RESPONDING APPROPRIATELY TO THE INESCAPABLE
PRESENCE OF GOD
“The presence of God is portrayed in
Psalm 139 as all-pervasive and all-knowing of humankind’s thoughts
and doings” –Wayne E. Oates. The Psalmist said, “Thou
searchest out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with
all my ways. . . . Whither shall I go from thy Spirit” (Psalm 139:3, 7).
In the New Testament, the disciples asked Jesus this question,
“Lord, to whom (else) shall we go?” (John 6:68). In the words
of Dr. Wayne Oates, author of The Presence of God in Pastoral
“He (Jesus) has encompassed them with His presence. Wherever they went, they would see Him in the faces and forms of the people they met.”
Did you know that we can never escape God’s inescapable presence? He always knows where we are, and not only that, He knows everything about us. I like the way in which Eugene Peterson paraphrases the first part of this prayer in The Message. He writes, “God investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. I’m and open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I am thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too–your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful– I can’t take it all in! Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? To be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’ll find me in a minute– you’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, ‘O He even sees me in the dark! At night I am immersed in the light!’ It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you; night and day, darkness and night, they are all the same to you.”
Thus, the question has been asked, How do we respond appropriately to the inescapable presence of God? In answer to that question...
I. WE CAN RESPOND IN FEAR BECAUSE OF OUR SIN. This was Adam’s response in the Garden of Eden when he sinned against God.
“They hheard the sound of tthe LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself." And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (Genesis 3:8-11).
We, like Adam, can respond in fear because of our sin. For most of my life as a teenager, not understanding the love of God, and His willingness to forgive, I responded to God out of fear because of my sin. I would imagine this is true of most of the world population who has some understanding of sin, and the fact that God is a just God. The fact that, according to Scripture, “He will in no way clear the guilty,” is reason to respond to Him in fear.
Knowing that God is inescapable, What is your response to Him? Are you responding to Him out of fear because of your sin? If so, there is a remedy. The remedy is repentance. This is what David did after his adulteress affair with Uriah’s wife. Once we are forgiven, like David, we then experience the love of God, and according to Scripture...
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” (I John 4:18).
Note the phrase, “fear involves punishment.” Persons respond out of fear to God because of fear of punishment. The good news is, however, that God solved the sin problem through His Son, Jesus, and when we receive His forgiveness, we no longer have to respond to God out of fear because of our sin. Oh yes, we still fear Him, but not in fear of punishment. Rather it is a reverential fear. We respond to him in awe, respect and honor.
Secondly, how do we respond to the inescapable presence of God?
II. WE CAN RESIGN AND QUIT TRYING BECAUSE OF GOD’S POWER. We can take a fatalistic attitude toward life and say, “What ever will be will be.” Many people take a fatalistic approach to life. They would argue that since God is in total control and inescapable, we are nothing more than puppets on a string. He has all power and we are nothing but puppets. Therefore, we can just resign and quit trying because of God’s power over us.
What we need to understand, however, is that while God is sovereign over His creation, He has given men and women free will. We are not puppets on a string. We have the God given ability to reason and make decisions; decisions that affect our lives for both good and bad. Does not Scripture speak of perseverance of the saints? It was the prophet Jeremiah who said...
“‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Yes, my friends, we can resign and quit because of God’s power, but this is not God’s intention for our lives. His design is for us to be victorious. As revealed in this prayer of the Psalmist, and in the words of this writer, “Prayer identifies us as God’s people fighting God enemies but trusting victory to His actions.”
Therefore, let’s not resign and quit, but rather let’s fight the good fight, like the Apostle Paul, and one day receive “ ...the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award ...to all who have loved His appearing”(2 Tim. 4:8).
These are two ways we can respond to God’s inescapable presence. There is, however, there is a third way. . . .
III. WE CAN RESPOND IN PRAISE TO GOD FOR HIS GREATNESS. In this psalm, we see David’s amazing response, in the words of one writer, “ ...who has sought him out and will not let him go.” He responded to God in awe, praise, intimacy, and surrender. Hear the words of David’s response of praise...
“I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:14).
Focusing on David’s response of praise, we too can praise God for the following reasons:
1. As the inescapable God, He guides us faithfully through life. Through a personal, intimate, relationship with God, we can trust Him, to guide us faithfully through life, and right into eternity. The Psalmist said. . . .
“You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever” (Psalm 16:11).
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
“How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand when I awake, I am still with You” (Psalm 139:17-18).
2. The inescapable, Creator God, designed and crafted us with His
“My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them” (Psalm 139:15-16).
3. The inescapable God, is interested in each of our days. The Psalmist said...
“This is the day which the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
Not only has He made and fashioned us, He has made the day in which we live. Therefore, we can rejoice and be glad in it.
4. We can take our complaints to the inescapable God. - Someone said, “We can complain to God, but we must never complain against God.”
5. We can delight in the fact, that, the inescapable God, does not deal with us as our sins deserve. I like the way this truth is stated in this psalm...
“He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:10-12).
In the great old hymn, It Is Well With My Soul, Horatio Spafford stated it like this, “My sin, O the bliss on this glorious thought—My sin not in part, but the whole—Has been nailed to the cross and I bear it not more—Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! O my soul.”
Is this not a reason for praise?
Therefore, in conclusion, let’s look at the word “inescapable” as it relates to the inescapable presence of God. . . .
I – God is Involved in every aspect of our lives.
N – He will Never leave us alone.
E – He is from Everlasting to Everlasting.
S – He has been Sovereign over His creation since the beginning.
C – He is Connected with both time and eternity.
A – Nothing gets past His Attention.
P – He is always in Pursuit of the lost person.
A – He is always Available to everyone who cries out for help.
B – He remains faithful to our Beckoning call.
L – As the crucified, buried, resurrected Lord, He Lives for evermore.
E – He offers sinner’s the free gift of Eternal life.