Practicing the Presence of God ó Continued... Barry's Video Blog...
Our Access to God:
You Can Enter the Throne
Room and Draw Near to God!
An Old Idea that Just Seems New
Entering the throne room and staying before the Lord may be a new idea to you. Or, you may already sense Godís desire that you draw near. You may also feel alone in your quest. It wonít always be like that. As time goes on, more and more people will join you.
It is right and good for you to enter the throne room to stand before the Lord. Even though the thought of doing so may be frightening to you drawing near in this way, is the safest thing you could do. God is good. It is best that you trust Him.
Just Be More Aware?
Some people say we just need to be more aware of Godís presence with us. I wouldnít say it that way. Let me emphasize this important scripture again, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you..." (James 4:8). Practicing the presence of God requires that we draw near to Him because when we do, He draws near to us.
Have you read the book about Brother Lawrence called, the practice of the presence OF GOD? It is a wonderful little book written over 300 years ago. I donít think that even Brother Lawrence would agree with those who say that all we have to do is "be more aware of what we already have." He understood that drawing near to the Lord was an essential part of practicing the presence of God: "[At] times, I feel my whole mind and heart being raised up into Godís presence, as if, without effort, they had always belonged there." Experiencing God in this way can be a common thing for you. But, you must understand that experiencing the presence of God to the extent that Brother Lawrence did, requires that you practice Godís presence by drawing near the Lord.
Brother Lawrence, the practice of the presence OF GOD (Springdale: Whitaker House, 1982), p.38.
"Come to Me" - Enter the Throne Room
All of us are thirsty for God. Jesus said that we should come to Him and drink (John 7:37). Let me remind you again that this particular verse is not talking about coming to the Lord for salvation. The word "come," in the original language, is a command to do so continually. Before we can talk specifically about what it means to drink, we have to understand what it means to "come" to the Lord in a way that makes it possible to quench our thirst. The Bible says that when you draw near to the Lord He will draw near to you (James 4:8). It is by Your "coming" to the Lord and His coming to you that you are able to drink.
Enter the Throne Room by FaithóNot by Visualization
When it says to look at the Lord, trust you are looking at Him. But, donít conjure up ideas about what you are looking at. The Bible gives us a clear picture of what we are to look at.
The Bible talks about our "beholding the glory of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18). It is clear from many scriptures that we should look at His face. "Seeing" the Lord in His exalted state is vital to the perfecting of our faith. Let me remind you again that it is by looking at the Lord that He perfects our faith (Heb. 12:2). The perfection of your faith is dependant on your applying this principle. Donít hold back. You only need to apply the scriptures and not try to imagine something that isnít accurate.
Here is a practical reason to avoid visualization for entering the throne room: it hurts your being able to enter. The reason is because visualization tends to make us put our faith in how well we visualize being there. The problem then is that our faith gets turned on us, and not on God and His word.
Don't try to imagine yourself into being before the Lord. And, don't "visualize" the throne room in order to work yourself into being before the Lord. Building your faith up to trust the scriptures is far more effective.
Being in the throne room isnít something we can make happen with our mind. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. Donít put your faith in your imagination. Put your faith in God. Nurture trustingósimply and profoundlyóthat it is the truth that you have access to God, in all His glory. Let your heart believe the scriptures.
Enter the Throne Room by FaithóNot by Soul Travel!
Donít be mistaken. Our access to God does not mean "soul travel" into heaven as a way to stand before Him there. King David said, "I have set the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken." (Psa. 16:8). I talk about "standing before the Lord" because that is the way the Bible says it. But, please donít ignore this practical principle: Your practice of standing before the Lord must be to think about the Heavens being open and the Lord being before you. The scriptures are clear that we should apply it this way.
Heaven is Godís dwelling place, but the Bible says, "the earth...is the footstool of His feet" (Matt. 5:35). The Bible also tells us, "Let us go into His dwelling place; Let us worship at His footstool" (Psa. 132:7). Because of these biblical truths you have to trust that He is before you just as much as you are before Him: "Exalt the Lord our God And worship at His footstool; Holy is He." (Psa. 99:5).
God said He would stand before Moses: "Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb" (Exo. 17:6). Should we think God would do that for Moses but not for us? We should not. John the Baptist was important too. But, Jesus told us, "Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he" (Mat. 11:11). You are important too.
Since the earth is Godís footstool, you can be sure that He will come and position Himself before you. It is true that the house where God lives is on a high and holy mountain (Micah 4:2). But, God also lives with those who make Him their God. The Bible says, "My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people." (Ezek. 37:27). And, Paul wrote, "Do you not know that you are a temple of God" (1 Cor. 3:16a). Donít think for a minute that God wonít comeóin all His gloryóand stand before you. Nurture the habit of dwelling inside God, here, "The eternal God is a dwelling place" (Deut. 33:27a). The problem is with the belief that we somehow need to achieve something like this. But, you never will. Thank God for the truth about His grace.
Donít think of God as having two homes, one in heaven and one with us. When God comes to us He brings Heaven with Him! The Bible says, "the tabernacle of God is among men" (Rev. 21:3). The principle is that if you take refuge inside the presence of the Lord, the Bible says you will posses His Holy mountainóyou will possess the kingdom of heaven! Speaking for God, the prophet Isaiah wrote, "...he who takes refuge in Me will inherit the land and will possess My holy mountain." (Isa. 57:13). Look at the context of Dan. 2:35 and verse 44 in order to see that Godís "mountain" and the "kingdom" are talking about the same thing. All you have to do is to rest into believing the grace of God to draw near to you so that by His drawing close you can find refuge in Him. You have to let Him draw near or you wonít be able to find refuge in Him: "See, the Lord your God has placed the land before you; go up, take possession...Do not fear or be dismayed." (Deut. 1:21 ).
We only have to stop protecting ourselves from God enough to open up, receive Godís presence, and literally take refuge inside the Holy Spirit.
It is because you are taking refuge in God here that the focus of standing before the Lord is more to believe that He is before youónot that you are somewhere else. If you donít approach it that way you wonít experience God as your fortress and shield as effectively as is possible. If you are always trying to be out there in heaven somewhere you will open yourself up to attack by the enemyówhen you are sleeping and at other times too. We are to enter, but think of it as the Lord being right in front of you here. You have access, but you donít have to go anywhere.
It is as we nurture believing we are before the Lord, the heavens open up and we stand before God here, body, soul, and spirit. Rejoice that by your entering before the Lord, the physical distance between you and the glorious throne room of God has been eliminated.
Enter the throne room of God by trusting that you are entering. Trust you are walking through the door are coming before the Lord. But be sure to let it be a strongly convinced believing that the reality of entering is greater than the reality of the material world around you. Donít make it difficult. Being in the throne room isnít hard. The difficulty is with wrestling our disbelief to the ground and getting our heart to hear the truth. Any complexity you may sense is because of your own fears and disbelief.
Learn From My Mistakes
During the early days of my application of these things I believed that when I stood before the Lord it was something I was to do with my inner being. In those days, I thought "coming" to the Lord meant I was to reach way out with my spiritual being and trust I was going up to heaven. I based this on the scripture where Paul said we should seek things in heaven where Christ is seated (Col. 3:1). To me, it did not seem that my body should be part of the process. Over a long period of time the Lord used many scriptures to show me where I was wrong.
Even though the presence of God was very strong during those days, standing before the Lord was not having the result that the Bible indicated should be my experience. By my not including my body in the process of standing before the Lord here, I was not able to experience God as my shield or my fortress. It seemed I was under constant attack by the enemy. I felt strong correction from the Lord when He showed me, "But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: ĎDo not say in your heart, ĎWho will ascend into heaven?í (that is, to bring Christ down)í" (Rom. 10:6). It is not righteousness based on faith that says we should have to ascend into heaven in order to bring Christ down here.
Looking back now, I donít know what I was thinking. It could only be the result of a lack of faith. I did not believe how much God wants to be with us here. I did not believe the ease of access we have to the Father. Now I trust that in standing before the Lord, the heavens open right in front of me.
Changing the way I was relating to God wasnít that easy. My experience of Godís presence was so strong during those days that I was inclined to believe that, "I must be doing it right." Even though it was difficult, I thank God that the correction of the Lord was both loving and unbending. He showed me very clearly that it is wrong to let our experience determine what is right or wrong. Only the scriptures should do that! It was a painful thing for me to have to correct.
Another mistake I have made has been to look at the shine of the Lord upon me, but not think of His radiance as being Godówith all of the attributes of God. Very little makes me weaker to temptation faster than if I look at His radiance upon me without thanking Him that the shine is the shine of all of who God is. When you look at the Lord, look also at His love, His power, His kindness as He shines His presence close to you. I believe we have to look at the attributes of God because of the shape of our need. We need all of who He is. If you donít look at His power or His kindness you will soon find yourself feeding on your power and your kindness.
You have an advantage because you can learn from my mistakes. Donít let your way of relating to God become a "god" to you. Receive correction from the Lord. Donít let yourself think that you have to ascend into heaven in order to stand before the Lord. Trust that you are "coming" to the Lord, but at the same time also, be trusting that God is coming to you. Look at the Lord, look at His attributes.
The Holy Spirit Brings You into the Throne Room
That you can enter the throne room is something that God does. You donít have to achieve it yourself. Thank the Lord often for this truth: "...in Christ Jesus our Lord...we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him." (Ephesians 3:12,13). Listen to what you are saying. Thank the Lord until your faith is in Him.
My wife and I just got back from two days on the Oregon coast. It was so windy that all the sea-gulls only had to open their wings and they would fly. I couldnít help but think about how we donít have to flap our wings in self-effort in order to enter the throne room of God. We just have to get our heart to trust God to bring it to past. Let Him spread His wings and carry you on the wind of the Holy Spirit. You just have to open yourself to believing God to bring you. It is without begging or pleading. You donít have to be more spiritual to deserve Godís provision. You just have to trust.
The Holy Spirit is powerful to do the work of getting you there. But, the Bible says we should enter the holy place "in full assurance of faith" (Hebrews 10:22). Keep thanking the Lord that He is the one to carry you until your faith is in Him and not in yourself. Coming to the Lord is an activity that we have to trust we are actually doing. But, if you donít let yourself trust God to be the one who actually does the work of bringing you into His presence, you will always struggle with faith to believe you have entered and are truly before the Lord. But, let me emphasize again that it needs to be a strongly convinced believingóthink of your entrance before the Lord as a greater than the reality of the material world around you.
It is because of Godís desire to be your God that you can thank God that He doesnít want to stay away from you. Thank Him for this truth until your heart settles into believing it. If you are having difficulty believing you are before the Lord in all His glory, you will not be free to be able to "drink." Your disbelief, will result in a kind of fear that will close you down inside and shut the Holy Spirit off from freely coming to you. Thank the Lord that you donít have to agree with the lies and disbelief the enemy tries to put on you. Be diligent to rest into believing.
Instead of being afraid that you donít deserve to come before the Lord, take it by faith that apart from God you will never deserve to come to Him. It is not about what you doóor donít doóthat helps you "deserve" to come before the Lord. It is about what God has done and does to make it possible. Instead of trying to build your pride until you can believe you deserve the presence of God, humble yourself into believing the abundance of what God offers if you will only draw near. It doesnít depend on you. The pressure is on God and on our trusting Him enough to believe His promises. Humble yourself into being able to believe the scriptures.
Confidently trust that you are entering, but keep thanking God for the truth until you find freedom to trust God to bring you.
Into the Throne Room - Through the veil?
It was because Jesus lived a sinless life that His death bought us the forgiveness of God (Lev. 22:21; 1 Pet. 1:18,19; Eph. 1:7; Hebrews 9:22). But, it doesnít stop there. His death bought us more! The Bible tells us, "we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus" (Heb. 10:19). His death bought us free and confident entrance into the throne room of God. We have the legal right to enter before the Lord because Christís blood was a payment for a better covenant (Hebrews 7:22; 9:16-10:22). The Bible says, "Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh," (Heb. 10:19,20).
Rather than our legal right, I want to consider the practical side of our entrance into the throne room. Two verses later it says, "let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith" (Heb. 10:22). Keep reassuring your heart with the scriptures in this book about your access to enter before the Lord.
As you trust you are entering, think of your entrance as being something that is more real than the material reality around you. Eventually, your heart will "hear" and you will find freedom to actually enter. Certainly, there are other fears and issues involved. I will show you how to begin addressing these things later in this book. More will follow in later books in this series.
In practice, moving from disbelief to faith is a slow process sometimes. Other times it can be more sudden. You can find faith to believe by trying to let your heart hear the scriptures. While seeking to believe you are entering and drawing near to the Lord, keep reassuring yourself with the truth in the scriptures about Godís provision for you to enter into the throne room. I have experience the transition from disbelief to faith while on one of my walks, when sitting in my chair at home, or even during quiet moments at work.
What happens next is sometimes sudden. On a few occasions, when reassuring my heart with the scriptures about my access, I have noticed at the moment of transition between disbelief and faith, it seems like I pass through something much like an opening in a curtain. On a few occasions I believe I have actually seen it. The indented verses above do say our access is through the "veil." Is the veil I have seen an opening that was torn when Jesus died? I think so, but I donít honestly know for sure. I say that I "saw" it because I know it was not because of visualization. On each occasion I was actually surprised when saw it. At the moment when God gives faith to believe, it is sometimes as though I put my hands in the opening of the curtain and while gently spreading it open a little further, I simply trust I am going through, body and everything.
Entering the throne room doesnít mean you have to see the veil. It is seldom that I do. Just keep reminding yourself of your scriptural basis for being able to enter and that doing so is a work of God. Eventually your heart will find freedom to believe you are actually entering and are before the Lord.
Use thanks and praise for the truth to rejoice your heart into believing. Listen to what you are saying!
Abide Beyond the Arrows of the Devil(Added to Come and Drink book Summer / 2003 - added here end of 2003)
What follows in this section is an insight that came years after the writing of this book. I am sorry to report this to you but I want to be honest and tell you everything. I canít leave this next part out because I want you to avoid the mistakes that I have made. I add it here because it may be the most important thing I have learned about dealing with sin in recent years.
I went through a time when everything I have written about repentance wasnít working. In regard to reoccurring sin, even my abiding before the Lord wasnít working! What I learned was that God had more to teach me about abiding in Him.
After having "entered" and while trusting I was abiding before the Lord, there were many times when I felt I was being shot at with "...the flaming arrows of the evil one" (Eph. 6:16). Some days it was dozens of times during the day. It actually felt like I was being jabbed with something sharp and it stung. During that time I also learned that I could grab above where it hurtóor on the opposite side of my body where it hurtóand pull the arrows out simply by making a motion that I was pulling it out. It seemed to also be helpful if I made a squeezing motion with my hand as if to break the arrow. I would then throw it to the side. I did this often, though not before the demonic arrows had some of their intended effect.
The result was that I went through a long time where I struggled with old sins that I had previously gained victory over by repentance and abiding. I also struggled greatly with unusual levels of lust and with major attitudes of bitterness toward other Christians. Unforgiveness toward spiritual authorities in my life was a reoccurring issue that I had to deal with. At times my worship toward the Lord seemed to make lust wake up in me and become strong. Needless to say, I was discouraged, very frustrated, and couldnít understand what the problem was.
During that time God showed me how to receive inner healing. I learned that many of the struggles with sin that we experience can be driven by deep hurt from experiences in the past. I have written about how to receive inner healing in the Exercises portion of Appendix in both the Heart-training and in the Come and Drink book.
I also developed a couple of pages in the Heart-training for addressing different areas that needed healing. Many scripture promises are included and I call it "Letting God Give You a New Heart." The problems resulting from being shot at were so extreme that I had to go through the pages for inner healing everyday or the poison from the enemyís arrows would produce their intended result. I even spent several weeks praying that God would lead me and expose areas where I still needed healing. I am absolutely confident that the time of healing that I went through was vital. However even after receiving a lot of healing, it was obvious that something was still not right.
After what seemed like a long time God showed me what the problem was. It was all about faith in regard to my access before the Father.
Even though I was trying to abide, I was struggling to believe that I was actually before the Lord. At times I felt like I was before Him but my back and my feet were unprotected. It was like I couldnít quite believe that I was really in the throne room. I believe that the result was that I wasnít fully there before the Lord. A possible explanation may be what follows.
Paul wrote, "I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows such a man was caught up to the third heaven" (2 Cor. 12:2). I believe that the "third heaven" refers to the throne room of God. Others believe that the first heaven is the sky as we know it. I havenít seen a basis for this in scripture so I donít know if it is true or not. Many also believe that the second heaven is the spiritual realm where the Devil moves about influencing people. The second heaven may be what this next verse is talking about: "...you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience" (Eph. 2:2).
Could it be that I was trying to abide before the Lord but because my faith was uncertain I was only in the second heaven? I believe that is what was happening. Because of my lack of understanding and faith about my access I wasnít able to put on the "armor of Light" that Paul talks about (Rom. 13:12). The devil was able to shoot at me and hit me easily. The result was impurity in my experience.
Let me also warn you that some of my struggle during that time was because of something hurtful that an important spiritual leader said to me about repentance and abiding. Over the years I have learned that it is very important to guard my heart against the disbelief of other Christiansóespecially that of Christian leaders. But in this case I didnít do that. I had placed myself willingly under this manís authority and easily "drank" in the damaging influence of what he said to me. Since that time I have been trying to be more selective about what I allow myself to receive from other people. I have forgiven the man. But I have also had to deal with the hurt by going to the Lord for healing more than once.
Now then, this is what I learned from all of this. We draw near to God and He draws near to us with a third heaven kingdom. The book of Hebrews says that "...we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken..." (Heb. 12:28). It canít be shaken because the kingdom that we receive is far beyond the place where the devil rules. The kingdom we receive is a place where the will of God is done on earth as it is in heaven. The access that Jesus bought for us is for our whole body. It has to be access for everything about us or we canít abide. If we canít abide we canít glorify the Father or do the works that Jesus did.
When you "enter" before the Lord let your heart believe that your access is for all of youóyour body and everything. Let your heart believe that you are well inside the throne roomófar beyond the place where the devil can even see you to shoot at you. If you are being shot at go to the pages in the Heart-training about your "Access" and build up your faith! Try to remember that the access that Christ purchased with His blood is for our whole body to stand before the Lord. When you do this you are safe inside the throne room and the arrows of the enemy canít get to you.
I am thankful to report to you that a steady kind of purity has returned. I am abiding in a place of victory again! I still get shot at on occasion. But now, being shot at reminds me to go after my disbelief and build up my faith about the access that Jesus paid for with His blood. I am confident that you can too.
Please be faithful to keep applying what you have studied here. Yes, it is a struggle and your fears may be great right now, but I am doing my best to show you how. Also, please use the Heart-training. Email me if you want the Heart-training and can't pay for it, or especially if you are in another country - I will most likely give it to you.
Please hear this: I canít emphasize the importance of using the Heart-training enough. Also, don't miss the exercises in Appendix A for entering and drinking from God.
Lord calm the readers heart right now. Replace their fears with courage and determination to keep going.
About Feeling the Presence of God (Repeated from the bottom of the main Come and Drink page.)
Feeling the presence of God isn't the goal, but it does help. If you have been at this for a while and are frustrated about not being able to feel God I believe I have the answer. (12/22/03 - I don't feel like I have proven it yet but I am confident about it.)
I believe people who feel God have a natural understanding of what I call, "Activities of the Soul." These "activities" are a necessary part of actually entering and drinking from God. I am convinced that people who feel the presence of God understand these "Activities" and do them without thinking. Others need to be taught. I give exercises that explain "Activities of the Soul" in Appendix A of the Heart-training ebook. They are not complicated. But often people need apply the heart-training for at least a couple of weeks before they have the sensitivity to be able to do the exercises easily.
Email me if you want the ebooks and can't pay for them, or especially if you are outside the USA - I would be happy to give them to you.
I am praying for the Lord's abundant blessing on your efforts to direct your heart toward Him.
Come and Drink ó Continued...
(C) Barry Hall 1999
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