I remember some years ago reading or hearing a story about a missing cat. The cat’s owner looked for weeks for their beloved cat. They had lost hope when one day while doing some yardwork, they heard a faint meow coming from the crawl space vent openings under the house. The couple rushed to the door access to see if this was their missing cat making a plea for help. Sure enough, their beloved cat had somehow been trapped underneath the house this entire time. They could only think their precious little kitty had wandered underneath the house when the HVAC man came to do his annual inspection and maintenance several weeks back. Their cat must have been locked in behind him.
The cat was thin and boney. How it survived for over 4 weeks under the house is a miracle. The couple was filled with remorse for not thinking to look underneath the house as they rushed the cat into the cool indoors. They immediately put down fresh water and a huge bowl of food. The cat however, would not eat. Instead, the cat was frantically rubbing up against them for affection and love… which it was receiving. In fact, it continued to want to just be close to its owners and would not eat or drink. The precious little kitty just wanted to be with its owners and be loved. After almost an hour of this, the cat finally stopped to eat and drink, but only if the owners remained in the room.
This almost starved and dehydrated cat was more concerned about basking in the presence of the two people it loved, more than it desired food and water. It was satisfied being in their presence.
I wonder if we have experienced that kind of relationship with God Almighty. A relationship where our greatest desire is to just be in the presence of the Lord through private prayer. The kind of quiet and secret prayer time with God that leaves you longing for more and more of it. Or maybe, it is in your Bible reading when His Word literally grabs hold of you and you experience God revelation. The kind of God revelation that gives you a greater understanding of God and His purposes.
But the sad truth, too often we are too busy asking God to do something for us and or give us something. Unlike the cat, who longed to bask in the presence of its owners not concerned with food or water; we can be the complete opposite focusing more on the gift than the giver.
Listen to the results of being in the presence of the Lord found in the Bible. And let me be clear, not in the emotional sense, but in the life changing intimate sense.
You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalms 16:11)
Oh, how great is Your goodness, Which You have laid up for those who fear You, Which You have prepared for those who trust in You In the presence of the sons of men! 20 You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion From the strife of tongues. (Psalms 31:19-20 NKJV)
The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart and saves such as have a contrite spirit. 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all. (Psalms 34:18-19 NKJV)
God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. (Psalms 46:1 NKJV)
Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. 3 Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. 4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His name. 5 For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations. (Psalms 100:2-5 NKJV)
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 9 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. (Psalms 139:7-8 NKJV)
And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14 NKJV)
The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. 19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them. (Psalms 145:18-19 NKJV)
Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:6-7 NKJV)
The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good. (Proverbs 15:3 NKJV)
There is a peace that cannot be described in the presence of the Lord Almighty. There is a security that surpasses circumstance found in the Lord Almighty. There is a rest that strengthens the soul in the Lord Almighty. There is everlasting joy found in the presence of the Lord Almighty. If you have not discovered this truth for life, will you pray this prayer with me. Father God, will You come into my life today as I pray and seek You. You have promised in Your Word, “When you seek Me and seek Me with all your heart, I will be found by you,” declares the Lord (Jeremiah 29:13). Let me come into Your presence and experience the life change, peace, security and everlasting joy that is found in knowing You and being in Your presence. Let me make studying Your Word part of my daily task and not for habit or tradition, but to know You and understand Your ways more. Forgive me for neglecting the importance of my relationship to the You the God of the Universe. Forgive me of wrong, trespass and sin in my life and let me know that in this moment as I discover the Joy of knowing You. Amen
I find myself guilty of this mentality more often than not. It is so easy to get focused and stay on task (often the wrong task), that I lose sight of the big picture; that is, my time with God… my relationship with God. The most important part of my life is the time I spend with a holy God in the secret place of prayer and devotion to His word. It brings me the greatest solace in a world of chaos. To sit and basked in the Lord’s presence and find security that brings my heart and mind calm.
In Haggai, chapter 1, the message speaks to me about the temple I am to be to God who longs to live in me through His Holy Spirit. That may seem strange to some, but the God of the universe wants such connection with you; He desires to live within your heart. Jesus stated He must leave for the promised Counselor to come (John 15:5-15). What an appropriate description for the Holy Spirit. When we invite Jesus into our lives, He sends the Holy Spirit to lead and guide our lives in every aspect. To help us to navigate through live in a way that reveals to those witnessing, Christ in us and to bring God the Father glory.
Think of this passage as it refers to you specifically as the temple of the Lord (your relationship and walk with the Lord).
Here are the words of the Lord through the prophet Haggai in Chapter 1:2-11:
2 This is what the lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come for the Lord’s house to be built.’”
3 Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai:
4 Is it time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
5 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.
6 You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.
8Go up into the mountain and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord.
9 You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.
10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops.
11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands.”
We get so caught up in the busyness of living a temporary life, we give no mind to forever. We focus our lives on making a life in the physical, we seldom look at the spiritual. It is easy when you can attain what can be seen, but the unseen is eternal. Procrastination is human nature. “Tomorrow” or “One day I will” are everyday phrases for us. But the Lord Almighty is saying “Today is the day!”
Haggai 1 reveals why we are so unfulfilled, that while we have much we are still found longing. We have focused on the wrong things. “Give careful though to your ways,” (Haggai 1:5). Our physical lives may look good from the outside, but our spiritual person is a ruin (“You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declare the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house,” Haggai1:9).
Look inside. Examine your temple. What condition is it in? Is God pleased with your effort? It is easy to be like the world. To fit in and go along with the flow of this life. It takes intentionality and devotion to walk with the Lord daily. The Lord is looking for a house His Holy Spirit can come into and fix up. Make today the day you begin a whole-hearted devotion to the Lord. Make today the day you find fulfillment for this life and the next in and through the Lord.
“Acknowledge the God of your father, and serve Him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches the heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake him, He will reject you forever. Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a temple as a sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.” 1 Chronicles 28:9-10
Every single one of us is looking for comfort. We are all looking for security in this life. A place of solace. We work hard to make homes with walls. We then work to fill those homes with things that soothe us and project to those who might see, who we are and what we’re all about. Or maybe, we look for that balance in our work. Maybe… we’re making a difference. Or maybe we are looking for that peace in busyness. Never stopping to feel the pain or see the truth coming. And the truth is… it’s all a security blanket. It is a false sense of hope that only last for the moment you’re in.
Spending time in God’s Word this morning in the Book of Psalm I stumbled upon a familiar passage that spoke loudly into the ear of my heart.
We all want more… and the fact of the matter is, many of us don’t know why the big empty of our lives is never filled with the accumulation of things. We’re still looking… looking for happiness… for the spark… for that something that makes us whole and brings us peace.
Verse 4 expresses a peace and satisfaction I know I long for that this world… possessions… achievement… fame… all that is temporary can never provide me. I think many of you may feel the exact same way. It is very much like the U2 song, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” We feel the terror of life without hope. We hold fear of the unknown in our hearts.
The God of the Bible provides not only a way back to His presence through the life, death and resurrection of His One and Only Son. He also provides a satisfaction, a peace and a delight in His presence that cannot be expressed by words.
The Lord is my light and salvation – whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?
When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh,
When my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear;
Though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.
One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.
For in the day of trouble He will keep me save in His dwelling;
He will hide me in the shelter of His tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.
Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me;
At His tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.
Hear my voice when I call, O Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek His face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Do not hide Your face from me, do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior.
Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.
Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.
Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me,
Breathing out violence.
I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
My Prayer: Lord, I pray for a longing for nothing else but to know your presence in my life this day and every day that follows. Let my hearts cry be to seek Your face and to know you more, so that I would find my hope, my satisfaction, my peace, my desire, my all and all in You and You alone. Amen.
Paul is a Christ Follower. He has been married to his beautiful wife Rebecca for twenty-four years. They have two beautiful children, a dog, two cats and a turtle. They love being together as a family and doing the adventure that is ministry. They love the outdoors and enjoying God's creation.