I Am With You Always

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Good morning. My name is Lincoln Husby. I am from the state of Michigan. And despite what Nathaniel thinks, there is more to Michigan than the state of Detroit, and like every true Michigander, they will take out their hand and tell you where you are, where they’re from. And I’m from Grand Rapids, and I love it there and I love it here. I love being in Utah. I love being able to look out and see the mountains and be able to experience that. And I am very excited to share what God’s been placing on my heart this week. Also, I am the youth director here, so I hang out with your kids. It’s a lot of fun. We had a Park Day this week and we had a bunch of fun playing Mario Kart Balloon Battle and all sorts of things. It was a good time. But before we go in, I would just go into the text and go into what we’re studying today. I would just like to pray once more. Dear Heavenly Father, thank you so much for this day. Thank you that we can be here and learn from you. Thank you so much for placing this on my heart. And I pray that you would be moving through me and through the people here, that they would learn more about you and that they would come to know that you are always with them, even in the most dire of circumstances when we are at the end of our selves.

Amen. Question Who here by Raise of hands has ever seen a movie based around submarines? None of you. Oh, we got. We got a couple. Yeah, well, maybe this illustration won’t work as well as I thought it would. Well, anyways, in every submarine movie that I’ve ever seen, it’s kind of a common cliche that happens whether you 571 Hunt for Red October, etcetera. There is a moment in the movie when either the engines die or because the enemy is hunting the sub, they start wandering and sinking to this depth called crush depth, this collapse depth where the submarine is at a point where it can’t go any deeper, because if it does, it will implode. And while this scene comes, as it always does in a submarine movie, the tension is thick, the music stops and everyone is completely silent in the submarine and you start seeing the beads of sweat dripping down the the crew’s face and you start hearing the creaks of water trying to find their way into the submarine. And that submarine is under an immense weight, immense pressure. And at at some point, that submarine will no longer be able to handle the weight of the water on the outside, and it will be crushed and all those inside will be drowned. And as the water, the creeks of water become more frequent, as the sweat starts coming down more and more, you start thinking that this is it for them.

There’s no way that they are escaping this alive. Question, Who here has ever felt like that submarine? Who here has ever found themselves under immense pressure, so much pressure that they thought they were going to collapse, that they were going to be crushed. Today we are going to be in the second missionary journey of Paul, and I believe he is at this exact moment, this crush depth moment of where he finds himself under immense pressure, terrified and physically and emotionally shattered. So if you want to flip your Bibles open to Acts Chapter 18. Five through six. We find this in Paul goes to the city of Corinth and he’s preaching in the synagogue because that’s that’s what he does. He’s Jewish. So he goes to the synagogue and he explains using the Jewish scriptures of who Jesus is, that he’s Messiah, that the Messiah had to come, die and rise again. And Acts 18, 5 to 6 says. But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, Your blood be on your own heads. I am clean. From now on, I will go to the Gentiles. Now this. Surprises me. And. Sorry. Just making sure that I’m at the right spot. Now, this surprises me. This these verses surprise me.

This isn’t what I think Paul is going to do. You know, he shakes off his clothes, the dust, because he’s like, I don’t even want to be be having the same dirt on my clothes as you. I don’t want to be breathing the same air as you blaspheme, my Lord and savior. And I’ve done all that I can for you. I am leaving and I’m going to the Gentiles. And Paul is at this breaking point, not because of just what happened in Corinth, and it’s not because he’s thin skinned. It’s what happened before Corinth. It’s what happened, too, with the circumstance circumstances that led up to this moment. Paul said, set out on his second missionary journey to visit and strengthen the churches that he founded with Barnabas on his first missionary journey. And even before they set out. Paul and Barnabas disagree so, so strongly that they don’t even go with each other because they can’t come to agreement on whether or not taking John Mark with them. And because of that, Paul leaves with Silas and goes up to Asia Minor, which is modern day Turkey, where most of the churches, all of the churches that Paul founded on his first missionary journey were. And as he’s going through Asia minor, the Holy Spirit is keeping him from staying at these churches that he started. The Holy Spirit’s keeping him from encouraging and being with them. And the Holy Spirit leads them to the coast.

The Aegean Sea. And Paul has a dream. And he has a dream about a Macedonian man. And the Macedonian man says, Come to Macedonia. Help us. Come here. Help us. So, Paul, having this knowing the will of God sets out for Macedonia and they come to the first city of Philippi. Ready to help by sharing the good news of eternal salvation with the people of Philippi. Who are in desperate need. And guess what happens next? They all repent and believe in Jesus and. No, that doesn’t happen. What happens is that Paul gets stripped off all his clothes, publicly humiliated, and in front of the whole town of Philippi. He is beaten with rods over and over and over again. And after he’s beaten to a pulp, he’s thrown into prison. And the next day the people in Philippi, the the the the leader of leaders of Philippi tell him to leave and don’t come back. And so he goes to his next town called Thessalonica. And after being there, after being in the synagogue preaching and explaining why Jesus is the Christ. A mob starts forming and tries to find Paul. And they go to the house of which Paul is staying at and they don’t find him. But what they do find is the people who were being hospitable to Paul, who were putting him up in their houses and they find them and they beat them up and they scream and they yell at them.

And in the middle of the night, Paul has to sneak out of the city so that he is not beaten or killed by the people of Thessalonica. After that, he travels to Berea and unlike Philippine, Thessalonica starts things start hit, hitting the ground running. Things start going well. It says the people of Berea were noble. And instead of just dismissing what Paul had to say, they searched the scriptures and they found out what Paul was saying about Jesus was true, that he was the Messiah, that the Messiah had to come and rise again to die and rise again. And they start believing in him and they start they start spreading the gospel and all of a sudden things start going well. But then. The people of Thessalonica. Hear what’s happening in Berea. And the people in Thessalonica leave Thessalonica to go find Paul in Berea and kill him. And he has to leave Berea. So he leaves Berea and goes through Athens. And he in Athens, he goes to the the Areopagus and to the epicurean and stoic philosophers. And he explains to them who Jesus is, what the gospel is, that he died and rose again for our sins covering so that we could have reconciliation between God and man. And few people believe him. And most of them just say that this is these are strange gods that you bring before us. And then Paul travels south to Corinth, where we begin being rejected, resisted, and then blaspheming his Lord and savior.

Question How would you be feeling if you were Paul at this moment? Without knowing what was to come and having this track record, what would you be thinking would happen next? See, I don’t think his body has recovered from the beating that he received from Philippi. Paul is. Paul is old. And on top of that, he’s been traveling and working. And in all reality, he must be physically exhausted and emotionally drained. He has been thrown into prison. He has been beaten. He has been run out of several towns and he has yet to find rest. If I was Paul, I would be terrified that the exact same thing that happened in Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea would happen again in Corinth. And I would have to run for my life and go to some other town. And be rejected by them again. It’s not what happened in Corinth. It’s what happened before Corinth. It’s what happened in Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea. It’s not the weight of being rejected once. It’s the weight of being rejected and failing again and again and again. It’s the sum. It’s not exactly because you got fired from a job that you worked at for ten years. It’s because. You’ve you’re running out of severance and you think seriously about selling your house to keep your family afloat and the constant interviews and applications that don’t come back and nothing ever happens to them.

It’s not about losing a loved one to cancer, but it’s the amount of funerals for family and friends you’ve had to attend for the past three years. The inclination of our hearts is to question why. And if I was Paul, I would be thinking, for what purpose have you called me here? God. Nothing has gone the way it should have gone. Did you just bring me here to suffer? You kept me from going where I wanted and I willfully obeyed and came to Macedonia. Macedonia and have been faithful. Serving through trial and hardship, but nothing is working out. I am tired of running and being beaten and shamed. And the propensity for us to do is to say, Lord, if this is the will for your, this is the will for your life, for me, I don’t want it. Now, this moment when you’re at this crush depth, ready to collapse in on yourself. This might just might be the most important moment of your life. The events leading up to this crush depth. Have a significant impact on you, but the way you respond will have a significant impact on the way you live your life for the rest of it. Responding in bitterness to a hurtful situation. At age 30. Will determine who you are at age 40. And what you will become at age 50. In age 60. It’s these moments that will often define who we become.

A while ago, me and my friend Kyle, I went down to Saint George for a wedding, and on the day of the wedding, we didn’t really have anything do doing going on through the day. So we decided to go with Zion and to explore God’s creation and to just talk and have a good time together. And we have a very unique relationship with one another because we often don’t see or talk to one another because of distance. But for some reason, whenever we’re together, we have very open and meaningful conversation. And for that I really enjoy his friendship. And while hiking. While enjoying Zion, I asked him the question, If you were to nail narrow your values down to five. What would they be and why? Meaning what do you see as most important? What principles do you live your life by? And why did you. Why would you choose those principles? And he answered after some serious thought. And then he asked me the same question. And I answered after some thought. And what we ended up realizing afterwards is that every single value that we listed was because of something that left us crushed. Something that left us hurt or in pain or alone. And every single one of those things was something positive, whether it was faith, whether it was humility, whether it was perseverance, whether it was relationships. All those things came from a point of when we felt crushed. And it’s no different for Paul right now.

He is at that crush depth. He’s at that breaking point. And how he responds won’t just impact him, but it will impact millions of people. How he responds to this moment will determine who he is for the rest of his life, as well as the thousands of people he has and will minister to. And in verses nine and 11, we read these beautiful words that Jesus himself says to Paul in a vision right after this moment in Corinth. Once I get the clicker going there. Yes, there it is. All right. And Jesus comes to Paul in the night by a vision and says, Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking. Do not be silent, for I am with you and no man will attack you in order to harm you. For I have many people in this city. And he settled there a year and six months teaching the Word of God among them. Jesus meets Paul in his despair, in his pain and his hurt. Jesus is there. And he tells him to fear no longer be no longer paralyzed by fear. For. I have many people in this city, meaning Paul is the chosen instrument by God to share the gospel with this city so that many people could come to know who Christ is, to have a relationship with the living God. And Paul is God’s chosen instrument to do this in the city of Corinth.

And this is what God had called him to. And don’t glance over verse 11 when it says. And he settled there a year and six months teaching the Word of God among them. Because that is powerful and that is faithful and that is trust in Christ and what he has said to him. He ends up staying in Corinth longer than any other place other than the city of Ephesus. On his missionary journeys, he ends up staying there a year and six months, and then three months later on in his life, he writes more to the city of Corinth than he does any other city. He writes the book of First and Second Corinthians, which are both lengthy letters to this church. And because of his response to this moment of crushing. Thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people are released from a life of bondage. Hundreds of thousands hear the message of a loving God who made a way for reconciliation by the blood of his own son on the cross. And many come to know Jesus personally and have eternal life through Christ. Because of Paul’s response to this crushing, to this moment where he felt at an end. Because Corinth isn’t just a backwater town, a backwater city, but it is the connection between east and west, north and south. It was in between the Peloponnesian Peninsula that connected the north of Greece with the south of Greece. And if you traveled north or south, you would be heading through Corinth.

And if you traveled east through west, you would go through Corinth. It sat in this isthmus. So it connected the Adriatic and Aegean Sea. It connected Turkey in the Middle East with Rome and the rest of the provinces. So Paul, being here, sharing the gospel isn’t just these people in the city of Corinth, listening to this message of good news. It’s thousands, hundreds of thousands of people who travel through this city. For the next year, the years to come. Now, I haven’t experienced a vision of Jesus saying that I am with you, but he has promised that he will never leave nor forsake me because scriptures say in Hebrews 13 five. Through eight. For he himself has said, I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you so that we confidently say, the Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What will men do to me? Remember those who led You spoke the Word of God to you and consider the result of their conduct. Imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. The same Jesus who met Paul in his crushing is the same Jesus who is with us today. The same Jesus who was there when Paul was getting chased by mobs. Who is there when he was being beaten again and again. The same Jesus who was with him in jail and in hardship and trial is the same Jesus who is with us today, the same Jesus who wants to meet you and never leave you.

No matter how dark the circumstance, despite the loneliness we feel when it seems like the walls of our lives have collapsed. And when we are at crushed depth and at any moment we can implode. Christ is there. He is with us and he has promised his companionship to those who have entrusted themselves to him. It’s sometimes hard to wrap our minds around why trials come. And the natural instinct is usually to question God’s purpose and ask Why God? Why are you letting this happen to me? Because we equate suffering as something that God would never intend for. I thought we live in a fallen world. In fact, in the same city years later, people inside the church tried to discredit Paul in his ministry, using the same line of logic, citing the amount of Paul’s sufferings, naturally coming to the conclusion that if Paul was truly called by God, if Paul was appointed by God to share the Gospel that He was an apostle, he wouldn’t be enduring the amount of hardships that he suffers. And it kind of makes sense. Naturally. It’s like, yeah, if God is with us, why would He? We shouldn’t be suffering as much as we do. You know, he there shouldn’t be as much hardships and trials that come our way because God wants what’s best for me.

But Paul writes his response in the book of Second Corinthians to these people that tried to discredit Paul and his ministry, and he doesn’t do it just to defend his ministry and his name, but he does it to save their relationship with Christ. And if we were to ask the Paul the question, why did God let you endure such immense trouble? His response would be in second Corinthians four, seven through ten. But we have this treasure in jars of clay or earthen vessels so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed. Perplexed. But not despairing. Persecuted. But not forsaken. Struck down but not destroyed. Always carrying about in the body. The dying of Jesus. So that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. Several years ago, I was a co-program director for a camp back in Michigan called Lincoln Lake Baptist Youth Camp. And I had a tremendous time at this camp. As you always have at camp. So you should go to camp, kids. Sorry I had to get that in there, but I was a co-program director and I got to do this with my friends and I got to share Christ with these kids and I got to run camp and it was a lot of fun. But towards the end of camp, three months into camp, there was the last week of camp and this camp was wilderness camp.

Instead of being Co-program director, I’d be the sole program director for this camp and I was ready for the summer to be done. Yes, I enjoy camp, but three months of it is insanely long and immensely exhausting. And when the wilderness camp came that first night, the counselors decided to steal my mattress. We slept in tents, but I had a mattress because I could bring that. So I had a mattress and they stole it. And it got wet because it was raining. And not only was that wet, but the rest of my bedding was wet. And I had to bring that inside my tent. That got very moist and very damp really fast. And the rain decided to not go away that night or the next day or the next day or the next day. And the day following that, it rained the entire week that we were at camp. My clothes were wet, my bedding was wet, my mattress was wet. My tent was wet. I was wet. For a whole week. I was never dry. And that first night, going to bed at around 11, having to wake up before the sun and sleeping, trying to fall asleep, completely cold and wet at 3:00 in the morning when I have to get up and like two hours thinking, how am I going to operate? How am I going to function tomorrow? How am I going to go on? And that happened almost every night.

And it was it was miserable. But the thing was. That week having 20 or 20 to 30 campers being wet. Being responsible for those teens. I thank God for being in the book of Second Corinthians during that week and reading about Paul’s trials and hardships and going, You know what? I don’t have it that bad. And you know what happened? Even though I felt as if I could not go on, God’s power was working in me. And that was probably one of the most beneficial weeks of ministry I have ever experienced because I was at the end of myself, I had nothing left to give and I felt God moving through me and doing things that I had no idea were possible. It wasn’t my strength that got me through that week. It was God’s. And I felt that. And because of that. I can look back. All I can do is look back and praise God for what He did through me. I have nothing to take credit for because in and of myself, I wanted to give up and I wanted to go someplace dry and I wanted to stay there for the rest of my life. What if those words ring true? What? Paul said that when we are most incapable. He didn’t say these exact words. Sorry. We are when we are most incapable. That is when God’s glory is most visible. When we are acting solely dependent on the power of God, the life of Jesus is manifested in our lives because it’s not the power that we have.

It’s the power of Christ. I am weak, and when I am weakest, you are strongest. You work through my weakness. And listen to what Paul is saying to those who question whether or not he is sent from God. Those people in Corinth that try to discredit Paul, he isn’t saying the trials that you’re hearing about, they’re really not that bad. We haven’t really experienced that many trials. God’s with us because he does bless us. He doesn’t just make everything terrible. Now. He doesn’t say that. He says in those verses. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves. We are afflicted in every way, but not persecuted. Afflicted in every way. But not crushed. Perplexed. But not despairing. Persecuted but not forsaken. Struck down but not destroyed. He’s saying that. And he’s saying. That. Um. It would have been impossible for him to go on in his ministry without the power of God through him because of all the trials that he’s endured. He’s saying that if God was not with him yet, if God wasn’t constantly with him, he would have burned out. He would have quit or would he would have been dead a long time ago. The power that he has, the reason why he’s able to go on is not because of the power that he.

Sometimes he somehow possesses, but it’s the power of God working through Paul to accomplish amazing things. And without God, he would have been crushed. He would have been perplexed and he would have been destroyed. And that is what he is saying. For us today. This is absolutely crucial to understand. Trials will come and pain will be felt and there will be times when we feel crushed, when we feel the weight of things around us, beyond what we can endure. But we have a God who is always with us. We have a God that gives us what we need to persevere for. He is greater than our trials and ultimately promise us something beyond these triumphs, trials and something far greater than bliss on this earth. At the end of Second Corinthians Chapter four, Paul writes these words to remind the Corinthians of why he endures what he endures. In verse seven and 18, he says, For momentary light, affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporal. But the things which are not seen are eternal. Wait a second. What do you mean, light affliction? Paul What do you mean? The affliction that you’ve been feeling is light. That doesn’t make any sense.

You’ve been stoned. You’ve been at the brink of starvation. You’ve been shipwrecked. You’ve been beaten over and over and over again. You’ve been run out of towns. People have hated you. You’ve been wanted. You’ve experienced. People wanted to kill you over and over again. How could you say that? This is light. And I don’t think Paul is saying that the experiences, the afflictions that he’s experiences are light. But he’s saying compared to the eternal weight of glory, it’s almost nothing. If someone can bench £300, you’re like that guy. He. He can. He can bench a lot. That is a strong person. If you can bench £300, that’s that’s a lot of weight. But. Compared to 10,000 tons. It’s pretty insignificant. It’s almost nothing. And Paul writes and says, the light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, meaning the £300 that we bear in this life hold nothing. Nothing in comparison to the eternal weight of glory that we will have. What? Where? With Jesus. Paul. That’s a greater perspective and understands that there’s so much more than what this world has to offer. We don’t understand why things are the way they are. But God has promised us something far greater than comfort in this world. He has promised us his presence, his power, an eternal home with him.