Do not fear

The story of Joshua’s attack on the city of Ai has elements of loss and victory, laying out very well the cost of the curse and the blessing.  It reminds me of the blessing and productivity that can come into and through my life when I deal with sin and confess it.

It is through the cleansing blood of Jesus that God daily offers me the assurance that I never need to fear the Day of Judgment.  Because of Jesus, God forgives me, heals me and gives me hope that is eternal. It is the name of Jesus that brings the presence of God and the blessing of protection in my heart and home – driving out all fear.

 

That is what I need – the Lord giving hope, comfort and encouragement – even before giving commands of action.  For the Lord always equips us to obey and takes away the crippling fear and discouragement as we start each day.

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear or be dismayed; take all the fighting men with you, and go up now to Ai. See, I have handed over to you the king of Ai with his people, his city, and his land.  You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king; only its spoil and its livestock you may take as booty for yourselves. Set an ambush against the city, behind it.” – Joshua 8:1-2

Do Not Fear to Hope – a video reflection

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Why are you afraid?

Fear – the one thing that we fear most, the one portal that allows the enemy to come in as an invited guest, the one emotion that none of us really want to experience.  We find that it cripples us from taking the right actions and it robs us of our trust and reliance on God.  So we embrace courage and faith, embracing God’s Word and accepting Him in truth and love finding our confidence to act on it with a firm hope in the promises made by Him.  God’s love gives us the strength to do so and empowers us to act with both justice and kindness towards our neighbour even if doing so means personal opposition or even harm.

The one fear illustration that captures me at my best is when Jesus is asleep in the boat in the midst of a storm.  Most of us want this experience that Max Lucado captures so well —

Wouldn’t you hope for a more chipper second sentence, a happier consequence of obedience? “Jesus got into a boat. His followers went with him and… suddenly…a great rainbow arched in the sky, a flock of doves hovered in happy formation, a sea of glass mirrored their mast…” Don’t Christ-followers enjoy a calendar full of Caribbean cruises? No. This story sends the not-so-subtle and not-too-popular reminder: getting on board with Christ can mean getting soaked with Christ. Disciples can expect rough seas and stout winds. “In this world you will [not ‘might,’ ‘may‘ or ‘could’] have tribulation” (Jn. 16:33 brackets mine).

I love the fact that these disciples were the ones who took the first step in following Jesus.  The boat was filled with men of faith – they left their occupations, families and turned to being followers of Jesus in the most literal sense.  Yet there was one external circumstance that caused them to react in fear – a moment when they placed death as having dominion.  Jesus and they were as good as dead and they were without help or hope in the world.

Storms are the reality and they come when they come.  There will be blue skies but there will also be dark clouds.  They both should be reminders that our trust needs to be on God.  Setting our hopes on an illusion that we can be in control of everything one day, is just that, an illusion.  We will always have enough to keep us on our knees.  There will never be a day when we do not need to trust God who loves us so much.

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him.  A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.  And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”  And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm.  They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?” – Matthew 8:23-27

Why Are You Afraid?

Are You Afraid To Hope?

What are you afraid of?

Series: Holy Curiosity #2 – Why Are You Afraid?

WHY ARE YOU SO AFRAID?

 

His steadfast love

Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
    on those who hope in his steadfast love Psalm 33:18

It was Psalm 32 that God gave me when I was 14 years old, but it was Psalm 33 that expresses exactly what happened the night I read Psalm 32.

I started to go to Sunday School at a Presbyterian church, invited and taken by my friend and neighbour Mark Findley and his family – I was ten years old.  Two years later we moved and started to attend the closest church to our home, a Missionary church.  At twelve I knew something was missing and was just not sure what it was.  I knew though that I wanted God to be a very special part of my life.  At that time God was just beginning to be a resurrected interest in the life of my parents.

I started praying every night that God would take my life and use it and of course I wanted to know how He was going to use it so that I might prepare myself.  For two years He did not respond.

At fourteen, I remember that I had enough – praying every night and no response?  I fell across by bed and said to myself that there must not be a God and a split second later I remember telling myself, who was I kidding – He was real.  So I prayed what I thought would be my last prayer and asked God to show me what He wanted to tell me.

I picked up my Bible, opened it with my eyes closed, took my finger and landed on Psalm 32:8.  Could not have been more personal, could not have been more real, could not have been more perfectly timed – God had spoken.

Hope filled my soul – peace filled my heart – joy was deep and resident — this verse sustained me in years of hell. They were my anchor through the storms and in fact, may I dare say, they turned those years into moments of blessing because I always knew His eye was on me, guiding me, and loving me.

Could not have asked for more.  Today, those memories of hell are not remembered with ill-will.  They are remembered for so many teaching moments, so many moments when God’s love consumed by body and took me out of my hell for moments of incredible experiences with Him. I am today who I am because He instructed me, He taught me and He counselled me – and I put my hope completely in Him and Him alone.

I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. – Psalm 32:8

His Love Endures Forever – Michael Smith + Lyrics.wmv

Psalm 147:11

THE STABILITY OF HIS STEADFAST LOVE

In His Steadfast Love, God Will Meet Me

The Pleasure of God in Those Who Hope in His Love

Hope in God’s Steadfast Love

HOPE IN HIS STEADFAST LOVE

Steadfast Love

 

Gives you a future

If I emphasize God’s mercy, I can emphasize my own sinfulness and in the same spirit, hoped for cleansing.  It is not healthy to dwell on your own sinfulness, God takes it in His hand and for those of us who have sinned and have been forgiven know how much we appreciate His mercy.

Our times of crisis ultimately become our times of opportunity.  As we commit ourselves to God, we find our faith in ourselves, in others and in God deepening.

Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us – Ephesians 3:20

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. – Jeremiah 29:11

Be strong, be courageous,
    all you that hope in the Lord. – Psalm 31:24

 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all,[a] training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior,[b] Jesus Christ.  He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds. – Titus 2:11-14

Why would we reject God’s mercy, our only hope of salvation?

Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
    on those who hope in his steadfast love – Psalm 33:18

Our hope is in the resurrected Jesus Christ.

But you do see! Indeed you note trouble and grief, that you may take it into your hands; the helpless commit themselves to you; you have been the helper of the orphan. – Psalm 10:14

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.

BE STILL MY SOUL by Katharina A. von Schlegel
Music: Jean Sibelius
(Be Still My Soul by Selah)
(Violin version of Be Still My Soul)