“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41.10
Earlier this week I was talking with a friend by phone and the topic of “the fear of the unknown” entered the conversation. I have written on the verse above before, but I thought it might be beneficial to some if we look at it through fresh eyes. If you haven’t already done so, I want to encourage you to mark this verse in your Bible so you can find it easily.
Suppose you wake up tomorrow morning and feel the need to call 911 or make an appointment with your doctor because of some new symptom has surfaced in your body. Suppose the doctor says to you as a man, “You’ve had a heart attack – a pretty severe one!”. Or to you as a woman, “I’m sorry to tell you this but the tests show you have uterine cancer”? How surprised was God to hear those statements? God knew all the elements of your life that would come ten years before (or even before you were born). The only one surprised in all of this is you and me.
So how do we handle this “unknown” something thrust upon us? Do not view my statement as simplistic or as a pat answer. It is neither. When surprises come (and they always do), it is time to reaffirm my absolute trust in God that, not only is He in control, but He knows what is best and He knows the outcome. The turning point in my life came at age sixty, when I came to realize the my life is not about me, but it is all about Him. For most of us, the struggle with the unknown is not about our faith at all, bit it is about our emotions. God made us emotional creatures and I am thankful for that.
Look at the words above: (1) Fear not; (2) be not dismayed; (3) I will strengthen thee; (4) I will help thee; and (5) I will uphold thee. He is the only One qualified to say any of those things to us and mean it. Allow yourself to trust and rest in Him. You will NEVER be disappointed. Just My Thoughts …
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10.13
I don’t think most of us really believe this verse. Why would I say that? Because when we get caught in responding to temptation in our lives, what is the first thing we say? “I couldn’t help myself.” Now if God always tells the truth, then someone here is lying and trying to shift the blame. Yes, temptation is common – it comes to each of us, perhaps in different forms, but it still comes. Paul’s next phrase is the one to which we need to take heed: “ … but God IS faithful …” This phrase, “God is faithful” is crucial to understanding the full conditions of what God has promised: (1) He will NOT suffer me to be tempted above that I am able to bear, (2) He will with the temptation make a way to escape, (3) that I may be able to bear it.
The question then becomes, “Do I WANT to escape it?” You know that your hotspot for being tempted isn’t the same as someone else’s. God knows it and Satan knows it too. It doesn’t matter HOW he tempts others. The key thing is do you KNOW how he tempts you? Once you have identified his method, then you can be on the lookout for his next attack. The question is NOT “will he attack me again,” but rather, “When will he attack me again and am I ready to look for God’s way of escape?” Your attitude toward Satan’s attack is everything. If you WANT to escape, you CAN. If you approach temptation with a careless spirit, thinking you can handle it, you won’t. Watch Out! Just My Thoughts …
“Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?” Psalm 85.6
Here the psalmist is asking God to revive the nation of Israel. That is simple enough to figure out. But I wonder if we realize that revival comes as one heart at a time is cleansed by God’s Spirit. Every time I read this Psalm and these particular verses, I am reminded how much I need revival. Revival is not simply an emotional experience that gets me all excited about going to church. Revival is a transformation of my heart’s desires to bring them into line with what God wants for me.
When was the last time you prayed to God for revival for your own spirit, for your family, or for your church? In the midst of turmoil and trouble in America, we suddenly want God to bring revival to America. He can do that. Think about the heart of every believer you know and then think about the change that God could bring if EACH ONE of would cry out to God for personal revival. Personal revival becomes contagious.
Look at the psalmist’s reason for wanting revival – “ … that thy people may rejoice in thee …” Rejoicing is the natural by-product of revival. We all have reason to rejoice – but revival would bring our rejoicing to the forefront of our lives. What’s your next step? Just My Thoughts …
“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Galatians 5.14
In Matthew 22 Jesus spoke to the Pharisees and they asked Him, “Master, which is the great commandment inthe law? (37) Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (38) This is the first and great commandment. (39) And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (40) On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” This verse in Galatians is no “spur of the moment” idea that Paul writes.
I wonder how much thought each of us gives to this phrase, “ … love your neighbor as yourself.”? Loving our neighbors doesn’t mean leaving them alone until they need help. Loving our neighbors doesn’t mean waving as we see them outside and pass their house. We might start by knowing their names. We might move ahead by finding out their needs and praying for them. These are INTENTIONAL things and we do them on purpose, not by accident. One of the things I want to incorporate into my life are the things I have written here. I need God’s help to do this, but I am going to trust Him. Why not get on board with me and let’s see if God will let us change our neighbors – one at a time. Just My Thoughts …
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 6.1
We have heard the word “pharisee” tossed around in conversation and also have seen references to them in Scripture. A Pharisee does everything he does in order for others to SEE what he did and praise him for it. ALL of his praise came from the lips of men. Jesus spoke directly to this practice and this is what he said: “…otherwise ye have NO REWARD of your Father which is in heaven.” That is a statement with heavy consequences.
In the counseling field, we work with people on something called “the performance trap.” This person is investing all their time and energy in an attempt to make someone else accept them or like them. This is the result of having a poor self-image and they believe no one can love them unless their performance measures up. Their underlying tape that plays in their head 24/7 says, “If you knew the real me, you wouldn’t like me.”
Let’s see if we can fix these two issues with a better understanding of what Jesus wants from us. Paul speaks about this in Romans 12: “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; ” (Romans 12.11.) There is another translation that reads: “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” So what does JESUS want from us? Simply to serve Him. When I have pleased Him, no one else matters! If you set out each day to bring glory to God and to serve Him by doing that which He asks of you, you will stop seeking the praise of men and stop performing so that others will like you. Just my thoughts …
“But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.” Psalm 52.8
In our Christian culture today, we have a few phrases that we use to tell others that everything is OK between us and Him. I’m thinking of a couple as I wrote this: “God is good – all the time.” “God’s Got this.” I say these things and will continue to say them. But here is my fear – for myself and for others – that we will find ourselves uttering them with a flippant spirit.
In reading the words above from the pen of the psalmist, I am deeply impressed by his level of commitment to God. Looking forward to v. 9 we are taken even deeper: “I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints.” Let’s take a closer look at what he has written. “ I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.” And then: “I will praise thee for ever”.
What does it look like to trust in the mercy of God? That is not saying to God “I need a lot of mercy because I am going to be doing some pretty bad things.” It is an acknowledge that we realize there will be dips in the road, unplanned detours and we my not handle them well but is always there to grant the much needed mercy. When he says “I will praise thee forever”, that is a SUPERNATURAL acknowledgement of this God of mercy. However you and I see God, He is a God if mercy and He is ALWAYS worthy of our praise. If we are not doing that now, let’s begin today. Just My Thoughts …
“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua 1.9
God was in intimate conversation with His servant, Joshua. Which one of us would not be afraid to take the leadership of 2 million people – people who were vocal and not afraid to speak their minds? He could remember the times they had turned on Moses. Now these were words come from God as a COMMAND, not a suggestion. Observe God’s words: (1) Be strong, (2) be of good courage; (3) be not afraid, (4) neither be thou dismayed. I don’t know about you, but THAT is a pretty powerful statement from God’s mouth. You may be thinking, “That was good for Joshua, but I am not where he was in his spiritual walk.” That may be the case, but there will the times when you must take a stand for the Lord and all you can mumble under your breath, “I can’t do this.” God NEVER commands us to do ANYTHING that He does not give us the power to complete. You come back, “Well, that may work for you, but it just has never worked for me.” Look at the last line of this verse – Joshua tells us what makes the work: “for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” I don’t want to be guilty of saying to God, “I know you are with me, but I just can’t do this.” Joshua had the Word of God with them. He also had His power that was available. Every time we fail, we can look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “WHY didn’t I TRUST God! He has NEVER FAILED ME. He has filled me with His Word, and He has left His power so that I might fulfill His Word. The only thing left to do is JUST DO IT! (Thank you Nike!) Just My Thoughts …