God is Faithful and I am not Alone

Sermon for Sunday, February 12, 2017

By Jim Kane

Focus Texts: 1 Corinthians 1:9 and Isaiah 41:10

Alone.

It is a word which scares some people. It sends shivers down their spine and fear into their souls. They cannot stand to be alone. Someone has to be present with them.

For others, the word alone conjures up peace and tranquility because there is no one around to disturb them and they can enjoy time alone.

One of the most humorous movies made about the issue of being alone is the classic Home Alone which came out in 1990.

The story line for this movie centers around the McCallister family and their 8-year-old son Kevin who is accidentally left behind by the rest of the family who is rushing around trying to get ready for their Christmas vacation trip to France.

Kevin, who eventually realizes he is alone at home, must fend for himself and then do battle with two bumbling burglars named Harry and Marv.

On the plane mom realizes Kevin is left at home! She is frantic and embarks on a journey of her own to get back to Chicago.

We live in a time and culture when being left alone is something that is not often done. And when parents are discovered to have left minors at home for significant periods of time, it sometimes results in legal action being taken.

But there is an aloneness that we fear which fills people with dread. And sometimes this aloneness comes while being in the midst of a group of people.

But is being lonely and being alone the same thing?  Some would argue that yes, it is the same thing. Others no.

In article on the website Storypick that appeared in December 2015, Shirya Joshi listed 11 differences between being alone and being lonely

 

Loneliness is the isolation that comes with an expectation unmet, a feeling unreturned. Being alone is finding a sense of freedom in this isolation.

Loneliness is crying without being seen./Being alone is being so consumed with oneself that you smile or laugh for no reason.

Loneliness is the sense of emotional abandon/Being alone is physical and mental freedom.

Loneliness makes you want to find distractions to free yourself from it./ Being alone allows you to follow your heart.

Loneliness stems from blaming oneself./ Being alone comes from loving oneself.

Loneliness is the feeling of being disconnected./ Being alone is connecting with oneself.

 

Loneliness is the riot in your brain that nobody can hear./ Being alone is the quiet everyone can feel.

Loneliness is depending on someone else for happiness./ Being alone is finding your own happiness.

 

Loneliness is longing for something that doesn’t exist./ Being alone is enjoying everything that exists in solitude.

 

Loneliness is rooted in fear./ Being alone is rooted in peace.

Loneliness is being restless all the time./ Being alone is being content with yourself.

Is she right?

In another article on the website Medical daily that was published in July 2015, Lizette Borreli wrote

While solitude can stimulate creativity and even improve our attention span, it can also have deadly consequences. A 2013 study published in the journal Psychological Science found social isolation increased people’s likelihood of death by 26 percent, even when people didn’t consider themselves lonely. Social isolation and living alone were found to be even more devastating to a person’s health than feeling lonely.

So is there a difference between being lonely and being alone? Is it two sides of the same coin?

As I wrote those words on Wednesday this past week, I was reminded of two verses of scripture – Psalm 68:6, “God sets the lonely in families,” and Genesis 2:18 “The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Because the loneliness people feel these days is significant and this includes the anxiety and anger that goes with this issue, it is something that must be faced.

How are we to face our loneliness and being alone as people of faith?

In continuing our sermon series for the month, God is…I am we focus this morning on God is Faithful and I am not Alone with the base texts for this morning being 1 Corinthians 1:9 and Isaiah 41:10. This series I remind us again this morning is using some of the themes and texts from this card that those who attended our International Youth Convention last summer is San Antonio received.

Last week the theme was God is Just and I Am God’s Own and next Sunday, Pastor R____will be speaking on the theme God is Love and I am Loved which will be a wonderful wrap-up to Valentine’s week.

This morning, as you can tell, I have been focusing on the second half of our theme – I am not alone.

Our text is Isaiah 41:10

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Chapter 41 begins with a command from God

“Be silent before me, you islands!
Let the nations renew their strength!
Let them come forward and speak;
let us meet together at the place of judgment.

And Isaiah goes on to say,

“Who has stirred up one from the east,
calling him in righteousness to his service?
He hands nations over to him
and subdues kings before him.
He turns them to dust with his sword,
to windblown chaff with his bow.
 He pursues them and moves on unscathed,
by a path his feet have not traveled before.

This “one from the east,” per several sources, is a person of power in the future that Isaiah has revealed to him by the Lord – Cyrus the second who is King of Persia who one and fifty years later would come on the scene and end the 70-year exile and allow the Jews in Babylonia to return.

So, a change is coming which have a direct impact on the Israelites who would eventually find themselves in exile. But, Isaiah then speaks words of comfort:

“But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
you descendants of Abraham my friend,

… do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

This man, this king from the east is coming and he is going to have his way. But the Lord is behind it all!

Isaiah 41:4

Who has done this and carried it through,
calling forth the generations from the beginning?
I, the Lord—with the first of them
and with the last—I am he.”

God will not forget His people. Read this passage with me using your own name

But you, fill in your name here, my servant

Fill in your name here, whom I have chosen

Do not fear, for I am with you

Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strength you and help you

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

We are not alone!

It seems that way at times, doesn’t it?

When fear and uncertainty rise up, when changes come and we are not sure how they are going to be resolved…

He is right there… in the middle of it all with a promise

for I am with you… I am your God.

We are not alone.

Why?

Because God is faithful

1 Corinthians 1:9

God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Paul is making a declarative statement. God is faithful. And he makes this statement ahead of some searing criticism in the next verse and following:

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.  My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.

And just prior to this verse Paul reminds the believers in the ancient city of Corinth

“…you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

God, our God, is a faithful God.

He is faithful even when we are not faithful…

In a book called Lamentations, a book written to people who were exiled to another nation because of their disobedience due to their sinfulness, we read these words (chapter 3):

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

What powerful words! What hopeful words! What honest words! The prophet Jeremiah is talking about himself and his people who are now taken away by force to another country, another culture, because they refused to repent of their sins and turn from their selfish ways. But yet, he says

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
There is a commonality to all the people to whom these words of scripture were originally written. They were all people who were flawed, broken, and sinful people.

Now I think many people, including some of us, don’t like to be labeled sinful. We prefer flawed, broken, even dysfunctional but not sinful.

But we are…

And yet, yet God is saying to us just as He said to them,

do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah’s words are to a nation that is splintered because of their refusal to do what was right and the idolatry in their own hearts that caused them to worship their own god and not the one true God and eventually they would be conquered and exiled to another nation.

Jeremiah’s words were to that same nation that is now exiled because God, while still loving them, had to do something about their continued disobedience and their hard-heartedness.

Paul’s words were to a group of people who believe in Jesus and confessed and repented of their sins but were still flawed people dealing with sinful habits and attitudes that required some tough love from Paul.

But in every one of these situations, there was a common theme – the faithfulness of God

Isaiah says I am with you; I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. That’s faithfulness.

Jeremiah says great is your faithfulness.

Paul says God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

So what does this mean for us this week?

God can never be un-faithful, it He could, he wouldn’t be God. The problem in scripture is not the unfaithfulness of God it is the unfaithfulness of us.

Our unfaithfulness does not stop God from being faithful to us. His faithfulness is rooted in who He is but also because of His purpose – our salvation – God remains faithful.

So in those moments when our faithfulness is tested and even tempted, we need to remember that we are NOT alone in those moments, and we are not alone even we fail, when we sin, God is waiting nearby to take us back. Just as the Prodigal’s father was ready to take his son back.

What unfaithfulness do you need to confess to the Lord this morning? For what are you struggling with? What habit, what hang up, what hurt are you having trouble letting go of and which is causing you to isolate yourself and turn your back on God?

Bring that to the Lord this morning. Let Him and His faithfulness help you overcome whatever it is that you need to overcome.

God IS faithful to us and for us and we are NOT alone.

Thanks be to God…

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

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