Sunday, June 3, 2018

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - God is With Us

During this week, our ministry website, Facebook and Twitter pages have been filled with prayer requests. Each one is very special to my wife and myself. We pray for each one just as we know others pray for us. Whether we are praying for someone or someone is praying for us, we, as Christians, know that God is always with us. He is there to provide for our physical and spiritual needs. He listens and responds to our prayers and gives us strength during our times of weakness. He never falters or fails to provide for His children and His love is everlasting. In Zephaniah 3:17, we see that God rejoices over us with joyful songs. Reading from the New Living Translation, “For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Think of this verse this way. When a child is frightened, a mother sings songs to her child as a way to relieve those fears, uncertainties and doubts. By God rejoicing over us, we can rest assured that He is there to give us comfort and remove those fears that plague our lives. 

Looking at my own life and what my family and I are facing, there have been so many times when fear and uncertainty have not only dogged our every step but they have also filled our minds and hearts with doubt. When we consider what we are facing, we begin to falter in our faith. We begin to wonder if God is even listening to our prayers. Instead of praising Him for what He has done and continues to do for us, we plead with Him to listen to our prayers and ask Him why He isn’t listening to us. Our prayers become prayers of desperation and we no longer see Him as El Shaddai, Almighty God. We begin to doubt His promises and forget everything that He has done for us in the past. Yes, we suffer from a lapse in memory and forget the blessings and miracles that He has performed, in my case, to save my life. 

In February of this year, I was literally at death’s door. I was forty-eight to seventy-two hours away from going into a coma and dying from brain infection. If it hadn’t been for God’s hand of mercy acting in my life, I would have never made it. God assembled a team of medical specialists who used the knowledge given to them by Him to save my life. I am truly blessed to have those individuals enter into my life at exactly the moment I needed them to keep me from dying. When I consider the seriousness of my illness and what was happening and what was going to happen, God provided me with the necessary resources and experts to get me through the valley of darkness. Although I am not completely out of the valley, I am a lot closer to the green pastures that He is leading me towards. I know that He will not only restore my body but He will also restore my battered soul. 

During this ordeal, I have learned that I was never alone and that I should never be afraid. God is always there and will always be there for me. As a child of the most high, I know that God listens and responds to my prayers. Sometimes, the answers are not exactly what I wanted, but I realize that the answer He does provide serves His will and plan for my life. Yes, it has taken me a long time to accept that, but it is our faith in Him that will sustain us. We should always remember that we serve God and must live in accordance to His will in our lives. It is difficult for us to accept that part. We want the easy solution. At times, we think that there should be a button marked “God” that we can push and everything just goes away and we are able to return to our comfortable lives as if nothing had happened. I wish I could say that Christianity worked like that. It doesn’t. We are God’s children and we serve Him. He is not a genie in a lamp who grants us our every wish or is there to serve us. 

When Job suffered the loss of family and fortune, he demands an answer from God. Job believes he is entitled to answers. In Job 38-41, God responds to Job and asks him some very pointed questions regarding the creation of the world. God asks Job, “4 Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. 5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? 6 On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—7 while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

After Job hears the questions that God put to him, he quickly realizes that God does not owe him any explanation of His actions. In Job 40, Job realizing that he was wrong in questioning the Lord says, “4 'I am nothing—how could I ever find the answers? I will cover my mouth with my hand. 5 I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say.'

As we go through our trials and troubles, we need to always remember that they, like all things, serve a purpose in God’s plan for our lives. I know that this is a difficult pill to swallow. We pray for the miracle and remind God that we have been His “good and faithful servant” and that we deserve what we want. It is at that very moment that God has been the genie in the lamp and not God as Adonai which is Hebrew for God and Master. That isn’t the way things work. We are His children and we can ask for the miracle, but our prayers must include the most difficult words to utter, “Your will be done.”

God does, however, make a promise to us that He will always be there for us and will provide for our needs. He will grant us the desires of our hearts as long as we realize that they must be part of His plan and will for our lives. Let us look at Isaiah 41:10 and understand what God provides His children. “10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

That is His word to us. Since God is there to strengthen and help us during our times of trials and troubles, we are not to be afraid or discouraged. He will hold us up with His victorious right hand and not allow anything to separate us from Him. We are His and His alone. It is a promise that He gave us through the sacrifice of His son, Christ Jesus.

As Isaiah had prophesied 700 years before the birth of Jesus, he told us of his name. Let us look at Isaiah 7. “14 All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means 'God is with us').” Jesus’ very name tells us that God has, is and will always be with us. His love is unfailing and infinite.

When you face the fears, uncertainties and doubts that plague your daily life, know this, “God is always there for you and is listening to you.” He will provide you with the grace to get through your valley of darkness and lead you to those green pastures. God will restore your soul and lift you up with His victorious right hand. As Franklin D. Roosevelt so aptly said in his first inaugural speech, “the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” It is the fear that prevents us from going to the Father to ask for strength, comfort or to provide us with wisdom to act in accordance with His will for our lives that will paralyze us. Roosevelt could not be more precise when he called that sort of fear as “nameless, unreasoning and unjustified terror”. When we let fears like that rule our lives, we do not seek Him and we begin to doubt Him. 

When that occurs, we need to stop and remember God’s own words and promise, “don’t be afraid, for I am with you.” If God is for us, who can be against us? The answer to that question is very easy. No one can stand in the way of the Lord. 

As you go through this week and run into setbacks, mistakes, problems, missteps or anything that seems like an insurmountable obstacle, think of what Jesus’s name of Emmanuel means, “God is with us.” When you remember that, you will be able to face whatever comes your way and know that you can stand firm in His grace.

May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace. 
~ Numbers 6:24-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

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