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I Will Be With You

November 24, 2017

It’s “the day AFTER” . . . some of us are still full from feasting around the table yesterday, and some have a feast or two more to go this weekend. Some are in the midst of “Black Friday” shopping, while others may be waiting for “Cyber Monday”. Some had houses full of relatives or are anticipating gatherings of the same this weekend.

The reality is, those things I just described are the stereotype, but there are many people who were alone yesterday and will be alone all weekend. Others have people around them, but they still feel lonely. Some are grieving because that special loved one is not around for the first time this year. Some have gone through a significant life event and are just looking for a place to breathe… You get the picture…

The holiday season provides great joy for some and great sadness for others. Most would agree that there is some level of stress that is unique to this time of the year. Let me assure you of one thing…

You are not alone

Isaiah 43 has become a favorite passage of mine over the past few years. Well over 2,000 years ago, the prophet Isaiah penned these words that fit perfectly in every generation of God’s people, as a reminder of the grace, mercy and love of Jehovah God.

Isaiah 43:1-3a, But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you.

If you look in the context of a couple of chapters before to a couple of chapters after this passage, you’ll notice the words “Fear not” appear a number of times. Fear is a powerful emotion. It can disable us. The children of Israel were no different. While they were not always faithful, they were always loved and pursued by loving God.

He assured them of their permanent position with Him. He created them, He formed them, He redeemed them, He called them by name…He even said “you are mine”. There is really nothing in this life that can give us more security, now and forevermore, than to know that we belong to God.

God worked “outside the box” to bring glory and honor to His name and to protect His people. He raised up Pharaoh in Egypt to demonstrate His power. He used wicked Herod and cowardly Pontius Pilate to accomplish His plan in the crucifixion of Christ. Nothing escapes the hand of Almighty God. He spoke through a donkey, for crying out loud!

After re-affirming that the children of Israel, the church, if you will, belong to Him, He issued a number of promises, which are just as applicable in 2017 as they were in the day in which they were written:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…Notice it says WHEN and not IF. If you’ve lived life anytime at all, you’ve experienced some rough waters. Water can do some significant damage. We can only swim for so long before our body wears out. If the water rises high enough, it becomes very difficult to stay head above water. Water can erode, it can destroy. If it is left to sit long enough, it can cause mold to develop. God says He will be with us. He doesn’t just sit idly by either. He is continually working and will bring us through those rough waters.

When you pass through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you…Again, another WHEN. If you’ve ever been somewhere like New Braunfels and rode on the rapids in a raft, boat or kayak, you know that you have to always be aware of your elements and be prepared, lest you get overwhelmed or overtaken by the running waters. Moving water is very powerful and it can knock us and keep us down. God promises that if we will let Him lead the way, those waters may still come, but they will not overwhelm us. Nothing can take us from God’s hand.

When you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you…Still another WHEN. Fire ignites everything it touches, burns whatever it can consume, and it can be devastatingly destructive. However, fire also refines, removes excess, and purifies things. The burning bush was a sign to Moses – it was a bright light that drew him in, but it was not consumed. The fire that you are sure to go through at times can be a bright light that draws others to Him and need not consume or burn us. Again, God pursues us and protects us from greater harm.

Why do the people of God have to go through such things? God also answers that in this passage:

For I am the Lord your God…I am the Holy one of Israel…your Savior…

All of the trials and tribulations, the waters, rivers and fires of life, are given to us for the purpose of washing away all of the unnecessary things and helping us to realize that all we really need is to hold the steady hand of Jehovah God through it all. The glory of God is revealed in these trials. Think of the Gospels . . . when was God’s glory manifested in the most tangible way? When Jesus bowed His head and said “It is finished”, God showed up and showed out.

Whatever you are going through now…whatever you are about to go through…God’s promises are real and sure. Your circumstances may be difficult, but God is not. I heard a pastor say one time that “Ministry is hard, Jesus is not”.

Sometimes life is hard…but Jesus is not…

 

Blessed,

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church of Palestine, TX

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