读经：诗91:9-16 林前2:6-16 代上22:2-23:32
God is With You
I wonder whether you have ever had this experience: you are talking to a friend about your faith and they are looking back at you with a blank stare. They have no idea what you are talking about. When you talk about a relationship with God or about knowing Jesus, to them it is like you are speaking about an ‘imaginary friend’. It makes no sense to them at all.
The apostle Paul makes the point that you can only understand spiritual truths with the help of the Holy Spirit. The person ‘without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned’ (1 Corinthians 2:14). When God is with us by his Holy Spirit he gives us understanding, ‘that we may understand what God has freely given us’ (v.12).
‘God with us’ (Immanuel) is one of the titles the New Testament uses for Jesus (Matthew 1:23). He is always with you. In the service of Holy Communion the minister says, ‘The Lord be with you,’ to which the congregation replies, ‘And also with you.’ These are momentous words. That the God who created the universe should be with you is not something to be taken lightly. It is an extraordinary and wonderful promise. To experience God with you by his Spirit is life changing.
1. With you in trouble
Psalm 91:9-16In the difficult times, ‘in trouble’ (v.15), you may sometimes feel that God has left you. In these times listen to God’s promises over and above your feelings and emotions.
This psalm is all about God’s protection and encourages you not to be afraid:
‘If you make the Most High your dwelling –
even the Lord, who is my refuge –
then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent’ (v.9).
This might appear to be the recipe for a trouble-free life. However, the psalmist goes on:
‘“Because you love me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue you;
I will protect you, for you acknowledge my name.
You will call upon me, and I will answer you;
I will be with you in trouble”’ (vv.14–15).
It is clear from this that those who love the Lord will not avoid trouble. God does not promise a trouble-free life. Rather, he promises that he will rescue you and protect you and answer your prayers. More than that he promises, ‘I will be with you’ in trouble. This is what makes all the difference. Even in the darkest times, he is with you. You are never alone.
Thank you, Lord, that you are with me in times of trouble. Thank you for your rescue, deliverance, protection and answers to my prayers.
Lord, today I call upon you again…
2. With you by his Spirit
1 Corinthians 2:6-16Through the Holy Spirit, God is with you in the most extraordinary way – he is actually in you. It would be impossible for God to be with you any more fully than he is through his Spirit.
In this passage Paul explains some of the extraordinary benefits of God being with you in this way: ‘Spirit can be known only by spirit – God’s Spirit and our spirits in open communion. Spiritually alive, we have access to everything God’s Spirit is doing, and can’t be judged by unspiritual critics. Isaiah’s question, “Is there anyone around who knows God’s Spirit, anyone who knows what he is doing?” has been answered: Christ knows, and we have Christ’s Spirit’ (vv.15–16, MSG).
Like the psalmist, the apostle Paul expounds on all the wonderful things that ‘God has prepared for those who love him’ (v.9, see also Psalm 91:14, ‘Because you love me… ‘).
Paul compares God’s wisdom to the ‘fashionable wisdom of high-priced experts that will be out-of-date in a year or so’ (1 Corinthians 2:6, MSG). God’s secret wisdom has been revealed to us (vv.6–10) – the wonder of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. The rulers of the world did not understand it. If they had, they would not have crucified Jesus: ‘The Lord of glory’ (v.8).
God’s secret wisdom is amazing. ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’ (v.9).
In his book, True Spirituality, Vaughan Roberts notes that there is a four-fold process in which the Holy Spirit reveals God’s wisdom to us.
- The Holy Spirit knows
He knows what no human being could otherwise know – the mind and thoughts of God. ‘The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows the thoughts of another human being except that person’s own spirit within? In the same way no oneknows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God’ (vv.10b–11).
- The Holy Spirit reveals
The Holy Spirit does not keep his knowledge of the wisdom of God to himself, but hereveals it to those in whom he dwells. ‘We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us’ (v.12). You have received the Spirit who is from God. He is with you. He enables you to understand the secret wisdom of God, though of course we could never fathom the depths of God. As Paul says later in this letter, in this life ‘we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror’, not yet ‘face to face’ (13:12).
- The Holy Spirit inspires
Paul was inspired by the Spirit to pass on the wisdom of the gospel to others. ‘This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words’ (2:13). The Spirit similarly teaches you what to say so that you too can express ‘spiritual truths in spiritual words’, generally through the Spirit-inspired words of the apostles recorded in the New Testament. You can share words in line with Scripture that point people to Jesus.
- The Holy Spirit illuminates
Without the Holy Spirit you simply cannot understand spiritual truths: ‘The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned’ (v.14). When God is with you by his Spirit you can actually understand the mind of the Lord. Indeed, you ‘have the mind of Christ’ (v.16).
Lord, thank you for this amazing truth that you are with me today by your Spirit. May I have the mind of Christ. I pray for spiritual words to express spiritual truths. I ask for your wisdom in all my decisions and conversations.
3. With you in success
1 Chronicles 22:2-23:32‘Have you ever been disappointed when someone else was given the privilege of doing something in ministry that you wanted to do?’, writes Joyce Meyer. ‘Rather than be frustrated or discouraged, follow David’s example in 1 Chronicles 22:6–11. Bless the efforts of others; pray for them that they might have wisdom; and encourage them to keep following the Lord in all they do, that they might prosper. God will be faithful to honour you.’
David had really wanted to build the temple himself. Now David prepares for his son, Solomon, to succeed him. He gets everything ready for him. He has a great succession plan setting Solomon up for success.
It was David and Solomon who together made possible the building of the temple. David himself could not carry out the work as he had ‘shed much blood’ (22:8). Solomon is the one who will actually build the temple.
David says, ‘Now, my son, the Lord be with you, and may you have success and build the house of the Lord your God, as he said you would. May the Lord give you discretion and understanding… Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the Lord gave to Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged… Now begin the work, and the Lord be with you’ (vv.11–16).
The Lord wasn’t only with Solomon: ‘Then David ordered all the leaders of Israel to help his son Solomon. He said to them, “Is not the Lord your God with you?”’ (vv.17–18a). God was with them also. He granted them ‘rest on every side’ (v.18b). He told them, ‘Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God’ (v.19).
They had success and rest ‘since the Lord, the God of Israel, [had] come to dwell in Jerusalem forever’ (23:25).
This is a cause for great rejoicing, thanksgiving and praise. The Levites were to ‘stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord. They were to do the same in the evening’ (v.30).
Long-term success comes from God being with you. Life may not be easy, but Jesus promised that if you abide in him you will bear fruit that will last (see John 15).
Lord, I can never thank you and praise you enough for your presence with me. Thank you that you promise me long-term success and rest. May I thank and praise you from first thing in the morning until last thing at night.
I love this psalm. It makes me feel safe. It is a great psalm to pray for family and friends travelling long distances or facing difficulties. Over the years, I have written in the margin, alongside this psalm, quite a few things. They were things I was worried about at the time. God has been faithful. He has watched over them all.