“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” – Acts 4:13 (NIV).
The word that jumps off the page is the word “ordinary.” Peter and John were unschooled, ordinary men yet because they had been with Jesus, people could see the difference. They spent time with Him. They were diamonds in the rough. They were uneducated. They were common. But they were not scared. They did not let fear grip them. They faced their fears with boldness and people took notice. All because they had “been with Jesus.”
Jesus had recently been crucified yet His followers were unafraid to proclaim the same message that caused His death. Their courage wasn’t something they manufactured. Their boldness came from the presence of God in their lives.
The presence of God makes a big difference. Remember Moses’ prayer in the wilderness: “Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:15-16 NIV). His presence is meant to be at the core of all that we do. God so hated separation from us that Jesus was sent to pay the ultimate price so God’s presence would be available to everyone. Psalm 139:7-8 says, “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.” And Psalm 84:3-4 says, “Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God! What joy for those who can live in your house, always singing your praises.”
So how do we encounter the presence of God? How do we experience His nearness? Encountering God is similar to encountering another person. I don’t seek an experience with a friend; I simply seek to know Him by spending time with Him and gaining experience as a result. I don’t seek to hear the voice of a friend; I simply engage in conversation with Him as an act of wanting to know Him and hear His voice as a result.
The more you draw near to God, the more you will experience Him in your life. The more you pray, the more you realize He hears you. The more you read your Bible, the more you realize how true and unchanging He is. The more you choose to trust Him, the more you will miraculously witness His faithfulness. If you’ve found yourself searching for change, for more in your life, first draw near to God and He will draw close to you.
- Do you believe God is always there? How have you experienced that?
- What can we do this week to make His presence real in your life?