Phil Cox

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God is with you when you are with Him


24th May 2006

Take a look at 2 Chronicles chapter 15. The first few verses say this:

2 Chronicles 15:1-7
The Spirit of God came upon Azariah son of Oded. He went out to meet Asa and said to him, "Listen to me, Asa and all Judah and Benjamin. The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. For a long time Israel was without the true God, without a priest to teach and without the law. But in their distress they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them. In those days it was not safe to travel about, for all the inhabitants of the lands were in great turmoil. One nation was being crushed by another and one city by another, because God was troubling them with every kind of distress. But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded."

This week, I'd like to look at just the first two verses of this prophecy.

Spare a thought for Azariah son of Oded. What if the Spirit of the Lord came upon you and told you to go out and prophesy over the King, or the prime minister? Would you do it? Come to that, if God told you to do something in your church's Sunday morning meeting, would you do it?

But Oded obeyed God, and brought the word of God to the person to whom he was told to bring it. May you and I be similarly obedient.

If we read the rest of the chapter, we see that great blessing followed when Asa heard and obeyed the word of the Lord. Who knows how much good will come of it the next time you obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit? Or how much will be lost the next time you disobey?

Through Oded, God said to King Asa and to his nation "The LORD is with you when you are with him".

Now, we know that God is omnipresent. That is, He's everywhere. We don't have to wonder where in the Universe God is, because He's EVERYWHERE in the universe. In fact, the Universe is in Him - not the other way around.

So what does the Bible mean when it talks about God being "with" us? It surely means more than that God is just present with us - He's always present with us. It means that God will be manifestly present. That is, He will be with us in such a way that it is obvious that He's with us - and for us.

The same sort of idea comes in other passages of the Bible as well. For example:

James 4:8
Come near to God and he will come near to you...

Again, in the sense of mere geometry or geography, that makes no sense - God is everywhere. In terms of our position as measured in terms of cartesian co-ordinates we are as near to God in any one position as we are in any other.

But we can be nearer to God in terms of relationship.

Here are a couple of thoughts to help us understand this idea of "with", "near" or "close" having both a positional meaning and a relational meaning.

  • Two people can be close to one another in the sense of being in the same room, while being a long way apart in terms of their relationship.
  • Two people may go to a party at the same time and be asked if they're "together", or "with" each other, meaning "are they in close relationship with each other?".

Well I hope that's made it clear. But the question is - are you in close relationship with God?

Are you aware that you have no relationship with God? Or that your relationship with Him has faded over the years? Then here's His promise to you; If you draw close to Him, He will draw close to you.

Oded's prophesy goes on to say "If you seek him, he will be found by you". And Jesus Himself promises:

Matthew 7:7-8
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

It's important to bear in mind, though, that we may need to go on asking for a period of time, that seeking may require some effort, and that we don't know in advance how many times we'll have to knock before the door is opened to us. But we know that if we genuinely go on asking, seeking and knocking, then the time will come when God reveals Himself to us, when we find we have come close to Him in relationship, when He is manifestly present with us! We know this because God Himself has promised it!

But the prophesy continues "but if you forsake him, he will forsake you".

I'm utterly convinced of the truth of the great Christian doctrine known as "the perseverence of the saints", which says that if God has redeemed us through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ, if we have been born again and God has put His Holy Spirit in us, then God will complete the work of sanctification that He has started in us, and will present us spotless and blameless before Himself on the Day of Judgement.

But I'm also aware of many Christian lives that seem to be utterly devoid of the manifest presence of God, this side of death. I'm sure that if a person is genuinely born again, then he will ultimately stand in glory along with the rest of the saints. But until that Christian turns again to God, until he is "with God", until he "comes near to God", then God will not be manifestly with him.

Dear brother or sister in Christ (if so you are), don't neglect to be near God, to continue to seek His face and to draw ever closer to Him. And pray for me, if you will, that I may do likewise. I want to walk in His manifest presence and know His blessing all the days of my life. And I pray the same for you. But God has told us clearly that we need to come close to Him, if we want Him to come close to us.