Category Archives: FearNot

Two Roads…Which is the Path of Wisdom?

The road divides. One path is paved with brick, the other with stone. There are lamps on each, about 50 yards ahead. Beyond that, darkness. Trees on either side and between indicate that you must choose now, for there is no indication that these roads rejoin one another. You have no map, and none of those around you have travelled either of these roads before. This is your journey, your choice – but where is the Wisdom you seek to guide you?

Exodus 28, 31, 35, and 36 speak of the wisdom granted to craftsmen that they might do quality work in the service of their God. The skills, talents, and experiences you possess have been granted by the One who knows the path He designed you for. You will draw upon what you know, but do not lean too hard on your understanding, as He has been known to flip human understanding on its head. Seek His companionship and counsel with all that you are, and He will add light to your way. (Proverbs 3:5-6, Deut 4:29, Psalms 119:105)

In Deut 4:1-6, Moses reminds the people that they have been given God’s commands, and their wisdom and understanding will come from following them. So, in light of Exodus 20, examine the two choices:
• Which will lead you to recognize God alone, and which will distract you from Him?
• Which will cause you to depend on, or spend time and energy serving, something other than God?
• Which will bring you opportunity to hallow His name among your peers and neighbors? Which will cause them to believe He is not enough for your needs, or theirs? Which will diminish the worth of His name in your eyes, or theirs?
• Which will honor your desire to give God His weekly Sabbath, and which will insist that you invest God’s Sabbath hours in another agenda?
• Which will lead you to honor your heritage, especially living parents? Which environment will lead your children to honor you as God commands? Which environment will lead to exasperating your children, causing their honor of you to be diminished?
• Which risks the death of another – whether their body, their spirit, their reputation, their relationship with God?
• Which risks the relationship with your spouse or chosen mate? Which will open you, or that person, to temptation? Which will best honor them and the role and responsibility granted by God to them in your life?
• Which risks your integrity? Which may lead you to take pay or pencils that are not your established right to have? Which may lead you to take time, resources, experiences, or honor from your loved ones?
• Which risks your honesty? Which may lead you to wear masks in different environments, either by command of your superiors or by your own need to hide or present an artificial self?
• Which risks your contentment? Which may lead you to become jealous of your peers and neighbors, or the stranger in the marketplace? Which may lead you to an unholy dissatisfaction with your environment, possessions, or relationships?

In summary, which choice will keep you on your face before God, honoring who He is without shame as He examines your every action, word, and motive? Which will keep you, His child, anxious to meet with Him daily, that you might hear His praise, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”?

He has never left your side, and never will. He has led others safely through the unfamiliar. He knows how you think, and how to tell you in the unique language of your heart, “this is the way, walk here.” (Isaiah 30:21, paraphrased) He also knows how to redirect your course if you choose the unfavorable path. The focus of your trust must be in Him, in the provision and protection He has already shown you.

If you remain uncertain, step slowly onto one path or the other, and trust Him to rearrange the pavement as He sees fit. He’s been known to do that, just ask Saul of Tarsus, aka Paul.

Fear Not – Week 6 (‘ish)

Yes, it’s November, I’m woefully late…or perhaps I’m ahead of schedule for next year. A glass half empty is still half a glass, yes?

Fear Not the Hordes, This is God’s Fight

II Chronicles 20:17 – Three armies join together to take on Jehoshaphat, king of Judah and Jerusalem. In verse 3, he “set himself to seek the Lord.” In verse 12, he prays “we have no might…we don’t know what to do…our eyes are on You.”  He declared a fast that the people might also pray, then he struck up the choir to lead the people in singing praises to the unchanging God who had already shown Himself strong on their behalf.

Oh that we had the wisdom of Jehoshaphat…how many times have I cut myself drawing my sword? How many times have you?? Here’s his battle strategy: seek the Lord, lay out the problem before Him, skip some meals (or cappuccino) to devote time and focus to Him, recall His faithfulness and displayed strength. We can do that – we should do that. All this saber rattling is a noisy waste when we could be making music that proclaims the virtues of our God (not ourselves).

So, in verse 17, Jehoshaphat gets the word: you don’t need to fight this one, set yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord; #fear_not, “for the Lord will be with you.” Verse 22 gives the rest of the story – as soon as they began singing praises, the three armies turned on one another – problem solved.

“Praise ye the Lord, His mercy endures forever.” (v21)

God Avenges His Own

Psalm 55:19, Psalm 64:4 – These are the next two “fear not” references, and like a few others, they are descriptive rather than declarative. In these two chapters, David is praying about those who would stab him in the back, with no regard for friendship or for God. In Psalm 55, they “fear not God”, and in 64, they “shoot…bitter words…and fear not.”

David’s response to hypocrisy, back-stabbing, and slander is to put his full confidence in God, who avenges His own in ways most perfect.

  • Ps 55:16, “As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me.”
  • Ps 55:22, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee…”
  • Ps 55:23, “…but I will trust in Thee.”
  • Ps 64:1, “Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy.”
  • Ps 64:10, “The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and shall trust in Him…”

#FearNot – the God who sees all avenges those who put their full trust in Him, in His time, in His way.

Evil Plots Have Short Life Spans

Isaiah 7:4-7 – The kings of Syria and Israel brought their armies against Jerusalem, but they couldn’t win. Isaiah was sent to king Ahaz to tell him “Fear Not…It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.” As a matter of fact, one group won’t even exist as a people group just 65 years in the future (their future).

As for Ahaz, he is warned in verse 9 that those who will not believe will not be established. That goes for us as well. We have to know that we are firmly planted in an eternally stable foundation, and we have to keep trusting in Him no matter what comes at us. We have to remember that His sovereignty and goodness ensures that evil plots have short life spans.

God, being eternal, takes the long view. If we can tap into His perspective, we’ll find it much easier to #FearNot.

God will Reclaim and Restore

Isaiah 35:4 – Isaiah has just declared God’s message of destruction upon the enemies of God – a sure destruction that comes from Him, not from human agents (in case anyone was thinking otherwise). In that time, after God declares enough to be enough, complete restoration is promised to the land and to the people who trust in Him.

Verses 3-4 say, “Strengthen the weak hands and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold your God will come with vengeance and recompense; he will come and save you.” Then, declares Isaiah,

  • human limitations will be removed
  • parched ground will become a pool
  • green plants will grow
  • no ravenous beasts will be there

Verse 10, “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return…with songs and everlasting joy…and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”

If you have put your full trust in God, #FearNot, He will reclaim and restore, in His time.

 The One God is Your Helper

Isaiah 41:13-14 – Twice in one statement, God says, “Fear not, I will help you.” The chapter contrasts the gods and idols crafted by hand with the One God who chose Jacob and called Abraham His friend. Those who serve other gods cannot demonstrate any power, compassion, or provision that comes from beyond themselves, so they are as nothing in comparison.

Though we are as worms before Him, God declares that He will hold our hand, will bring water to the thirsty, will help His own. Many bow to the gods of finance, politics, fame, or other things that they can make and destroy with their own hands. Those who bow to the One who chooses, leads, protects, provides, knows, and declares past and future have cause and evidence to carry on without fear.

A verse from “How Firm a Foundation” is drawn from verse 10 of this chapter:  Fear not, I am with thee – oh be not dismayed – for I am thy God, I will still give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent word. #FearNot.

 God Doesn’t Simply Write Us Off

Isaiah 43:1,5 – In chapter 42, a new plan is declared, a perfect/complete answer (take note, Galactic Hitchhikers).  The people God created and redeemed as His have turned aside to worship idols. By ignoring or rejecting their only salvation, they have chosen a destruction that they should know to avoid. And we tend to do the same.

Yet, as chapter 43 opens, God reminds them that He doesn’t simply write off His investments: “Fear not, I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.”  In verse 5, He says “Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west.” Those He has scattered, He will bring back, because they are precious to Him. They are precious because He created and chose them, no matter their worth by other standards.

If God has called your name and redeemed you, you are precious to Him, no matter your perceived worth by other standards. #FearNot, He will not write you off until all accounts are settled. Come back to the One who tattooed your name into the palm of His hand with a large Roman nail. In verses 25-26 He says, “I am he that blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and will not remember your sins. Remember me, let’s discuss this, confess and be declared righteous.” (slightly paraphrased)

 God is Willing and Able to Bless

Isaiah 44:2 – Again, God reiterates that in His sovereignty He has chosen a people for Himself. Though they are fickle toward Him, He will be faithful toward them and bring blessing to their generations. In verse 5 He tells that there will be others (aka Gentiles) who also belong to Him and will be blessed.

He points out the futility (and absurdity) of trusting in idols, and reminds His people once again that He alone is God, who

  • brings plenty of water to thirsty people and dry ground
  • pours His own Spirit into those who will receive Him
  • pours blessings upon those who trust Him
  • welcomes all who call upon Him
  • knows the end from the beginning and declares the future
  • blots out the record of confessed sins (greatest blessing!)
  • created the heavens and the earth
  • frustrates liars and mystics
  • confuses the wise
  • confirms and fulfills the words of His servants
  • holds power over lands, seas, and kings

He who can and will do all that has declared that those who trust in Him will be blessed by Him. There is no other to trust in, no other who has shown the mercy and commitment to give Himself that He might redeem for His own name’s sake. Let the seeker #FearNot to come to Him and find abundant satisfaction.

Fear Not – Week 5

Jesus makes us worthy in God’s eyes

II Samuel 9:7 – Saul and Jonathan have died in battle, and David is king.  He asks his servants to find someone related to Saul, and they find Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan.  He is unable to walk, but that doesn’t matter, because he is a member of the family and thus worthy of respect in the king’s eyes.  David tells the man, #FearNot, I will be kind to you because I love your father, you will own the lands of your family, and you will eat at the king’s table all your days.

For love of Jonathan, David searched for someone he could bless in his friend’s honor.  For love of Jesus, God searches for those He can bless in His Son’s honor.  Our crippled condition matters nothing in light of our relationship to Jesus – He makes us worthy in the King’s eyes.  #FearNot

God knows the motives of each heart

II Samuel 13:28 – Here’s another messy one, and a challenge.  If you like soap operas, here’s a story for you.  David has several wives, and by them, several sets of children.  In one group is Amnon, in another, Absalom and his lovely sister Tamar.

Amnon is in lust over Tamar, and finds a ruse to rape her – then he discards her as trash.  When Absalom finds out, he tells Tamar to keep quiet and forget the whole thing.  David finds out and gets quite angry, but no one confronts Amnon for two years.  “Desolate” is the word that describes Tamar for the rest of her days.

After two years, Absalom invites all the sons of David to a dinner and orders his servants to kill Amnon once he is sufficiently drunk. #FearNot, he tells them, “you’re following my orders.”  The guilt of their actions is to fall on him as their master.

Frankly, everyone in the story, with the exception of Tamar, is guilty. Her half brother is a rapist and a scoundrel, her brother an insensitive murderer-by-proxy, and her father a spineless coward.  But that’s another article for another day.  What, if anything, does this mess tell us about God, and what can be said for the “fear not” found on Absalom’s tongue?

This:  God knows the motives of every heart, so the hearts with no malice have nothing to fear from Him.  Mind your motives and #FearNot.

Honor God first, and He will supply

I Kings 17:13 – Several kings have come and gone in the life of Israel, which is now divided into Israel and Judah.  A few (very few) honor God and lead their people well – the rest go from bad to worse.

Ahab is on the throne of Israel, and Elijah the prophet tells him that there will be no rain, not even dew.  God provides a brook and a raven delivery service to keep Elijah nourished for a while, then sends him to live with a widow in Zarephath.  He finds her gathering sticks, and asks her for a drink and a bit of bread.  Her supplies were about to run out, and she was preparing one last bite for herself and her son, then she expected they would die.

#FearNot, Elijah tells her, make your food, but first bring me a little, because God promises your supplies will not run out until we have rain again.  She honored God by honoring His prophet, and God kept His promise, as He always does.  Day after day, she made bread from a jar of oil and a  bowl of flour that were always nearly but never truly empty.

In the wilderness there was manna for each day – just enough for one day, and always enough again on the next day.  In The Lord’s Prayer we are taught to ask Our Father to give us today our daily bread.  As we honor God, He will provide for us. #FearNot

Greater are the hosts than the hordes

II Kings 6:16 – Elijah’s days are over and Elisha is now the prophet of God to Israel.  The king of Syria has been attacking Israel, and losing.  When he seeks to learn the name of the mole in his army, he is told that the God in Heaven tells his secrets to Elisha the prophet, who tells the king of Israel.  When God is the spy, what’s a king to do?

He chooses to get Elisha out of the way and his armies surround the city.  When Elisha’s servant sees the dire situation, Elisha tells him to #FearNot, for greater are those with us than those against us.  Then Elisha asks God to open the eyes of his servant so that the young man can see that the Lord’s Army has things well in hand.

This story is repeated by missionaries of recent centuries who, fearing for their lives, spend the night in prayer and rise the next morning to learn that their enemies ran in terror from the great army of defenders.   #FearNot – greater are the hosts of heaven than the hordes of earth and hell.

You can choose freedom

II Kings 17:34 – This “fear not” is different, because it is embedded in the statement “they fear not God.”  It is a statement of character rather than a directive, and not a good one at that.

The leaders and people of Israel and Judah continued their on-again off-again dependence upon God.  This time, they were overrun by the Assyrians who played mix-and-match with their captives from various countries, placing them throughout the land of Samaria.  The Assyrians noted that disaster was afoot because the people did not “follow the manner of the God of the land,” so they brought in a captive priest to teach the people, Israelites included, about God and how to properly honor Him.  In verse 33, it says they feared the Lord and served their own gods.

“And” – it’s a word that inevitably becomes “or” when discussing what our lives will be devoted to.  We are finite creatures, we don’t have what it takes to satisfy two sets of priorities, and so we will necessarily neglect one to satisfy the other.  Joshua said “Choose this day who you will serve” in Joshua 24:15; and Jesus tells us in Matt 6:24 “You cannot serve God and mammon,”  because one will be served and the other will be resented.  Jesus invites us to seek first God’s kingdom and find all our needs met; and to come to Him for rest, a light burden, and an easy yoke because He shares it with us.   (Matt 6:33, 11:28-30)

Like the people of II Kings 17, we have a choice.  We can serve “God-And” and be overburdened, failing to serve God at all; or we can serve “God-Alone” and be uncluttered and well cared for.  #FearNot, you can choose freedom from competing priorities.

 God has even the dark under control

II Kings 25:24 – Between Egypt and Babylon, the city of Jerusalem is destroyed, the temple demolished, the implements and decorations taken for plunder, the king captured and replaced, priests captured, and many people killed.  The poorest and lowest are left to tend the fields and vineyards, and a man named Gedaliah is placed over them as their ruler.

Gedaliah’s grandfather Shaphan was the scribe who received the long lost scrolls from Hilkiah the priest and brought them to Josiah the king – the only good king in generations before & since.  Gedaliah’s father Ahikam stood with Jeremiah when he spoke God’s words to the people against Jerusalem for their sins.  Over and again the word came that Jerusalem would fall to the Babylonians for a time, and that God was more than aware, He was in control.

And so it happened, Nebuchadnezzar ruled over the land and Gedaliah was made governor over the people.  This is the condition they were in for this season, as it was foretold by Jeremiah.  Based on this, he told the people #FearNot, plant and gather, serve the Babylonians.  Some who had fled to nearby territories returned to work the land and be with their countrymen under Gedaliah.

Sometimes, we get what we ask for, and the thing to do is take our lumps and move on.  God warned them, as He warns us – the wise will look to Him during the season of “lumps” and #FearNot.  Even in the dark, God is in charge.

God will see your work get done

II Chron 28:20 – Back in the last days of King David, he wished to build a temple for God, and God through Nathan told him that his son Solomon would build it.  Now, Solomon is being commissioned by David to take on the massive work of building the temple.  The verse can stand alone without much explanation:

“Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee; He will not fail thee nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.”

When we have an assignment, God is faithful to stand by us and supply us until our mission is fulfilled, for His glory – #FearNot.

Fear Not – Week 4

Only One God – look to Him and Fear Not

Judges 6:10, the Midianites are raiding the Israelites every chance they get, taking or destroying their food resources. (Rather like the movie Magnificent Seven – good flick, that) Anyway… after 7 years of this agony, the Israelites turned to God and He sent a prophet to remind them of their history, His history with them… He’s the One who brought them out of Egypt, brought them through 40 years of wilderness with their clothes and stomachs in good order, conquered the people who were on the appointed land, etc. He reminded them of all the instances where He proved to be the only God alive and active – and He reminded them that He had said FearNot‬ their gods, yet they had chosen to honor the false gods and reaped the slavery that comes with such a choice.

Do we do the same? Do we turn away from the One who we know by testimony and example to be the only God alive and active, as we follow the gods of opinion, money, even government? There is One who has proven Himself….look to Him and #FearNot.

Those who honor God need not fear Him

Judges 6:23, An angel of the Lord shows up to commission a man named Gideon to save Israel from the Midianites. He’s the least likely candidate, which for God makes him the most likely candidate. Throughout the scriptures, we see that God appreciates humility – not groveling worthlessness, but humility, an honest appraisal of oneself before Him (not before others). The conversation goes on, and Gideon comes to realize he has encountered an angel, at which point he cries out, and the Lord says, ‪#‎FearNot‬, be at peace, you’re not about to die.

You see, though we have become a bit jaded about the awesomeness of God, and of His messengers, a dose of reality looks a lot different than the cavalier manner in which we dare to approach Him, or respond when He approaches us. Recall the demonstration on Mount Sinai. (Ex 20:20, January 9)

Gideon realized his humanity in contrast to the holiness before him, and he responded appropriately, with full humble attention. Those who honor God, wholeheartedly, need not fear Him.

With Jesus, we have a home and a family

If you enjoy love stories with a Cinderella flavor, Ruth is the book for you. She is the young woman from a foreign, even hated, heritage who watched her father-in-law, brother-in-law, and husband die, said goodbye to her homeland and sister-in-law, then followed her mother-in-law to Israel with those beloved words, “Your people will be my people, your God my God”.

Don’t skip too glibly over those words – she’s leaving all that she knew because she has developed a trust for the God of the visiting family she married into. Her mother-in-law encouraged both ladies to return to their original households, to the culture and deities they grew up with, to the resources their fathers could provide, and Orpah took her mother-in-law’s advice, while Ruth took her mother-in-law’s hand.

The story goes on, and in Ruth 3:11, her late husband’s cousin says to her, “‪#‎FearNot‬, you have a home and a family here with us.” At the end of the book, we find she becomes King David’s great grandmother, and many generations later the family line includes Jesus.

As we come to God, with a realistic assessment of how foreign and needy we are, and an appreciation for the life He offers, we will hear Him say, #FearNot, you have a home and a family here with us. It may require abandoning all that is familiar, but the rest of the story makes it more than worthwhile.

God will preserve His honor & worship

I Samuel 4:20 – Here is a scene that looks similar to the birth of Benjamin, son of Rachel and Jacob, but the lesson is its opposite. As with Rachel, the attending women tell a dying mother, the wife of Phineas, to ‪#‎FearNot‬, she has given birth to a son. She names the child Ichabod, meaning the glory of the Lord has departed – this, based on her knowledge that the Ark of the Covenant has fallen into Philistine hands, her husband and his brother have died in battle, and their father Eli, chief priest of the temple, died when he heard the news.

There is no up-side in this story – but there is a word to the attentive. You see, Eli and his sons, and perhaps much of Israel, had come to regard not God Himself, but the symbol they had, the Ark of the Covenant. In that object, albeit a holy and divinely commissioned and protected object, they had placed their focus and confidence. If it was with them, they were victorious – they forgot that it was God’s presence, not the Ark, that they needed. Eli’s sons abused the role and responsibilities of priests, divinely appointed spiritual leaders and representatives between God and His people. They squandered the privilege as a means to get free meat. (there are two ways to read that phrase, both accurate, see for yourself)

As for the Ark, God knew exactly where it was and how to manage preserving it unto Himself. As for the priesthood, God had already arranged to preserve that too, through a faithful young man named Samuel who knew both the procedures of the temple and the voice of God – and he followed and honored both. This begs us repeat that God keeps His promises, and will accomplish His objectives with or without us, two good reasons to #FearNot.

The women who served as midwives to Ichabod’s birth sought to bring comfort to his mother, so they said something nice – Fear Not, you have a son – and she died, giving no response. Ichabod is mentioned by name only once more, ten chapters later, as the uncle of a man who served in Saul’s army. Rachel’s last comfort was not available to this woman, she just…died.

The story tells us that we run two opposite and very great risks – one, squandering what God has given, whether that’s talent or position or grace… the other, making idols of what God has given. We serve the Eternal Living Almighty God, not a building, not a gold box of artifacts, (not even a constitution), and certainly not ourselves. When we forget that, we risk not only ourselves, but our communities and our children.

Oh Lord, may we not earn the name Ichabod. May we not forget that Your glory is in You and in those souls who are Yours, not in emblems. May we seek Your face in our distress, for You alone are our salvation, then, now, and later. Selah, amen.

On the positive side, there’s God’s continued attention to the Ark and Samuel.  #FearNot – God will preserve His honor and true worship

God forgives the sincerely repentant

I Samuel 12:20 – young Samuel is grown up and has been the priest of Israel for many years, never defrauding them nor dishonoring God as Eli’s sons had done. They begged God for a king, as though He were not king enough for them, but everyone else had a king, so, y’know… We get in so much trouble when we trade God in for what everyone else has…

Anyway, God and Samuel let them know what the price of a king would be – their resources would go to feed, protect, and decorate him and his home and his entourage – that is the way of human kings. Samuel reminded them of the King they rejected, the One who brought them out of Egypt, routed their enemies, and provided them a homeland, asking nothing for Himself but that they be His faithful representatives. Samuel asked God for a demonstration, and the Lord sent thunder and rain over the harvest-ready grain….they trembled, as they had at Sinai and on several occasions since, and repented of their foolishness.

This is when Samuel told them ‪#‎FearNot‬, and admonished them to follow God. He reminded them that for His own name’s sake, God would never forsake His people. But be warned, neither will He fail to deal with disobedience – He knows how to release people to the consequences of their own choices while preserving a remnant of the faithful. As you read the words of Samuel to Israel in this moment, you hear the pre-echo of Jesus, saying to a woman “I do not condemn you. Go, and sin no more.” #FearNot, God forgives the repentant, for His name’s sake.

Jesus, the victorious, is our Protector

I Sam 22:23 – David, anointed but not yet crowned king, came through Nob and a few other towns with Saul on his heels intent on killing him. 85 priests of Nob were slaughtered at Saul’s order because they failed to report on David and worse yet, gave him some bread and the sword of Goliath. One man, Abiathar, escaped as Saul’s wrath fell on every man, woman, child, infant, ox, mule, and sheep in town. Abiathar reached David with the news, and David replied, Fear Not, stay with me and you’ll be safe from him.

There are those who follow the idea that if you can’t defeat your enemy, abuse his friends and helpers. Saul was such a man as it regarded David, and Satan is such a one…. the people of Nob, and you and I, are nothing more than a way to inflict pain on the One who loves us. However, Jesus has already defeated Satan, so He has what it takes to fulfill His commitment: Abide with Him, and ‪#‎FearNot‬, all in His care are kept safe.

This isn’t to say there’s no struggle and/or no pain – but there is no real eternal harm that can reach those who belong to Jesus.

God gives friends to remind us of Him

I Sam 23:17 – Saul is relentless in his pursuit of David, even after David has shown himself to be capable but unwilling to harm Saul.  Jonathan is both Saul’s son and David’s friend, and the scriptures say Jonathan strengthened David’s hand in God and reminded him to #FearNot – God’s declared plan would be fulfilled.  “You will be king,” Jonathan said, “and I will be by your side.”

Sometimes we need an eye we can see, a voice we can hear, and an arm we can feel to remind us that though our troubles keep coming, God doesn’t let our challenges overwhelm His plans, and we don’t have to face such things alone.   As Solomon noted in Eccl 4, friends are sometimes lifelines, and we are blessed to have them.

Whose hand can you strengthen, in God, today?  Tell them, #FearNot, you are not alone.

 

Fear Not – Week 3

God plus anyone is always a majority

With the history lesson over, Moses recounts the instructions for how the Israelites are to live, in order to honor and to represent God. Civil, personal, worship, and battle. In Deut 20:3, they are told that when facing enemies, though they see armies and resources greater than themselves, FearNot. God plus anyone, even only one, is always a majority.

God will never leave or forsake us

Moses’ time of teaching is over – the Levites are about to receive his volume of writings and the commission to preserve them and reread them to all Israel every 7 years. Moses knows full well, as God does, that the hearts of people are bent toward rebellion, and the heart of God is bent toward His people – all those who would trust in Him. It is nearly time for Joshua to be formally commissioned as the new leader…and Moses repeats in Deut 31:6 and 31:8, “Be strong and courageous, FearNot, God will never leave you nor forsake you.”

This promise is valid for us as well, we who trust in Him – He has promised never to leave us nor forsake us, a very good reason to #FearNot.

A relationship with God conquers fear

Josh 1:9 Moses is dead, Joshua is fully in charge, and God tells him Be courageous, obedient, and diligent…FearNot‬, I am with you. Cross Jordan, conquer Jericho.

Those in relationship with I Am can face challenges with courage to the extent that they are diligent about seeking and obeying His instructions.

God + our obedience = victory

The crossing of the Jordan and the battle of Jericho are behind them, the Israelites are victors because they obeyed the Lord. That is, all but one… Because Achan chose to keep some of the Lord’s spoils for himself against direct orders, Israel got beat in a followup battle by a much smaller group, the people of Ai. We cannot overcome the challenges we face when we are disobeying the God we claim to serve – the One who fights for us will withdraw His help when we withdraw our obedience.

The trouble was found and dealt with, and in Joshua 8:1, God comes back to Joshua to rebuild what was lost within the heart of the leader of Israel. God told him, FearNot and don’t be discouraged – go back to the place where you were defeated and I will go with you – the victory and the spoils will be yours.

We often do the same – on the heels of a great victory we forget to seek God, confident that victory will be ours again. In the face of these unexpected losses we can get buried in discouragement. Victory is never a guarantee without two key ingredients – God’s will, and our obedience. If, however, you are assured of these, you are assured of victory. FearNot.

God doesn’t recall what He’s forgiven

Josh 10:8 – The second time around, in obedience, they conquered Ai. Five Amorite kings discussed going to war with the Israelites, and one city (Gibeon) decided on another tactic. In short, they disguised themselves as distant foreigners and asked for a treaty. Joshua & co granted the treaty without asking God first, but their oath being sacred, they were bound.

The Amorite kings attacked Gibeon so they could take on Israel without dealing with an additional army, and Gibeon asked for Israel’s help. Trapped in an oath, knowing he hadn’t consulted God before making this treaty, and still nursing wounds from an earlier disobedience – this is not a good position to fight from…. Yet, God said #FearNot, I have given you this battle as well.

We often get ourselves into tight spots, usually because we didn’t check in with God first, or we let someone convince us that they have the right, even godly, plan… Even in such a place, those in relationship with God can count on Him making it right. We remember our faults, He’s determined not to remember anything He has forgiven. #FearNot.

God Himself fights for His own

Josh 10:25 – The five Amorite kings, being soundly defeated in battle, ran to hide in a cave – and Joshua had the cave sealed until the battle was complete. Then he gathered the kings and instructed his military captains to observe and participate in the execution of these leaders. Joshua told his men to fear not, because God would conquer all their enemies as He had conquered these who came against them. Joshua knew his army would have more battles before they settled into the place God promised them, and he knew the character of his people, that opposition and discomfort would restart the appeals to go back to Egypt. For some, forgotten slavery is more palatable than ongoing fights for freedom.

When we are called to the Christian life, we are called to the cross – it’s a challenge, not a spa membership… we may at any moment be called to carry our cross, carry someone else’s cross, or hang upon a cross. One cannot read of Jesus, Paul, Peter, Stephen, and others honestly and conclude they were apologetic backpedalers – they were men – they taught, they encouraged, they served, and they challenged. The enemy of our souls has not surrendered in the generations since then, neither should we – nor should we fear what he or his followers may threaten.

FearNot, God Himself fights for those who fight beside Him.

(See Also: Ephesians 6:10-18)

God will get it done, with or without us

Today’s #FearNot is a bit unusual…but there’s still a point to be made, so here goes…

After Joshua dies, the Israelites entered the time of the Judges, people God raised up to handle situations from time to time. In Judges 4, the judge is a woman named Deborah, and she tells a man named Barak to go into battle, guaranteed that God will be with him and he will win. He answers that if Deborah will join him, he will obey. She did, the battle was won, but the victory for taking down the commander of the Canaanite army would belong to a woman.

The phrase “Fear Not” shows up when a woman, Jael, tells the Canaanite commander not to fear entering her tent to hide. Then she assassinated him (and hopefully got a new tent). It was a ruse, so it doesn’t seem to fit the “Fear Not” theme, but then it does…

When God has a plan, He will accomplish it. He gives first dibs to a person, in this case Barak, but then He’ll get the job done through someone else if need be, in this case Jael. Barak feared, Jael didn’t, and the rest is history.

When God gives you an assignment, #FearNot – He’ll get it done, with or without you.