Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Jesus is Always With Us

When you serve as pastor you're usually around for the big events in people's lives. When a baby is born you get to be there to celebrate with the family. And to hold the baby, of course. When a loved one passes away you have the great honor and privilege of mourning with the family and offering the comfort that comes from God's word.

Yesterday was a first for me, though. I got to experience both extremes. In the morning I mourned with a family as they said goodbye to their mother. In the afternoon I got to celebrate the birth of a new baby girl with another family. Though both events were very different there was one constant--Jesus was there for both. In the morning, as we mourned the loss of a family member, we sought the presence of Jesus and appealed for His comfort and strength on behalf of the grieving family. We looked to His word for promises to soothe broken hearts and to give us hope.  In the afternoon, as we celebrated the birth of this precious little girl, we gave thanks to Jesus for His grace. We thanked Him for the health of both baby and mommy, we prayed for strength and patience in the days ahead, and we expressed our gratitude for His goodness.

Thinking about this later I was reminded once again of God's promise to us that He will never leave us nor forsake us. The Bible promises that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God, which is ours through Jesus. And my mind went to some verses of scripture as I was reminded that Jesus is always with us.

First, scripture reminds us that Jesus is with us in the beginning. In Psalm 139:13-16 David said, 
"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully madeWonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance;in your book were written, every one of them,the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them."  
David says that at the beginning of his life, even before the beginning, God was there. He was knitting David together, creating him, planning his life, setting the number of his days. What comfort we can take, what unspeakable joy we can have knowing that at the beginning of our days God was there. Ephesians 2:10 says that we are God's workmanship, and that we've been created in Christ Jesus for good works. Then Paul says that God prepared these good works for us beforehand. Before I was a twinkle in my mama's eye God had planned my days. He was there at the very beginning.

Scripture reminds us that Jesus is with us at the end. In Psalm 23, David poetically speaks of God's presence and His goodness. And in perhaps the most well-known portion of this Psalm David declares,
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,  I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff,  they comfort me."
Even in the face of death David will fear no evil. Why is that? How could he be so courageous? Simple--he knew God was with him. So even in the face of death he could be comforted. In 2 Timothy 4:6-8 Paul said, 
" I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."
As Paul faced the end of his life his confidence was not shaken. Rather, he welcomed what was to come. Why? Because he knew who was to come. Death was not a journey that Paul would take alone. Death did not have an unknown destination for Paul. That's true for us as well. Jesus is with us at the end.

Scripture reminds us that Jesus is with us right now. Finally, we glory in the truth that Jesus is with us right now. It's a blessing to look back and see His hand at work in the beginning. And our hearts are comforted knowing that though there will come a day when we face death, we will not face death alone. But what about right now? What about today?  Look at David's words in Psalm 139:2-3--

"You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and m lying down; you are familiar with all my ways." He knew that God knew everything about his life. How? God was with David. In every moment, in every situation, God was there with him. And the same is true for us. We can take comfort in the knowledge that no matter what life brings we don't have to face it alone. Jesus isn't just with us at the beginning of our lives and at the end of our lives; Jesus is with us every day, every moment. He is a very present help in times of trouble, He's promised to never leave us nor forsake us.
May we glory in this Savior who has promised to be with us forever; may we rest in these great and precious promises; and may we find our greatest joy in the presence of the one who loved us and gave Himself for us.

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