Lucia's Blog: 2020-03-15
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, March 19, 2020

ON WINGS OF EAGLES

"Have you not known? Have you not heard?  The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.  29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength... But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."  
Isaiah 40:28-31



Who hasn’t dreamed of flying like an eagle, high above all of the dangers on earth below, high above all of our worries and concerns? Our God invites us to think like eagles in our waking hours.  Let us listen to His words that challenge us to let Him lift us high, soaring as on the wings of eagles.

In Isaiah 40:28-31, God is prophesying to the remnant who would be languishing in Babylonian captivity for 70 turbulent years.  The prophet Isaiah had predicted about 150 years before the captivity, that the remnant would return home to restore and rebuild the Jewish nation. They would soar on the heights of joy in anticipation of the long-awaited journey home.  Their journey was going to be long, difficult, and dangerous before they could finally see their homeland again, for it was a journey of about 600 miles on foot.  Their efforts traveling that road were going to be hard even to their strong and vigorous youths.  Yet God promised them that they could trust in Him alone, rise above the journey's many obstacles and soar on the wings of faith.

Although our faith may grow tired and our hope dim, we must trust in God to help us not become weary or feel defeated.  Our faith will help us to look up to God and His Word for guidance and hope.
"And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Heb. 11:6).  

Our God dwells above the clouds where the sun is always shining, in the calm light of eternity.  He can lift us up above our shadows and sorrows with His joyous Light.  Our steadfast faith will help us reach our home (Romans 10:17).


I.   HOW TO SOAR LIKE AN EAGLE WITH GOD:

God knows our needs even before we make them known to Him.  He has promised to answer our fervent prayers when we ask Him.  As the eagle takes its young and places them on its back, so our God carries us.  He has promised those who wait on Him to renew their strength, mount up with wings like eagles, to run, and to never be weary, to walk and not faint.

“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall.  But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint”  (Isaiah 40:30-31). 

The conclusion of chapter 40 is one of the most encouraging Scriptures in the Old Testament.  Consider some important points from these verses.

  • God Reminds Us of Our Need for Him By Humbling Us: 
We must be humble to let God lift us.  
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up”  (James 4:10).  

Just as lift results from air pressure changesGod lifts us by changing our perspective in the storm, and reversing the dynamics of our circumstances for good.  We must trust in God who is all-powerful and greater, rather than allow the pressures of our problems to crush us. With God on our side, His love and strength, we can renew our hope and courage, rising up even when everything seems so hopeless and dark. We must be humble to allow God to sustain us.
Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me” (Psalm 54:4).  

In the same way that an eagle needs the assistance of air currents and winds to maintain altitude, we need God’s help to continue soaring His heights.  With the wind of His Spirit in us and the warmth of His love surrounding us, we can rise above everything and soar the heights with Him.  In times of war, the young soldier must use his physical strength to win.  He will have to face times of disappointment, heartache, faint-heartedness, fear, and temptation.  Will he arise or soar to the challenge of his faith?  And though at times we, like the soldier, feel as if God has abandoned uswe must still put on the armor that He provides to win our spiritual battle (Eph. 6:10-17).

As long as we depend on our own knowledge and strength, we will be flapping just to stay on top of things.  Instead of scraping, scrambling, and strugglingChristians have the blessing of flying high with our God. God wants to release us from our struggles, something that unbelievers cannot have. Jesus urges us saying,
“Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’  For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek’” (Matthew 6:31-32).  

The unbelievers are always exhausted and frustrated!   In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus said that things such as worry, anxiety, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things will be detrimental to our spiritual growth (Mark 4:19).  Yet men often forget that those things that affect their spiritual growth will also affect their physical and emotional health as well.  Worry, fear, doubt, and sin, in general, will take their toll.  But God’s children will find spiritual strength, enthusiasm, optimism, and joy to endure.

  • We Must Acknowledge That God Is All-Powerful:
God gives strength to the weak and is there to help! (Isa. 40:29).  He will provide strength in our hour of temptation and need.  He will provide endurance for our trials.  He will provide steadfastness for the faint-hearted.  His help is continuously available for us, for He “neither faints nor is weary"  (Isa.40:28).  There is no God like Him!  “The Lord is the everlasting God!” We wear out, but God does not! God gives power to the faint. He gives strength to those who have no might. Even those who think they have power and strength, such as the youngwear out and fall exhaustedGod does not wear out, for He is always at work!

The Lord is the everlasting God, for He is not bound by time.  We live for right now. But God does not.  He will do His work as He sees fit when it is convenient for Him.  Thus, we are in no position to argue or counsel God, for He is the everlasting and all-mighty One!  God gives power to the weak and faint. The weak and faint are those in verse 27 who think that God does not see or care about their circumstances.  And though Israel was going into exile, God still cared deeply for them and their circumstances.  God acted on their behalf, and He cares for us as well.  Human strength is not the power we need, for human strength fails and becomes weakBut God does not get weary or weak!

  • God Has Promised to Give us Strength and Help Us:
Strength is available to all, but can only be accessed by those who desire it.  God offers strength only to those who seek after Him. They will mount up with wings like eagles (Isa. 40:31).  The higher we soar, the less weary we will feel, for we shall run and not be wearyAlthough we may have hills to climb, rivers to ford, and daily obligations to attend to, our God has promised to be there to help us!   Eagles are defenders.  The eagle builds its nest nearby and defends its nest from a potential predator.  The Bible teaches us that the Lord is our Defender (Psalm 46:1). He is our rock and our salvation (2 Samuel 22:3-4).  We can take comfort in knowing that He will always protect and help His children.

Our faith is like flight for an eagle, for it is essential to survive and thrive.  The Word of God teaches us that those who hope in the Lord will soar on wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:31). For us, this is more than a promise of strength and renewal, it is a testimony of God’s compassion and love for us.  He is a mighty God who knows our names and will never forsake usThus, we must wait upon Him in prayer and in meditation on His Word! 

We find a beautiful promise in verse 31.
“But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint”   

We are called to wait upon the promises of God to be fulfilled.  We must wait for the LORD to accomplish His purposes.  This is how our strength is renewed. God will do as He has said, for He has the power to fulfill His purpose. Nothing can stop Him. So we must wait for the LORD to find the strength to soar on wings like eagles and run and not be weary or grow faint. We must find our strength and hope in the LORD so that we do not grow weary. God’s understanding is limitless!

We must live by His promises and submit to Him in faith rather than trying to figure God out. God can only give strength to those who wait for Him to fulfill His promises. Waiting is what faith does until God’s answer arrives!

When we are committed to following God and doing what He says to do, we “shall mount up with wings like an eagle.”  Those who wait on the LORD shall be made new and strengthened in their spiritual life. They will be able to not only endure but to do greater things for the LORD, which will provide more meaning for their life. Although the eagles can soar for long periods of time, they still need to rest to be able to soar again. This is a parallel thought to waiting on the LORD.

We must find rest in the LORD to be renewed and strengthened to mount up and soar again.  Eagles take time to preen their feathers while they’re perched and resting.  They need to make sure that all the feathers on their wings are in place and ready to go at any moment.  God wants us to run or soar like an eagle and not grow weary.  With God’s help and strength, we can soar with the wings of an eagle to new levels!


CONCLUSION:

God’s care for His creation is amazing!  Take for instance, His care for the birds and His clothing of the lily as described in the Sermon on the Mount.  In that sermon, Jesus spoke of God’s care for the birds who don’t sow and reap, yet God is still very much involved in their lives. God has shown us all this to help us understand Him and His providential care for us.  Just take a look at the eagles that God created.  In Proverbs 30:19, we are told that there are things which surpass our ability to comprehend.  One of those things mentioned is the way of an eagle in the air. 

Imagine how men have watched birds soaring in the air for thousands of years, yet man began to fly just a hundred years ago.  Isn’t the majesty of the eagle remarkable!  Isn’t Isaiah 40:28-31 a refreshing thought for us!  When I contemplate the power that we have as His children, it is mind-blowing to me!  Although we might grow weary, God never does.  What a powerful truth!  God is all-powerful, and He never gets tired.  He never gives up on delivering the righteous or punishing the wicked!  Nothing can stop His purposes.  “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!"  (Romans 11:33).  God cannot be out-argued or out-planned. There is no room for loopholes!

We can soar above our problems and be content because we know that there is much more to life than the things of this world (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).  We can soar because we know that God is behind the scenes working for us, for He has the power to turn any hardship or adversity into success (Romans 8:28).  We can soar because we know that the trials that we have to endure will only bring stronger character and refine our faith.  Our future lies on the other side of any trial! (Romans 5:3-5).  We soar the heights of God because we know that God is in control, and we can depend on Him completely. We don’t need to depend on our own cleverness and wisdom.  We can soar with God because His goodness and mercy follow us (Psalm 23:6).  We can soar confidently because we know that our past sins have been forgiven and don’t have the power to take all our joy (Psalm 103:3-5).  We can soar high because with God on our side, nothing is as bad and hopeless as it might seem (Romans 11:2-5).  We can soar because we know that God is looking out for us and protecting us (Romans 8:31).

So, we must wait on the LORD and rest in the LORD.  We need to walk in the Spirit to soar with Him. We are not in this journey alone, for we have the church who are all on the same quest. So let's run together so that we can mount up on wings like eagles and serve God faithfully.

May we fellowship and work together to consider how to stir up one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24).

Luci


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

"DO NOT BE ANXIOUS ABOUT ANYTHING"

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7



Martha was distracted with much serving. Jesus gently rearranged her priorities saying, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” The Lord might say the same to you and me when we are distracted by the many things that trouble us. Only one thing is necessary, and we must choose that good portion.

Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world, and though His disciples live in the worldthey still must do God’s will and not be anxious about earthly things, for they harm and destroy our souls.  They quickly become our master and steal our faith, our heavenly treasures, and our service to our true Master. Jesus does not want us to worry and be anxious about the things of this earth.  He wants all of our hearts.  Our faith is weakened when we become anxious about the material things of this world. Anxiety prevents us from seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  Jesus commands us to not be anxious.  He wants us to devote our care to seeking Him and His righteousness.  Although we will have cares and worries or anxieties here on earth, we still must pursue His heavenly treasures and serve Him with all of our heart, soul, and mind.

You see, when our hearts doubt God’s provisions (Matthew 6:31), we fall into deep anxiety.  When we worry and fear for the future, stress takes over, and we become anxious, and our focus is no longer on heavenly things, and God’s kingdom but on earthly things, those things that we think will calm our fears and anxieties.

We must get rid of all layers of distractions and worries about careers, school, health, the economy, financial security, retirement, and many things such as these that draw our hearts away from God and His kingdom.  We run the danger of becoming the thorny ground of Matthew 13:22, where “the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.”  We deceive ourselves into thinking that the answer to our fears and worries is found in our own strength or the earthly things of this life.  Our anxieties become so powerful that they threaten to take control of our lives, leaving us no escape.  Although Jesus understands our anxieties, He still commands us not to be anxious over earthly or physical things but His heavenly things.  He proceeds with a question.
“Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25)

I.   REASONS NOT TO BE ANXIOUS
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all”'  (Matthew 6:25-32).

In verses 26, 28-30, Jesus gives us four reasons why worry is pointless since the Father provides what we need.


  • The first reason Jesus gives us comes from nature: (verses 26-30).
Jesus asks us to consider the birds. Birds do not sow, reap, or gather into barns or refrigerators, and yet God always feeds them.  In verses 28-30. Jesus asks us to consider the flowers. They do zero work, yet God clothes them more beautifully than the richest of kings.  God has made man to sow, reap, and gather.  He has made us in His image and more valuable than all plants and animals.  Our heavenly Father has provided an abundance of plants, animals, and humans for thousands of years. Knowing all this, do you doubt that our Father in heaven will not also provide what we need?  Do we dare to doubt His consistent and continuing provision for us? Do we dare to doubt that God will give us what we need?  He did not create us to abandon us and watch us die!  He created us to live!  So He will provide. Jesus stresses that worry is a matter of faith and trust, for our Father in heaven is in control of what we need.


  • Jesus’ second reason for not worrying is found in verse 27: 
“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”  

Worry and anxiety accomplish nothing!  Worry doesn’t fix our problems, but it can make us sick.  We cannot add one hour to the span of our lives, no matter how intensely we worry. This ought to free us from our cares and worries.  We have little power to control our futureWorry shows our lack of faith (verse 30).


  • Jesus’ third reason is a grave reminder of the dangers of anxiety:  
Jesus labels those who are always anxious as people of little faithAnxiety is a lack of trust. Why? Because when we worry about God’s providential care, we doubt His love, care, and power in our lives.  Worry is an affront to God. What good does it do to wear the name of Christ, and defend our faith fiercely if we allow worry and anxiety to plague our life? Our faith means very little, for we refuse to put it into practice when we worry and do not have trusting faith in our Father in heaven.


  • Jesus’ fourth reason is that worry or anxiety makes us look like the world: (verses 31-32). 
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”  

Seeking after food, drink, and clothing is what Gentiles do. Their lives are consumed with the cares of this world.  What else does a godless person live for? They believe in nothing else but to seek food, drink, and clothing! For the godless (Gentiles), having no food, drink, and clothing means death and no meaning in life.  Christians have learned that life has more meaning and purpose, for they are God’s children.  But when we Christians worry, we are telling God that we do not trust Him, and thus our faith is small.  Our purpose in life is not in God and His kingdom of righteousness but in empty and carnal pleasures.  Worry and anxiety are for those who are without Christ!  Our faith and our trust in God makes us shine our light.  Worry and anxiety take away our trust in our heavenly Father and make us look like the world, for they have not God!


  • Tomorrow Will Be Anxious For Itself:
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble”  (Matthew 6:34).

The final instruction that helps us to fight and eliminate worry and anxiety is found in verse 34What an excellent way to close the book of our worries and anxieties!  But you might say, “You don’t understand! I have so much to do tomorrow! Tomorrow is Monday! I have this and that…”  Jesus tells us to lay our concerns about tomorrow or any day afterward to rest, for we cannot control what tomorrow might bring. If we run out of bread tomorrow, then we will deal with that tomorrow!  We cannot solve tomorrow’s problems today!

We must compel our minds to do what we need to focus on today and let God take care of the rest. Since we have only today, we are commanded by God to seek His kingdom and righteousness.  It will be impossible to seek God today when our hearts and minds are so full of tomorrow’s worries and anxieties.  We must focus on what is important, not the future things of this world that seem so urgent to us.  Jesus urges us to not be anxious about tomorrow because tomorrow is tomorrow, and it is not today!  We have what we need for today!  Let tomorrow worry about tomorrow! Today has enough trouble!  So we must learn to deal with today and live for today, taking advantage of today and being grateful for what God has given us today.  We cannot fix tomorrow, for worry will not change tomorrow!  Remember, God is in control of tomorrow. And we must handle what God has given us today by faith. Anything could happen tomorrow, but nothing might happen tomorrow!

The Teacher of Ecclesiastes exhorts us, saying that life is just the same tomorrow as it was today. So why must we worry?  Tomorrow might be different than today, and there is nothing you and I can do to change it!  So we must not worry about what is beyond our reach. Instead, we must put our hope and trust in God for today and for whatever comes our way, good or bad.  Why not choose to trust our Father in heaven instead of being anxious, worried, and frightened, for we are His children whom He loves and cares for?  That ought to give us hope, for God shows His steadfast love and will not forsake us if we faithfully seek after Him and His kingdom of righteousness.

So we must choose to serve Him and be devoted to Him, for everything in this life belongs to Him, everything we do must be done for Him according to His will.  He will provide for our needs, for He is all-powerful and can help us overcome all our struggles, fears, and hardships.  So we must examine our hearts and choose to commit our life to Him and not this world, for God will help us be established, putting us on His winning team.  We don’t dare to bargain with God under any circumstances but commit to serving Him faithfully by drawing nearer to Him (James 4:8).  Remember that a life that pleases God is a life that is empty of materialism and worry, for we must store up treasures in heaven and not on earth (Matthew 6:19-24).

  • But Seek First The Kingdom of God:
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”  (Matthew 6:33).

In verse 25Jesus stresses that life is more than food and clothing, our basic needs.  Worrying about these basic needs distracts our hearts from what life is truly about.  Worrying about life’s basic needs puts our primary focus on earthly things and distracts us from God’s purpose in life for us, seeking Him and His kingdom of righteousness.  You see, the urgency of our worries and anxieties hinder us from seeking the kingdom of God and the pursuit of righteousness.  Our lives were created to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  It is what matters the most in this life!  We must not make our worries and anxieties more important than the real food God gives us, for we must be filled with and clothed with His Words of righteousness.  When we seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all of life’s basic needs will be added to us.  Jesus has promised to provide for our physical needs when we seek what is most important, Him and His kingdom.  

So why be so consumed with worry and anxiety? Jesus chips away our worry, anxiety, and fear, for the Father will provide what we need that we may focus on what is really more important in life.  So we must worry and be anxious about the things of God, the heavenly things in His kingdom of righteousness.  We must seek righteousness instead of earthly things.  The pursuit of righteousness is seen throughout the Sermon on the Mount in Christ’s teachings, as expressed in the beatitudes. Jesus stresses the need for us to hunger and thirst after righteousness. One who is truly hungry longs for and craves food. When we crave for righteousness, we will be driven to be holy, for it will rule our thoughts, reading, and actions. When we seek after righteousnesswe will be merciful, for righteousness compels us to treat others with mercy.  Mercy is an attitude that springs from the heart of a renewed person who has experienced God’s mercy and desires to show it even to his enemies. Christians are blessed when they seek purity of heart. So we must seek to become the light of the world and to love our enemies.

When we seek after righteousness, we will not have time for worry and anxiety, for our hearts will be filled with thoughts of righteousness.  There won’t be any need to worry because we know the Lord will provide what we need. So we must free our hearts from the layers of worry, anxiety, and fear in our lives and focus more on the essential things, the things of God’s kingdom.  We must meditate more on His Word, show mercy in our words, fill our lives with spiritual things instead of earthly things, and meditate on what God has done for us through His Son.  Worry and anxiety spring from a faithless heart that’s filled with the things of this world.  We must choose to win over worry and anxiety, allowing our heart to stand firm with trust in the Lord.  God is able to carry us through our difficult and trying times, giving us hope for today.  When we seek God and His righteousness, we can rest assured that He will provide for our needs.  We will never find righteousness in the worries, anxieties, and uncertainties of this world! We will find the Lord’s provision when we seek after His kingdom!


CONCLUSION:

Jesus stresses the reasons why we must not be anxious and worried but instead have faith and trust that God will take care of us.  He wants this to be our focal point in life.  Worry does not trust God.  When we don’t trust God, having faith, we’re in danger of taking all matters into our own hands. So we become anxious and worried about what we must do to find the solutions to our problems.  The most popular solution is, “don’t worry, be happy,”  “keep calm and play volleyball” or something else.  So it is met with a response, “I can’t keep calm; I have anxiety!”   So how do we overcome anxiety, fear, and worry?  Not by focusing on the things of this world.  It will not work!  How can we find peace, remove all layers of distraction that clutter our souls from the peace of God, the peace that frees us from all the cares and anxieties of this world?  

We must first accept that life is more than the empty things of this earth (Matthew 6:25).  That is materialistic and shallow!  How sad and vain to pursue these things! “Man does not live on bread alone” (Matthew 4:4).  We must not live by food alone but depend on God for life and breath!  We must remind ourselves always that our Heavenly Father cares for us (Matthew 6:26).  It is the only way to defeat worry and anxiety.

Jesus used the birds to illustrate this great truth.  Birds do not store up treasures in barns and houses and yet are fed by our Father in heaven.  So if our gracious Father feeds these tiny creatures, will He not care for us?!  Are we not more valuable than the birds?!  So how much more will our Father in heaven care for us!  He cares and provides for all His awesome creation, but we must develop faith, trusting that God will also care for us!  So if we believe that our heavenly Father cares for us, why do we worry and get anxious?  We must learn to trust in Him and faithfully put our lives in His hands!  We must trust in God and refuse to worry and be anxious, for it does not do any good for us. It hurts us (Matthew 6:27).

Worry is pointless and does not solve our problems.   Worry and anxiety cannot solve the past or change the future.  Jesus doesn't want us to worry and become anxious (Matt. 6:25).  We must combat worry and anxiety and start acknowledging that our God will take care of us (Matt. 6:28-30).  We must consider the flowers of the fields.  They do not sow or reap or clothe themselves. Yet they are beautiful and splendid, for God covers them!  So if our gracious God adorns the flowers and the grass, will He not do the same to His faithful children?   In Matthew 6:30, Jesus exhorts us saying,
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” 

Indeed, this is a true fact! Worrying and becoming anxious shows a lack of faith in God.  God is our heavenly Father, and there is nothing to worry and be anxious about!

One thing that will keep us from worrying is acknowledging that our heavenly Father knows what we need (Matthew 6:32).  It is a test of our faith!  God knows what we need tomorrow, so there is nothing to worry about tomorrow!  So we must fight worry and anxiety to have a much higher perspective or goal, for we must first seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness above everything else (Matt. 6:33).  God alone is worthy of our total devotion and service.

 We must trust God and have faith rather than being anxious about tomorrow because tomorrow is tomorrow, for it is not today.  We have what we need for today!  Let tomorrow worry about tomorrow, for today has enough trouble!  We must handle what God has given us today by faith So why must we worry and be anxious about what is beyond our reach?  Why not put our trust and hope in God alone, come what may?

Sadly, many become anxious when things are tough, and life is difficult.  They lose heart and become discouraged.  In those dark moments, they find it hard to understand the purpose of our trials. They become anxious about the unknown.  They are overwhelmed!  Despair is the opposite of true thanksgiving.  It makes us not only anxious but also insecure. When our affections are on earthly things and not on God, we are in danger.  We tend to cling to our immediate circumstances rather than to God.  Only God can fill our hearts with His peace.
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!  Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men.  The Lord is near."  Philippians 4:5-6

We must always remember that God is in control.  God is already in the future because He stands outside of time.  Let's never forget His beautiful and faithful promises we find in Matthew 6:28-34.  Our God wants us to live in His peace.
"And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:7  

He doesn't want us to become weary and anxious.  He wants us to let go of the bondage of anxiety. It doesn't mean that we will escape feeling sorrow or stress, but we will find a satisfying deep calm in our hearts.   Such tranquility can only come from trusting God with all of our hearts.  We must always have the disposition to give thanks to God no matter our circumstances.  YES, we must have a heart of thanksgiving even in death, in life, in sickness, in health, in abundance, and poverty.  This is what God wants and expects of us.

A muscle is strengthened with a lot of exercise.  In the same way, our spiritual strength is developed by a lot of practice enabling us to defeat anxiety.  We cannot let Satan lie to our minds and emotions. This surely will drive us crazy!  We can't afford to walk his pathway of lies and anxiety.   Anxiety is just that—a great, big lie.
"For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened."  Romans 1:21

Let's remember that our God is not a God of chaos and anxiety.
"For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline."  2 Timothy 1:7 

Anxiety is not of God but rather the work of Satan. He, Satan, uses this as a weapon against us to distract us from the PEACE of God. The only way to defeat him is by dwelling in God's Truth, fixing our eyes on Him.  Dwelling in lies, trusting that we are in control and not God, is of Satan.  We must always know that God holds us in His hands and that He is the author of time; that we are here temporarily; and that He is in control.  So, my question is, What is there to become anxious about?

May we find that peace and rest that our souls need so much through our Lord Jesus.  May we seek His kingdom and His righteousness and trust in His promises.  May we live in His peace, trusting in Him with all of our hearts, minds, and souls.  May we keep calm and know that He cares for us.  May we never forget that He is near.  To Him be the glory.


Luci

Monday, March 16, 2020

FOR I AM NOT ASHAMED OF PRACTICING MY FAITH

"Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.  13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you."
2 Timothy 1:8-14



Why are Christians ashamed of their faith in Christ?  Because of the universal hostility we face, Christians tend to be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ Jesus. That shame extends to our faith and His principles of righteousness.  The voice of Jesus calls out to a lost and dying world, but they hate Him because they do not know Him (John 15:18-25).
"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: 'They hated me without a cause.'"

When Paul wrote this letter, Christians were suffering widespread persecution.  They were mocked for their faith, their principles of righteousness, and their trust and hope in a crucified man. They were imprisoned and killed for their faith and convictions. Paul himself was in jail, awaiting a death sentence.  In 2 Timothy 1:8Paul urges Timothy to not be ashamed of Christ, nor of Paul's sufferings or the Gospel. More than that, Paul urged Timothy to join him in his suffering for the faith, the Gospel. Sadly, many in Asia had already abandoned Paul (v. 15).  Because of the fear of persecution, they did not want to be associated with Paul, and so they denied him.

Today is no different.  Many are tempted to be ashamed of their faith, of Christ, of His principles of righteousness, and of other believers. Many are ashamed of the teachings of Jesus on homosexuality, abortion, and creation. Many feel pressured to compromise their faith and Jesus' principles of righteousness because of the growing antagonism on these issues.  Proverbs 29:25 says that "The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe."  Fear (or shame) freezes the spiritual growth of some Christians.  Others pull away from Christ and His Gospel because of fear or shame.  Some quickly fall away when tribulation and persecution arise because of the Truth (Matthew 13:21).

In  Mark 8:38,  Jesus declared,
"For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." 

Jesus commands that we be not ashamed of Him.  Jesus' faithful followers are not ashamed of Him and His teachings. Jesus, our Lord, will put to shame those who are ashamed of Him.  Christ will declare to them,
 "I never knew you... " (Matt. 7:22-23)

In 2 Tim. 1:7, Paul says,
"For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."  

The Spirit gives us the power to be bold with our words, to love those who mock and persecute us, and to discipline our lives unto holiness and godliness. It’s the same Spirit that enabled Jesus to suffer persecution and die on the cross. Through the Spirit, we can stand against temptation and persecution.  The Spirit does not allow us to give up, quit, or be quiet.  So we must not be ashamed of our faith because we must proclaim it. If we don’t proclaim it, nobody else will. We are heralds, teachers, and “sent ones.” Christ sends us out like sheep among wolves (Matt 10:16).  Thus we must faithfully fulfill our duty.  Let us rise up and not be ashamed.  Let us consider some thoughts about those things we must not be ashamed.


I.   NOT ASHAMED OF PRAYING:
"Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker."  Psalm 95:6

If we are indeed children of God who delight in His ways, then we must never be ashamed of praying anywhere and everywhere.  Prayer is vital to our daily walk with God.  Therefore, we must purpose in our hearts to pray everywhere and at all times if the occasion calls for it.  We can pray silently as in the case of Nehemiah when he was in the presence of King Artaxerxes and was asked why he looked sad.  Nehemiah was very disturbed by the sufferings of his people.  His city was desolate, consumed by fire.  When the king heard of this, he immediately asked Nehemiah, "What would you request?"  Nehemiah 2:2-4. Notice that Nehemiah did not hesitate to go to God in prayer right there before the king.  He knew only God could intervene in helping his people.

The apostle Paul says, 
"When our days there were ended, we left and started on our journey, while they all, with wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city. After kneeling down on the beach and praying, we said farewell to one another" Acts 21:5.  
"When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all" Acts 20:36. 

None of these prayers were done during worship services, but in public, because the occasion demanded it. The brethren at Tyre prayed together with Paul.  They not only prayed together but kneeled down and prayed.  It is easy to pray in your heart quietly in public when no one knows or notices that you are praying, but to kneel down and pray in public is a different story.  I am not trying to show off when praying, but I know there are many times when the occasion calls for urgent prayers where kneeling is the most appropriate thing to do.


In Jeremiah 29:7 we read, 

"Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare."  

Here we see that Jeremiah is encouraging the Jews who were living as exiles in Babylon to pray for the well-being of the city.  This way of praying should motivate us to pray for those who live within our reach, for those souls who are still living in darkness who need to come to repentance and freedom from sin, even if we think they are not worthy.  Remember that Daniel was among those who were living in exile, but obeyed kneeling three times a day to pray,

"Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and supplication before his God. Then they approached and spoke before the king about the king’s injunction, ‘Did you not sign an injunction that any man who makes a petition to any god or man besides you, O king, for thirty days, is to be cast into the lions’ den?’ The king replied, ‘The statement is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which may not be revoked.’  Then they answered and spoke before the king, ‘Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or to the injunction which you signed, but keeps making his petition three times a day."  Daniel 6:11-13  

Yet, he continued to pray even when there was a law against it putting his life in danger.  Can we stand up like Daniel?  Would you be the one to take the first step?  Will I?


II.   NOT ASHAMED OF CHILDREN:

We must never be ashamed of having children:  
"Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth.  How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they WILL NOT BE ASHAMED, when they speak with their enemies in the gate."  Psalm 127:4-5  

It appears to me that our culture tries to shame those who have children, especially those families who choose to have more than the typical standard one or two children.  Honestly, who is the unusual one?  It is the one who intentionally chooses to limit his family!  Don't get me wrong here! I am not talking about those that because of health problems are physically unable to have children.  I am speaking about those who intentionally don't want to get married and have children or those who deliberately stop having children.  This is contrary to what it is written in God's Word.  God says that those who decide to have many children are blessed rather than cursed, responsible rather than irresponsible, mature rather than childish.

Imagine how many blessings it would be for the kingdom, the church:  to raise children as mighty warriors who know the Truth, speak the Truth, and give a defense of the Truth.  These are the arrows that will attack the enemy of the kingdom, the church.  They are molding children for eternity.  No, they don't need ever to be ashamed!  They can surely lift their heads up, for they are walking in righteousness doing their Father's will. It is shameful that we have raised two or three generations that are too materialistic and self-absorbed to have and raise many children.  It is a shame that our churches and our culture are dying for lack of children to carry on our beliefs and convictions (our faith).  When we lack faith, we will be ashamed in the gate.


III.   NOT ASHAMED OF TRUSTING THE LORD
"You will have plenty to eat and be satisfied and praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; then My people will never be put to shame.  Thus you will know that I  am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and there is no other; and My people  will never be put to shame."  Joel 2:26-27

What do you do when you don't seem to find a solution to your problems?  What do you do when you cannot see any way out, and your circumstances seem impossible?  There is ONLY one way out of your problems, and that is to trust in the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.  This is the best and only wise thing to do because when you trust the Lord, you will never be ashamed. For God is faithful.  He can never go against His promises; it is not in His nature to do so.  God can't lie!

God keeps us waiting. His answers and His ways are very different from our expectations.  We become impatient.  We are overwhelmed.  We start wondering why we are not getting our answers immediately.  But don't forget that God is teaching us patience.  He is also perfecting our faith. Likewise, God is working in our hearts.  He is also teaching us to trust Him more and more.  He is working for our good, even when we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel.

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

David confesses, 
"O my God, in You I trust, do not let me be ashamed; do not let my enemies exult over me.  Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed; those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed."  Psalm 25:2-3  
"In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be ashamed; in Your righteousness deliver me."  Psalm 31:1  
"May those who wait for You not be ashamed through me, O Lord God of hosts; may those who seek You not be dishonored through me, O God of Israel."  Psalm 69:6

David also stated in Psalm 34:5, 
"They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed." 
God promises to Isaiah, 
"Kings will be your guardians, and their princesses your nurses.  They will bow down to you with their faces to the earth and lick the dust of your feet; and you will know that I am the Lord; those who hopefully wait for Me will not be put to shame." Isaiah 49:23

So with all this about learning to trust God and not be ashamed,

  • Let us trust Him during our fiercest storms. 
  • Let us trust Him when dark days assail us.  
  • Let us trust Him when our faith seems to be small.  
  • Let us trust Him when the best and simplest thing to do is to trust Him.  
  • Indeed, these are the hardest things to do for us, His children!

IV.   NOT ASHAMED OF OUR HOPE:

The word HOPE means to expect what we desire:  to believe that God is going to do something good. Sadly, it is when we do not hope that we do not understand who God is, for He is a good and loving God.  Everything He does is good!  He is a wise God.  His ways and thoughts are not the same as ours.
"And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."  Romans 5:3-5   

So my question is:   What teaches us HOPE?  Simply our hardships and tribulations.  It is in these that our God is working out everything for our good.  Each trial and experience gives us more and more hope. It is in our hardship that God is working everything out for our good.   We cannot help but become overwhelmed without HOPE.  We will certainly know that we will not be ashamed, even when others think we are crazy for hoping in Him, just as it is written,

“Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”  Romans 9:33  
For the Scripture says, 
“Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”  Romans 10:11.  "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" Romans 15:13.  
"According to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death."   Philippians 1:20

Let us remember when God promised Abraham, he was going to receive a son in his old age, 

"In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, 'So shall your descendants be.”'   Romans 4:18

V.   WE MUST NOT BE ASHAMED OF SUFFERING FOR CHRIST:

Paul states in 2 Timothy 1:12

"For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day."  
The apostle Peter says, 
"but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name."  I Peter 4:16

VI.  NOT ASHAMED OF THE SAINTS WHO ARE SUFFERING FOR CHRIST AND THE    GOSPEL

"Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God."  2 Timothy 1:8  
"The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains."  2 Timothy 1:16

VII.  NOT ASHAMED OF THE BLOOD OF CHRIST:

Lest we forget, there is no OTHER WAY to obtain salvation except through the precious blood of Christ.  Lest we forget, we could have never been reconciled to the Father if it were not for His cruel death on the cross.  Lest we forget, it is through His death and His blood that we have access to His Father's promises.  Lest we forget that had it not been for His death and His victory over death and the ENEMY, we could not have overcome the ENEMY.  Let us never be ashamed of His precious, pure, and powerful blood that was shed on the cross for our sins.

"And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death." Revelation 12:11

VIII.   NOT ASHAMED IN HARD TIMES:

"The Lord knows the days of the blameless,  and their inheritance will be forever.  They will not be ashamed in the time of evil, and in the days of famine they will have abundance."  Psalm 37:18-19

What wonderful promises!  Even though we do not know what is lying ahead of us in the future, we certainly have His promise.  His promise to us is that if we walk free from blemishes and spots, faultless and blameless, He will never have to be ashamed of us.

May our Lord help us always to trust in Him and never be ashamed.  May we find the strength in Him, the Rock on which we can lean all of our heavyweights.

Luci

Sunday, March 15, 2020

CHOOSING TO TRUST IN GOD

“In God I trust; I shall not be afraid.” 
Psalm 56:11



Most of us spend our lives in quiet desperation, wondering when the next calamity or disaster will strike us. We imagine that we are alone.  Often we find ourselves amid tragedy, danger, chaos, pain, loss, and sufferings that cause us to be anxious.  We find it difficult to relax.  What do you do when the trials and uncertainties of our lives are raging furiously all around us? There is ONLY one way out, and that is to trust in God. It is the best and only wise thing to do because when we trust the Lord, we will never be unprotected and disappointed. He is the Rock of our refuge. God is faithful!  He can never go against His promises.  It is not in His nature to do so.  God cannot lie!  So we must remind ourselves when we are amid our despair and helplessness that things will get better. We must trust Him!  Come what may, we have the hope to endure the worst of the storms of our life.

In Matthew 11:28, our Lord, the good and faithful Shepherd, invites us to “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  He also declares, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”  (Matt. 11:29-30).  God wants us to lie down and trust Him, to listen to Him and follow Him.  We can rest assured that He can take our burdens and cares upon Himself, for He has promised us that He will carry them.  So why is it that so many Christians prefer to be burdened with life's worries, anxieties, cares, struggles, guilt, and many other troubles that come our way instead of trusting Him to carry them for us?  We must learn to trust Him and have faith in Him to help us carry them.  We lack faith when we refuse to believe that He will provide for our needs.  We are rejecting the rest He has promised to give us.  In Jesus, we find the rest our weary souls need so desperately.

We must trust God to help us face our fears The antidote for fear is our God.  We must choose to trust in God as we wait for Him with confidence.  Our LORD is our Light, our salvation, the stronghold of our life, our Deliverer, and our guidance when we draw near Him and walk with Him faithfully.  We can rest assured with complete confidence that He will be there for us in our time of need.  When we trust Him, He will help us win over our fears.  No matter what we go through, our God can help us through them.  You see, our faith will give us confidence, the trust to face whatever comes our way.  Our faith (our trust and confidence) helps us to see God as the One who shields and protects us from everything that can harm us.  Isn't it wonderful to have such confidence, trust in our God no matter what may come our way!


I.  THE LORD IS OUR DEFENSE (STRONGHOLD) AND STRENGTH:
"The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom should I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom should I be afraid?  I have asked one thing from the LORD; it is what I desire:  to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the LORD and seeking Him in His temple.  5 For He will conceal me in His shelter in the day of adversity; He will hide me under the cover of His tent; He will set me high on a rock"  (Psalm 27:1-5).

Throughout the Scriptures, we see God's power as He took care of His nation.  Take, for instance, what God told Abraham in a vision.

“Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”  

You see, God reassured Abraham that he need not fear because He was going to make him a great nation even though he was without a son (Genesis 15).

God also told Jacob not to fear to move him and his family down to Egypt because He was going to take care of them and would make them a great nation.  God said,
"I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph's hand shall close your eyes”  (Genesis 46:3-4).  

God also told Joshua over and over again to take courage and not be afraid because He was with him (Joshua 1:9; 8:1; 10:25; 11:6).

God told Jeremiah not to be afraid to speak what He was commanding him to say to the nation (Jeremiah 1:6-8).

He told Ezekiel the same thing when He commanded him to speak to the nation of Israel when they were rebelling against Him.  God said,
"And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions.  Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. 7 And you shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear, for they are a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 2:6-7).  

God told the people of Israel before they conquered the land of Canaan saying,
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

God not only made these promises in the Old Testament but throughout the New Testament as quoted in Hebrews,
“I will never leave you, I will never forsake you. So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?‘”  (Hebrews 13:5-6)

In Matthew 10:28-31, Jesus said,
"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."  

Therefore, we have nothing to fear except being outside of the light of God, for if God is not our light, then there is much to fear.  But if God is our light, then there is nothing to fear, for He is with us and is our deliverance.

Our God is a mighty stronghold, the anchor of our lives, when there is turmoil, storms of doubt, discouragement, despairdefeat as well as when we face the waves and winds of temptation, the trials, and the sorrows that tear at our sails.  When we are faithful followers of Christ, we can have the confidence that no matter how bad things might appear, with God on our side, life can be free of worry, fear, and anxiety.  Our God brings us inner peace, calmness, or quietness.  Our LORD is our peace because He is our Light.   Even death itself has no hold over us.  Death is what every person fears, but we Christians must not fear death since it is merely a transition into eternal life and paradise with God.   The Scriptures repeatedly reassure us with confidence saying,
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose”  (Romans 8:28).  

Our God is our strength and joy.  Isn't that marvelous!

Although life is full of troubles and trials, God is our Helper to shield us with His strength.

"For He will conceal me in His shelter in the day of adversity; He will hide me under the cover of His tent; He will set me high on a rock."  

You see, God is our protection (a tabernacle or tent); and a rock.  As our tabernacle or tent, our God is our security to hide us in His presence.  As our rockHe sets us on high to keep us far from all harm.  God will put us in the hollow of His mighty hand to protect us with His presence and strength.   As we walk with God in true communionwe can rest assured that He will be there for us to help us handle life's difficulties, fears, and uncertainties and to give us the strength to endure them.  God will provide for us in times of danger.   When I think of what my God has done in my life and how He has met His promises to me, I can't help but to shout of joy and sing praises to Him!

Indeed, God hears when we cry out to Him, and He is never too busy to listen to us.   Yet, He is the last person we want to talk to.  How is He going to listen to us if we don't even bother to approach His throne of mercy?  God is the only one on whom we can confidently lay our heavy burdens, to find relief and rest for our weary souls.  We must believe and trust Him, for He will indeed listen to us.  He is a faithful and perfect Father who longs to hear us when we cry out to Him.  Can there be a better or more perfect listener than our Father in heaven who wants to hear us?  No one, for there is no better listener who can help us with our cries like our God!

No one can assist us and grant us that inner peace that we so desperately need in our times of turmoil except our Father in heaven.  That is why we must always remind ourselves of all His promises.  Jesus, our Lord, promised us that if we "keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you"  (Matthew 7:7).  Such faithful promises are too much for me to fathom!  So, I will trust Him with all of my heart and soul!!



II.   JESUS OUR FAITHFUL SHEPHERD:   (Psalm 23:1-4)
"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  2  He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters.  3  He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.  4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."

When we surrender our will to the will of God, we are putting our lives in His hands (the relationship of the sheep with their shepherd).  In doing this, we will lack nothing.  Our relationship with the Shepherd is sufficient, and there is no deficiency, for He provides what we need.  That does not mean that our lives are going to be free of difficulties, but rather that all our needs will be supplied.  Our satisfaction must be the Lord and nothing else.  True contentment is found in God Himself as our Shepherd.  What we have in the Lord is much greater than what we don't have in life.  God is all we need, for He provides His children what they need.  Therefore, there is nothing else that we need but Him.  When we trust our Shepherd, we lack no good thing... ever!!  There is nothing to be afraid of or worried about because He is with us all the way until the gates of heaven. Indeed“Jehovah is my shepherd; I shall not want!” 


"He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside still waters."  (Verse 2)

Indeed, it is difficult to get sheep to lie down.  They refuse to lie down unless they are free from all fear, tension, flies or parasites, and hunger.  The good shepherd must make sure that his flock is free from disturbances or turmoil.  You see, sheep are easily frightened.  But nothing quiets the sheep like seeing their shepherd in the field with them.  Isn't that a beautiful picture! Like sheep, we also are easily frightened.  Why?  Because life is uncertain.  Often the unknown and the unexpected is what frightens us the most.  But nothing quiets our souls better than knowing that our Good Shepherd is near to protect us from all harm.  Whenever our Shepherd is near, we find rest for our weary souls.  His presence puts an end to all our fear, tension, and worry.  Our Good Shepherd provides us with the spiritual food that our souls desperately need.  Our Shepherd has promised us that He will satisfy our needs.  Isn't that marvelous!  Indeed, Christ, our Lord, meets all our needs.  That is why He “maketh us to lie down in green pastures.”

The Good Shepherd also leads us beside still waters.  The quality of God's provisions is the best.  In the Bible, churning turbulent waters represent distress (Isaiah 43:2; 28:2; 2 Samuel 5:20).  He leads us beside still or quiet waters to refresh our souls as we walk life's journey.


“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me”  (Verse 4).

This verse is often used to comfort the dying.  Even though it expresses such hope, the central concept is that the Shepherd is protecting His sheep from harm and danger.  A good shepherd leads his sheep from the high pastures during the summer to the valleys of lowlands during the winter.  But despite all this, there are times when the sheep will pass through dangerous places.  For God's children, there are times when we seem to be lying down in green pastures and other times when we are led through the valley of the shadow of death’s dark valleys.  Our God is tenderly leading us in either case.

Our Father in heaven knows quite well exactly when we are going to need His strength and provision. He will supply the strength we so desperately need, just in time. David acknowledged that though he walked through the valley of the shadow of death, he would fear no evil (Psalm 23:4). He knew what it was like to be in the dark valley. For many of us, the darkest valley of all is the one we dread the most to cross.  David describes this valley as one of deep darkness. It speaks of our dark experiences in life.

In Psalm 23, David reminds us that our world is not ideal, but full of dark valleys (verse 4).  And although he had struggled through many difficulties, he remained faithful and confident that God would be with him in the many dark and somber times. David applied the Word of God in his own life.

God's children go through many dark valleys in life.  Some of us have deeper valleys than others. Some have fewer valleys.  Our journey is not always tranquil and easy, for we must go through difficult and trying times.  We must pass through these valleys to reach our green pastures.  We must pass through these valleys to strengthen and develop our character and grow in our faith.  These valleys are good for us, for they strengthen our faith and confidence.  We must confidently trust God to work things out for our good, for He will do what is right and best for us.  Sadly, many do not have such hope or confidence because they do not have God.  Our Good Shepherd walks near His sheep, His children, to steer them past dangerous places, narrow and slippery paths.  It is during these harmful and trying times, the deep valleys of life that distress us and make us afraid, that our God moves us along-side of us with His rod and staff to help us and encourage us.  Without God in our lives, our trials, traumas, fears, and sufferings will make no sense and have no value. We will not have God's deliverance to overcome them.  For us Christians, we have the confidence and hope that He is working on our behalf to do what is best for us.

The word “evil” in this context means disaster and danger rather than moral evil.  The phrase “shadow of death” implies disaster and danger (Psalm 44:19; 107:10; 10, 14).  The picture that the Psalmist paints is that of death casting its shadow over us the travelers.  And though the Shepherd leads us in the paths of righteousness, the right paths, at times, those paths seem to be “the valley of the shadow of death.”  Why?  Because since we are with the Lord, we feel that He should lead us away from or around the valley of the shadow of death.  However, the sheep must trust the Shepherd when walking through this valley.  And even though we are led through such a valley, we must not fear disaster, harm, and danger, for our Shepherd is with us to take care of us and provide what we need.  His presence is all we need, for it makes all the difference in this world.  Our merciful and loving God is our comfort in our valleys of pain, doubt, fear, uncertainty, and sorrow.  What an excellent Comforter is our God who empowers us to fear no harm!!  We can confidently trust Him to help us handle the valley of the shadow of death, for He is with us.

“Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”




God's presence and power can free us from our fears when we are traveling through our dark valleys of difficulty and trials.  “For thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” Such precious words of comfort! David recognized that God is present in our lives and that He is leading us through these valleys.  He is there to protect us and see us through these difficult circumstances.  Our Good Shepherd uses His Shepherd’s staff to work with us, His sheep. The rod is like a club.  The shepherd learns early in life how to throw it with speed and accuracy.  The rod becomes his main weapon of defense for both him and his sheep.  He uses it to drive off predators like coyotes, wolves, cougars, or stray dogs.  It is also used to beat away snakes.  The rod is also used to discipline.  When the sheep wander away or near any danger, the rod is thrown to send it back to the flock.  On the other hand, the staff is a long, slender stick that usually has a hook on one end.  The shepherd uses his staff to guide his sheep along a new path or through a gate.  He does not beat the sheep but nudges them along.  Sometimes, the staff is used to get the sheep out of trouble, pull them from the water, or protect them from thorns.  We, God's sheep, are comforted by His authority, power, might, and guidance, for His rod and staff comfort us while we travel our pilgrim journey.

Thus, the Good Shepherd, our Lord, directs, retrieves, and disciplines us. His rod or cudgel hangs from His belt and is ready to defend and protect us.  We the sheep look on these things to remind ourselves that the Shepherd will protect us well, for He cares for us.  His rod and His staff will comfort us, for He is with us to help us overcome our difficulties and trials, as we pass through the fearsome valley of death.  David confidently said, “I fear no evil (danger or harm), for Thou art with me.”  I cannot fathom how people in this world can get through their trials and difficulties in life without God!!  Our loving and merciful God is our surety and strength during the darkest times.  He works things out for our good and will do what is best for us, His sheep, and His children.  We can trust Him to get us through the darkest valleys of life.


CONCLUSION:


Jesus is our Shepherd King.  With Him, we lack nothing, for He brings us rest and guidance in the paths of righteousness.  Our Shepherd King restores and refreshes our souls and brings the perfect healing that we so desperately need.  He is with us and will lead us through the valley of the shadow of death.  He will give us serenity, tranquility, and comfort during this journey.  He is also our sustenance, direction, companion, protection, and acceptance.  There is nothing in life that we lack when we follow Him.  Only goodness and mercy will follow His faithful children all the days of their lives and in the next life.  

And though God's sheep can go through times of distress, disturbance, and bewilderment, they can rest assured that the good Shepherd will care for them to find rest and peace.  Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of deathwe will not fear the dark times of life because God is with us, the Good Shepherd, walking with us.  He is on our side.  Our God, the Good Shepherd, provides for us spiritual food and spiritual rest, “green grass,” and “quiet or still waters.”  Jesus is with us as He leads us.  He gives us tranquility and comfort during the journey.  He is preparing a banquet table for us where we can enjoy His blessings overflowing our cup.  He is pursuing us all the days of our lives.  He laid down His life to rescue us.  

"I am certain that I will see the LORD’s goodness in the land of the living.  14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and courageous.  Wait for the LORD!"  (Psalm 27:13-14)

Our faith in our God will win over fear and doubt, for He is our defense, strength, and guide.  He surrounds us with His Almighty arms of protection against our circumstances.  God helps us to bear the fiery furnace of our trials, that we might not be burned.  We must walk by faith and not by fear.  God is our Light, who brings us out of the darkness of sin into His glorious Light of righteousness.  God provides guidance to life's problems through His Truth.  He is our salvation, for He delivers us with His strong hand.  He is also our defense when we put our trust in Him as faithful servants.  He puts us on a high rock to keep us from harm and danger, for He loves us and cares for us.  May our God be praised for His marvelous Light, salvation, and defense!  Our God is not only a God of love but also of Truth.  He keeps His promises, and there is no falsehood in Him.  Therefore, we must trust Him with unwavering faith to face each trial that comes our way.

He is with us and will be with His faithful children all the way to the gates of heaven.  He has promised us that He will come to our aid to help us overcome all of life's obstacles and the darkness in our path, only if we will faithfully trust in Him to deliver us.  He has promised us that we will be able to overcome everything because of our faith in Him.  We must trust in Him to meet whatever challenges that might come our way.  Thus let us trust Him during our fiercest storms. Let us trust Him when dark days assail us.  Let us trust Him when our faith seems to be small.  Let us trust Him when the best and simplest thing to do is to trust Him.  Indeed, these are the hardest things for us, His children, to do!

Therefore, let us resolve to be strong in the LORD and in His power to help us overcome.  So when trouble comes your way, don't lose heart but choose to be strong and wait on the LORD.  Believe with all your heart that you will see God's goodness in the land of the living.  Trust in His goodness and faithfulness.  And though waiting is hard, it is necessary.  Remain faithful to Him and keep praying.  Wait on Him and remain faithful to His Truth.  Seek God's face by drawing nearer to Him in prayer.  Approach His throne with confidence and cry out to Him.  God will hear your deep feelings, even your broken and distressing ones.  Put yourself in God's hands and let Him guide you into His level path of righteousness.  But you must remember to be patient and wait on the LORD.  He will lead you to a safe and secure place.  What an awesome Father we have in heaven!!

Is God the Light in your life? Is He your deliverance, your salvation, and your stronghold in this world? If you are not walking the level path of righteousness with God as you draw near to Him, then it will be hard to have confidence, faith, and trust.  Why not choose to walk with Him that He might be your Friend to listen to you, protect you, and guide you?  I can assure you, He will not let you down and will not forsake you.  Let us wait for the LORD to provide all that we need to make it to heaven.  When you find yourself in the pit, look up to God in prayer!

May we wait and trust in God when we feel lost and without hope.  May we always turn to our Light that He may give us strength and victory over our fears.  May we never fear evil, for He is with us during the darkest times of our life.  May we never forget that our good Shepherd is walking close by our side.  May we have the confidence that He will surround us with His goodness and mercy.  May we show gratitude for His provisions, pardon, presence, protection, and peace.  May we trust in our Lord with all our heart, mind, and soul, who loves us enough to let us face our challenges that we may grow and enter His kingdom. May we find rest, serenity, and calm in His loving arms. May we find refreshment for our weariness. May we dwell in the house of the LORD forever.


Wait, wait, O wait on the LORD.
Be strong and take courage!
Wait on the LORD.
Wait, wait, O wait on the LORD.
Be strong and take courage!
Yes, wait on the LORD.

Luci