LIFT’s theme verse for 2015 comes from Psalm 16:11. “You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence . . .” As I was pondering this verse two separate thoughts came to mind.
First, the idea of being filled with joy. My mind quickly went to Philippians 4:4 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16. In both of those verses Paul tells us we should be rejoicing—full of joy! And he doesn’t leave room for exceptions or excuses. We’re just instructed to rejoice—because this is God’s will for us.
Many people have wondered (maybe you have, too) how or why that instruction could be written in the form of a command. “Be joyful always.” “Rejoice!” After all, the circumstances of life are constantly changing. We have no way of knowing from one day to the next if we’ll have cause for rejoicing, right?
Well . . . . Not quite. And that brings me to the other thought. “In Your Presence . . .”
Wow! That’s a really big thought if we allow it to sink in. Sometimes we take it for granted and skip over the magnitude of this privilege. But really, who are we to deserve an audience with the King of the Universe–24/7!!!???
When Esther sought an audience with King Xerxes she knew she could be killed for her audacity, and he was just the king of one small country. (See Esther 4:16.) Yet as Christians we have the amazing gift of being always in the presence of the King of All Kings. He told us He would be with us wherever we go, and He will never leave us or forsake us. To seal His promises He placed His Holy Spirit in our hearts to live with us moment by moment—teaching, guiding, comforting, empowering.
Brother Lawrence, a monk who lived in the 1600’s wrote about this in a small book titled, “The Practice of the Presence of God.” The forward to this collection of writings says, “Discover the key to living a life of joy: the cultivation of a continual sense of God’s presence.”
Toward the end of his life Brother Lawrence wrote, “I am always happy. All the world suffer; and I, who deserve the severest discipline, feel joys so continual and so great that I can scarce contain them.”
Paying attention to His Presence does take practice. Practicing an awareness of His Presence. Being mindful of the Holy Spirit living in us.
Brother Lawrence found that the better he became at being aware of God’s Presence with him, the more joyful and satisfied he was. Not a coincidence, right?
No. It was the confirmation in one humble life of the truth of our verse, “Lord, in Your Presence is fullness of joy.” Not just for David the Psalmist, not just for Brother Lawrence, but for each of us who practice an awareness of His Presence. Who recognize the amazing love of our God who promised to be with us always. Who choose to rejoice in the truth that God knows each one of us and is working in our individual circumstances.
Regardless of what’s going on around you today, will you rejoice with us in the continual Presence of the One who loves us and chose us for His own?