Wednesday, April 22, 2020

God with us

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

As millions around the world have spent weeks in isolation, sheltering in place for the good of their vulnerable neighbors and society as a whole, many of us have undoubtedly battled feelings of loneliness and isolation. We feel cut off from those we love and the normal life-giving daily rhythms that we once took for granted. And as true as this may be, the Lord wants us to remember that we are never alone.

Now, some of you reading this will say, “Trust me, I know that I’m not alone! In fact, all I want is 5 minutes to myself without a child climbing on me, or attacking their siblings, or telling me they can’t get their school lessons to work on the computer.” For many, this pandemic has forced us into close proximity with those we love, learning to honor and respect one another in close quarters and with increased anxiety. Yet others of you feel the exact opposite, desperate for human touch and connection. Whatever your reality is right now, in the truest and deepest sense of the word, we must cling to the truth that we are never alone because our Lord is always with us, driving out fear and giving us courage.

In Romans 8:14, Paul reminds us, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” This verse is both a statement of identity and direction. We are beloved children of God, yet we are also led by the Holy Spirit, especially in times of great need. This is good news for us today! The Holy Spirit is with you in your exhaustion and isolation. And not only is he with you, but he is leading you and will continue to lead you in the days and weeks to come.

In fact, we must remember that the entire movement of salvation is a journey from isolation into community, community with God and with one another. If God in Jesus can heal the ultimate isolation that results from our self-imposed exile, he can and will lead us faithfully through this present storm. With great confidence we cling to Joshua’s words, “The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Ever present love

There they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous. Psalm 14:5

God is present in your predicament. You do not have to pray, “God be with us”. He is there already. He is there because He cares. He is there because you are extremely valuable to Him. God’s cherishes His children. He loves to give His own good gifts (Matthew 7:11). His presence alone is a present. He is present to give wisdom. He is present to give you direction. He is present to give you courage. In His presence there is peace. He is ever present.

God’s presence is there to calm and convict us. His peace is what propels us forward by faith. Do not give up on doing the right thing. Sinful compromise for short term satisfaction never ends well. Why put your family at risk by running after forbidden fruit? God has not left you. He does not wink at wicked deeds. He is right by your side to see you through this sinful temptation. Indeed the fear of God is the fruit of His presence. He reminds us to remain pure.

“How then could I [Joseph] do such a wicked thing and sin against God” (Genesis 39:9)?

His presence is made manifest in a company of Christ followers. It is in community that the Body of Christ is in full expression. Sin pushes us to seclusion. It is an illusion to think we can isolate ourselves from Almighty God. But in authentic community there is nowhere to hide. It is in the presence of committed Christ followers that we feed our faith. Do not fight temptation alone. Tell someone. Reengage with the righteous. This is the presence of God personified.

Stay in the presence of God-fearing followers. This time of engagement with others facilitates our alone time with our Heavenly Father. Stay hard after your Heavenly Father in solitude and prayer. His presence is inviting you into intimacy. Design your life around a daily retreat into His presence. Look into His face and feel His love. In His presence He provides just what we need in the moment. Persevere in prayer without ceasing—be present in God’s presence!

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).