“You’re Not In This Alone!”

Produce cart at The Carrot Barn near Schoharie, NY 3/15/20

Bringing a little of the natural outdoor colors and vegetation on this indoor cart at “The Carrot Barn” near Schoharie, NY.
“Keep your friends close and your farmers closer… a little local goes a long way.”
“You’re Not In This Alone!”
 
Note: With the current crisis many people may be more receptive to spiritual and eternal truths and with the closing of many church gatherings we especially encourage our readers to consider how our messages may bless others you know. We expect to have messages all next week addressing some aspect of what we are going through.

The best way is to send an email or text and share the link to the message you feel would be helpful and encouraging. Although a bit more time consuming we suggest individual emails that begin with a personal note from you. The link on our email messages are found at the top right as “Web version of this message” on each email post and as “Archived message” on the website. We do not suggest group forwards especially without a personal note since these appear spammy to many.

 
Message summary: Today let us consider a great promise we should already know, but are we experiencing the assurance it brings? Jesus said, “I am with you always”.
 
ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
 
“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age'” (Matthew 28:18-20).
 
During this time of “social distancing” we are especially sensitive to those who live alone. God designed us to be social beings and the first “not good” in the Bible was God’s observation that “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Now of course this is primarily referring to God’s immutable design for the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman but the principle extends to our entire social structure. We were created to live in community; our family, immediate and extended, friends; church; marketplace; workplace and so forth.
 
Due to restrictions and recommendations our normal chaplain work visits to companies is now being impacted but we still have other opportunities to minister God’s love and care through phone, text and email, including these daily messages.
 
One thing we can have regardless of our physical proximity to other people is an assurance that “We are not in this alone”. Of course this can be taken in the sense that so many others are suffering and impacted in various degrees.
 
But today let us consider the benefits of God’s steadfast presence based upon five words from our Lord, “I am with you always”.
 
Here’s a reminder based upon an encouraging song with an upbeat tempo by a family group called the Browders (link to song is below).
 
Let me remind you Jesus is for you, He’s right for everything that’s wrong.
I’m here to tell you that He will not leave you, He never abandons His own.
Even though you may not see it right now; you’re not in this alone.
 
Our daily Scripture portion is customarily called “The Great Commission”, among the final words of Jesus prior to His ascension back to heaven. We normally focus on the middle portion of this passage, His command to the disciples (and all of His followers), “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.”
 
But today let us examine three truths promised in this passage that were surely a great source of assurance for the initial hearers and has been for each subsequent generation since then and for us at this time of great uncertainty:
 
1) “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” What a vitally important truth! Jesus’ authority is inexhaustive, without any limitations. Nothing happens unless He ordains it. There is much speculation about the current virus situation, it utterly dominates the news and most personal conversations. Suffering and pain are a great mystery that can leave us with many questions but we must rest assured in His ultimate authority. The concept of ‘All’ dominates Matthew 28:18-20 and ties these verses together: all authority, all nations, all that I commanded you, all the age.
 
2) “I am with you always.” This is surely one of the great promises of the entire Bible. Later in the New Testament the promise from God is repeated in the book of Hebrews, in another phrase many of us have memorized, “I will never leave you, nor  forsake you”. The following thoughts are from Pastor David Guzik’s excellent online “Enduring Word” commentary:
 
A) His presence is complete. “The English adverb ‘always’ renders an expression found in the New Testament only here – strictly, ‘the whole of every day’. Not just when the horizon is in view, but each day as we live it.” (Carson)

B) His presence means privilege, because we work with a Great King. Paul understood this principle well in 1 Corinthians 3:9, where he wrote: For we are God’s fellow workers. Since Jesus promised, “I am with you always,” then we work together with Him in all our service. We certainly work for Jesus, but more than that, we work with Jesus.

C) His presence means protection, because we are never out of His sight or supervision.

D) His presence means power, because as we fulfill this great command, we work in His name.

E) His presence means peace, because it always reminds us that the church belongs to Jesus. It is His church, and His work. How, then, can we worry?

 
3) “Even to the end of the age.” In case there’s any question about it this isn’t a promise solely for the original disciples. It will last until the end of the age. Then of course we will be in God’s eternal presence in a completely different way free from all the sin and heartache of this world that we experience in this current age.
 
Day by day and even hour by hour the news changes and it can easily lead one to despair, but remember, “You’re Not In This Alone!”

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, Your steadfast presence consoles our fears because it brings to us privilege, protection, power and peace. On an ordinary day we look to so many earthbound sources to provide for our needs physically, emotionally, financially and in other ways, but Your steady presence surpasses any earthbound solution we may seek or rely on. There is no place, even when quarantined or in isolation, where You cannot go with us, for You remind us through Scripture, I will never leave you nor forsake you, for I am with you even to the end of the age. What blessed assurance fills my heart even in troublesome times. Amen.

 
Personal note: The impact of the virus gets closer when we begin to hear about people we know infected. Beginning with unknown people in China (who are equally loved by God) to celebrities we may know of. Yesterday we read that the missionary son and daughter-in-law of our long-time friend Tommy Carpenter have been infected and today I read that our Executive Director of World Missions, Greg Mundis, has tested positive for Covid 19 and is in critical condition, though he is making progress.
 

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
 
The Browders“You’re Not In This Alone”Video  The Browders
(This is the song we used in the beginning of our message)

Our Hope in Life and Death
“Christ Our Hope in Life and Death”Video  Keith & Kristyn Getty, Matt Papa
(This outstanding new hymn was just posted this morning in our email. What a blessed reminder!)

“Put It into God’s Hands”Video  The Browders
 

On the lighter side today:

 
The almost always funny Babylon Bee satire site has several brief takes on all this current news including this one: God To Ignore Quarantine And Continue Being Everywhere
 
This video from a dog’s perspective: Pluto addresses the internet in this time of crisis
 


A final set of photos from my two day trip to upstate New York this last weekend.

Greenhouse at The Carrot Barn near Schoharie, NY 3/15/20
A very tidy greenhouse at “The Carrot Barn” near Schoharie, NY. It was nice to visit and express appreciation to the farming family who operates this property. (The senior member is watering in this photo.)
 
Train Station woodshop, NY 3/14/20
Yesterday we mentioned a belt-powered woodshop that used an old Train Station in Sharon, NY. This place is very interesting but with all the old wood and sawdust on the floor it seems very vulnerable to a fire!

Train car storage, NY 3/14/20
A very old train car is used for storage. These cars were a fire hazard and in the late 1960s the Federal Railway Administration outlawed wooden cars.