by pastor david
"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'. So we may boldly say: 'The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’”
Several years ago, I preached a series of sermons about various Bible characters that I called, "Lonely People". Little did I know that there would be many days when I would be one of those lonely people. There have been numerous times, even when a crowd of people surrounded me, that I felt dreadfully lonely.
Did you ever feel like this? As his UCLA football team suffered through a poor season in the early 1970s, head coach Pepper Rodgers came under intense criticism and pressure from alumni and fans. Things got so bad, he remembers with a smile, that friends became hard to find. “My dog was my only true friend,” Rodgers says of that year. “I told my wife that every man needs at least two good friends—and she bought me another dog.”
Loneliness is a growing problem in our society. A study by the American Council of Life Insurance reported that the loneliest group of people in America is college students. Is that surprising? Next on the list are divorced people, welfare recipients, single mothers, rural students, housewives, and the elderly.
Yet, I realize Jesus Christ understands exactly what we are experiencing at times like these. There was a time in Christ's earthly ministry when . . .
How wonderfully comforting it is to know that Christ understands exactly how we feel when that tormenting loneliness engulfs us like a dense fog on a rainy night.
What is a believer to do when he feels lonely, even though he knows he is not alone? The Bible teaches that there are three tremendous truths upon which we should meditate during these times of emotional despair.
1. There is a person to whom we can retreat when we are lonely.
(13:5a) "For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'"
The One who gives us this encouraging pledge is the Lord Himself.
This assurance comes from the God Who, according to (Titus 1:2), cannot lie. This guarantee comes to us from the God who is immutable (never changing). We are talking about a God from whose love neither you nor I can ever be separated (Rom. 8:38-39)!
Every believer can rely upon these words today, even though they were originally spoken to Joshua (Josh. 1:5). Notice in our text the personal relationship God has with us, implied in the words "I" and "you". God says to us today, "I want to be near you! I will always be near you. All you have to do is call out to Me and you will know I am near!" Jesus said, "The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." (John 6:37 NKJV)
2. There is a promise upon which we can rely when we are lonely.
(13:5b) "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
The word "leave" translates the Greek word, "aniemi", which means "to send back, to relax, to loosen, not to uphold, to let sink". Two negatives in the Greek text precede it, which in English make a positive, but, in Greek only serve to strengthen the negative. It is literally, "I will not, I will not cease to sustain and uphold you."
The word translated "forsake" is a compound of three Greek words which, when put together mean, "to abandon, desert, leave in straits, leave helpless, leave destitute, leave in the lurch, let one down." There are three negatives before this word, making the promise one of triple assurance. It is, "I will not, I will not, I will not let you down, leave you in the lurch, leave you destitute, leave you in straits and helpless, abandon you."
All of this means that when we find ourselves in difficult circumstances, God will come to our rescue!
(13:6) "So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"
What a powerful testimony this is. Not only does the writer know these truths but also exuberantly proclaims them to all who will listen.
Make note of . . .
To point out how lonely people can be, Charles Swindoll mentioned an ad in a Kansas newspaper. It read, “I will listen to you talk for 30 minutes without comment for $5.00”. Swindoll said, “Sounds like a hoax, doesn’t it? But the person was serious. Did anybody call? You bet. It wasn’t long before this individual was receiving ten to twenty calls a day. The pain of loneliness was so sharp that some were willing to try anything for a half hour of companionship”.
Please join me in this prayer.
Lord, thank You for this wonderful promise. It is so encouraging to me today. I have always known that You would never leave me - especially when I am going through difficult times, but today my heart rejoices because I feel Your presence so intensely. Help me to be always conscious of Your presence in my life. Help me to let You live Your life through me today. Empty me of myself and fill me with Your Spirit. Amen.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."
For more than ten years, the Lord has been repeatedly emphasizing one essential truth in my life. Again and again, from a variety of Scriptures, God has been teachings me one simple and yet profound principle. That often-repeated axiom is this:
All that God does or allows is designed to drive us to greater dependence upon Him.
The wise writer of Proverbs, in Proverbs 3:5-6, under the inspiration and superintendence of the Holy Spirit, underscores this truth when he warns us, "lean not on your own understanding" and commands us, "in all your ways acknowledge Him". This is the essence of trusting "in the Lord with all your heart".
We might be tempted to question the accuracy of the truth stated above in light of the all the tragedies, troubles, and temptations in the world around us. However, in spite of how difficult it might be to believe what God is saying, these situations should always remind us that there is a God who is still in control of this universe and everything in it. To add an exclamation point to the original premise and to help us see the scale of God’s control over His creation, the Psalmist said, “The Lord sat enthroned at the Flood” (Psalm 29:10). There has never been devastation on the earth as horrific and deadly as the great Flood, recorded in the Book of Genesis, and the Psalmist David said that God was seated on His Throne, even in the midst of this catastrophic event.
If God allows such things as wars, disease, tragedies, and upheavals in nature like earthquakes and tsunamis, then He apparently does so for a reason. I would never pretend to understand all God's reasoning in these matters but one thing is clear from the Scriptures. God wants the men, women, boys, and girls He created to live in constant and trusting reliance upon Him.
Again, I do not pretend to know all the answers to those questions but I know that one of the benefits was a greater dependence upon God in the lives of those involved. I also know that what is true on an international, national, and Biblical scale is also true on a personal scale. Why is God allowing you to face the difficulties you are facing right now?
Think about it. What has God been doing or allowing in your life in recent days? Whether the things that came to your mind were good, bad, somewhere in between, please know that God has a purpose for your life and a plan to bring about that intended goal.
However, His purpose and plan for our lives will never be realized to its fullest potential until we learn to live in complete reliance upon Him. As we learn to live with increasing confidence in Him, we are progressively "conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29). This always brings glory to "the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise" (1 Timothy 1:17).
With this kind of dependence upon God and His sovereignty, there is always greater peace and more sublime tranquility than you have ever known.
"Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”
Prayer! Prayer is a very real concern in my own personal life. A survey by Christianity Today revealed that the average Pastor prays only three minutes a day. Another survey showed that 93% of students preparing for the ministry in a well-known theological college confessed that they had no devotional life at all! My only comment here is that the curse of prayer-less preachers is powerless pulpits and problem pews!
However, prayer should not only be the priority of ministers, but also the priority of the members as well! It should be the equal concern of both pastors and parishioners!
That being said, should not each of us set aside a specific time each day for prayer? It was the Apostle Paul who cried out, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering”. (Philippians 3:10) The only way to “know Him” is to spend time with Him each day – listening to Him through His Word and then responding to Him through personal prayer.
God speaks to us through His Word and we speak to Him in prayer. That is called a dialogue!
Henry Ward Beecher said, “Let the day have a blessed baptism by giving your first waking thoughts to God”. It was the great expositor, Dr. Stephen Olford, who said, “If we want to pray well, we should pray early”.
When do you pray? Jesus prayed the first thing each morning. For some, the question might be, “Do you pray?”
The great Biblical characters we so often look to as examples of Godliness, prearranged their schedules to give God the first hours of their day.
• Abraham rose early in the morning to worship. Gen. 2:3
• Jacob rose early in the morning to make his vows. Gen. 28:18
• Joshua rose early in the morning to sanctify himself. Josh. 3:1
• Gideon rose early to seek God’s answer. Judges 6:38
• Samuel rose early to ask for guidance. I Sam. 9:26
• David rose early in the morning to battle for God. I Sam. 17:20
• Jesus rose early to spend time with His Father. Mark 1:35
This kind of prayer calls for solitude and silence.
Dr. F. E. Marsh put it this way, “The shining face of Moses did not come from a hurried call to heaven’s gate; it was obtained by dwelling in the Lord’s presence for forty days”.
Please understand that I am not throwing stones of guilt at you. I am simply challenging and reminding us, myself included, of the priority and privilege of prayer. Church, can we say with Christ’s disciples, “Lord, teach us to pray”? (Luke 11:1)
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Growing up as I did in the home of Christian parents and the home of a Baptist deacon, I attended church regularly. Actually, it was beyond regularly. You see, when I was a child we attended Tuesday evening Youth Meeting, Wednesday evening Prayer Meeting, Saturday evening Evangelistic Service, Sunday morning Sunday School, Sunday morning Worship Service, and Sunday evening Worship Service. Whew, I’m tired just thinking about it.
However, if I had it to do over again, I would not change a thing because, among the many things I learned about the Bible, I also learned to worship. I had the wonderful privilege of sitting with my parents and observing them and others worship Christ from the heart. Ironically, it was at a Sunday evening worship service that I gave my life to Christ!
Obviously, my parents and the leaders of the church where I grew up were familiar and obedient to the passage above. They did not “forsake the assembling” of themselves together and for that I am thankful.
The interesting part of the passage to me is the phrase, “and so much the more as you see the Day approaching”. Apparently, church attendance – the fellowshipping of ourselves together as believers – is more important today than it was when I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s. The reason is obvious. It is because we are closer to that approaching “Day” than ever. That “Day”, refers to the day of the return of Christ and all that follows.
If this is indeed true, and it is, why is the attendance of the average church member so sporadic, so erratic? Is it really too much to expect those who claim the Name of Christ to attend church regularly, unless providentially hindered. Is attending every Sunday now so out of the ordinary that those who do so are seen as Super Saints?
I certainly understand that there are times when it is impossible to attend. Sometimes sickness, travel, work, and other interruptions keep us from attending as much as we would like. However, that should be the exception – that providential hindrance to which I referred earlier.
“Are we going to Church today?” is a question that should never be asked in the committed Christian’s home. Faithful attendance to the house of God should be such a pattern in your home that your family and friends know exactly where you will be at church time.
Yes, church attendance is more important today than ever. Let’s make obedience to the Lord in this matter a priority. Not only will you be blessed but God will also be glorified!
Pastor David Boggs
I hope these occasional posts will encourage and challenge you as we grow in Christ together.
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