A Plea For God's Presence

Bible Book: Isaiah  64 : 1-9
Subject: Revival; Renewal

A Plea For God's Presence

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor, www.pastorlife.com
Introduction

Isaiah 64:1-9

Let's read out text for today, found in Isaiah 64:1-9 ...

Oh, that You would rend the heavens!
That You would come down!
That the mountains might shake at Your presence—
As fire burns brushwood,
As fire causes water to boil—
To make Your name known to Your adversaries,
That the nations may tremble at Your presence!
When You did awesome things for which we did not look,
You came down,
The mountains shook at Your presence.
For since the beginning of the world
Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God besides You,
Who acts for the one who waits for Him.
You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness,
Who remembers You in Your ways.
You are indeed angry, for we have sinned—
In these ways we continue;
And we need to be saved.

But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.
And there is no one who calls on Your name,
Who stirs himself up to take hold of You;
For You have hidden Your face from us,
And have consumed us because of our iniquities.

But now, O Lord,
You are our Father;
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all we are the work of Your hand.
Do not be furious, O Lord,
Nor remember iniquity forever;
Indeed, please look—we all are Your people!

Every prayer delivered earnestly, biblically and in faith toward Jesus is a prayer worthy to be uttered; however, some types of prayer are more noble than others. It is easy to pray for bread when you are hungry, for health when you're sick, for deliverance when trapped, and for love when you're lonely. But how much more noble is the spiritual prayer when one wholeheartedly requests the presence of God. Such is the prayer we just read, which is a request for God to come down into the midst of His people - a plea for God's presence.

Isaiah lived at a time when people had forsaken God. His cry was noble since it was of a spiritual type of prayer and, in the light of the circumstances, a necessary one for God's people. I believe we are in a somewhat similar time today. Our culture is quickly departing from any semblance of faith in God. The "nones" as they are called, for they believe in no god (none), are increasing at a rate unknown in modern history.

Now let's understand something from the start, every true child of God has the judicial presence of God. God is with His people at all time in the presence of the Holy Spirit. When I talk about the presence of God today I'm speaking of the experienctial presence of God. There is something called the “fullness of the Spirit,” which speaks of the Spirit having full control over the life of the Christian. I may have the Spirit of God in me without the Spirit having full control of me. Even in this New Testament age, we need to “experience” the presence of the Lord in all His fullness.

Paul’s desire was to know Jesus and the power of His resurrection. The great apostle did not assume for a moment that he had attained all that God had for him. Herein lies the nub of the problem for many modern Christian. Sadly, many think that being saved is merely a ticket to heaven and after that we mostly give a nod toward heaven and live as we wish. In some ways this is a plague on the modern church.

Though we cannot apply the Old Testament text before us in exactly the same way that it would have been understood in the contemporary context in which it was written, we can gain from it much in the way of renewing a desire for a presence of the Lord in our hearts and minds today. In our modern day we would refer to such an occurrence as “revival,” and greatly we we do need that in our lives and our churches today.

Let us look today at 3 aspects of A Plea For God's Presence ...

I. The Praise for God's Power and Goodness

I remember while I was in college that I needed financial aid, so I went to a great industrialist who owned several textile plants in my area. I asked him for help, but before I asked him for a college grant I showered him with compliments about how wonderful I had heard he was toward students. After all those kind words he would have felt like a heel to say NO. Before I left his office, he agreed to give me some financial help - not one of the textile plants - but a little help nonetheless.

God deserves our praise and it seems a bit brash to go rushing into God's presence to ask for things without revealing that we know the wonder of His nature, the depth of His love, the greatness of His power, the enormity of His creation and the magnitude of His mercy. Before God praise ought always proceed a plea. In fact, that is exactly what Isaiah does in the prayer before us today. Isaiah begins his cry for God’s experiential presence with words of praise for the greatness and goodness of God. Notice how he does this.

A. For God's Marvelous Works. vs. 2-3

Isaiah knows how marvelous God's works have been. We cannot praise God if we are not thoughtful of His power and how He has displayed His power in amazing and wonderful ways.

Just as water must boil when it is set over the fire, something will happen to us when and if His powerful presence is manifested in our lives.

  • Like mountains quaked on Sinai when Moses met with God, there will be a shaking of our lives when we meet fully with His presence.
  • Like Red Sea parted at His presence, we will see a new path opened to us when we are ready for Him to fully expose us to His forceful presence.

We desperatelyh need to see His wonderful works in our lives and churches today. But, we cannot see His mighty power unless we are willing to submit to the fullness of His presence, and that begins when we acknowledge His marvelous works in history, in our lives and in the lives of those we know.

B. For God's Mysterious Wonders. v. 4

Isaiah continues by praising the Lord for his mysterious works. The Red Sea parting, the Manna from heaven, the incredible deeds done through His people were only possible for a people who sought His prresence. The same God who did those things in the past is the same God dwelling within believers todayh. God's arm is not shortened that He cannot do today what He did yesterday. Liberalism may try to explain away these mighty deeds of the Lord, but the people who embrace His presence will see Him continue His mysterious works in their midst.

The mysterious works of God are provided for those who wait on Him. Isaiah acknowledges that when faith and trust are real in the hearts of God's people, the true presence of God will reveal that nothing is impossible.

C. For God's Merciful Ways. v. 5
  • When Joseph was sold into slavery, God used it to deliver his family from famine.
  • When people murmured against God in wilderness, God still led their descendants into Promised Land.
  • When the people were carried into Babylon because of their rebellion, God still sent a remnant back to the homeland.
  • When Jesus was crucified, He still said, "Father forgive them they know not what they do."

God's mercy is wonderful and amazing, and He is always ready to shower His mercy on those who come to Him. Even today His mercy is extended to those who are willing to commit to Him and trust Him. No wonder the Psalmist said, "His mercy endures forever and ever."

His presence can be known to His people, but note ...

II. The Problem of Our Performance and Guilt

A. Forsaken Cleanliness

In our passage today we see the Hebrew word ‘tame’ used, and you need to know that this word means 'foul,’ ‘polluted,’ or ‘defiled.’ In other words, God’s people had begun to mix weak faith with worldly behavior - they were polluted and the odor of them in heaven was foul.

Two ideas are used in this part of the text.

  • First, the righteous deeds that the people sought to do were considered ‘rags.’

It was not their evil deeds that were considered useless rags, but rather it was their righteous deeds that were worthless. Now don't miss this, for this one thought and truth is so important. Even the best deeds we offer God are foul, ugly and like a pile of dirty, filthy rags unless they are offered in the proper manner and attitude. If what we are doing does not contain faith in God and loving service toward Him, our deeds are dead. Even an atheist may act in a moral way, but that does make him righteous before God. For us, in the modern era, we need to remember that there will be a day of judgment when even the Christian will come before Jesus for his or her works to be reviewed. This will not be to determine whether we will enter heaven, but it will be to determine if our works were done in faith – through His presence and power at work in us.

  • Second, we note that we must redeem the time we are given by the Lord.

In this passage, Isaiah also reveals that our days are numbered. We are like a leaf falling from a tree. We are alive one minute and dust the next. We must consider redeeming the time for the days are evil, and that requires living in an awareness of His presence. purpose and power in our lives each day.

Not only is uncleanness a problem, but notice that they had ...

B. Forsaken the Call of God

In Isaiah’s day, the people had ceased to call believers back to the Lord or to call others to the Lord. Their witness for the Lord had simply died. Proclamation of God's truth and His call to repentance had ceased. Why does this happen? When God’s people are not filled with the presence of the Lord, they cease to have a powerful witness to the world. After all, we do not merely witness for Him, but we are to allow Him to witness through us. How can God speak through me to others if I'm not filled with His presence?

Also, the people were not involved in fervent prayer to the Lord. They stopped calling upon the Lord. No one can live in the fullness of God’s presence without a faithful prayer life. Just look at 2 Chronicles 7:14 to see truth plainly written in God's Word.

C. Forsaken, Thus Consumed

In Isaiah's day God’s people were beginning to be consumed by the flesh and the world. The Hebrew word used here means ‘to make soft.’ So they were losing ability to stand against the enemies of God.

I have always loved boxing and that is likely because my dad watched boxing on television when I was a little boy. I enjoyed sitting beside him to watch the Friday Night Fights in the 1950s. One thing you can see very quickly, if you follow a particular fighter, is whether he has kept up his training. Training for a fight is a rigorous process that few of us can imagine. The hours of sparring, lifting weights, running, building muscle groups and getting one's mind honed in on what is ahead, requires the very best inside a man. If a fighter appeas in the ring with flab around his waist, a slow hand speed and the lack of pop in his punch, it is clear that he has become "soft" and is not ready for the fight.

My friends, when you and I cease to pray and practice living in the presence, in the fullness, of God, we are weak and defenseless in the struggle with the enemy of our souls. To fight the good fight, we must not box the air. We are to remain close to the Lord in order to be prepared to stand against the evil one.

Dear people, if we forsake the fullness of God’s presence, we will become weak before our enemies. Only His presence can give us strength to stand firm as Christians, as a church, as a people.

Then, notice ...

III. The Plea for His Presence and Glory

So Isaiah makes his plea!

A. A Commitment like Clay to the Potter

Isaiah knew that the need was for the believer to yield to God's hands, just as clay yields to the hands of a potter. God does not mold that which is hard and resistant but He will shape those who are malleable and open to being shaped into His image. His presence will not be fully experienced unless we are willing to be clay in the potter's hand.

B. A Confession Like a Child to a Parent

Another example that Isaiah uses is that of a son who comes to his father asking for mercy after some dreadful mistake. That is how we are to come to God. We must confess those areas of our lives wherein we have fallen short of God's will and plan. It is not just the things we do that are a problem, but this issue encompasses the things that we fail to do as well.

When we come humbly to the Lord, what does He do?

  • He forgives us
  • He restores us
  • He fills us with His Spirit
  • He strengthens us
  • He revives us
  • He grants us joy
  • He uses us
Conclusion

We need a revival of God’s presence in our hearts and lives. We will never see homes restored, our loved ones saved, our joy renewed, our peace increased, and our church on fire from above until we cry out for Him to fill us with His presence, power and peace.

Let us come before Him with remembrance that leads to sincere praise, with a confession of our uncleanness, and with a sincere plea for Him to take us like clay in His hand and mold us into all He desires for us to be. We must come like the Prodigal Son and throw ourselves upon His mercy.

When I was a teenager, I did something that I knew was wrong. I hated to face my father with the truth, but I knew it was the best thing to do. When I came before him, he did not scold me or punish me, but rather gave me complete mercy. That is what our heavenly Father will do, if we will but admit that we have a need to be restored and we will experience the complete fullness of His Spirit in our lives. But, it must be a heart-cry for His presence!

Some years ago, I had an evangelist come to preach a revival in the church I pastored. The preacher delivered God's Word that week in a simple manner, accompanied with stories of people whose lives had been changed by the power of God. During that week, people began to fall under conviction. We had experienced revival services before, but not like the services we had that week. What was the difference? Instead of people talking about how awful the world had become, and how terrible some of the people were, they began to fall down and weep before God concerning their own weaknesses and sins. The cry I heard that week was, "Lord, cleanse me! Forgive me for my arrogance. Make me pure and use me for your sake!" That simple cry from the hearts of God's people brought a movement from heaven.

People who were occasional Christians became committed Christians. They began to ask for ways they could serve. Our stewardship soared. People starting bringing friends to church for many weeks after that meeting and numbers of them were saved. People started having prayer meetings that were not planned by me or by the church. A divine love filled our people and that passion created a unity that every church should have. A heart-cry for God's presence went up to the Lord and the result was the cleansing, refreshing, mighty power of God fell upon our fellowship. That is what we need today. Lord, send a revival! Let it start in ME by having your full presence and power in my life.