Celebrating 25 years online! 1996-2021
NOTE: This is a written version of the message I delivered to a group of residents at Kings Daughters Community Health & Rehabilitation Center on March 3, 2013.
The band Casting Crowns has a song entitled Already There where we are reminded that even when we cannot see what is going to happen or what is happening -- when we feel lost or do not know what tomorrow will bring -- we can take comfort in the fact that God is already there. I once described to someone that God looks at time like we look at an ink pen (even more so). We hold it in our hand, turn it about and see all sides of it. Likewise, God does that with time. Past, present and future are all already convergent in His omniscience. We see struggles and trials and may fear what tomorrow has, but He already knows and is already there. He is not taken by surprise.
Yes, He even knows about the bad stuff, stuff we do and stuff imposed on us and stuff going on. We wonder why He does not stop it if He is already there. My reply is, "Welcome to earth, a broken world. You are looking for Heaven where there are no more tears." As Revelation 21:4 states, "...He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away" (NASB). God is there at the end of the age. We hear about Him being there in the past. We must remember He is already there in the future. We also must remember that He is already here in the present as well. The pain and suffering, hopefully, will point us to Jesus.
No matter who you are, life can be tough.... even when it is good. In this life, you will gain and you will lose. Job 1:21, NASB, states, "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD." Can you bless His name in both times of receiving and times of letting go? As the late Henri Nouwen mentions, we must walk about with open hands. I cannot approach God with clenched fists claiming every last right to what I think is mine. Even my dear children I raise up to one day fly the nest and be on their own. You are not even your own. Either you belong to God or to the devil. Jesus says in John 8:42-44 (NASB) the following to those who challenge Him:
If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
However, for those who love Jesus, who are in Christ, we can see in 1 Corinthians 6:19 (NASB) that we are not our own: "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?" Do you belong to Jesus? Do you believe that He has been there, is here and is already there?
Ephesians 1:3 says that He "has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (NASB). We may not feel powerful. We may feel frail. However, it is not about us or our power. It is about Him and His power working through us. Romans 8:11 (NASB) states, "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you."
As believers, how would it change our lives and the lives of those around us if we went about confident and trusting in His living in us, in our belonging to Him, in His power manifesting via the work of the Holy Spirit? Can you imagine? It would be awesome! He has blessed us! Can we be a blessing to others in return? We must trust that He is already there and that He is here with us.
God is still at work. He gives us life. Acts 17:28 (NIV) quotes the Cretan philosopher Epimenides: "In Him we move and have our being." Colossians 1:17 (NASB) informs us about the incomparable Christ and says, "He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." He holds our atoms together! He allows us this moment.
If you are a believer, you have a testimony of how you have been saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. And we have all our stories about how He has been there in the past in our lives. I recall three incidents in particular in the past month or so where God has worked (This also means there were a lot of others where He has been continually working):
On the last day of January, my wife, and kids were returning home in our minivan. The kids were in the back seat and the back cargo area was full of groceries. The minivan was the first vehicle in the intersection. A truck rear-ended the van. The van did not move into the intersection. Who held it back? The back door of the van was destroyed and glass shattered out. No glass got on the children and I only found one small piece in all the grocery bags. No one was injured. God was there.
In February, I realized my tires were low on air. I went to a gas station to fill them up. As I stood there, I saw a tanker truck driver pumping gas in the ground for the fuel pumps. I felt a compulsion that I needed to talk to him. I took one of my cards about Jesus and approached him. We chatted about how he pumped gas into the ground and I told him that I really wanted to give him a Jesus card. I handed it to him to see what he would say. He looked at the card, looked at me and said, "Praise God! I'm a minister!" We ended up talking for about 30 minutes and encouraged one another and he prayed for me. He encouraged me and it was in a time when I needed it. God was there.
Also in February, my wife was talking to a friend who said she dreamed about me at a restaurant and came to discover that yet another friend had the same dream about me. They proceeded to pray for me. And again, it was (and is) during a time where I need the encouragement. God was there. God is here. God is already there.
These events don't make my life easier, but they are a reminder of how my God is my comfort in times of trouble. He is already there. Consider 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NASB): "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." We know we are in a broken world. Consider, though, that we are to comfort those who suffer out of our sufferings where God has comforted us. Maybe the tanker truck driver was comforting me out his own struggles. I can say his being both a truck driver and a minister means he is likely on the road or under demands of those in need. His life isn't easy. Yet, he and I could meet as two brothers, fellow journeymen, knowing that we know the end of the story, that God is already there, that He has prepared a place for us against which our light and momentary struggles pale. The scriptures say in 2 Corinthians 4:17 that "momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison" (NASB). Recently, my children were singing, "Come and go with me to my Father's House" and sang of its many rooms. In John 14:2, Jesus said, "In My Fatherís house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you" (NASB). Do you have confidence in these truths?
Outside of Christ, we cannot have such confidence. Are you trusting Him? How are you getting to Heaven? When I asked one of my children that, he said, "Jesus carries us." And there is a lot of truth in that. No one else - not even yourself - will or can carry you to Heaven. Jesus was there in the beginning as we read in John 1:1 (NASB): "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." He was clearly there at the cross dying in your place for your sin. He was there at His burial. He was there at the resurrection. He is here. And He is at the right hand of God interceding for those who are His. He is already there. Will you be there? My late father had a phrase, "Be there!" He said this in reference to eternity with Jesus. Have you acknowledged that you are a sinner and you have no hope of salvation apart from Jesus? Do you believe that He died on your behalf putting to death the power of sin and was buried and then rose again conquering death and hell? Do you trust that He clothes you with His righteousness? Do you trust that He is already there? Will you be there?
Ichthus Library: Personal Works