VIDEO Always With You

And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20

It started in 1989 with a TV commercial from a medical alert company that sold a pendant that could contact emergency responders. An elderly woman was seen speaking into her pendant: “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” That line made its way into the cultural conversation: T-shirts, television sitcoms, and music throughout the 1990s.

As much as the phrase was parodied, it nonetheless conveyed a serious message: There is a risk to living a solitary life. Solomon wrote that when someone falls, his friend can help him up. “But woe to him who is alone when he falls” (Ecclesiastes 4:10). It is a reminder of the power and value of living in community with others—even if just one other. Living a solitary life is not God’s design for humanity. Thankfully, even if we find ourselves alone, we know that Jesus is always with us. He told His disciples, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Marriage, friendships, relationships, groups, congregations—all are ideal ways to live amongst friends. But start with Jesus. He is committed to be with you always.

There is no better proof of friendship than to help our friends with their burdens. Augustine


Matthew 28: 18-20

The Ultimate Healer

[Hezekiah] broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made. 2 Kings 18:4

When a medical treatment began to provide relief for a family member’s severe food allergies, I became so excited that I talked about it all the time. I described the intense process and extolled the doctor who had created the program. Finally, some friends commented, “We think God should always get the credit for healing.” Their statement made me pause. Had I taken my eyes off the Ultimate Healer and made the healing into an idol?

The nation of Israel fell into a similar trap when they began to burn incense to a bronze snake which God had used to heal them. They’d been performing this act of worship until Hezekiah identified it as idolatry and “broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made” (2 Kings 18:4).

Several centuries earlier, a group of venomous snakes had invaded the Israelite camp. The snakes bit the people and many died (Numbers 21:6). Although spiritual rebellion had caused the problem, the people cried out to God for help. Showing mercy, He directed Moses to sculpt a bronze snake, fasten it to a pole, and hold it up for everyone to see. When the people looked at it, they were healed (vv. 4–9).

Think of God’s gifts to you. Have any of them become objects of praise instead of evidence of His mercy and grace? Only our holy God—the source of every good gift (James 1:17)—is worthy of worship.

By:  Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Reflect & Pray

How has God shown you His goodness through other people? Why is it so easy to give people credit for what God has done in your life?

Dear God, I worship You as the all-powerful God who hears my prayers. Thank You for sustaining my life and caring for me.

Evaluating Your Faith

Mark 11:20-24

It’s a good idea to pause every now and then to evaluate our spiritual development. Although we will experience different phases of faith throughout life, our goal should be to continue growing. Which phase sounds like you? 

Hesitant faith is characterized by struggling to believe God: We hope He’ll answer our prayer, but we’re just not sure. Sometimes doubts creep in because we’re looking at the situation, not at the Lord and His Word. Or maybe our problem is that we just don’t know what God has said in the Bible, so we have no real anchor.

Courageous faith involves stretching to believe the Lord more and more. Christians in this phase take steps to follow God and discover He is faithful to His Word.

Perfect faith is characterized by resting in the Lord, with confidence in Him and a heart aligned with His will. We are thankful as we watch His promises become a reality. Though we hope to practice this kind of faith every day, we won’t truly perfect it in this lifetime.

No matter which description best fits your faith today, the best way to grow is by regularly feeding on the Word of God. Cling tightly to His promises

Always

[Hezekiah] broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made. 2 Kings 18:4

“And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:20)

A favorite old song of many senior citizens (of this writer, at least) is the sentimental “I’ll be loving you—always” ballad written long ago by Irving Berlin. The sincerity of some who sing it may be questioned, but the many “always” promises of the Bible really mean it. Consider a few of these precious promises, for example.

The apostle Paul urges believers to be “always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). And to the same Corinthian church he later wrote: “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14).

Then there is that other tremendous promise in the same epistle: “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). The greatest such promise is that in our text, when the Lord Jesus Christ Himself promised that “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).

These are also a number of very important exhortations in the Scriptures involving an “always” type of commitment. For example, Jesus said “that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). That is, never give up praying just because the answer seems a long time coming. Furthermore, Paul says that we should be “giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).

Then, we are to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4). Finally, there is the command to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). HMM

Bless the Lord, O My Soul! Praising The Lord — Psalm 103

Praising The Lord For His Domination

The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all. Praise the Lord, all His angels of great strength, who do His word, obedient to His command. Praise the Lord, all His armies, His servants who do His will. Praise the Lord, all His works in all the places where He rules. My soul, praise the Lord! (vv. 19-22).

At various stages of my life, I have exercised authority in a number of arenas. I have been a church music director, head of a music department in a Christian college, editor in chief of a music company, and lecturer in a theological seminary. Musicians and writers sometimes consult me for musical and theological advice. At home God has assigned me to the role of husband to Karen and father to D. J. and Kathy.

But God’s domain has no such limitations or restrictions. The entire universe is under his dominion. All of creation is obligated to bow before him. “His angels of great strength, who do His word, obedient to His command. Praise the Lord, all His armies, His servants who do His will” (vv. 20-21).

If the whole creation is expected to worship the Lord, then I must bless the Lord in my personal life as well. Neglecting worship and praise will shrink my soul and reduce the margins of my life and influence. If I desire fullness, richness, and abundance, I’ll spend my days adoring the King of the universe—the only One worthy of concentrated service and worship.

Personal Prayer

I praise you and thank you, O Lord, for your sovereignty and authority over all creation. I want to join the heavenly hosts in praising your name today. Teach me some “melodious sonnet.”

Divide and Conquer

What comes from God’s Spirit … is evaluated spiritually.—1 Corinthians 2:14

Only the Holy Spirit can help us properly to interpret the Word of God. A person may have a fine mind, a good seminary training, even a theological degree, but none of these is a sufficient foundation on which to attempt to interpret the Word of God. Truth, as the above text tells us, is “evaluated spiritually.”

But there is one more thing we need to understand—only the Holy Spirit can show us how to use it aright. Doubtless, this was the consideration in the mind of the apostle when he penned this statement: “the sword of the Spirit … is God’s word.” It is one thing to know the contents of Scripture; it is another thing to know how to use those contents in a way that defeats the Devil. Only the Holy Spirit can enable us to do this.

The relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Word of God is an important one. Some tend to put the emphasis on one side or the other. But the moment we separate the Spirit and the Word, we are in trouble. The late Donald Gee once said: “All Spirit and no Word, you blow up. All Word and no Spirit, you dry up. Word and Spirit—you grow up.”

Without the Spirit, the Word is a dead letter; with the Spirit, it is a living and powerful force. The Devil has a policy of “divide and conquer.” And if he can get us to separate the Word from the Spirit, then he has us just where he wants us.

Prayer

My Father, I see that when I separate the Spirit from the Word and the Word from the Spirit, I am in trouble. Help me to be as open to the Spirit as I am to the Bible, and as open to the Bible as I am to the Spirit. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

2Co 3:1-6; Jn 6:63; 1Pt 3:18

What “gives life”?

What made Paul an able minister of truth?

Fellowship Which Binds

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

If fellowship is friendship with a plus, then Paul and Timothy enjoyed fellowship. Dissimilar in temperament and of different generations, they were nevertheless bound by a bond of affection. Paul once wrote of Timothy, “I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare… Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel” (Philippians 2:20-22).

It is to Timothy that Paul can appeal for help at the end; he knows him to be the kind of thoughtful friend who will bring the cloak he needs, and his books—and hurry to get there before winter (2 Timothy 4:13, 21).

But what is that plus in the friendship? It is, of course, the presence of the Holy Spirit. Unsaved people may be good friends, but only where both are Christians does real fellowship exist. In fact, our fellowship must first be with Jesus and then with those who belong to Jesus.

It is of the greatest importance for any man or woman in the ministry to appreciate the importance of fellowship. If our preaching leads men to Christ, it will surely lead them together. Let me aim at that, and let me foster and strengthen that fellowship—not by focusing on the group (for that can lead to unhealthy introspection), but by keeping Jesus resolutely in the center.

We need to be deeply impressed with the fact that Jesus is in the midst when we gather, to appreciate His presence, to love Him for it, and to let His love flow over our gatherings. The warmth and happiness of such groups will act like a magnet to the community in which we are set.

Men and woman are sinners, in need of a Savior. And that Savior is available, graciously near, ready to rescue. His name is Jesus—heaven’s answer to earth’s ruin and misery.

This Jesus has accomplished, once for all: the redemption of the lost. It is now for the lost to learn that and to be persuaded to respond to it in faith. Those who do will find Him strong to deliver, faithful to keep, and ready to enclose His own in a fellowship of wonderful love.

Edward Read, Timothy, My Son