Experiencing The Presence of God

2 Chronicles 7:14

The presence of God is the most precious, and can be, the most terrifying experience
that a Christian can have.
God is making His presence known for all that is happening in our land.
He is judging us for our sin.
He is ready to bring us a spiritual awakening.

God's presence is terrifying or comforting depending on your relationship to Him.
For the children of Israel at the Red Sea, the pillar of fire symbolizing God's presence
meant light and comfort.
But for the Egyptians, it meant darkness and terror.

The Shekinah glory of God is light to those who follow Him.
It is darkness to those who are not obedient to Him.

For Isaiah, God's presence was comforting when good King Uzziah died,
but when he saw himself in God's presence, he said,
"Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips,
and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King,
the Lord of Hosts
." (Isaiah 6:5)

For our day will God's presence mean judgment or a spiritual awakening?
Turn with me to a very familiar text in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14.
Because it is often used out of context, we miss much of its meaning.

We read: "When I shut up the heavens so there is no rain, or command locusts
to to devour the land or send a plague among my people,
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray
and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,
then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land

The way to experience God's presence is to humble ourselves and pray, and seek God's face,
and turn from our wicked ways.
This text says that God will forgive the sins of His people and heal their land
if they will seek His face and then they will experience His presence.

To have that experience includes an altar of prayer.
It also includes a solemn assembly of repentance.
It is also the way of discipleship.

Now listen to what each step says to us today so that we may experience God's presence
in all His glory and His terrifying, holiness.

First, we must make our church at house of prayer and God will fill it.

We must make our life an altar of prayer and God will set us on fire.
Here is the situation.

Solomon was dedicating the temple that David, his father, wanted to build, and after seven years
the building was completed.
Solomon dedicated the temple as a house of prayer for all nations and the glory of the Lord filled it.

After the glory of God had filled the temple, Solomon stood before the altar,
and then knelt before the people on the bronze platform that he had built.
Then he prayed a long and fervent prayer.
In the prayer he gave us a model for making our lives and altar of prayer that God can set on fire.

We must make our lives and altar of prayer and God will set us on fire!

How do we pray like that?
First, he praised God for His love, His faithfulness and His greatness.
We see his prayer in 2 Chronicles 6:18: "But will God really dwell on earth with men?
The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you.
How much less the temple I have built

We must recognize the greatness of God when we pray!
Solomon also recognized that God's people would sin, and that God's presence would become
a terror to them, so, secondly, he prayed for mercy for the people who would sin,
and then prayed in this temple.

Verse 21 says, "Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel
when they pray toward this place.
Hear from heaven, your dwelling place; and when you hear, forgive

Thirdly, he interceded for his people.
He listed all the disasters that God might bring on His people for their sins.
He asked God to hear and forgive them when they repented and prayed in the temple.

Prayer is the way to the presence of God.
It is the only way to revival and restoration.
Too often we schedule revivals, and we call a preacher to preach, and make all the plans for it,
and then ask God to come and bless us – but no revival.

God is God and He has the right to plan for the church.
Our responsibility is to listen to His plan and do it.

When you study the great revivals in history, it looks like the people prayed until revival came.
When it did, then they would ask someone to come and preach.
God will fill His house of prayer, and set our lives on fire.

God is ready to send revival if we pray, but he will not send revival to prayless people.
When God is ready to do something, He moves people to pray about it.
People are praying for spiritual awakening today – are you one of them?

We must make our church a house of prayer, and make our life and altar of prayer,
and God will set us on fire.
2 Chronicles 7:1 says: "When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven
and consume the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple.
The priests could not enter the Temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it."

When the Shekinah glory of God filled the house, all the people bowed their faces to the ground and worshiped.

The second factor that leads us to experience God's presence is to call God's people
to a solemn assembly of repentance and God will heal our land

Most of us have memorized 2 Chronicle 7:14, and have preached on it,
but have we interpreted it in its context?
It was an answer to the prayer of Solomon and the solemn assembly of all of God's people.
Solomon conducted the dedication of the temple preceding the Feast of Tabernacles.

After the seven days of dedication, they observed the Feast of Tabernacles
which began and ended with a day of solemn assembly.
According to Leviticus 23, the great feast days were solemn assemblies
and many feasts have specific dates for fasting and prayer.

Solomon had prayed that if God sent disaster on His people because of their sin,
and the people called a special solemn assembly for repentance,
that God would forgive their sin and heal their land.

The night the solemn assembly ended, and the people returned home; God visited Solomon.
God said that because of His people's sin, He brought disaster, such as, no rain, locus, or a plague,
but if they would repent, He would forgive them and heal their land.

As I study God's Word, I believe we are today experiencing the judgment of God.

There are seven stages in the judgment of God:
1. He convicts of sin. (John 16:7-11)
2. God sends warnings by the Word and His prophets. (Isaiah 5:8, 11, 18, 20, 22)
3. God brings remedial judgment and allows us to experience the consequences of our sins.
(Isaiah 5:25-30; Galatians 6:7-8)
4. God withdraws His Presence. (Jeremiah 7:12-16)
5. God takes away the hedge of protection and allows the Enemy to ravage us. (Isaiah 5:1-7)
6. God gives them over to their sin and destructiveness. (Romans 1:2-32)
7. God destroys them. (Isaiah 5:13, 25-30)

As a nation – our nation – we have been in stage 5 for many years now.
God is taken away the hedge of protection from our nation. (Isaiah 5:1-7)
Isaiah 5:5 says, "Now I tell you what I'm going to do to my vineyard;
I will take away its hedge and it will be destroyed

Remember Job.
Satan told God that he could not get to Job because God had a hedge around him,
his household and everything he had.
God said, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands,
but on the man himself do not lay a finger
." (Job 1:12)
That is when all the disasters came upon Job.

The question we need to consider is -- has God taken away the hedge from this country?
Look back in the 40's and 50's, and you will see that our society was based on Judeo-Christian values.
The home was the bedrock of our societal structure, and religious values were taught
and respected by the majority.

Since then, America leads the world in divorce, and our homes have fallen apart and our society is adrift.
Now many people have come out of the closet, and then brag that they have broken God's Word
and are homosexuals.
Read again Romans 1.
Remember God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for that very sin – what can we expect
when homosexuality is being promoted every day on our television programs
and the movies and in our society?

We have been assaulted by pornography, crime, drugs, aids, the occult even with Satanism,
and many other "isms."

Some years ago there was a book titled, "America: To Pray or Not To Pray, "
which said that among teenagers:
"Since 1963, premarital sexual activity has increased over 200%,
pregnancies to unwed mothers are almost up to 400%;
sexually transmitted diseases are up over 200%;
and the number of suicides has increased over 400%."

Among adults, divorces are up almost 120%; single-parent families are up 140%;
unmarried couples living together has increased over 350%.
The rate for violent crime has risen over 500%; national productivity has dropped over 80%;
the cases of sexually transmitted diseases are up nearly 200%."

Now, knowing what we know, the statistics today should terrify us.

Many new problems have emerged as major concerns.
Then back in the 1970's, were some of those concerns:
"Child abuse is up 300% since 1976.
Prosecution of public officials for corruption was up 470%.
Drug abuse up 300% since 1962.
Sexual abuse of children up nearly 2,000 since 1976,
and AIDS is up 6,000% since 1982.

In the prison population has doubled in the past eight years – now in the year 2014,
it should terrify us how large the growth is now.
We cannot build prisons fast enough.
Over 2 million children have been murdered by abortion.
That is four times more children than the Nazis killed in the Holocaust.

The moral decline has affected our whole land.
Our children's SAT scores declined 30 years in a row.
Out of the 16 most developed nations, we rank near the lowest in math and science.
Our economy has become dependent on foreign investments.

We must make the connection between what we see happening everyday on our television sets
and in the newspaper, and we would have to conclude that God's judgment is upon us.

Now make the connection.

God brings remedial judgment on His people when they do not obey Him, and follow His Word.
If we don't repent, God will continue to intensify the judgment until we are destroyed.
Make the connection – if we do not repent – we will perish!
Remember one of the seven churches in the Book of Revelation was told, "Repent or else…"

If we fail to listen, God will have to discipline us more severely.
We do the same with our children until we get their attention.

Make the connection between the condition of our nation and the sin of God's people.
Who is at fault for the mess we're in?
We are – mark that down – we are!

God says, "If my people, who are called by my name… Then will I heal their land."
If God's people repent, God will heal our land.
The Scripture texts says that we must humble ourselves.

We Americans are proud people and so are most of us as Christians.
We must make the connection between the condition of our land and the sin of God's people.
If we do not humble ourselves before God, He will humiliate us before the world.
Judgment must begin at the house of God.

Then make the connection between prayer and the healing of the nation.
Make the connection between humbling ourselves and the healing of the nation.
Make the connection between seeking God's face and the healing of our land.
Make the connection between God's forgiveness of our sins and the healing of our land.
Make the connection between calling a solemn assembly and the healing of the nation.

Destruction is impending.
Mere amputation will not do.
God solution is total repentance of the whole body of God's people.

Time and time again, God's people have heeded number two Chronicles 7:14, and their nation was spared.
In 2 Chronicles 15 when King Asa was besieged by the enemy, he called a solemn assembly,
and God delivered them.
In verse 2, God said, "The Lord is with you when you are with Him.
If you see Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you

In 2 Chronicles 20, when King Jehoshaphat was attacked by three armies,
he called for a feast and a solemn assembly.
God gave them victory without a fight.

In 2 Chronicles 29-31 when King Hezekiah saw the plight of God's people because they had forsaken God,
he called a feast and solemn assembly.
God sent revival and delivered them.

In 2 Chronicles 34, when Josiah found the Word of God, and realized how far God's people
had wandered from the Lord, he called a solemn assembly.
God forgave them, and healed their land.

When Joel saw a plague of locusts come on the land and strip it bare, he called a solemn assembly.
He said "Declare a holy fast, call a sacred [solemn] assembly.
Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord…
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill… Even now, declares the Lord,
return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.

Rend your heart and not your garments… Who knows?
He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing… declare a holy feast,
call a sacred [solemn, KJV] assembly:
bringing together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber
let the priests, who minister before the Lord, weep between the Temple porch and the altar.

That them say, "Spare your people, O lord.
Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples, "Where is their God?"
(Joel 1:14; 2:1, 12-17)

I believe the ten days before Pentecost were spent in a solemn assembly.
A solemn assembly was a normal part of the feast of Pentecost.
The disciples had heard Jesus pronounced doom on the Temple in Jerusalem
because Israel had rejected Him.
He had promised the Holy Spirit.

Some believe that they have been studying Joel because Peter quoted from Joel 2 in his message.
Some also believe another solemn assembly was held as a part of the Passover,
when Peter was imprisoned in Acts 12.
They were praying when God delivered him.

If you read Revelation 2-3, you would hear the same message from the glorified Christ – repent!
Revelation 3:20 is another verse that we take out of context.

It was not spoken to the lost – but to the church.
Jesus is standing outside the door of the church saying, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock;
if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me

Jesus is saying, "I want my church back!"
He is saying to pastors and church leaders: "I want my church back! I am the Head of the church!"
He is saying to the world that has captured the church with its methods, "I want my church back!"
He is saying to anyone that is trying to control and run His church, "I want my church back!"

The call to stand in the presence of God in repentance is all through the Bible.
To ignore it is to invite our disaster.
Make the connection!
Call a solemn assembly!

In all these cases I have mentioned, the call to solemn assembly came from
the highest positions of leadership.
When revival starts at the top it is Word-centered, stable, and long-lasting.
When revival begins at the bottom, it is experienced-centered, divisive, and short-lived.

The last factor in this text is the path of discipleship.

To remain in God's presence, obey God's commands as obedience disciples so he can bless you,
and He will not have to destroy you.

God told Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:17-22:
"As for you, if you walk before me as David your father did, and do all I command,
and observe my decrees and laws,
I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David…
But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods
and worship them, then I will uproot Israel from my land which I have given them,
and will reject this temple have consecrated for My Name.

I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples.
And though this temple is now so imposing, all who pass by will be appalled and say,
'Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land into this temple

The people will answer, "Because they have forsaken the Lord, the God of their fathers."

This sums up the covenant God made with Israel that Moses which is spelled out in Deuteronomy 32.
God promised to bless them in all their ways if they fully obeyed and followed Him and His commandments.
He promised to bring curses on them if they failed to follow Him.

He is talking about discipleship!
He is talking about denying yourself, taking up your cross daily, and following Him.

Solemn assemblies call people back to repentance, but they are not completed until the people renew their covenant with the Lord.

We must be His faithful disciples if we hope to have continued blessings.
When we acknowledge Jesus as Lord in everything we do, then we will begin to fulfill His command
to love Him with all our hearts, souls, and strength.

2 Chronicles 7:14 is the only way we can have a much needed revival.
I pray that we will understand the urgency of the hour.
Do we really hear Him?

The Shekinah glory of the presence of the Lord is over this place – right now!
Which do you choose!
You choose to be on the side of God or the side of the enemy.

This sermon was based on a sermon by Avery Willis as he preached this to pastors
and Christian leaders at a Christian convention.