I Will Be With You

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour. (Isaiah 43:2–3)

There are those who think that Christianity gives an escape from any kind of difficulty. It’s blessings all the way, and health and wealth are guaranteed. When the harsh reality of life hits, then it must be some problem with you. You mustn’t have enough faith, or have let down God in some way. Suffering shouldn’t be the path for Christians, so it must be your fault.

Fortunately this thinking is entirely wrong. In these few verses from Isaiah we find the key to the Christian’s experience of life. God doesn’t make a bridge over the river for us to walk on, but we must go on through. There isn’t a path round the fire, we just have to go on through. We go on though, but we don’t go on through alone. “I will be with you” says God. We don’t escape, but we do have help. Do notice that the verse beings “when” and not “if”!

Right at the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, when Joseph has his dream, he was told to name Jesus “Immanuel, which means, God with us” (Matthew 1:23). The same Gospel ends with the words of Jesus: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). This presence of God is the great theme of the gospel, and the great experience of the Christian. The very Spirit of God dwells in the believer, and leads us through waters and fire.

When you experience difficulties, then do remember this verse and use it as a prompt to prayer. Allow the presence of God to give you courage. You are not alone, for “I will be with you” says the Lord.

Praying to a Father

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8) - God is always ahead of us, and our worrying (“carking” as Manton puts it) is needless.

Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun

It is Pentecost in 1862, some one hundred and twenty years after Watts’ death, and a great open air service is in play. Missionaries have brought the gospel to the Island of Tonga, and it now considers itself Christian. As the singing begins, those who can understand the local language would have been able to discern the words of Watts’ setting of Psalm 72 coming through: Jesus shall reign where'er the sun doth its successive journeys run; His Kingdoms stretch from shore to shore, Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

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