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Ascend or Abide in God’s Presence

Apostle Don Meares

“Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?”

Psalm 15:1

“Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His Holy Place?”

Psalm 24:3

There is a parallel between Psalm 15 and Psalm 24. Likewise, there is a tremendous contrast between the questions in each psalm. For each of these psalms, the question is about what a person has to do to enter and remain in God’s presence. One psalm asks, “How do I come into your presence? How can I ascend?” While the other psalm asks, “How can I remain in your presence? How can I abide? How can I dwell?” One expresses the desire to stand in God’s presence for just a moment, and the other describes the desire to stay in God’s presence. The answer to “Who may ascend or come into your presence for a moment” is in Psalm 24:4, which says, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol nor sworn deceitfully.”

How we ascend or come into God’s presence for moments requires clean attitudes, actions, and motivations, where we are clean inwardly and outwardly. When it comes to ascending, cleansing qualifies one for an experience with God by coming into His presence, into His Holy Place—clean hands and feet for service and a clean heart that allows one to approach God.

In the Old Testament, a priest could not come before God’s presence into the Holy Place until the blood and the water were applied. Blood is always for the shedding of sin, so blood for sin to deal with the inner impurities of one’s heart at the brazen laver, and then water for the defilement within your service to God at the brazen laver. You cannot come into God’s Holy Place without the blood, the water, and the spirit. It is the spirit that thrusts us into that presence. This pattern God gives us in the scripture qualifies one to come into the Holy Place.

Here’s something to think about: Would you rather have moments in God’s presence or remain in God’s presence? The two are entirely different. One question says, “How do I ascend? How do I come in? How do I climb?” But the other one asks a much deeper question: “How do I stay? How do I dwell? How do I abide in God’s presence?” And we must learn how to do both.

How can we choose to meet the qualifications of staying in God’s presence?

The issue of ascending or abiding is not just an old covenant issue, but it is very much a new covenant issue as well, and you will choose which one you will pursue. Hebrews 10:22 says, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Going back to the Old Testament types of the brazen altar and the brazen laver, both of these cleansings were provisions of grace that we discover in the outer court of the old covenant, as they are today in the new covenant. Second Corinthians 7:1 says: “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

The principle is simply this: God cannot and will not have communion and fellowship with the defiled saint, even for just moments. But God says, “I will cleanse you. I will qualify you. It is the acceptance of my Son’s blood that secures your acceptance with me, and the Word will secure your purification.” Those who will ascend and come into His presence have applied God’s means of grace. He will allow them to come into His presence to have a taste of the glory of what His presence is. The problem, however, is that the spiritual highs can be followed by great deserts. It is like the mountain of transfiguration, having experienced that phenomenal presence of God and then having to come down the mountain to face the demonic, which is somewhat of a roller coaster. We have to be aware that with great heights, there can be significant lows.

There are many testimonies of people who encountered God decades ago and experienced His glory. But as time passed, these people hadn’t had many meetings with God. This is sad because this is nowhere close to God’s ultimate desire for our lives. We experience spiritual highs in God, so we may refuse to return to normal. Unfortunately, many people don’t know they can talk themselves out of God’s presence.

It is God’s ultimate desire to have intimate fellowship and relationship with us. God doesn’t change. When God created Adam, He wanted to have fellowship with His creation. He wanted Adam to be in His presence– to walk and talk with Him daily, to walk as He did with Enoch, and God took him, to communicate with us like He did Moses, and to journey with us as He did with Abraham. God doesn’t change. God’s ultimate desire is for you to know how to remain, dwell, and abide in his presence.

For us to have this kind of relationship with God, we have to allow ourselves to decrease. We live, move, and have our being in God (Acts 17:28). It is His desire. God has to give us vision before we’re stirred to move toward it. God lets us have mountaintop experiences to have an overall view of where we’re going. Then He urges us down the other side, across the desert, toward the vision that He’s given. This walk certainly requires faith, but it doesn’t require blind faith. We’ve seen our destination from a distance. We know where we are headed. This would encourage us to understand how to remain in God’s presence because we’ve had a glimpse. We have learned how to come into His presence for moments.

Do what God requires.

There are requirements and qualifications to know how to come into His presence. You have to do what He requires. Coming into His presence moves the novice into the supernatural, preparing and motivating us toward a continuum in God. In the Psalms, King David had this desire. He wanted to go beyond ascent. He wanted to know how to abide in God’s presence.

Many of us know how to ascend or come into the presence of God. Psalm 22:3 says that God is enthroned in the praises of Israel. When God hears praise, He will inhabit it. His presence is enthroned in our praise.

Every time God moves, He always moves according to divine principles or divine patterns. We must know the principles and patterns because in them are the ways of God.

Let’s return to the first question Psalm asked, Psalm 24: “How do we come into God’s presence for moments?” It is through praises. The Bible says, “Come before his presence with singing; enter his gates with thanksgiving; enter his courts with praise.” (Psalm 100:2)

In the New Covenant, you must discover that you are a priest unto God. Priests are to offer sacrifices to God. So, in the New Covenant, your responsibility and what you should know in your priesthood is that if you want to come into God’s presence, you come before his presence by singing, and then you sacrifice. There’s the sacrifice of thanksgiving, there’s the sacrifice of praise, there’s the sacrifice of joy, there’s the sacrifice of a broken and contrite spirit, which God will not despise. And there is the sacrifice of a living sacrifice, where you offer God your body, which is nothing big; it is your reasonable service unto God. So, if you want to know how to come into His presence, it’s through your priestly responsibilities of sacrifice, all dealing with praise.

But if you’re going to remain in God’s presence, just praise will not accomplish that. That’s the reasonable service that God expects in your life continually, but it doesn’t fulfill the qualifications of how to remain in His presence.

First Corinthians 15:46 shows us this simple principle: the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and then the spiritual. Man was created as a spiritual being. God put him in a special environment that was spiritually in tune with God’s presence. According to theologians, there are many meanings to the word “Eden”: spot, moment, open door, access, and presence. We can say that “Eden” means the spot for the moment where the presence of God is an open door for access to Heaven. We can say it is a spot on Earth for a moment where the presence of God is an open door to Heaven. The first place that God puts man is in His presence, and the first thing we need to be alive in God’s mind and to have life is that we must be in His presence. If you take man out of His presence, you will die.

When Adam chose sin, he was taken out of the Garden of Eden because he had separated himself from God and was dying. He fell from being the spiritual being that he was. Adam was called to take dominion over every creature and the entire Earth.

The presence of God is the place on Earth where we can access Heaven and bring Heaven to Earth. Wherever we walk or move, God’s presence follows us. As someone followed by God’s presence, we are now expanding the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. It’s what the church is called to do today. Like how Adam was called to take dominion over all the creatures and all the Earth, we are called to occupy until He comes. We are to expand the Kingdom of God in Heaven and make that happen on Earth. We are the embassy of God’s Kingdom.

If the environment of our lives lacks this communion with God in His presence, then it will allow sin to grow in our lives. We must stop treating the symptoms and start cultivating the atmosphere or the environment that will demand change in our lives.

When your environment on the Earth is right, you will always do what you were designed to do. If you do not learn how to remain in God’s presence, then you’ll never be able to do entirely what God’s called you to.

The answer to the question, “Who may abide in Your holy hill?” can be found in Psalm 15:2. It says:

“He who walks uprightly,
And works righteousness,
And speaks the truth in his heart;”

If you can make these changes in your life, you will remain in God’s presence and will not be moved. No demon in hell will have the power to move you. But do you know what God’s asking of us? He is asking us to learn how to remain in His presence to thrive in the environment He has created for us to succeed in. Here are the five areas in our lives where we must adjust.

First: Our walk with God.
Second: Our works.
Third: Our words.
Fourth: Our will.
Fifth: Our wealth.

Walks, works, words, will, and wealth. If we can make what the Word of God teaches about these five areas a part of our lives, we will never be removed from God’s presence. As we work towards abiding and ascending in God’s presence, we must be more sensitive to following the Holy Spirit, going beyond routines, and allowing Him to lead us.

Let us continue to ascend and abide in the presence of God. Watch the entire sermon “Ascend or Abide in God’s Presence” here.

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