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“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mt 28:20)
The Bible frequently and emphatically repeats God’s promise of his gracious presence. The Lord says to Joshua “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Josh 1:9) Hebrews 13:5 reads, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
You might notice that in Matthew and Joshua, God’s promise is directly connected to his command to us to obey. In Matthew, Jesus commanded us to make disciples. It ends with, “I am with you to the end of the age.” Joshua is about to lead Israel across the Jordan River into the promised land. They will face many dangers and temptations, but the Lord says, “Don’t be afraid. I will be with you wherever you go.”
In other words, the Lord gives us these promises to encourage us to trust him while we strive to live for him. The Lord has said, “I know that obeying me won’t be easy, or without risk. You will have to live in a less self-focused way, by taking up your cross. BUT, the risk will not overwhelm you, the challenge won’t defeat you, and taking up your cross will lead you to life, because I am with you.”
With Christmas the old year ends and we enter a new year, reminded that Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us. None of us knows what this year will be like, but if we belong to Christ, none of us will live it without Christ with us.
So let me encourage you to live by faith. Face the challenges that may come, with the confidence that Christ Jesus is with you, Emmanuel. Live life looking for ways to intentionally serve Christ. You can step outside your comfort zone because Jesus is with you, Emmanuel. Lead your family in such a way that there is no question among your children or for your spouse that you are following Christ, and remember there will be wonderful results because Jesus is with you, Emmanuel.
Your feelings will not always match the reality of Christ’s presence, but that doesn’t mean he’s not there. If you ride a roller coast you feel the rush of fear, that’s why you are there. But you are still safe. You would not have gotten on the ride if you thought otherwise. Christ’s presence is more sure and much stronger than the restraining bar holding you in your roller coaster seat. Hold on to him.
Let’s live in Emmanuel. January is a great time to evaluate and recommit ourselves to him.
Happy New Year,
~ Pastor Byron
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