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?

WORSHIP WITH JOY

Raising our voices — and our hearts — in joyful worship of the Risen Christ is the greatest experience we can have in this life. How sad when “church-goers” head for the pews each week out of a sense of duty. God gives us eternal life through His Son, and for that gift, we should be eternally grateful and eager to sing praises to Him.

“O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.” (Psalm 95:1 NASB)

“Worship the LORD with joy! Enter his presence with joyful singing!” (Psalm 100:2 NET)

“And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.” (Luke 24:52 ESV)

DO YOU EVER GO TO CHURCH and wonder why you’re there?

You know, you’re sitting in the pew listening to the preacher drone on about something that may or may not have happened, like, 2,000 years ago, and you’ve got better things to do. Your cell phone is buzzing, and you realize at least someone in your life actually has a life.

Joyful Worship - cross outstretched armsAnd what’s with the singing? You’ve been to churches where a choir of 50 or more senior citizens sing some old dusty hymn to a pipe organ, and you’ve been to churches  where they rock to something that could be on the radio, except, well, they’re singing about God and that dude, Jesus, and that would never fly on the radio, for sure.

Then, your clothes itch. Seriously, like who can sit there for an entire hour dressed in something you wouldn’t wear to a costume party.

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LET’S WATCH A TYPICAL FAMILY alight from their car in the church parking lot.

First, there’s some pushing and shoving from the back-seat occupants. Then, there’s the stern shushing from one of the front-seat occupants, before the driver gets out and tries to replace his scowl with a grin. You never know who you might run into in the church parking lot, and it’s never good form to make a bad impression. Not good for business, really.

Finally, in single file, they make their solemn way from the car to the church’s front door.

So, let me ask you: Do you ever go to church and not feel joy?

Unless Joyful Worship - womanyou rephrased the question, your answer probably is “Yes.”

Rephrase the question? How?

Let’s examine the question. “Going to church” is an expression similar to “going to the dentist.” It’s something you know you should do, but it’s not something you enjoy doing, at least more than twice a year. For the dentist, it’s called a semi-annual checkup. For church, it’s called Christmas and Easter.

Instead, what about this question: Do you ever go to worship God, the Creator of the universe, and not feel joy?

The answer is: “No.”

It’s impossible not to feel joy if you’re worshipping God. There is no joy in merely attending church — there’s an abundance of joy in worshipping Almighty God.

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SO, WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT WORSHIP?

Worship is praising God, thanking Him for what He has done for us. God created us in His image for His glory, to have communion with Him and to have dominion on His behalf over the creation. Yet, through pride and rebellion, man threw that connection away. God, in His mercy and love, reconnected us through the lifeblood of His Son. In thanksgiving, we praise His Holy Name.

Now, that’s joy. 

The book of Matthew records a conversation Jesus had with His disciples in which He asked them who men said He was. Jesus was asking for the scuttlebutt. You know, the guys in town, the ones you know, your buddies, what do they say about Me? Who do they say I am?

The disciples offered some feedback — like Elijah or John the Baptist — basically, responses that missed the mark. Then the Apostle Peter offered this gem, recorded in Matthew 16:16 (NASB): “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Once we can say with total conviction, as Peter did: “You are the Christ,” Joyful Worship - 3 Crosseswe are freed from all of life’s uncertainties, its hardships, its troubles. We are free to express our eternal gratitude to the God who, in His mercy, gave us a way back to Him, despite our rebellion.

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THIS IS TRUE JOY IN WORSHIP: Singing and praying our thanks to Almighty God, because, in the end, it’s all about us and Jesus.

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PRAYER: Our Heavenly Father, You are from everlasting to everlasting. You created us in Your image as Your greatest creation, for your glory. Help us to praise You and Your Holy Name with joy, with thanksgiving, with our hearts singing to You. In Jesus’ name.  Amen