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I am with you

Verses of Encouragement  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  14:24
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Introduction
There are a few ways to know you’re getting old...
You tend to forget things.
You repeat yourself.
And you tend to forget things.
Now I’m not THAt old, yet, but I forget things all the time.
I walk into a room and forget why I came into the room in the first place.
And I know that I forget things, so when something comes to mind that I need to remember, I grab a pen and write it down…but there are times when I have the pen in my hand and I’ve completely forgotten what it is I have to write.
And it if wasn’t for the reminders on my phone, I’d be all over the place.
Pause
I also forget things in the past. There are things I’ve done of which I have very little memory. I love watching films, and when I was younger I would remember films and what’s happened in films with quite a lot of detail. But a few months back I was watching a film that I’d seen before, and it was about half way through when I thought to myself, ‘this seems familiar’. And it was about 3/4 of the way through when I realised I HAD watched this film before. I had NO recollection of it for the first hour or so.
Point is, we forget.
And when it comes to our Spiritual lives, we also forget. We forget what God has done for us. We forget how special we are to him. We forget that we have the Holy Spirit in us, and we forget what Jesus did on the cross for us - which is one of the reasons why Jesus gave us the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper - so that we would REMEMBER and NOT forget what he did. Jesus knows what we’re like.
Payse
Today’s verse acts as a reminder to us. It was a reminder to the Israelites because the language used is language that they would have been very familiar with - and it reminds them who God is and what he has done…and as a result, they don’t need to fear or be dismayed.
we’re looking at verses of encouragement, there is a danger that we take verses out of context and apply them to situations in which they were never to be applied.
That’s the danger with taking any text out of its context - and you know how I feel about that. I’ve said it enough times.
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
There’s a danger that this can be done with today’s verse. Because today’s verse has a context which I will suggest needs to be taken into consideration when looking at this verse.
Many people love that verse, and it’s a great verse. But when you really look at it, Yahweh is talking to Jeremiah here
So our verse today is this...
Isaiah 41:10 NIV
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
What a great verse. This was my favourite verse when I was a teenager, and it still is a favourite of mine. And it comes in the context of verses 8 & 9.
Isaiah 41:8–9 NIV
“But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
So keep this in the back of your mind as we look at the verse...
God is encouraging HIS people - his CHOSEN people. People CHOSEN to SERVE. He calls them his servant, chosen and not cast off…Chosen to serve and not abandoned.
And because of Israel’s sin and disobedience and their idolatry, and because of
[God’s people have been chosen to serve]
God is reminding his people who they are and whose they are. They are chosen by God. They are HIS people for HIS work - to perform HIS will.
And the language used here helps in the reminding.
Pause
So let’s take this verse bit by bit, like we’ve been doing...
God tells the Israelites not to fear - fear not…but it’s not simply a matter of fearing because they are in the presence of God - it is more about abandonment… Israel’s sin and idolatry meant that God had ample grounds to abandon them.
If you think of God’s relationship with his people like a marriage - an illustration used quite a bit in the bible - then think of it like this...
If a husband and wife are together, and the wife starts eyeing up other men and flirting with them, and eventually having multiple affairs with men - treating the husband like he doesn’t exist. Not honouring the covenant vows she made on her wedding day and sleeping all around her - the husband has grounds for divorce. The husband has ample grounds to leave his wife.
That was the message of Hosea. It’s what Israel were doing with God - going after other gods, flirting with other religions and customs that were contrary to God’s way. And God had ample grounds to leave them because they had broken their covenant vows to him...
But this verse says, ‘Don’t fear, I’ve not abandoned you…in fact I am WITH YOU. And I will be even closer to you.
Pause
So, the language used helps to REMIND the Israelites of their place...
I am with you - reminds them of the story of Moses, who led the Israelites out of Egypt...
Exodus 3:12 ESV
He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”
And God’s presence went with them throughout the wilderness - God was with them as a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. And when the tabernacle was built, God was with them in the tabernacle.
I AM WITH YOU - reminds the Israelites that God was with them in their wilderness journey…in case they forgot.
Pause
I AM YOUR GOD - this is the grounds for the covenant, which the Israelites had broken. ...
Genesis 17:8 ESV
And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”
God is reminding his people in our verse today that he had made a promise with them, and while they have broken their covenantal vows, he WON’T break his… So their breech of the covenant led to their exile, it led to punishment, but it didn’t mean permanent separation. God wasn’t going to abandon them, even though he had ample grounds to do so.
Pause
RIGHTEOUS RIGHT HAND - this also goes back to Moses, where God divided the waters of the Red Sea with his glorious arm...
Isaiah 63:12 ESV
who caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for himself an everlasting name,
Is 63:12
Exodus 15:6 ESV
Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power, your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.
Ex 15:
God is reminding them again that HE was the one who led them out of slavery - who did the miracles of splitting the Red Sea and delivering them. He was the one who protected them…AND HE WILL DO IT AGAIN!!
Pause
And those who remember this, will be strengthened and upheld, like God promised only a few verses earlier...
Isaiah 40:31 NIV
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
When you remember who you are and whose you are you will put your hope in the Lord - you will remember that God has delivered you and has led you and is always with you because of the covenant he made with you to be your God. He will not abandon you, and if you turn to him you will be strengthened and upheld, so much that you will soar on wings like eagles.
What an encouragement.
Pause
But we’re not finished…because the middle of the verse is God with us....I am with you...
Firstly...
And this promise wasn’t an abstract promise - God with us became Emmanuel… Jesus Christ, God himself with us, dwelling among us, walking with us, dying FOR us…and when Jesus left this earth, the Holy Spirit became God with us, dwelling WITHIN us and walking WITHIN us.
God with us is real.
And when Jesus was about to leave this earth, he said this to his disciples...
Matthew 28:18–20 NIV
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matt 28:
Surely, I am with you always...
Pause
In Isaiah, God reminds his people who they are and whose they are…They are God’s chosen people - people chosen by God to SERVE him.
And Jesus hammers this home when he tells those people who call themselves followers of him, to also GO and SERVE him - and if they do, he will be with them always.
Pause
I think is a great verse, and it works as a stand-alone verse. But I think the real meaning shines through when we realise that God’s presence with us, God’s strength for us, God’s assurance that he will NEVER abandon us our leave us comes to life when we are serving God - especially in the days when we’re up against it.
Because, there are days in ministry when I feel like I’m getting nowhere. There are days when we all struggle in serving the Lord. Not even full time ministry, even serving God in your every day life, by the way you act and how you love and treat others.
Because there are times even in that when you can get sick of people - especially when you get no thanks for what you’re doing.
Or you’re sick of the fact that you don’t see much fruit in what you do.
Remember this verse, as a servant of the Lord...
Isaiah 41:10 NIV
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
You’re a chosen people - chosen to serve, and God has not abandoned you. He has not broken his covenant with you. He IS with you and will always be with you as you live for him, because this is a promise he has made with our ancestors and the Lord never breaks his promises.
So do not fear. God won’t abandon you IF you are truly his.
Let’s pray.
Fear not
God tells his people NOT to fear - do not be afraid, do not be dismayed.
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