OUR GOD IS WITH US

May 16, 2016

Pre-social media, when the only two options for long-distance communication were snail mail or costly international calls on a land line, I was a young bride in Argentina. There were days when I felt a million light-years from my family and familiar friends. That’s when I learned what it means to be alone, yet not lonely.

Elderly Juan José lived outside of our city in a community of precarious thatched-roof, cracked-mud-floor, one-room homes. His work vehicle was a custom made tricycle with a huge, cumbersome box on the back. Battered and worn, it bore the marks of countless trips into town. There, Juan José daily picked up freshly butchered meat at the central market, and literally “peddled” it to his neighbors. It was hard work. Juan José was robust, but like his tricycle, he was old and battered.

As church planters, several of us went to visit Juan José one day. Inquiring about his family, he replied that he had no one; no siblings, spouse, children…he might still have had a relative in Brazil, he wasn’t sure. All alone, Juan José was content, because He knew God was with him.

An hour before most church services, we would usually find Juan José in the meeting hall, alone. Kneeling in prayer, we could hear him audibly and passionately worshiping God, who was with him. Juan José knew the secret that I had yet to learn. He was walking hand-in-hand with the Lord.

Multiple times throughout the Bible, we read God’s reassuring promise: “I will be with you.” As His children, we can live with that assurance, just like Juan José did.

Alone? Maybe. Lonely? Never! Our God is with us!

(Join me each Monday of 2016 for new posts from my quest to know God better)

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THE ELUSIVE BUCKET FULL OF DOLLAR BILLS

April 21, 2014

On the way to AWANA with our grandsons, I emptied out the coin bin in the car and handed both of them what seemed to be an equal amount of coins for the offering. “Wow! That’s really a lot!” Seven-year-old Jehiel exclaimed as he put his newly acquired coin counting skills into practice. “One dollar and 35 cents!” Then Jehiel spontaneously offered a child’s interpretation of the word “rich”: “Rich is when you have a whole bucket full of dollar bills!”

Unexpressed thoughts swirled through my head: It depends on how tightly the bills are packed, how big the bucket is, how much debt you have, current monthly expenses, where you are in life, or in the world…sure, a bucket full of dollar bills might mean you’re “rich”…

Then I remembered one of my Dad’s favorite Bible passages, especially in his later years: “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” (1st Timothy 6:6-8)

Maybe as a 7 year-old, Dad had the same concept of “rich” as Jehiel has. By the time he was that age, World War I had ended and he lost his mom to the 1918 flu pandemic. With his 3 siblings, Dad had to dig the best potatoes from their crop to pay the undertaker for his mom’s burial because Grandpa didn’t have that bucket of dollar bills. Throughout his life the bucket was elusive: World War II, the Great Depression, being laid off at 43 with six children at home, starting a new business at that age…but no bucket full of dollar bills.

When Dad went to be with the Lord at age 94, he still didn’t have that bucket. What he did have – and it was obvious to those who knew him – was “godliness with contentment”, learned at an early age, and cultivated over many decades.

As the years creep up on me, the truth that the Apostle Paul expressed in 1st Timothy 6:6-8 becomes more real. I haven’t secured that elusive bucket full of dollar bills, either, and I’ll probably never have it. With contentment, I have something far more valuable: the assurance of God’s presence. In Hebrews 13:5 we are encouraged to “Be content with such things as you have. For He himself (GOD!) has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’

And that assurance makes me much richer than the elusive bucket full of dollar bills!


FAITH NOT SHAKIN’, NEVER FORSAKEN!

March 28, 2013

Digging into the “why”, “who”, “when” and “what” of the truth that God does not forsake His children, I uncovered some facts to solidify my sometimes jellylike faith. Maybe you need a reminder…

WHY?
Why does God not just give up on us when we let Him down? Because of who He is!
Nehemiah 9:17,19: “…but YOU are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and DID NOT FORSAKE THEM….in Your manifold mercies YOU DID NOT FORSAKE THEM in the wilderness.”
Even when God’s chosen people were grumbling, dissatisfied, floundering in their faith and rebellious, GOD DID NOT FORSAKE THEM BECAUSE OF WHO HE IS!

WHO?
Who promised to not only be with me, but care for me, even when no one else is around?
Psalm 27:10: “When my father and my mother forsake me, then THE LORD WILL TAKE CARE OF ME.”
THIS SAME GOD WHO WILL NOT FORSAKE ME BECAUSE OF WHO HE IS, WILL ALSO CARE FOR ME!

WHEN?
When can I count on the presence, provision and faithfulness of my God who will not forsake me?
Psalm 37:25,28: “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have NOT seen the righteous forsaken, nor His descendants begging bread. The Lord loves justice, and DOES NOT FORSAKE HIS SAINTS; THEY ARE PRESERVED FOREVER”.
THROUGHOUT ALL THE SEASONS OF MY LIFE, GOD WILL BE THERE AND NOT FORSAKE ME!

WHAT?
What can my response be, having the assurance that He will never forsake me? BOLD TRUST!
Hebrews 13:5,6:Let your conduct be without coveteousness, be content with such things as you have, for He Himself has said, ‘I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear.’ “

MY FAITH’S NOT SHAKIN’,
‘CAUSE I’M NEVER FORSAKEN!
AMEN!


WHO SAID IT?

February 24, 2013

If we believe something or not depends on who said it. When a known “exaggerator” tells us there were about 200 people at the party, we nod and think, “That means there were 50…” On the other hand, someone who is very precise with facts and careful about what they say makes the same statement, and we believe them. Whenever we hear a declaration, it’s good to know who said it!

If we really believe God to be Who the Bible reveals Him to be, the words “for He has said” should be life-changing. Digging into His Word, we understand the following:

God is unchanging. He’ll NEVER modify the script of anything that “He has said”.
God is sovereign. He has a PLAN, backing up everything that “He has said”.
God is all powerful. He CAN do everything that “He has said”.
God is faithful. He WILL do exactly what “He has said”.
God is just. He MUST do everything that “He has said”.
God is loving. His compassion MOVES Him to do all that “He has said”.

Applying the truth of WHO God is to what “He has said” might look like this:

Let your conduct be without coveteousness; be content with such things as you have. For HE HIMSELF (the unchanging, sovereign, powerful, faithful, just, loving and compassionate God) has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear…”
(Hebrews 13:5,6)

We can’t just glide over the “He has said” statements in the Bible! Let’s meditate on Who said it. If we believe WHO God is, we’ll see our fears diminish, our faith grow and our lives will be transformed!


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