Sunday, August 28, 2011

[Matt's Messages] "About God's Presence"

“About God’s Presence”
Great and Precious Promises - Summer 2011
Back 2 School Sunday
August 28, 2011
Hebrews 13:1-8

This is the last message in our short series on God’s “Great and Precious Promises” that we’ve doing this Summer.

God’s “divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

They are that good!

And they are not optional. They are essential.

Never try to jump out of an airplane without a .... parachute.

Never try to live life in this fallen world without God’s great and precious promises.

They are essential equipment for the Christian life.

They are that great and we have been making them precious to us.

So that we can sing:

Every promise in the Book is mine!
Every chapter, every verse, every line.
I am standing on His Word divine,
Every promise in the Book is mine!
The last two weeks, we enjoyed thinking together about God’s promises of answered prayer (ask, seek, knock) and of heaven (heaven is worth the troubles of earth–and we’ve seen some of our own realize those promises this week).

Very great promises and precious to us.

And today, we will think about great and precious promises “About God’s Presence.”

Here’s one.  (Not the one I’m going to preach to you.)

It was spoken to Joshua right before the Conquest of Canaan.

It should sound familiar to you.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Here’s another one.  Right before the Conquest of the World began.

Jesus gave these orders to His disicples:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. [Promise:] And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

These promises could be multiplied again and again. The Lord promises to be with His people. 

Now, of course, the Bible says that God is OMNI-present.  He is present everywhere.

He said in Jeremiah 23:23, “Am I only a God nearby," declares the LORD, "and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?" declares the LORD. "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" declares the LORD.”

David said in Psalm 139.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

Yes, God is everywhere.

But God promises to be specially present with His people.

And we could see that in lots of scriptures, but today, I picked Hebrews 13:1-8.

Did you ever get separated from your parents and get lost?

I remember when I was little, I was following my Mom who was wearing a certain dress. I remember it as grey woolen dress.  I don’t know if it really was.

But I was following her as she went shopping through the Mall.  Dooty, dooty, dooty, doo.

But being Captain Observant, that’s what my wife calls me sometimes, being Captain Observant, I had not realized that I was following some other lady wearing a grey woolen dress.

And when I did realize it, I realized I was lost.

And alone.

Did you ever do that?

Did you ever feel that way?

Do you kinda feel that way about life right now?

Does you feel alone?

On your own.

Adrift and by yourself?

Hear this word from God.  It’s in verse 5 and the writer to the Hebrews is quoting Deuteronomy 31:6.

Catch that.  This New Testament writer is quoting Old Testament Scripture and applying it to his readers and to us.

And it is God’s great and precious promise. V.6

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”


Isn’t that a great promise?

Isn’t that a precious promise?

Several of you wrote it down on the survey sheets that we passed out.

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

That’s what God says.

Never left, never forsaken.

Ok. You can go to lunch now. That’s all I have to say.

If we get this into our minds and into our hearts, it will change everything.

Never left, never forsaken.

Never deserted. Never alone.

Because of this promise, I know that I am never alone.

It may feel like it at times, but I never am.

How comforting. How encouraging. How confidence building!

Never alone.

One time, I deserted my daughter Robin.

I didn’t mean to!

She was really little back when we have 4, count-em 4 car seats, and none of them could unbuckle themselves, we went to the Philipsburg library.

Back when it was on Pine Street.  We parked on the street.

We unbuckled everybody (or so I thought) and got everyone across the road and went into the library.

Mommy and the boys went to the children’s section. I carried little Isaac in his carseat to the children’s section and then went up and down the adult stacks looking for something to read.

And then I circled back and counted my children. 1-2-3.

Where’s Robin?

“Where’s Robin?”

Oh no!

I ran back out across the street and opened the van door, and there was my little girl bawling her eyes out.

She had been left alone. Forsaken. Deserted.

And it hurt.

I apologized and I’m still apologizing for that.

I scooped her up in my arms and carried her into the library and just about never left her side the rest of the day.

God is a much better Daddy than I am.

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Sometimes it will feel like it.

This promise does not mean that we will have victory in every endeavor.

It means that God will be with us no matter what happens.

God’s presence.

Never left, never forsaken. Never alone.

Kids, going back to school this week, the Lord goes with you.

Never left, never forsaken.

There are some people that say that God has been taken out of the schools.

Don’t believe that for a second.

Nobody can do that.  Nobody ever will.

God is there.

Christian kids are never left, never forsaken.

Teachers, Administrators, Staff, Helpers going back to school, the Lord goes with you.

Never left, never forsaken.

Parents staying home.  Parents leaving their kids and then going to work.  Parents teaching their kids at home.

God is there.

Never left, never forsaken.

There was monk once called Brother Lawrence.  And he wrote a short little book called, “The Practice of the Presence of God.”

And the whole point of the book is to remind yourself daily and hourly and minutely that the Lord is here.

My best friend from my college days, Kipp Wilson, used to write on post-it notes “God is here” and post them around his office at the grad school where he worked.

“God is here.”
“God is here.”
“God is here.”

What can you do to remind yourself of this promise?

You don’t have to do anything for it to be true!

This promise is not contingent on you or me at all. It is. It just IS!

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

But what can you and I do to remind ourselves of that?

That’s why I’m preaching this message.  Most of the things I say each week are not new and strange doctrines. They are reminders.

God is here.

And God will go with us this week.  Back to School.

How confidence building!  That’s what the author says in the very next verse. V.6

“So we say with confidence (because he never leaves us, never forsakes us), ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”

Here’s another great and precious promise.


Never leaving, never forsaken and active on my behalf!

Do you see that?

It’s not just that he’s here.

We can say the ground is always here, but that doesn’t mean so much.

You might have a crazy uncle that’s always at the family reunions.

“He’s here. But he don’t amount to much!”

But that’s not how God is here.

He is here to help.

“The Lord is my helper.”

Now that, is an AMAZING statement!

That is a mind-blower.

Is your mind blown?

Are you brains cooking in there trying to get that?

God is not here asking for help.

God doesn’t ask us for help.

God is offering help.  God is a helper.

He serves us.

Now, don’t get me wrong. He stays God.  We remain his servants.

We submit to Him and not the other way around.

But He calls Himself our helper because He helps us.

He assists us.
He supports us.
He brings us help.

This is also a quote from the Old Testament. Psalm 118, verses 6 and 7.

And God calls himself a helper.

By the way, ladies, this is the word that God asks you to be for your husbands if you have one: a helper suitable.

Being a helper is not a position of inferiority! God is a helper!

And he’s a helper that never leaves us and never forsakes us.


I know that I can do hard things.

What? Stop the car.

Why did I say that?

This is a passage about God’s presence.

Why did I bring up doing hard things?

Because that’s the main point of Hebrews 13.

That’s why the writer hands out these great and precious promises.

To tell us that God will HELP US (He’s our helper) to do hard things.

Like: v.1.  Loving the Brothers.

“Keep on loving each other as brothers.”

That’s not always easy, is it?  We can all be difficult to love sometimes.

Keep on doing it.

V.2 Entertaining Strangers

“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.”

Now, by entertain, it means show hospitality, not put on a show.

You don’t have to find a stranger and then do little song and dance.

It means showing hospitality for strangers.

Yesterday, we got a call from the truck stop.  A young woman from Virginia had been abandoned  by her friends at the truck stop and they had taken her money, her ID, everything.

One of the ministers from the ministerium went up and cared for her needs.

I’ve gone up there and met some of strangest people.

And a couple of times, I wondered if I would come home.

I’ve also wondered if any of them were angels in disguise.

I think that the writer here is talking about Abraham’s nephew Lot in Genesis 19, but  that doesn’t mean that he isn’t still doing it today.

That’s not easy.

But God is here.

Next Sunday, we’re going to have a dynamic guest preacher from Miracle Mountain Ranch, Donnie Rosie.  Donnie is going to bring his wife Tanya and their little son George with him.

Somebody needs to feed the Rosie’s lunch.

Somebody needs to entertain the Rosie.  I know that they are strangers.

Who is up for it?

Talk to me afterwards.

God is here.

And He will help.

V.3 Visiting Prisoners. It’s getting harder, isn’t it?  “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”

That’s really hard.  The Lord is your helper.

V.4 Honoring Marriage. “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed be kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”

You can do that.  The Lord is your helper.

No pre-marital sex. No living together before marriage. No adultery in marriage. No pornography defiling the marriage bed. Marriage honored.

Is that hard to do?

Who is your helper?

V.5 Being Content With What I Have.  “Keep your lives free form 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.”

Do you see the connection?

Is it hard to be content with what you have?

Yeah, but God is present.

He won’t leave you. He won’t forsake you.



Because the Lord is my helper, I know that I can do hard things.

I can take risks.

There is a movie coming up at the end of next month from the makers of Fireproof that church that makes movies.  It’s called “Courageous.”

I can be strong and courageous because the Lord my God will be with me wherever I go.

I can make disciples of all the nations because surely the Lord is with me even to the end of the age.

The first week of this serious, I pointed out that nearly (if not every) time a promise appears in Scripture there is a command nearby. And vice versa.

Because the commands of God are promise-driven by the great and precious promises of God.

We can do hard things because God is present.

What hard things is God calling you to do?

V.7 says, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”

Maybe the hard thing for you is following church leaders.

Maybe it’s something completely different.

Maybe it has to do with going back to school this week.

Maybe it’s inviting someone to Family Bible Night, Kids for Christ, Uth Group, ABC Kids.

Maybe it’s telling someone about Jesus.

Does that scare you?

Who is your helper? V.6

“What can man do to me?”

Last promise and then we’re done.


Verse 8.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

He is not going to change.

Jesus is not moody and capricious.

Jesus is not a fair weather friend.

Jesus is immutable.

That’s a big word that means unchanging.

Jesus stays the same.

Here’s the application.

I know that I Don’t Have to be Afraid.

We don’t have to worry that Jesus will be here today and gone tomorrow.

Everything in life changes.

Things fall apart.

But Jesus stays the same.

We don’t have to worry that He’ll fade away.

It might seem at times that He is nowhere near.

He’s like Daddy leaving us alone strapped in our car seat in the van.

No. That’s not how it is.

God is here.

Jesus is here with us through the Holy Spirit.

And he’s not going anywhere.

One more thought.

All of these promises (from this whole series, including this one about God’s presence, all of these promises) are just for believers in / followers of Jesus Christ.

If you are not yet a follower of Christ by faith then you can’t take these promises for you.

Yes, God is here but that is not necessarily good news for you.

God is present in Hell, as well.  He is present there only to punish.

These promises are only good news for those who belong to Jesus.

Jesus knows what it means to be forsaken.

Because He was forsaken for us.

On the Cross, He cried, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”

What does that mean?

It means, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

And even though He knew the answer, he was living the question.

The answer was: for you and me.

Jesus was forsaken so that you and I never will be!

Receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior He never changes.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!

And that unchanging Savior says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”