“For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” Isaiah 41.13
When my children were small, it was not uncommon for us when we were out in public to say to them, “Come here so I can hold your hand.” That was a safety measure for us. So when God says to us, “I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand … ”, what does that say to you? To me he is saying, “I want you to know that no matter what happens, I am going to hold your hand and get you through whatever the situation may be.” To think that God personally cares that much for me and every one of His children is humbling indeed.
“Fear not; I will help thee.” The only one who has the right to tell me to fear not is God. He has that right because of His omniscience, His omnipresence, and His omnipotence. There isn’t anything that He doesn’t know. There isn’t any place that He is not present. And there isn’t anything that He cannot do that I may need to have done. So He can say to me, Fear not!
“I will help thee.” There are times in our lives when we don’t even realize that we need help. There are times when we need help but don’t know exactly what kind of help we need. Whatever the situation, God’s words bring hope and comfort: “I will help thee.” When God steps in to help us, that is all the help we need. He never does His job part way. It is always a completed task. The peace of mind that comes to us when we know that God is holding our hand and guarding us so that we don’t need to be afraid can come from no other source. Let’s live today with the knowledge that God is ALWAYS with us and His presence assures us of the need to not fear and when we need help, He will be our helper. Just my thoughts …
“And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will show to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. (14) The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14.13-14
The situation here is one that Israel had never faced before and would never face again. The Red Sea was in front of them and the Egyptians were behind them. And God said, “I’ve got this!” So Moses tells the Israelites, “Keep your mouth shut and watch what God does for you.” I’d say that’s pretty cool advice. Do you think that would work for us today?
No doubt every one of us has been in a situation that seemed impossible. We couldn’t move forward and the enemy seemed to be closing in behind us. How many times has our first reaction been to argue with God – reminding Him of what He PROMISED us? “You said you would never leave me or forsake me. Where are you now?” “Lord, there’s no way I can handle this. I am emotionally spent.” “My family is falling apart and there is nothing I can do about it. Help me please!” I understand these cries of desperation for help. And so does God. I also know there are times when I just need to be quiet and let God do what only God can do. I don’t need to understand HOW He is going to do it. Nor do I need to try to force Him into my schedule of events to do it when I want it done. I just need to “Fear not … stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD.” What does that require of me? Absolute trust. Since the Lord is going to fight for you, it is ok to hold your peace. Try it! Just my thoughts …
“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. (6) Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Colossians 4.5-6
How do we walk in wisdom and how do we redeem the time? And who are “them that are without”? Walking in wisdom indicates that we think about where we walk, how we walk, and why we walk there. You’ve probably heard the expression, “He walks like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.” You can be sure that cat knows where his tail is all the time in relationship to the rocking chairs. Since we know others are watching, it makes good sense to walk in a way that does not do damage to the kingdom of God. We need to make good use of the time God gives us. Whatever time we waste can never be reclaimed. Parents often challenge their children with the command, “Don’t waste your time”, but do we fall into the trap of wasting precious time because we do not allow the Holy Spirit to direct our every step?
This next verse may be more powerful than we realize. Our speech needs two things: (1) to be always be spoken with grace, and (2) to be seasoned with salt. When we speak with grace, we guard the character of our words, realizing the value they may have to others. This phrase “seasoned with salt” takes our speech to a different level. When you put salt on something, it changes everything. When I realize that my speech has the potential to change everything, I certainly want what I say to be glorifying to God. How ought we to respond to every man? In a Christ-honoring, God-glorifying way. That will keep us busy today. Just my thoughts …
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (8) Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” James 4.7-8
There are three very powerful words used here that are significant for us: (1) submit, (2) resist, and (3) draw nigh. The one thing that marks James’ epistle apart from the others in one sense is its practicality. He cuts right to the chase on so many issues that are prevalent in the believer’s walk with the Lord.
Submit – in the simplest possible terms, quit arguing with God. Either He knows what is best or He doesn’t. If He doesn’t, then don’t submit. But if (since) He does, then we need to stop arguing with Him and give full voluntary submission. Until I do that, I can’t do the next thing James mentions with any degree of success. Everyone of us wants the devil to flee from us, but we must first resist him. That is only possible once I have submitted myself to the Lord. When Satan flees from us, it is not a once-for-all event. He will be back. We will need to keep on resisting him and that requires that we keep on submitting to God.
Draw nigh to God … this needs to be a daily experience for us. How do we do this? We take down the barriers that separate us from God. This goes back to the concept of submitting to God. When I am not arguing with God, I can allow those barriers to go away and I can draw near to Him. When He draws near to me, I become aware of His presence. It is not a “mystical” something. It is the very sense of His presence. Psalm 16.11 reminds us: “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.” Let’s listen to James. Let’s do what he says. Let’s enjoy the benefits of submitting, resisting, and drawing near. Just my thoughts …
“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah” Psalm 68.19
David speaks such great truth in this verse. When was the last time you said (to yourself or someone else): “Blessed be the Lord … ”? Do we even think like that? Why would David even make such a statement? The next phrase gives us his reason: “who daily loadeth us with benefits … ” When was the last time you stopped to try and count the Lord’s benefits? Take a moment right now and ask yourself, “Which of the Lord’s benefits as I most thankful for?” If you are like me, it is difficult to name just one. It is difficult for me to get beyond the generous gift of salvation. That benefit alone is enough for me to cry out “Blessed be the Lord … ”
Then David speaks specifically about “the God of our salvation.” At the point of oversimplifying truth, you and I need to see God first and foremost as “the God of our salvation.” If your days are anything like mine, it is so easy to simply view God as our divine errand boy. We don’t set out to do that, but when the going gets tough, we may bombard the throne of grace with “God, I need this now.” Or “God can you do this now?” our focus can shift to our needs instead of on the God who meets our needs.
When Bible scholar Dr. John Phillips was alive, I heard him speak several times and was always refreshed with his treatment of the psalms. I remember him clearly calling attention to this little word Selah. He would say in his distinctive manner, “That means, stop and think about that.” So here we read, “even the God of our salvation. Selah” Let that sink in. Just my thoughts …
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Philippians 4.6
The word careful here means anxious. Paul is reminding the Philippian believers that they do not need to be anxious about anything. If that is true for the Philippian believers, it is true for us as well. Don’t most of us get anxious about the things in our lives that we cannot control? What does that anxious feeling change? Absolutely nothing. So we have wasted energy and refused to exercise our faith in the only One who could control things.
What is Paul’s alternative to being anxious about things? Here it is: “in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Don’t miss the words “in everything”. There isn’t any part of your life about which God does not care. So everything means everything. Now notice the steps Paul mentions: (1) prayer, (2) supplication, and (3) thanksgiving. When you and I begin with prayer, everything changes. Prayer invokes a power that cannot be accessed any other way. We are saying to God, “I need you. I can’t handle this on my own.” Supplication is that part of prayer when we pray for others. How many times have we said to someone, “God’s Got This”? How many times have we reminded ourselves, “God’s Got This”?
The final element is to submit our anxious moments to God with thanksgiving. I suspect some are thinking about some life circumstance right now and thinking, “I am supposed to give thanks for this?” Only if you want God’s help. Only if you believe God knows best. Only if you trust God to always do what is best. Only then can you bring those anxious moments to Him and not be anxious. Just my thoughts …
“He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.” Proverbs 13.3
When I was growing up, there were two maxims that were repeated to me over and over: (1) Children are to be seen and not heard, and (2) speak when spoken to. I know those two thoughts don’t fit every occasion, but as a child I soon learned there was a time to speak and a time to be quiet.
We have all been around people who were so in love with the sound of their voice they didn’t know when not to talk. I believe that is the type of person Solomon is describing in the last phrase of this verse. It is so easy to destroy relationships with hasty words that should never have been spoken. Can you remember a time when you said something and wished you could take it back, but it was too late? I certainly can.
Let’s focus for a moment on this phrase: “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life … ” When speaking of keeping your life, we are talking about your influence, your ability to interact with people. So, what does it mean to keep your mouth? When one keeps his mouth, he guards every word that comes out of his mouth. That means that we think about every word before we say it. Such an attitude requires constant focus. It requires that we give up the idea of simply saying whatever feels good and hope no body gets offended. It requires that the Holy Spirit approve my conversation, word by word. So here is the challenge for us all today. Let’s covenant with God to keep our mouth so that we can keep our life and thus keep our influence. Just my thoughts …
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51.10
David’s circumstances here certainly caused him to cry out to God for a clean heart. He had sinned with Bathsheba and Nathan, God’s prophet, had confronted him with his sin and David was broken before God. The critical thing to notice here is that even though David’s sin was heinous, he did not lose his relationship with God. He was even guilty of having Bathsheba’s husband murdered. If we are going to categorize sin, murder and adultery rank pretty high on the list. But David’s relationship with God was not broken, only his fellowship.
You and I can be thankful for the promise of eternal life. Once we come into the family of God, we have established a relationship with God that cannot be broken. Just as in our human families, there is nothing a child can do not to be our child, no matter what their behavior, the same is true in the family of God. But there are frequent times in families when the relationship is strained because of some particular behavior. Hence David prays, “renew a right spirit within me.” David has come to God with a repentant spirit. That is what God was looking for. In our own families when there is a strained relationship, we want to know if the guilty party has a repentant spirit. When they do, we are ready to forgive and move on.
Since the life you and I live each day is a delicate balance between pleasing self and glorifying God, our constant prayer needs to be that God will enable us to live a life that is above reproach and the only way we can do that is through the power of His Holy Spirit. Just my thoughts …
“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8.31
You and I live in a world that brings a lot of “things” into our lives daily. We can make the choice to let these “things” overtake us or we can realize the truth of the verse above: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” I’m sure you have heard the phrase, “You and God make a majority.” But what does that mean to you? Do you believe that your God is enough? It is one thing to say that I love God, but it is quite another thing to say that God is enough to handle my needs.
It is a given that Satan is against us. So in light of Satan’s constant daily attacks, how can the truth of this verse help us? Let’s see: (1) realize that Satan is not omniscient – only God is. (2) Realize that Satan is not omnipotent – only God is. (3) Realize that Satan is not omnipresent – only God is. Are you beginning to see the truth of our verse? Not only is God for us. He is all that we need for us. The only way Satan has any opportunity to be successful in his attacks on us is for us to allow him to succeed. What do I mean? The only place that Satan has any influence on us is in our minds. We win or lose the battle in our mind. Here are Paul’s words in Philippians 4.6-8: “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (7) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (8) Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Can you see the significance of your thought life? Don’t give Satan free reign in your thought life. Remember, “If God be for us, who can be against us? ” Just my thoughts …
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, (12) Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” Titus 2.11-12
“ … the grace of God … (is) teaching us … ” There is no better teacher than grace. There is no greater truth than grace. So, we need to listen when grace speaks. So what is grace teaching us? (1) To deny ungodliness in our lives. In our heads we know that we need to do that. Sometimes in our hearts we are not so sure. We seem to entertain thoughts of ungodliness at Satan’s suggestion. Grace says don’t. (2) We are to deny worldly lusts. Again, this is something we know in our heads but there are times when our hearts are drawn (for whatever reason) to worldly lust. Again, grace is teaching us don’t. Then grace says (3) to live soberly. The word sober here means serious, sensible, and solemn. In light of eternity, how can we choose to live any other way? Then grace says (4) to live righteously. Righteous living is right living. Most of us don’t have a problem determining right from wrong but there are times when we do struggle with choosing right rather than wrong. Grace says live righteously. Finally, grace says (5) to live godly. When you see someone who is living for God, you can tell by his or her choices, attitude, responses and behavior. When others look at your life, what do they see? What can they tell from your choices, attitude, responses and behavior? I want others to be able to see the fruit of God’s work in my life by the choices I make, the attitude I display, the responses I display to any given situation, and my behavior toward others. Do I always get it right? Absolutely not! Do I always want to get it right? Absolutely! By the way, why is this so important? Because we are living “in this present world” and they need to see God at work in us. Let’s work on this together! Just my thoughts …