Happy Tuesday to you all! I hope the weekend left you rested and refreshed for the this week to come. I know the sermon I heard on Sunday was just what I needed to get me motivated to face this new week.
My pastor, Cathy McCoy, gave a sermon this Sunday on the “mountain top,” or as I like to refer to it, standing in the presence of the Lord. You may remember me sharing with you a few backs that I finally realized that there is no place I’d rather be than in the presence of God, but Pastor McCoy’s sermon challenged me by asking, “can we really stand in the presence of God all the time?”
In order to answer that question, I think we must first define “the presence of God.” Many define the term “presence of God” as a close and personal encounter with God. If that is your definition than I do believe you can stand in His presence every minute of every day seeing as the Holy Spirit lives inside of us. I personally have God encounters, mostly through the Holy Spirit, each and every day. Therefore, if you define “the presence of God” as such, then I guess you could say we can live in the presence of God every day.
However, I believe that the “presence of God” goes far beyond a close and personal encounter; I believe it is an all-encompassing, overwhelming, totally God centered, moment with God. It is like a supernatural experience where you are literally touched by the hand of God and you know that you know you have been in His presence. Oh how I long for those moments. When I am in the midst of one of these moments, I never want it to end. Up until Sunday, I thought I was supposed to find a way to stay in these types of moments. I thought that anything less was somehow a disappointment to God. However, I have come to believe these types of moments are our “mountain top” experiences. They are designed to encourage us and motivate us to go on and do the work of the Lord.
Moses had many “mountain top” moments.
Exodus 19:1-14 (NLT): In the third month after the people of Israel left Egypt, they came to the Sinai Desert on the same day. 2 They had left Rephidim and had come to the Sinai Desert. There Israel set up their tents in front of the mountain. 3 And Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Say this to the house of Jacob and tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. 5 Now then, if you will obey My voice and keep My agreement, you will belong to Me from among all nations. For all the earth is Mine. 6 You will be to Me a nation of religious leaders, a holy nation.’ These are the words you will speak to the people of Israel.”
7 So Moses came and called the leaders of the people. He told them all these words which the Lord had told him. 8 And all the people answered together and said, “We will do all that the Lord has said!” Then Moses went to tell the Lord what the people had said. 9 The Lord said to Moses, “See, I will come to you in a thick cloud. So the people may hear when I speak with you, and may believe you forever.” Then Moses told the Lord what the people had said. 10 The Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people. Today and tomorrow set them apart to be holy. Have them wash their clothes. 11 And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day people will see the Lord come down on Mount Sinai. 12 Let the people know the places all around that they must not pass. Tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not go up on the mountain or touch any place around it. Whoever touches the mountain will be put to death. 13 No hand will touch him. But he will be killed with stones or arrows. If he be animal or man, he will not live.’ When a long sound from a horn is heard, they may come up to the mountain.”
14 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people.
Exodus 19: 20-21(NLT): 20 Then the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.
21 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to gaze at the Lord, and many of them perish.
In Exodus 24 & 25-Moses climbs the mountain to God again and is then sent back down.
You see, Moses was able to be with God, but he was not allowed to stay there. God sent him back to the whining, crying Israelites because Moses still had work to do. The Israelites were in desperate need of a leader and Moses was God’s chosen leader for them.
Matthew 17: 1-9 (NLT): Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. 2 As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. 3 Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.
4 Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials[a]—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
5 But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” 6 The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground.
7 Then Jesus came over and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8 And when they looked up, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus.
9 As they went back down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man[b] has been raised from the dead.”
Peter, James, and John got to experience the glory of God first hand. They got their “mountain top” experience, but, like Moses, they too had to return to their world. Their work was not done either. There were miracles to be performed, people to be saved, and a church needed building.
Like those who have gone before us, we cannot stay on the mountain top, no matter how peaceful, until our work on earth is done. These “mountain top” experiences are refueling stations. This is where we draw closer to God, gain wisdom, direction, correction, and encouragement to “keep on keeping on”. I don’t know about you but I long to be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful,” and the Lord reply, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Until next time, stay safe and God bless,