The teaching pastor of the church we attend is Cuban, and he told us once in a sermon, “I get up every morning and fix myself a Cuban coffee. Now that is coffee so strong it will not spill if the cup breaks. And, with my coffee, I open my Bible and pray, ‘Lord, teach me something from your Word that I have not read or concentrated on lately.’”
Our pastor has a doctorate in Bible and teaches the Bible at the local Baptist university, so he knows the Word—but he also knows that, like all of us, he has more to learn!
I told him I would try this. I felt the leading of the Lord to study Genesis, and I called my pastor and told him I had done exactly as he had done.
He asked me, “What did the Lord teach you?”
I said, “The Lord showed me that He still uses old people and that He still wants to use me in service to Him!”
I followed the same process when I felt the Lord leading me to Matthew. I concentrated on one particular verse that I used to read every year as part of our Christmas season but had never really spent time on.
Matthew 1:18-23 says, “Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly. But when he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.’ Now all this took place that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God is with us’” (NASB).
That last verse is the one the Lord led me to concentrate on. It is usually read at Christmas, but I want us as men of valor to pause and think what this verse is telling us for the new year: The Creator of this world and the Son of God is with us.
How Do I Know God is With Us?
Is it true that “God is with us”? The Bible tells us that it is! But sometimes we particularly sense it. I am in my seventies, which means I have lived a long time, and my time on earth will soon end. As I look back, I think there are three areas of my life when I knew that God was with me.
I knew that God was with me when tragedy happened in my life.
I have had three major tragedies.
First, my dad was killed when I was eighteen years old. He was so special to me. He was a businessman who owned a grocery store, and he was the greatest evangelist I have ever known. He used his job to open up opportunities to witness to customers and people he came in contact with. He taught an eighth-grade Sunday School class; he was a deacon; and he taught a devotional on Sunday morning at the local jail. He always used opportunities presented to him to tell people about Jesus. Thus, you can understand how devastated I was when he was killed. He raised me to be a child of God. In fact, he led me in asking the Lord to save me as we knelt on our knees against his bed when I was six years old. He was my role model and my spiritual leader.
When he was killed, my life was shattered, and the strong faith I thought I had was destroyed. I kept asking, “Why would a loving God take away from me someone who truly loves God and is doing great things for God while leaving on earth less honorable people?” It was through this difficult time in my life that I came to understand that my father was in a better place with His Lord. The Lord became my comfort, and for the first time, I truly understood the words “Immanuel, God is with us!”
Two other tragedies happened. My brother, my only sibling, died at age thirty-six when I was thirty. And, my mother died of cancer when I was thirty-three years old. While I was still fairly young, my immediate family had all died and gone to Heaven. Through all these tragedies I truly learned, “God is with me.”
Have you had difficult times in your life when you knew that God was with you?
I knew that God was with me when I had to make a major decision.
Other than my decision to accept Christ as my Savior, no other decision has affected my life more than asking Pam to marry me. I prayed that God would lead me to the lady He wanted me to marry because I so appreciated the love my father had for my mother; they truly had a marriage partnership. I met Pam when I was 22. I felt after a few dates with her that she was the person I wanted to marry, so I began to pray to the Lord to tell me if she is the one. I had a peace over this decision, so I asked her. Pam and I just celebrated our 52nd wedding anniversary. I am so glad that He sent Pam into my life and led me to marry her.
Another major decision was whether I was called by the Lord to be a preacher. I truly wanted to be a preacher, but the Lord began to put doubts in my life about that. I finally determined that He was not calling me to be a fulltime preacher, so I asked the Lord to reveal what He wanted me to do for Him.
He led me to concentrate on John 21:15: “So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My lambs’” (NASB). Most translations read “Feed My Sheep.”
Then I knew what He wanted me to do with my life—feed His sheep. It didn’t matter in what capacity. And so I have been able to preach, teach, witness, and be a businessman for our Lord. I know that I have lived the life that Jesus wanted me to live. In my career I understood that “God is with me.”
Have you made a major decision in your life, knowing that God is with you?
I know that God is with me when living my life as a man of valor.
God has called us to live a life that is biblically based. Our ministry calls for a biblically based life of a “man of valor.” We believe that the life of a man of valor should include the following:
- A man of valor studies the Word of God
- A man of valor is the loving husband to one wife
- A man of valor is a loving father to his children
- A man of valor lives a godly lifestyle in the workplace
- A man of valor stands with other similar men
- A man of valor leaves a legacy of valor to his family, co-workers, and friends
I have strived to fulfill this man of valor life. However, I have only been able to do it with the Lord actively in my life. I always knew that He would provide to me a way of salvation based on His grace. But the longer I live, the more I see His ongoing involvement in my life to assist and lead me in the life of a man of valor. Without Him, I would not be able to live the life that He wants me to live. He has been my strength leading me in my life. To live a life of valor, I understood that “God is with me.”
Have you understood that God has been with you to help you live your life as a Christian?
Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means, “God is with us.” Yes, God is with us! What a wonderful truth to take with us in this New Year. We have a blessed life because of our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and He is with us!