Archive for October, 2012

Fear leads to Trembling, but Faith leads to Triumphing II

October 31, 2012

Mark Twain said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” In Mark 5, we see that Jesus proclaimed this long before Twain wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885).Today, we will finish our exploration into Fear leads to Trembling, but Faith leads to Triumphing II. Remember, Christ asks us to demonstrate faith in the face of that which causes us to fear. In doing so, Christ is asking us to trust in Him more than that which we fear. To be seized by fear means we regard that threat greater than we do of God.

Let’s see Jesus’ espousal of trusting in Him more than in that which we fear. In Mark 522 Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there. Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet 23 and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him… 35 While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher any more?” 36 Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” 37 He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. 38 When they came to the home of the synagogue ruler, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and walked around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. 43 He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.”

There are a number of focal points going on in this text, but I will only emphasize how Christ asks us to demonstrate faith in the face of that which causes us to fear. I am sure that you can empathize with Jairus. His daughter was dying when he went to Jesus. It has been said that people fear death more than anything else. If there is sliver of truth in that claim, we know the grief that Jairus was contemplating.

As one of the synagogue rulers, one would assume that Jairus’ did not subscribe to faith in Jesus. It is amazing the positional changes when real life stressors surround you. How did Jairus, one of the synagogue rulers, get Jesus to come with him? The Word says, “Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet 23 and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” Jairus first saw Jesus as the only one who could meet the need. Next, he fell at Jesus’ feet signifying his humility and submission to Christ. Then, he pleaded for help while exercising faith in Christ when he said, ‘Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”

Jairus’ fear of being rejected by the other synagogue rulers did not prohibit him from seeking help from Jesus. Jairus’ fear of his daughter dying prompted him to have faith in Christ; yet, he was still afraid. To that Christ asked him to take the next step in faith, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” We see that he apparently obeyed as his daughter was raised to life as she had died while Jesus was in route.

I am sure Jesus knew that his daughter would be dead by the time they arrived. This is what Jesus was telling Jairus to not be afraid of but to believe. It is not common everyday that Jesus literally raises people from the dead, though some are raised daily. The emphasis is on not allowing our greatest fear to prevent us from trusting in God. Remember, Fear leads to Trembling, but Faith leads to Triumphing. Jairus contextualizes the spiritual aspect of what Mark Twain said when he uttered “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” Be courageous and have faith in Christ. He is able.

 

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Fear leads to Trembling, but Faith leads to Triumphing

October 30, 2012

In the post I’ve Been Robbed, a juxtaposition of fear and faith were presented in order to help us see the by-product of each. As I transition from focusing on fear to focusing on faith, conclude the posts on Fear and Faith, I wanted to present what Jesus portrays about the results of fear and the results of faith. The one in which we let rule determines our interaction with God. More importantly, it determines how God responds to us. Remember Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” In Fear leads to Trembling, but Faith leads to Triumphing, Jesus demonstrates that concept in Mark 5.

In Mark 5, we see many things going on. There are three characters who receive healing from Jesus. We have the Demon Possessed Man, A Dead Girl and A Sick Woman. Let me digress from where I am going for a moment. Why would a demon pursue Jesus? He didn’t Jesus came to release those held bondage by sin to God which is what that encounter represents. Jesus evidences His power over satan/demons through this interaction. How can a dead girl pursue Jesus? She could not. The dying girl’s father pursued Jesus for her. In this account, Jesus reveals that there are times when others have to have faith for us to bring about His healing whether spiritually or in other ways. As the dying girl’s account is introduced, it is intersected by the Sick Woman. Lastly, the Sick Woman who had suffered for years from bleeding demonstrated how Fear leads to Trembling, but Faith leads to Triumphing.

Actually all do in some way, but I want to focus on the Sick Woman. In Mark 5, we see Jesus responding to the dying girl’s father’s plea to address her illness. While on the way, the Sick Woman seeks Jesus out. Why? The passage tells us When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Was her faith in Christ rewarded? Yes!!! Once more the Word says, “29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.”

“Who touched my clothes?” Jesus asked when the power had gone out from Him because of the woman’s faith. Many, at first reading including the disciples who were there, ask how could Jesus ask this question. Many ask for different reasons. Rest assured, Jesus knew, but He wanted a public restoration of the woman not one done surreptitiously. Jesus always wants the truth properly presented. We see the woman trembling with fear because she did not know how Jesus would one respond to a woman, two respond to one who had gotten something from Him without asking.

Let’s see the what the Word says, ” 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Her fear did not paralyze her causing her initially fail to engage Jesus. She pursued Jesus in faith that if she just touched His garment that she would be healed. Now, we see Jesus recognize, confirm and commend her faith. In verse 34 above, Jesus says, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Calling her daughter already conveys the relationship Jesus has included her. It shows that she has been accepted by Christ. It shows that her faith was rewarded just as we are told in Hebrews 11:6.

Jesus sees our faith just as He saw the Sick Woman’s. Like Jairus and the Sick Woman, we have a choice to make. What will rule our belief system. Let’s do what Jesus told Jairus, the synagogue ruler“Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Jesus clear presents that Fear leads to Trembling, but Faith leads to Triumphing. 

Buffeted by Waves of Water and Wind

October 29, 2012

Over the past few days, the threat of Hurricane Sandy has created alarm on the eastern coastline from the Carolinas to the far Northeast. From yesterday to this morning, everyone in path of the storm is preparing for the worst. There will be storm surges of water from 2 to 8 feet tall and winds as high as 60 miles per hour. Further inland, snow is predicted up to 10 inches. President Obama as well as all the meteorologist are calling for people to take the storm seriously. There are calls for people to prepare and batten down the hatches.

Similarly, there are storms in our lives that we must take seriously. We know that storm surges of life will assail us. For Sandy, it has been said this storm is coming whether you are prepared or not. Likewise, God has repeatedly called us to prepare for them; yet, many of us ignore the pleas of God to prepare for the storm. The primary means for us prepare for the storm is to seek shelter under the everlasting arm. Psalm 61:4 says, “I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.” Psalm 91:4 says, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Like with Sandy, the window of opportunity to prepare approaches quickly. Take this literal storm as well as the example in Matthew 14:22-32 as warnings and act.

Let’s read the text.

Matthew 14:22-32

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”  28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Like many instances in our lives, this storm that disciples encountered a great manifestation of the power of Christ. This account follows the account of Jesus feeding the 5,000. This is the first sign to prepare. When we experience a great victory, we should be on our guard against a storm in our lives. In terms of responding to the storm, we see it is natural for man to be concerned about the waves and winds in our lives; however, Peter’s encounter tells us that we should not focus on the storm but the Savior. When we are Buffeted by Waves of Water and Wind, we should look at the Savior to sustain us.

In fact, Jesus immediately tells the disciples to “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Take courage is also translated be of good cheer. Why are we to be courageous? By definition, courage causes us to face our fear of danger, evil or harm. Jesus is saying because I am with you face your fear and do not be afraid. We sink or fail when we fail to exercise our faith in Christ. Of Peter, Christ said, “why did you doubt?” Of us, Christ will say the same thing – “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

When Christ exercises His sovereignty over the waves and winds in our lives, we should conclude and worship like the disciples who said, “Truly you are the Son of God.” As we are Buffeted by Waves of Water and Wind, we must remember that Jesus, as the Son of God, tells us to “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Do Not Fear “Deaf”

October 27, 2012

One of the most hurtful yet infuriating experiences is to be ignored. What it communicates is that one is not important to the one whom words or a plea is being spoken. In dealing with kids everyday, most of the conflicts have to do with feeling unimportant. While there are many who will ignore us, God tells us Do Not Fear “Deaf” for He responds when we humble ourselves and express our plea to Him.

Listen to Lamentations 3:56-58

56 You heard my plea: “Do not close your ears
to my cry for relief.”
57 You came near when I called you,
and you said, “Do not fear.”

58 O Lord, you took up my case;
you redeemed my life.

The Word is clear that when we turn our backs on God He will pursue us to humble us. We will suffer hardships to humble us to draw us back into a right relationship with Him. That is too wonderful. Someone whom we ignore, push away does not immediately take vengeance but seeks reconciliation. Let’s not forget those that we are encouraged to seek Him. Isaiah 55:6-7:

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way
and the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

God tells us that He will not ignore us but hear us when we draw near and humble ourselves. While we are able, this is our reason God tells us Do Not Fear “Deaf”. He will hear our plea when we call upon Him in humility, so “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” Do not ignore the Lord.

Don’t Fear Shame and Disgrace

October 26, 2012

I am not sure about you, but I do not like to experience shame and disgrace. Dictionary.com defines shame as the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another. We can look all around and find examples of people experiencing that emotion. In our text today (Isaiah 54), God’s gives the message Do Not Fear Shame and Disgrace. How is this explained in Isaiah 54?

Isaiah 54

“Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame.
Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
You will forget the shame of your youth
and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.
For your Maker is your husband—
the Lord Almighty is his name—
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the God of all the earth.
The Lord will call you back
as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—
a wife who married young,
only to be rejected,” says your God.
“For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with deep compassion I will bring you back.
In a surge of anger
I hid my face from you for a moment,
but with everlasting kindness
I will have compassion on you,”
says the Lord your Redeemer.

Matthew Henry is quoted saying “after the prophet had foretold the sufferings of Christ, he foretels the flourishing of the church, which is a part of his glory, and that exaltation of him which was the reward of his humiliation: it was promised him that he should see his seed, and this chapter is an explication of that promise. it has a further and principal reference to the gospel church, into which the Gentiles were to be admitted. And the first words being understood by the apostle Paul of the New-Testament Jerusalem (Gal. 4:26) may serve as a key to the whole chapter and that which follows. It is here promised concerning the Christian church, I. That, though the beginnings of it were small, it should be greatly enlarged by the accession of many to it among the Gentiles, who had been wholly destitute of church privileges, Isa. 54:1-5. II. That though sometimes God might seem to withdraw from her, and suspend the tokens of his favour, he would return in mercy and would not return to contend with them any more, Isa. 54:6-10.

With all of that, God says, “Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.” How would the people not suffer shame or disgrace? For your Maker is your husband— the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.” Imagine the shame and disgrace Christ may have felt being betrayed by those whom He trusted the most. Imagine the shame and disgrace Christ may have felt when they striped him nearly bare hanging him on the cross and making him for supposedly being God. The believers are the manifestation of Christ reason not to feel shame and disgrace.

Like Christ, we have the privilege to suffer for the cause of Christ. Do Not Fear Shame and Disgrace while living for Christ as there is honor in suffering for Christ. Listen to what 1 Peter 2 says about the matter:

“19 For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

22 “He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

Notice, it is not commendable to suffer for sins we commit; however, “it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.” The contemporary version expresses the verse as God will bless you, even if others treat you unfairly for being loyal to him. Throughout all of this notion about being fearful of evil, danger or pain, the sole commonality is trusting in God. This same construct is here. If you are one who trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ, Do Not Fear Shame and Disgrace for all we go through for Him leads to blessings.

God’s Remedy for Fear

October 25, 2012

As we continue to explore fear, I wanted to provide a quote that provoke thought. Nelson Mandela said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” That’s an inspiring quote, but that’s the thing about that which inspires. It appeals to our emotion invoking energy  to reach a destination beyond our current state but often leaves out the process to get there.

It is for that reason that I love the Word of God and God Himself. God inspires as well as provides the road map and directions of how to achieve the desired result. When fear refers to having a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil or pain whether the threat is real or imagined, God gives us a resolution to fear for those who have been RestoredLet us look to Psalm 91 to see God’s Remedy for Fear.

Psalm 91

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the Lord, who is my refuge—
10 then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

In verse 5, we see the result of God’s Remedy for Fear.  In verse 1, the psalmist shares the remedy. The verse states the theme of the whole psalm. Those who draw near to God can have peace in Him, however difficult their circumstances.(Ligonier Ministries). There is a great deal more that I could expound on in those first five verses or the rest of the passage for that matter; however, as my friend Thomas says, “Let’s keep the main thing, the main thing.”

Following that admonition, where are you with dwelling in the shelter of the Most High, resting in the shadow of the Almighty? The Most High is a name of God signifying that He is the ruler of all monarchies or angel-princes and Almighty is Shaddai, the Almighty (of God). The battles referred can be equated to the struggles of life. In your life’s struggles, are you in drawing near to God trusting in who He is and what He has promised? If you, like me at times, are still fearing, you must consume God’s Remedy for Fear.

Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me

October 24, 2012

In the post I’ve Been Robbed, the notion that fear robs us of the peace, joy, assurance, direction and purpose God has for those who have surrendered their lives to Him through the Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. Today, we will explore another facet of not allow fear to rob us of the peace God has. By now, I am sure many of you have heard the big news all over the ajc and the television. Many of you not living here have not. Let’s just say that I made the news again not in a favorable way. Initially, I was horrified at the possible impact of the infraction. Quickly after that, the natural urge to consider yourself sprung up like weeds after a quick summer’s rain; however, God seamlessly goaded me to this question and conclusion: Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround meRead Psalm 49. The psalmist starts off heralding his purpose saying Hear this, all you peoples; Paul finishes for us by saying, ” For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12

Psalm 49

Hear this, all you peoples;
listen, all who live in this world,
both low and high,
rich and poor alike:
My mouth will speak words of wisdom;
the utterance from my heart will give understanding.
I will turn my ear to a proverb;
with the harp I will expound my riddle:

Why should I fear when evil days come,
when wicked deceivers surround me—
those who trust in their wealth
and boast of their great riches?
No man can redeem the life of another
or give to God a ransom for him—
the ransom for a life is costly,
no payment is ever enough—
that he should live on forever
and not see decay.

10 For all can see that wise men die;
the foolish and the senseless alike perish
and leave their wealth to others.
11 Their tombs will remain their houses forever,
their dwellings for endless generations,
though they had named lands after themselves.

12 But man, despite his riches, does not endure;
he is like the beasts that perish.

13 This is the fate of those who trust in themselves,
and of their followers, who approve their sayings. Selah
14 Like sheep they are destined for the grave,
and death will feed on them.
The upright will rule over them in the morning;
their forms will decay in the grave,
far from their princely mansions.
15 But God will redeem my life from the grave;
he will surely take me to himself. Selah

16 Do not be overawed when a man grows rich,
when the splendor of his house increases;
17 for he will take nothing with him when he dies,
his splendor will not descend with him.
18 Though while he lived he counted himself blessed—
and men praise you when you prosper—
19 he will join the generation of his fathers,
who will never see the light of life.

20 A man who has riches without understanding
is like the beasts that perish.

Undoubtedly, we are impacted by the acts carried out by those in flesh and blood. The Word does not proclaim that as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ that we are immune and impervious to hardships and sufferings. In fact, the Word declares that we will experience those things. Despite that, we should focus on spending eternity united with God through the blood of Christ. Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me? The implication is that we should not. I will stand in confidence in the Lord not in land, wisdom, riches or vain confidence in myself.

In Jeremiah 9:23-24,

23 This is what the Lord says:

“Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,
24 but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord.

Do not Fear; God is an ever-present help in trouble

October 23, 2012

I think that most would agree that our thinking significantly impacts our actions. Since that is the case, we must guard our thoughts to ensure we take the right steps or course of action. What is it that the Word of God says about God? Jeremiah 23:24 tells us about God’s omnipresence and omnipotence. Listen to what is said: “Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord.”Omnipresence is closely related to omnipotence and omniscience, that is, God who is everywhere is able to act everywhere, and He acts in infinite wisdom at every point because He knows all things. He has access to all places and all secrets. The omnipresence of God, therefore, is a source of comfort and strength to the believer.

In that, God is everywhere, and God has the power to do anything. The writer in Psalms 46 expresses a complete understanding of those concepts. Listen to what he says.

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

Who is God? Our refuge. A refuge is a place of shelter and protection from harm. When it rains, we seek refuge. When people are persecuted, they seek refuge. God is the shelter and protection for the believer. This is what the psalmist is saying. He also says as a consequence of God being a shelter and protection that we will not fear. Fear is an emotion that develops from concern that some imminent danger or harm will actually befall us.

In verse seven, the psalmist wrote “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” If you know that the all-present and all-powerful God is with you why would one fear? The only reason is that one truly doesn’t know or refuses to believe who God is. We must stand in the admonition of God through the psalmist as he says Do not Fear; God is an ever-present help in trouble. Where is the trouble in your life right now? Immanuel, God with us, is there with you. Do not Fear.

I will not fear the tens of thousands

October 21, 2012

In the post I’ve Been Robbed, the notion of fear robbing man of the peace and security God intends for those in relationship with Him is presented. We all want to be at peace, but life presents a myriad of continual circumstances that challenge our faith. While I am sure that I could recount to you a wealth of fearful moments in my life, I am even more sure that the manner in which I responded to them will not yield the benefits of moments recorded by God in His Word. Consequently, let’s look at the Word of God for another example. In Psalm 3, we the scene starts off “Surrounded by trouble and crying out to the Lord in distress, the psalmist (David) expresses deep trust in God. The psalm was originally composed when David fled from Absalom (his son) and battled against revolt. The military terminology throughout the psalm may indicate that it continued to be used in warfare” (Ligonier Ministries). The account of the encounter with his son Absalom is found in 2 Samuel.

Psalm 3

O Lord, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.” Selah

But you are a shield around me, O Lord;
you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
To the Lord I cry aloud,
and he answers me from his holy hill. Selah

I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear the tens of thousands
drawn up against me on every side.

Arise, O Lord!
Deliver me, O my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.

From the Lord comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people. Selah

Surrounded by trouble and crying out to the Lord in distress, the psalmist expresses deep trust in God. The psalm was originally composed when David fled from Absalom and battled against revolt. The military terminology throughout the psalm may indicate that it continued to be used in warfare (Ligonier Ministries). Of David, Matthew Henry wrote “David, having stirred up himself by the irritations of his enemies to take hold on God as his God, and so gained comfort in looking upward when, if he looked round about him, nothing appeared but what was discouraging, here looks back with pleasing reflections upon the benefit he had derived from trusting in God and looks forward with pleasing expectations of a very bright and happy issue to which the dark dispensation he was now under would shortly be brought.” Basically, David got upset and concerned about the threat of his surrounding enemies, of which his son initiated.

Like David, we have a choice. We will either allow our fear to consume us or we will draw peace and comfort from reflecting on God’s multiple promises to be our God, Immanuel – God with us. We are told in Isaiah 43:5 “Do not be afraid, for I am with you;” David knew that God was with Him. When will we develop that same conviction of thought and assurance? When will we exercise our faith. Faith without works is dead (James 2:20). We must take hold of the position that God is with us; therefore, we will not fear. What’s facing you now? Remember, if Jesus is your Lord and Savior, God is with you.

Stand in Moments of Challenge and Controversy

October 20, 2012

Once more, we are exploring how those who trust in God confront and conquer fear. Out of fear, people make all kinds of decisions that they would not normally make. In most cases, it leads to regrettable consequences. Don’t get me wrong, I realize that in instantaneous experiences where one is fearful is one situation. The circumstances that I am challenging are ones where we have time to consider how we will respond in the face of some danger, harm or evil. This is where God requires us to trust in Him rather than allow fear to dominate our hearts and minds which take us to a different reality.

Dr. Martin Luther King understood this dynamic. One of his famous quotes is “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and conveniences, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”As usual, let us look to the Word to provide us a living example. Today’s text is Exodus 1:15-22. Here we find some women who want to honor God more than they want to honor man. That perspective or position is the determining factor on where we Stand in Moments of Challenge and Controversy. Read the text below.

15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 “When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” 17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. 18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?” 19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.” 20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own. 22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”

We see in Exodus 1:15-22 where did the protagonist Stand in Moments of Challenge and Controversy. God’s Word tells us “the midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them. We see how they stood in challenge and controversy.” The question is will you honor God more than man or yourself. Fear is acquiescence to idolatry which is the 2 Commandment: “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” God is not asking where will stand. He is telling us where He expects us to stand. We should pray for the strength and courage to trust Him not our fears. Because the midwives did, Moses lived and lead the Israelites out of captivity. What a great story of deliverance brought about by the midwives facing their fears even with their lives on the line. God is faithful folks.