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God is Always Near to His Own

VBS Sunday  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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The theme from VBS is God is always near. This sermon will recap the week and encourage salvation and the value of a chuch family

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Introduction
Attention Getter: VBS’s Camp Ala-ta-iki - Our youth reached out in our own community to young people who desperately need the gospel...
We spent the week teaching them one important truth about God…that He is near.
Significance: Why is it so important to understand this about our God?
Main Idea: God is Always Near to His Own
Preview: Each day at camp was a different aspect of the nearness of God from a different portion of Scripture...
Transition into Main Point:
1. God is Always Near; Even When Nothing Is Happening ()
Brother Lawrence, born in 1614, wrote a book called “The Practice of the Presence of God” in 1693. His idea is that we should consciously realize that God is everywhere present. Reading this brings a sobering reality to how we live our lives.
Psalm 139:10 ESV
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
Psalm 139:10 ESV
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
This truth is for those who believe in God and for those who do not...
This Psalm that David pens is a beautiful reminder that God has an intimate knowledge of His entire creation, which includes you. This Psalm clearly states this...
Psalm 139:1–6 ESV
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
David then asks a rhetorical question in verses 7ff...
Psalm 139:7–12 ESV
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, 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. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
Psalm 139:
In fact, God doesn’t simply get to know someone, according to David, God is the creator of that someone!
Psalm 139:13–17 ESV
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
What is the point?
Psalm 139:10 ESV
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
David, as a believer can say assuredly that God is near him, around Him, by him every minute of every day! This is what this Psalm is saying and this is not simply true for David.
B. What does this mean? -
If you are in Christ, Christ is in you. You cannot escape His presence. Certainly God is omnipresent, but through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, He is dwelling within you as well.
John 3:16 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
It does not matter where you are or what you are doing, God is there with you. This foundational true is imparative to know and understand. The God of the Bible is not a God who created this world and stepped away. No, He is intimately involved in every aspect of His creation because He Is orchestrating the GRAND Symphony that will one day come to a magnificent and glorious conclusion. And just as a conductor cannot step away from his position for the entirety of the symphony, So our God will stay at His until His song is complete.
He is with us during the exciting parts of the symphony as well as the mundane. What a comfort.
Do you feel alone? Do you believe you need to figure life out on your own? Well, if you are a believer, you are never alone! God says in His word...
Hebrews 13:5 ESV
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
God’s promise to His children is He will NEVER leave you. Even during the mundane, unrelenting routines of changing diaper, getting kids ready for school, work, mowing the lawn, vacuuming the floors and cleaning the kitchen!
By the way, this becomes, for the Christian an opportunity to glorify God in all things. Not just the mountaintop experiences, but the mundane, boring and plan dull.
Can you imagine doing the dishes to the Glory of God?
b. Promise to claim?
c. Example to follow?
d. Command to obey?
e. Knowledge to know?
D. What’s your plan?
E. Illustrations -
Transition - 1. God is Always Near; Even When Nothing Is Happening
2. God is Always Near; Even When We Need Help ()
2. God is Always Near; Even When We Need Help ()
Philippians 4:13 ESV
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Phil
The Apostle Paul was an amazing man. He started one hundred plus churches, led countless people to a saving knowledge of Jesus, wrote the vast majority of the theology of the New Testament and on and on it goes.
Yet he himself would tell you that he is the chief of sinners...
1 Timothy 1:15 ESV
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
1 tim
Why would the great apostle Paul think of Himself in such a way? Because He knew the truth about himself. He knew what he was to the core and what he had done prior to becoming a follower of Jesus. He was a killer! He killed Christians.
But once He became a follower of Jesus, his life was radically changed for ever! He was no longer the high and mighty Pharisee that was determined to stamp out Christianity. He was now the very thing he was earlier trying to eradicate. He was a Christian. And as a Christian, life was not easy as you can imagine. In fact God told Ananias (another follower of Jesus) what Paul’s life was going to be like...
Acts 9:16 ESV
For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
Acts
Wow! Becoming a Christian doesn’t make life easier, I makes it far more challenging. It’s not all doom and gloom, however, there is great benefit as well! Eternal benefit!
But in this life Paul did have seasons of suffering and seasons of plenty. This is what he says in...
Philippians 4:10–13 ESV
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:10–12 ESV
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
And this is what the Apostle is telling his friends in Philippi.
Do you see what he is saying to his friends in Philippi? God gives Him the strenth to handle life when he has an abundance of resourses and when he has very few. God gave Paul the strength to be CONTENT!
Do you see what he is saying to his friends in Philippi? God gives Him the strength to handle life when he has an abundance of resources and when he has very few. God gave Paul the strength to be CONTENT!
Folks, being content is so hard and we need the Lord’s strength to help us “be content in all circumstances.” By the way, contentment is more than just about money. We can lack contentment in...Our job. Our house. Our family. Our spouse. Our Children. Our ministry. Our _____________.
C. Application –
Our job
Our house,
Our family,
Our spouse,
Our ministry...
o Sin to avoid?
o Promise to claim?
o Example to follow?
o Command to obey?
o Knowledge to know?
As Christians, we face a lot of challenges and we need so much help from the Lord. But friends, as I think about it, there is often no greater challenge that I face than the challenge of me being content in all things. When things are going well, it is easy to be content. But when life gets hard, uncomfortable and challenging, I want out of that circumstance...
“Contentment is not about having what you want, but wanting what you have!” and in this goal we all need God’s help!
Transition -
1. God is Always Near; Even When Nothing Is Happening
2. God is Always Near; Even When We Need Help
1. God is Always Near; Even When Nothing Is Happening 3. God is Always Near; Even When We Are Afraid ()
3. God is Always Near; Even When We Are Afraid ()
3. God is Always Near; Even When We Are Afraid ()
3. God is Always Near; Even When We Are Afraid ()
Fear is a reality we all face. Some are more susceptible than others but we all succumb to it eventually. In ancient Israel, David, the shepherd and would be warrior king wrote a Psalm that has stood the test of time and has given solace to many troubled and fearful hear.
Psalm 23:4 ESV
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4 ESV
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
is a poem that is not only written with beautiful, poetic, precision, it has comforted hurting and fearful hearts for generations. Certainly David wrote this, but there is no doubt it was under the God-Breathed influence of God Himself.
Psalm 23:1–6 ESV
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Such a comfort! Of course David new a bit about being a shepherd. He knew it was not a glamorous job, but one considered to be low on the social status scale. He knew that the job of the shepherd was to guide his stubborn sheep to a place where they would be well fed and watered. He new his job to protect his sheep from the perpetual dangers that lurked about them!
The whole Psalm is a balm to our anxious hearts but look closely at verse 4 again.
Psalm 23:4 ESV
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
There are times in every Christian’s (sheep’s) life that the danger is so real, the next step could lead to death. The evil is so great that fear wells up in our hearts! We, His sheep can soon forget that our great Shepherd is always near even though we may feel like we are alone. Remember, He promises never to leave us or forsake us!
David, not speaking as the shepherd but rather the sheep says definitively, “I will fear no evil”! Wow! How can he make such a bold claim? Because he understood that his God, his Shepherd was right there! The presence of God was always before David! But if you notice in verse 4, David clarifies and says God’s presence is a protective presence!
David fears no evil because God’s Rod and Staff are a great comfort to him. A rod and a staff were used by the shepherd to beat off anyone or anything that might be a threat to the sheep. A shepherd was skilled in defense and their main weapons were a rod and a staff.
What is a rod? -
Folks, our God needs no weapons to defend us, but isn’t it good to know that you have a God that functions as a great shepherd who desires to protect you! Like David, this should be a great comfort to you!
What is a staff -
So, for the Christian, we must ask the question, “What are you so afraid of?” There is one thing or person we should fear and revere above all else, God.
Proverbs 1:7 ESV
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Once we fear the Lord in the way we should, we have nothing else to fear for the simple reason that there is no one or nothing greater than God. And if this great God is our great shepherd and our great defender, then...
Hebrews 13:6 ESV
So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
Even death should not be a fearful thing for the believer.
1 Corinthians 15:55 ESV
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
Jesus Christ conquered death! For the believer, when we die we will be more alive than we have ever been!
So what are you fearing right now? A loss of a job? A loss of a relationship? Your spouse is threatening to leave? Staying on top of your bills? A bully? Failure? Sickness?
What is it that is scaring you to death? REMEMBER, your Shepherd is your protector and nothing can happen to you that doesn’t first pass through His protective hand!
b. Promise to claim?
c. Example to follow?
d. Command to obey?
e. Knowledge to know?
D. What’s your plan?
I’m sure you have seen little kids who are fearful and worried to the place where the cling to the leg of their mom or dad. Their fear keeps them from trying something that might be fun or helpful.
On the other hand I’m sure you have seen those kids that do not have a fearful bone in their body. You have to watch them constantly because if you turn for a minute they are jumping off a roof or walking out into Lake Michigan without a clue on how to swim!
Folk, to be honest with you, I wish I had more of the adventurous and fearless spirit of the second child than the crippling fear of the first one.
If we are not careful, we will allow our fear to keep us from living the bold and full life that God wants for us to live!
Transition - IF you are a Christian, you have nothing to fear because God is always near!
1. God is Always Near; Even When Nothing Is Happening
2. God is Always Near; Even When We Need Help
4. God is Always Near; Even When Bad Things Happen ()
3. God is Always Near; Even When We Are Afraid
4. God is Always Near; Even When Bad Things Happen ()
Into every life a little rain must fall. The reality is this life we have on this earth is not Heaven. Heaven is yet to come. But we do live on a sin cursed earth and so, this life will give us pain. Hard things are inevitable for all of us, even Christians. But there is a beautiful promise for those of us who follow Jesus.
But there is a beautiful promise for those of us who follow Jesus.
2 Peter 2:9 ESV
then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,
The Apostle Peter understands this truth and so makes this beautiful promise under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
But there is a beautiful promise for those of us who follow Jesus. The Apostle Peter understands this truth and so makes this beautiful promise under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
God knows how to rescue His own from trials...
Now again, this should give the believers here a measure of comfort.
Just for some context, Peter is encouraging his readers with this concept because the letter of 2 Peter is all about persecution from within the church. The false teachers of the day were already beginning to infultrate the church of Jesus Christ. And Peter is warning and instructing them on how to handle this. In chapter 2 he gives some examples of how God can and does rescue His people.
He speaks about Noah...
He speaks about Lot...
2 Peter 2:4–8 ESV
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard);
2 Peter 2:4–9 ESV
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,
Imagine the spectacular lengths that God went through to rescue these men and their families. And certainly there was more going on in these redemptive situations than simply their rescue, but we, the readers of today, must see this and gain a great deal of confidence and joy that our God is our hero!
If you are His child, He is near to you and He know exactly what He is doing. Does He allow His own to suffer, absolutely. Does He always rescue when we have had enough? No! But we know He does and we know that He doesn’t break us beyond repair with said trials.
1 Corinthians 10:13 NET
No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.
So if you are going through a trial and you are a follower of Jesus, you can rest assured that He will, in one fashion or another, rescue you. You can trust Him with your trial. You can trust Him that He will grow you through the trial! You can trust Him that He will encourage other with your trial. You can trust Him that as painful as your trial is, it will not compare to the joys of your eternal life - which by the way is your ultimate release from your trials.
Romans 8:18 ESV
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Romans 8:37–39 ESV
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
;
Ladies and gentlemen, while some refer to faith in God and the promises He gives in his holy scriptures as opiate for the masses, I say our faith in our God and the promises that He gives are what navigate us through the challenges we face.
B. What does this mean? - Ladies and gentlemen, while some refer to faith in God and the promises He gives in his holy scriptures and opiate for the masses, I say our faith in our God and the promises that He gives are what navigate us through the challenges we face.
God is near when bad things happen, he knows how and when to rescue us! The challenge for you and me (as believers), boils down to trust and patience.
I would like to think that I can endure a trial for a long time. But the truth be told? I might squeak out a day!
Then I read in God’s word about Joseph, Daniel, Jeremiah, and a host of other followers of God and I quickly realize that I do not have what it takes to endure and I am in desperate need of His daily provision of grace so that I can meet every trial with Godly determination and perseverance.
Remember, whatever kind of trial you are face, no matter how hard it is, nothing will separate you from the love of Jesus and it will pale in comparison to what He has in store for you!
a. Sin to avoid?
b. Promise to claim?
c. Example to follow?
Remember, this is not Heaven. Jesus came to rescue us from sin and death and provide us with an eternal home with Him!
d. Command to obey?
e. Knowledge to know?
What happens if Christians focus on this reality instead of the trial they are in the midst of? Joy!
James 1:2–4 ESV
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Are you exuding joy as you face your trial? You truly can because your God is near!
Transition -
1. God is Always Near; Even When Nothing Is Happening
2. God is Always Near; Even When We Need Help
3. God is Always Near; Even When We Are Afraid
4. God is Always Near; Even When Bad Things Happen
5. God is Always Near; When Good Things Happen ()
J
John 3:16 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
There have been many good things that have happened to you over the course of your life. If you began to catalogue them, you would be amazed at what the Lord has done.
“Count your blessings, name them one by one...”
List off some blessings...
But I would be remiss if I did’t talk with you about one “Good Thing” that is available to you this morning.
For the majority of this sermon I have focused on the believer. The Christian. But perhaps you are here this morning and you are not a follower of Jesus Christ? I would like to talk to you about the verse we just read. A verse that the children at VBS learned this week. A verse that is so important that its truth has the potential to radically change your life. Let’s look at it...
John 3:16 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
In , Jesus is talking with a Pharisee, a teacher of the Jewish Law. I their conversation, Nicodemus (the teacher) is asking Jesus about all the miracles and signs he was doing and that because of these things, surely he must have been a man sent from God?
Jesus responds and tells Nicodemus a very strange thing.
John 3:3 ESV
Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Well, of course, this confused Nicodemus and so he responded by asking...
John 3:4 ESV
Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
Now, Jesus was not talking about being born physically again. He was talking about everyone’s need to be born spiritually. We are born physically once and we, in order to be a part of God’ kingdom, must be born spiritually once.
This is absolutely crucial for everyone here this morning! In order for you to enter heaven, you must be born spiritually otherwise you face an eternity separated from God in Hell. This is too important to ignore.
How is one born again? Jesus, in talks to Nicodemus and says that being born again is being born of the Spirit. He is referring to the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit of God who comes to a person and invites them to become a follower of Christ. It is the Spirit of God who points out to us that we have wronged God over and over by doing things our way that are contrary to His ways. It is the Spirit of God that moves into us and regenerates and brings us to new life in Christ. It is the Spirit of God who causes us to be born again. When this happens, it is absolutely amazing! One’s eyes are now open to God’s thoughts in a way that was not possible before. As John Newton so aptly put it, “I was blind, but now I see.”
How is this possible? How can I have this kind of life? Listen to what Jesus says to Nicodemus.
John 3:14–15 ESV
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
One must believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of Man / the Son of God was lifted up (died on a cross) as a payment for your sins. Your personal sins...
One must believe that Jesus Christ willingly gave His life in exchange for your life. He willingly died in your place to satisfy God’s (very real) wrath against you.
One must believe that God the Father was satisfied with Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. So satisfied with this sacrifice that He, the holy God of the bible, who demands perfection from you, is willing to free you from your obligation to Him. He is willing to accept Jesus’ death on the cross as full-payment for your sin-debt to Him.
Why? Why would God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit go through all of this to give you the opportunity for eternal life? Why would Jesus willingly take on your sin-debt and pay the penalty with His own blood? The answer is found in the next verse.
John 3:16 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit LOVED the WORLD (i.e. those that have sinned against Him). And so they developed and set forth a plan before the foundation of this world that would satisfy God’s Holy wrath and rescue those who would believe, repent of their sin and trust that Jesus’ (the Son’s) sacrifice on the cross would free them from eternal prison (Hell). They would not perish (die eternally) but instead would live in Heaven forever!
Ladies and gentlemen this truth is the best “GOOD thing” that could ever possibly happen for you!
You can have freedom from the eternal punishment you deserve and the promise of eternal life in Heaven with Jesus IF you believe. This is the astounding reality we face. There are many in this room that believe. There are some here that doubt and want to hear more. And there are some that refuse to believe that some guy’s death 2000 years ago somehow frees me from my sin-debt to God. They not only do not understand it, they do not want to and it is an offensive thought to them.
a. Sin to avoid?
b. Promise to claim?
c. Example to follow?
Which camp are you in. It has to be one of the three I mentioned. Do you believe? Do you doubt? Do you reject? Only one of the three guarantees eternal life. It is the wise person that believes.
d. Command to obey?
Matthew 13:44 ESV
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
e. Knowledge to know?
God requires a decision today. You cannot wait until after you die. The only way to please God is by faith.
Hebrews 11:6 ESV
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
What will you do today?
2 Corinthians 6:2 ESV
For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
E. Illustrations -
Please, if you doubt this message, talk to me or someone here. We would love to help you by answering any of your objections to the Gospel. If you outright reject, remember God really does love you and desires to have a relationship with you. He has done all that is necessary for you to have the hope of eternal life. If you reject His offer, there is no hope for you.
Transition -
Folks, the main idea of this sermon is “God is always near to His own?” Are you one of His?
Conclusion - Camp Alataiki...
A. Review of main points
1. God is Always Near; Even When Nothing Is Happening
2. God is Always Near; Even When We Need Help
3. God is Always Near; Even When We Are Afraid
B. Response - What difference does this passage mean to me?
4. God is Always Near; Even When Bad Things Happen
5. God is Always Near; When Good Things Happen
B. Response - What difference does this passage mean to me?
VBS was wonderful on so many levels this week. As Uncle Jesse kept saying, “It was Ala-ta-iki fun!” Perhaps the best thing for me that came from VBS for me is the clear reminder that while we have an immense God, bigger than all of space and time, He is also NEAR.
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