Remember the Lord is with You (1 Chronicles 28:20)

1 Chronicles 28 20

In Scripture, we are told that David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). Because of this, David wanted to build a permanent Temple for the Lord. God, however, gave David the plans, but told him that his son, Solomon, would be the one to build it. In this verse, David is commissioning Solomon to do just that and reminding him that God will be with him during the project.

Solomon was the wisest person in the world. People would come from around the world to consult him – to hear him speak wisdom. Yet, when it came time to commission Solomon for the building of the Temple, David found in important to remind him that God would be with him and not forsake him during that time.

It’s remarkable to me that a man filled with such wisdom still had some doubts about himself and his standing before the Lord. So much so that his father felt the need to remind him of those facts. When we are having our own doubts about God being with us, we can take comfort in the fact that we are not alone in our concern. Even Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, had his own concerns.

While we may find ourselves in good company with King Solomon, we must heed the advice of his father David when he reminds him (and us) that God will be with us always. Don’t believe for a minute that you are going through this time alone – God is with you! If you need help remembering that, go back and read the previous devotions or reach out to your pastor. As a pastor myself, I know that I’d be happy to talk with you and walk through this time with you. You are not alone!

God’s Got Your Back (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Deuteronomy 31 6

The people of Israel are being addressed by Moses in this verse. They have wandered the wilderness for 40 years due to their disobedience and unwillingness to trust God, and now the new generation is standing on the brink of a new and potentially prosperous time for their people.

Moses has told the people about the Promised Land that God will give them, but there are major roadblocks that they will have to overcome if they are to inherit the land as promised. The main problem is that their enemies already possess the land. As Moses lists off some of their enemies in the previous verses, he then makes the statement in our verse that the Lord will not leave you or forsake you because he goes with you.

He continues a few verses later to say basically the same thing, “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” (Deuteronomy 31:8). Moses wants to drive this point home. He knows the people will face danger and fear ahead and he wants to encourage them with truth of God’s presence.

The people of God were about to take a huge step in their development as a nation and Moses wanted them to be on sure footing. That foundation was based on trusting the Lord in all things, remembering that God would be with them no matter what.

We aren’t getting ready to conquer enemy nations, but we are facing an enemy of our own. For some, it’s simply getting up each morning and fighting depression. For others, it’s battling their own minds in the “what-if” scenarios that play out in their heads. Whatever your personal battle is, trust in the fact that Lord will not leave you in this, your time of need. Prepare for battle knowing that God’s got your back!

God is Greater (Psalm 118:6)

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Psalm 118 starts with this verse, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1). Verses 2-4 repeat the phrase, “His faithful love endures forever.” And in verse 29, the Psalm ends with, “His faithful love endures forever.”

In the midst of reminding us about God’s love, the psalmist says in our verse that he will not be afraid because the Lord is with him. He then posits the question, “What can mere mortals do to me?” (NIV).

It is important during this time to remember that God’s love is never ending, knows no limits, and is all encompassing. God loves you and God loves me, and nothing will ever change that. He loves us so much that he sent Jesus to die for us. When we face uncertainties – and even if we face certain death – we can rest in the fact that God’s love is with us. He offers to comfort us in our time of need and we can count on him to be faithful.

If we are truly surrounded by God’s love, protection, and grace, then what can anyone do to us? No one can take God away from us. You can make laws that say we can’t gather together, but you can’t take Jesus from our hearts. You can say that churches are closed, but the true Church is the unity of believers from all time and place and it can never be closed!

Be encouraged, dear friends, that as believers YOU are the Church and that God’s Spirit dwells within you. With God literally dwelling inside of us, what do we have to fear? What can a mere mortal do to us? Nothing compared to what God can and will do for those who seek him!

God Cares (1 Peter 5:7)

1 Peter 5 7

In the verse immediately preceding our verse, Peter says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). This concludes a short section on the value and importance of humility. The sense of the Greek word for humility means “the character trait of valuing and assessing oneself appropriately, especially in light of one’s sinfulness.” I think we all have a basic understanding of what it means to be humble.

But what does being humble have to do with casting our anxieties on Christ?

It’s quite simply the fact that we understand that being anxious for things, particularly things that are outside of our control, is a form of arrogance. You are basically saying to God that you don’t trust that he will work things out. You are putting yourself above his power. It’s the opposite of recognizing your humility in comparison to him.

The anxiety that you have (literally, “cares that bring disruption to the personality and mind”), causes you to doubt the order of creation. Is the Creator God really in control of everything, or do you, in your finite mind, need to worry and concern yourself with the things you have no control over?

Even though Peter is reminding us to be humble, particularly when considering our place compared to God, he emphasizes the fact that God cares for you! The word cares means, “to be relevant or important to; to be of interest to.” God cares about YOU and YOU are interest to HIM. God doesn’t want you to worry or be anxious – he wants you to humbly accept the fact that you have no control and need to rest in his arms of compassion and care. Once we can let go of the fact that we have to try to control everything, we can finally be assured that God is in control and we truly have nothing to fear because he cares about us more than we can ever know.

Light Wins (Psalm 27:1)

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In this Psalm, David is proclaiming to all the position that God has in his life – the “stronghold” – or in other places translated “refuge.” David says that when the world around him is crumbling, he can count on the refuge of his God.

In God, David sees his light and salvation. The darkness seems to overtake the world at times, but the darkness is no match for the light of God. God’s light shines even into the deepest pit of despair and illuminates the unknown so that we won’t be afraid. And the salvation that is given to us through God is one that cannot be fathomed. Jesus died so that we might live! What a reason for us to be joyful!

When we are overwhelmed with the “what-ifs” in this time, we should recognize that our God is our salvation and our light. In him we should not be afraid! If the God who created the world has also provided us with salvation and refuge, then why would we be afraid of the things that this life throws at us? The simple answer is we shouldn’t be! God’s light has defeated the darkness and in the end the light will shine throughout the world. We can take comfort in the fact that in the midst of this time, when the darkness seems to be winning, we know that in the end light wins; God wins!

Nothing Can Separate Us (Romans 8:38-39)

Romans 83 8

In our passage today, Paul reassures us that NOTHING can separate us from God’s love. God’s love is always present in our lives, no matter what else is going on. But before you think that Paul is just writing some platitude to help people feel better, please remember that Paul is writing out of his own experience.

Paul has endured great hardships in his life. He has been beaten multiple times, imprisoned, stoned, faced death, shipwrecked, robbed, faced danger “in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas,” endured sleepless nights, faced starvation, dealt with severe thirst, and was in the cold with nothing to warm him (1 Corinthians 11:23-27). He is a man who has suffered!

Yet in his suffering, he is able to find solace in the fact that God has never left him; more specifically, that God’s love has never left him. What does it mean that God loves us? God’s love was ultimately demonstrated for us when Jesus died on the cross for our sins. What greater act of love can there be than to take someone else’s place in death? John tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8). That means that all that is love is also God and all that is God is also love. And without God’s love, we could not love one another (1 John 4:19).

When you can stop your worry and anxiety long enough to consider who you love, recognize the fact that God loves you even more than you love that person or people. There is no limit to how much God loves you and how much he cares about you. In the midst of our worry, remember that God’s love knows no limits and he loves you more than you’ll ever know. Nothing can separate you from that love!

Remembering Your History (Psalm 94:19)

Psalm 94 19

In this Psalm the writer is remembering a time when the Lord had helped him in the past. The verses right before our verse say:

Unless the LORD had given me help,

I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.

When I said, “My foot is slipping,”

your unfailing love, LORD, supported me. – Psalm 94:17-19 (NLT)

The Lord has a history with this person – He has protected him (or her) in the past. The writer recognizes that without God’s help, death would surely have been his outcome.

“Doubts” in our verse mean the thoughts that cause a person to be troubled or disquieted. And the “me” in our verse refers to the soul or inner being of a person. When our inner being is being troubled, we can rest in the fact that God will give us relief in affliction (“comfort”). Why is the Psalmist certain of this? Because God has done it for him in the past.

When we face a time of uncertainty or anxiety, it is helpful to hit the pause button and think back to a time in our lives when God did come through for us. That’s one reason why it can be helpful to keep a journal – to keep a written record of when God came through for you. In this time, remember that God has gotten you through everything else that life has thrown at you – he will get you through this as well.

Fear and Freedom (Psalm 34:4)

Psalm 34 4

In this verse, David is proclaiming the victory he received after seeking out the Lord. It says that he “sought” the Lord. The word sought carries with it the idea of addressing a question and expecting an answer. It reminds me of playing Marco Polo – the person who has their eyes closed calls out “Marco” and expects the other players to respond with “Polo.” In the case of David, the person he seeks is the Lord. The answer he receives is from God. The result is that he was delivered (or freed) from his fear.

When we are in a place of fear, it can be immobilizing. It can consume us from the inside out. It causes emotional problems as well as physical distress. Fear can cause sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, pain or tightness in the chest, or a rapid heartbeat. Our body physically responds when we are afraid, anxious, or worried.

David was feeling this way, too. He was filled with fear and anxiety. His response, however, was not to cower in the corner; it was to cry out to the Lord. David had faith that when he sought the Lord, the Lord would answer him. And in that answer, David found true freedom.

God has given us all that same ability. When we are filled with fear, we should cry out to the Lord and expect him to respond. He probably won’t respond with a physical voice, though he could, but in our turning to Him, he will dissolve our fears. You can’t focus on Jesus and also focus on fear.

It reminds me of the song, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” I want to leave you with those lyrics:

O soul are you weary and troubled?

No light in the darkness you see?

There’s light for a look at the Savior

And life more abundant and free

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace

Brought to Safety (Isaiah 43:1)

Isaiah 43 1

This verse is found in the midst of a passage written by the prophet Isaiah, first about the terrible tragedy of the exile, when God turned the Israelites over to the Babylonians as a result of their sin. Second, beginning with our verse, God says that he will redeem Israel in spite of their sins, a result of his grace.

The Israelites repeatedly sinned against God throughout their history. But here, remarkably, we see that God promises to redeem them; promises to make them whole again. He uses personal pronouns throughout the passage (I/mine), reminding the people that they belong to Him – the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.

In times of uncertainty, we can take the same refuge in God that the Israelites did so long ago. In spite of our sinfulness, God still loves us, cares for us, and ultimately will redeem us. The word “redeem” means to bring into safety.

God is showing his grace and love to us each and every day, and he will bring us into the ultimate safety of his arms at some point in the future. No matter how bad things get, we can have confidence in the fact that in the end, God wins. God will save us from this world and all of the evil and sin that abounds. That promise of ultimate salvation should give us solace in our temporary situations that are so often filled with fear and anxiety.

God’s got this and God’s got you.

Do Not Be Afraid (Joshua 1:9)

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This verse is located in a doozy of a passage. Moses has just died, and God is giving instructions to Joshua, who was Moses’ assistant, as he prepares to be the new leader of the people. Have you heard the saying, “I’ve got big shoes to fill”? Can you imagine following Moses??

God did so many amazing things through Moses – the plagues in Egypt, providing fresh water in the desert, and, oh yeah, parting the Red Sea. Now here is Joshua getting ready to take over. Those are certainly big shoes to fill!

Yet, in this commissioning of Joshua, the Lord ends with telling him to not be afraid, but instead be filled with strength and courage. Think about that for a moment! Moses is gone, you’re the new leader, and God speaks directly to you and tells you to be strong and courageous.

In this time of uncertainty and anxiety, few of us will be leading a nation, but we certainly are all leaders in our own right. You may not see yourself as a leader, but I guarantee that somewhere in your life someone is watching you. They are watching how you behave, how you speak, and your general countenance. They may or may not know that you are follower of Christ, but you are nonetheless an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). You are the only representation of Jesus that some people may ever see. Many people won’t step foot inside a church – but they see you.

In your commissioning to go out into the world, God is telling you the same thing he told Joshua: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” How exciting is that?! The God who created the universe has promised to be with you. And with God by your side, how could you ever be afraid?

Use this verse as your anchor today as you go out into the world (or stay in as the case may be). Be bold. Reach out to someone you know who may be struggling during this time. Be the anchor for someone else as you hold on to the truth that God is with YOU!