Continually with You
Psalm 73:23 “Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me
by my right hand”.
Some years ago following the second world war, there were many Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen, who returned to the British Isles and Ireland after overseas service, only to discover that their wives or families had become victim to the war and were no longer alive. One such Sailor, turned up at the Scottish home of Anna Isabella Greer, my Fathers younger Sister, looking for temporary accommodation. Her home near Armadale West Lothian, was not a B&B, but a small farm holding where my Aunt kept Hens and sold Eggs. “If I could stay here for a few days” he asked, “just until I find work and a permanent place
Reluctantly allowing him the temporary use of a small guest room, “Willie Pollard” became one of those house guests that comes to stay, – and Willie stayed at “Heather-field” near the village of Armadale in the West Lothian Region of Scotland,
for more than 30 years until he died.
This reminds me of something the Psalmist said in Psalm 73 verse 23…. “nevertheless, I am continually with you, and you have held me by my right hand” One of my all time favourite verses in all of the Psalms.
Of course it stands to reason that if the psalmist considered himself to be continually with God, then he was conscious that God was continually with him. He was conscious always of the presence of God. Jesus promises that when the Holy Spirit comes into your life, he comes to stay.
My Sermon today entitled “Continually with You” is an attempt to enable you to focus on the presence of God at all times, and to make Him your overriding focus every moment;
– for I believe that God wants us to see him, and his hand, in all of our circumstances, both in the good times and in the bad.
This verse in Psalm 73, splits nicely into two parts,
so today’s sermon will only have two themes, and no, it will
not be shorter than normal! Here in this text
I see what I am calling “A Continuing Hope” and
“A Comforting Hand”.
Firstly, the Psalmist speaks of a “continuing hope” – “Nevertheless, I am continually with you”
Years ago I got myself into the regular habit of focusing my eyes on a particular chair in my room when I was praying. Contrary to popular opinion it is not always necessary for us to close our eyes when we pray. Closing the eyes is simply to avoid any distractions around us, and may most certainly be helpful within the Church Building setting. Yet we can pray just as sincerely and effectively with our eyes open or shut, as long as our focus remains on God. My focus was on a chair, but in that chair I imagined I could see my Saviour, I was conscious that He was with me, sitting there listening me, just as a welcome friend might do.
I often find myself even now, still focusing on a particular chair in my living room when I pray there, or another in my study when I pray there, or another in my bedroom when I am praying there. I imagine Jesus to be right there in the room with me, and on that spot. Of course, I say this is in my imagination, for God is not confined to space and time, but I find it helpful (when I pray) to picture Him right there in that place in my company; and what’s more, I see him fully attentive to all my words. Let me teach you something about prayer and particularly about intercession, that few people realize.
I just know that this revelation will be a blessing to you today.
I said a moment ago that I believed the Saviour to be fully attentive to my every word.
While this is true, I recognise that there are times when I pray, (eyes closed or not) when I myself have lost attention, and
my mind has transported me away from the prayer or petition to another place, and another subject entirely.
This is not unusual, and is common to Christians all over
the world, even though few of us will honestly admit to it!
We need to understand that God knows our frame, and He remembers that we are human. Psalm 103: verse 14 says:
“For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust”.
Even if our minds do sometimes wonder off in Prayer, don’t allow this to discourage, dishearten, or disturb you. Our prayers and petitions do not go directly to God, they go through a mediator, through a “High Priest”. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that this mediator is Jesus himself, this is why we end our prayers “in Jesus name.” Now what does this mean?
If you go back into the Hebrew Bible, you will see that in Exodus 30 that Aaron, who was the High Priest took the offering for the people into the Holy Place, alone? The people themselves could not approach God; Only the priests were permitted to handle Holy things?
Whether the offering was a Bull or a Goat, or a Pigeon, or a Turtle Dove, there would have been elements of that sacrifice removed, before presentation. For example, the feathers were removed, or the innards were removed, these were not part of the offering or the sacrifice. So too, our great High Priest, who ever liveth to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25) removes from our prayers those superficial, unimportant, irrelevant words and thoughts (for remember he not only hears the words but knows
the thoughts behind them) … Jesus removes those things surplus to requirement, then He lifts up my prayers to His Father and says “This is what my friend David wants” … and the amazing thing is, that once Jesus asks for it, for me, God says YES.
“For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us“. 2 Cor 1:20
This does not mean that everything I ask for God will say YES, for remember Jesus will remove from my prayers the things surplus to my requirements? I might think I need something, while he may know I don’t! Yet all that Jesus asks for me, will most certainly get the YES, the “thumbs up” from the Father.
That is why John could say in 1 John 5:15 “if we know that he (GOD) hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him“.
What a blessing that is – a greater blessing than many may be aware of! The fact that our Lord is ever with His children is a blessing beyond explanation. It means that we are never alone! It means that in every valley, every dark night of the soul, every illness, every situation in life, we have the blessed presence of the Lord to sustain us and comfort us! He is always there as a Comforter.
Jesus says in John 14:16, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;” This word describes a friend who is called in to help a person who is troubled or distressed.
It refers to a commander that is called in to help a discouraged and dispirited army. Basically, the word refers to a helper!
No matter what we face in life, we have an ever-present,
heaven sent Helper in the Person of the Holy Spirit!
“A very present help in time of trouble.”
I am endeavouring to get you into the place where I live, of seeing the Saviour as “Constantly, Continually with you” so this obviously means that I don’t always imagine Him to be in a chair in my room. I see Him with me, when I mow the Grass, take out the Garbage, Drive to the filling station, or when I walk on the beach. In fact the one who has faithfully promised to “never leave me nor forsake me” (Heb. 13:5) is truly with me all the time, wherever I am, and in whatever I do. I say always, – continually with me.
Is he continually with You? Yes he is, if you belong to Him,
if you have trusted in Him as your Sin Bearer and Saviour?
So begin to acknowledge His presence and thank him for it.
He is right there with you NOW in your room.
This Christ Consciousness will enable you to walk in the Victory that is yours. It will remove the doubts and fears that come from being alone, and will help you focus more on His Presence, His Provision and His Power every day. Instead of becoming depressed, you will be able to focus on all of the past blessings which have proved his presence, (for he is constantly abiding) and this will enable you to see that his “goodness and mercy will follow you for all the days of your life” (Psalm 23:6) thus lifting depression and gloom, and releasing you into the life of His grace and glory. Remember He is “Continually, Constantly with you”.
David could say:
“Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into (the highest) heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in (the lowest) hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, – Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” Psalm 139: 7-10
Secondly, the Psalmist speaks of a “comforting hand” – “you have held me by my right hand”
You must know that if He is holding my hand, then he does so with HIS HANDS and there are at least two things we should never forget about those hands of His? Firstly, they are nail scarred hands, for in them he took the nails of crucifixion, the marks of the high cost, the high price paid for our redemption. Secondly, they are “engraved” hands. With what have they been engraved you may ask? His hands bear the name and nature of all his children. As a woman can never forget the child she bears, neither does the Saviour forget his children.
“I have graven thee on the palms of my hands” he says:
For all of my years in Ministry, when I have been asked to pray FOR a person, I try as much as possible, even if that person is in great pain, – I try to take them by the hand as I pray. There is something about holding hands that speaks to me of love or is
an expression of love and affection. If we truly walk in love towards our fellow man, we should not be embarrassed about showing that love for them in practical and caring ways? If Jesus could take the sick “by the hand” why shouldn’t we?
Here the Psalmist says “You have held me by the right hand”
the implication being that of a tiny child being held on to by
a Parent on a busy or dangerous street. God holds on to
His Children in all of life’s challenging and changing
circumstances, and has promised that He will never let us go. What a comfort!
Pause for a moment and think about what it means to have the Almighty HOLD ON to you by the right hand?
As a parent takes his or her child by the hand, and helps it to go, or to walk safely, supporting its infant steps, – so the Lord takes his children by the hand, and teaches them to walk by faith in him. You see just as natural walking does not come easily, so too walking in the Spirit, and walking by faith has a learning process. God says:
“I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms;
but they knew not that I healed them”. Hosea 11:3
We need to remember that it is by “Gods Grace” Gods undeserved favour that we walk at all. Great Faith ought to be our aim, but Faith cannot have that which has not first been given by grace. Remember that it is God who is the giver of every good thing that we enjoy, and we deserve none of it. By all means trust in His word, believe for your miracle, have faith to take possession and courage to make confession, but don’t ever forget that Faith cannot take what Grace does not give.
He holds our hand to help us walk by faith.
Then He holds our hand in order to keep us from falling, and He bears us up under the temptations and tests of life. Paul could say: “let him who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall” 1 Cor 10:12. If you and I do not fall or fail today, it is not because we go to Church, not because we pay our tithes, not because we do our best, not because we say our prayers, not because we can quote scripture, not because we have been walking the road for a long time …. if we do not fail or fall, it is entirely because
HE has held us up; Praise God!
Then he may hold our hand to lead us into more intimate communion with himself in his sanctuary, and to raise us up out of our low estate to a more exalted one; Remember His words to Cyrus the Persian King in Isaiah 45:1
“Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; ” God may hold on to us firmly while we are in transition from one job to another, or one house to another, or one location to another, as he does not want to see us lose our way and choose the wrong instead of the right.
Gods hand was mightily on Joseph at every stage, as he was moved from the Pit to the Prison and then to the Palace.
Our spiritual promotion is always in the hand of God,
not in the hands of men or ministers.
Likewise, God may take our hand to put something into our hands, to supply our needs and even our wants, and fill our hands, our hearts and our homes with his good things; God condemned Sodom for not strengthening the hand of the poor and needy; Ezekiel 16:49. So obviously His purpose is to be
our strength and provision in times of need. This is what it means to have His hand in Your hand.
Finally, I want us to consider our life in His hands? It is one thing to have your hand in His hand, but think about having your life in His hands as in “The Potters Hands”.
We have often sung the Hymn
“Have thine own way Lord, have thine own way,
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay
Mould me and make me after thy will
while I am waiting, yielded and still”.
The Prophet Jeremiah went down to the Potters house, and what he saw there was not pretty? …he says:
“Then I went down to the potter’s house, and beheld, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Jeremiah 18:3-4
The clay cannot dictate to the Potter, cannot tell the Potter what sort of finished vessel it should become, and neither can we tell the Divine Potter what HE could and should do with us. If we totally surrender ourselves to His will and way, then we must, like that marred pot, be prepared to be broken and remade better than at the first. While God wants to hold you in His Hand, you too must want His hand to hold you. The relationship can only work, if it works both ways; Does He hold you in his hand?
I conclude my message today with the words of a very old poem, first read to me by my Paternal Grandmother when I was a young boy, it is called:
The Master’s Hand
‘Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To spend much time on the old violin,
But he held it up with a smile.
`What am I bidden for this?’ he cried.
`Who’ll start the bidding for me?
A dollar—one dollar: then two—only two:
Two dollars are bidden; say three.
`Three dollars once: three dollars twice:
Going for three!’ But lo!
From the back of the crowd a grey-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow.
Then, wiping the dust from the old violin
And tight’ning the loosened strings,
He played a melody passing sweet,
The kind that haunts and clings.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
With a voice that was soft and low,
Said, ‘Now what is bid for the old violin?’
And he held it up with the bow.
`A thousand dollars: who’ll make it two?
Two—two thousand: say three.
Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
Three thousand—gone!’ said he.
The people cheered, but some exclaimed,
`We do not quite understand
What changed its worth:’ and the answer came,
`Twas the touch of a Master’s hand.’
And many a man with soul out of tune,
And battered and scarred by sin,
Is auctioned cheap by the thoughtless crowd,
Just like the old violin.
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul, and the change that is wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand.
O Master! I am a tuneless one:
Lay, lay Thy hand on me,
Transform me now, put a song in my heart
Of melody, Lord, to Thee.