Bible Studies & Devotionals

From Olive Branch Ministries

By Mark and Tinsley Baker

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In His Presence

Psalms 16:11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

I often talk and pray with people who seemed to have lost their joy. I know what that is like and also know that it doesnít have to be that way. This is absolutely not Godís will for His children. His will is for His children to be joyful and strong in Him. Psalm 16 declares that in His presence is fullness of joy, in other words you can not have any more joy than when you are in the presence of God. Your glass will be 100% full. This can and will happen only in His presence, no where else.

Nehemiah 8:10 Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.''

When you are down and depressed you are not full of joy are you? You are also not in His presence in that state, for you can not be in His presence and also be down and out at the same time. These things will not and can not co exist. They are opposites. Just like light and darkness are opposites, life and death are opposites, love and hate are opposites, joy and depression are opposites as well. God is always life, God is always light, God is always love, and in His presence is fullness of joy. I tell people all the time we have a choice to make, we have a part to play in these things.

Consider this, it takes your will to get into His presence. It is a choice we each have to make. I would also like to say He has given us this privilege of choice.

It will not happen watching television. Iím not saying itís wrong to watch television, Iím saying thatís not where you are going to get in the presence of God. See my point? This is our choice. In His presence is also the place where we receive His strength. When you have Godís joy you also have Godís strength. They always go together. They can not be separated. "In Your presence is fullness of joy, and, the joy of the Lord is your strength."

It is easy in todayís fast paced world to be distracted from the things that are most important. There are so many things that can distract us from the most important thing, too many things. We have to make choices all the time as to what is the most important thing of all. We get to the place where we need to stop everything and set time aside and get into the presence of our Heavenly Father. I am not just talking about Christian services, Iím talking about setting aside our time to have fellowship with our Heavenly Father.

We shouldnít let things get so out of focus in our Christian walk before we realize that, heh, I need to prioritize my life, itís out of control. However it often takes a rude awakening to get us to that point doesnít it?

There should be time set-aside for worship, prayer and studying the word. This time should be something we have got to guard diligently. We are no good to ourselves or to anybody else if we donít. We have to make the choice to eliminate some of the chatter and conflicts that come our way. I know this is not always an easy thing to do but we have to start somewhere. I have found that many times when I go to spend time in the Word of God, many distractions will come to my mind. The grass needs cuttings, the dishes need to be done etc. These things will bombard your mind the second you start to spend time in the Word or prayer. It never fails. I realize there are things that are necessary and need to be done, however there are also things that are not necessary but are sent to distract us from the things we truly need to do in order to fulfill and accomplish the will of God. We have to know and discern the difference, and make the right choice when the time comes.

1 Corinthians 6:12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

These things that Godís Word says are lawful can also bring us under their power if we let them. These things may be necessary but they donít have to dominate us do they?

We donít have to let them! Letís keep them in their place.

Many of these distractions are self-inflicted so to speak. A lack of organization many times allows chaos to rule instead of order. Godís Word teaches us that He is a God of order, and that is so true. He is not a God of disorder. Everything He does has divine order and purpose. Solomon has a lot to say about these things in the book of Ecclesiastes. Lets look at chapter 3Ö

Ecclesiastes 3:1 To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: 2. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; 3. a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4. a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5. a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6. a time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; 7. a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8. a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

There is divine order in everything God does and we should be no different. When we walk in His wisdom and understanding we can begin to understand the importance of these things, and begin to flow in them. We will find that as we do this very thing we will also begin to flow more readily in the things of God as well. This will greatly benefit us in our Christian walk, as it will allow us to see more clearly the things God has for us to do. In other words it will eliminate many of the distractions in our life. That in itself makes our lives less chaotic. This has got to be the first step in focusing in on the most important thing. We can not walk in peace and chaos at the same time. The two do no co exist.

After we eliminate the distractions and disorder we can begin to fully focus in on Him.

I have found that it is hard to stay focused in a cluttered room. We have to spend the time to get things organized and keep them that way. Our time is a very valuable resource. We have to guard it. There is a Christian song that says something like; we only have so many times to fly around the sun. That is such a true statement, when we waste our time because of our own self induced chaos, we have given away something we can never get back. Letís make our time here count. We will all have to give account someday for what we have done with our time here on the Earth.

1 Peter 1:17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your sojourning here in fear;

I know that I have wasted so much time during my life that I can never get back. I canít undo the past but I can change the future. Donít waste time lamenting the past. That does no good anyway. Repent if you have to and start fresh. We can make the future count. Make the choice to start now and seek the most important thing. Get rid of the clutter in your life and focus in on the things that really count.

I have found that many people think going to church or doing some type of community service is doing their Christian duty, yet service in and of itself is not ever going to take the place of a personal intimate communion with our Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ. Service is an honorable thing but it should be an end result of our faith, not a substitute for our faith or our worship. I hope you take my meaning in this. As James saidÖ

James 2:17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18. But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works.'' Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

When we are full of joy and Godís strength, our works will be an overflowing of our faith and not an attempt to prove our faith, or to ease a guilty conscious.

Godís Word has many examples of people who have made the choice to seek to be in His presence. At the right time they made the right choice. When it really counted they were able to focus on the most important thing. We can see how they were highlighted in the Word of God and stood out from all the others around them. These examples were put there to show us the better way.

Do you remember Mary and Martha in the Gospels, the two sisters of Lazerous, the one whom Jesus raised from the dead?

Luke 10:38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. 40. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.'' 41. And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42. "But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.''

Martha was busy serving, or as the Word says Martha was distracted with much serving. Yet on the other hand her sister Mary was not serving at all, Jesus was not the least bit concerned that Mary was not up serving, was He? Jesus said something that I would like to take note of. He said "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. "But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.''

Martha was distracted with much serving, yet serving in itself is not a bad thing is it? There is a time and a place for it. There is also a time and a place for worship and coming into in the presence of God and we have to know the difference! We can not get distracted doing Godís work and miss God in the process. You can be so busy serving God that you have forgotten why you are doing it. Martha was like this. She was always busy serving; she was always distracted with serving. If you read through the Gospels you will see this throughout every accounting of her. However when it came time for the most important thing she was so caught up with serving that she didnít allow time for the most important thing did she. Mary chose the best thing; she sat at Jesus feet and listened to His words. Jesus said Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.'' This was her choice; she had to choose to spend time at Jesus feet, Martha on the other hand chose to serve. There is a time and a place for service but donít let it become a distraction as Martha did.


Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Do you want to be a joint heir with Christ?

If so, I urge you to earnestly pray the following prayer.

Dear Heavenly Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus. Your word says, "Öand the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." (Jn.6:37),

So I know You wonít cast me out, but You take me in, And I thank you for it. You said in your Word, "whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'' (Ro. 10:13).

I am calling on Your name, So I know You have saved me now, You also said, "Öthat if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation." (Ro.10:9,10).

I believe in my heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I believe He was raised from the dead for my justification. And I confess Him now as my Lord, Because Your Word says, "Ö with the heart one believes to righteousnessÖ" and I do believe with my heart, I have now become the righteousness of God in Christ. (2 Cor. 5:21),

And I am saved! Thank You, Lord!

I can now truthfully say, I see myself as a born again child of God!

Glory to God!!!! Amen.