I Will Never Leave You (The Presence of God in the Dark Times)

Photo by: Karla Da Silva (By Permission)

Nineteen years ago, I said goodbye to my father.  He had  suffered a stroke and I returned to the States to see him one last time.  He probably recognized me, but he couldn’t communicate with me.  My heart was heavy as I returned to Portugal. I would never  see me father again.  My father didn’t leave me by choice, but he was gone.  I miss my father greatly.

In life, we all face separation from one that has loved us.  This separation is painful; however, there is One who will never leave us.  Our Heavenly Father is always with us.  Hebrews 13:5 says: ” 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.”  God is with us in the good times and He is with us in dark times.  How does His presence affect our lives?

God’s presence gives us a contented heart in dark times. The tendency in life is to complain about everything.  We want more.  We want it faster.  We want it our way.  When things don’t happen the way we desire, we become bitter and complain.  Our lack of contentment is saying that God is doing a poor job of taking care of us.

Contentment means that we find our joy and happiness in a right relationship with our Living Lord.  In spite of the tough times, we know that He is right there with us.  He will not leave us.  He will walk with us through any valley.  As the Psalmist says: “I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”

God’s presence gives us strength in the dark times. The Word of God informs us that Our Heavenly Father will never leave us. “So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper. ” (Hebrews 13:6) The dark times in this life weaken us spiritually, emotionally and even physically.  We may feel like quitting.   God’s presence gives us strength to carry on.  God told Paul: “For my strength is made perfect in weakness.”  (Hebrews 13:6) Our weakness says to God:  “I need your strength.”  God will respond.

God’s presence gives us courage in the dark times. Dark times can bring out the coward in us.  We become fearful of people. We become fearful of the future.  We become fearful of failure.  Where do we find the courage to move forward.  “I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”  (Hebrews 13:6) God’s presence and love will cast out the fear that so easily torments us.

As a child,  I developed a fear of crossing the street.  The one street that brought out the most fear was Woodward Ave. This street had three lanes of traffic each way.  However, when my Dad had my hand the fear dissipated.  Likewise,  no matter how difficult a road we travel, Our heavenly Father has us by the hand.

My Dad has left, but my Heavenly Father will never leave me.  He is with me in the good times and the dark times.  Yes, the clouds of darkness may dim my view of God, but He is still with me.  May I lean upon Him in the darkest night so that I may see his presence in midst of the darkness.

-Mark J. Booth-

Ruth Kuck-A Woman who Loved God

“Mark, I have a place for you to stay this summer.”  Pastor Doyle McDaniel said these words with great pleasure.  I was anticipating spending the summer in Charlotte to fulfill my final requirement to graduate from Olivet College. This last requirement would an internship at Calvary Baptist Church.

Pastor McDaniel had convinced  Ruth Kuck, a widow in the church,  that I needed a place to stay. Because of her kind heart, she accepted me in her home for the summer  I didn’t know Ruth well, but that would soon change.  It would be the beginning of a thirty-five year relationship.

Ruth had been a long-time member of the church.  she was faithful to attend all the church services, and she loved to sing in the choir.  The characteristic that stood out in Ruth’s life was her prayer life.  She was a “Prayer Warrior”.  She also loved to read her Bible.  While staying with Ruth, she introduced me to the idea of reading the Bible and praying together.  This was new to me because I had only become a Christian the year before.  She taught me through  her life and her love for the Lord and others.

Ruth also had a keen sense of hospitality.  She always invited people over for a small meal or ice cream after church.  She enjoyed having people in her home with conversation that centered around the Lord Jesus Christ.

One Sunday afternoon, I had decided that I would go out and mow the grass.  Ruth did not approve.  She told me that we don’t do such things on the Lord’s Day.  The point she made to me was that the Lord’s Day was special.  It was a lesson I never forgot.

My summer was soon over.  I was grateful for all that Ruth did for me that summer.  She continued to keep up with my life.  She attended my ordination service.  When Sharon and I served overseas she faithfully prayed for us and our ministry.  She would even ask about specific people in our ministry.  Every birthday she would send our children a card and $7.00. She always signed the card “Love, Grandma Kuck”. She never missed a birthday, whether we were in South Africa or Portugal.

In 1996, we returned to the States and I became the pastor of the same church where I met Ruth.  Ruth was  now in her eighties, but she was still very involved in the church.  Her prayer life was still as vibrant as ever.  Her love for the Lord also increased as she moved into her nineties.

Ruth eventually could no longer take care of herself.  She went to live in an assisted living home.  Even in her last days, she would still love to talk about her Lord to the residents and anybody who would visit her.

Ruth entered into the presence of her Lord in 2009 at the age of ninety-five.  Ruth is greatly missed, not only by me, but by the many people for whom she prayed.

At Ruth’s funeral, I placed a pair of her shoes on pulpit.  I asked who would fill her shoes, especially in the area of prayer.  She certainly had very big shoes.   Unfortunately, many of us are too busy to stop and take time to be a prayer warrior like Ruth.

Ruth taught me much by her example, including the importance of prayer and a love for the Word of God.  She also taught me that in spite of the trials of life, I can always keep my eyes on the Lord.  Truly, Ruth lived up to her namesake in the Bible.  Ruth reminds  of  a verse in Proverbs that says:  “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.” (Proverbs 31:10)

I thank the Lord for bringing Ruth Kuck into my life!  I have a richer life as a result of Ruth’s example, her prayers, and her words.   Her life made me realize that I also can have an impact upon the lives of others.

A Weary Soul in a Busy Life

Do you ever find a time in your life when you feel like saying: “I need to wait for my soul to catch up with my body.”  Our life is full of activity, and yet there is an emptiness and a great weariness of soul.  God seems to be quite distant.  We have lost the joy that we once had in Jesus Christ.  What does the Word of God say?   “For consider Him (Jesus) that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” (Hebrews 12:3)

The great remedy of weariness of soul comes when we consider Jesus and keep our focus upon Him.  There are many occasions in life when we need to “Consider Jesus.”  As we “consider Him” we will find the strength of soul to carry on with our life.

1. Consider Jesus in times of temptation.  Jesus understands our temptations.  ” For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18)  Jesus was tempted, and yet He stayed faithful to His Father.  As we “consider Jesus” we will find His grace and strength to help us overcome the temptation.
2. Consider Jesus in times of failure.  Jesus never failed, and His compassion never fails.  He restored Peter after His failure. (John 21:15-17).  He will restore us if we come to Him in repentance and confession of our sin.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
3. Consider Jesus in times of fatigue. Jesus understands our fatigue because He experienced fatigue and hunger as He walked the earth.  He gives His strength to our weary souls and bodies.  “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
(Isaiah 40:31)
4. Consider Jesus in times of spiritual dryness.  Jesus alone can quench the dryness in our soul.  “Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” (John 7:37)
5. Consider Jesus in times of loneliness.  Jesus understands loneliness.  He spent much time alone in His life.  Also, as He was tried, convicted, beaten and placed on the cross, He experienced loneliness.  “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:20)
6. Consider Jesus in times of indecision.  Jesus knows that there are many voices crying out to us; however, are we listening for his distinct, wise, and loving voice?  To him (Jesus, the Good Shepherd) the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. (John 10:3)

As we walk this life, may our hearts and eyes always “consider Jesus” in every path we take.  He is there to bring rest, comfort and direction to our weary soul.

The Truth Shall Make You Free

July Fourth is a time of thanksgiving for our freedom.  Our freedom has been bought with the blood of many a person who died on battlefields around the world.

Two thousand years ago, there was One who came to earth for the purpose of sacrificing His life; so that we can enjoy the freedom from sin and death.  “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

What does it mean to have spiritual freedom?
 1. Spiritual freedom means a life controlled by truth and motivated by love
2. Spiritual freedom means are able to use our lives for the glory of God.
3. Spiritual freedom means the privilege of being able to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives.

Why do we need spiritual freedom?
Our need for spiritual freedom is caused by our bondage to sin. “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” (John 8:33)  Sin keeps us from entering into the presence of God.  Sin brings eternal death.

How do we receive spiritual freedom in Christ?
1. We must see our need for Jesus Christ, because we are all sinners before God. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Our sin places us under the wrath of God. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (Jon 3:36)
2.  We must understand that Christ’s  death provided the payment for our sin.  “But God commendeth His love toward in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. ” (Romans 5:8)
3. We must turn from our sin and  receive Jesus Christ as our Savior by faith that His sacrificial death  alone can pay for our sin and bring spiritual freedom. “For by grace our ye saved through faith and that not ourselves, but it the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9)

What are the results of our spiritual freedom in Christ?
1. We receive freedom from the penalty of our sin. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
2. We receive freedom from Satan’s power. “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:” (Colossians 1:13)
3. We receive freedom from the fear of death. “And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:15) See also
1 Corinthians 15:51-58
4.  We receive freedom from the curse of the law. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13)

The doorway to spiritual freedom is wide open.  As Jesus said: ” I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9) Let us accept and enjoy the freedom that Christ bought for us with His blood

The Goodness of the Lord in Troubled Times

Trouble, trials, and tragedy strike every person who has ever walked upon the earth.  When trouble comes, do we blame God? Do we ignore God; or do we trust Him?

King David had his share of problems, but he never forgot the Goodness of the  Lord.  He writes: “O taste and see that the LORD IS GOOD: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” (Psalm 34:8)  How does God show His goodness in the troubles, trial, and tragedies of life?

1) God shows His goodness in His attributes. “The Lord is Good”  Every attribute reflects His Goodness (How well do I know Him?)
2) God shows His goodness in His promises.  “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: ” (2 Peter 1:4) (Do I know and believe His promises?)
3) God shows His goodness in His Actions. “Thou art good, and doest good” All that God does is Good. (Psalm 119:68) (Do I believe that “All things work together for good to those that love God.” (Romans 8:28)
4) God shows His goodness in His Love.  “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3) God’s love is His motive for what He is doing in our lives  (Do I believe that God loves me with an unconditional and unending love?
5) God shows His goodness in His Wisdom. ” In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3 ) God’s  thoughts are way beyond our comprehension.   (Do I trust in God’s wisdom or mine own wisdom?)

In the midst of trouble, trials and tragedy, remember the Goodness of God.  God’s plan for our lives  is the result of His goodness, even when there is pain in the process.  Will we trust in His Goodness today?