Jesus Promised to Be with Us
Jesus said, “I will be with you.”
For example, at one point He said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20 NKJV) He promised that “being with us” would be real and tangible as in John 14:21, “I will show myself to them.” He said we would be able to interact with Him with words like, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27 ESV)
It is possible to experience Jesus
It is possible to experience Jesus, know that He is “in the room” with you, and hear His voice.
Sound too good to be true?
I know it does. And maybe some of you reading have tried again and again to listen for Him, only to feel that you hear nothing. I’ve had readers ask a number of times, “Are you sure you are really experiencing Jesus’ presence and not just imagining it?
I am sure. 100%. Let me tell you of my own experience from a week ago.
An encounter with Jesus
Last week at our church we were invited to “practice stillness” in order to encounter Jesus. Multiple small groups of people had gathered for a Wednesday night dinner and this activity.
We were invited, after hearing a talk, to leave the large meeting room and go to another place in the church or outside. Our instruction was to leave quietly, phones off.
“It may be hard to get quiet and sit still,” we were told. But in the words of the old pop song, we should, “Shake it off.” (ha!) Each of us found our own place and sat quietly for a half hour, waiting for the Lord to speak.
A stone bench and great love
I found a stone bench out in the church’s prayer garden.
I was quiet, simply thinking about Jesus and the beauty of the surroundings. There is a pond in the center of the garden with lily pads. Through the area are stone pathways and overhead a canopy of green formed by big trees with thick trunks.
While I sat there, the pond gurgling and the birds singing, I “felt” Jesus join me on the bench. There was just a quickening in my spirit and a sense of Him touching my deepest needs. I felt Him say, “Others are hurried and busy, but I have all the time in the world for you. You are valuable to Me.”
My heart landed on that word “valuable.”
There were other things I heard, but then I felt Him repeat His words from John 14:27 for me, “My peace I leave with you. My peace I give you, I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.”
The result of hearing Jesus’ voice
As you might imagine, I felt deeply satisfied and full of peace as I had this spiritual encounter with Jesus. I love these moments where He meets us.
But I will tell you – I want more and seek more. I believe there are several things we can do to increase the probability that we will meet with Jesus. Here’s my list below:
1. Believe Jesus’ promises
Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice.” And He said that “whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (John 14:21 NIV) That is His promise to give us His manifest presence. Our job is to believe that He means it.
2. Know that Jesus is available
It says in the Bible, “Do not I fill heaven and earth? (Jeremiah 23:24 NIV) God is here. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Omnipresent.
But, He can be with us in a personalized, localized way too. This is what is meant by “manifest presence.” Jesus can show Himself to us in some way involving our five senses. He can speak to us in some way – through our minds, books, media, other people, etc. Our job is to believe this. Reading the Bible verses about His speaking and saying, “I take you at your Word, Lord, will help us encounter Him.
3. Study the Bible visitation stories
God has met with or spoken to many people described in the Bible. From the beginning when Adam and Eve could hear Him walking in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8) to the two men on the road to Emmaus walking with the risen Jesus (Luke 24), there are multitudes of visitation stories. Sometimes we hear of someone called the Angel of the Lord being with people. Many think of that person as being Jesus prior to His being born to Mary.
Find these stories. Think about how they happened. Believe them and ask God, “May I experience this too?
4. Get quiet and listen for Jesus
Do you have a hard time stopping your praying and listening for divine answers? Well, you’re in good company! So many people find it hard to quietly wait to “hear” from Jesus. But, if you do carve out this time, He is faithful and will respond to you. You will begin to hear Jesus consistently.
I love something Pastor Nicky Gumbel of England has said. “Do you go to the doctor and outline all your aches and pains and then run out the door before he can prescribe something for you?”
Pastor Nicky says, “Many of us handle talking to God this way. We spill out our needs and complaints, then get up and run off to deal with them ourselves without waiting to hear God’s thoughts. Be silent and wait for Jesus so He can speak to you.
5. Keep at this “waiting on the Lord”
If you only try the waiting and being still before the Lord once or twice, you’re likely not to have the reward of sensing His presence or hearing His voice. But, if you keep at it and are persistent like the widow with the judge (from a story Jesus told in Luke 18:1-8), you will be rewarded with encountering Jesus.
6. Remove hindering things
There was a pastor named David Wilkerson who felt a call to leave his family church and go to New York. He felt a call to work with teenage addicts in gangs on the mean streets of New York City.
It wouldn’t have gone well for him to march into this tremendously challenging ministry with no power and no guidance. Pastor Wilkerson knew he HAD to hear Jesus or else.
So, he sold his tv.
Barriers between Jesus and us
He felt he was watching empty fluff and neglecting listening for and praying to God. With renewed focus on encountering Jesus, his ministry became powerful and amazing. And out of it was born the Teen Challenge recovery program – still in existence to this day.
If we want to hear Jesus, we’ll have to remove some “idol(s)” in our life that we’ve made more important than hearing Him.
You won’t miss them, but feeling the real presence of Jesus with you and hearing His voice, is so priceless. Your heart “melts” and you are never the same.
7. Write down what you hear
Not everyone likes to journal. But, get a notebook of some sort and when you’re sitting waiting for Jesus to speak, write down whatever you hear. Record dreams that you have. That way, you can return to this notebook and prove to yourself your experiences were real. Our memories are not always reliable. You can find what you heard from Jesus whenever you hunger for reminding.
8. Silence your doubts about encounters
Give yourself credit. When you sense you have heard from Jesus; when you feel that Jesus was with you in a very real way, enjoy it, don’t destroy it. Sometimes, the devil wants to flood your thoughts with words like these: “You didn’t really experience anything.” “It’s not real.” “You’re making it up in your own head.” “God wouldn’t speak to you or visit you. You’re not good enough.”
Tell that devil to sit down and be quiet. Give yourself a little credit. As Jesus said to me, “You are valuable.”
9. Jesus will not contradict Bible
As you hear things from the Lord, verify them with your Bible. Nothing you hear in encountering Jesus in a real way will contradict the Word or the Spirit. You can be sure you are experiencing Christ and not something else if what you hear is aligned with what is in the Bible.
So, reading and studying the Word will whet your hunger both to hear and be near to Jesus. It will also act as confirmation that your experiences are real and valid.
10. Act immediately on what Jesus says
If you practice this listening and being still before the Lord, you WILL hear Him. But then, the important thing for continuing to hear Him consistently, is to act on anything that sounds like guidance or a command to you.
Obeying what you hear and acting on it, is sure to bring more hearing because the Lord will be able to depend on you!
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