God Will Never Leave Nor Forsake Us

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“All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted (Psalm 77: 2). “

Have you ever had a miserable night like Asaph’s? I certainly have. I believe it happens even to the best of us. Although we are God’s children, we are still human and during intense trials we sometimes doubt if our prayers are truly heard by God. We may even imagine that God has done the impossible and abandoned us. Then suddenly, our hopes fly away like chaff in the wind.

For example, at Psalm 77: 5-10 Asaph says,

” I think of the good old days long since ended, when my nights were filled with joyful songs. I search my soul and ponder the difference now. Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he slammed the door on his compassion? And I said, “This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me.”

In the past, discouragement has left me with my head hanging down, wondering if God truly cares. Make no mistake about it, I am a child of the King, but I am still flesh and blood in this broken world. In this same way, the Apostle Paul said, “I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind.(Romans 7:22, 23)”

Thankfully, our heavenly Father empowers us to not only endure but to overcome discouraging thoughts. Philippians 2:13 says, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”

When it seemed as though Asaph had lost all hope, he declared, “But then I recall all you have done, O LORD; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago (Psalm 77:11).” Asaph refused to give up and so should we. God is more than willing and able, through the power of His Holy Spirit, to remind us of who He truly is; even in our darkest, most depressing hour. May we always take comfort in knowing that God will never leave nor forsake us.

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Jesus Never Fails To Meet Us Where We Are.

Soon after giving birth, I was injured and unable to walk for the first month of my son’s life. This should have been a time of rejoicing but I felt helpless, alone and scared. Thankfully my injury was only temporary and I eventually healed. I will never forget how God met me where I was and strengthened my faith even in my isolation. 

However, If anyone felt alone and helpless it was the sick man by the pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-9). The Bible says that he had been sick for thirty – eight years and he was lying there in a crowd hoping to be healed. It must have been such a pitiful sight. Broken bodies were littered all along the porch. Along with the pain and sorrow in their eyes, the horrible odors alone would have been enough to make a grown man cry. What was even worse was the fact that the pool was a longshot at best. The legend was that the first one who entered the pool when it was “stirred” by an angel would be healed. The rest of them would be a day late and a dollar short.

But something totally unexpected happened on that day. A healthy, young Jesus approached the sick man and asked, “Would you like to get well?” I imagine that after the initial shock, the sick man’s hope soared. I don’t blame him, mine would have too. I know for a fact, that no sane man would want to stroll through a battlefield of wounded soldiers just for the sake of the view. So, if this healthy man was walking amongst them then it must have been to help. And to the sick man’s limited knowledge, the only way for Jesus to help was to lower him into the pool of Bethesda. So, after Jesus asked, “Would you like to get well?” He said, “I can’t sir… For I have no one to put me in the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone always gets there ahead of me.” Notice that the sick man chose his words carefully so as to invoke Jesus’ sympathy without being too forward. After all, this was an once in a lifetime opportunity.

Nevertheless, Jesus had another way in mind. He didn’t need the Pool Of Bethesda. In fact, he didn’t need to lay a hand on the man. He simply spoke and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat and walk!” Miraculously, the man obeyed. On that very day, the sick man came face to face with the source of true healing.

Bethesda means the “house of mercy”. Interestingly, it was there that mercy triumphed. (James 2:13). For instance, Jesus had extensively traveled the area healing the sick, lame and the blind but for some reason the sick man had not been able to follow his public ministry. Maybe he had heard the reports and didn’t believe. Whatever the case, Jesus came into the sick man’s midst to meet him where he was, lying on the porch desperately hoping for a miracle. Isaiah 65:1 aptly prophesied about Jesus.  It says,

‘I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me, I was found by those who did not seek me . . . I said, ‘Here am I , Here am I.’

Are you as grateful as I am that Jesus passionately pursues us? If so, then we must always remember that the greatest miracle performed at the pool that day was that Jesus not only raised him up to his feet, but that he more importantly raised him up as a child of God. Although we can be confident that we will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living, Christ’s ultimate goal is eternity with us in heaven (Psalm 27:13). Jesus will meet us where we are and in ways we never expected; but it will always be for his glory and for the salvation of our souls.

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Ananias – A Man Who Truly Trusted God.

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I was once told by my late aunt, that while napping, I fell from a very high bed when I was one year old. After that, I stopped walking. I guess my struggle with trust may have started then. To be honest, life has presented me with a thousand reasons not to. Am I the only one who breaks out in a cold sweat when someone says, “Trust me.”? As a matter of fact, I know that I am not alone and that most people struggle with trusting others, at least to some degree.

 While it is wise to be cautious around unfamiliar people, trust is extremely important in our personal relationships. Stephen Covey once said, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” No where is this truer than in our relationship with God. He doesn’t just expect us to trust him but he requires it in order for us to have close fellowship with him. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding”.

But what about if and when he asks us to do something we may consider impossible or potentially dangerous?

For example, many missionaries heed the call to go into unchurched countries to preach the gospel. There are those in America, who go into crime infested neighborhoods to feed the poor and to tell them that someone truly loves them and that his name is Jesus. Some of God’s children are, even as we speak, having to choose between Christ and their families. The list goes on and on . Many people, who do not know Christ, may wonder why someone would willingly do these things. It simply doesn’t make sense to them.

In fact, God says that. “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts…And my ways are far beyond anything you can imagine (Isaiah 55:8).

That’s where trust comes in and we realize anew that we are vessels for his glory to be used as he sees fit. We must know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28). The Bible has many examples of men and women who truly believed this and risked their lives to trust and obey God. One of them was a man named Ananias.

“Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision calling, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord!” he replied. The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.” (Acts 9:10 – 12)

With that one command God had put Ananias in a position to show that he trusted God with all his heart. This was no simple house call.  Ananias answered God by saying,

“But Lord … I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! And he is authorized by the leading priest to arrest everyone who calls upon your name. (Acts 9:13, 14)”

I don’t think most of us could imagine the danger Ananias could face for visiting a man like Saul. But God, in all of his mercy and wisdom, revealed his purpose for this seemingly outrageous request.

 “…Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. … (Acts 9: 15)”

God had an extraordinary plan for Saul’s life and Ananias would be used to help bring it about. Obediently, Ananias found him and laid his hands upon him. By calling Saul “brother”, Ananias showed that he did not harbor a grudge in his heart against Saul and that he truly believed what God had said. We all know what happens next in the life of Saul who became the Apostle Paul. The rest, as they say, is history. Ananias had a share in it because of obedience that was based on absolute trust in God. Not only is Ananias’ faithfulness mentioned in the scriptures but in heaven it will be greatly rewarded. Is God calling you to trust him concerning a particular matter? Remember Ananias and know that God could be doing something great with your life that will glorify Him for all eternity.

 

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