hen I was a youth pastor in Louisiana, I remember taking a young boy to youth camp. To give you some background on this special young man, he came from the inner city and virtually had no role models in his life. His father was in jail. He was one of 5 brothers and sisters and had to fight for the attention of his mother. It was clear to me that if something drastically didn’t change in his life, he would be on the same path as his father. Despite all of this, he had a smile that would light up a room, and I truly cared for him.
When the time came for a summer youth camp trip, he came up to me and said he would like to attend but had no financial means to make it happen. Because this was something I had anticipated, I shared with him that there was someone in our church that would like to pay for his trip. He was thrilled with excitement and hugged my neck. In sharing his story with one of the church members, we both thought an investment in him would go along way in his maturation as a Christian. Emotionally, what would happen in that camp would last for a lifetime.
On one particular evening, there was a strong altar call and push to encounter Jesus personally. Up until then, my special young friend had been very reserved towards taking his relationship with God to the next level. On the inside, as he would tell me later, he was scared to open himself up to God. He was scared that he would be let down again, as he had been let down so many times before by people in his life. On this particular evening, everything would change for this young man.
After the message, there was a special anointing in the room for worship. Children and youth of all ages were giving their lives to Christ and pouring out their deepest emotions to Him. Healing was taking place in the room. As I stood in the front praying for different children, I saw the young man coming towards the front with some other members of the youth group. Within a few moments, he lifted his hands and began to worship Jesus. His eyes filled with tears joy. It was in the moment; he was genuinely encountering the love of God. As I begin to pray for him, I was overcome with joy and amazement to hear what he said next.
“God is so real!”
That’s what he told me completely amazed. It was at that moment; he could feel the tangible presence of God. Up until then, Jesus was more of a principle than a person. What was it that took him to the next level? It was the presence of God. You see, it is the presence of God that makes us from one dimension to the next. It is in this presence that the people of Israel would walk from the Red Sea of slavery into the Jordan of freedom.
Joshua Crossing The Jordan River
““And as for you, command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.” (Joshua 3:8)
The time had come for the people of God to cross over the red sea and into the land God has promised. Ever since the time of Abraham, God had spoken and preparing a place for His people to live in the prosperity of His kingdom. This would be the land of the kings. Through King Solomon, the entire known world would be blessed. This would be the land of King David, a man after God’s own heart.
But before any of this had taken place, it was still a land that needs to be possessed by God’s people. How would men from the tribes of Israel enter this promised land? Only through His presence.
God commanded the Levitical priest that bore the ark of the covenant to stand in the middle of the Jordan River while the people crossed into the promised land. What was God doing? He was reminding His people that for them to cross the Jordan, and to get to the other side of God’s promises, they would have to walk through His presence.
In the Old Testament, the ark of the covenant was symbolic of the tangible presence of God. God was very intentional about this. Every person who walked into the promised land first saw the ark of the covenant. In other words, their first encounter was not with the land, but with the very presence of God.
This is incredible to me. God could have just commanded the people to cross the Jordan, but He didn’t. The Lord said to Joshua to command the priest to carry the ark before the people so that would entire the land with the presence of God.
The presence of God is the bridge to make the supernatural natural in our lives.
This brings me to this point. The presence of God should encompass our lives in such a way that we don’t want to live life without it. Take Moses in Exodus 33:15, for example.
“Then Moses said to him, “If your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” (Exodus 33:15)
Every day, our lives should be filled with the presence of God. Before we step in our jobs, we should encounter first the presence of God in the secret place of our home. The presence of God is the bridge to make the supernatural natural in our lives. With the presence of God, things that were impossible before become possible.
Step Into The Presence of God
In speaking of the importance of this abiding presence, Bill Johnson, in an article for Charisma News, says this:
“For decades, maybe centuries, the church has gathered weekly around a sermon. Our reasons are noble: We value the Scriptures and know that our lives are to be anchored in truth. But the study of the Scriptures is meant to launch us into an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ. In that moment of connection, we obtain life. Without encountering the One to whom Scriptures point, we are a people to be pitied.”
The people of God camped around the presence of God (see Numbers 2:2). Every tribe set their households up facing the direction of the tabernacle and the Holy Place. This is a picture of how our lives are to be set. We are to camp around the presence of God. How can this happen? I’ve charted out a few steps that have been life-changing in my own life.
Camp Around the Presence Through Your First Fruits
What is the first thought you have every day when you wake up? You will find the answer to this question is a small test of Lordship of your life. When following Jesus, it is vital to give Him the first fruits of your day. Instead of spending a cup of coffee with the news or your phone, why not give that time to the Lord? Open up the Word of God and allow the presence of God to center your thought life around the power of truth.
In fact, did you know that the ark of the Lord carried the tablets of the covenant of the Lord?
“This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.” (Hebrews 9:4)
The stone tablets of the covenant came from the very word of God on the mountain with Moses. If we are to camp around the presence of God truly, the Word of God has to be the first fruit of our day.
In my personal life, I will not look at anything on my phone before I spend time in the Word of God. Why do I do this? Because I want the Word of God to be the first fruit of my day.
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
Camping Around the Presence Through Prayer
God commanded the priest of Israel to stand in the middle of the river. Just think about that for a second. After hours of carrying the ark of the covenant, do you know how uncomfortable it probably was for them? For us to camp around the presence of God, we have to move past our comforts. How do we do this? Prayer. In prayer, our flesh comes under the power of the Holy Spirit and no longer controls our lives.
Just as the priest were to carry the presence of God for the people, so we are to carry the presence of God for our families and communities
Just as the priest were to carry the presence of God for the people, so we are to carry the presence of God for our families and communities. If you have not discovered the power of a personal prayer life, I recommend you reading this post on how to pray to God. Regardless, developing a prayer life changed my life and will change yours too. For most of my life, prayer was a chore and something the enemy used to bring condemnation on my life. It was only until I discovered how to pray to God, did I take up the mantle of prayer in my own life.
Like the priest in the Jordan river, we are to stand on the promises of God through prayer, so that the presence of God will anchor our lives in truth.
The presence of God is the bridge between the supernatural and the natural. As God commanded Joshua and the priests to carry the ark of the covenant into the Jordan and to stand in the brooks, so we are to carry the presence of God into our everyday lives.
e priests carrying the ark of the covenant into the Jordan to stand in the brooks. We are to carry the presence of God into our every day lives.