Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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God's Presence in Your Life

Dannah Gresh: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says you won’t get anywhere without one important factor in your life.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgmeuth: Apart from the power of the Spirit of God—unless the Spirit of the Lord comes down—it’s all in vain. Going to church, discipling, working, parenting, teaching on Revive Our Hearts—it’s all emptiness apart from the presence of Christ.

The presence of God is everything. Without Him you cannot succeed, and with Him you cannot fail.

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of Lies Young Women Believe, for Tuesday, June 22, 2021. I'm Dannah Gresh.

You’ll find plenty of books on success and strategy, but a relationship is far more important than a formula. Find out why as Nancy continues the series "Indispensable Ingredients for Life." 

Nancy: I want to pick up again today on this concept that we touched on in the last session about the importance of the presence of God. God said to Joshua, "You cannot go forward into the Promised Land, you can’t take the people, you can’t succeed in what I’ve called you to do, if you go alone."

But God says, "You don’t have to go alone, because I’m going with you. My presence will go with you. You will not be alone. I will be with you. I will not forsake you. I will not leave you. I will not drop you or abandon you,” as we saw that one of the paraphrases says.

We talked about this matter of the presence of God. We know that God is everywhere. He is omnipresent.

There is no place you can go where you don’t have His presence. But there’s a sense in the Scripture in which we may experience the presence of God in a different way than that.

The Puritans used to talk about the “general presence of God.” He is everywhere

Then they would talk about the “cultivated presence of God.” “Draw near to Me, and I will draw near to you,” God says [see James 4:8]. There’s a sense in which, as we’re in the Word of God, as we’re using the means of grace He has provided for us, we cultivate our relationship with the Lord in a more intimate way.

Then the Puritans used to talk about the “manifest presence of God,” which are those times, those incredible moments in human history, when God opens the curtain of heaven, so to speak, and manifests His glory in an extraordinary way in the lives of His people.

That’s what we sometimes call “seasons of revival,” when there’s just that . . . You say, “How do you know when that’s happening?”

Well, I don’t know how you know, but I know that you know. It’s something you can’t explain, but when God is visiting with His people in that kind of extraordinary manifestation of His presence, you just know that God is there in a special way.

It’s important, even apart from seasons of revival, for us to be cultivating an awareness of the presence of God in our lives. Yes, God is everywhere, but most people walk through all of life—even many believers walk through hours and days of their life—without any conscious recognition that “I am in the presence of God; God is here; God is in me” (if you’re a child of God).

“Christ in you, the hope of glory.” I want to expand a bit on this concept of the presence of God.

From the earliest days of his life and ministry, Moses had understood the necessity of the presence of God going with His people. Moses and God had some discussions.

When God would get fed up with the way the people were acting and their idolatry, and God would say, “Go ahead into the Promised Land, but I’m not going with you,” Moses would say to God, “We can’t go without You.” You pick up on a part of that conversation in Exodus 33:14, where God says to Moses, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

We talked about rest, the rest of God, in an earlier session in this series. That promised rest, that Sabbath rest that God has for our souls, comes from living in the presence of God.

So God says to Moses, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you [and the people] rest.” And Moses says to God, “If Your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here” (v. 15).

That’s Moses in the wilderness talking about going into the Promised Land. This is before all of the wandering and disobedience and unbelief.

I think that’s a really key statement Moses makes. He says, God, if You’re not going with us, don’t send us up alone. Don’t send us into the land alone. We cannot do this without You.

Now, God had just told Moses (I didn’t read that part of the passage), You’ll have My promises, you’ll have My provision, and you’ll have My protection.

Moses, in a sense, is saying, "I’m grateful for those things, but those aren’t enough. Lord, I’ve got to have You. We cannot do this without You. We don’t just need Your stuff. We don’t just need Your provision and Your protection. We need You to go with us, or we can’t go."

Then Moses goes on to say, “For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?” (Ex. 33:16).

Moses is saying, "Lord, if You don’t go with us when we go into the Promised Land—there are all these enemies, these giants, these fortified cities, these people who worship pagan gods—if we just go in by ourselves, how will they know we are any different than anybody else on the face of the earth if they cannot see in some way that Your presence is with us? That’s what makes us distinct from all the other people on the face of the earth."

I think that’s a word that speaks to us as the people of God today. It is the presence of Christ with His people, in His people, working through His people, that makes us distinctive in this world. It’s not the fact that we look different or we talk differently or we wear different kinds of clothes or we go to church on Sunday mornings.

We may do those things, but what makes us stand out in the world is when people can look at us and say, “God is with them. We can see the evidence of the character and the holiness of God shining and displayed through His people.”

It’s the presence of Christ with us and in us and working through us that enables us to advance His kingdom in this world. As the children of Israel needed the presence of God to advance into the Promised Land, so we need the manifest presence of God in order to be a part of advancing Christ’s kingdom in this world.

As Christ was getting ready to ascend into heaven, and He was giving final instructions to His disciples there in Matthew 28:19, notice that He was sending His disciples into the world to take the gospel to all nations, to every creature. But He didn’t send them armed with theological textbooks, with ideologies, with principles, with PowerPoint presentations. He didn’t send them armed with human weapons or human means or methods.

What did He send with them as He sent them into the world? It was His presence.

He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” That is, advance My reign; advance My kingdom over all the kingdoms of this world.

And how are you to do this? “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We have no chance of succeeding in what God has called us as His people to do in this world if we go out apart from the presence of Christ and the conscious recognition that He is working in us and through us. It’s the presence of God manifest among His people that brings conviction on lost people.

According to 1 Corinthians 14:24, the apostle Paul says that if an unbeliever comes into your assembly and he senses the reality of God being lived out among God’s people, he is going to fall on his face and say, "Truly God is among you—truly God is in this place."

The problem today is that we have been ordering our church services to be geared to reach lost people. So lost people come in, and we’re doing our programs and our entertainment and our messages and our music and everything geared to reach the people who don’t know Christ.

The purpose of the church coming together is to be the church, to experience the reality of Christ, to come in holiness and consecration and surrender to Him. Then, the Scripture says, if a lost person comes into that community and sees the body being the body and Christ being lived out among His people, then that person will come under conviction, and they will say, “What convicts me is that I can see that God is among you.”

It’s the presence of Christ that makes all the difference in our lives. Joshua learned early on, following in Moses’ steps, the danger of trying to move forward in doing God’s work without God’s presence.

Remember the story? We parked on this incident for quite some time earlier in this study.

Back in Numbers 14, after the people had rebelled at Kadesh-barnea, in unbelief they said, “We’re not going into the land.” God said, “Fine, but you’re going to die in the wilderness.”

Right after all that happened, when God told them, “You’re not going into the Promised Land,” what did the people do? They changed their minds. They decided they were ready to go in after all.

Moses warned them in Numbers 14:42–43, “Do not go up, for the Lord is not among you, lest you be struck down before your enemies. . . . Because you have turned back from following the Lord, the Lord will not be with you.”

So Moses knew it was dangerous for them to go into the Promised Land without the presence of God. And what happened?

Verse 44: “But they presumed to go up.” That’s presumption—thinking that you can do something without God at your side, without God going with you.

“They presumed to go up . . . although neither the ark of the covenant of the Lord nor Moses departed out of the camp. Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites . . . defeated them” (vv. 44–45). They lost the battle because they presumed to go up without the presence of God.

God had said, “I’m not going in with you,” and without His presence they could not conquer any of their enemies, regardless of how remorseful they were or how eager they were at that point to move forward. The whole situation was another costly reminder that they could not make it without God—that following Him and going with Him was their only hope of gaining access into the Promised Land.

That had to be a powerful object lesson to Joshua, as forty years later he was called to lead the next generation into Canaan. You remember how they came to the Jordan River—we’ll come to this passage a little later in our study, but let me just give you an advanced view here.

They came to the Jordan River, two million or so of these Jews. The river was at flood stage. It’s about a mile wide. Joshua told the people, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, then you are to move out and follow it” (see Joshua 3:3).

What’s so significant about that? Well, the ark of the covenant is a symbol of the presence of God. That’s where the shekinah glory of God dwelt—the manifest presence of God.

Joshua said, “When you see the ark move into the water, you are to move out and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before” (see v. 4).

So what happened? Again, I’m ahead of the story a bit, but in Joshua 3 and 4, the priests who were carrying the ark of the covenant went before the people into the middle of the Jordan River.

Then they stood in the middle holding that ark of the covenant in the middle of that dry riverbed—as God had caused the waters to be pushed back—while the whole nation crossed over. Then in chapter 4 we read that as soon as all the people had crossed over, the ark of the Lord and the priests came to the other side while the people watched (see vv. 11–18).

So what happened? The ark went before them, it stayed there while the people went over, and then the ark came up behind them. They were surrounded by the presence of God.

That’s the way it needs to be when the people of God undertake any work for Him or move in any new direction—whether it’s getting married, having a family, raising children—whatever you are doing through the course of everyday life to serve the Lord, it has to be undertaken with the conscious awareness that “I need God here in me and with me and working through me.”

We need that sense of His presence not only when we’re starting out in some new undertaking, but every step and stage along the way.

When we first started Revive Our Hearts, I had this constant sense of utter, absolute desperation. Well, now we’ve been doing this for several years, and the caution to my heart as I’ve been reading these passages is this: I don’t ever want to come to the place in our ministry or my life where I feel like I can take the next step without God.

Our ministry needs Him. My life needs Him. My family needs Him. My church needs Him—even when things seem to be going well.

So how important is it to recognize God’s presence in our lives? Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Nothing.

Now, we can do a lot of things. We can make a lot of motion and commotion apart from Jesus, but we can’t do anything that is of any eternal significance. We can’t do anything that counts. We can’t do anything that matters.

We can’t do anything that is blessed by God apart from Christ. To set out to accomplish great things for God apart from His leading and enabling our efforts is foolish, and it’s doomed to failure.

I’m not just talking here about ministry undertakings. I’m talking about whatever God has called you to do. Whatever your job is, whether you’re in school at this season of your life, or you’re raising children, or you’re taking care of other people’s children, or whatever you’re doing—you need God as you do it.

The presence of God is our only hope. Apart from Him, we are impotent, powerless, and we will surely be defeated by our enemies. We dare not attempt to live the Christian life; to overcome the world, the flesh, or the devil; or to advance Christ’s kingdom apart from the presence of God in and among us.

I think this is one of the things that is most missing in the evangelical world today. There’s no life. There’s no sense of the extraordinary presence and blessing and power of God.

That can be just as true of my teaching. It’s just words if the Holy Spirit of God doesn’t come and anoint and empower and bring life to it.

The same thing when you give direction to your children, when you disciple another believer, when you give words of counsel or encouragement. If it’s just your words, there’s no life there. There’s no power there. There’s no power to transform.

We have moms and grandmoms in here who are so burdened for some of your children who don’t have a heart for God, who don’t “get it” spiritually. The light hasn’t gone on.

You can’t make the light go on. It’s the grace of God that makes it connect in the hearts of your children.

But you can ask God to empower you with His Holy Spirit as you lead and direct and instruct. Say, “Lord, if I parent in my own strength and power, the best I’ll get is well-behaved kids.”

But you don’t want just . . . well, you do want your kids to be well behaved, but don’t you want more than that? Don’t you want your kids to love Christ, to love His kingdom, to want to lay down their lives for Him?

Apart from the power of the Spirit of God—unless the Spirit of the Lord comes down—it’s all in vain. Going to church, discipling, working, parenting, teaching on Revive Our Hearts—it’s all emptiness apart from the presence of Christ.

The presence of God is everything. Without Him you cannot succeed, and with Him you cannot fail.

Are there areas of your life where you have struck out on your own, apart from His presence? Your finances? Your relationships? Your work? Your parenting? Your church life?

Cry out to God and say, “Lord, come and visit this vine,” as the psalmist prayed [see Ps. 80:14]. “We need You. We need Your presence. We want to see the manifest presence of God in our lives, in our marriages, in our homes, and in our churches.”

I made a list here of some of things the presence of God provides for us. I’m not going to have time to get through it, but let me just say that the presence of God provides everything you need in this life and the next. The promise of God to give us His presence—do you know what an incredible gift and blessing we have in that promise?

“I will be with you.”

  • The presence of God will keep you from sin.
  • It will encourage you.
  • It will give you strength.
  • It will give you courage and boldness.
  • It will set you free from fear.

I got an email late last night from a friend who was requesting urgent prayer. Her teenage son has been having migraine headaches, and tests yesterday revealed that it’s possible he has a brain tumor. That mom was crying out for prayer.

I sent her these verses that I had been meditating on while I was working on these sessions.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. (Isa. 41:10)

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. (Isa. 43:2)

Now, what could I do for that mother at that moment, except to say, “I will pray that you will experience the peace and the quietness of heart and the grace that comes from the assurance that the presence of Christ is with you.” That’s what she needs right now.

That’s what her son needs. That’s what their family needs. That’s what you need.

  • The presence of God gives wisdom.
  • It gives guidance.
  • It gives protection.

I think about the President of the United States, and how he can’t go anywhere without those Secret Service agents. They’re there to protect him. They’re there to take the bullet, if need be, for him.

They surround him. The President can move into different places with confidence because he’s protected by those around him.

The presence of God is my Secret Service. It’s the agency that God has put around me and within me to protect me.

Are you lonely? Listen: When you know the presence of Christ, you never lack companionship.

He has said, “I will be with you always” [see Matt. 28:20]. That’s what Immanuel means. “You shall call His name Immanuel—God with us” [see Matt. 1:21–23]. What an incredible provision from God! the presence of God Himself.

God said to Joshua, He said it to Moses, He says to us, “I am with you,” today, right now, whatever your circumstance, whatever your situation—I am with you.” You say, “What about tomorrow?”

Well, God says, I’ve got a promise for that too: “I will be with you.” Well, what about the next day? “I’ll be with you then, and the next day.” And what about what’s coming up next month? “I will be with you.”

What else do you need? What else do you need to know? You say, “What about way, way down the road?” He says, “I will be with you.”

What about in eternity? Revelation 21:3,

I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”

You’ve got His presence today, tomorrow, next year, in your old age, and for all of eternity. God promises, “I will be with you.”

Lord, how we thank you for the great reassurance that You are with us. We cry out to You, and we say, “Lord, we need You. We cannot move forward without You. We cannot do anything apart from You.”

Forgive me, Lord, for how many times I’ve tried to do what You’ve called me to do in my own energy, my own flesh, my own steam. Thank You for demonstrating to me, again and again and again, that apart from You I can do nothing.

I know that You’ve called these women to different tasks and responsibilities and challenges, and I pray that You will reassure them with the confidence that You are there, and that Your presence is more than enough. Without You they cannot succeed, and with You they cannot fail.

We bless You, O Christ, our Immanuel, God with us. Amen.

Dannah: As we learned today, one of the most wonderful promises God gives us is His presence. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been inviting us to see the magnitude of what that promise means for us. All this month we’re focusing on God’s promises. To help you learn and dwell on them, we want to share a booklet with you, from Nancy, called 50 Promises to Live By. It’s full of encouraging, trustworthy words from Scripture to help you meditate on and lean on the promises of the Lord.

You’ll receive a copy of this booklet when you give a gift of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. It’s a way we want to thank you for your support, and we pray this resource will keep you grounded in the hope found in Christ. Visit to give, or call us at 1–800–569–5959, and be sure to ask for a copy of 50 Promises to Live By.

Ok, let’s end our time together today with a question: what role should the public reading of the Bible have in a church service? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has observed something about the teachers who have most impacted her life: They have put the Word of God ahead of their own thoughts. Hear how it works, tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you cultivate an awareness of God's presence. It's an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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