Tag Archives: faith

The VBS Jungle

Hello friends, it’s been a while…

Let’s start with a few priority items. I want to thank you for your support over the last several years. Whether personal, emotional, financial, or in prayer, it all helps, and it is all appreciated. Continue reading The VBS Jungle

Beware of Black Ice

Fun morning – started out as usual, headed to the office by the normal route, up a ramp onto a freeway. I’ve been doing it for 2 years now, and this winter has been decidedly un-wintery so far. No worries…. until I saw the ambulance backing down the ramp and the blue lights on the vehicle midway up. To my left, the subject, a truck that suddenly took a steep drop off the freeway and landed on the driver’s side.  Continue reading Beware of Black Ice

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.

DWW – Dear Donald…

One of my tasks at Silent Blessings is to respond to fan mail.  Some of it is a simple greeting, and some of it is a little deeper.  Here’s one I wrote today to a young man who isn’t sure about this whole God and Bible thing…  but those of us who know God, well, we KNOW.  Do you know, or do you have questions like our young friend?

Hello Donald, thanks for writing!

You know, you have an interesting idea – and it’s one that other people have thought about before you. When you let go of a book, does it fall up or down? It falls down, because gravity pulls it toward the ground – but you can’t see gravity, it’s just there, always working. When the wind blows your hair into your face, can you see the wind, or just your hair? The wind is always there, sometimes moving a little and sometimes moving a lot – but what you see are the things that it moves, not the wind itself.

That’s how God is – always there, always working, sometimes in big windy ways and sometimes quiet just like gravity. We can’t see Him, but we can talk to Him, and if we believe in Him and read the Bible, He can talk back to us.

Now, about the Bible…people have asked that question too. Do this: get about 4 friends together, and tell everyone to write a story that has a prince and a dragon and a horse and a mountain. When everyone writes their stories by themselves, read them all together and see if they match. Then, ask everyone to start with a clean piece of paper and write the story as you tell it. When they read the stories they all got from you, the stories will match, because they all came from your mind.

It took more than 40 people writing stories and letters for 4,000 years to make the book we call the Bible. Some of those stories, like King Nebuchadnezzar taking over Jerusalem, are also written in other books and papers from the same time. So you see, somebody big must be telling the whole story, because they all fit together, and we can see pieces of the story happening still today. That big somebody is who we call God, because He’s big enough to see the whole story from long before we were born until long after we’re great-grandparents.

And the best news? He has a chapter in the story just for you! Ask Him to help you understand who He is and how much He loves you, and then He can start telling you about your part in the big story – maybe you’ll be a prince who climbs a big mountain on a horse and defeats a dragon!

Thanks again for writing. Stay tuned, there’s more in store!

– Your friends at Dr. Wonder’s Workshop

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.