Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Presence of God

Leslie Basham: It's easy to see God's hand at work as you read through the pages of history but what about when you look back over the course of your own life? Is God evident there?

It's Wednesday, January 5, and you're listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. What results can we expect to see when God visits His Church? How can we know that God has arrived?

Today we'll learn about the characteristics of revival. Nancy Leigh DeMoss will take us back in time and show some of the examples of what God has done in the past among His people and the effects that followed.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I'm holding in my hand a copy of the front page of the Denver Post. The date is Friday, January 20, 1905. And the headline reads:

"Entire City Pauses For Prayer Even At the High-Tide of Business As the Soul Rises Above Sorted Thoughts"

Here's how the article begins:

"For two hours at mid-day, all Denver was held in a spell. The marts of trade were deserted between noon and two o'clock this afternoon and all worldly affairs were forgotten.

"And the entire city was given over to meditation on higher things. The Spirit of the Almighty pervaded every nook. Going to and coming from the great meetings, the thousands of men and women radiated this Spirit which filled them.

"And the clear, Colorado sunshine was made brighter by the reflected glow of the light of God shining from happy faces. Seldom has such a remarkable sight been witnessed," this article goes on, "an entire great city in the middle of a busy weekday bowing before the throne of heaven and asking and receiving the blessing of the King of the Universe."

Can you imagine that headline and those paragraphs appearing on the front page of your local newspaper? I see some smiles. It's hard to imagine, isn't it?

She's saying, "Wow, imagine that!" Well, I want us to imagine that. Imagine what are some of the things that might be true in our day if God were to move in a fresh way in an outpouring of His Spirit in genuine revival?

We are talking about revival during these days: what it is and what are some of the characteristics of revival. As we look back on some of the revivals in past days, how God has moved in pouring out His Spirit, we see that one of the common traits of revival is an extraordinary sense of the presence of God.

That's what was experienced in Denver in early 1905 and, by the way, during that same period of time in many other places of the world simultaneously without the benefit of the mass communication and the Web and all those things we have today that could spread that word.

The Puritans used to talk about three aspects of the presence of God.

First, they spoke of the general presence of God. God is omnipresent. He is everywhere. Where can we go or flee or hide from God's presence?

And then they talked about the cultivated presence of God. That's where the Scripture says, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you" [James 4:8]. Through the means of grace God has given us, through His Word and prayer and fellowship and the Lord's Supper and these other means, we draw near to God.

But then they spoke of something with great affection and longing and that was the manifest presence of God -- those moments, those seasons in history when God, so to speak, pulled back the curtain in heaven and revealed His great manifest presence in an extraordinary way to His people.

Scripture says that times of refreshing come from the presence of God, Acts chapter 3[:19]. If we need spiritual refreshing, we have a tendency to go and look in a Christian bookstore, or at another service, or at another conference, or to get with good Christian friends, and these are wonderful gifts from the Lord. But ultimately if we want to experience times of deep inner refreshing, we're going to find that in the presence of God.

When God manifests His presence in this extraordinary way of which the Puritans spoke, people are more comfortable on their faces than they are sitting in their pews. There is a wonder, an awe, a reverence. Be still; the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.

When we really get into the presence of God, I don't think we can make a lot of noise. There is a sense of stillness and quietness and hush before Him.

The apostle John says in Revelation 1 [:17], "When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead."

When Isaiah saw the presence of God in the sixth chapter of Isaiah [verse 1], when he saw God "holy and high and lifted up," He says in that passage that even the doorposts of the temple had the good sense to shake in the presence of God.

If the doorposts shake in the presence of God, what will we do when we see God as He really is? The descriptions of God moving among His people in past revivals are full of references to this extraordinary sense of the presence of God.

And I want today and over these days to read to you and to share with you just some snapshots out of past seasons of revival, to give you some glimpses of what it was like.

I began to read some of these records when I was a young teenager, and I found my heart just captured by a sense of what it was like when God came in an extraordinary way in revivals.

For example, God moved in a great revival in the early 1950s on the island of Lewis, which is a little island just off the coast of Scotland there in the Outer Hebrides.

Duncan Campbell was a man that God used in a significant way in that revival. He wrote eyewitness accounts of some of those days. And he said, "So tremendous has been this sense of an awareness of God that I have known men, out in the fields working, but so overcome that they were prostrate upon the ground.

You see it's the presence of God, not just inside the four walls of the church but even pursuing people outside the walls of the church.

He said, "Because of the overwhelming sense of the presence of God, churches were crowded through the day and right up through the night until 5 and 6 o'clock in the morning."

Now the only time we can get churches crowded today during the night is maybe when we have youth lock-ins or something like that but not typically because people are so hungry for God, and there is this sense of the presence of God that draws them like a magnet to be with the people of God and to be under the ministry of the Word.

This is what is missing, I believe, in so many of our churches and our lives today is this awareness of the presence of God. You know, I believe, more will take place of eternal value in just ten minutes of you or me, of our church, getting into the manifest presence of God than a lifetime of services apart from the presence of God.

I think of a time several years ago when God was moving in a city in Indiana, and the ministry that I have been associated with for some years was holding some meetings there. And it was more than meetings because God showed up with His presence.

In the midst of that time of God bringing conviction and an awesome sense of His presence, there was a salesman who was traveling into town to visit a relative who was a part of that church.

He did not know what was going on at all. And he tells the story of how he came to the city limits sign as he was coming into town, and all of a sudden he was overcome with an awesome sense of conviction. It just came upon his life; he had no idea what was happening.

He pulled into a nearby gas station and was so overcome that he said to the gas station attendant, "Do you know what's going on here."

And the attendant said to him (this is a true story), "Don't you know? God has come to our town."

A visitation of the presence of God.

About 30 years ago, God moved in an extraordinary way on a college campus. Some of you are familiar with the story of the Asbury revival. The students were having chapel as normal.

But what happened that day did not turn out to be anything normal. And one of the great evidences of that season of time in the life of that school (which then, by the way, spread out all over the North American continent) was the awesome sense of the presence of God.

Here is how some of those associated with that revival have described what happened. One man said, "The presence of God was so real that all other interests seemed unimportant. The bell sounded for classes to begin, but it went unheeded."

Another professor said, "Radio, TV, parties, ballgames and other activities did not hold any appeal. People paid no attention to the clock. They forgot about food. They sat for hours in the sanctuary basking in the presence of God.

And then he concluded, "There is no vocabulary that can capture the full dimension of one divine moment. In a way impossible to describe, God was in our midst. Those of us who were there can never look upon the things of this world quite the same."

He came to the United States and was asked what was the thing that most stood out to him about Christianity in the West.

Without hesitating he said, "What amazes me most about Christianity in this part of the world is how much you are able to accomplish without God."

What if the Holy Spirit were taken out of our churches? How much of what we are doing right now would just keep right on going? It's just stuff; it's just activity; it's just busyness if it's not accompanied by the presence of the God.

Leslie Basham: That's Nancy Leigh DeMoss explaining the way an encounter with God will change the way we think, the way we act, and the way we view everything around us.

Nancy will be right back with a story to encourage us to rely on God. If you are ready to experience some of what we heard about today, here is what you can do. Call us at 1-800-569-5959 and ask for a free copy of the booklet, When Do We Need Revival.

We're praying that thousands of believers will form small groups and learn more about revival together. That's why Nancy and the staff at Life Action Ministries have written a new workbook called, Seeking Him. The workbook has sections for daily personal Bible study and it also provides discussion questions for small groups.

Groups can also get a DVD of Nancy's teachings to use at their meetings. For more information on how you can be a part of Seeking Him, call us at 1-800-569-5959. That's 1-800-569-5959 or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

What other characteristics can we expect to see when revival sweeps through our churches and cities? Find out tomorrow when Nancy Leigh DeMoss talks in detail about the Holy Spirit's job to convict us of sin. Hope you'll join us then.

Now to close our time today, here's Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I want you to think about your own life. I want you to think about your family. I want you to think about your church. Would you say that you are operating without a sense of the presence of God? Oh yes, He's there in a general sense, and maybe you're taking some steps to cultivate His presence. But do you sense a need for a fresh manifestation of God's supernatural presence?

The prophet said, "O Lord, rend the heavens. Come down that we may see Your presence" [Isaiah 64:1].

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a an outreach of Life Action Ministries.  

Thank you, Kathy, for preparing today's Revive Our Hearts for the Internet.

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