Not a Cloud or Pillar of Fire Anymore
While journeying to the Promised Land, the Israelites lived each moment of each day with the visible presence of the Lord before them. I imagine such a presence would impact the way I lived – that was the subject of my last blog.

God has not given us such a visible presence to follow in our generation (for we walk by faith, not by sight), but He has not left us without a witness. He has not left us without His presence. As the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, God’s presence was with them as a cloud or a pillar of fire. Today, God’s presence is with us today as an internal witness, as Jesus promised:

23Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25“All this I have spoken while still with you. 26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 14:23-26

In this passage, Jesus promised two things about God’s presence in the lives of believers:

  • God the Father and Jesus would come to those who love him and obey his teaching. Furthermore, they would make their home with those who love and obey the Lord.
  • The Lord would send the Holy Spirit to teach believers “all things” and remind them of everything Jesus said to them.

Jesus’ promise was that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit would be a part of our lives. Clearly, believers would not be without the Lord’s presence after His death. Jesus made good on the promise of sending the Holy Spirit shortly after His resurrection:

19On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” …21…As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
John 20:19-22

Peter makes it clear that the Holy Spirit was for all believers, when He spoke to the crowd on the day of Pentecost:

37When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

38Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 2:37-38

For those of us who are believers, the Father and Son have made a home in our hearts, and the Holy Spirit has been sent to lead and guide us. The Lord has not left us without His presence. It’s just that His presence is a bit different from what the wandering Israelites experienced. The Israelites looked to the cloud or fire to determine when they should go and when they should stay; we must look to the leading of the Holy Spirit to determine when we should go and when we should stay. The problem I see is that their sign was visible. We, on the other hand, have been given the joy and challenge of following the invisible God.

I purposefully describe it as a joy and a challenge because it is both. God’s wisdom and His Kingdom are a great treasure; it is our joy to search for and discover that treasure. Yet how much easier it would be to have the visible sign of the cloud or pillar of fire.

Most of the time I prefer the joy of the discovery over the routine of following the visible. Yet how does one find the invisible? How does one know when it’s been found? I’d like to look at those issues in this and future blogs, and I hope you’ll give your input, either here as a comment or on the Apprehending Grace Facebook page.

There’s Invisible and There’s Invisible – Manifest Presence and “Every Day” Presence
Scripture is clear that God is always with us (Matthew 28:20). There is never a time when He is not with us. Yet there times when He seems to be “more present” – there are times when it seems as if He has opened our spiritual senses to experience Him in a more “real” way. That is called the manifest presence of God. God has made himself manifest, or “readily perceived by the senses” (as the word is defined by Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary).

It is somewhat easier to follow the invisible God when we learn to recognize Him in our midst. I’ve found that it is easier to recognize His manifest presence than his “every day” presence, especially when we are first learning to see Him.

God has wonderfully created each of us uniquely. And while He is the same yesterday, today and forever, He deals with each of us in ways that are uniquely suited to the personality and gifts He’s put in us. That means He may communicate His presence and His will differently to me than to you. I experience God’s manifest presence as a kind of electricity in the air and an expanding of my insight or knowledge. The spiritual sense of knowing that God is especially near is heightened. It’s difficult to put into words. I think most people would agree with my rather vague description.

Being uniquely created, however, we may enter into God’s presence, or come to experience God’s presence, in different ways. For example, I most often experience God’s manifest presence during worship or when journaling. My husband is a bit more cerebral than me, and he most often enters into God’s manifest presence through personal Bible study and meditation. Some experience it most strongly when serving. It’s important that we never assume that the way we experience God’s manifest presence is the only, best or primary way. God is much bigger than that.

One thing that is common, however, is that people will rarely experience the manifest presence of God unless they include God-directed activities in their lives. If I don’t attend worship services regularly and worship on my own, I limit my opportunities for experiencing God’s manifest presence. When I stop journaling, I no longer experience His presence in that way. When Phil is lax in his study, his sense of the presence of God in his life wanes.

It is one thing to know, intellectually, that God is always with us. It is another thing to experience that Truth. I am not advocating that we operate based on our feelings and experiences, but I am encouraging us to pursue the manifest presence of God. Experiencing it, experiencing Him, will be a tremendous encouragement to you in your walk with the Lord. Experiencing His manifest presence will also help you recognize Him when He moves in a more subtle way.

It’s kind of like recognizing pink because you know the color red. Once you’ve seen the full color, a shade of it holds a memory of the fullness. The same is true with God. Once you’ve experienced His manifest presence, it’s easier to recognize His every day presence

Which makes following the invisible God a whole lot easier, the subject of my next blog.

One Response to “Recognizing the Invisible God”
  1. AUGUSTINE says:


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