Pre-Summit Bible Study
Week 5: Presence
Read Philippians 1:22-26
If I continue to live in this world, I get results from my work. But I don’t know what I prefer. I’m torn between the two because I want to leave this life and be with Christ, which is far better. However, it’s more important for me to stay in this world for your sake. I’m sure of this: I will stay alive and remain with all of you to help your progress and the joy of your faith, and to increase your pride in Christ Jesus through my presence when I visit you again.
While Paul desires to be present with Christ, he recognizes God is using him to spread the gospel. Paul is practicing what some call a “ministry of presence.” He recognizes his physical presence provides encouragement, support, and strength to his Christian brothers and sisters. Paul acknowledges that he can be used by God as long as he is alive and breathing! Presence is an important way we share God’s love with other people. The incredible nature of Jesus is that God came to earth in the form of a human being to be physically present with us. Emmanuel means “God with us.” God promises to remain with us through the presence of the Holy Spirit! God invites us to share with others in the ministry of presence.
1. Think of a time when you’ve gone through a difficult situation and someone walked with you. How did their presence influence your ability to cope? Describe how this person’s presence demonstrates God’s presence.
2. When you think about God’s presence in your life, what does that mean to you? Do you think of God being present up in heaven somewhere far away? Do you think of God living in one particular place or space? Is God near or far? Is God speaking or silent? Is God active or inactive? What thoughts, feelings, or ideas come to you when you consider God’s presence?
3. Is it hard for you to image God being present in every aspect of your life? What would help you to be more aware of God’s presence in the here and now?
God, you are here. At times, my focus is completely on me and I miss your presence. Give me eyes to see you, give me ears to hear your gentle voice, give me a receptive heart and an expectant mind. Nurture in me a desire to feel, taste, see, hear, and touch your presence in the world around me and strength to share your presence with others. Thank you, Emmanuel, God with us for your constant presence. Amen.
Be present to another person this week, and open yourself to God’s presence. Choose one evening this week to put away your electronics to be physically present with another person. Take a walk with your brother, sister, father, or mother. Go to the kitchen and prepare dinner with another family member. Attend a sporting event without taking your cell phone. Take note of the difference in your physical presence. What did you experience that you might have missed had you been looking at your phone? Next, take 20 minutes this week to read the entire letter of Philippians. Read Paul’s letter out loud to yourself without music, phone, TV or other distractions. After you read the letter, sit in silence and wait for a theme, word, phrase, or idea to come to you from the reading. Ask God to show you in the next week why this word, phrase, or idea is important to your life. If God calls you to action, obey God’s nudge.