God Says, “I Am With You”

God’s promise to be with His people is a comforting thought. From our earliest days, knowing that mommy and daddy were within a cry’s sound helped us face our darkened room and sleep with peace. As we grow and mature, we long to replace that loving protective presence. Fortunately, God is there. He created us, He has promised to love us, and He will save us from the consequences of our rebellion … if we let Him. That is grace, that is mercy, that is love. Praise God!

The Lord answered, “I will be with you.” (Judges 6:16 NIV)

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NIV)

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, `Do not fear; I will help you.’ “ (Isaiah 41:13 NIV)

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GOD IS WITH US.

What an amazing thought! What an incredible concept! The creator of the universe, the 69.GOD_With_UsOne who designed all life forms and brought them into being, takes a personal interest in each one of us.

He says He is with us.

Jesus tells us that not even the lowly sparrow falls to the ground without the Father’s knowledge and against His will (Matthew 10:29), so how much more precious in His sight is the life of men and women, whom He made “in our image, in our likeness” (Gen. 1:26 NIV). Why, even the hairs on our heads “are all numbered” (Luke 12:7 NIV).

In that most famous psalm, David exalts, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4 ESV).

In the Old Testament, God speaks through the prophet Jeremiah proclaiming, “You will be my people, and I will be your God” (Jeremiah 30:22 NLT).

Finally, at the end of the New Testament, the apostle John writes, “I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them’” (Revelation 21:3 NLT).

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69. ValleyOfDeathTHERE IS NO MORE SATISFYING feeling than knowing God Almighty loves us.

Consider this: God exists, and He made us. He did not need to make us. He did not need us to complete Him. He wants us.

How horrifying, how completely terrifying it would be if God were not a loving and merciful Being! Let’s not even start to think about what kind of an existence we would have, if that were the case.

Praise God that He is merciful and loving. Yes, He is just, as well, and we cannot forget that. He will repay evil for evil, and He will punish those who have refused to listen to Him and obey Him.

But it is His justice that makes His mercy so meaningful. His justice gives meaning to our lives — there is a system of rewards and punishment for how we live — but His mercy is what allows Him to forgive us over and over again, when we repent of our sins.

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WITH SUCH A GREAT OFFER, why do so few people seem to recognize it or claim it for their lives?

What motivates the vast majority of people to forego the richness of a personal relationship with the Almighty in favor of “going it alone.”

Pride.

The Bible says pride is the original sin. Pride is what led Eve, and then Adam, to ignore God’s warning against eating the “forbidden” fruit (Genesis 3:1-7).69. Narrow_Gate

The book of Proverbs tells us, “Arrogance causes nothing but trouble. It is wiser to ask for advice” (Proverbs 13:10 GNT). James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote a short book in the Bible full of good advice, one of which is this: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (James 4:10 ESV).

Jesus even warned us against making the wrong choice. He told His disciples (and us) to “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it” (Matt. 7:13 NIV).

How tragically sad that so many of our fellow humans choose the broad road that leads to destruction instead of the narrow road that leads to glory and peace with God.

How sad it must have been for Jesus, knowing He came to earth to die for our sins, to utter those words, proclaiming that most of the people He created and loves are not interested in choosing Him back.

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ONE OF OUR LORD’S most endearing traits is that He is “long-suffering.” Some translations say “patient,” or “slow to anger.”

One of my life verses testifies to the Lord’s patience with even those who, like me, are stubborn:

69.Love_God“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9 NASB).

The Bible is clear, however, that “patience” does not last forever.

“But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Rom. 2:5 NLT).

“For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” (Rev. 6:17 NIV).

For those of us who do believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, God spares us from that wrath.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1 ESV).

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:9 ESV).

Listen to these comforting words, spoken by Jesus Himself:

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17 NIV).

God truly is with us, so much so that He comes looking for us (Gen. 3:9), stands patiently at the door of our hearts, waiting for us to let Him in (Rev. 3:20), and guarantees, promises, and covenants that He will provide us an eternity with Him if we just turn our hearts to Him in repentance (Acts 2:21).

What an amazing deal that is. What an amazing God He is!

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68. Holy_Bible_CrossPRAYER: O Loving and Merciful Father, Your goodness is well beyond anything we could ever imagine or hope for. Your unmerited grace is more than we could ever earn or deserve. Lord, we love You, we honor You, we praise You. Thank You, Lord, for Your mercy and for the sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sins. In His precious name we pray. Amen

QUESTIONS:

  1. What does God’s promise to be with us mean to you? Do you realize that His promise is good only for those who are “saved” through His Son’s blood? Salvation is a free gift of God for those who repent of their sins. Is this something you want in your life? If not, why not?
  2. Do you instinctively hesitate whenever anyone mentions God might have a plan for your life? Are you unsure you want someone else laying a claim on you? What if He wants you to do something you absolutely refuse to do. Is that a real concern for you? What if He has prepared you for the task? Does that change your answer?
  3. When God tells us He is patient with us, do you wonder if He ever gets around to punishing the evildoers and rewarding the good ones? Do you think He might be too patient to suit you? Can you learn anything from His patience? Would you like to?

The Christian’s Response to Politics

Some religious leaders caution Christians against publicizing political views, fearing discord that could split the flock, while others challenge believers to engage in all areas of public life, including running for office. What is clear is that in all matters of our earthly lives—including the political—God’s people are called to seek His guidance and direction and then speak the Word of God boldly.

Psalms 146:3-5 (NLT): “Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them. But joyful are those … whose hope is in the Lord their God.”

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV): “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Acts 1:8 (GW) [Y]ou will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes to you. Then you will be my witnesses to testify about me … to the ends of the earth.”

THE U.S. POLITICAL FABRIC IS TORN.

The last several decades have seen a wedge form within the body, separating families, friends, neighbors, and communities. On one side are those pushing for more government regulation of our personal lives, while their opponents push against more government, saying less government promotes a vibrant private sector.

Overlapping this battle is the divisive “culture war,” pitting secular voices  calling for “progressive” values against Christian voices defending biblical values.

Where Are Christian Voices?In both arenas — the role of government and the cultural war — there is no middle ground. If one is not “right,” then one is “wrong” — not partly right or mostly right, but completely wrong.

Both major political parties have seen an “ethnic cleansing” of sorts, where those left-of-center have migrated to one party and those right-of-center have moved to the other party.

The result of this realignment is a political middle nearly extinct, and, with it, any chance for either side to find compromise or common ground.

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WHAT SHOULD BE THE CHRISTIAN VOICE?

The Christian is called to observe two truths.

One is to follow biblical teaching; that is, to listen for God’s voice and obey His commands where He has made them clear (Lev. 22:31; Matt. 28:20; John 15:14).

The other is to follow the Lord’s mandate to love God and to love our fellow man. Jesus said we are to forgive our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matt. 5:44).

The Lord was also clear that He created civil government to maintain order and domestic peace, to punish wrongdoers, and to keep us safe from our enemies (1 Pet. 2:13-14; Rom. 13:1). He even calls us to pray for our political leaders (1 Tim. 2:1-3).Girl in Field - Christian Voices

In the most famous exchange on secular observance, Jesus told his questioners to “give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” (Mark 12:7).

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TRUE, WE ARE REMINDED in Scripture that the Lord Jesus will return to earth — the Second Coming — when He will gather the believers to Him and usher in a lengthy earthly reign, possibly for a thousand years — before providing the Paradise He promised that far exceeds the Garden of Eden (Rev. 21, 22).

Until then, we are called to witness in the way we act and speak that gives the glory to God (1 Peter 2:12).

So, is there a Christian List of Political Positions that we could refer to that will tell us the biblical stand on the day’s affairs?

It might be easier to point to Scripture in defense of marriage between one man and one woman (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-6) than it is to discern a Christian position on, say, the ideal tax rate (Matt. 17:27).

But looking for “right” positions on earthly concerns doesn’t feel at all biblical, especially in light of the apostle Paul’s statement that “our citizenship is in heaven,” and we are waiting for the Lord’s return (Phil. 3:20).

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WHEN JESUS DIED FOR OUR SINS on the Cross, He also rose from the dead to create His church (Matt. 16:18), which He would soon commission his followers to build (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8).

The apostle Paul was clear that the Lord’s church should follow “one Lord” (Eph. 4:3-5), so there’s very little room for discord or fractious debate within the circle of believers. That is not to say there isn’t room for disagreement. That is entirely a different matter, as long as the issue is not a clear biblical mandate.

Cross Against Sky - Christian VoicesWe’ve seen what happens when God’s people fail to consult with God on all matters of their lives, from Adam and Eve’s decision to eat of the  forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:6), to Abraham and Sarah’s plan to fulfill God’s promise to give them a son (Gen. 16:1-2), to Korah’s uprising against Moses’ leadership in the wilderness (Num. 16:31-33), and that’s just the tip of the first three books in a 66-book Bible.

The prophet Jeremiah was pretty blunt, wasn’t he, when he put it this way when God’s people stopped asking Him for guidance: “For the shepherds are stupid and do not inquire of the LORD; therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered” (Jer. 10:21).

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WHAT IS CLEAR is that in all matters of our earthly lives, including the political realm, God’s people are called on to seek God’s guidance and direction.

The apostle James, Jesus’ half-brother, says that if anyone lacks wisdom, he or she “should ask God,” who will give it (James 1:5). He says that the wisdom God gives “is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (3:17).

The psalmist tells us (Psalms 118:8-9 CEV) that it is “better to trust the Lord for protection than to trust anyone else, including strong leaders.”

Lastly, we’re reminded in Acts 4:24-26, that God is sovereign, and He will determine the outcome of any event, whether it be a plea for direction in marriage or which job offer to accept — or what the election outcome should be.

That doesn’t mean we will understand or even like the outcome (Isa. 55:9). It does mean that God is in control.

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WHEN THE APOSTLES PETER AND JOHN were released from prison, they reported back to the early believers that the political and religious leaders of the day had ordered them to stop preaching the Good News of salvation.

God's Wisdom - Christian VoicesImmediately, the believing community raised their  arms in prayer: “Sovereign Lord, you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.’”

Their amazing prayer continued: “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.”

After they finished, the Bible says (v. 31), “the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

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PRAYER: O Holy and Merciful Father, we come to you in this troubled political season in our country and seek Your guidance. We ask for wisdom on what we, as Your followers, should share with fellow believers and with a fallen world hungry for Light and Truth. In the end, Lord, we know that Your Truth will prevail and that You alone are sovereign. We seek guidance that will help us navigate the coming months in a way that brings glory to You, Lord, and healing to our community. We raise this plea in Jesus’ Name. Amen