God With Us

Amen!  The name that is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue confess that: He is Lord!  What a privilege and incredible blessing we carry as we choose to call Him Lord now.  With Christmas quickly approaching, we are reminded of the precious gift that we have been given: Jesus.
Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’).
This season, we celebrate the virgin birth of Jesus, conceived of the Holy Spirit; God Himself humbled and wrapped in flesh.  God with us.  We have hope always, no matter what comes our way, because God is with us; never will He leave or forsake us!  God’s very own presence ever resting with us.
We now, for just a moment, are going to travel back in time.  Here, we find Moses, who is 120 years old and knowing that he would not cross the Jordan into the promised land.  He lived his whole life dedicated to the Lord and to leading the nation of Israel in to their inheritance.  After all of his sacrifices and living a life so enveloped in the Lord’s presence that he spoke to God as we do a good friend, he can only climb Mount Nebo and view the promised land from a distance, then die having never entered it.  He called Joshua to him and before the whole nation of Israel said to him this command.  I believe that God is also calling us up before the nations and giving this same command to each of us this morning.
Deuteronomy 31:7-8
7 “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. 8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Be strong and courageous!  You have an inheritance that the Lord has given to YOU; the very kingdom of Heaven!  What an awesome promise!  God Himself going before us and being with us throughout our lives; the promise that He will never leave nor forsake us.  Now, we may read this and say that in context, that promise is just from Moses to Joshua and doesn’t really apply to us today.  Nope, not true.  Jesus also after giving the great commission reminded us that this promise is still for us even today:
Matthew 28:20b
surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Also, this promise made in Deuteronomy is quoted by the author of Hebrews ensuring that it is for us today:
Hebrews 13:5
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”
We’re never alone in the midst of our troubles.  We’re never left behind, neglected, or forsaken by God.  So long as we draw another breath, God still has a plan and a purpose for our lives.  He still wants to use us to drive the enemy out of our promised land and to bring His hope and blessing to all people.  So long as we draw another breath, God hasn’t given up on us.  He’s still simultaneously going before us to prepare the way and also right there with us directing our paths and giving us the strength and courage to press ahead.
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”
The Hebrew word for leave here is the word raphah, which means literally:
God will never let you sink and drown
God will never drop you or let you fall
God will never dishearten us
God will never relax His hold on us
The Hebrew word for forsake here is the word azab, which means literally:
God will never loose His grip on us
God will never leave us
God will never abandon us
God will never neglect us
God will never leave us alone
God will never desert us
Immanuel, God with us!  His promise is so secure that He even made it His very own name: Immanuel!  As if this promise isn’t enough, God took it a step further and also promised that He is FOR us!
Now, time for a bit of a disclaimer here.  God will never turn His back on us; He will never leave nor forsake us.  However, we can choose to turn our backs on God.  We can leave Him and forsake Him in our lives.  He created us with the ability to make this choice.  We can go our own way and attempt to live our lives on our own without Him, but we know the heartache and trouble that such a choice comes with.  It leads only to death.  God is always for us, but Jesus said in Matthew 12:30 that those of us who are not for Him are against Him;  those who are not gathering into the kingdom of God are scattering the kingdom of God.  There simply is no fence of indecision to teeter on.
I preach often, and will continue to do so, on the truth that no person is beyond God’s forgiveness and that we are to reach out to everyone with the good news of God’s salvation because He isn’t willing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).  However, when the end of our lives come (or Christ returns), which could both occur at any moment, those who have not accepted His salvation have a horrific and permanent future of agony and torment ahead of them.  We cannot neglect this truth or let it slip from our minds.  However, this truth should fill our hearts with compassion and urgency to lead everyone to Christ now and show them His kingdom!
Now, another disclaimer.  We know that God also disciplines those that He loves.  When we fall into areas of sin, we will be convicted and there will be consequences.  However, even His loving discipline is still clear evidence that God is for us!  It’s a sure sign that He hasn’t given up on us and desires only the best for His children.  It shows that He loves us and wants to help us overcome areas of sin and temptation so that we can walk in the full freedom and victory that He purchased for us.
So then, if we are choosing God and He is both with us and for us, who can be against us?  NO ONE and NOTHING!  We need to constantly remind ourselves of this.  Our struggles in life are nothing compared to the glory that God has given us and He has already overcome them!  When we are walking in God’s will for our lives, everything will TRY to stand against us, however, NOTHING will be ABLE to stand against us.  No one can bring any charges against us and condemn us because Romans 8:1 promises us that there is now NO condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.  We have been set free from the law of sin and death!
Romans 8:31-39
31b If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If God is for us, who can be against us?  NO ONE!  If God is for us, what can stand against us? NOTHING!  If God is for us, what can separate us from His love?  NOTHING!
There is hope!  No matter how things look for us now, we have hope knowing that things aren’t going to remain this way.  Not only is God with us and for us, but He also promised in Romans 8:28 to work all things out for good to us who love God.  He didn’t say that He would work all good things out for our good or that He would work only good things into the lives of those who love Him.  He will work ALL things for the good of those who love Him.  This is the hope that we have.  In Jeremiah 29:11, God said that His plans are to give us a hope and a future!  We have to believe that we have a future ahead of us and that future far exceeds where we are currently at.  That stands true if things are really rough right now and even if things are going very well right now.  God’s plan is for us to move forward into a hope-filled future and to keep our eyes fixed on Him, the author and finisher of our faith.
Even if things are rough right now and may not be going as we had wanted them to, there is hope.  Even when things get rough, that doesn’t for a moment mean that God has abandoned us or that He has turned against us.  NO!  He will NEVER do that.  We can abandon and turn against Him, but He has promised NEVER to do this to us.
Even when we have chosen to abandon and turn on Him, He promised that if we turn back to Him, He will forgive us and welcome us with open arms right back into His place of favor.  In fact, He’ll bring out the fattened calf and throw a huge party for us when we choose to come back home.
This morning, I want us to leave here with these promises, as simple as they are, deeply rooted in our hearts and in our minds.  I want them to permeate our lives in such a way that no matter what storms and droughts of life come our way and no matter what opposition we are met with, that we move forward into our hope-filled future knowing without even a moment of doubt that our God is WITH us and our God is FOR us and that NOTHING can stand against us!