Father Zifac: “I am with you always.”
Cross-posted from Benedict XVI Institute for Africa
We are gathered here in prayer, with St. Joseph and with Our Lady. They are here with the legion of angels and saints in heaven and so no one of us here is wasting his time even if you came here because somebody forced you or bribed you to come or even if you came to show how prayerful or prayer less you are. You are in the right place, so be at ease and let God show you his power Amen.
Beloved in the Lord, one person is against our gathering here today and he brings one thing in many forms: it is Satan and tempts us to sin, and sin takes many forms. He has four main strategies which he uses to take us away from God: he has a target, a weapon and a purpose and this is his strategy.
- Satan targets your mind; so his weapon is lies and his purpose is to make you ignorant of God’s will. With this he makes you doubt God, his word and promises. This is why we call Satan the Deceiver (see in Genesis 3 how he deceives Eve)
- Satan targets your body; so his weapon is suffering and the pressure of emotions and taste and his purpose is to make you impatient with God’s will. With this you make yourself an idol, grow in pride and distrust God. That is why we call Satan the destroyer (the one who comes to kill, steal and destroy of John 10.)
- Satan targets your will; so his weapon is pride and his purpose is to make you independent of God’s will. That is why we call him the Ruler of this world. There are people who in this world while we say “ I believe in God almighty” they say, “I believe in the devil almighty” Hmmmmm Terrible. God forbid anyone of us here.
- His last target is your heart and your conscience and his weapon is accusation. Here, his purpose to bring God’s condemnation on you. That is why we call him the Accuser of Revelations 12:10.
Are you afraid? May be you should be because from all fronts the devil has a careful scheme and plan to waste your life in hell than let you enjoy God’s glory.
BUT THERE IS GOOD NEWS: IN ALL THE STRATEGIES OF THE DEVIL, WE HAVE A STRONG AND MORE POWERFUL DEFENCE. THAT IS WHY EVEN IF DEVIL IS STRONGER THAN US, OUR GOD IS STRONGER THAN THE DEVIL. AND SO WE DECIDE TO STRONG IN THE LORD AND IN THE POWER OF HIS MIGHT. IN THIS WAY, WE HAVE A DEFENCE AGAINST THE DEVIL.
WHAT IS OUR DEFENCE? When the devil wants to deceive us, our defense is the Inspired Word of God that comes to us through the power of the Holy Spirit; when the devil comes to us as a destroyer, our defense is the imparted grace of God which we receive by the action of the Holy Spirit, and when the devil wants to be the ruler of our lives, we block him and our defense is the indwelling of the Spirit of God; and even if he tries to accuse us before our God we tell him that our defense is the intercession of the Son of God, the lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and glory in heaven and on earth.
So do not be afraid again dear friends for as in Romans 8:1ff. “There is no condemnation for those who are Christ Jesus, for the law of the Holy Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set them and has set you too, believe it, he has set you free from the law of sin, whatever the sin, and from death, whatever death. PRAISE BE TO THE HOLY SPIRIT. Amen.
So Jesus makes it clear to all of us here today: I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, EVEN TO THE END OF TIME.
God did not create us to function well apart from other people. And he did not create us to function well without him. We need God. We need to know that he is with us and will help us no matter what life on this earth might throw at us.
After Jesus was raised from the dead, he gathered his followers together for his final words before he would leave planet Earth and ascend to his Father in heaven.
Mathew 28:17-20 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Jesus promised his people then and us today that he would always be with them. And this evening, I would like to give you three reasons why we need this promise, why we need to know that Jesus will be always be with us:
1. Because it is easy for us to have doubts and fears like Moses in the burning bush,
2. Because he has given us a mission to fulfill like Jeremiah and the twelve apostles
3. Because it will keep us going when we feel like quitting. In the OT, the nation of Israel refused to be a light to the nations, and God judged them and made them live 500 miles away in Babylon for 70 years. But when God allowed them to return to Israel, they came back to a city and temple that was destroyed. They rebuilt their homes, but not God’s home. And God said to them in ….4 But now the Lord says: Be strong, Zerubbabel. Be strong, Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people still left in the land. And now get to work, for I am with you, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. In the same way that God wanted his OT saints to build for him, he wants us, his NT saints, to build for him.
Fear is one of Satan’s most popular weapons that he uses against us. The most common lie that Satan uses to instill fear into us is that God is far away or absent from our presence, or that he does not hear us or is not concerned about wellbeing.
Have you ever felt that way before? If you have, welcome to the club. We’ve all felt at some point that God is distant or even ignorant. But this is far from the truth. It is a lie. It is fake news. It is wrong idea and wrong thinking. God promises in His Word over and over again that He is always with us. Not only that, He has proven time and time both in the Bible and even in our lives today that He is there.
The presence of bad times is usually the greatest persuasion of God’s absence, but remember that various times in Bible times, God was there even in the midst of war, famine, flood, and even storms. God is with us always and promises to never leave us nor forsake us.
The best way to always remind ourselves of this is to remind ourselves of what God’s Word promises us when it comes to Him always being present in our lives. Here are seven scriptures that assure us that God is with us always.
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
Matthew 28:20 “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Hebrews 13:5 “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”
Romans 8:38-39 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Therefore dear friends, let me end with these words of encouragement and prayer inspired from Romans 8:10-11 that “though your body be dead because of sin let Christ be in you so that you may be alive in the spirit. For if the spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then he who raised Jesus from the dead, will give your abundant life through the Holy Spirit that lives in you. May the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus Christ come and live in you and give you life in abundance.
Know something: when God has selected you, it doesn’t matter who else has rejected or neglected you. God’s favour outweighs all opposition. You are a winner because Jesus is with you always to the end of time.
Your Jesus is greater than your problems. Amen and Amen.
May the name of the Lord be blessed now and forever. Amen.
Father Zifac is a priest from Kumbo, Cameroon and serves with the Benedict XVI Institute for Africa‘s Holy Mass Association.