By Elder Larry Wise

   When we face various difficulties in our lives, we surely desire someone to stand with us because it is far more treacherous facing things alone.  Above everyone else, however, we pray that the Lord will stand with us.  Paul was falsely accused of things many times and when he gave his answer, who was with him?  Paul tells us in II Tim. 4:16-17, “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.”

   This was a time when all men forsook Paul; however, he prays that it not be laid to their charge just as Jesus did on the cross.  However, the Lord stood with Paul and gave him strength not only to give the right answer but to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ.  The Lord stood with him because he was doing the will of God, being led of the Spirit of God.  Jesus told the apostles as he sent them into all the world to preach the gospel that “…I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world…”  (Matt. 28:20).  The Spirit of the Lord always leads into paths of righteousness, but we don’t always follow that leadership because of the weakness of the flesh. The Lord will always stand with us when we are following the Spirit and thus doing the will of God.

   Stephen was a man of God who was faithfully telling the truth and was stoned to death by an enraged audience who were stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears.  It appears that there wasn’t anyone standing with him but the Lord.  As a matter of fact, the scriptures declare that he saw “…the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”  (Acts 7:56).  Just as Jesus and Paul had done, Stephen was able to say, “…Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”  (Acts 7:60).  This enraged crowd stoned Stephen calling upon God.  It should be obvious to any reasonable individual that the Lord stood with Stephen, even in his dying hour.

   When I am preaching the gospel, I desire that the congregation will be with me by praying for me and the service; however, I desire that the Lord will be with me above everyone.  I believe that the Lord will be with me if I am following Him as the light of the world because Jesus said, “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”  (John 8:12).  The obvious implication is that we should continually follow the light, claim this precious promise and avoid darkness.

   God promised Joshua after the death of Moses, “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”  (Josh. 1:5).  Remember, the Lord never fails; it is always His people that are the failures.  The reason they fail is because they disregard Biblical instruction and follow their own desires.  The Lord further instructed Joshua to be strong and courageous and not to turn right or left from the law that he might prosper wherever he went.  This did not mean that the Lord would be with him and the Israelites in everything regardless of their behavior.

   Joshua and Israel followed God’s instruction in the destruction of Jericho and it fell. God gave further instruction that everything was to be destroyed and nothing was to be taken of the accursed thing in Jericho lest Israel become a curse. All the vessels of brass, iron, silver and gold were consecrated to the Lord and were to be brought into the treasury of the Lord.  Achan took of the accursed thing as he hid a Babylonish garment, silver and gold in his tent. When the Israelites went against the little city of Ai after Jericho’s destruction, they only took about three thousand men, believing that conquering them would be little trouble. The men of Ai killed some of the Israelites and chased them away.  When Joshua inquired of the Lord concerning this sudden turn of events, what did the Lord tell him? He told him that the Israel had sinned and had taken of the accursed thing and put it in their belongings. “Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you, except ye destroy the accursed from among you.”  (Josh. 7:12).

   The Lord would not stand with them or be with them until they had put from themselves that accursed thing.  Achan finally admitted his sin in taking the forbidden things and was stoned along with his family.  When Joshua led the thirty thousand men against Ai after Achan’s removal, Israel was blessed with a great victory.  The Lord stood with them when they followed His commandments and they prospered but was against them when they disobeyed. 

   We are told not to forsake God’s law or break His statutes and commandments.  If we do, He has promised to visit our transgression with the rod and our iniquity with stripes.  However, what still is intact? “Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing, that is gone out of my lips.”  (Psalm 89:33-34).  Will the Lord stand with you?  Yes, He will stand with you and thus bless you when His instructions are followed. No, He will not stand with you in disobedience but will send defeat and the rod of correction.