Spirit Touching Spirit—The Manifest Presence of God

“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”-John 4:24

Jesus calls us to worship Him with true worship—worship in Spirit. Too often we worship in the soul-with our mind, and will and emotions, but not spirit. Yes, God wants us to worship Him with our minds and with our emotions, but not only with our minds, not only with our emotions. In fact, Jesus said that true worshipers MUST worship Him in spirit and truth. Otherwise, we do not touch God, who is spirit. Spirit must touch spirit. Worship only in our mind or emotions is shallow and superficial.

Some people try to work up worship to God. I have even heard people say they need to prime the pump. That is shallow, superficial soulish worship, worship in the flesh, carnal worship. True worship comes from deep within our innermost beings—worship that touches God, worship when God touches us—The Manifest Presence of God.

We cannot force the Manifest Presence of God. We cannot manufacture Manifest Presence of God. But we can provide an atmosphere that enhances or the manifestation of His presence. Here are a few of the ways:

God Manifests His Presence When We Seek Him. When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”—Ps 27:8. The Hebrew word for “face” has the meaning of presence. The face of God is the Presence of God. God bids us, “Seek My Presence.”

God Manifests His Presence When We Are Still. “Be still and know that I am God.”—Ps 46:10

Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.—1 Kings 19:11-12.

God Manifests His Presence When We Praise Him. “Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.”—Psalm 22:2-3. When we truly praise Him in Spirit, we are raised into the heavenlies, into the very Throne Room of the King of Kings.

God Manifests His Presence When We Invite Him. “’Grant it to Your bond-servants to speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.’ And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.”—Acts 4:29-31

Let us Invite the Manifest Presence of God and pray, “Come Holy Spirit!


How’s Your Love Life with God?

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your life and with all your strength”—Deuteronomy 6:5

Valentine’s Day focuses our minds and hearts on those we love and we want to show expressions of that love. Of course, the greatest expression of love is “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believers in Him should not perish, but has everlasting life” (John 3:16). Charles Wesley wrote a hymn about this:

“Amazing love, how can it be, that Thou my God shouldst die for me!”

We can never love Him enough to repay what He has done for us, but He calls us to love Him with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our might.

The Hebrew word for love in that verse is “ahav.” It is one of those onomatopoetic words that sounds like what it means (like the word “buzz”)—“to sigh, yearn for, long after.” It is like when I first fell in love with my wife Kathy. I would talk to her on the phone, sighing, “O Kathy, I miss you; I wish I were with you.” Are we in love with God like that?

Just repeat this word a few times yourself: “Ahav! Ahav! Ahav! Doesn’t that sound like you are sighing after God Himself? That you love Him and want to be near to Him? And to realize that God “ahav’s” you—that He sighs and yearns to be with you and to communion with you! Several psalms express this yearning for God:

“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”—Psalm 42:1-2

“O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory.”—Psalm 63:1-2

“How lovely are Your dwelling places, O Lord of hosts! My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.”—Psalm 84:1-2

“Bless the Lord, my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.”—Psalm 103:1

God calls us to long after Him with our whole being, our whole insides, our whole mind, our emotions, our speech, our passion, our whole body, our everything. Let us fall back in love with Jesus again, to return to our first love.


How to Make a Marriage Last 45 Years

“Enjoy life with the wife [or husband] whom you love all the days of your life which He has given you under the sun.” —Ecclesiastes 9:9

I was asked to give a Valentine devotional on this theme for a men’s group yesterday. So while this was geared for men, I have adapted some of these points for both men and women.

My wonderful wife Kathy and I have been married 45 years last December. It has not always been easy, and we still have our rough spots, but we are best friends and are more in love now than when we married. I could tell many stories and illustrations, but here, briefly, are some of the things I and we have learned through the years. 

  1. Forgive, forgive, and forgive again. “Love does not keep an account of a wrong suffered” (1 Cor 13:5). 
  2. Admit you are wrong, ask forgiveness—this is especially difficult for a guy.
  3. Communicate, communicate, communicate! Don’t shut down. Don’t assume the other understands. Listen—really listen—focus.
  4. Be sensitive to one another; guys—especially be sensitive to her. Give one another space.
  5. Romance her every week; Tell her you love her every day. (This applies to both)
  6. Share your life together—take an interest in one another, her/his day, what he/she likes, doesn’t like, what went wrong. Be each other’s best friend.
  7. Pray for each other every day; pray together.
  8. The Golden Rule: Treat your spouse like you want to be treated and your spouse will treat you like you want to be treated. Give her/him want she/he wants and he/she will give you what you want.
  9. Do more than your share. Sacrifice for one another. This is especially directed by Christ at the guys: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church & gave Himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25).
  10. Learn to negotiate (not manipulate)—take turns, trade off (Your kind of restaurant this time; my kind of restaurant next time, etc.)
  11. Guys: Lovingly, gently lead. Be a servant leader like Jesus. Learn from your wife. Learn from your kids.
  12. Guys: Don’t ever pull, “I am the man of the house” or “The Bible says you are supposed to submit.” That’s not servant leadership like Jesus. 
  13. Guys: Your wife is your radar antennae—she will pick up things you are not aware of. There are many times I should have submitted to my wife’s counsel and did not.
  14. Show you are proud of each other. Respect each other. Make your spouse proud of you.
  15. Guys: Treat her like a queen. Treat your children like princes and princesses. 
  16. Compliment each other in front of your children and in front of others—don’t ever criticize your spouse in front of your children or others. Don’t have to be right all the time. Even when you think you are. Don’t push each other’s buttons.
  17. Guys: If you don’t want to be nagged, don’t give her cause to nag you.
  18. Guys: Don’t make a mistress out of your work or hobby.
  19. Be faithful. Avoid porn—spice up your love life—Read & dramatize the Song of Solomon together. Read Christian books on sex. Pray with each other before you make love. It is a sacred moment.
  20. If you have a miserable marriage—pray for your spouse and be faithful. I know a man whose wife was mentally ill, but he remained faithful to her for 60 years. That is love. 
  21. Most important of all, make Christ the center of your marriage. We have a classic painting of Jesus on our mantle above our fireplace in our living room. It reminds us that Jesus is always at the center. We don’t live for ourselves. Let your whole life and family, and work and play revolve around Jesus.

There is much more that I have learned through 45 years of marriage that would take pages to share. And I am still learning and growing in my marriage. A couple in the church I retired from last fall have been married 72 years! I have nothing on them. They have much more to teach me. Hopefully, some of these steps that have strengthened our marriage will strengthen yours as well. Ultimately, it comes down to loving like Jesus loves:

Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered, it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; it keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” —1 Corinthians 13:4-8 


Psalm of Life-Mentored by My Dad Through Longfellow

During my devotional prayer time this morning I was reminded of a lengthy poem my Dad taught me to memorize when I was in high school—”A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. In fact, when he was a substitute teacher, his favorite form of discipline (although I am not sure of its effectiveness) was to require a wayward student to write out this poem by hand. Although I have forgotten parts of it, much of the poem remains etched indelibly in my brain more than 50 years later.

My father was far from perfect and we had our issues with each other from time to time, not only as a teenager, but throughout life. Yet I am grateful that one act of engraving the words of this poem in my memory has impacted my worldview and way of life ever since. May these words and thoughts be imprinted in your memory as well. I encourage you to ponder each line and become your philosophy of life:

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,

Life is but an empty dream!

For the soul is dead that slumbers,

And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!

And the grave is not its goal;

Dust thou art, to dust returnest,

Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,

Is our destined end or way;

But to act, that each to-morrow

Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,

And our hearts, though stout and brave,

Still, like muffled drums, are beating

Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,

In the bivouac of Life,

Be not like dumb, driven cattle!

Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!

Let the dead Past bury its dead!

Act,— act in the living Present!

Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,

Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,

A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,

Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,

With a heart for any fate;

Still achieving, still pursuing,

Learn to labor and to wait.


Savor the Presence of God

When eating something I really like, I like to devour it really quickly. My wife Kathy, however, likes to take her time savoring what she likes, especially dark chocolate. Today, I took her advice and savored one of my favorites, a Ghirardelli’s dark chocolate with raspberry filling. Instead of chomping it down in two bites, I ate it one small bite at a time. Oh, was that heavenly! And heaven lasted so much longer! I think I will eat like that from now on.

I sometimes tend to do my devotion and meditation times like I eat—it is really good and so I do it quickly. I am learning to take more time savoring the Word of God and His Presence. When you savor it, it is so much richer, so much sweeter, and the heavenly flavor of God lingers so much longer.

I think “savor” is a good expressive word for biblical meditation. Consider how many Scriptures portray the image of enjoying the Word of God like feasting on delicious food:

  • Taste and see that the Lord is good”—Psalm 34:8
  • How sweet are Your words to my taste!
    Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!—Psalm 119:103
  • The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
    The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
    The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
    The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
    The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
    The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.
    They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
    Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.—Psalm 19:7-10
  • “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.—Matthew 6:4
  • Then the Lord said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and He fed me this scroll. He said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your body with this scroll which I am giving you.” Then I ate it, and it was sweet as honey in my mouth.—Ezekiel 3:1-3

Charles Spurgeon wrote of Scripture bringing joy to his life in his times of depression as he let the Word of God melt in his mouth as he confessed and mulled over it repeatedly: “I find that if I can lay a promise under my tongue, like a sweet lozenge, and keep it in my mouth or mind all day long, I am happy enough.”

What is your favorite food? I encourage you to hunger for God and His Word like you do for your favorite food. Repeat these Scriptures above. Let them linger in your mouth just a little longer. Savor the Presence of God and enjoy a little bit of heaven on earth.


You Can Be a Visitation from God to Others

In my last blog, I shared about gratitude for the occasional little unexpected visitations from God—someone unknown and unexpected who shows up and gives us encouragement, either by something they do, or just by their presence.

Today, I want to focus on you being that someone—yes, YOU! You can be a visitation from God to someone else—a ray of hope, a little slice of heaven, the hand of Jesus touching someone. Consider this Scripture: 

“Pure & undefiled religion in the sight of our God & Father is this: to visit orphans & widows in their distress, keeping oneself unstained by the world.”—James 1:27

One of my former doctoral students, Dr. Deena Van’t Hull, and her husband operate an orphanage in China. She wrote her dissertation on how children’s lives are changed through such ministry as James writes about. God showed her the deeper meaning of this verse: “As Christ the Hope of Glory resides in the believer, this action [visiting] becomes not only a representation, but a release, as Jesus in the believer meets the orphan [or widow or sick or other person in need] face-to-face. This becomes a power-packed visitation releasing supernatural effects.”

She went on to explain and to demonstrate from her ministry to orphans that “visit” does not mean just to care for. God does not merely care for us when He visits us—He does something remarkable, out of the ordinary, supernatural, a movement of the Holy Spirit.

When we visit someone—whether an orphan, a widow, an elderly person, a mentally or physically-handicapped person—we are doing something very special.

I have experienced that many times in my life. I will share just one. My Aunt Ruby Wind, my Dad’s sister, was a widow and had no children, living in a nursing home. I lived hundreds of miles away, but every time I went to visit my father, I also tried to visit Aunt Ruby. Her she was almost blind and deaf, and her mind was not clear, so she did not always remember me at first. But as we talked, she remembered, “Oh, yes, you are John’s boy, the preacher.” She would smile and say, “What happened to your red hair?” She had a dry humor about her. She would ask me to read a poem or a Scripture, and then ask me to sing. We would sing an old hymn together. The nurse told me she would always light up when I would come to visit. 

I would light up too, because it gave me joy to bring just a little joy into her life. The 17th century monk Nicholas Herman, known as Brother Lawrence, who wrote the little book Practicing the Presence of God, said this, “We ought not to be weary of doing the little things for the love of God, who doesn’t really think about the greatness of what we do, but the love with which it is performed.”

God’s presence is there In a special way in the little things. You can be a special visitation from God to someone else. Ask God whose life you can light up with your presence—Jesus in you—God’s presence. 


Grateful for God’s Occasional Little Unexpected Visitations

In the Bible, a visitation from God is some special occasion in which God acts or His presence is manifest. He demonstrates His love or power or His working in our lives. Sometimes God visits us in unusual ways.

  • Sometimes through a miraculous sign.
  • Sometimes through a sovereign move of God.
  • Sometimes a slice or ray of heaven.
  • Sometimes through His miraculous protection in a close call.
  • Sometimes a visitation through an angel—perhaps unawares.
  • Or sometimes through an unexpected person whom God brings through the door unawares to show us in a little way He is at work or to give us hope and encouragement.

Twice in the past, an unexpected person showed up at our church, and just their very presence became a blessing to myself and our congregation. I have to admit I am so out of touch with today’s culture that I have had two famous musicians visit the little church I pastored and I had no idea who they were.

One night at our small temporary church building that would hold only 30 people, we were holding a special worship and prayer service. I had invited a musician couple to lead this special service. We were packed in with 40+ people and standing room only. 

A man with dreadlocks flowing down his shoulders and his arms blackened, full of tattoos, walked in our service. Someone apparently had saved him a seat and so he sat down. I thought, who is that and what brought him in here? I began praying for the Holy Spirit to work on his heart to save him. 

Then one of the college guys from our church came over and whispered to me excitedly, “Do you know who that is?” “No,” I replied.  “Brian Welch of Korn,” he said. 

I am have to admit that I am so out of it that had no idea who Brian Welch was or what Korn was. He proceeded to tell me about the famous secular rock group “Korn” and that he had heard about this guitarist who turned from drug addiction to Christ—Brian Welch. 

How in the world did Brian Welch show up at our church? It turns out that the couple leading worship for us worked with his daughter, so he came to hear them lead worship, and to have prayer for a family need. So we prayed for him and his family. After the service, I had a good conversation with Brian as he shared a little about his faith, and how he came to receive Christ. And it turned out he knew some other minister friends of mine as well.

Imagine that, Brian Welch showed up at our tiny church. It was only one occasion, but he lit up our lives for one night. It was a God-thing. A visitation from God to encourage our little fledging congregation.

Our daughter-in-law was so shocked when my wife Kathy told her, that she posted on Facebook, “I had the strangest conversation with my mother-in-law. She asked if she knew of the musician Brian Welch. I never expected her, of all people, to know who that was. I asked how she knew that name and she said, “Oh I met him. He came to our church.” She was amazed!

On another occasion, someone had heard me speak at a conference on “Hearing the Voice of God.” At that conference, I mentioned that that our church held healing services. He contacted me and asked when we would have a healing service again. I gave him a date of a Sunday service in a couple weeks when we would devote time to healing prayer. He told me his name, but the name did not register with me. 

He drove two hours that Sunday morning to attend this special service. When he and his family walked in the door, our worship leader exclaimed, “Hey, that looks like Josh Garrells.” Again, I was so out of it, his name did not mean anything to me. I found out he was a famous Christian worship singer. 

Josh was having trouble with his voice and he drove 2 hours to our church with his family to receive healing prayer. During our healing prayer time, we spent 10-15 minutes praying for him in soaking prayer. Whether he received a complete healing or not, I don’t know. But he said when we prayed for him, he had a definite physical touch from the Lord. We blessed him with our prayers and he blessed us with his presence.

Just out of the blue, sometimes God brings someone special into our lives, even for a brief moment, just to show us that He has not forgotten about us, just to show us that He cares enough, just to show us that He is at work in the small things—to despise not the day of small things.

Think about God’s occasional visitations in your life—some small but uplifting way in which God has shown up—or some special person He brought into your life for a brief moment. Give thanks and show Him your gratitude.


Our Only Hope–The One Who Overcomes Our Human Condition

This morning I watched geese fighting like I had never seen them fight before. Eight geese—four on our back terrace next to our pond, four in the neighbor’s backyard, divided by a chain link fence. Two geese especially were fighting by putting their heads through the chain link fence. The one on my side of the fence was especially aggressive, biting the neck and head of the other goose. The other would bite back and other geese would join in.

They started flapping their wings, honking furiously and making a racket. Finally, the aggressive goose backed off and went away from the fence. The honking continued for a while, but the physical fighting was over.

Even geese fight, just like humans. All of creation, like all of humanity, is infected with the disease of sin (Romans 8:19-22). It is a pandemic that is contagious. I am reminded of the words of the old 18th century hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”:

Oh, to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee:
prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it;
seal it for thy courts above.

“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love”—that is the human condition. Those who believe the world is evolving to be better have no idea of, or have rejected the idea of, the human condition. They have denied Scripture: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Until this world and each heart is redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and surrenders to Jesus Christ as Lord, the magnetic pull of the desperately wicked human condition will continue. Our hope is in no man or woman, no political party or ideology, but only in Jesus Christ and His transforming power.

“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love”—that is my condition. That is our nature—our old nature, for those who have made Jesus Christ our Savior. The Good News is that through the power of Jesus Christ we no longer have to succumb to that downward pull. We can overcome the power of gravity through the Higher Life in Jesus Christ. The pull may sometimes be there, but it no longer rules us. That is the redeemed heavenly human condition.

We overcome sin and Satan our accuser by the blood of the Lamb (Jesus Christ), the word of our testimony, and we love not our souls (self-life) unto death (we die to ourselves) (Revelation 11:12).


Lord, Lead Me on to Higher Ground!

I’m pressing on the upward way,

Still praying as I’m onward bound,

New heights I’m gaining every day;

“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

Refrain: Lord, lift me up and let me stand,

By faith, on Heaven’s tableland,

A higher plane than I have found;

Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

My heart has no desire to stay

Where doubts arise and fears dismay;

Though some may dwell where those abound,

My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

I want to live above the world,

Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;

For faith has caught the joyful sound,

The song of saints on higher ground.

I want to scale the utmost height

And catch a gleam of glory bright;

But still I’ll pray till heav’n I’ve found,

“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”


Join the Fellowship of the Burning Heart

 At the end of September last year, as I was moving from Lafayette, Indiana to our retirement home in Owasso, Oklahoma, not wanting to be retired, I was driving and praying, “Lord, what do You want for me now?” During those hours, over and over again came to my mind and heart two themes, “Rekindle” and A.W. Tozer’s words “Fellowship of the Burning Heart.” 

Yes, that was and is my desire, to be rekindled, to be an instrument of the Spirit to rekindle others, and to rekindle a fellowship of the burning heart.

What is the fellowship of the burning heart? Tozer explained. “I am looking for the fellowship of the burning heart. Men and women of all generations and everywhere that love the savior until ‘adoration’ has become the new word and they do not have to be entertained or amused. This Christ was everything. He was their all in all…. I am looking for men and women who are lost in worship, those who love God until He is the sweetheart of the soul.”

Tozer was recalling Resurrection Day, when two disciples were walking on the road to Emmaus. Jesus, newly resurrected from the dead, joined them, engaging in lengthy conversation about Himself—yet they did not recognize Him. They invited Him into their home to eat with them, and as He broke the bread their eyes were opened, they recognized Him, and He disappeared. In awe they responded, “Were our hearts not burning within us when He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32).

How often is Jesus walking with us and talking with us? Our hearts are burning within us, but we do not recognize Him. This is what John Wesley was talking about when he spoke of his transforming encounter with Jesus, saying, “My heart was strangely warmed and I knew that I did trust Christ.”

Tozer again writes, “In this hour of all-but-universal darkness one cheering gleam appears: within the fold of conservative Christianity there are to be found increasing numbers of persons whose religious lives are marked by a growing hunger after God Himself. They are eager for spiritual realities and will not be put off with words, nor will they be content with correct ‘interpretations’ of truth. They are athirst for God, and they will not be satisfied till they have drunk deep at the Fountain of Living Water.”

I am praying for the Holy Spirit to rekindle afresh in me that burning heart of deep intimate communion with Jesus. Is that your prayer as well? I have sensed the Lord stirring in my heart to begin a fellowship of the burning heart—perhaps a Zoom fellowship group for deep Bible teaching, kinship together in the Spirit, ministering to one another, praying for that burning heart to be rekindled in each of us.

If you would like to be part of such a Zoom “Fellowship of the Burning Heart,” let me know, and what times might be good for you. If there is interest and we can find a good time for several people, I will set up a Zoom meeting in the near future. You can reply on this blog, or on Facebook Messenger, or my email address: paulkingministries@gmail.com.

Make this prayer of Tozer your own:

O God, I have tasted Your goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want You; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Your glory, I pray, that so I may know You indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up, My love, My fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow You up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long. In Jesus’ name, Amen.