Changed by His Presence
October 19, 2016
October 19, 2016
“Change me, God! Just change me!” That is my heart’s cry right now.
When I look at myself, I see how desperately I need to change. When I look at the Church, I see how desperately we all need to change. And I’m so hungry for that change, I can hardly stand it.
Somebody might look at me and say, “Now, Sister Hammond, you’re doing pretty well. The Church is doing pretty well. Why can’t you just thank God for what He’s done and be satisfied?”
I do thank God for what He’s done. I am eternally grateful for it. But I can’t be satisfied because we’re still so far short of our destiny. As individual believers, and as a body, we in the Church are not yet walking in the glory God has promised us.
The prophet Isaiah said there is coming a day when the people of God will shine with such radiance in the glory of God that whole nations will come to our light. He said kings will come to the brightness of our rising! (Isaiah 60:1-3)
The apostle Paul reveals how glorious the Church is destined to be in the third chapter of Second Corinthians. There, he writes about the glory of God that shone from Moses’ face when he came down from Mount Sinai with the ten commandments. Moses had spent so long in the presence of God that he literally glowed!
That was an awesome thing. But do you know what Paul says about it? He says;
Now if the dispensation of death engraved in letters on stone…was inaugurated with such glory and splendor that the Israelites were not able to look steadily at the face of Moses because of its brilliance…Why should not the dispensation of the Spirit…be attended with much greater and more splendid glory? For if the service that condemns…had glory, how infinitely more abounding in splendor and glory must be the service that makes righteous [the ministry that produces and fosters, righteous living and right standing with God]! (verses 7-9, Amplified Bible)
I want you to know, the last-days Church is destined to have a ministry of glory. We’re destined to be fully conformed to the image of Jesus—to do the works that He did and greater works! We’re destined to live like He lived, talk like He talked, act like He acted and get the same results as He did.
Just as Jesus was able to say, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9), before this age is over, we must be able to say, “He that has seen me has seen Jesus.” That’s a shocking thought but it’s true. Jesus Himself said that He would be glorified in us! (John 17:10).
Turned into Another Man
Clearly, we have a lot of changing to do!
So much, in fact, that if we had to depend on our own natural strength to make those changes, the situation would be hopeless. We’d never be able to do it. I don’t care how many new leaves we turn over or how many self-improvement programs we begin…unless God Himself moves on us in supernatural power, we’ll never be the glorious Church.
But, thank God, He hasn’t left us on our own! He has given us the prescription for supernatural change. He has said that as we all, behold “as in a glass the glory of the Lord, [we] are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
How do we behold the glory of the Lord? By getting into His presence!
I can tell you from the Word and from personal experience, God’s presence changes you and brings you, as the Amplified Bible says, “from one degree of glory to another.”
The Bible proves that again and again. I could give you multitudes of examples. But one of the best is found in 1 Samuel 10. There we see Saul appointed and anointed by God to be king of Israel. Saul has one big problem, however. He is in no way ready to be king.
But God knew exactly how to make him ready. He had a strategic plan. He instructed Saul to go to the hill of God and meet a company of prophets that would be coming down from the high place prophesying. When that happened, the spirit of the Lord would come upon Saul, and he would prophesy with them, and “be turned into another man” (verse 6).
And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart…And when they came thither to the hill, behold a company of prophets met him; and the spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. And it came to pass, when all that knew him before time saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets? (verses 9-11)
Think about this for a moment. Here was Saul in a situation much like ours. He had a destiny in God. But just on his own he couldn’t fulfill that destiny. He had to be changed.
When did that change come? It came when he stepped into that company of prophets because the manifested presence of God was among them. The moment he got into God’s presence, he changed so much that people started talking about him. They said, “What’s come over Saul? He’s acting like a prophet!”
From a Persecutor to a Preacher—Overnight!
King Saul wasn’t the only “Saul” in the Bible that experienced that kind of shocking change either. In the New Testament, we see a man named Saul of Tarsus who was even more radically transformed.
Saul of Tarsus also had a divine destiny. He was destined to write two thirds of the New Testament. He was destined to establish the Church among the Gentiles.
But he, too, had a problem. He was full of hatred and murderous rage and he was imprisoning Christians and even putting them to death. He was well taught in the scriptures. He knew the Word. But he didn’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah.
Obviously, Saul needed to change–big time! But God knew just how to change him. He so manifested his presence to Saul that the glory of that presence blinded him and knocked him to the ground. Within days, this same man had been baptized with the Holy Ghost and “straightway…preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). That’s an astounding change, isn’t it? Imagine changing that much in just a few days! Being transformed from a persecutor of the church to a preacher of the Gospel overnight!
That gives me hope. It tells me that what God did for Saul, He can do for me. He can change me.
But He’ll have to do it the same way. He’ll have to do it by His presence because I can’t bring that kind of change to myself. I know because I’ve tried. What’s more, during almost 20 years of pastoring people, I’ve watched other people do the same thing. I’ve watched them try to change themselves. But they can’t because the habits, problems and bondages they face are supernatural in origin. And supernatural bondages can’t be broken with natural strength.
They can only be destroyed by the supernatural power and presence of God.
How Hungry Are You?
“Okay, Sister Hammond,” you may say, “I understand that I need God’s manifested presence to change me. But how do I find that presence?”
Deuteronomy 4:29 gives us the answer to that question. There, God says, “…you will seek (inquire for and require as necessity) the Lord your God, you will find Him if you [truly] seek Him with all your heart [and mind] and soul and life.”
Hebrews 11:6 says that God “is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].”
What those verses are saying to us is this: God manifests His presence to those who are hungry for Him. He comes in presence and in power to those who desire Him enough to go after Him.
I’ve noticed this over the years. God fills our hunger. He satisfies our desire. If we’re hungry for Him in a big way, if we’re desperately, ravenously hungry—He manifests His presence and fills us in a big way. If we just have a small desire for Him—He meets just that small desire.
I’ve also noticed this. Our desire follows our attention. If we give our attention primarily to natural things then our spiritual hunger will begin to dwindle. But if we’ll give more attention to God by attending to Him in prayer and in the Word, our hunger for Him will increase.
I’m telling you, we have to watch over our spiritual hunger. If we want to experience greater measures of God’s presence, we have to watch over ourselves and make sure that our desire for God isn’t choked out by other things.
It can be, you know. Mark 4:19 says it can be choked and suffocated by “the cares and distractions of the age, and the pleasure and delight and false glamour and deceitfulness of riches, and the craving and passionate desire for other things.” Although God gives us richly all things to enjoy, we have to be constantly on guard making sure that we don’t become so satisfied with God’s blessings that we lose our hunger for Him. We have to make sure our lives don’t get so crowded with the busy-ness of life and ministry that our passion for God Himself begins to fade.
It’s crucial that we keep ourselves hungry–especially right now– because we are living in a time when God is pouring out His manifested presence in wonderful ways. Churches everywhere are experiencing moves of God. If you aren’t very hungry for God, you can walk into those churches and walk out unchanged. But if you go crying out with all your heart, “Change me, God!” you will most assuredly be transformed again and again.
Just One Dose Is Not Enough
Recently I heard a testimony of just that kind of transformation. I heard about a lady in another city who lived very close to 16 family members. She said they were always in strife with one another. There was terrible division and constant fighting in that family. It was a mess.
But this lady’s church began to experience a move of God and she and her family members got hungry for God’s presence. Over a period of 18 months, all of those family members began to come to that church. She said, “We came for the presence of God because we knew we could not change on our own. We also knew it was going to take more than one dose so we kept on coming so we could be continually saturated with God’s presence.”
Do you know what happened? When Christmas came last year, that whole family got together and for the first time in their lives the strife was gone. Instead of fighting there was a spirit of love among them!
The presence of God not only changes minds and souls, it can change bodies as well. Not long ago I heard a story of a man who came to a church of a friend of mine who was totally blind but he came to church every night. Every night he encountered the presence of God and he had hands laid on him for healing. Every night he said, “I will see.”
Sure enough, at the end of three months, he was totally healed. Now you might be thinking, Why doesn’t that kind of thing happen to me? I go to church all the time. I get in the manifested presence of God but I’m not changing as much as those people did.
Maybe it’s because you’ve stopped being hungry. Maybe the presence of God has gotten so familiar to you that you’ve stopped expecting it to change you. Maybe you’ve stopped releasing your faith and you’ve just let yourself be satisfied to stay like you are.
If that’s the case then, bless God, do something about it!
Stir yourself up. Turn your heart toward God and start seeking Him with greater fervency. Ask God to make you hungry, desperately, ravenously hungry. Cry out to Him and say, “Change me, Lord! Just change me!” Then get into His presence. Get into prayer. Get into worship. Get into the Word. Get with other hungry believers.
Then get ready to be changed from glory to glory. Get ready to be changed into another person because God has a glorious destiny for you.