Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Best of the Best Series: Oh, So That's Where You've Been!

I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "God inhabits the praises of His people."  I've certainly heard it more times than I can count, but only recently did I discover that the phrase isn't in the Bible.  Close, but not quite.  What the Bible says is in Psalm 22:3:  But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.  See what I mean?  I thought it was a quote, but really, it's more of a paraphrase.  But that's okay because I firmly believe the meaning is the same.  Yes, Israel is God's chosen people, but Christians are also the people of God (John 10:16).  So, does God inhabit the praises of His people?  According to many other teachings in the Bible, I would have to say, "YES!"

So what exactly does that mean?  Well, it's a bit confusing, but I'll try to break it down.  The word "inhabit" means "to live or reside in; to be present in; to fill."  When we're saved, the Holy Spirit inhabits our hearts.  He resides in us.  He indwells us, which means He is always with us.  But there is a difference between God being present and God manifesting Himself.  God is always with us.  We have His promise on that, but sometimes it doesn't feel like He's with us, does it?  That's because He is not manifesting Himself at that moment.  He's not making His presence known or felt.  Why?  Well, I'm afraid many times it goes back to our verse for the day.  If God inhabits the praise of His people and His people aren't praising, then guess what?  We don't feel God.  We don't sense Him.  We feel as if He's abandoned us when, in fact, we've abandoned Him. When solving the mystery of the missing God, let's examine the clues.

Clue #1 -- The times I feel like God is nowhere to be found are typically the times I'm going through a trial.
Clue #2 -- During times of trial, I find it difficult to praise God because He feels so far away.
Clue #3 -- When my mind is not focused on God, it's focused on self, including current circumstances, worries, stresses, etc.
Clue #4 -- The times when God's presence has been the most real to me (when it felt like God was right beside me and holding my hand) were the times when I was centered on Him and worshiping Him in spirit and truth.

Hmm, you don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to solve this case.  It's pretty much open and shut.  Where there's praise, God's presence is manifested.  Where there's no praise, God remains present but often silent.

Does God feel distant today?  Are you wondering where He's gone and why He's left you alone in such a mess?  He hasn't.  He's there.  But if you really want to feel His presence, you're going to have to take the first step and offer up some praise.  Yes, it's difficult to praise God in the midst of trials, but it is possible.  Look past the current circumstances and see what God has done in your life.  If nothing else, praise Him for your salvation, His love and His grace.  I guarantee you, before long, you'll sense another presence in the room and possibly even hear a voice whispering, "I'm here, child.  I've been here all along.  I was just waiting for an invitation to approach."

Are you longing to feel God's presence in a mighty way?  You know what it takes.  Offer up praises to Him, then bask in the results.

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