God is With You…Every Step Along The Way

“ For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” – Zephaniah 3:17

A. W. Tozer once said that ”Always, everywhere God is present, and always He seeks to discover Himself to each one.” God is always there. Psalm 139:7-8 says, “I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.”

God is literally everywhere. He fills all space and time. He is with you every step of every day. Wherever we are, whatever our situation, God is there. When we’re in the hospital or at home, He is there. When the sun is shining or when it’s raining, God is there. God never changes. Jesus is with you—today, yesterday, and forever. No matter what you’re facing. No matter the sorrow past or present, He is here, grieving with us, celebrating with us, growing and filling us with His Spirit, and helping us take steps forward with hope. He never takes his eyes off of us. He never leaves us alone. He never forsakes us. Matthew 28:20 says, “…and be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

It is a mistake to think God is there for the really big things. He is there in all things. Maybe He spoke to the human resources manager who hired you. Maybe He caused you to pause at an intersection and miss an accident. Maybe He helped you with that calculus problem. Maybe He put you in the right small group that helped you grow. Maybe He was in that glorious rainbow glowing through the dark clouds after a storm.

Whatever you need. Whatever you face. Whatever is on your mind. God is there. You can’t get in a bind that God can not get you out of. You can’t get into a mess that God can not deliver you from. God is always there, despite how we see our situations, despite how we react to our shortcomings, and despite how we feel about our struggles. He’s going to help you. He’s going to strengthen you. He’s going to encourage you.

There is no checklist of solitude or calm required for God’s presence to attend to your weary soul. He is here, now. He is with you always. You are not alone, and you never will be. In your innermost being, He is there. He always has been and always will be with you every step along the way.

Discussion Questions:

  1.  How does it feel to know that no matter how you may be feeling, God is with you and completely understands how you feel?
  2.  Since His word is a constant reminder that He is with us through everything, how has it been going for you with spending time in His Word? What changes might you need to make?

The Attributes Of God – God Is Sovereign

What are God’s attributes? When we talk about the attributes of God, we are trying to answer questions like, Who is God, What is God like, and What kind of God is He? An attribute of God is something true about Him. Each Friday we will look at the attributes of God. This week, God is sovereign. 

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength.” – 1 Chronicles 29:11-12. 

God is sovereign. God is the sovereign ruler of the universe. There is no higher authority. He is all-powerful. He is present everywhere, so no one can hide from Him or escape His scrutiny. 

There is absolutely nothing that happens in the universe that is outside of God’s influence and authority. As King of kings and Lord of lords, God has no limitations. That’s what being sovereign means. It means being the ultimate source of all power, authority, and everything that exists. Only God can make those claims; therefore, it’s God’s sovereignty that makes Him alone, worthy of worship. Consider just a few of the claims the Bible makes about God:

God is above all things and before all things. He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. He is immortal, and He is present everywhere so that everyone can know Him. (Revelation 21:6)  God knows all things past, present, and future. There is no limit to His knowledge, for God knows everything completely before it even happens (Romans 11:33).

Jerry Bridges said, “Our duty is found in the revealed will of God in the Scriptures. Our trust must be in the sovereign will of God as He works in the ordinary circumstances of our daily lives for our good and His glory.” Without God’s sustaining providence, none of us could live another day. “The life of every living thing is in His hand, and the breath of every human being” (Job 12:10)  God is in control, and He is sovereignly directing your life. Proverbs 19:21 states, “You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail”  

God is more powerful, more loving, and more in control than we’ve ever imagined. The more we begin to see God as He longs for us to see Him, the more our lives and our faith will be transformed. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. Put in your own words what it means that God is sovereign. What are some of the important life-related issues on which God’s sovereignty touches?
  2. Can you think of a situation you can share where God’s sovereignty touched your life and you only realized it in retrospect?
  3. How might a fresh look at God’s sovereignty affect your life this week?

The Attributes Of God – God Is Always With You

What are God’s attributes? When we talk about the attributes of God, we are trying to answer questions like, who is God, what is God like, and what kind of God is He? An attribute of God is something true about Him. Each Friday we will look at the attributes of God. This week, God is always with you.   

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” –  Joshua 1:9. 

You are not alone. You are never alone. You may feel like the only person in the room, but God’s presence is always with you. God is present everywhere … so He is always with you. Because He is an infinite Spirit, He is not restricted to being in one location at a time. God is not limited to time and space; He exists everywhere at the same time. No matter where you go or how fast you get there, God is already there. You simply cannot escape the presence of God. If it was possible for you to travel from east to west at the speed of light, you will find God is already there, waiting for you. 

Jesus Christ promises to be with us always and everywhere: “… And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 20). In Acts 17:28 we are told, “For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.”We live in His presence every second of our lives. When we are alone, God watches what we do. When we do something good that nobody else knows about, God sees it.  He also sees the bad things we do in secret. Hebrews 4:13 states, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes, and He is the one to whom we are accountable”

We actually have the presence of Almighty God living inside us. The apostle Paul wrote, “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)  God wants us to “consciously” live in His presence each day.  Because He is always present, it is possible for us to be in constant communication with Him and to depend on Him in every situation. But too often we ignore His presence because we are so preoccupied with our lives.

The bottom line is that no person or circumstance can ever remove us from the presence of our loving God. He is always with us, hearing our cries for help. He is always with us, protecting us from danger. He is always with us, watching what we do. He is our ever-present Lord and Savior.  

“…I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:20. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. It isn’t a matter of achieving God’s presence, but surrendering to God’s presence that is already within the Christian. Do you agree with that statement? Why or why not?
  2. Is anything making it difficult for you to see God’s presence in your life? Is there something you need to stop or start?

Having An Encounter With God

“When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.” – Jeremiah 15:16. 

Have you ever had a personal encounter with God? Do you know what it means or even that it is possible today in our everyday lives?

Scripture tells us how to have a perfect and direct avenue to powerful and transformational encounters with God. Jeremiah 15:16 says, “When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.” In Scripture, we find both our weakness and God’s unfailing love portrayed through countless stories. All we need to both understand and pursue a wholehearted unveiled relationship with God is found in scripture.

Do you desire to have a personal encounter with God?  One thing we need to understand is that as we try to find God, He is trying to find us. If you can’t find God, start to worship and He will find you. Hebrews 11:6 says “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”

People are changed when they have a real encounter with Jesus. When Jesus was here on earth no one who needed help could come into His presence and remain the same. Sick people were healed. Dead people came back to life. Broken people became whole. It’s no different now. The reason people are changed is when people encounter God. If the presence of God is present, people are changed. Some of the most impactful times in the presence of God can be just you and Him. You’re alone in your prayer closet or in God’s great outdoors in silence and stillness. He will show up.

When you experience such an encounter, what makes it so wonderful, is the realization that you matter to God. Whether in a crowd or by yourself, an encounter with God is not Him raining down something “on” you; it’s Him being with you. Your heart is open and still, and the living God of the universe “…will share a meal together as friends.”  (Revelation 3:20) When we seek God with passion, desire, and excitement, He shows up, and everything changes.

The key is to keep showing up alone with God. Invest in your relationship with your Creator. Something special can happen if you are focused on Him. And you will find yourself being transformed.  

Discussion Questions:

  1. Describe yourself when you have been the most “connected” to Jesus. The most “disconnected.” 
  2. What can you add or delete from your life today to be more connected this week?

Living In Light Of Eternity

“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,  press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13-14:

Paul was clearly looking ahead rather than dwelling on the past. But that doesn’t mean that Paul has suddenly developed amnesia. He clearly understood his past and had not forgotten the man he once was, but he did not let his past discourage him or defeat him. He was determined to press on and to keep running the race. Paul was focused on eternity and what awaited him at the end of his life.

We are accustomed to viewing our lives in the order of “past, present, future.” The Bible suggests we should view time as flowing from the future into the present and then into the past. The believer should be future-oriented, “forgetting the past.”

Henry Ford once said, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals.” Do we realize just how mired down in the here and now we have become? Sometimes it’s dark and scary and you’re fumbling around because you feel like you have lost control allowing all kinds of noise and potholes in your lives. Things like broken relationships, money problems, illnesses, and so on. None of those things will matter in eternity. What will matter is whether we lived lives that were pleasing to God.

Paul’s was completely focused on the future. He uses the image of a race to describe the Christian life. In verse 12 Paul says, “I press on.” In verse 14 he says, “I press on to reach the end of the race…” The idea of the word press is to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to run after. The goal is to reach a certain distance at a certain time, or if you are in a race, to overtake another runner. Basically, you are running, not just for the exercise, but with a specific goal and purpose in mind. A runner who keeps his or her “eyes on the prize” will stay on track.  

You may have started the race a few days or a few weeks ago. Or maybe you started the race a long time ago, but somewhere along the way, you stopped running. Perhaps you lost your joy or passion. Perhaps you stumbled and fell, or maybe you just got tired and decided to take a break. If you’re temporarily sitting on the sidelines, I encourage you to get back in the race. There’s a Savior to serve and a prize of an eternity with Him to be won.

Discussion questions:
1. How can we start thinking future, present, and past rather than the current order of past, present, and future?

2. In Philippians 3:13 Paul said “… forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, …” What do you think he meant, and how does it relate to our “pressing on toward the goal …”

Love God Completely

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’” – Mark 12:30 

Is it possible to love the Lord from our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole mind, and our whole strength? Yes, we love God to some extent, but do we have the ability to love Him with our whole being? He’s not the only One we love, and sometimes He’s not the One we love the most. Many other things tug at our heart. So how do we obey the Lord’s command to love Him with all our hearts?

The Lord is well aware that we aren’t capable of such love by ourselves. We need to realize that when God makes a demand, He intends to meet that demand for us. So in 1 John 4:19 we can see our love for God originates from God Himself: “ So you see, our love for him comes as a result of his loving us first.” (TLB) God is the actual source of our love for Him. He loved us first, and He infused us with His love. Because the love of God in us is the love with which we can love Him in return.

Love isn’t merely a feeling. God is love. God loves us and became a man named Jesus Christ. He demonstrated His love for us to the uttermost by dying on the cross. No wonder when we heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, our hearts responded to His love, and we opened to receive Him as our Savior. From that day on, we began to love the Lord with the love He infused into us.

Loving God completely starts with thinking about Him. The more we think about Him, the more we will fall in love with Him. He is the Creator, our Savior. Think about how incredible it is that the God of the universe cares about each of us.  

Spend time in His presence. No relationship can grow without time spent together. The same is true with our relationship with God. When we determine to set aside a specific time for prayer, our love for Him will start increasing.  

Choose to do everything out of love for Him. From our church ministry to our mundane chores, our motives make all the difference. When we choose to do a task out of love for God, our love for Him grows. It’s just a mental task of consciously giving the activity to God as an offering.  

Such love is beyond our ability to grasp with our minds, but it is not beyond our ability to experience with our hearts. The more we study it, the more we understand it, and the more we realize, we will move steadily beyond our understanding. But it does not mean that we cannot have confidence in the fact that God unconditionally loves us. Know it, cling to it, and remember it; don’t underestimate the love of God for you.

Discussion Questions: 

  • If love is to be the defining mark of believers, how would you assess where you are as a believer? Are we a “display window” for the supernatural love of Christ?

The Gift Of Humility

“If you plan to build a tall house of virtues, you must first lay deep foundations of humility.” – Augustine

Pride is defined as a “feeling of deep pleasure derived from ones own achievements or from qualities and possessions greatly desired.” In a nutshell, pride is all about me. We know it is there. We also know it can do real damage to our relationships. And add to that the fact that God hates pride and you have ample reason to subdue, and even better, eradicate pride from our hearts. But how? It is not all that easy. And it certainly can’t be done quickly or by reading the daily devotional. But having said all that, let me give you a few points to consider as we work to remove pride from our lives.

It starts with humility. Humility requires change and change requires that we have “the fear of the Lord” in our hearts. Proverbs 8:13 says, “To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.” According to this verse, every heart that fears the Lord will not entertain any prideful thought or attitude. Whereas pride teaches one to take glory for himself, the fear of the Lord instructs us to give all honor to God. Concentrating on God, in awe and fear of what He has done for us, will help us avoid pride and the behavior that results from pride in our lives. Start this week by giving glory to God for every progress and achievement in our lives.

The next step is to actively pursue humility in our hearts. Pride, in Proverbs, is seen as directly opposed or contrasted to humility. Proverbs 18:12 says, “Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.” To be “haughty” is to be proud because a haughty person thinks that he or she is better than others, and tries to show off their abilities for personal recognition. On the other hand, a humble person will shy away from self-glory and be submissive to God and others. When a person is not self-centered and focused on humility, it is hard for pride to take root in their heart.

Lastly, cultivate friendships with humble people. Doing life with those who understand humility will help deflect pride. Proverbs 16:19 says, “Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.” When your friends are humble people, you will learn to emulate them. But if your close friends are arrogant, you may emulate them my adjusting your attitudes and actions to suit theirs.

Curing ourselves of our pride will most likely be a painful process. Losing our selfish pride means learning to live only for the glory of God. Losing our selfish pride means learning to live without being in control of our lives. Losing our selfish pride means means becoming more like Him.

All I know is that I cannot overcome this sin on my own, and I will not overcome it quickly. Even in my pride, I recognize the fact that I am too weak to overcome sin on my own, I need to trust in the power of God’s Holy Spirit to strengthen me for this battle.

Discussion Questions:
1. How do you define pride? How does pride show up in a relationship? What are some of the destructive results of pride?
2. Humility is the cure for pride. What is your definition of humility? Why is humility so important in our relationships? How do you know if you are humble?
3. Read the following verses: Proverbs 11:2, 18:12, 22:4; Micah 6:8 and James 3:13. From these passages, what does the Bible say about humility?
4. Read 1 Peter 5:5-7. In this passage, the Bible says to “clothe” yourself with humility. What does that look like? How do you clothe yourself with humility?
5. Pray and ask God for His help in identifying and working on the areas of pride in our lives and relationships.