“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Presents from His Presence, by Randall D. Kittle


When the Lord’s presence comes into our lives, He gives us “presents” to welcome us into His kingdom. Who could tell the fullness of all God has done for us and all we have received from Him? If the oceans were ink, they would still run dry before we could write of all the good things the Lord has done for us and given to us.

Let us look at three of the gifts the Lord has given us shown in Romans 14:17,
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy. When we open our hearts and allow the Lord to make it His home, these are the “housewarming” gifts He gives to us. God is no respecter of persons. He gives each of us these gifts.

Receiving These Gifts
If I were to get a new house, a friend might give me a certain tool as a housewarming gift. Imagine this friend’s bewilderment if months later he was to come over to my new house and discovered me laboring away at some task complaining about the need for this very tool. The bewilderment would turn into astonishment if he saw the present he had given me sitting off to the side still wrapped. Without opening the present, I cannot recognize what it is that I have received.

That is how it is in the hearts of so many — the very thing that they so desperately need, that for which they have been crying out to God for, He has already given them, and they do not even realize it. The Lord wants to release into our lives the reality of what it is that we have received from Him. God desires for many to finally unwrap and receive that which He has given.

The Righteousness Of Christ
The first of these presents is the
righteousness of Christ. It says in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Notice that it is His righteousness and not ours. Jesus does not take our righteousness and clean it up to become “new and improved.” Christ simply replaces our insufficient righteousness with His all-sufficient righteousness. All we are required to do is to receive it.

In repentance it is easy to take our evil deeds and nail them to the cross. We enjoy removing these blemishes and getting our distance from them. It is much more difficult to nail our righteousness, our goodness, to the cross. To fully realize the righteousness of God, however, we must first reject our own righteousness, and empty ourselves of self-justification. God cannot pour His living water into a vessel that is already full of stale water. Only after we pour out the stale water of our own righteousness can He fill us with the living water of the righteousness of Christ.

Many think receiving the righteousness of Christ is like a gift exchange in which we bring an inferior gift to God and get a superior gift from God in exchange. The humble reality is that we come as beggars having nothing, deserving nothing, and yet we are given everything — for we receive the righteousness of Christ when our righteousness is as filthy rags.

Internal Righteousness
If we have the righteousness of Christ, why is it that we have such difficulty realizing it? It is because we do not see things as the Lord does — He looks at the internal consecration (what is inside our hearts), while we strive to appear externally “holy.”

If we went to Israel in Jesus’ day and took a survey asking the people who they thought was the most “holy,” they would have selected the Pharisees, not Jesus. (Even though Jesus was the embodiment of holiness.) This is because man looks at the outward appearance. The Pharisees knew the laws and traditions, wore the “right” clothes, ate the “right” food, and were always with the “right” people. They looked very righteous in the eyes of man.

So often we find ourselves acting like the Pharisees, who washed the outside of the glass to make it look clean while the inside remained vile. A whitewashed exterior may appear clean and “holy” to us while that which lies underneath remains rotten and decaying. Remember Jesus said that
“… unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:20).

Jesus had internal righteousness. He did not depend upon His surroundings; His internal righteousness was a part of Him. Jesus could be with the sinners, the harlots, and the tax collectors because external defilement was not going to cause Him to loose His righteousness. Instead, His internal righteousness shone forth, touching the lives of those around Him.

A Fact … Not A Feeling
If we are abiding in Christ, we have His righteousness within us. If we piously proclaim our lack of righteousness after we receive our salvation, it may sound humble, but it is actually an act of defiance toward God. We are saying that either His righteousness is insufficient, that He is incapable of imparting it to us (even though He has promised to), or that we are unwilling to lay down our own righteousness and receive His. Therefore, we are either ignorant or rebellious. Having the righteousness of God is a fact — not a feeling.

After a man is married, he may think that he does not really feel married; things seem pretty much the same as before. This does not change the fact that in the eyes of the state and (more importantly) in the eyes of God he is married. When a woman is pregnant sometimes she feels very pregnant and other times she may not feel pregnant at all; but she is just as pregnant at either time. Her feelings do not change the facts. Similarly, how we feel about our righteousness does not change what the Lord has done for us and given to us.

The Peace Of God
The next present from God is His
peace. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). The peace of our sins being forgiven and of a clear conscience that results from believing and obeying Him, are not the same as the peace of Jesus. It is His own peace that He gives to us, and Jesus never had sins that needed to be forgiven nor a cloudy conscience that needed appeasing. His peace is not just a piece of property that we can possess, it is His character that is imparted to us when His presence enters our hearts.

The peace of God is far superior to worldly peace. It does not just surpass it; it is on a whole different level.
“And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). There is nothing else like the peace of God; it is beyond our understanding. This should not come as a surprise to us, for God is infinite and the gifts He gives are infinite in nature. Although we cannot fully comprehend His peace, we still can receive it from Him.

Effects Of Peace
The peace of Christ is not just to be in you — it is to affect your life. We are to have the peace of God “… guard your hearts and your minds …” Guarding our hearts and minds is to protect them from what comes into them, from what we allow to enter. The peace of God is to act like a filter, filtering out the worldly things that desire to defile our spirit, and the fears and anxieties that life’s circumstances would try to plant within our hearts.

The peace of God does not just affect what comes into our lives, but also what flows out from them.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts …” (Colossians 3:15). Ruling in our hearts suggests that the peace of Christ is reigning over what comes forth from us. What we speak and how we act is to flow from His peace within us, affecting the world around us.

Reflecting His Peace
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Jesus tells us that we are going to have difficulties, but even in these He expects us to reflect to the world around us His peace; the peace that He has given us.

The moon has no source of illumination, it simply reflects the light of the sun that shines on it. In a lunar eclipse the sunlight that normally reflects off the moon is blocked by the shadow of the earth. This quickly changes the moon’s appearance from light to dark. We do not panic nor fear that suddenly the sun has become extinguished just because we can no longer see its light being reflected from the moon. We realize that our ability to see its manifestation (the moonlight) has simply been temporarily blocked. Similarly, the peace that is in us is not our own. It is only there because the Lord’s presence is in our hearts. If we allow anything to occlude His presence in our lives we will not be able to receive His encouragement and reflect His peace. We should not panic or fear if we do not see the peace of God in our lives. That does not mean it is not there, it only means we are currently unable to see it.

The peace of the Lord is not some external worldly thing that can be put on from the outside. It is internal, not external. It is not contentment, satisfaction, nor absence of conflict. These are Satan’s cheap imitations of the peace of Christ. The world will say “we are all one, let us join together in peace.” Satan gives rise to this compromising peace-at-any-cost philosophy. Jesus came to destroy the works of Satan, including this “worldly peace.” Matthew 10:34 says
“I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” We must differentiate between the world’s external peace, and God’s internal peace. Jesus came to destroy the imitation — the external peace-at-any-cost. He came to give the internal peace that passes understanding even in times of tribulation. It does not give external peace to say to the unredeemed “unless you are born again you cannot see the kingdom of Heaven,” but sometimes we are called to break down a person’s external peace so that they can enter the eternal peace of God.

Increasing Peace
Christ’s peace was not only sufficient on the day that we first received it, this portion of His kingdom is ever increasing.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders, and He will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end (Isaiah 9:6-7). As the end of the age approaches, Satan will increase his warring against the saints. He will try to breed discouragement, despair, and discord among the “soldiers of God.” However, Jesus has already overcome the world and crushed the enemy. Jesus — the Prince of Peace — will be increasing His kingdom; multiplying out new measures of peace to His saints.

The Joy Of The Lord
The last of these three presents is joy. For many this is the most difficult to comprehend that they have already received. John 15:11 states
“I have told you this that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Here Jesus shares with us how He will bring our joy to completion — by giving us His joy. There is no other method by which our joy can be made complete except that He births His joy into us. When the presence of God comes into our hearts, Christ gives us His joy. The Lord makes our joy complete by filling us with His joy. “You have made known to me the path of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at you right hand” (Psalm 16:11).

Not Happiness Or Pleasure
Joy is not the same as happiness or pleasure. Happiness
depends upon what is happening about us. Pleasure is the fulfillment of certain desires. Happiness and pleasure are attained by meeting certain external expectations. They are dependent upon the conditions and circumstances around us, those things that we often cannot control. Satan can give happiness and pleasure: only God can give true joy. Joy is internal — a gift from God that we are always to have.

We are always to have joy, but we will not always be happy. When the circumstances around us fall apart and we cannot feel the joy of the Lord in our lives, the world would tell us to heap happiness on from the outside. When you lose your job just keep on smiling. When your car breaks down just keep on smiling. When you lose your house just keep on smiling. This “put on a happy face” attitude was well reflected in a song the world embraced years ago,
“Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” This will not last, however, because happiness is dependent on the circumstances, and just acting happy does not change the troubles that surround us.

Often our lives can appear like a precious locket of pure gold that has become tarnished. We can try to make it look better by simply painting over it with gold-colored gilding paint to restore the beauty by putting it on from the outside. This is like the one who addresses difficult circumstances by trying to “paint on” happiness. How much more beautiful the locket would be if we removed the tarnish so that the true beauty placed within it could shine out. This is what the Lord would have us do: remove our focus from the worldly circumstances that cloud our perception, and draw from the joy that He has placed within us.

What Is Joy?
The dictionary defines joy as an emotion or feeling. But Jesus’ joy was rooted in doing the will of His Father. He said,
“… as the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21). We are also to find our joy in doing the will of the Father. On joy, Oswald Chambers said, “The joy of anything, from a blade of grass upwards, is to fulfill its created purpose.” For what purpose were we created? Man was created to have relationship with God. If we have allowed the Lord's presence in our lives (accepting God’s gift of reconciliation), we are now in a position to have relationship with Him and therefore we should also experience His joy. We were also created to worship God. No wonder the Bible is full of exhortations to shout for joy to the Lord in worship: for in the very act of worship we are fulfilling one of the purposes for which we were created. Consequently, we should find joy.

We are commanded in the Psalms to go out in joy, shout for joy, and sing for joy. God would not call us to do this unless He had also equipped us to do it. He equips us by giving us His joy. By obedience we walk out the joy He has put within us. Just as “love is a decision,” measuring out the joy the Lord has put into our hearts is a decision; a choice; an act of our will. The joy that His presence brings is like a well of refreshing
water, but it is up to us to draw it out and pour it upon this parched land in which we live.

Nehemiah 8:10 says,
“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Not joy in the Lord, but the joy of the Lord. It is independent of conditions and circumstances — but only dependent on the nature of God having been birthed into us. The Lord’s joy in the midst of tribulation will give us the strength to make it through and keep us on His path.

His Signature
The world has never been more hungry to see true Christianity. But it is waiting with a desire to see true Christianity — not some cheap imitation or reproduction. Once my wife and I needed a table for our living room. A friend of ours told us to come out and look at an old table she had stored in her barn. When we had brushed off some of the dust and saw it, we were both attracted to its solid and somewhat primitive style. As the table was being refinished, we discovered that there was a signature on one of the draws. It was a signed Stickley (a furniture craftsman of great prominence). We were not drawn to the table because of its signature, but because of its external style. Yet the style and the craftsmanship with which it was made were there because of the craftsman who had made it. Similarly, if we allow Jesus Christ to be the Master whose presence is the signature on our hearts — the righteousness, peace, and joy the world sees will draw them to Him, the Master Craftsman.

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