This week’s Weekend Bible Reflection column I wrote for the Calhoun Times is all about needing God’s help to remain faithful to Him this year. You can check it out via Isaiah 41:10: “Fear Not, For I Am With You…”
Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:7-9 – Scripture Of The Day (January 9, 2014)
If Dwight Eisenhower stood in Joshua’s shoes, he would have much reason to be afraid. Cross a body of water that separates you from the enemy’s terrain by…asking men carrying a box of gold to start to walk into it so that it will turn into dry land?? (Josh. 3:1ff) Attack a walled, fortified city and cause its walls to fall down by…marching around it while playing music and shouting?? (Josh. 6:1ff) I wonder how long it would have taken FDR to show Eisenhower the door if he had proposed similar battle plans for D-Day. No wonder the Bible says Joshua and Israel did these things “by faith” (Heb. 11:30).
Here’s the thing, friends. God has not asked us to perform miracles today like he did back then…but he HAS told us to abide by his Word and not turn from it just as he did with Joshua (Matt. 7:21-27; John 8:31-32; 14:15, 21, 23-24; 15:10, 14; Rom. 6:17-18; Heb. 5:9; 1 John 3:24; 5:2-3). Of themselves, his commandments are not hard (1 John 5:3). It is not inherently hard to submit to immersion for forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), to treat others as you would want to be treated (Matt. 7:12), to continually add to your faith the Christian attributes God would have you to possess (2 Pet. 1:5-11; Eph. 4:20-5:21), to worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24), and to bring the gospel to a lost world (Mark 16:15). However, what often makes them hard for us to accomplish as we should is fear and discouragement, the very things God told Joshua to avoid. Even though what he has told us to do is in itself much easier than marching around a walled city expecting it to fall with a shout, how often do we find it hard to share the gospel because of the fear of persecution? How often do we find it difficult let our light shine in the way in which God wants because of dismay and discouragement (assuming prideful, stubborn, selfishness is not also a factor)?
What we must remember is that the same God who promised to be with Joshua and give him success in his endeavors to obey his will is also with us and has given us that same promise (Matt. 6:25-34; 28:18-20; Heb. 13:5b-6; 1 John 4:4). Not only that, but he has promised us continual forgiveness if we become Christians through penitent baptism (Acts 2:38; 22:16) and then humbly confess and repent of our sins afterwards (1 John 1:7-9; Acts 8:22; 2 Cor. 7:9-11). That means that we have an inheritance in eternal Heaven no matter what happens to us in this life! (1 Pet. 1:3-7) If we make our top priority being faithful citizens of his kingdom and being righteous in his sight (Matt. 6:33), he will supply for us what we truly need both in this life and in the next! So let’s be strong and courageous…for God is with us as we stand for him!
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:7 – Scripture Of The Day (January 7, 2014)
About eleven years ago I had a Bible study with a potential convert at the International House Of Pancakes. This young Air Force officer came from a denominational background and had initially thought that one church was as good as another, but was intrigued by the simple and powerful message of the Bible (Eph. 4:4-6; 1 Cor. 1:10-13). We were in a booth talking over pancakes, eggs, and bacon about how God’s Word teaches that there is only one church and one faith when suddenly I heard a loud sniff from the booth across the aisle, followed by a harsh clearing of the throat. I looked over and saw an older woman sitting there fixing me with a very disapproving stare.
“I can’t believe you are telling this man that he is mistaken about what he believes in!” she said, clearly very angry with me. To make a long story short, she rudely rebuffed the invitation I gave to join our Bible study, and then slapped the card out of my hand when I invited her to come to church. My friend looked like he wanted to drop down into the floor, and to be honest I had that familiar tightening in my diaphragm and flushed face that comes from fear.
And yet…what did we really have to be afraid of? Eleven years have passed, and I haven’t seen that woman since that day. Before that day, God had already been blessing me “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3), he continued to do so even while that woman was chastising me, and he has continued blessing me ever since. As a Christian, I still had my salvation and forgiveness of sins, I still could approach my Maker and Redeemer in prayer. I still possessed the wisdom and knowledge of God to guide me through the hard times of life which I received through continual meditation and obedience of the Spirit-inspired Word. I still had my inheritance in heaven. Plus, I still had the physical blessings of life which God graciously gave to me. Regardless of that woman’s disapproval, I still had a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food on my table, a bed to sleep in, and many luxuries also. Not long after that, God would bless me with a wonderful wife, and then with a sweet daughter…along with many, many more blessings.
Christians, God has not given us a spirit of fear, timidity, and cowardice. We have nothing to be afraid of. Even if that woman had killed me because of the faith I was sharing, she would in actuality be doing me a favor because my name is written in that Book, and eternity with God is waiting (Phil. 1:23). So there is no reason to be afraid to do what God told us to do and share our faith with the lost so that their souls might be saved. The gospel is God’s power to save (Rom. 1:16), and if we have the love and self-control he wants us to have then we will take advantage of every opportunity to exercise that spirit of power and love and self-control he gave to us by sharing that saving message with all (Mark 16:15; Matt. 28:19-20).
Remember this, Christians: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:6)