Charles Stanley - The Awareness of God's Presence
Where is God in your life? You say, Well, He's not in my life. Well, is that the way you want it? If you decide you don't want God in your life, He's not going to force Himself on you. But you don't know what you're missing. Or you may say, Well, I'll tell you about God in my life. Sometimes I feel He's there and sometimes I don't. Sometimes I'm close to Him; sometimes I'm distant. Well, what's going on when you feel close to Him? Well, He's meeting your needs and you're in church or you read the scripture, and everything's sort of going your way. What is it that makes you feel He's distant? Is it because something's missing in your life?
There is some need you don't feel like He's exactly working on to your best advantage. What makes you feel this distance from Almighty God, when He says that He's everywhere, and He is. In other words, when you look up in the sky at night and you study a little bit of astronomy and you begin to see all the planets and how absolutely perfect their schedule is in relating to each other and all the fantastic things beyond our comprehension, there is a God. And He's in charge; and He's in control; and everything is going the way He wants it to go. Down here on earth, we just make all kind of messes of things. But those of us who trust Him, we have an awareness of Him that others do not have.
Why do you want to live your life apart from a loving, sovereign God who knows all, He's omniscient. Has all power, He's omnipotent. And He's omnipresent, which means that He is everywhere. But a better way to say that is that everywhere is in His presence. Somebody says, Well, is God over yonder and over yonder and back yonder and up yonder? Listen. Now all of that is in the presence of Almighty God. What an awesome God we have. And you don't want Him in your life? He's a God of love and goodness and mercy. He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, into the world that you and I might discover what true, genuine life is about. And that our sins can be forgiven; our name written in the Lamb's Book of Life. And we can, listen, we can be on our way to heaven when we die. In other words, when you look at what's becomes yours when you become a Christian, why would you not want God in your life? Think about the sin in your life that's keeping you from wanting God in your life.
Now you compare that with the forgiveness of sin, peace, joy, love, goodness, mercy, kindness; your name written in the Lamb's Book of Life. You have this present Helper with you constantly, night and day, twenty-four hours a day every day of your life. What in the sinful world do you have that compares with that? And you and I both we know that you don't have anything. Why not trust Him as your personal Savior? Well what I want to talk about in this message is our awareness of God. Now, He's here whether you're aware of Him or not. He's there when you're at work or whether you're aware of Him or not. In other words, your awareness of Him doesn't determine where He is. In fact, the scripture says, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He doesn't change. And the reason His location doesn't change is because all locations are in His presence. Why would you want to live without a loving Father who wants the best for you?
So I want to talk about this matter of the awareness of His Presence, not just His presence. We all know He's present, but the awareness of His presence. I want you to turn to the most familiar Psalm you know, the twenty-third Psalm. There's one phrase in that I want us to look at primarily. And so, if you'll turn there for just a moment, the twenty-third Psalm. And you remember that David penned this. And he was going through difficulty and all kind of hardship in his life many times, before he ever became the king and even afterwards. So how many times have you read this? The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. "He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake". What an awesome God who's doing that. Then he says, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil". Why is that? "For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me".
That's as far as I want to go. You are with me. And if you'll think about it, all through the scriptures, God uses that same phrase in different ways to different people. And I want us to think about this in the light of the fact that God works in the life of His servants. He provides their needs on the basis of His love and kindness toward us. And if you look at the scripture, it's evident from the scripture that our awareness of His presence is vital to whatever He wants to do in our life. The Spirit of God is living within us. What is the desire of God's heart? The desire of God's heart is that you and I would live, listen to this, that we would live in awareness of His presence. It'll change your life. It makes all the difference in the world if you're living in the awareness of His presence. I doesn't mean that you live believing there is a God. That's not it. It's the awareness of His presence in your life.
So what I'd like to do is I'd like to help you identify the evidence of the awareness of His presence in our life. What's the evidence? Number one, He's continually in our thoughts, conscious or unconscious. He's continually in our thoughts. Let's take a mother who has a newborn baby and the baby's about three days old. Now she's going about her work in her household doing what she does, but subconsciously you know what? There's something in her that, they can hear that baby. In other words, she has this something inside of her, which is her subconscious that God gave all of us, that she's aware of that child. He may be three rooms over, but all of us have a subconscious and a conscious so that God makes it possible for you and I to go about whatever we do in life, openly, speaking or whatever it might be. And at the same time, there is that Spirit of God in our subconscious that makes us aware of His presence. It's almost like a holy silence within us. But He's there.
And so the issue is, are you aware of that? Are you aware of the Lord in your life consciously and subconsciously? Secondly we're continually seeking His guidance. If I'm aware of His presence, I'm going to be continually seeking His guidance. We all make decisions every day. Many people make decisions totally oblivious to God. They don't even think about God. They say, Well, I don't have to ask God about everything. Well, you may not ask God about whether you wear brown shoes or black, but all of us face decisions every day, whether it's on your job or whether it's in your family or whatever it might be, we face decisions.
Now, let me ask you something. When a decision comes up, how do you make that decision? You say, Well, I think I can handle this. Do you ask God? Let's say, Lord, give me wisdom to handle this. In other words, watch this. Think about this. What area of your life is God not interested in? What area of your life, God, say, I have no interest in that. Are there any? None. Amen? He's interested in everything. Therefore, if He is, then I should be, I should be aware that He has a preference in my decisions. As we said, we're not talking about shoes and socks and stuff like that. We're talking about the decisions you and I make every day. Then, there's another thing. We must view Him as our constant companion. That is, if I see Him as my constant companion, then I'm always aware of Him.
In other words, if I'm aware of Him, I don't have to wonder anything about it. Would you say He's your companion, amen? Then how often are you aware of His companionship? Well, most of you look like you're married or want to be, one of the two. So let's say you are married. Are you aware of the companionship of your husband or wife? Yes, you are. You are sensitive to what goes on. If you were to think that you saw danger, and somewhere, and you know that your wife is shopping there, instantly you'd be concerned. Why? Because there's a oneness between you. And you are aware of her or him all the time. What about your children? They go to school and you are aware that they're in school and no matter what you're doing around your house or at your job, you are aware of your children because you love them. And you want to be instantaneously told if something happens.
Well, what about Jesus as a companion? Think about this. The most powerful force in the world is in the person of Jesus. He's omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient and all-loving. Can you tell me a better companion than that? Then, of course, one of the evidences of our awareness is we have peace in the midst of storms. All kind of storms hit us. In other words, we all go through difficulties, trials and storms in our life. And what happens? What keeps us and what takes us and what helps us and, helps us to survive is what? I have God with me. When you and I go through some storm remember this. The first thing we ought to remember is, listen, I'm in this, but I'm in here, I'm in this with God. Jesus is with me in this. The Holy Spirit of God is going to guide me through this, help me, comfort me, assure me, whatever needs to be done. And you know, once you begin to sense the awareness of God, everything in life changes. Things can be difficult, hard, blinding, but if you're looking at that circumstance in the awareness of that, the Lord is with you.
Let me ask you, What in this world is more powerful than God? Nothing. Who's more knowledgeable than God? He already sees our storms before they come. His power is already working to enable us to face them, whatever they might be. So the awareness of His presence is a very practical issue. Then, I think the awareness of His presence creates a hunger in our heart for the Word of God. And this is why I say just about every Sunday, you ought to begin the day, every day, with the Word of God. It may be one verse or a whole chapter or whatever it might be. Because what does it do? Reading the Word of God does what? It ignites us to think about Him and to realize that He's going to be with us that day. And so, if a person doesn't read the scripture, I can tell you exactly what happens. Their awareness of the presence and of God in their life begins to diminish. It's the Word, which is the Word of God, which is the voice of God. It's the hand of God at work.
And when you and I, we go through some situation and we come to a passage and remember what He said to Joshua, Be strong and of a good courage. Fear not, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you. How many times have you quoted that verse before? Probably all of us have at some time or the other. It's the Word of God that does what? That brings me back to the awareness that I have Him to help me through this no matter what it might be. This is one of the reasons that I say to you just about every week, you ought to start every day with the Word of God. And to me personally, on your knees. Not necessarily you have to read it on your knees, but there ought to be a sense of reverence and if you are aware of His presence, you will reverence Him. And when you begin to read the Word of God, what does He do? He speaks! Because He has something to say.
And you see, the only thing you may see, the only thing you may feel tomorrow morning is His awesome peace. Where'd that come from? It came from God. Or He may trigger your mind to think about something that He knows that you're going to face during the day and He's brought it to your mind. This is why if we live in the awareness of His presence, you don't have to worry about, if I forget this, and I could forget that, and this that and so forth. Living in His presence doesn't mean you'll have a perfect memory, but it does mean that God will assume responsibility for bringing to our mind and heart the things we need to remember. Then of course, we're going to have a joy in our heart. If you are living in the awareness of His presence, why? Think about this. You have an omnipotent, all powerful God in the person of Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit, living on the inside of you. That should give me joy.
Well, you say, you know it's Monday morning and it's cloudy and it's this, that and the other. What are you aware of? You are aware of the weather. Who's sitting in the seat beside you in the car if you are alone? The Lord's there, in other words, it's where we focus. What's our focus? Our focus should be upon Him. He's there. Nobody else can follow you around like He can. There'll be times when your best friends are gone, and there'll be times when your family's not there, and it's just you by yourself. You are never alone. And He wants us to live in a way that we recognize the fact that we're not alone. He's present with us, but am I aware of that presence? For example, you could be sick and in your medicine cabinet is exactly what you need. And you look in that medicine cabinet and you find aspirin, and a few things like that. If you're not aware of here's the cure right here, if you're not aware of it, you'll pass right on by and stay sick.
A lot of people are in trouble because they live their lives unaware of the presence of our Lord, of His willingness to help them. And sometime, if you have an unforgiving spirit in your life toward somebody, you say, well, you know what, I don't understand why God's not answering my prayer, and why this and why that and so forth, and you get all tied up and maybe you need to stop and ask the Lord, "Lord, what are you trying to say to me? Maybe there's something you want to deal with me about". And all of us have to live with our tentacles out "Lord I want to be sure I'm living in obedience to you in every single way". Awareness of His presence changes everything. And certainly there's going to be a joy in your heart.
Then, of course, I think we're more conscious of the good things God sends us when we're aware of His presence in our life. You see, a lot of people are blessed every single day, never give God any credit. What does the Bible say? Every good and precious gift comes from Father above. But if I'm not aware of His presence, I give somebody else the credit. Or I'll say, Look what's the next word? Look how I was. Look how lucky I was. Christians don't talk about luck. We talk about being blessed, the presence of God in our life. And that makes the difference. And I think when a person is aware of God, then we see these things as God being good to us. Amen? If, listen, if He's good to you here, He'll be good to you there. That's the awesome presence of God. Then, if we're aware of Him, I believe prayer will be a priority in your life. That you just won't say some short prayer because you're in trouble, but you're talking to Him all the time.
And I don't like to give myself as an example of some things, but I'm just telling you the way I see it. And that is, I'm walking through my house, lot of times I'm talking to Him. "Lord". I talk to Him out loud. And it's not that He can't hear, it just that, you know what? Sometimes I need to hear it. Sometimes I need to hear it. "Lord". And once in a while, I'll lose something and I'll say "Now Lord, I know You know where that is". I don't remember where I put it. But I know that You know where that is. And it's amazing how finally it shows up. You know why? He's interested in every single aspect of our life. All right, then we continue to have hope, even when things look really hopeless. And listen. They may turn out to be hopeless as far as what we would change, but they're not hopeless in the eyes of God. No child of God is hopeless. He is not only our hope; He's our power, our strength. He's our helper. He's our guide. He's our sustenance. He's our everything. But when people are aware and live in the awareness of His presence, when things come along that seem hopeless, they're not.
Then, if I'm really aware of Him, what I'm going to do is I'm going to sift every decision through His will. Lord, what is Your will about this? What is Your will about that? All of us face things sometimes people come up and ask us something, or they say, What would you do about thus and so? If somebody asks me a question, or if somebody comes through the line and says, I have a question. You know what? When somebody says that to me, you know what instantaneously to say, quietly, Help me Jesus. I don't mean help me Jesus, casually. I mean I mean it. Lord, whatever that question is, give me the wisdom to give them a right answer, a godly answer, or whatever it might be. Because, I think if we live in the awareness of His presence, it doesn't make any difference what the decision is, we want to run it by Him. If I'm aware of His presence, when a need arises, I'm going to see that need in light of His presence.
Somebody says, Well, I have a need in my life. Well, think about this. Look at that need in the light of the presence of Jesus Christ who's the same yesterday, today and forever; who provides the needs for His children. If I'm aware, if I'm living in the awareness of His presence and a need arises, I don't have to worry about it. I may not have an answer at the moment, but I know that He knows all about our needs. And if you'll think about it, He knows about our needs before we do. And because He does, He's already prepared to meet that need, whatever it might be. Then, our worship is more real and rewarding if I'm aware of His presence. You can come on a Sunday morning and not worship God at all. It's the awareness of His presence. And some of these songs we sing, for example, what happens? Everything in you just wants to fly out, why? Because you're happy, you're aware of His presence.
Well, that's how God wants us to live our life. And He wants us to worship Him, aware of His presence, not just the things going on around us. Then, if I'm going to walk in obedience to God as a way of life, just think about it. If I'm going to walk in obedience to God as a way of life, which we all should do, I have to be aware of His presence. Listen carefully. You do not have to sin. I can tell some of you don't believe that. You remember people say, I'm just a sinner saved by grace. That's what some people say. I'm just a sinner saved by grace. Well, suppose you get up every morning and say that. You know what you're saying? You are programming your mind to sin against God. The right thing is I'm a saint saved by the grace of God. I may falter, I may sin, but, listen to this. Think about this, if we're walking in obedience to Him and that's the will of God, then when do I have to sin?
Well, you say, Well, do you say you don't? I didn't say that. I'm just saying I don't have to sin. You don't have to sin. We just accept sin as just normal. Then of course, I just say one last thing. All of these contribute to what? If I'm aware of all of these things, I'm going to have a stronger, intimate relationship with Jesus. Now, every husband and wife, if you really love each other, you want to have a strong, intimate relationship. Now people take the word intimacy and always make it sex. Has nothing to do with it. It has to do with relationship, how you feel toward someone; the way you see them. It's your husband or your wife. You cherish them; you love them; you adore them. You want the best for them. And so what happens, the more aware you are of him and of her, and the more you love them, the more aware you are. And the more intense your sensitivity to each other is. And what happens, it makes for a wonderful, joyful relationship. The Lord wants us to have that kind of relationship with Him, intensely in love with Him, aware of His presence, no matter what's going on in life.
So if you're one of those persons who said in the very beginning, God is not in my life. Do you realize what you're missing? What you're going to miss is the gift of eternal life. What you're going to miss is heaven. What you're going to miss is all the joy and the wonderful things that God provides. You say, Well, I look around. I don't see much joy. Depends on where you look. There are difficult times. These are very difficult times. But what I want you to see is that Jesus in your life, when you become aware of His presence in your life, He changes your viewpoint. Because you begin to see everything in light of His presence. That means we're safe. Somehow, He'll work the things out according to His great will. If you've never trusted Him as your Savior, you're living a fool's life. I know you don't like that, that's the truth. You'll reap what you sow, more than you sow, later than you sow. If you sow life without God, a life that absolutely denies Jesus in your life, and you sow a life of worldliness and wickedness and all kinds of moral immoralities, then you're going to get what that brings. When you trust Jesus as your Savior and give your life to Him to live a godly life, you get what that brings. And that is awesome.
Father, we're grateful to You for Your goodness to us. We know that there's so much to learn. And yet, sort of really boils down, Lord to our relationship to You. And I pray the Spirit of God will seal this message in the heart of every believer. And every lost person who hears it will recognize, I'm missing something in life. I don't have all that in my life. And help them to see there'll come a time when they wish with all their heart that they knew You as their personal Savior. And that is our prayer for them today, in Jesus' name, amen.