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  • Daniel Botkin

The Presence of the LORD



In 1969 Eric Clapton and three other musicians released an album that became quite popular among the hippies. The album was called Blind Faith and included a song called “In the Presence of the Lord.” The song was an anomaly, because the album was by no stretch of the imagination a “Christian album.”

I was still a pot-smoking hippie when I first heard the song, but I had been reading the Bible and thinking about the Lord and counting the cost of following Jesus. I did not really know what Clapton meant when he sang about “the presence of the Lord,” and I’m not sure that Clapton himself knew, either. But the song gave me hope that maybe there was a way for me to someday, somehow, experience “the presence of the Lord,” whatever that meant.

About two years later I made my decision to leave my old life behind and follow the Lord. When I started walking with the Lord, yoked to Him as a disciple, I began to experience, in varying degrees, the presence of the Lord. I experienced a constant awareness of the Lord’s presence with me. All those things Jesus had said that the Holy Spirit would do - abide with you, teach you, bring things to your remembrance, testify of Jesus, bear witness to you, guide you, show you things to come - the Holy Spirit began doing those things in my life. I was walking in the presence of the Lord and learning to discern the voice of the Lord.

About a year later I found a group of other young people who had recently found the Lord and were walking in the presence of the Lord, and I joined up with that group of disciples. We were not a denominational church. We would not even have been called a “church” by most people, because we had no formal organizational structure, no church government with elders, nor anything like that. We did not meet in a conventional church building; we met in an old corn crib. And we didn’t meet on Sunday mornings; we met on Friday night, Saturday night, and Monday night.

It was not a “church” in the traditional sense, but it was grand and glorious. It was grand and glorious because we experienced the presence of the Lord. We experienced the presence of the Lord together as a body three nights a week, and as individuals throughout the rest of the week.

During the 1970s there was a genuine move of the Holy Spirit. Christians were being awakened to the reality of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was not just a doctrine to us. The Holy Spirit was the person of the Lord, the presence of the Lord, the Lord working with us to confirm His Word. Christians were being awakened and sinners were being saved. There was an excitement in the air. We eagerly greeted each new day with a sense of anticipation, wondering what new thing the Lord might do for us and with us on this new day. With the presence of the Lord, each new day held all sorts of exciting possibilities. Life was a grand adventure.

I still experience life as a grand adventure on a personal level. But among Messianic groups, I rarely see the kind of excitement and eager anticipation that I saw among Christian groups in the 1970s. I hate to say this, but some of the dullest Christians I’ve met have been seventh-day Sabbath-keeping Christians.

My wife recently told me that she misses some of the things we had when we were in the Sunday church world decades ago. I told her I miss those things too. I still experience the presence of the Lord alone in my prayer closet, and I still eagerly greet each new day with a sense of anticipation as an individual. But I miss experiencing that excitement and anticipation in the larger context of a body.

I told my wife that some of the things that we miss from the old days do not exist anymore. The experiences of the past are in the past. I do not know of any church, Sunday-keeping or Sabbath-keeping, that experiences the presence of the Lord the way we experienced the presence of the Lord in the 1970s. Maybe there’s a group out there somewhere that does, but I doubt it. The 1970s was a unique decade. Every decade is unique, but the 1970s were unique in a unique way, if that makes sense.

I miss the excitement of the 70s, but I don’t want to spend my time reminiscing and pining for the past. That’s like trying to eat yesterday’s manna. Old manna breeds worms and stinks. Rather than pining for the glories of the past, I want to live in the present and ask the Lord what I can do now to help bring back the presence of the Lord among His people.

Several years ago I attended a formal debate between a Christian and a non-Christian in a university auditorium. The non-Christian was trying to persuade the audience that all religions are equally valid. He did not deny the fact that Christians can experience a spiritual presence in their midst. However, he said, this phenomenon is not limited to only Christians. To prove his point, the non-Christian said that he had recently attended a large gathering of Muslims in this very same auditorium. “And there was something there,” he said. “There was excitement! It was like electricity in the air! There was something there!”

This undiscerning non-Christian was right about one thing. There was something there at that Muslim gathering. There was no doubt a very real, genuine spiritual presence there. That presence was the spirit of Islam, the same demonic spirit that continues to ignite and excite Muslims today.

Whole-hearted devotion from hundreds of zealous disciples will cause a spiritual presence to manifest. If zealous disciples of Mohammed can bring the presence of the spirit of Islam into an assembly, then zealous disciples of Yeshua can bring the presence of the Spirit of the Lord. But where are the zealous disciples of Yeshua? Where are the disciples whose hearts have been ignited by the fire of the Holy Ghost? Where are the disciples who burn with a fervent, white-hot intensity and passion for the Lord? Where are the disciples whose lives are so saturated by the presence of the Lord that they awaken and alert other believers to the presence of the Lord when they walk into a room, and also alert any demonic spirits in the room to the presence of the Lord?

Truth be told, many people remain oppressed and bound by demons because the demons are not threatened by lukewarm, half-hearted believers. Demons are only threatened by the presence of the Lord. When Yeshua walked into the synagogues, demons panicked and started manifesting, because His presence was a threat to them. If we were walking in the presence of the Lord as we should be, if we were possessed by the Spirit of the Lord, then we would see demon-possessed people freed from the demons that plague them.

Many years ago Leonard Ravenhill said that the only reason we don’t have revival is because we are content to live without it. We desperately need a revival of righteous living in America today. We need the Holy Spirit to move mightily and awaken both saints and sinners. Revival is the work of the Holy Spirit, but it is also the work of man, because the Holy Spirit needs vessels in which to live and operate, and those vessels are disciples of Yeshua. Just as demonic spirits need a human host through whom they can speak and operate, so the Holy Spirit needs human hosts to operate.

I for one am not content to live without revival. I often experience seasons of revival in my personal walk with the Lord, but I long to see the presence of the Lord once again manifested on a grand, global scale. I long to see multitudes of Messianic Israelites filled with the Spirit, possessed by the Spirit, walking in the presence of the Lord and manifesting the power of the Lord. If enough of us refuse to be content to live without revival, I believe the Lord will send revival as a response to our divine dissatisfaction. May our prayer echo the prayer of David when he was in the dry wilderness of Judah:

“O God, Thou art my God; early will I seek Thee: my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee, in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see Thy power and Thy glory, so as I have seen Thee in the sanctuary.” ~ Psalm 63:1f


| DB


Image: Psalm 23 by Daniel Botkin from his Psurrealistic Psalms Pseries. See all his art pieces on his art website, DanielBotkin.com.

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