Pastor's Heart

A blog of Lone Hill Church and Dr. Ray Stamps.

“Experiencing the Presence of Jesus”

God’s presence with His people begins in the Garden of Genesis. Chapter two tells us of God’s conversations with Adam. Chapter three refers to God walking in the Garden with Adam in the cool of the day. We find in these chapters God’s provision in every way for Adam: a place, varieties of good food, mission, companionship and community, sexual fulfillment, joy, contentment, and an absence of shame. And the crown to all of these blessings was the presence of God with man. God in all that He was to Adam is presented as his friend. The great tragedy of the Fall ends with God driving Adam from His presence and from the blessings of the Garden and barring him permanently from the Garden and His Presence. Man is estranged from God. Like a broken family or marriage members are labeled, “estranged.”

We might think that this is the end of the story, but God was not done. The unreachable reached down to the Patriarchs. This developed into His electing and calling Israel to be His people covenanting with them on Sinai. He would be their God and they would be His people. The presence of God was manifest with them in their Tabernacle and later in their Temple. Here God was present once again with His people. Once again, Israel’s idolatrous sins led to another estrangement. Yahweh divorced His people; they had broken their covenant. But all hope was not lost for Yahweh promised a New Covenant in which they would find forgiveness and experience God’s presence through His Holy Spirit.

As the New Testament opens once again it begins with the theme of God’s presence. Matthew declares that in Jesus’ birth the Immanuel has arrived, “God with us.” John declares that the Logos, the Word, who was with God and is God, who created all things, who is the Light and the Life of the world, and who has come so that the estranged might be incorporated back into the family; this Word has become flesh and dwells among us.

With the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, His “departure,” He had promised the sending of a Paraclete, the gift of the Holy Spirit. He would be the presence of Jesus with His people when Jesus was absent. This experience of Jesus' presence would not be external but internal. It would be His Spirit entering into communion with our spirits. Jesus would unite Himself in the most intimate and bonding of relationships, and in this union, He promised that He would never leave us or forsake. Further, He promised that though this relationship would be lived out in faith for now it would eventually be completed by seeing Him and experiencing His presence for eternity. Such is “eternal life”, Jesus said, This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (Jn. 17:3). This knowing of God, the Father, and Jesus, His Son, is nothing less than experiencing His presence and enjoying Him forever.

My prayer is that we will all focus on the real Spirit of Christmas personally experiencing the presence of Jesus.
For experiencing the presence of Jesus,


The Law and the Gospel
"Nevertheless" (Ps. 73:23)


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Sunday, 29 January 2023

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