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By Rev Charles Seet

Preached at / Published Life BPC Watchnight service, 2003-12-31

Text: Hebrews 13:5,6

As we look forward to the year that will begin in an hour's time, many of us may perhaps be wondering what kind of year 2004 will be. We wish one another a blessed New Year and hope that it will be a better year than the present one. But at the same time we wonder if it will be filled with more blessings for us or more trials for us. In a congregation as big as ours it is impossible for the year ahead to be without any trials at all for anyone. Just as in all the past years of our church, there are bound to be some of us who will experience trials, sickness and suffering. Others will be faced with personal problems, whether in the form of failure, loss or bereavement. There is no one who can assure you that the coming year will have none of these things. 

I. His Promise to Abide with You

But there is one wonderful assurance that you can have right now: And that is the assurance that comes from the Lord Jesus Christ in Hebrews 13:5 - 'I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.' Dearly beloved, it makes a great difference to know who is with you as you enter into a year of uncertainty. In April this year my son had to see a dentist because of a tooth problem. As it was his very first time, he was quite fearful and apprehensive about it. But when I assured him that I will be there with him, he was willing to go to the dental clinic. And when I stood in the clinic where he was able to see me while his tooth was being removed, he went through it quite well. 

The same thing applies to you. Whenever you feel apprehensive about facing any an uncertain future that is looming ahead, ask yourself: Who is with me? If you have accepted Christ as your Saviour, the One who is with you is not just any earthly companion such as a close friend, a guide or mentor. The One who is with you is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who has promised never to leave you nor forsake you. Besides that, Christ also promised in Matthew 28:20 - 'lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.' He is the One who abides with us forever!

II. His Power and Love for You

Perhaps you may want to know more precisely why the presence of Christ with you should bring any comfort to your soul. It is because He is none other than the almighty God Himself, who has full authority in heaven and in earth. When He lived on earth, Christ revealed His supreme authority over the winds and waves, over every kind of sickness that was brought to Him, and even over all the demons and spirits that trouble mankind. He who abides with you is the One who rules over all things, and who ordains all things to happen according to His sovereign will! No one can ever oppose Him or stop Him from doing whatever He wants to do for you. And nothing can ever happen to you without His permission. Even Satan cannot tempt you or test you unless Christ first allows him to do so.

And He who abides with you is the One who loves you very dearly. In fact, He loves you more than anyone else has ever loved you. He loved you with an everlasting love long before you even knew Him. He loved you even to the extent to sacrificing His life for you on the cross of Calvary, and shedding His precious blood to atone for all your sins. With such infinite love as well as infinite power found only in Him, there can be no one else better to abide with you, than the Lord Jesus Christ! 

III. His Sufficiency for All Your Needs

And so as you begin your journey now through the New Year, you must ensure that you go through it only with Christ by your side. You can go through the New Year without many things - even without very much wealth or health. But please make it a settled fact in your minds that you cannot go through this New Year at all without Christ. If He is with you, you really do not need anything else in this world. 

This truth provides the background for the promise given by Christ in Hebrews 13:5. Listen to the whole verse: 'Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.' To covet is to seek for something that is not in the will of God for you. Many people today covet much material wealth. They strive very hard to gain it. They work non-stop, day and night and take several jobs, just to build up their treasures on earth. And in the process of doing this, they neglect their relationship with God and with their family. Some even resort to using unjust means to get gain, like cheating, lying, and taking advantage of others. 

But after they have finally obtained all that they want for themselves, what do they really gain? They only find that their souls are still empty and dissatisfied. And when they die, they have to leave everything they have behind. All the things they coveted so greatly cannot be taken with them from this world. They are lost forever. What a great disappointment awaits those who are coveteous!

As Christians, we should not be coveteous. Our lifestyle should not reflect a love for money, or for worldly gain. God's Word teaches us to see the true value of all material wealth. Even if you were to gain all the material wealth in this world as your possession, they can only be yours for a while. They cannot satisfy you, nor can they abide with you forever. But if you are a Christian, you have the Lord Jesus Christ with you. And this is one possession you have that will never ever disappoint you. Unlike all the things of this world, Christ can satisfy you deep within your soul. And unlike all the things of this world, Christ can abide with you forever!

If Christ is yours forever, you have everything that you need for this present life and beyond it. It does not matter any more whether you are materially rich or poor in this world, because Christ Himself will enable you to be content with little or with much. Listen to what Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11,12 - 'Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.'

Dearly beloved, are you experiencing the wonderful contentment that Paul mentioned here? Only those of us who have Christ with us are able to experience it, because Christ is sufficient for all our needs. As we trust in Him, He will take good care of us and provide sufficiently for all our needs. This does not necessarily mean that He will provide all that we want. It only means that He will provide whatever we need. Someone has put it this way - 'He provides for all our needs, not for all our greeds.' And even when we find ourselves deprived of physical comfort, or of the things we need, Christ promises that His grace will be sufficient for us to bear such deprivation (2 Corinthians 12:9). This means that He will give us the strength and ability to bear the pain or loss, so that God's purpose in our lives may be accomplished. 

This is why I mentioned a while ago that as you begin your journey now through the New Year, you must ensure that you go through it only if Christ will go with you. I personally would not dare to step into the New Year unaccompanied by the Lord Jesus Christ. For I know that there will be many difficulties ahead of me and I will need His help constantly. How comforting it is then to hear the Lord Jesus Himself speaking to me through His Word, 'I will never leave Thee nor forsake Thee.' 

Dearly beloved, is Jesus speaking these words personally to you tonight? Do you believe in this wonderful promise from Him? If you do, you should be bold enough to respond to His promise by saying with conviction, 'The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.' This is what v.6 teaches - it tells us that we can say these words boldly. Can you say this now boldly and with full conviction? Let us all say it together now from our hearts: 'The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.' 

The challenge is to have the very same boldness to say this, not now but at times when you face the most difficult trials and tribulation. When you are beset with problems and discouragements, that will be the time when you really need the conviction in your heart that Christ is with you and that He will help you. 

IV. His Help to Face All Your Fears

There is a wonderful illustration of this in the life of the apostle Paul. When he was in the city of Corinth during his second missionary journey, the Lord spoke to him in a vision, saying 'Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.' (Acts 18:9,10) This assurance gave Paul all the boldness that he needed to stay on at Corinth for a year and six months (Acts 18:11), despite all the troubles he had to face from the unbelieving Jews there.

Many years later, when Paul was on trial in Rome toward the end of his life, and all his friends had deserted him, he testified that it was the Lord who stood with him and strengthened him (2 Timothy 4:16,17). This gave Paul all the boldness that he needed to preach the Word of God to all that were present at his trial. 

Dearly beloved, the most important truth you must learn from the Word of God tonight is this: That like the apostle Paul, you too can and should be experiencing the presence of Christ with you, and receiving His help to face all your fears.

In whatever circumstance or situation in life you are, you can find tremendous strength and comfort in knowing that you are never alone. Since Christ has promised never to leave you nor forsake you He will be with you wherever you go. This precious thought can also sustain you and keep you going in whatever new or unfamiliar situation you find yourself in. For example, you may have just started working in a new job environment but you are feeling rather unsure about it, because there are some unfamiliar tasks ahead for you. Or perhaps you have just been transferred over to a new department in your place of work, but there are great expectations for you to perform well, expectations you are not very confident you can handle.

Perhaps you have just successfully applied for a place of study in a local or overseas university but you are wondering if you will be able to cope with the heavy workload of lectures, tutorials and assignments when classes begin. Some of you may soon be going into national service and you are worried if you can take the strenuous physical training. Some of you may be moving to a new house or flat, or even to a new country for an overseas posting. Others may be getting married soon or have just got married, and yet others may be having their very first child, or having their child start attending a new school for the first time this Friday (the first day of school), and you expect a lot of first day blues to cope with. And there may also be some here who are now facing the real prospect of retrenchment, retirement, failing health and even death.

As this New Year brings you to new unfamiliar places, and through unchartered waters, feelings of fear are bound to arise. This is the kind of fear that is mentioned in v.6, the fear of what 'man shall do unto me.' This type of fear has some common features with the attitude of covetousness that we considered a while ago when we looked at v.5. Both of these attitudes are powerful driving forces in the lives of unsaved men: People who are motivated by covetousness will often resort to sinful means to get what they want. In the same way, people who are motivated by fear will often resort to sinful means to escape from what they do not want. 

But both of these attitudes are not the right response for us to give towards the things of this life. We should not covet the things of this world because they are not God's will for us. And we should also not fear what man shall do unto us, since they cannot harm us at all unless God wills it to happen.

The way to deal with this fear is therefore the same way to deal with covetousness - by trusting in the promise tha Christ gave in v.5 - 'I will never leave thee nor forsake Thee.' Because of this promise that Christ will abide with us forever, we should not be covet much material wealth, nor should we fear what man shall do unto us. Let us therefore be fully assured that our Lord Jesus Christ will provide for us and keep us in the New Year as we trust in Him.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

December 3 & 10 - Holy Living

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 2 Peter 3:11