Can we be sure God is looking out for us? Can we be sure we're not alone? Yes we can. As the Church, we are bound together as God's spiritual family. Wherever we go, He can use His family to give us the support and help we need.
[Ryan Hall] And as I warned the people this morning, AM congregation, a non-ordained member wrote this sermon, but I have been ordained a little bit longer than the AM message so it might improve. Well, the truck is parked out back and it’s time to go. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year, but I tell you what, it’s been wonderful. It’s been a time that I wouldn’t trade. I learned so much. When we packed up a year ago and left Atlanta, didn’t know what to do, what to think, how life was going to play out. We had all those anxieties building up, but when we walked through those doors, that anxiety, honestly, it melted immediately. We were met by you with these warm embraces, this love, this fellowship that brought us in as family. We felt wanted, we felt like we were one of you from the moment. So, honestly, we felt like we fit right off the bat and we’re just so grateful for what you have shared with us this year.
Even when we had the announcement go out of our transfer, the comments, the support that you offered through your prayers, through that outpouring love, it got us through a lot of hard times and we knew you were praying and we knew you were doing so much without even us knowing because we have had miracle after miracle just unfold. When God’s people come together and they express their desire, their love for one another and God hears those prayers because there have been those moments where we couldn’t find a home. A home that’s not on the market gets thrown in our lap twice as big as we wanted. Well, I was happy to have that space but so many things have been just laid in our laps and we just want to say thank you for your prayers and thank you for the continued prayers we know you’ll be giving on our behalf. We couldn’t do this without your support. So, on behalf of my family, you have made this burden, sometimes it can be a burden of all the transferring and leaving your loved ones and friends. You’ve made it light, you made it easy, and you’ve made our life just so enjoyable while we’ve been here. So, thank you very much.
It’s been an honor and it’s been a privilege to share this time with you. And although it has been short, I can tell you it’s been very, very impactful. My little friend, that little Winnie the Pooh, I loved him growing up. He had this saying in his stories where he says, “How lucky I am to have something so important or so close to my life that makes saying goodbye so hard.” And it’s because of the impact you made, the love that you showed that is making this transition harder to say goodbye, harder to walk away because you have impacted our lives and given us a great example to follow. So, although this is our last Sabbath here in Cincinnati, we know that impact that you made in our lives cannot be separated. No matter how many miles separate us, we will be together because this week when I was contemplating, I was praying just thinking about this final Sabbath, giving that “see you later” message that became a peace. There was a peace that I started experiencing and the more I thought about it and what we get to participate in as the family of God, that feeling of, “I know where I go, you will be there.” Because that’s what we are. We’re a unified family. We share something that miles and the physical can never separate. It’s a special bond. If you would please, could you turn over to Ephesians 3.
Ephesians 3 and let’s pick it up in verse 14. “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inward man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what’s that width, what’s that depth and what’s that height— to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God… to Him be the glory in the church by Jesus Christ to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” We have been given this incredible opportunity to develop something so special, something so deep that creates this connection that this world can’t take away. As we allow Christ to work in and through us with His amazing Holy Spirit, we find that you and I, we’re joining our lives just like in the sermonette. We’re coming together, this wonderful unit, something that has a purpose and that can create wonderful opportunities.
And I want to share with you a personal story that happened about 19 years ago as we get into this message that it changed my outlook about life and going where God wants us to go. It was, Nissa and I, my wedding day and after all the ceremony, so we’re gone. You know all the chaos, those who’ve been married, those who are going to go through it, all the excitement and you finally get along, you take off for the honeymoon and it’s just peace and quiet. So, Nissa and I are there by ourselves and she hands me her Bible and she goes, “I want you to read me a scripture.” I had no idea what to read. My mind was not on the Bible one bit. So, I’m like, “You’re going to have to help me out here. Do you have a certain scripture in mind?” So, she turned to me and she goes, “I want you to remove that ring that I just placed on your finger.” And I removed the ring, and inside that ring was a verse that if you would please join over in Ruth 1.
Ruth 1:16-17 Ruth 1:16-17 16 And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave you, or to return from following after you: for where you go, I will go; and where you lodge, I will lodge: your people shall be my people, and your God my God:
17 Where you die, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part you and me.
American King James Version×. A very, very well known set of scriptures here that it just says so much of what we do in our lives. Ruth 1:16 Ruth 1:16And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave you, or to return from following after you: for where you go, I will go; and where you lodge, I will lodge: your people shall be my people, and your God my God:
American King James Version×, “But Ruth said,” verse 16 of chapter 1. “Entreat me not to leave you, or turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, shall be my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.” Beautiful, beautiful words. It just still puts chills on the back of my neck. That devotion that Ruth expressed, “Where you go, I go.” Those are not just empty words, those were a heartfelt, sincere desire, a pure expression of the heart to be unified with something that she loved. There was no selfish intent, there was only this desire to be part of that family. The book of Ruth, especially this interaction between Naomi and Ruth, it’s so beautiful that it expresses the desire God has for us. That He wants us to follow Him, how He wants us to join together as a family to desire that unity to be part of something greater than we’ve ever known.
Now, Ruth did not dismiss her family. We know according to her character, it’s testimony the way she acts towards Naomi. She loves, she loved her family, but there was something she experienced, something was there that she gave up and sacrificed the opportunity to go back to her father’s house and just live her life the way it was before she met. But something touched her where she gave it all up to go and be with Naomi. In Psalms 34:8 Psalms 34:8O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusts in him.
American King James Version×, not to turn there, where there’s a set of scriptures that actually I think gives a good idea of what was going through Ruth’s head. It says, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; happy and blessed is he the man who trusts in Him!” You see, the environment that Ruth was exposed to, the love she held for Naomi that it was greater than who she once was and she was going after it. She was devoted to go for it. She had tasted that goodness of Naomi’s God. She’s just seeing the example of living with Naomi that whole time and she knew at that point she was going to devote her life to it and she wanted it. She was determined and with a passion and she was at peace with it. She wanted it and she knew it was the right thing to do.
If you would please turn over to 2 Corinthians 4. And when we think about the story of Ruth, it should give us this inspiration. It should give us this reminder of how we too we can have that determination, we can have a passion, and we can have a peace. We know that when God says go when God gives us an opportunity for change, we can be at peace with it, we can have that resolve in our life to say, “This is where I’m going. This is what I’m going to do because nothing can separate me from the love of God.” In 2 Corinthians 4, sorry, I did not turn there. I thought I was already there. 2 Corinthians 4:16 2 Corinthians 4:16For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
American King James Version×, it says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working in us far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not are eternal.”
The New Living Translation puts it this way. “This is why we never give up. Though our bodies may be dying, our spirits are renewed day by day. For our present troubles are small and they won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and it will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles that we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on the things that we cannot seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things that we cannot, they will last forever.” That’s what we devote our lives to. That joy that can’t be seen by the world is that inner peace, that joy that God has placed in each one of our lives. And God has placed, when we take these steps when we face these uncertainties and these changes in life, God in his wonderful plan has put a support system so that we can handle these changes and so we can just know that we’re doing the right thing when we do it. Galatians 2:20 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
American King James Version×says it perfectly and it says, “It is no longer I who live, but it’s Jesus Christ who lives in me.” And that just changes everything.
When we have that wonderful gift, our life is just this opportunity just waiting to explode in the goodness of God. We just want to go. We can do so much when we have Christ working in us. So, that’s why we can have that peace knowing that, yes, this is going to be hard, this is going to be challenging, but I know Christ and God are not going to let me fail. They’re going to give me the strength, they’re going to give me the support so that I can conquer whatever is placed in front of me. When I think about the scripture in Galatians and we think about that wonderful Spirit that gives us this power, this resolve in our life, it makes me think of that movie, The 10 Commandments . Everyone knows The 10 Commandments where Charleston Heston, the one that God’s going to make Moses look like in the Kingdom. Because if he doesn’t he’s going to have to wear a name tag because I will know. But there’s this thing and if you remember, Moses is walking through the palace and he sees this cloth on the floor and he picks it up and he says, “What is this cloth?” And the birth mother, well, not his birth mother, his Egyptian mother says, “Oh, that’s your swaddling cloth when you were a baby.” And he knew she was trying to hide something.
She was being just shallow in her answers. So, he kind of acted like he remembered, he accepted her answers. But then as he walks out of the room, of course, his Egyptian mom takes off, gets the chariot, she’s going to run out to Goshen. She’s going to go find his birth mother and she knows Moses is on track to find out the truth. So, she begs the birth mother, “Please, please deny him, lie to him. Do not tell him. He has so much offered to him in Egypt as a Prince. Don’t take that away from him.” And the mother is like, “Okay, okay. I’ll do it.” But when Moses comes in, he walks in and he sees his birth mother sitting there and she’s draped with this cloth. And he walks up to her and he takes this cloth that he has from his swaddling cloth, which has the same design. In fact, it looks like it’s cut from the same piece of material. And she can’t deny him. She knows “That’s my son.” And he lays that on her lap and places that cloth on that blanket and says, “This is the binding tie.” That is what we have, brethren. We have an amazing binding tie. Not only with God the Father, not only with our elder Brother, Jesus Christ, you and I have a binding tie with each other. We have something far greater than what this world can offer.
But when this world promises us great things, in this family, in this Body of believers, we have something that’s so much stronger and offers so much more. We are all one material. You and I have been called to give up everything to be unified under leadership of Jesus Christ. This is where you and I can have a comfort, we can have a joy, we can have a hope knowing that we are part of something far greater than we ever thought we could be part of because we have a living hope inside of us. We have Jesus Christ working with us and we’re side by side with brethren who want the same thing. Encouraging each other, “You can do it.” Praying when you know when a brother is falling, they’re hurting, they’re sick, they’re struggling with something in life. Because we’re that one material, we feel each other’s pain, we feel each other when they rejoice, and we can help each other when we’re down.
Think about our physical families that we were talking about in the sermonette. We learn so much how to interact as a physical family and those lessons are teaching us something that will carry on far into the future. Our Father has given us this opportunity to experience what it’s like to be fathers, to be mothers, to be sons and daughters, just to experience that love of when and how to support someone, how to be supported, the sadness, the joy, all encompass this great, wonderful part of being more than who you are of and by yourself. Family is a blessing, it’s a gift from God. And when we add this Holy Spirit in the mix, wow, it changes everything that we are, it changes our identity. When we have that Holy Spirit working with us, where you understand there’s a oneness that surpasses anything we could possibly fathom? God is that one with Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is one with God and they both desire like we heard in the sermonette. They want to have oneness with us unlike anything we could express in human words, they want a closeness and they’ve given us this opportunity to live as families physically so that we can understand just how important living together as one can be.
As we allow this oneness, as we allow this closeness to come, we learn that there is a value in family. There’s a value beyond anything we could place money on. When we see the importance of family, we start to understand the importance of what a spiritual family can do. When we understand what we’re called to be a part of, when we look at each other, we see more than a family, we see our spiritual family. It goes beyond the blood. Through God’s Holy Spirit, you and I are bound together. We’re bound together for a purpose and we can break down the barriers that physical families can face, that physical relationships can come about. We can break down those barriers and be something stronger than we could ever experience without God’s Spirit. Because within this family, we have a stronger binding tie with our Father, with each other. This binding tie is a mighty power. It’s the glue that keeps us all together as God’s family, not our own family. We’re part of it. It’s God’s family. It’s named for Him.
Many of you might remember a popular hymn. I think it was in one of our hymnals years ago, but it was called “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” by John Fawcett and I think it’s 1782. But I want to read just one stanza of that song and I want you to listen closely to what it says and the hope that it talks about, about the binding tie that we all share. It says, “Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love; the fellowship of kindred minds is that above. Before our Father’s throne, we pour our ardent prayers; our fears, our hopes, our aims are one— our comforts and our cares. We share our mutual woes; and our mutual burdens bear; and often for each other flows the sympathizing tear. When we asunder part, it gives us inward pain; but we shall still be joined in heart and hope to meet again.”
The power of God’s love, the power we receive from His Holy Spirit can take the most sad moment we will ever experience in our life, the most challenging moments that we will have to deal with and we can create joy. We can have moments of growth, we can have that inward peace. Although we may not understand everything we’re facing at the time, it can become overwhelming, something incredible is going on inside of us. Our faith is being increased. We’re learning, we’re growing, and we have our family with us. Just think of the bonds you’re building, that support system. It gives us that assurance of hope that whatever we face, God is with us and He’s given us the necessary support system we need to overcome, to walk out, to be better than we were when we started. Who else, brethren? Who else has the honor to have this type of support system? Who else has this honor to know that whatever situation that life will throw at them, they can be comforted by a family?
One of the most encouraging things Jesus Christ said because He knew. He knew you and I, life was going to be tough. The world hated Him. Boy, they tried everything they could to get Him and then eventually they killed Him but He said, you know what? In Matthew 28:20 Matthew 28:20Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.
American King James Version×, “I am with you always. Even to the very end, I am with you.” But in John 14, there’s something else added to that of how we know that that bond is there with our Lord and Savior, that joy that we can have knowing that we’re not alone. In John 14, Christ gives us this jolt of encouragement. In John 14 starting in verse 16.
John 14:16 John 14:16And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
American King James Version×says, “And I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that it might abide with you forever.” Verse 18. “I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you.” Just like He promised in Matthew 28. And let’s pick it up in verse 26. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, it will teach you all things, and bring you to remembrance all things I have said to you.” And one of my favorite verses in this section of scripture, verse 27, “Peace. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world does give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” We have been given a peace unlike any peace this world could ever give. It’s not temporary, it’s not conditional. He gave us a peace to give us the full assurance that we will never be alone. We will never be deprived a family. We will have something always right there with us. When life comes at us hard, when life comes at you with trials, when you get a call from M.M.S. you’re going to move to Rome, Georgia, we have something that we can do. We can turn to our family and find comfort. We can find that support.
How many times have we been hurt and the only thing that can just pacify that is the care of our family. Our children, well, they want mommy, they want daddy, “I want daddy.” But when they hurt, they run and that’s the only comfort that they can find. That’s what we get to do. We get to say, “I need someone to just hold me. I need someone to just say it’s going to be okay. And all I have to do is come and just walk in the midst of God’s people. And that embrace, that love, that touch on the shoulder, that handshake from my family takes all that anxiety away. It takes all that we see as trouble and says, “Oh, I can do this.” Because each of us when we go through those moments, when we experience that touch, that love of what the family we get to participate in, those weak knees, they’re made strong, those hands that are hanging low and you’re thinking, “I just can’t do it, God. I can’t do this.” All of a sudden you have that jolt, that strength, that comfort that only family can offer.
When we face these trials, we don’t have to count the miles, we don’t have to count the obstacles to find the comfort to get to our family. All we have to do is bend our knees, all we have to do is look at each other in this room or wherever we find ourselves amongst God’s people. And we can have the support, the love. I came across an encouraging quote. It’s anonymous. It was attributed to many times and it’s quoted differently, but I liked the way it said here. “Though miles may lie between us, we’re never far apart.” I’m going to start over. “Though miles may lie between us, we are never far apart. For friendship doesn’t count the miles, it’s measured by the heart.” The Spirit that connects us as family is not limited by the physical. We had each other and that’s a wonderful blessing that God has given us, connecting us as a spiritual, unified body.
Isaiah 26. I’m going to skip through Isaiah 26 a little bit here. Isaiah 26. Let’s pick it up in verse… we’ll read verses 2 and 3 and then drop down to 7. Isaiah 26:2 Isaiah 26:2Open you the gates, that the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in.
American King James Version×says, “Open the gates, that the righteous nation which keeps the truth may enter in. You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Verse 7, “The way of the just is uprightness; O Most Upright, You weigh the path of the just. Yes, in the way of Your judgments, O Lord, we have waited for You; the desires of our soul is for Your name and for the remembrance of You. With my soul I have desired You in the night, yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early; for when Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” And finally, verse 12. “Lord, You will establish peace for us, for You have also done all our works in us.”
As we read this beautiful set of scriptures, we see that a clear vision, a passionate desire, and a perfect peace come from a life devoted to live in the truth of God. And when we understand the truth of God, we start to see each other in a different light, we realize just how close, how big a bond that we have with each other. And that’s important because as we all have experienced in our lives, this calling is not a smooth downward path. Life never takes us in the way we think it might go. So often we find ourselves far from our comfort zones, far from what we would consider our familiarity. But the one thing we can be confident in is that no matter how far we feel that we’re away from what we know, how uncomfortable we may feel when we’re given a task, we’re not alone. God didn’t expect us to feel alone.
So, when we look at this scripture in Isaiah, and we read the promises and we feel that desire that Christ has for us to be unified with each other, we can have a clear vision. We can see God’s plan in action just molding our lives and giving us the energy to say, “I can do this.” And when you see someone else struggling, “You can do this.” Because that’s where we get that inward peace. That’s where we get that inward strength to fight and fight and fight. Remember what we read in Ruth? This is how she had the strength to do what she did. This is where that courage came from. It came from within and she wasn’t willing to let it go. She knew what she wanted. She knew where she had to go and she wanted to keep it up. And actually, Jesus expounds this in Luke 8.
Luke 8:19 Luke 8:19Then came to him his mother and his brothers, and could not come at him for the press.
American King James Version×. And when I first read this, I had a hard time years and years ago about what this verse said because I didn’t really understand it. But then when you understand what Ruth went through and you study that devotion of what it meant to be part of something bigger than what you have physically. This scripture just jumps out at what Christ is expressing here. Luke 8:19 Luke 8:19Then came to him his mother and his brothers, and could not come at him for the press.
American King James Version×. “Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd. And it was told Him by some, who say, ‘Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.’ But He answered and said to them, ‘My mother and My brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.’” In Mathew’s account, it says, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven, this is my brother, this is my mother, and this is my sister.” Jesus wasn’t rebuking His family, He wasn’t dismissing them as non-important. Just like Ruth, physical family is important because that’s that comfort. But what He was saying is when we focus on seeking God’s will in our lives, our family actually expands.
God created us to desire the comforts of family, but what He wants us to see is just how encompassing that family can be. He gives us so much more. You’ve heard that English proverb, “Blood is thicker than water.” The blood that bonds us is so much thicker than the blood of our physical families. The Spirit that connects us is so much stronger than the connections we have on a physical level. It reaches far beyond any connection we could ever experience. We have a bond so great, so powerful, so comforting, we’re never alone. We have this love and for every corner we turn, we get to experience it. When we come together, when we come together and we practice this life that God has called us to live as a unified family, we see so many wonderful benefits from it. It improves our own physical family relationships, but it also opens the opportunity to experience a much larger spiritual family. We start to build and build and build and before you know it, you can’t even go to a Feast of Tabernacles without meeting someone that you’ve known, that you’ve grown with and had that special bond with. You can’t go anywhere without seeing someone that you had a relationship with years ago.
This morning after the sermon, a gentleman walked up to me, I guess he was visiting in the area and he asked me, “Hey, you’re from Georgia. You probably went to a lot of Southern Feast sites. Do you know this gentleman, this family called the Suggs?” I’m like, “You’re talking about stepfather?” We can’t go far without meeting someone that we’ve had a connection. We might not remember it, but that’s just amazing how God works. That we’re just connected beyond ways that we could ever think we’re connected. This should give us a joy to know that wherever we go in this life, whatever we experience in this life, we’re in the midst of something just amazing. We’re not limited by our physical blood connections. We don’t have to go to our physical families to just feel the comfort. We can turn to our brethren, we can turn to our spiritual family and have this bond, this uplifting that can keep us moving forward.
When we cultivate these new relationships, it gives us that reenergizing just to keep going. That something so great to make a new bond, to make just this connection that you never thought was possible because we make a lot of acquaintances in our life. I don’t have this in my notes, I just thought about this. Often when we travel, we meet people. But when we moved here, it felt like we went beyond friendship. There’s connections when we really just empty ourselves and let God lead us. Let God work with us. You make a connection with people. And a connection, brethren, it changes who you are. A lot of things that I’ve learned this year have been by watching you. And I’ve taken these wonderful lessons and say, “How can I be a better person by what I’ve experienced with these people?” And it changes the way you want to meet people because you’ve given a great inspiration for my family and I. And I’ve made so many connections here that it’s impossible to forget you because you’re family. Now I got to find myself.
So, as we interact throughout our lives, again, we’re building an environment. We’re building something that’s going to help us fight this good fight because Satan is going to come at us, Satan is going to do whatever he can to break in and destroy what we have. But the harder we work at building these relationships, the more value we put and how we work with each other, he’s going to have a hard time breaking this family down. He doesn’t stand a chance. We have something so strong. If you’ll turn over to Hebrews 12. Hebrews 12 and just reading verse 1. Hebrews 12:1 Hebrews 12:1Why seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
American King James Version×says, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
God has given us so much to look at for inspiration across the ages recorded in His book, but God has given us each other. We are each other’s inspiration, we are each other’s support group. In 1 Corinthians 12, we rejoice together, we weep together, we fight together, we win together. We have so much to look to for examples, so much to have they’re supporting us that we’d never have to wonder, “Who’s going to help me now?” Because there’s so much willing to step up and help. It just blew my mind this week when I sent an email, “I need help loading my truck.” I thought five, six people. How many was it? 15? There was more people in the truck than furniture. It’s amazing to know that you can say “help” and then you have to say “enough help.” Thank you. It’s so wonderful to have family and friends like that. We’re knitted together. We’re knitted together by a bond that cannot be broken. So, when you think about change, and when I thought about this move to Georgia, it hit me. You know what? It’s only a change of scenery, different faces, but the same Spirit, the same family. Wherever Christ, wherever God is working with His people, we are with that very same family.
We see each other just in different versions because that’s what God’s doing. He’s taking His people and He’s moving them where He needs them. He’s moving them where He wants that person or anyone to grow, to mature, to help promote growth. You might be there for her. You need help, but He might move you somewhere where you might be helping someone else. And that’s the joy of being part of God’s family. God sees us all as valuable. He uses us as a tool to help, and He uses us to be helped. He’s never going to give up on us. Isn’t that what family is all about? We don’t leave anyone behind. If you would please turn over to Psalm 139.
Psalm 139. And when we read this, you think about no matter where God sends us, no matter what life throws at us, where could we possibly go without seeing a witness of God’s people? Starting in verse 7 of Psalm 139. “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” Drop down to verse 17. “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them all! If I should count them, they would be more than a number of the sand; when I awake, I am still with You.” David captures that so beautiful.
How incredible is it to know that there’s always someone thinking about us? There’s always someone who’s devoted to us so that we feel loved. And He encourages us saying, “Take My example. Do the same for each other.” No matter what we face, we’re thinking of each other. We’re never alone from Christ and we’re never alone from each other. If we’re joined together as a body by this wonderful Spirit that God has blessed us with, “Where I go, you go. Where you are, I am.” Romans 8. Romans 8, and pick it up from verse 35. Romans 8:35 Romans 8:35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
American King James Version×. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecutions, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword?” Who has the power? Nothing. It continues to the rest of this verse that nothing has the power in this life to separate us, but there’s an answer in John 10 if you’ll turn over there. In John 10 it just expresses how this is possible. John 10:27 John 10:27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
American King James Version×. This is a perfect answer to that question that Paul wrote.
And Jesus says in John 10:27 John 10:27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
American King James Version×. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” How powerful is those words? There is nothing that has the strength, there’s nothing that has the power to break into our family. This is God’s family. The most powerful family ever existed. When we become this oneness, when we become this tight-knit family as God and Christ desire so much, together we stand and together we are strong. We’ve been called to invest our lives with each other, invest our lives in this way of life, to develop ourselves with God’s law, that relationship with Jesus Christ, to understand the purpose, and to understand just how valuable we are to each other.
When we understand that value, when we understand what we mean to each other, we can have the utmost confidence in knowing this is where I belong. This is where I’m going to devote my entire being to be. I’m going to have the comfort, I’m going to have the courage, I’m going to have that desire to say, “Where you go, please let me be. I’m going to be where you’re at. I want to be part of this family, I want to be part of the God family because this is my family.” To be unified with the great God Almighty, to be unified with the elder Brother, Jesus Christ, to be unified with each other. What more do we need to experience love in this life? We have something that people would die for. Someone has died for it and we have the blessing to experience it.
For our final scripture, if you’ll turn over to Numbers 6. Numbers 6. And let’s pick it up in verse 24. And as we draw to an end of this amazing year, this puts it beautiful of how I feel about the experience and about what you mean to me. “The Lord bless and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” Your welcoming embraces, your love over this past year has put a peace in this heart that knows that I can do what God has asked me to do because I don’t do it alone. I don’t go at this alone. I have a wealth of witnesses for inspiration, either here, either in Rome, wherever we get sent, there is so much encouragement in the family of God.
It’s my prayer that our paths will cross often. And as you know, in God’s plan, they cross in the most unexpected places. We’re joined together, we’re running this race to that wonderful Kingdom. So, where I’m going, I know you’re going too, where you are, I will be there too. So, when we walk out of this room today, I’m not going to tell you goodbye, I’m going to say hello in advance to the next time we see each other.