Summary: God’s people were assured that God would be with them, that He would never forsake ANYONE who feared Him & kept His commandments. (PowerPoints Available - #339)
MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
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ILL. I wish you could have known Bessie Hanna. She was a long-time member of Central Christian Church in Brownsville, TX, & was 95 years old when she died.
Bessie was a lovely & loving person. And for the last 22 years of her life she taught the Loyal Women's class. Now think about that for a moment. Do you realize that means she was 73 years old when she began teaching that class?
By the time most people reach that age they have almost retired from doing much in the church. But not Bessie! At age 73 Bessie was just beginning her teaching career!
Anyway, during the last few weeks of her life I was visiting her in the hospital, & she wanted me to find & read to her a particular passage of Scripture. The passage that she wanted contains these words, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." It was her favorite passage of Scripture.
Let me tell you why this passage was so special to her. She was born in the late 1890’s in northeast Texas. And shortly after 1900 her parents became part of a large-scale migration from the OK Territory & north TX down to the Rio Grande Valley along the Mexican border – to an area of palm trees, citrus groves, & vegetable fields – if you had access to water.
Life along the border wasn’t easy back in those days. There was animosity between the Mexicans & the Anglo settlers coming in from the north. Bandits roamed freely in the area, & TX Ranger stations were being formed to stop them.
In that semi-tropical climate diseases also seemed to spread quickly, too. And it wasn’t long until both of Bessie’s parents had died, leaving Bessie & her brother orphans & all alone. They had no one to turn to for help.
Well, as often happened along the frontier in those days, there was a family that took them in. But evidently not out of any real love or concern for them. They treated the children as servants, as slaves to work in the fields.
They were never treated as part of a family. They were simply human animals, treated harshly & put to work for the benefit of their owners. It was a miserable existence for them.
During this time a traveling preacher came down to the Rio Grande Valley & began holding tent meetings. During one of those meetings he heard about the plight of the 2 orphan children, & he began asking people to pray for them.
When he returned to northeast TX with his tent revivals he continued to tell the story of the 2 orphan children. And in one of those services an uncle & aunt who had lost all contact with Bessie’s parents when they moved south, heard the story, recognized the names, & immediately headed south to rescue the children.
Well, from that point on life completely changed for the better for Bessie & her brother. She fell in love, married a good, kind Christian man. They moved to Brownsville & had children there.
One of her sons became a teacher, then a principal, & finally the Superin-tendent of Schools for Brownsville. In fact, the biggest school in Brownsville, Hanna High School, was named in honor of him.
And now, in that hospital room, at age 95, she shared with me some of the joys of her life & her certainty that through it all she had been greatly blessed.
And she told me that this assurance, this promise of God, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" had sustained her through the hard times & the good times. She knew that God loved her & had cared for her all her life long!
That is a wonderful promise, & it is found in Hebrews 13:5. But it is part of a longer passage, & I am going to come back to it in just a few minutes.
I. GOD MADE THIS PROMISE!
The first time God made such a promise is found in Genesis 28:15 when He said to Abraham: “I am with you & will watch over you wherever you go, & I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Then God had Moses tell the children of Israel as they left the slavery of Egypt, “The Lord himself goes before you & will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deut. 31:8) And that promise was repeated to Joshua also.