by pastor david
2 Corinthians 12:20 (NLT)
“For I am afraid that when I come I won't like what I find, and you won't like my response. I am afraid that I will find quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorderly behavior.”
“Did you hear?” “Guess what!” “I hate to say anything but...” “Don’t tell anyone else but…” These and many similar phrases are often used to tell people things that we know should be kept to ourselves.
When we, or others, hear these tempting morsels of inflamed information, our curiosity is peaked and the conversation continues. The Bible calls this, “gossip”, “tale-bearing”, and “whispering”. The official dictionary meaning of gossip is, “Idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others”.
Bill Gothard gives us a more comprehensive definition in these words, “Gossip is sharing detrimental information with someone who is not a part of the problem or part of the solution”. Many gossips will argue, “But what I said was true!” Perhaps so but if what you said was detrimental and you were not part of the problem or part of the solution, you were gossiping.
Let’s be honest. We have all been guilty of sharing information unnecessarily and perhaps even unkindly. There is a curious nature within us that seems to be awakened when we hear a juicy tidbit that might cast someone in an unflattering or unfavorable light. I suppose we think we can build ourselves up by putting others down but just the opposite is true. We hurt our reputation, our Christian witness, and ourselves when we engage in malicious gossip.
Unfortunately, the Church in Corinth was filled with gossips, as the verse above indicates. Sadder still is the fact that many evangelical churches today are also filled with blathering busy-bodies who would rather hear or share injurious information about another believer than share the life-changing message of the Gospel with an unbeliever.
Oh how I wish we were as anxious to gossip the Gospel, as we are to talk about the latest tragedies and traumas, the failures and faults, the mistakes and misunderstandings, and the sins and situations of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We desperately need to hear the words of (James 3:10), “Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so”.
I suppose one will never completely understand the effects of such painful prating until they have become the object or subject of such cruel chatter.
Let’s ask God the Holy Spirit to forgive us and convict us of our sin of gossip and pray with the Psalmist, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)
“Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
At least 24 people -- including nine children -- were killed when a massive tornado struck an area outside Oklahoma City, on Monday afternoon May 21, 2013. The tornado was 1.3 miles wide as it moved through Moore, in the southern part of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. The estimated peak wind ranged from 200 to 210 mph -- which would make it an EF5, the most powerful category of tornadoes possible. About 2,400 homes were damaged. Some 10,000 people were directly impacted by the tornado. [i]
It is at times like these that we begin to ask a question similar to the one posed by the disciples of our Lord Jesus on that fateful night in the midst of the stormy Sea of Galilee: “Lord, don’t you care about me and what’s happening to me right now?” Most of us have felt that way, even if we did not verbalize it.
When faced with these feelings of despair and abandonment, it will be helpful to remember three important truths – Biblical truths that will enable you to face your problems head on. When you are in those precarious situations, remind yourself that...
1. The Providence of Christ Brought Me Here. (4:35)
Why would our Lord allow His followers to face such dangers and possible disaster? Remember, everything God does or allows in the life of the believer is to drive him to a greater dependence upon Him. Jesus said, “Let us go over to the other side” (4:35).
In His providence, He intended His disciples to arrive safely on the other side of Galilee. Everything that happened was part of God’s plan for His fearful followers. He was creating a greater sense of dependence upon Him.
Remember also that…
2. The Presence of Christ Accompanies Me Here. (4:36-38)
They accused the Lord of not caring about what they were facing. Why would they doubt him? After all, they had already seen Jesus conquer devils, disease, and depravity in (Mark 1:22-2:12). Now, they are faced with a storm and they are afraid. They should have known that a puff of wind on a little pond could not thwart the omnipotence of the sovereign God!
Do you know what their problem was? They were looking at the situation and not at the Savior. He was right there with them, in the same wave-tossed boat. They had their thoughts on the facts and not on faith.
Before we come down too hard on these men; perhaps we should consider our own hearts. Have there been times, when the storms were raging in your life, that you questioned God’s concern for you? You might not have said it out loud, but I am sure there have been times when your flesh has cried, “Lord, don’t you care about what is happening to me?!” We’ve all been there!
I just want you to know today that He does care! He cares more than you could ever know and He has promised to walk with you every step of the way. (Hebrews 13:5) “For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." When the Lord is in your vessel, you have an advantage. The Bible says in (Mark 4:36) that there “were also with him other little ships.” There were many boats on that sea that night, but only one contained the Lord of glory. That boat was the place to be. Amen?
Having Jesus in your vessel makes all the difference.
A third truth to keep in mind is that…
3. The Power of Christ Protects Me Here. (4:39-41)
This storm, that so terrified these men, posed no problem for the Lord Jesus. He rebuked the wind and spoke to the sea. When He did, the winds fell silent and the sea became as a sheet of glass. Just as easily as He had healed the sick and cast out the devils; He was able to control the storm.
The Lord we serve still has that same power today, (Matt. 28:18; Gen. 18:14; Eph. 3:20). Your storm is no problem for Him! He can silence it with a word, if He so desires.
He may, however, desire to allow the storm to rage. When He does this, He is well able to protect you in the midst of the storm. Just ask Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace – Daniel chapter three. Just ask Daniel in the lion’s den – Daniel chapter six.
While the disciples were fretting and fearful, what was the Lord doing? He was sleeping! Why? He knew that He was in the center of His Father’s will. He knew that He would die on a cross and not in a shipwreck. He could sleep during the storm because He trusted His Father to take care of Him. If a situation doesn’t rattle the Lord, we shouldn’t allow it to rattle us either! And, nothing rattles Him. God is in control. (Psalm 121:4) “Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.”
An old song brings all of this into sharp focus.
My boat of life sails on a troubled sea.
Ever there’s a wind in my sails.
But I have a Friend Who watches over me
When the breeze turns into a gale.
I know the Master of the wind.
I know the Maker of the rain.
He can calm the storm, make the sun shine again.
I know the Master of the wind.[ii]
[i](CNN U.S. May 22, 2013)
[ii]Recorded by The Hemphills on Together Copyright @ 1984 Heartwarming Records
“Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day."
I was born and grew up here in Ohio. I have lived in Columbus / Grove City all my life and I must go on record as saying that I love Ohio.
I hear lots of people complain about the weather in Ohio. They say it’s too cold or too hot or too something. You have heard the statement many times, “If you don’t like the weather in Ohio, just wait a few minutes and it will change”.
But that, to me, is the beauty of Ohio weather – its variety. The warm weather is slowly returning and the brilliant green colors of spring have begun to appear. Then, before we know it, the hot weather of summer will be upon us, beckoning us to the swimming pools.
Then, just before the hot, humid weather becomes intolerable, autumn is here with its cooler temperatures and stunning colors that dazzle even the greatest artists. The cold blast of winter then returns. Thus, the cycle continues.
But, therein is its beauty – its variety. When God created and put this universe into motion He declared that, “indeed it was very good”. In other words, variety is a good thing. God likes variety.
What if every Christian was the same? What a boring Church ours would be. You see, the beauty of a local church is in its variety. In our Church we have the wealthy and the poor, the healthy and the ill, the young and the old, the large and the small, the spiritually mature and the spiritual babes, the challenged and the challenging, the happy and the sad, the extroverts and the introverts, the loud and the quiet, etc., etc. But, that is what makes the Church beautiful – its variety.
God did not make all of us the same and He does not want us to be identical. He loves variety. I think He would enjoy living in Ohio.
Too often, we try to make little “cookie-cutter Christians” with all of us looking and acting just alike but that is not God’s will.
The beauty of His infinite creation is in its variety. What if every tree looked the same and every mountain range was identical and every baby’s smile was indistinguishable? God loves the variety of His people and His churches. Therefore, each of us is of equal value in the eyes of God. (John 3:16)
It is my prayer that you will always feel that you are valued by God, because you are, and that you understand that your identity is in Christ and in Christ alone.
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Must we always be popular? There seems to be an innate desire in all of us to be liked and loved by almost everyone. To think that there are those who do not like us is often a crushing blow to our inflated ego!
Let me say very quickly that trying to live in such a way that people like us and enjoy our company is a good thing! The Scriptures teach us that we earn the right to be heard and to share the Gospel with our unbelieving friends when we have a pleasant and winsome personality.
However, the message of the Gospel, when presented in its entirety, is not always pleasant and is not always readily received by those who have no personal relationship with Christ.
The Gospel contains both good news and bad news. The bad news is that we are all sinners, separated from God, and headed for a hopeless eternity. The good news is that Christ has paid the price for our wicked ways and has provided salvation to all who will turn from their sins and acknowledge Christ’s Lordship in their lives. (Romans 10:9-10)
All of which begs the question, “Am I willing to be unpopular in order to tell the truth and warn others about that horrible place called hell, which was prepared for the Devil and his angels?”
I am not suggesting that we should be harsh and hostile when sharing the “Good News” of Jesus Christ but that we should be honest, giving people the whole truth, right from the very beginning. Telling a half-truth is a lie and a lie will never produce the kind of disciples described in the New Testament.
Unfortunately, this compulsion to be popular has also worked its way into the fabric of many churches and church leaders. In their desire to be popular, to be well spoken of, and to maintain high attendance numbers, they have sacrificed the purity and simplicity of the Gospel and told half-truths. They preach only the good news and never the bad news.
Believe me, I understand that the Gospel means “good news” and should be presented as such. However, the “good news” is not good unless presented in contrast with the bad. In other words, why do I need a Savior if I do not know that I am a sinner? What does Christ’s sacrifice on the cross mean to me if I am unaware that my sinful condition has alienated me from God? The “good news” is only good news in contrast to the bad news and the gospel, when presented in its entirety, contains both!
Yet, presenting that message is not always going to make you the most popular person on the block or at your place of employment. Nor will that make yours the church that is breaking all the attendance records in town! I am not suggesting that we should try to be unpopular but that we should be willing to be unpopular, if that is what it takes to present the gospel honestly and completely.
As a Pastor, I had to come to a conclusion long ago that was very difficult for me to accept. I had to come to grips with that fact that if I was going to preach the Word of God faithfully and expositionally, I would not always be popular, might not have the most popular church in town, and would probably not necessarily have a very large church. If the Lord blesses me with those things, that’s fine but I am not expecting it.
This is not difficult for me to accept now but in the early stages of my ministry, when the fires of zeal burned almost out of control, these truths seemed to pour cold water on the blaze of enthusiasm. Yet, time and trials have proven all of these things to be true.
The Apostle Paul writes, in 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” I am glad Paul did not say that it is required in stewards that one be found “popular”. We are not required to be popular but we are required to be “faithful” to Christ and to the Gospel.
Yes, we should be willing to be unpopular, if that is what it takes to present the gospel honestly and completely.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
If there is a watchword that describes the Western mind-set today, it is the word tolerance. Many folk, in the Western world, worship at the shrine of tolerance. In the shaping of public opinion and the forging of national policy, many esteem a broadmindedness, which says any values, if sincerely held, are equally valid. There seem to be no absolutes today. The only absolute is that there are no absolutes. In our day, people tolerate everything except intolerance.
Webster defines the word tolerance like this: “The allowable deviation from a standard, sympathy, or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing or conflicting with one's own."
That, in a nutshell, is the Western world. There is an openness that embraces almost anything morally, politically, or educationally.
George Gallop, America's pollster, says that 67% of Americans today believe that there is no such thing as absolute truth.
In other words, right and wrong vary from situation to situation. It may be wrong for me, but right for you. For instance, they say if homosexuality is right for you, then that’s fine. If it is not right for you, well, that is fine, too. Whatever works for you is right for you. If it feels good, do it. However, the consequences of that way of thinking are terrifying.
Like ancient Israel, we have become a people who have forgotten how to blush. Nothing shocks us anymore. Tragically, we have become desensitized to sin. In the name of tolerance, we have now opened the floodgates to embrace every form of wickedness. An absolute standard of right and wrong is becoming a dusty page of ancient history. Who is to say which abnormal perversion will be accepted next? Will it be polygamy? What "alternative lifestyle” will be next to be embraced?
As the church, we are beginning to feel the tightening noose of the world around us. If we are not careful, we will soon be choked to death by public consensus. Yet, Paul warns us, "Be not conformed to this world…” (Rom 12:2)
I am certain you know the difference between a thermostat and a thermometer! A thermostat regulates the temperature while a thermometer simply registers the temperature. If given the choice, a wise person would always choose a thermostat over a thermometer. A thermostat is much more valuable than a thermometer because of its power to bring about change.
It is time for the Church of Jesus Christ to begin to transform the world around us rather than allowing the world to conform us.
"Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-make you so that your whole attitude of mind is changed.” (Romans 12:2 - The New Testament in Modern English, J. B. Phillips)
“Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?”
Revival is from God and for God’s people. Slick advertising and a lot of hype will not bring revival and the preacher cannot bring it in his briefcase. Revival is not an evangelistic campaign, although the salvation of the lost is always one of the results of genuine revival.
Real revival, God honoring-revival, Spirit-inspired revival, Christ-centered revival, sin-killing revival comes only from above, from the Throne of God alone.
God said, “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 will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Did you catch that? “My people…My name”? God wants to revive us, His own special people. However, the fact we must understand about revival is this:
Revival is a bittersweet experience.
It is “bitter” because God begins by dealing with the sins of His people. One man described the great revival in Manchuria in the early 1900’s like this: “I simply cannot describe the scene. It made one think of the Judgment Day. God had come among us. All knew it and every heart was open before Him. For myself, I had the most intense realization of the holiness of God and of my uncleanness in His sight”.
James Burns wrote, “Every revival movement sees an awakening of a deep sense of sin in the individual and in the Church. In the intense spiritual light, the sin and guilt of the awakened soul stand out in terrifying blackness.”
Yes, revival begins as a “bitter” experience but once our sins have been confessed and repented of (Proverbs 28:13), then the experience becomes “sweet” as the discernible presence of God is manifested in our lives in a special and supernatural way.
It is then that God’s people move out of the lukewarmness and defeat of the wilderness and into the Canaan Land of victory. It is only then that we begin to experience the abundant life Christ came to provide for us (John 10:10).
The late Dr. Stephen Olford defined revival like this: “Revival is that strange and sovereign work of God in which He visits His own people – restoring, reanimating, and releasing them into the fullness of His blessing”. My heart races, as I read these words. This is what I want. This is what I need. No, this is what I must have!
Will you join me as we beseech God for a real revival – a heaven-sent revival? Please pray for God to work among those who attend your church to restore, reanimate, and release into them and yourself the fullness of His blessing.
Is that what you want? If so, begin now to pray to that end.
"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
These words were spoken to Joshua after the death of Moses, Israel's leader (Joshua 1:1). God had selected Joshua as Moses' successor (Joshua 1:2-4). The future, for Israel and their new leader, would be filled with great opposition as they marched into Canaan. But, opposition in the Christian life is always a sign of opportunity (Joshua 1:5-7).
Chuck Swindoll once said, "Life is filled with great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations".
Israel's future was too important to leave to chance. The Messiah would come from this nation. The wisdom of man would be insufficient to lead the people of God. Therefore, God left Joshua specific instructions regarding the standard by which His people were to live and a map (Global Positioning System) that would guide them.
In these encouraging words to Joshua we can readily see . . .
1. A Specific Principle To Be Obeyed. (Joshua 1:8a)
"This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night." "This Book of the Law" refers to the book, which was written by Moses containing the first five books of the Bible we have today. This is commonly known as the "Pentateuch."
Here God says...
According to W. E. Vines, the word translated "meditate" is "found only 25 times in the Hebrew Old Testament, it seems to be a term reflecting the sighing and low sounds one may make while musing, at least as the ancients practiced it."
Along with The Specific Principle To Be Obeyed there is in this text…
2. A Special Pattern To Be Observed. (Joshua 1:8b)
"That you may observe to do according to all that is written in it."
Rev. Willard Wilcox used to say, "Breaking the law is like breaking plate glass; the largest or smallest rock will shatter the whole law." We have a duty to obey the whole law!
Writing to Timothy, the Apostle Paul encourages him to…“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15)
Along with The Specific Principle To Be Obeyed and A Special Pattern To Be Observed, we also see in this text…
3. A Significant Promise To Be Outpoured. (Joshua 1:8c)
"For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success."
The promise is conditional - as most of God's promises are. The Lord promises…
"Way" means "trodden path." You will have wisdom to make wise choices about your future: choices about your career, your church, your education, your family, etc.
"What is success?" you ask. Success is discovering and doing God's will for your life. (Prov. 2:6 NKJV) "For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding."
Lord, the road of my life is often filled with perilous curves, dangerously steep mountains, and dark valleys. It seems the devil usually causes it to rain or snow and the air is not infrequently filled with fog.
To be honest with you, sometimes I can't even see if I am on the right road at all, much less, if I am going in the right direction. Thank You for Your road map, the Bible and thank You that "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105 NKJV). Amen.
"And He [Christ] is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence."
What is the most important thing in your life right now? What do you want most in life? Most of us know what the answer should be but the issue is, what is really most important to you right now.
If you are not sure how to answer that question, just look to see how you are spending your time and your money. Based on where and how you spend most of your time, what or who is number one in your life right now?
I use the phrase number one because that is what the word "preeminence" means. The Apostle Paul told the church at Colossi that Christ was to have "preeminence" in their lives. What a monumental statement that is.
1. There Are Many Who Give Christ a Place in Their Life. (1:18)
Christ is on their list. To them Christ is just one of many things that occupy a place in their lives. He is right up there with P. T. A., Little League, golf, cooking, paying bills, working, and a thousand other encumbrances.
2. There Are Some Who Give Christ Prominence in Their Life. (1:18)
For them Christ is not only on the list but He is very near the top. He is right up there with family, job, and education.
To prove His prominence in their life, all you have to do is look for them on Sunday morning. Where will you find them? In church, where else? They may even give their tithes each week. Wow!
However, Christ will occupy only one place in your life and mine!
3. There Are a Few Who Give Christ Preeminence in Their Life. (1:18)
"That in all things He may have the preeminence"
In how many things is He to have "Preeminence"? The answer? "All things". Christ will never be satisfied with a place in your life or even prominence in your life. The only place for Him is "preeminence".
Turn to (Phil 2:5-11 NKJV), where we see …
(Romans 14:9 NKJV) "For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living."
If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all!
(Matthew 6:24 NKJV) "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."
It is impossible to accept Jesus as Savior if you do not acknowledge Him as Lord.
(Romans 10:9 NKJV) "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
Who is this Person you are accepting? The Person is the Lord Jesus. "Jesus" is His name and "Lord" is His title. You cannot separate the two.
How does one keep the main thing the main thing? You do so by daily acknowledging Christ's Lordship in all your life.
Let’s take inventory. Is Christ Lord of your . . .
Christ must come first in your life. Your spouse must be next, followed by your children. Then, all the other people and projects that fill your life must be prioritized. In the Garden of Eden, Adam had a personal relationship with God first. Then, the Lord gave him Eve. Why didn't God create Adam, Eve, and 2.4 children simultaneously?
It is because God wanted Adam to enter into an intimate relationship with Him first. Only after God was preeminent in Adam's life did the Lord give him a helper, Eve. When Eve arrived on the scene, she knew immediately that the intimacy she experienced with Adam was rivaled only by the intimacy of Adam's relationship to God. Later, when children were born to Adam and Eve, they grew up knowing that God was to have preeminence in their lives as well.
Lord, on _________________ (fill in the date), I received You as my Lord and Savior. Today, I reaffirm my original decision. In my life, You have preeminence! Obviously, that does not mean I am perfect, as You well know. Yet, in my heart and hopefully in my everyday life, You are number one - the Preeminent One. Amen
"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."
The words of Isaiah in this text have an immense prophetic interpretation for a future day. However, these Holy Spirit inspired words also have an intense personal application for today. Three questions are addressed in this brief declaration.
1. What Promise has been Expressed to the Christian? "You will keep him in perfect peace"
The Lord gave Isaiah a similar promise in (Isaiah 41:10 NKJV), where we read, "Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Jesus reiterated this promise to His disciples in (John 14:27 NKJV), "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
The peace offered here is "perfect peace". Implicit in these words are . . .
Keep in mind that this peace is conditioned upon our faith in and our focus upon the Lord. Therefore, consider the second question addressed here.
2. What Priority must be Established by the Christian? "Whose mind is stayed on You"
Upon what is your mind focused?
May I ask another question? Upon what should your mind be focused? When preparing to build the magnificent Temple for the worship of Jehovah, David challenged his son Solomon and the leaders of Israel with these words, "Now set your heart and soul to seek the Lord your God." (I Chronicles 22:1-19)
The Apostle Paul's simple and succinct injunction is, "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth." (Colossians 3:2 NKJV)
In this hectic and hurried world, it is very difficult to make the time to quiet ourselves alone with the Lord and truly focus on Him and all He has done, all He is doing, and all He will do for us in the future. Despite how tenaciously the devil opposes our time alone with the Lord and clamors for our attention, we must set aside a specific time and a special place to commune each day with our Supreme Love, the Lord Jesus. We must speak to Him in prayer and allow Him to speak to us through His Word.
A final question deserves consideration as well.
3. What Principle will be Embraced by the Christian? "Because he trusts in You"
It is often easier to trust Christ with our eternal souls that to trust Him with our temporal circumstances. It is very hard to hear the "still small voice" of God when inauspicious circumstances are screaming in our ears. This is the point at which it is essential that we set aside a daily time to meet quietly with our Lord in prayer and the study of His Word.
Pray the Psalmist's prayer found in Psalm 119:18, "Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law."
King David's prayer in Psalm 141:8 is appropriate for anyone at anytime; "But my eyes are upon You, O God the Lord; In You I take refuge."
When our focus is on the right object, our faith will be in the right object. Our faith always follows our focus.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
in the light of His glory and grace.
Lord let the light of your Truth penetrate the darkness that engulfs me just now. Even when Your radiance surrounds me, I can only see far enough to take one step at a time. Please guide each small step I take today. Theses things I pray in the Name of Jesus, Amen.
"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.
Pastor David Boggs
I hope these occasional posts will encourage and challenge you as we grow in Christ together.
All Bible Christmas Church Membership Discipleship Doctrine Faith Forgiveness Hope Identity Isolated Jesus Life Local Church Love Lust Prayer Purity Repentance Revival Salvation Sin Sovereignty Spiritual Growth Stress Surrender Tolerance Trials Worry Worship