A 14 Day Meditation on the Love of God
God Stays with you always
“For He has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’ “
The phrase “I will never leave you or forsake you” in Hebrews 13:5 is a quote from the Old Testament. It is actually used in the Old Testament three times. The writer of Hebrews only changes one word.
The first time the Bible uses it is in Deuteronomy 31: 6. It comes at a critical transition point in the life of Israel. Moses is dying. Before he goes, he hands over the leadership of Israel to Joshua, his trusted aid and friend.
Joshua is scared, no doubt. He wonders if he can be an excellent leader to the three million people who are about to follow him into the Promised Land. But Moses reminds Joshua of something significant. He isn’t the real leader of Israel. The real leader is God. Moses was just God’s mouthpiece. All Joshua has to do it to be God’s mouthpiece, too. Human leaders rise and fall, but God’s love and protection go on forever. He will not leave or forsake His people.
In Joshua 1:5, Joshua remembers this and tells it to the people when he becomes their leader. They are scared, too. Is Joshua up to the task of leading them, or will he fail? Will they continue to be God’s people even after Moses is gone?
But God speaks to them through Joshua. “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.” Moses is gone, but God is still speaking. He will lead them onward.
The third the phrase is used is in 1 Chronicles 28:20. David is dying. As he hands the kingdom of Israel to his son Solomon, he tells him, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, ” These are the same words Moses gave to Joshua. One king dies, and another takes over, but God remains the same.
Changes in life are always hard–our parents die, we take a new job with new responsibilities, we retire, children are born and leave home, or we move to a new place. Change is inevitable–even necessary. Even so, God goes with us. He is the one constant to us in all life’s changes.
As I mentioned before the writer of Hebrews changes only one word from the Old Testament quotes. He turns “Not” into “never.” “Never” is a broader word, meaning He doesn’t leave, no matter what. The Old Testament uses the phrase in two moments of leadership transition. But in Hebrews, it refers to any transition anywhere. He will never leave us alone; In every transition in life, God will not forsake us.
On a prayer retreat, I was introduced to praying the labyrinth. The leaders spread a giant mat on the floor with a maze drawn on it. The invited us to pray about something in our lives as we worked our way towards the center. After we arrived at the center, we prayed our way outward, giving praise to God with every step for answering out prayer.
I was extremely skeptical at first. What could I learn from praying while walking a crooked line? But I tried it anyway. As I prayed along the broken path, a great truth dawned upon me. God seldom answers our prayers in straight lines. Instead, our growth in Him usually comes on a broken and winding road. Since we do not know anything about that path except what we can see immediately in front of us, it can be frustrating and scary. Just when we think we have a clear, unbroken path, God gives us a sudden turn. The reason for this is to remind us that we are helpless before Him. God doesn’t give us a road map to life but offers Himself as a guide. Intimacy with God, not knowledge of the road, is how we come closer to Him. If we understood all the twists and turns of life, we would not need that intimacy. But as it is, No matter what changes come our way, God never leaves our side.
Perpetua and Felicitas
In the second and third centuries of the Christian faith, it was illegal to be a Christian. In some times and places in the Roman Empire that law was ignored or not enforced. But in others, becoming a Christian was punishable by death.
In approximately 203 A.D. there was a wealthy young woman from Carthage North Africa, named Perpetua, who had become a Christian. This was a time when persecution was heavy upon the church, and being a Christians were being put to death.
Perpetua was only 22, a new mother, and a new believer. She was a catechumen, someone who was studying to be baptized, but not yet a full member. She had become a believer along with her household servant Felicitas, who was also pregnant. There were also other serveants and family members who were also accused of being Christians.
Excaping persecution was easy for anyone who wanted to. All she had to do was offer a sacrifice to the Roman emperor as if he were a god, and she could go free. But she refured to do this.
Her father pled with her to lie and say she was not a Christian for the sake of her yound baby. but she refused. She asked him
Do you see that vase over there?
“Could you call it anything but a vase?”
“Then neither can I be called anything but a Christian.”
She, Flicitas and the others were hauled before the judge Hilarious. He also pled with her and Felicitacs to renounce Christ for the sake of their children They refuesed.
Perpetua and the others were led in chains into the areana in Carthage, to be executed befor eth bloodthirsty crowd in celebration of the Emperor’s birthday. Before they went, Perpetual and Feliciats led the prisoners in prayers of rejoicing and thanksgiving, that they were to see Jesus.
The Romans releasded wild animalt on them,. they tore thei flesh but did not keill them finally, they were all lined up and were killed by the swored. When the executioner came to him, he was nerfvoue. It was his first execution. Perpetual praiyed for him, and steadied his hand. She and the others died in this world, but are stillcelebrated because of their corusee and faith. they never lost sight of the reality that God wa with them.
This includes some daily exercise or explanation of a spiritual discipline
Closing Worship Songs
Loving Lord, you made me capable of coping with the stresses of the day when I rest in Your divine love and protection. Help me realize the potential that exists in me when I am grounded in You.
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.