God wraps His arms around you!

A comforting thought in difficult times: God carries His children and will save them. Actually, the Chief Apostle had planned to take these thoughts on a pastoral visit to the DR Congo. But the pandemic foiled his plans.

This is how he came to be in Bensheim, a small town in Germany. The congregation was delighted at his unexpected visit. The divine service began with a longish and complicated- sounding Bible text: “Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been upheld by Me from birth, who have been carried from the womb: even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you” (Isaiah 46: 3–4).

Carrying and supporting

However, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider focused on the advantages of divine guidance in both the good and bad days of a person’s life. “God grants those His help, His grace, and His salvation who believe in His promise, trust in Him, and persevere and prepare for His return. Let us remain steadfast in faith, in our love for God, and in our love for our neighbour.”

What do we need to bear in mind? God promises through the words of His prophet that He always wants to be close to His people, to help them, and save them: “He works on our salvation every day, irrespective of our situation and our abilities, whether we are big and strong or small and weak.”

This promise applies to every believer, but also to the church as a whole. God watches over the church at every stage of its history. The Chief Apostle went on to say that God has never abandoned faithful Christians!

  • He wraps His arms around them and shows them His love. He carries them and helps them overcome obstacles.
  • He supports them in their weakness, lifts them up when they fall, and gives them His grace.
  • He is not content with occasional and temporary help. Rather, He saves them completely and finally.

The Chief Apostle then pointed out that God also carries human beings. He carries us into the kingdom of God. “Without Him we cannot reach the kingdom of God; His grace is indispensable.”

Remembering God’s gifts

The Chief Apostle went on to say that the Bible text reminds us that God is the giver of all good things.

  • We cannot possibly count all the sins God has already forgiven us; this alone should make us humble.
  • Let us thank God for all the times He has come to our rescue.
  • The history of the church and our personal experiences testify to God’s faithfulness and power; let us trust in Him when it comes to the future!

The Chief Apostle asked the faithful to believe in Jesus’ return and to trust in Him, adding that God’s people will not be spared the struggle against evil.

Believe in all circumstances

Another important thought came to him, the Chief Apostle said, when he read the Bible text: “The prophet reminds us that the Lord is always the same. God does not change.” God expects believers to keep His law in all circumstances, regardless of age, circumstances, personal situation or that of the church. And this law can be summarised very simply. We must

  • believe. We must be absolutely sure that God will fulfill His promises and not doubt what we do not see.
  • love God with all our strength and mind. Let us always give priority to our relationship with God.
  • love our neighbour as ourselves, and do for him what we expect others to do for us.

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Peter Johanning
Germany, Chief Apostle, Divine service