7 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. – Proverbs 1:7 NLT
We are born in sin into a world of sin. We are inundated hour after hour with violence and sexual innuendos. It seems more and more that billboards and commercials are using worldly, sinful things to get us to turn away from God. Along life’s way, we pick up a lot of bad habits. Not just drugs or violent actions, but gossip, off-color language, outbursts of anger, pride, idol worship and the list goes on and on. Some of our emotional outlets can become as addictive as drugs. How do we “fix” these things? Oh, sure, I can fix some of my problems temporarily, but where can I get a time-released, longer-lasting “fix”? Our flesh is weak, but God, in His omniscience has provided us with a “how to” book for humans. It’s called the Holy Bible. Specifically the book of Proverbs gives us guidance and wisdom for our daily living situations. Read it, meditate on it, and it will be in your heart when you need it. You can get help 24/7, the line is never busy and road service is free. He comes to where we are, no waiting, no charge.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
— Ephesians 3:19 NLT
God is the Creator of all things. Therefore, they are His to give as He desires. His resources, like His love, are unlimited. Our tiny human minds cannot begin to imagine the depth. length, width, and height of God’s love. There is only one force that is powerful enough to cause a Creator to create a creature knowing that He would someday have to die on a cross to redeem His creation from eternal death. It is a love that certainly is too great for us to understand. Now, we can only try to imagine that kind of love, but one day we will know the fullness of God’s love. Today, we see in a glass darkly, but one day, we will see clearly. His love is the power in us that causes us to want to love our friends and our enemies. There are three great motivators for humans: greed, fear, and love. Greed only lasts till the money runs out, fear is only effective as long as the boss is around, but love is endless and loyal at all times.
So give love graciously and abundantly, there is no end to the supply of love.
34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” — John 13:34-35 NLT
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
16 Here’s my instruction: walk in the Spirit, and let the Spirit bring order to your life. If you do, you will never give in to your selfish and sinful cravings.
–– Gal. 5:16 Voice
Once a baby learns to stand alone, then it is time for the baby to practice toddling. You know those first shaky, unsure, unsteady steps. The baby will start, maybe make a couple of steps and fall. The baby needs someone there to catch him/her so he/she is not harmed. It is a struggle and it takes a patient parent to watch as the baby falls over and over. A good parent realizes that if the child never falls, he/she will never learn to walk by themselves. It is the same in our spiritual walk. First we crawl, then we learn to stand and then we start to take a few, unsure steps. But never fear, just like an earthly parent is there to catch the toddler, God the Holy Spirit is there to catch us. But just like the toddler, we will never develop strong spiritual legs if we are not allowed to try and fail. Just as the toddler must be encouraged and learn to keep their eyes on the goal and not on their feet, we too must keep our eyes on the goal and not on our failures. We need to be Jesus conscious and not sin conscious. The Holy Spirit will always be there to catch us, encourage us and cheer us on in the rough times. Just as a child takes time to learn to react to his senses so that he/she can stay balanced, we must learn to listen to the Holy Spirit to keep our lives balanced. He will keep us on the path and away from those things that would do us irreparable harm.
12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” — Acts 4: 12 NLT
This verse is probably one of the best known verses in the Bible. It may be very well-known but we had best not get complacent about it. Do we believe what this verse says? Is there really only one Name under heaven whereby we can be saved? Would you stake your life on it? In today’s society with its anti-Christian bent, we had better be sure we believe it if we are going to stand up for Jesus because there are thousands of our brothers and sisters around the world who are doing just that–giving their lives for Jesus. If we believe then why do we get so mealy-mouthed around the religious people of the world? There is not one religion that makes this claim, only Christianity. Our beliefs had better be rooted in Jesus and our lives built on Him. Otherwise, when the storms come and the winds of doubt and fear start beating us up, we will fall. If you read the full passage above, then you will know that verse thirteen says that the council of leaders knew that Peter and John “had been with Jesus”. Isn’t that what we want others to see in us? Enough of the likeness of Jesus that they will know that we have spent some time with Jesus. Jesus died for all sinners, we owe it to Him to let the whole world know. Are we ready to stand up, speak up and die if we have to? Let us all pray that if that time comes in our lives that we will be ready to meet the challenge and joyfully go home to be with Jesus.
8 He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!” Hezekiah’s words greatly encouraged the people.
— 2 Chronicles 32:8 NLT
When Hezekiah became king of Judah, he tore down false idol and restored the Temple. He brought back the priests and the Levites and re-established the worship services according to the words that Moses had recorded. The people had joined in and given their tithes and gift offerings with joy and celebration. It was a time of restoration in the land of Judah. Hezekiah had faithfully carried out his work. As we know, satan does not like to see the work of God carried out successfully. The only plan satan has is to see what God is doing and react to it. So, God allows him to bring Sennacherib and the Assyrian army to attack Judah and Jerusalem. Sennacherib had been successful in taking some of the walled cities of Judah and now his army had arrived at Jerusalem. Hezekiah continued his work of restoration by completing the walls of Jerusalem and building an outer wall as well. He encouraged all of the inhabitants of Jerusalem to continue in their work and worship of the true God of Israel. Hezekiah had faith that God would deliver the city from danger. He understood that it was God that had made his efforts successful and not the power of man. So, when he saw a great army of “mere men” arrayed against him, he trusted his God to deliver him and he was right in doing so. Hezekiah and the priests cried out to God and God delivered them by sending an angel to destroy the Assyrian army. When we are obedient to God we do not have to fear regardless of what the situation looks like from a human standpoint. “Trust and obey, there’s no other way”.
38 “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? — Luke 24:38 NLT
As the two men who had met Jesus on the road to Emmaus were sharing their story with the disciples, Jesus suddenly appeared among them. Jesus spoke to them and said “Peace be with you”. But they were startled and frightened, how could this be? After three years of walking with Jesus and hearing HIs teachings on a daily basis, the disciples were still not convinced that Jesus would really be resurrected. They thought they were looking at a ghost. Jesus told them to look closely and see that it was really HIm. He invited them to touch Him and know that He was real. Still, they were not fully convinced, so Jesus asked for something to eat. We can wonder at the unbelief and lack of faith of the disciples but we show that same unbelief and lack of faith when we are fearful and worry about things. We need to examine ourselves and ask ourselves the same questions that Jesus asked the disciples, “why are we frightened and why are our hearts filled with doubt”? God has told us over 365 times in the Bible in one form or the other, :“DO NOT FEAR!”. Yet, is there a day that goes by that we do not express fear and doubt with our words and/or actions? Instead of accessing the peace and the joy that Jesus has promised and is waiting to give each of us so that we can enjoy today with Him, we obsess over what MIGHT happen tomorrow. If we really believe that Jesus can and will provide our every need, then we should just rest in His arms and allow Him do exactly what He said He would do.
1 I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.
2 I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.
— Psalm 9:1, 2 NLT
As we tell and retell the Gospel story and talk about all the marvelous things God has done for us, we are filled with joy. The more we tell the old, old story, the more sure our hope becomes and the more joy we have to help us get through each day. That old liar, satan, comes around every day telling us how bad things are and pointing out all the things we don’t have. But all we need to do is stop and consider all the things with which God has blessed us. Then we need to thank Him and praise Him for all that He has done, is doing and will continue to do for us. We need to remind ourselves and satan about Paul’s admonition to us in Philippians on the things we need to focus on in our daily thought patterns.
Philippians 4:8, 9
God tells over and over that we should not worry, fear or be discouraged, yet, we spend more time considering what we are going to do when bad things happen than we do praising God for what He has done, is doing and will continue to do for us. Just as we don’t want to hear our kids complaining about what they don’t have all the time, neither does God want to hear our murmurs and complaining every day. It was this kind of behavior by God’s chosen people that caused Him to be angry with them on their trek through the desert. Do we want best friends who only tell us about their problems or those who share their concerns and their victories with us? God is our best friend, let us treat Him like we would our best friend. Talk with Him, not just to Him every day and praise Him for all of His goodness, then we will be filled with HIs peace and His joy, which is His gift to us.
32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom. — Luke 12:32 NLT
Most Christians are very familiar with this passage of Scripture. We are probably more familiar with the version in Matthew 6. These passages are about how God will take care of us and all of our needs. We are warned not to be concerned about our needs for tomorrow. Rather, we are to be concerned with our thoughts and activities for today. In the above verse, God extends that promise to include not only our needs but the whole Kingdom of God. We assume that that is a promise for the future and it is. But, if we put this verse in the context of what Jesus is teaching the disciples and us, then it becomes a promise for now and later. Particulary, in the Matthew version, this teaching follows closely after Jesus has taught the disciples what we call “The Lord’s Prayer”. In that prayer, Jesus teaches us to pray,”Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth even as it is in heaven.” We are a part of the Kingdom of God that exists on earth now. Not in its perfect state, that will come later, nevertheless, it exists now and God wants us to enjoy the benefits of living in the Kingdom now and much more later. It gives God great joy when we accept His gifts and live lives that are full of joy and worry-free. When Jesus tells us not to worry and not to fear, His words are not just empty words, they carry the weight of the Resurrection Power of God behind them! They are more than a mere suggestion!
42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. — Luke 22:42, 43 NLT
As we read about all the miracles that Jesus performed while He was here on earth we sometimes forget and need to be reminded that He, like us, was fully human. He did all of His works as a man, not as God. He even told us that He could do nothing in and of Himself but that He could only do the works of the Father.(John 5:19). We are told by the writer of Hebrews that even though Jesus was the Son of God, He still offered prayers and pleadings to the One who could rescue Him from death (Hebrews 5:8). Jesus knew and understood His mission because He had been in on the planning session that occurred before the foundations of the earth were laid. But in the flesh, He was not looking forward to the experience of being separated from His Father for the first and only time in His life. Separated because when He took our sins upon Himself, the Father could not look at Him or comfort Him in any way. While Jesus was in the flesh as a man, God sent Moses and Elijah to talk with Him about His death on the Cross (Mount of Transfiguration, Luke 9:31). As Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, God sent an angel to strengthen Him. What we need to realize is that God does the same thing for us. If we listen carefully and heed His words, we will find that there is nothing that happens to us that He has not carefully prepared us to bear.
Jesus lived every day knowing the cruel death that awaited Him on the cross. Yet, He set His face toward Jerusalem and never turned back. Do we live every day prepared to die for what we know is true? If we do, then we can die prepared to live forever and that knowledge should remove any fear of death that we have.
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. — John 14:27 NIV
In our daily lives, why do we not experience the peace that God has made available to us? Is there a secret to finding and holding onto that peace? Is it necessary to do something special or quote a particular verse to access the peace that God has so freely given to us? Is that peace for now or for some time in the future? Is that peace even real? If we could discover how to find and hold onto that peace, wouldn’t it be a great blessing to us and a great message to a world in chaos?
Maybe, it starts with our definition of peace. God’s peace isn’t the absence of troubles or violence or loss or storms. It is learning to have peace while we live in and go through those times. Jesus, as a man suffered rejection, ridicule, betrayal, and tremendous persecution, yet He did not sin by worrying or being afraid, but held onto the peace that the Father gave Him. We say,”Yes, but Jesus was _______” and you can fill in the blank. The truth is that while He was on earth, Jesus was fully human. He walked, talked, grew tired, rested, became hungry and ate common food. He was, in fact, just like us, except that He didn’t sin. He is our example that peace is not a lack of certain issues but a gift that we must learn to experience everyday. When He was in the boat with the disciples in the midst of the storm, He slept. The disciples became anxious and feared for their lives. Jesus spoke, the storm dissipated and peace was restored to the sea. Jesus is with us in the boat as we sail through life. When the storms come, ask Him to speak to your storm and experience His peace. So, it is not some secret formula, it is complete faith in believing what Jesus said.