" She said, "Yes, it is."