March 29, 2020
In many ways we are facing an uncertain future. There are a lot of things we don’t know. We don’t know how long this self-isolation will last. We don’t know the long term effects of this crisis on our economy or our way of life. We don’t know if we’ll get ill or survive if we do. So at times like these we need to focus on what we do know: what we know about God and His promises to us. In fact, I have often thought how great it would be if you could just call up your heavenly Father and hear what He wants to say to me at a time like this. But the truth is God has much to say to us about our fears, our uncertainties, our needs and His ability to care for us no matter what we are facing. So today, I want to share with you Five Things Your Father Wants to Tell You at a time like this. And the first thing He wants to tell you is this:
1. “I will be with you wherever you go” Listen to what God said to Joshua just prior to him leading 2 million ex-slaves into the land of Canaan to face their enemies and claim their inheritance: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
A couple of observations: First, before going into the promised land, God knew His people had the tendency to fear the worst. Some where terrified. Most were fearful about what lay before them. That’s why God said, “Do not be afraid.” They were letting their fears get the best of them. At times during this crisis we will be tempted to let our fears get the best of us. But God says, “Don’t be afraid.” Second, God also knew His people had little confidence in believing they would succeed. Many were flustered. Some saw what lay ahead as insurmountable. So, they didn’t have the nerve to do what God was asking of them. It was quite probable Joshua felt the same way. That’s why God said, “Do not be dismayed.” Don’t be discouraged. Don’t lose your nerve.”
Now along with those admonitions God began with this command, “Be strong and courageous.” In other words, God wanted Joshua to be bold in his leadership and have a courageous confidence in the face of the unknown. But his boldness and confidence weren’t to come from within. They were to come from God’s presence with him. That’s why God said: “for the Lord God will be with you wherever you go.”
His strength and confidence were to come from the reality that Yahweh – the personal, eternal, unchanging God, promised to be with Joshua every step of the way. That’s what Yahweh means: Yahweh is the personal name of God. He is the self-existing One. He needs nothing outside Himself in order to exist. Therefore He is eternal and unchanging. But because this is also His personal name and His covenant name, His name means that He always exists for the benefit of His people. So when Joshua heard God say, for the Lord God will be with you wherever you go. He heard that God would not only be right there with Him, but would seek His best every step of the way. With Yahweh right there with Him, He could be bold and confident that nothing could defeat Him. Yahweh would always be there when He needed Him. And that would never change.
This is what our Father wants you to know. Just as God promised to be with Joshua, He will be with you. In this age of social distancing, God is near. He doesn’t change. He is always there. He is always seeking your best. He is always pursuing you with His love. “I will be with you wherever you go” I will be with you when things look bleak. I’ll be with you when you feel weak. “So be strong in me. Get your courage from me. For I will never leave you nor forsake you. I will be with you wherever you go.” I WILL BE WITH YOU! That’s the first thing Your Father wants you to know. Now the second,
2.”I will be your refuge in times of trouble” This is what God said through the prophet Nahum: The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble, He knows those who take refuge in Him. Nahum 1:7 I love this verse because it gives us three word pictures about how good our Father is. First picture comes from the phrase “The Lord is good.” Good speaks of the kindness of God. Kindness is the goodness of God in action. In the context of this verse, God’s kindness results in Him being a welcome place of refuge. We can run to Him in times of trouble. His arms are always open wide to you. His kindness means that He is always available for you. He’s always there to shelter you.
That leads us to the second word picture: “refuge.” The picture that God’s Word paints of a refuge is two-fold. A refuge is a place of safety; and a refuge is a secure place. For example, Psalm 28:8 calls our refuge: a fortress of salvation. So in the refuge of God we are protected by His strength. He is our hiding place. We are safe with Him. As Isaiah said so eloquently of God: You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. Isaiah 28:4 “I will be your refuge in times of trouble.”
The third word picture comes from the word, “knows.” God “knows” those who take refuge in Him. This is a relational knowledge and should give us much comfort. Because it speaks of God knowing you completely. It’s like what David expressed in Psalm 139: You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Psalm 139:1-3 So our Father knows your life. He knows your fears. He knows your flaws. He knows everything about you – but He is always there to shelter you – because He is kindly predisposed to you. He wants you to find shelter in Him. He wants you to find security in Him. That’s why He sent us Jesus. “I will be your shelter in times of trouble.” So when you are feeling distressed, or if all this gets to be too much for you, let God be your shelter from the storm. Rest in His presence. Know that He knows you. And let Him be your shelter from the storm. That’s the second thing Your Father wants you to know. Now the third,
3.”I will always love you” Psalm 100:5 says this of our Father: For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;his faithfulness continues through all generations.
God loves you. He’s proven His love to you by giving you Jesus. That’s what Romans 5:8 tells us: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. So if God loved you at your worst, He’s not going to stop loving you at a time like this. He loved you from before time began. He has always loved you and will always love you. As Psalm 100:5 says, His love endures forever. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:8, love never fails. So because God is good and God is faithful, you can count on the reality that God is always seeking your best and will always seek your best. As the Words of the hymn Great is They Faithfulness remind us:
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
And all I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord unto me
God is faithful. God is true. So You can count on it when God says to you: “I will always love you!” I will always seek your best. I will always be for you. I will always watch over you. That’s the third thing Your Father wants you to know. Now the fourth,
4. “I will give you what you need” In Romans 8, Paul reminds us of this quality of God when he says, 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? Romans 8:32
What I love about this Scripture is that it magnifies the grace of God. When we were not able to save ourselves because of our sin, God gave us Jesus to pay for our sins. God did for us what we could not do for ourselves. He gave His best. He gave His Son so we could have forgiveness. He gave His Son so we could receive the gift of eternal life. He gave His Son so we could be adopted into His family. And we didn’t deserve any anything He gave us through Jesus. But that’s just shows us how gracious God is. He gave to us above and beyond what we deserved when He gave us Jesus. Therefore, if God gave us everything in Jesus, He will give you whatever you need.
Do you need peace? Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
Do you need rest? Again Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
Do you need help? Jesus has already given us the helper, His Holy Spirit. As the writer of Hebrews says, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.” Hebrews 13:6
Do you need bread? Jesus says ask: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11
Do you need hope? God gives that too. In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 1 Peter 1:3
Do you need eternal life? This is God’s greatest gift: For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
The Bible says, Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17 So one thing you can be certain of what your Father wants you to know: I will give you what you need! That’s the fourth thing Your Father wants you to know. Now one final word of comfort from your heavenly Father:
5. “I will never let you go” “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:27-30
Note the intimacy of this final promise. Jesus is using a Shepherd’s language. Sheep know their shepherd’s voice and they follow Him. The reason they know His voice is because they have experienced his protection and provision. This is a two-way relationship. He knows us. He knows our needs. He knows our weaknesses. He knows our worries and concerns. And since His voice rings true we follow Him.
What Jesus is picturing is the bond we share with Him through faith. This is not simply intellectual belief in Jesus as our Savior, but an experiential faith in Jesus as our Shepherd. For we know that our Shepherd has laid down his life for us. And now, He promises to hold on to us. To strengthen that promise He tells us of the unique bond he has with the Father: “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” In other words, Jesus and the Father are unified in their care for us. What Jesus does, the Father does. And since there is no one greater than the Father, this promise means that we are perfectly secure in the embrace of the Father. No one can separate us from life with the Father. He has you in the palm of His hand. And so He says to you right now: “I will never let you go.” No matter what may happen in the days and weeks ahead, the Father will never let you go. Put that together with everything else we’ve been reminded of today:
The Father will never let you go.
The Father will be with you wherever you go.
The Father will be your shelter in the storm.
The Father will give you whatever you need.
The Father will always love you.
So rest in the grip of His grace. He’s with you. He’s surrounding you. He’s providing for you. He’s got you. And He will always be there for you. So don’t be afraid and do not be dismayed, but let your strength come from your Father’s great love for you as we weather this storm together with Him.