"But let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God's presence. Let them be filled with joy."
- Psalm 68:3 NLT
There are a multitude of reasons why Christians need to spend regular time in the presence of God, but one of the main ones is that it increases our joy level. Biblical joy is not just a warm, fuzzy feeling. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22), and a powerful force that can enable believers to endure and overcome the trials of life. Scripture says, "Be not grieved and depressed, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold." (Nehemiah 8:10 AMP) Satan works overtime trying to steal our joy because he wants us to be weak and powerless against his attacks. He knows that a joyful believer is a powerful believer. Whenever I feel my joy slipping, I like to declare, "I will not grieve or be depressed, for the joy of the Lord is my strength!" Doing this not only lifts my spirits, but it reminds me of the importance of maintaining my joy.
Psalm 16:11 (NIV) says, "You will fill me with joy in Your presence." There is no better way to get our "joy tank" filled than to spend time in the presence of God. What are some practical ways we can do that? One is to get up a little earlier in the morning so that we can sit and read our Bible, and pray focused prayers, before we're swept into the busyness of the day. Another is to sit at our computer and read an online devotional, and perhaps look up Scriptures in an online concordance. There may be days when we'll want to sit in a favorite chair and read God's Word, a devotional book, a book of scriptural prayers, or a ministry magazine. Or we might listen to good preaching and teaching on tape, TV, or radio. Some people find that playing worship music and singing praises to the Lord draws them into God's presence in a powerful way. One of my favorite things to do is to read a psalm or two, and memorize verses of thanksgiving. Sometimes, the best thing we can do is to get alone with God and pour our hearts out to Him, sharing with Him our hopes, dreams, and fears. We might even just sit and be still in His presence, getting quiet before the Lord, and listening for His voice. I've discovered that spending time in God's presence is one of the best ways to become more sensitive to His "still, small voice." (1 Kings 19:12 KJV)
David wrote: "You have said, Seek My face [inquire for and require My presence as your vital need]. My heart says to You, Your face (Your presence), Lord, will I seek..." (Psalm 27:8 AMP) When our joy level is low, sometimes it means that we haven't been seeking God's face, but His hand. We start seeking the blessings, instead of the Blesser. Instead of requiring God's presence as our vital need, as this Scripture says, we start focusing on the THINGS we think will satisfy us and make us happy. But the truth is that things cannot give us lasting joy or fulfillment. Only God's presence in our lives can do that. Jesus said, "Seek first [God's] kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:33) As we pursue God, His blessings will pursue us. Jesus called those who seek things "pagans," and He warned us not to follow their example. (Matthew 6:32 NIV) As we get our priorities in the proper order, we will not only walk in God's presence continually, but we will walk in the fullness of His blessings.
Psalm 105:4 (AMP) says: "Seek, inquire of and for the Lord, and crave Him and His strength (His might and inflexibility to temptation); seek and require His face and His presence [continually] evermore." When we are struggling with bad habits, or sinful behaviors or attitudes, spending time in God's presence and drawing on His strength can go a long way in leading us to victory and freedom. Besides soaking ourselves in the Lord's presence during our quiet times, we can pray without distractions, and we can read and meditate on God's Word and promises of healing and deliverance. Once we've "deposited" the appropriate Scriptures into our minds and hearts during these times, we will be able to make "withdrawals" throughout the day that will strengthen us against temptation when it comes. Psalm 44:3 (NLT) says: "But let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God's presence. Let them be filled with joy." Is your "joy tank" running on empty today? If so, don't wait another moment--run to the arms of your loving Lord, and soak in His presence and His joy!
Prayer: Lord, please give me a passion for Your presence and Your Word, so that I can have a vibrant, intimate relationship with You. Help me to restructure my priorities, so that I will always seek You and Your kingdom first, rather than things or other people. Thank You that as I spend regular time in Your presence, my joy will overflow!
- J. M. Farro