Thanksgiving Series: God, The Leader

Psalm 136 can be touted as the “The Psalm of Thanks” or the “Thanksgiving Psalm.” It is a Psalm that is rich in content, apropos the character of God and since each verse in the Psalm is suffixed with “For his mercy endures forever”, it is a Psalm that is easy to read and memorize as well. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, giving thanks for the ultimate reason of sending us his only begotten Son, we will be looking at each verse in Psalm 136 and glean out the character of God from these verses, which would be reason enough to be grateful and give thanks to our LORD God.

Today we look at Verse 16.
To him which led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy endureth for ever.

In the account of the Israelites journey from their land of Egypt, where they were in physical bondage, to the land promised to them, they wandered in the wilderness for a period of forty years, because of their hardened heart, disobedience and unbelief in God’s promises, except for two – Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 14). Yet, we read from the Psalmist that while they wandered in the wilderness, they were not orphaned by God. In fact, this verse establishes that God was their leader through the wilderness – a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night – to lead and show them the way – because his mercy endures for ever.

Points to ponder:
At times, we may feel that in our life, we are wandering in the wilderness as well. The journey through what may seem desolate and deserted, with no one around in our life, may make us feel that we are all alone and that God has left us. It is likely that our own hardened hearts, disobedience and unbelief has made us reach that point in life. Yet, take solace in the fact, that God is unchanging and that through life’s wilderness, he continues to lead us. Do not be afraid; Be strong and of good courage – for the LORD God goes with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6) . He made his promise come true when he sent his son Jesus to come into the world for us who promised and assured, I will never leave you nor forsake you and lo, I am with you always (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5). Are you willing to let God be your leader?

Psalm 136:16 (KJV)
16 To him which led his people through the wilderness: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Desperately Searching for and Seeking God

The morning of August 23rd, 2015 (Sunday), my wife, Sangeetha, and I were in the washroom upstairs, getting ready for the day and had the door shut, so that it would not disturb our 3 and a half year old son, Ittai who was sleeping in the adjoining bedroom. Ittai was not aware that we were in the washroom and when he woke up, he went downstairs looking for us. Unaware that we were upstairs, he starting calling for his mom, me and his brother, Reuben, who had stayed overnight at the Gymnastic team camp. Not finding any of us, he started to cry (possibly out of fear and worry). Hearing his cry, my wife and I ran downstairs and found him vehemently weeping. Sangeetha immediately reached out to him and gave him a hug and it took both us quite an effort to console and comfort Ittai, who kept weeping in our arms. We assured him that we will never leave him alone and even if something was to happen to us, Jesus will never ever leave him alone. After much talk he finally stop crying and was comforted.

Come to think of that incident, later in the day, during our family prayer time, Sangeetha shared with Reuben, how thankful we need to be to God, for family, as there are many children in the world (in war zones, etc.) who have lost their parents and orphaned, with no one to console them when they are crying. This is what came to her mind when she saw Ittai crying. On the other hand, as I pondered over the incident, I realized that we ought to be like Ittai, when it came to our heavenly Father God. We must desperately search for him and seek him while he may be found (Isaiah 55:6). We can also be assured that, Jesus, promised that he will be with us even unto to ends of the age, never leaving us nor forsaking us, no matter how fearful and worrisome the situation is.

Points to ponder:
Until one finds Father God, they must desperately search for him and seek him. The good news is that God the Father is eagerly waiting and looking for all the prodigal sons and daughters to return to him. God would never leave us alone. We will never be orphans in God’s family. Seek and ye shall find (God). In him, you will find true consolation and comfort. Are you desperately searching and seeking God?

Isaiah 55:6 (KJV)
Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

Proverbs 8:17 (JKV)
17 I love them that love me; and those that seek me early (diligently) shall find me.

The LORD checks in

Genesis 18:20-22 reads “And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.

What is interesting to glean from this text is that not only did the Lord God pay attention and heed to the cries of people, but he responded with action. Though it may seem at times, that the sinful state, rampancy and grievousness of sin has no hope for the better, we see that God does not check out but instead checks in to verify the real state of affairs. He hears the cries of his people even if they are a minority, even less than ten people in a city (Genesis 18:32).

Points to ponder:
When there was no solution to the grievousness of sin, resulting from its wages i.e. death (Romans 6:23), since the fall of man (Romans 5:12), the Lord (Jesus) willingly came down from God the Father (John 6:38) and checked in with man, becoming man (Philippians 2:5-8). God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us and when the state of world affairs may seem bleak and hopeless, you can expect God to check in (to our lives). Have you allowed the Lord God to check into your life?

Genesis 18:20-22 (KJV)
20 And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;
21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.
22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.

“Not good” says God

The first time that is recorded of God saying “not good” is given in the second chapter in the book of Genesis, when God says, “It is not good that the man should be alone.” Have you ever wondered as to why God would feel this way? The creator and the creature were friends (Genesis 3:8); God was man’s friend and man was God’s friend – so how could man be alone? God would never leave nor forsake his people, correct?

I believe, that in the omniscience of God, God knew that just as his charming and wisest created angel, Lucifer, selfishly disobeyed God seeking his own (Ezekiel 28:2-4, 14-15), man, the apex of God’s creation (not the ex-ape of evolution) would selfishly follow his own desires and follow suit as well. This is why the scripture records that the Lamb of God (Jesus Christ) was slain before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8), as the only means of restoring man, back into the friendly relationship he had with God (Romans 5:11).

To disobey God and sin brings about a separation from God, making us lonely (to be alone). It is our own selfishness (Romans 8:3) that separates us from God and makes us single. With divorce growing at an exponential rate and plaguing our world today, many are lonely – in a state that is “not good” (according to God). Under the dirty covers of many divorce situations, one would find that the root cause for divorce is not incompatibility but selfishness, where one partner thinks of gratifying only their own selfish desires, whether it is in the area of fidelity or in the area of forgiveness. Such selfishness brings about singleness and the Bible records that God hates divorces (Malachi 2:16), for God does not want any of us to be alone.

Points to ponder:
It is true that God will never leave us nor forsake us to be alone; but that does not mean that man will not leave nor forsake God and get lonely! God does not want you and me to be alone – for that is not good. Are you and I a friend of God? In other words, are we selfish gratifying our own selfish desires or are we selfless and willing to obey him in all things? Let God not have to say of you and me, “Not good”.

Genesis 2:18 (KJV)
18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Malachi 2:16 (NLT)
16 “For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.”

Family God

Divorce plagues our society and the deception is that divorce brings about liberation while in the contrary it actually brings about loneliness. The antidote to loneliness is a God – a Family God – the God of the Bible.

When God told Noah, a just man, to come into the ark, that would save him, he told Noah to bring his family  (his wife, his sons and their wives) with him (Genesis 6:18). When Rahab, the prostitute helped the spies of God, in addition to herself, her family was promised Salvation as well (Joshua 2:18; Joshua 6:16-18).

Points to ponder:
The God of the Bible is a Family God. He cares for all, especially those who are justified by their belief in Jesus, and his promise (covenant) extends to the family of those who are in Christ, the ARK of Salvation. Irrespective of the adulterous lifestyle we have lived in the past, as long as we have repented of our sinful ways, and acted on our faith in Jesus, believing that only in him is victory over death, his scarlet blood will save us and our families (who believe and are in the household of God) – for he is a Family God who cares. Jesus promised to never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Matthew 28:20) and that means that he is the only antidote to loneliness and only in him is true liberation, when we divorce sin.

Genesis 6:18 (KJV)
18 But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.

Joshua 2:18 (KJV)
18 Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee.

Joshua 6:16-17 (KJV)
16 And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the Lord hath given you the city.
17 And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the Lord: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.

Matthew 28:20 (KJV)
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Loneliness an impossibility

The word “loneliness” is defined by Merriam-Webster’s as one being without company, producing a feeling of bleakness and desolation. William Shakespeare is attributed to have introduced the word “lonely” to the English language in Act IV Scene 1 of his tragic play Coriolanus, that is based on the life of the Roman leader, Gaius Marcius Coriolanus. As recent as Nov 20th, 2009, the NY Daily News headlines read “South Korean supermodel Daul Kim blogged about loneliness, depression before suicide” and this is not something new. The September 5th, 1977 issue of Time magazine reported that health studies showed a direct relationship between death from heart disease and singleness, up to five times more among widows and divorced women than those who were married. Author of The Broken Heart: The Medical Consequences of Loneliness, James J. Lynch asserts that physical ailments (cancer, tuberculosis, heart diseases), mental disorders and suicide are all significantly influenced by human companionship (or its lack thereof).

Loneliness can be deemed a plague in today’s society and in its most chronic form is a killer. Loneliness robs the life of those who don’t know THE ONE who personifies LIFE itself. Jesus claimed, I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. (John 11:25) God gave his Only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, so that all who believe in Him shall have ETERNAL LIFE (John 3:16). In Loneliness is death, In Jesus Christ is Life and the greatest loneliness is in those who don’t know Jesus Christ as their companion. What is more is that for those who believe in Jesus, they can never be lonely. Loneliness is an impossibility for those in Christ Jesus, because He promised to never leave them nor forsake them (Hebrews 13:5).You can be guaranteed to hear him saying “bekol iom“, which is Hebrew for “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20), which literally means “every day the whole day”. Think about it, every day the whole day, Jesus will be with you, meaning loneliness has no place anymore.

Point(s) to ponder:

  1. Do you feel lonely? If you do, you can trust in the promise of Jesus Christ, who says I AM with you, bekol iom.
  2. Do you know someone who is lonely? If so, extend to them the truth that in Jesus Christ, they can find a companion, they can find life itself and loneliness is an impossibility in Jesus Christ.
  3. Think about someone you know whom you know/feel is lonely and pray for that person now, call them, and share with them your companionship, modeling your life after Christ.