THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date – 1-31-10
LESSON TITLE: “GOD’S EXCEEDINGLY GREAT AND PRECIOUS PROMISES: I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS”
In Joshua 24:15, we read, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Praise God for our opportunity this day to serve Him. Furthermore, it is my hope and prayer that all of us have made this same determination in each of our lives - that we will serve God, with all of our house.
We thank you this day for joining us for the Living Word program. As always, it is a blessing to have you with us as we together break the bread of life and as we magnify our Creator. You have made the right decision to give this time to God, so let’s all do so with our full hearts and in accordance to His Will.
So, as we continue to focus on God, will you bow with me in prayer?
Well, it is time to join in our first song of the morning. Our first Hymn focuses on the fact that God does give us all the answer which we need in this life. However, we must turn to Him and listen to the truth of His Word. So, won’t you participate with the congregation at this time as we sing together, “Farther Along?”
(SONG # 1)
I am always amazed as I read about the Israelites of old, to find that they continually turned away from God and failed to accomplish His will! The verse we mentioned early in Joshua 24:15 makes this very point. The whole verse says, “And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” This passage is evidence that the majority of Israel were still worshipping other gods and idols. And again, Joshua was challenging them to put away their foreign God’s. Later, in verse 23 of the same passage, Joshua told the people, “put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD God of Israel.” It is almost unbelievable that after all God had done for them up to this point - that they were still following other god’s.
However, before we get too down on the Israelites, we might need to take a look in the mirror. We may not have literal idols or gods which we worship, but how many things in this life do we allow to get in the way of our service to God? And when we put things before our God, are we not guilty of serving other gods, and of being in idolatry. Well according to God’s Word we are. Paul helps us to understand this better in what he said to the Colossian brethren in chapter 3, and verse 5 of that book. There we read, “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” You see, everything that comes before God or separates us from our proper service to God is considered idolatry.
May we all strive to serve our God and put Him first in all things? And just as Joshua said, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Will you determine to choose God and serve Him first?
In just a few minutes it will be time to begin our main study of the day. As far as our topic of study, we will again focus on “God’s Exceedingly Great And Precious Promises.” Our specific lesson of the morning is entitled, “I Am With You Always.” So please stay with for this study from God’s Word, and I will return in just a few minutes to lead our thoughts on this important topic. Now let’s join together in our next song of the morning. The name of this hymn, “Footprints Of Jesus.”
(SONG # 2)
By Ray Sullins
Jesus said in Matthew 28, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you and lo I am with you always even to the end of the age.”
As we begin with this verse this morning, we once again find a very precious, glorious and as the book Peter said, “An exceedingly great and precious promise from God,” a precious promise that tells us that “with God we are never alone.” In fact, think about that thought for just a moment. How many of us like to be alone? Well there might be times here and there when we get overcome with the world and a situation and we like to be by ourselves a little bit, but overall how often do we really just want to be always by ourselves and no one wants to talk to us or communicate with us, no one really seems to like us? Do we really want that in life? I always find it a bit sad when I go to a restaurant and I’ll see someone eating by their selves. Sometimes they seem okay and happy, but more times than not, it seems like they are lonely. It seems like they are individuals that don’t have anyone to eat with anymore. Possibly their loved one has died their husband or wife. Possibly someone that they used to spend such times with is no longer around or unable to come because of their health. There might be any number of reasons why they are now alone, but how glorious and exciting it used to be when they had those that they cared about, those that were by their sides, those that they could count on, and those that brought them even more joy in life.
Well you know that is what’s precious about God. That’s what is so wonderful about God as He here proclaims the Great Commission to His disciples that they are to go into the world and preach the gospel. Certainly that is a great promise within itself, opportunity to respond to what God has offered. But then after He speaks of the opportunity to obey through baptism, and the fact that we should continue to grow or be taught in the things or commandments of God, He then says this in verse 20, “And lo I am with you always.” Isn’t that a beautiful thought? We are never alone with God. It doesn’t matter how lonely it might seem, how quiet. It doesn’t matter whether there is a physical person around of this earth or not, with God we are never alone!
I want you to notice with me throughout the Bible how that really this has always been the case for those that loved God and for those who chose to follow their God.
There in the book of Genesis you might remember there in the beginning that God made the Garden of Eden. There He placed man. In this perfect glorious paradise, God made His perfect creation, man. There the man and the woman lived. How interesting in chapter 3 it tells us in verse 8 that “They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” Now we know the story here. They actually have gone to hide themselves because they have sinned against God and they really don’t want to face God because they know now they are naked and they have transgressed basically the only law that we are aware of that they were given by God, “not to eat of that forbidden tree.” But here notice what God was doing as if it was very common for Him to walk in the garden in the cool of the day. It’s as if they weren’t wondering why God was there because He often was there, but that He was there and now they were ashamed. But then how beautiful because what did God do? He calls man and He talks to man. It seems as if He has always talked with man. You see God was always with His creation. He loved His creations and He cared for His own.
We go throughout the Bible and we see this also with Noah. We find it true with Abraham the Patriarch and also his son, Isaac, and when Isaac grows up he has Jacob. Of course, he had Esau and Jacob, but Jacob is the one that the blessing continues on from. I now want you to notice with me in Genesis 28 what it is that He goes on to say about Jacob. Now as God speaks to him and as He encourages him as he is leaving this problem situation where Esau wants to kill him, notice now what he says to him there in that text. We really could begin in verse 10 but because of time we won’t. This is where he now has stopped on his way to Haran and he is in this region as he has left Beersheba, a place now where he will come to God and make sacrifice. If you’ll notice there, what does he say there in verse 15? The Bible says, “Behold I am with you and will keep you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land for I will never leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” What is the promise that He gives? Well He has already promised the same thing that was given to Abraham and Isaac. “I will make your descendants as the sand of the seashore, the stars of the heaven, innumerable. I will bless you upon blessing because through you I am accomplishing my promise to your father, the giving of the promised land, the land of Canaan,” which really wasn’t accomplished as we know until Joshua led the people in and wasn’t fully accomplished until King David seized all the land that God had promised to Abraham in the very beginning. But here notice what He says to Jacob. “I will never leave you. I will go with you. I will keep you. I will protect you. I will care for you.” Isn’t that a beautiful thought? Isn’t that a wonderful thought to understand that Jacob knew that his God cared and that his god would not leave him?
We find the same thing with Joshua if you’ll turn there to Joshua chapter 1. Joshua again is challenged to be courageous, to know that he can stand up, that he can be bold for God and that he can fight as he needs to fight and as he leads the people. I want you to notice again what is said here to Joshua. Verse 5 of chapter 1 beginning, “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life…” Why? “As I was with Moses, I will be with you and I will not leave you or forsake you.” Then He goes on and says, “Be strong. Be of good courage. Be very courageous and follow My commandments and do what I have said and keep the Book of the Law,” on and on and on. Now look down at verse 9. He goes on again to say this. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong again of good courage. Do not be afraid nor dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Now I want you to begin to apply some of these thoughts. You mean God is with me always and wherever I go? Certainly! No matter where it is. How can God do that? Well He is everywhere. We can’t get away from the presence of God. He is an omnipresent God, an all-present God, a God who can be counted on to always be by our side and be showing us that love and that care and that guidance that we have need of.
If you’ll turn now to the book of Psalm, we also see that David understood this concept about God, His all-encompassing presence, His ability to always be everywhere at all times that he might not ever be alone. There are many of the Psalms that we could look at, but probably one of the best is found in Psalm 139 in verse 7 beginning. “Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend into the heaven, You are there. If I make my bed in hell, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell even in the uttermost parts of the sea, even Your hand leads me; Your right hand holds me.” He goes on to talk about during the day and even at night, guess what. God is there! You see David knew his God was always with him and therefore he drew a great confidence, a great strength off of that because he knew he would never be alone because he knew when the trials came, when the problems came, when he was faced with those who wanted him dead, how did he overcome? How did he endure? He knew that God was with him, that God was by his side, and that He would comfort him and guide him and assist him in every way that he had need of to endure.
In the book of Jeremiah we find the same from the great prophet, Jeremiah 23, there in verse 23 beginning notice what He says. “Am I a God near at hand,” says the Lord, “and not a God afar off?” He says, I am near. I am not a God far off. Verse 24 adds this. “Can anyone hide himself in secret places from Me so I shall not see him,” says the Lord. “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the Lord. He is mentioning these things, these questions in rhetorical ways saying, “I do fill the earth. I can see all things. I am a God who is near and not far off. I am a God who is always there, who can always again be counted on.” And so again how encouraging that should be to each and every one of us today.
Well understanding that, we know that we are under a different period, a different time. Sure God was with them always and said, “I will never leave you.” But what about you and I today under the New Law?
We begin to find even in the book of John in 14 that the disciples, as Jesus was leaving the earth and told them that He was leaving the earth, were becoming very fearful about that fact. They didn’t want to be alone. They didn’t want to be without God. But guess what! God really wasn’t leaving them completely. He might have been leaving them in the flesh that is Jesus was returning to heaven, but not completely. Look at verse 18 of chapter 14 in John. He says, “I will not leave you as orphans.” He warns them (verse 19). A little while longer and this world will see Me no more, but you will see Me because I live with you.”
Now how is that possible? Back up if you will to verse 15 of the same text. He says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments and I will pray to the Father and He will give you another helper and He is able to be with you forever, the Spirit of Truth whom the world cannot receive because it neither see Him nor knows Him, but you know Him for He dwells with you and will be with you.” Isn’t that beautiful? It says (that) He is able to abide with you forever. God! God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God would be given to them from the Father directly that He might be with them forever.
Look in the same text later on. What does it say is going to be the outcome in verse 23? Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me and keeps My commandments, My Father will love him and We will come to him and make our home with him.” God’s home with us. Our bodies are the temple of God. He dwells with us. So where we are, God is. He will never leave us.
How is God always with us? By and through His Holy Spirit that dwells in us always. We are never alone with God, and if I have the Holy Spirit, what does the Bible teach us? I have the Father and the Son alike. “For God is but one God.” (John 17)
So we are blessed to know that we are a people who are never alone with God. And so when we turn to Matthew 28 again and we read The Great Commission and we see the exhortation to know we will be taught and to observe the commandments of God and then He says, “And lo I am with you always.” I hope we better understand that now that He is always there for us. But not only that, even to the end of the age. The forever concept that we learn there in John 14. He will never leave us as long as this world stands and after the world ends, guess what. We can go be with Him in heaven so still He is with us and we are with Him in that eternal city.
There are other verses that help us to see that even after the church was established this truth continued to stand. I might ask you to write down the verse there in Acts 23 and study it a little bit later because here within this text, as Paul stands before the counsel in Acts 23, he later actually states this in verse 10, that “he was being taken by the commander into the barracks.” So he wasn’t being treated so well.
Verse 11 then says, “The following night the Lord stood by him and said, ‘Be of good cheer, Paul, for as you have testified to Me in Jerusalem so you will bear witness in Rome.” God was there! God spoke to him and what did He tell him? “Paul, you are not alone!” Paul knew that.
We see it later in his life in the book of 2 Timothy and chapter 4. When everyone else had forsook him in relationship to his stance for the truth in God, verse 16 of chapter 4 says this, again 2 Timothy, “At my first defense, no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them?” But guess what verse 17 says. “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.” Who was there? God! Paul said, “Everybody else may have left me, nobody on this earth may have been there, but my God was always there.”
That’s the same thing Jesus knew on the cross as everyone had forsaken Him as He prayed to His Father. He knew that His Father was there.
And then we have an interesting quote as well in the Hebrew letter. Many even believe Paul again being the writer to the Hebrews here but really covered his identity because of his past, his history as one who is really now having the Jews against him as he was considered a defector from Judaism having become a Christian. But despite that fact it is an inspired book and I want you to notice what is stated there in Hebrews 13. Notice in verse 5 after he challenges them in their conduct. He says, “Be content with such things as you have, for He Himself has said I will never leave you or forsake you.” Even today to who? To Christians, to brethren. “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Verse 6 says, “So that we might boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper. I will not fear and what can man do to me?’”
Do you see what God has promised? That I will never leave you. I will never forsake you. I am always there even until the very end. All these things give us the strength to know that my God is here. What can man do to me? Who can harm me? How can anyone really bring me down because I am never alone and I have the greatest helper, the greatest protector, the greatest comforter, the greatest provider, the greatest everything in my God who is always with me? Because of these things we have the opportunity to know another great and exceedingly wondrous promise of God and in that may we respond by obedience knowing that what God has done to be with me, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Is that what you believe? Have you turned to God in such a way? Have you given yourself fully to Him? If so, praise God. If not, get your life right with Him even today.
(SONG # 3 - “Give Me The Bible!”)
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today. How blessed we all are to have times like this to commit to the things of God. We invite you to join us every Lord’s Day, at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this offering toward God!
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Isn’t it great to know that we are never alone with God? May we show our thankfulness to God for this blessed promise by living faithfully and obeying His Will? Who comes first in your life?