For example, in the Book of Genesis chapter 37-39 we read the story of Joseph. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery to the Egyptians because they hated him, they called him the dreamer. They really wanted to kill him. but God had a different plan for Joseph’s life. As you read through Genesis 39 you will see some eight times in this chapter in one way or the other it is said that the Lord was with Joseph. The number eight in the Bible refers to Resurrection. So that phrase tells us that whatever happened to Joseph, no matter how adverse things seemed at the moment, a Resurrection was coming.
There are many examples in the Bible that confirm this for us and I am quite sure many reading this can also confirm the times that the Lord has been with us. But there is an interesting example that occurred in the early years of the sixteenth century, a young adventurer named Nicolas Herman left his parents' home near Lorraine, France, to join the French army. Wounded in war, he returned home to recuperate and thus began a process of soul searching that led to Christian commitment.
His quest for closeness to God first led him to live his life as a hermit. He found that unfulfilling, so he eventually joined a Carmelite monastery where he was assigned to menial duties in the kitchen. Kneading bread might truly seem an unholy task to an ex-soldier, but Nicolas soon found his home in the labor of the kitchen.
In later years, this "Kitchen Saint," as Brother Lawrence was called, would write about how his soul discovered intimacy with God by prayerfully inviting God into each and every assigned task, every conversation, and every relationship. He once wrote that he felt nearer to God in the sanctuary of the kitchen than in the liturgy of the chapel. The experience changed his life and those around him. It was said of him, "He pretended nothing, was compliant with everyone and tended to treat his brothers and friends amicably without being pretentious." His written reflection, titled The Practice of the Presence of God is today considered a spiritual classic. It continues to change lives.
What does the title "practicing the presence of God" mean? You see that when times get tough and the journey gets rough we do not avoid community nor break away from others, and we don't walk away from the church; we seek it out, we talk it out, and we work it out. When times get tough and the chaos overwhelms us and caves in around us we do not run from God but look for God's hand at work. We run toward God. We do not abandon each other but we come together -- to worship. We sing, we pray, we praise, and we intercede on behalf of each other.
What would our daily lives be like if we, like Brother Lawrence, "practiced the presence of God" in the here and now? If we sought daily to do God's will "on earth as in heaven"? Well, it would be heaven on earth, would it not?
Our best example is always Jesus. The continual presence of God, the Father and the Holy Spirit was always with Jesus as the Son of Man; and it empowered and enabled Him to accomplish His supernatural ministry with signs, wonders, healings and miracles. In doing this Jesus brought great deliverance and victory to multitudes who were under the power of the evil one. Jesus did it because God was with Him. Remember, if you are a believer, the presence of God is with us and in us and it empowers us and we step out in our ministries. In John 15:5 Jesus said, “without Me you can do nothing.” But with His presence in our lives, we can do all things He leads and encourages us to do.
When we read in Exodus we see that God placed Moses in leadership over the nation of Israel, to lead them out of Egyptian bondage and to take them to the Promised Land. Moses was wise enough to know that one thing was absolutely needed, and that was the presence of God with him
Moses was so bold to say to God, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here,” to the land of Canaan. That Presence of God is what enabled Moses to persevere some 40 years with a grumbling, ungrateful, complaining large group of people.
What about those of us today who live in the New Testament times, we have been given the same promise in Hebrews 13:5-6 tells us, “Never will I leave you.” You see, while Jesus was on this earth He lived with the continual awareness of the Father’s and the Holy Spirit’s presence. That is the same thing we have promised to us. Hold on to that reassuring promise that the Lord is with us!