As presented at Life Church of Mobile, Alabama
Sunday, December 11, 2016
As you think about this passage of scripture and particularly the last verse, it is interesting to me how people at this time of the year concentrate on community and socializing. Think about it. We are right now barreling down to Christmas. On our social media, or radio stations, television stations, with all the hustle and bustle going on, everything comes to a point of socializing together. Whether it is with friends, or some significant other, or with family, it all comes down to getting together and enjoying time with each other during the this holy season.
You may have missile toe, you may have Christmas trees, Christmas parties, Christmas gatherings; you may have decorations, shopping and all these wonderful things; and for some it may be the annual time when they actually visit a church service. All of this is geared to celebrating, community, family, and friends.
Then you speed pasts Christmas and head to the New Year's Day celebration when most business will shut down. They will allow their employees to bring in the new year with family and friends. Even if you had to work, you still find time to sneak away and get together with some of your co-workers and celebrate the new year with classes raised. If you're not at work you are in the arms or embrace of somebody as it all climaxes with waiting for the strike of the clock with a three. .two. . One. . Happy New Year! You hopefully are in the arms of the one that you love so you can greet them for the first time in the new year with a big kiss!
But there are somewhat if's in that scenario.
Here are a few of them:
What if. . .you went through all the preparations and all the decorations and you found yourself with no one to share it with?
What if. . .you were thousands of miles away from the ones that you truly desired to spend such a time with?
What if. . .your significant other has passed on and now you are left alone to pass this season by yourself?
What if. . .you were invited to the big celebration and you showed up. You were surrounded by all the mass of people in the great Christmas and New Year's season, yet you find yourself in the midst of this crowd alone and lonely? And you don't know why? Why am I feeling so alone and so lonely?
We had a great Christmas celebration here at the church this week and everyone was having a great time. Could it be that someone who was in the midst but they felt lonely?
Could it be that you are here today, you are in the midst but you feel. . . Alone?
Loneliness is not eliminated by the masses because it is deeper than the masses.
Our aloneness can sometimes bring joy and great creativity. Pulling aside by yourself, gathering your thoughts and planning out what you are going to do, can bring great fulfillment. But sometimes you can be in the midst of the greatest crowd in the biggest stadium, cheering on the team, and you still feel alone and lonely.
What is this? Where does it come from?
Is it just a part of being human? Or is it something that is forced on us and we have nothing that we can do about it?
I grew up with people that would constantly surround themselves with others just to escape feeling lonely, but would never ever try or dare to connect. They were never intimate, they were just always surrounded. Even though they were in the midst of the crowd, they were very alone.
Science and Scholarship has something to say about this condition.
Because some of this information can be so depressing you must have an anchor to hold to while we are going through this information. The anchor I want you to hold to is in God's word.
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us, for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”, that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
You must remember and hold on to the fact that you are redeemed from the curse of the law as we go through this information.
Jesus Christ redeemed us,
He paid for it,
He took the pain for it,
And we get the rewards in Christ.
So here is what Science says:
Since the twentieth century researchers have studied the psychological effects of being socially isolated, or loneliness. They have studies the effects it has on our physical and emotional being.
1. A study that was published in 2007 by the Genome Biology Journal on those that feel lonely because they are alone and those that don't feel lonely, even though they are alone, reported that people who suffered from subjective chronic loneliness show evidence at the gene level. These people showed evidence in the gene level of chronic loneliness resulting in inflammatory diseases and immunity dysfunctions.
Remember now, Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law!
According to the study it is saying that loneliness increases inflammation and immunity disorders in our physical and emotional being.
Which means you could exercise; you can throw yourself into a big crowd; you can do all kinds of preventative things, but according to science, if you suffer from these conditions it is because it is in your genes. I did not have anything to do with how my genes were made up, they are just there.
This study is saying that if you have these conditions it is in your genes and you will suffer from immunity disorders which means you are always sick, and that inflammation will plaque you for your life.
2. A study as recent as 2013, published in the Journal of Psychological Studies, and recorded in Time Magazine, March 2015, states that, "The subjective feeling of loneliness increases rick of death by 26%.
3. According to a new study in the Journals Perspective on Psychological Science social isolation or loneliness, or lacking social connections and living alone, where found to be even more devastating to a person's health than feeling lonely. Living alone is more devastating to your health than feeling lonely.
Remember Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law!
What are they saying is loneliness increasing the mortality risk or risk of dying by 29 and 32% as recorded in Time Magazine, March 2015.
You hear things like this and you if you were sitting under a professor who is sharing these things, you start believing them automatically because this is the way we are wired. What you focus on will grow. If you had to write papers about these things and study them, and you do not have an anchor that says you are redeemed from all these things, you will start believing these things and find yourself a statistic that makes the researchers of their research proud.
How many want to make the researches realize there is a greater research that was already accomplished, signed, sealed and delivered in Christ Jesus?!
Here is the Truth of It
In Deuteronomy Chapter 28 there is a blessing from verses 1-14 and a curse from verses 14-68.
Look at verse 22.
The LORD will strike you with consumption [that is tuberculosis], with fever, with inflammation, with severe burning fever, with the sword, with scorching, and with mildew; they shall pursue you until you perish.
This is under the curse, but how many know we have been redeemed from the curse?
As I read the researches I was reminding myself, "I'm redeemed from all of this."
I can honestly say these things are not talking about me.
Then I began to think about those who do not have an anchor and what they believe.
How many millions of hours and millions of dollars went into this research when one book says, "Yes, but you are redeemed by the blood of the lamb."
So as we're moving into this season many of us start see things and hearing things that cause us to fall back on our default. If our default is research then we find ourselves feeling a little bit lonely and a little bit alone. But Christ has redeemed you from this.
Even so this is not enough, we have to go a little bit deeper in this.
Is it true that the researchers are not lying?
Could it be true that the condition of loneliness is in the genes?
Could it be true that people really suffer from these kinds of situations and diseases?
Here is the Truth. . . .Yes! It is True!
The researches just bore out what God already said would happen in Deuteronomy Chapter 28 and other parts in the Bible.
In fact, we all know it, we are social beings.
You are created for community.
You are created to connect.
You are created to be a part of somebody else's life.
Whether you are a leader or whether you are a follower, you are created to connect because we are social beings.
What we are doing here right now, gathering, is a part of who we are.
We are community.
We found out on the sixth day of creation that God never mentioned anything being not good until he began to look at man.
The Bible says in Genesis Chapter 2:18,
And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
He saw Adam in the garden and he said, "You know what, it ain't good for this brother to be alone."
And God said we are going to help him by providing him with somebody that he can communicate with at his level.
Adam was not alone before there was Eve, because God was with him. But before God gave him Eve, the Bible says he created the animals. And he brought the animals to Adam and said to him, "Adam what would you call this." And Adam began to name all animals. As God would bring him an animal Adam would name it, and God would bring more and he would name those. God finally took note that Adam had nobody of his own rank. He is not an animal, he is not only a spirit being, he is a human being, and there is nobody comparable for him.
So God put Adam to sleep and he gave him darkness. God preformed the first operation by opening up his side and out of his side he created Eve. I am so glad God did not leave Adam wounded. He is our healer. This is one of our first pictures of healing right here. God closed up Adam's side while he was sleeping.
God brought this individual to Adam and Adam said, "Now this is bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, and he called her Woman" [Genesis 2:23].
Adam began to community with his wife.
All this happened before the fall.
He had his assignment and he had his comfort.
He had a God, and always had a God.
He has an assignment and now he has a woman,
He has community.
How to Solve the Problem of Loneliness
It was God who cared about man's solitude.
Regardless what the researchers tell you and it may be true, but they can't solve it.
They can try to explain it and they can research it and they can put you in a cage like a mouse, or spin through the wheel and go through all these tests, and come up with all this empirical data, put it in papers and get it published all over the world, but they can't cure it. It was God who was the first person to diagnosed it. He was the first one and the only one who could cure it.
The answer he put inside of us, though He was involved in the solution from the beginning to the end.
If God did it, and he is the same yesterday, today and forever, how do we purpose to solve our problems without Him?
We can become so educated we can spout off all the data, but this only put a surface level on the problem. We can't heal ourselves with this data so we are only masking the problem by covering it up with research.
In the meantime there are people that will hide themselves in a crowd because they are hurting. They will surround themselves with Mardi Gras masks because they are in pain. They will march down the street and revel and carry on, get drunk and do all these things until eventually a rope is tied around their neck and they are swinging from side to side because they are trying to end the pain.
They will go and get all kinds of medicine, though there is nothing wrong with having medicine, it can heal you; but sometimes you need a deeper healing.
During the times when I would go see people in the hospitals and go to some of the nursing homes I would notice as I was walking down the hall and thinking as I talked with the Lord over these people, "Wow, God, I wished I could just pick them up and take them out of these places. Just get them out of here." As I began to meditate and think about this I visited a person and it was as though they were ministering to me. They were laughing and carrying on non-stop and I was just sitting there agreeing and saying, "Ummhmm, Ummhmm, Yes, Yes!"
Then when I would come back and visit with them again and it was totally different. I would have to stay a little bit longer comforting them because their prognosis was not good as they wanted it to be. All of the sudden they had tiers and would start crying. I did not understand what was going on and I would cry out for the Lord to give me something to say. As I was walking out from that visit I heard in my heart a song from my childhood ringing in my heart. I went and researched the song because we do not sing that song anymore.
In 1897 these few words were penned. Historians are not sure who first penned them but many believe them to be written by an uncelebrated school teacher. She was a wife of a Methodist Church minister, President of the Woman's Christian Temple Union of Kentucky.
It was during the Prohibition that she would speak out against alcohol. It could be because people were masking their pain with alcohol. Her name was Ludie D. Pickett. Her alleged hymn was "No, Never Alone".
I’ve seen the lightning flashing, I’ve heard the thunder roll.
I’ve felt sin’s breakers dashing, trying to conquer my soul.
I’ve heard the voice of Jesus, telling me still to fight on.
He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone!
No, never alone, no never alone,
He promised never to leave me,
Never to leave me alone.
No, never alone, no never alone.
He promised never to leave me,
Never to leave me alone.
The world’s fierce winds are blowing, temptation sharp and keen.
I have a peace in knowing my Savior stands between—
He stands to shield me from danger when all my friends are gone.
He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone!
When in affliction’s valley I tread the road of care,
My Savior helps me carry the cross so heavy to bear;
Though all around me is darkness, earthly joys all flown;
You can be in the midst of a crowd and there is darkness. You can be in the midst of this Christmas season with everybody running and doing and caring, with all laughter and celebrating. . . but where is the joy?!
The verse goes on as:
My Savior whispers His promise, never to leave me alone!
He died on Calvary’s mountain, for me they pierced His side.
For me He opened that fountain, the crimson, cleansing tide.
For me He's waiting in glory, seated upon His throne.
He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone!
As I began to meditate over and over again the verses of this song, there are some thing I noticed that Ludie discovered:
The first verse is all about her.
She said, "I've seen", "I've heard", "I felt", "I've heard even Jesus".
It was all about her.
But when you come down to the fourth verse it changes.
She said, "He died", "they pierced His side", "for me He opened", "for me He's waiting",
He's seated on His thrown", "He promised".
There is a revelation in this song!
In the beginning of her life, in the beginning of our life, it might be about "I", "I've seen", "I've heard", "I felt". It is all surrounded on "Me".
But in the fourth verse Jesus has the final say. And she realized and got the revelation:
"He died", "they pierced His side", "for me He opened", "for me He's waiting",
He's seated on His thrown", "He promised", I'm his child and I shall rejoice!!!!
That is why she could say, "No, Never Alone"!!!
"I'm never alone! He promised never to leave me! To never, ever, ever, ever to leave me alone! I'm never alone!!!!"
You may feel in your darkness and in your loneliness you are alone.
Don't think that because you have Christian on your chest you can't face darkness or loneliness.
But you can have an anchor for soul that even in your darkness you can say, "It is not about Me, it is about Him!"
It is about what He did for me that even in my darkness I can look to God and can say, "He promised never to leave me alone!"
Ms. Ludie got a revelation through the progression of her song, "What is happening to Me?"
As she gradually gets through her song, her perspective turns from her to Him!
This is where the victory is.
God had to bring Adam out of his darkness to answer his need.
No matter what your darkness is, know that God will bring you out of that darkness with an answer to your need.
God may have to open your side and reveal something to you down the road but he will not leave you wounded. In your darkness he will clothe you and cover you and heal you and give you your comfort.
"No, Never Alone. . .No, Never Alone!!!!" He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone!
Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
In Joshua Chapter One Joshua has taken over from Moses and God stops him and says to him, "Now wait a minute son and let me explain to put some things in your mind and in your heart." So God tells him in verse five:
“No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you."
Joshua took that charge and took Israel into the promised land. I am here to tell you God was with them, and he is with you. "No, You are never alone!"
Ms Ludie found it. What Scholarship, Science and Research has failed to see is the answer is in Christ Jesus. Thank God for the researchers. Thank God for those who point us in the right direction to say here is what the problem is. But thank God we have an answer that holds us in His hands. When we put our trust in Him, He will never leave us nor will He forsake us.
Out of His Loneliness
As we read the opening scripture Jesus was asking a question to God.
It was out of his loneliness, as he was hanging a lonely figure on the cross; hanging there all by himself, he asked the question.
Though there was a crowd and others hanging on crosses on either side of him, He was hanging on a cross all by himself, alone.
He was unable to get down of his own, but he chose to stay there because he was on the cross on purpose.
He gave his back to those who smote him, over, and over, again. He was beaten by Romans who did not follow the custom of thirty less one. We don't really know how many strips he received by their hand. They kept hitting him over, and over, again, and again.
The Bible says he did not turn his back from it.
The Bible says he give his cheeks, plural, to those who plucked out his beard.
Wearing a beard is very popular today. How would you like somebody to snatch it off of your face with their hands?
It had a greater meaning than pain, it had to do with shame.
Can you imagine how his face was imploded and swollen as they yanked out plucks of hair from his beard? But Jesus said, "I did not turn my cheeks away from their plucking."
He gave his back, He gave his cheeks, but he also did not hide his face from their shame, and he said, "I know the Lord will help me" [Isaiah 50].
Then Jesus perceived in his heart while suspended between heaven and earth, that God had forsaken him. The one whom Jesus came to reveal not as God, but to reveal to us as Father, had now forsaken his beloved son.
That word "forsaken" means God deserted him.
Our Heavenly Father deserted Jesus while he was doing the will of his father.
God abandoned him while he was on the cross.
When you look at the word "forsaken" in the Hebrew it literally mean he left Jesus helpless.
On the cross when everybody else left him, Our Father abandoned him.
Our military of the United States has a motto that "No man left behind."
This means they will go through what they have to go get that last soldier. He could be wounded, he could be dead, but they are going to go in and they are going to get him!
And God leaves Jesus helpless!!
The Bible shows us out of his total loneliness his loneliness was complete.
He had no human companionship and his Father left him helpless.
You talk about being alone and lonely; now Jesus was completely lonely.
With all eyes gazing at him, even creation closed her eyes. For three hours there was darkness upon the earth. The sun refused to shine and the darkness covered Jesus.
Not even what Jesus had created with his hands would look at him.
Nature turns it back,
Humanity turns it back,
And God himself forsakes him.
A lonely figure nailed to the cross was all by himself.
[Making a hard breathing in sound] Breathing his last.
And Ms. Ludie said they pierced his side to check and see if he was dead.
And out of his side comes blood and water.
If you study this in medical terms, it's not just because he had blood and water in there but the sack of his heart was ruptured.
And in his darkness and loneliness he died before he would die on the inside from a ruptured or broken heart.
In all of Jesus' loneliness he cries with a loud voice and says, "My God! My God! Why?. . Why have you forsaken Me?"
It makes you wonder, did Jesus not know this was going to happen?
Did God hid this from Jesus?
Did God know that he was going to leave Jesus helpless, so he did not reveal this to him?
He cries out, "Why have you forsaken ME!"
Totally alone and Lonely.
The beautiful thing is, one family member and he gives her a comforter as Jesus speaks out and says, "Woman behold your son" [John 19:26], to comfort and take care of his family.
One disciple he gives an assignment, "John, take care of my mother."
His family was comforted,
His followers now had an assignment,
And he looks to his father and asked, "Why have you left me here helpless?"
Jesus has an answer for all of us.
He has an answer for family and for his disciples, but he has a question for God.
Even though we go through stuff, because Jesus had a question, we also can ask questions.
When you're going through your darkness, you can ask God. You can say, "God where are you, what is going on?"
Jesus was on the cross saying, "Why….?" It's OK to ask why? It is greater to know.
The First and Second Adam
Let's go back to Adam in the garden.
As I was continuing to think about this I asked the Lord to give me something that will help me to understand all of this. He showed me the first Adam and the second Adam.
Concerning Adam was in the garden, God asked me what was the last thing he gave Adam?
At first you think of all the animals, the birds, and these things. As I thought about it, the last thing God had given the Adam was the woman.
The last thing God gave the first Adam was companionship, a comforter.
This was the last thing he gave the first Adam before the fall.
Then God asked me what was the last thing I gave Jesus while he was going through the ordeal of the cross, just before he died?
As I thought about this I realized. . .God gave him no one.
The last thing God gave the second Adam before he died was no one, nothing.
The first Adam gets a comforter companion that is compatible to himself, at his own level.
The second Adam who would redeem mankind, He gets nothing, no one.
As we begin to think about that we know why but from time to time we need to be reminded of these things.
God gave Jesus loneliness.
He give him no one.
He give him being forsaken, and the experience of being left helpless.
He gave him darkness.
Jesus cried out, calling to his Father, and said, "Why. . .Why have you abandoned me?"
The first Adam had it all,
The second Adam had to pay for all with that which he had left, loneliness.
It cost him everything.
I am so glad God went so deep with Jesus.
Now you and I can say no to the darkness.
No to the feelings of suicide.
No to the temptation of loneliness.
No to the social isolation.
No to the "they don't like me, they don't need me."
We can say no to these things because Jesus said "I will never leave you and I will never forsake you."
While he was on the cross, he did it for you and he did it for me.
So we can say like Ms Ludie, "No, Never Alone."
Is being alone or lonely real? Does the pain of it really hurt?
Yes it is real and it does hurt.
The Devil would try to snuff you out of life prematurely by giving you a miserable life with it.
This is why we need an anchor for our soul that even though darkness comes the light will shine brighter, and there is light at the end of the tunnel, I can know that God will help me through this. I can know that, No! I am never Alone!
At times when I can't feel God, or I can't senses God, and I am still crying out to God, He will help me! If that is all I have to hold to, I can know, He will help me!
Out of His loneliness we have hope.
We have Salome! It is sweeping over us in such a way we have miracles taking place in our lives. It is opening our eyes so that even when darkness is surrounding us, because it will; I do not have to succumb to that loneliness. This is the deliverance to our loneliness.
Is there deliverance from loneliness? Yes it is his loneliness, that He overcame on the cross.
Sometimes when we are walking with God, we have to walk by faith to get a revelation that will lead us through our darkest hour. You could be in a lonely hotel room on the other side of the world, all by yourself, and because you know that God is with you, and you set your face like a flame and do what God has called you to do; even when nobody is with you, and they are speaking a different language, you can say, "God is with me!"
The Bible says, "My sheep hear my voice" [John 10:27]. I want to encourage you to open your ears, open your eyes, and more importantly open your heart. If God puts somebody on your heart to call or text, or to just hug, or send them a birthday cake or a birthday card, or something, just do it. You have no idea who may be needing what you have to give. If God has put them on your heart, they need you.
You may think everything is rosy with peaches and cream, but look around, people are hurting. They are really hurting. Loneliness is just of state of being even when you are surrounded with people, and still you can have loneliness.
Jesus is the answer. Point these people to Jesus.
You are not their answer, He is their answer. Point them to Jesus.
He bore that loneliness and that being alone so they can have an abundant life.
Full and complete. Whether they are by themselves or whether they are with a family.
Point them to Jesus.
The following is a prayer that our Senior Pastor, Scott Howard, put on the internet this last week. I am posting it here so you can read through it. But after you read through it go back through it again, but this time say it as your prayer. Then share this with others this week.
Pray this prayer over yourself, your family, your friends and share it with all you can.
Prayer for Divine Blessings and Favor of the Lord
Today and this week..."May the blessings of the Lord rain down and drown out the spirit of lack in your home. I pray that God will give you houses you didn't build and vineyards you didn't plant! (Deut.6:11)
I pray divine closure to every oppressive attack you are facing and fighting in your purpose, calling, relationships, finances and health. Victory Now!
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him.
I pray any soul-tie from your past is broken in the name of Jesus! The Blood of Jesus secures you, your family and your peace!
I pray that you will know that the Lord has called you for such a time as this to bring His freedom, breakthrough and blessings to your family and future generations. He is answering your prayers!
I pray you will grow in your understanding of what JESUS has already given and as you do you will abide in a place of untouchable, unshakable security!
And I pray for divine favor and uninhibited access to people and places that are connected to the fullness of the will of God for your life! FAVOR! FAVOR! FAVOR!
In Jesus name, Amen!"