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Greetings All,

'thought' has to do with an experience common to most Christians (if not all) at one time or another in their lives: The sense of spiritual desertion. Those times when our experience of the felt presence of God, and sweet communion with Christ, give way to seasons where it seems (at least from the sensory level) that God is nowhere to be found.

The example that follows is a true story, and is found In
Brennan Manning's book: "Reflections for Ragamuffins." It is entitled: "Where He Abides." Most, I assume, will be able to relate to one degree or another!


"For a long time, Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) enjoyed a glorious prayer life. She had a highly conscious awareness of the divine indwelling. She loved to spend days alone, locked up in her little room, enjoying the presence of the beautiful God who dwelt in her heart. This was peace, joy, security. God, her God, was always with her. Life would always be a vision of peace.

So she thought, until one day when her comfortable existence exploded. She lost the familiar feeling of secure possession. She lost the sense of his presence and felt dead to his influence. Now even the memory of him seemed unreal. He had vanished into thin air. Now sin was the only thing that mattered. Impure images filled her thoughts and her body tingled in response. She felt as though she had been plunged into a pool of filth and that she had lost forever her clean, joyous life with Christ.

This loss became the moment of grace. In the same room where she had been so fiercely tempted, Catherine found Christ again. 'Lord,' she complained, 'where were you when these foul images filled my mind?' The answer of Jesus opened up a new depth of faith: 'Catherine, all during these temptations I have remained with you, right in your heart. Otherwise you would not have overcome them.'

At the very moment when Jesus revealed to Catherine that he had been with her during her ordeal of severe temptation, she lost forever her former understanding of what it meant to experience the presence of God. His word taught her that his presence in the soul is something deeper and holier than she could imagine or feel. In this life, he must always be the hidden God. Human feelings cannot touch him; human thought cannot measure him. Experience cannot heighten the certainty of his presence any more than fear of his absence can lessen it... He would always be there, in the quiet darkness of her soul, just as he had promised. She had lost the (sense of the) presence of God, only to find it again in the deep darkness of a richer faith."

Sooner or later every believer must come to see that there is an enormous difference between God's omnipresence, and His felt presence, sensed presence or what Tozer called his 'manifest presence.' Between the felt sense of His presence and his actual indwelling and sealing presence.

To those Christian's who fear they may have 'lost' the presence of God, Paul offers an insightful and encouraging word of comfort to dispel the notion. For in
Ephesians 4:30 he writes: "Do not grieve (or in some versions 'quench') the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed unto the day of redemption."

Yes, we can grieve or quench the Spirit
of God through sin (some are listed in the next verse in Eph. 4:31), and we can lose the felt sense of His presence for many reasons that have nothing to do with sin, but if we have trusted in Christ, we cannot lose the actual presence of the Holy Spirit, for we have been sealed with it "unto the day of redemption." His actual indwelling presence, once by grace attained, can never be lost. We may sometimes feel God has deserted us, but it is merely the inevitable danger that comes by making too close an association between God and our emotions. If God has come to indwell us, and seal us, His presence is with us and in us whether we feel it or not!

God has blessed us with emotions, and often guides us, reassures us, and reveals Himself to us through them, but we stand on terribly dangerous ground when we think our ability to feel or sense the presence or absence of God with our emotions is the defining truth. It's not! Our emotions do not define the reality of our justified state, any more than how we feel about our performance does. God's Word does! And His Word states the defining immutable truth for every Christian: You have been justified by faith (Rom. 3:21-24). And you may grieve the Holy Spirit, and thus lose the felt sense of His presence, but His Spirit remains sealed upon your soul unto the day of redemption" (whether you feel his presence or not)! That's His promise.

Thanks be to God!
Pastor Jeff