Monthly Archives: April 2010

Isaiah 26:3-4

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal. NIV

There is a praise song that I really like that I hear a lot and am called to sing these days.  I don’t know the name of it, and it doesn’t really have a chorus … it is sort of a long statement about the benefits of living with Christ.  But, in the middle of it are inserted the words and tune of a song I’ve known, it seems, all my life:  “On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

I sang that song last weekend with a group of friends at a conference.  When I got to the solid rock part, I got a mental picture, so vivid, and one that I don’t remember having before.  I saw the rock and sand shifting all around it, and the ocean roiling around it, too.  Everything around the rock was chaotic motion, but, the rock was unmoved.

When I found this verse yesterday, I was again reminded of that image.  I love the promise of this verse.  God will keep my mind in perfect peace because I trust in Him.  I think that the use of the word “because” is purposeful here.  The verse doesn’t say “if,” it says “because.”  I must trust in the Lord forever, for He is the rock eternal. On that immovable rock is where I have built my life.  I must balance on that rock with my belief and my trust perfectly aligned.  And, because I trust Him, He will keep my mind in perfect peace, no matter what swirls around me.

I will think about that today.

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Filed under Isaiah, Old Testament, Peace, Trust

Exodus 14:31

And when the Israelites saw the great power of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him … NIV

I admit that this verse does not say “fear not.”  But, it is included under both “fear” and “trust” in my concordance, and so it drew my attention, as these are two themes I am exploring during these 365 days of searching out reminders not to worry.

When I looked up this word “fear” in my Hebrew dictionary, I found that it means, “honor, respect and awe.”  The people saw the power of the Lord when He parted the Red Sea for them so that they could walk through on dry ground and then, when the Egyptians tried to follow them, He closed the sea back up and they all were drowned.  The people were, understandably, in awe.

When they saw the power of God, demonstrated on their behalf, they put their trust in Him.  This verb, “to put trust,” is translated, “to believe, trust, have confidence.”  It is interesting to me that they “put” their trust in God, which implies that they could have chosen to put it somewhere else.

That is a mistake that I often make.  My belief in God is at the center of my life.  But, my belief and my trust must be aligned if I am to stay in balance.  If I put my trust in Him, my centers of gravity line up and all is right with the world.  When I take my trust off of Him and put it somewhere else … in my own abilities, in other people, in things or money … everything gets out of kilter and unbalanced.

On a daily basis, I must make the choice to trust God, and to walk forward in the confidence of His love and His provision for my life.  “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25:4-5

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Filed under Exodus, Fear, Old Testament, Trust

Genesis 41:51

Joseph named his first-born son Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” NIV

Someone told me once that people fall into three basic categories — those who live life looking in the rearview mirror, those who live in the moment (right behind the steering wheel, if you will) and those who are focused on the road ahead and always looking around the next corner.

These are broad generalizations of course, but, over time, I’ve found them to be pretty true.  While people don’t spend all of their time in any one category, many are likely to find themselves spending more time in one category or another … accountants, for instance, are very good at looking back and at determining what happened in a company’s immediate past and how that might affect what will happen next.

Throughout my life, I’ve tended to spend more time in the looking forward category.  I enjoy thinking about the next thing and planning for fun things to come.

However, my pre-disposition to look forward has a dark side.   I am not meant to know the future, and I cannot control it.  When I come upon something that I want to turn out a certain way and I can see that it might not, that leads to worry, which stems from a lack of trust.

Joseph had been allowed to see the future.  God revealed to Joseph through Pharoah’s dream that a tremendous famine was coming.  God gave Joseph the understanding of this dream, and when Joseph proposed to Pharoah a proactive approach to the coming problem, Pharoah promoted Joseph to be the guy who would be in charge of solving it.

While he’s preparing all of Egypt for the famine that is to come, his first son is born.  Joseph names him Manasseh (forget), because, Joseph says, “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.”

At this point in his life, (and perhaps throughout all of it) Joseph seems to me to be living in the moment and completely trusting God.  Not only is he not worried about the famine that he knows is coming, but, he isn’t worried about all of the terrible things that have happened to him that have brought him to this place, “God has made me forget …”  Without the past in his worry bucket, Joseph is able to be extremely effective in the task that God has assigned him to do.

That’s pretty powerful.  I will think about that today.

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Filed under Genesis, Old Testament

II Corinthians 1:8

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia.  We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.  Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.  But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us.  On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. NIV

I love how The Message translates verse 9, “As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened.  Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally — not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead!” MSG

Again and again I see it … Trust God!  That is the source of real peace.

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Filed under despair, II Corinthians, New Testament

Deuteronomy 3:2

The Lord said to me, “Do not be afraid of him, for I have handed him over to you with his whole army and his land.  Do to him what you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon.” NIV

It’s safe to say that I have not spent a lot of time reading or thinking about the Old Testament.  Most of what I know about it comes from sermons that I’ve heard, or specific books I might have studied at one time or another, but, to say that I have a good grasp of it would be an overstatement.

It is interesting to me that this story is told over and over and over, why?

I was talking with a dear friend last night who said, “we’re supposed to learn from it.”  She explained that we are supposed to live our lives with an understanding of what is in the Bible, so that we will have a better grasp on things.  We both acknowledged that we probably did not spend enough time with the Old Testament.

So, here I am again, with Moses being admonished not to fear Og, the King of Bashan, who has marched his whole army out to meet the Israelites in battle.  I am thinking that I might need to invest in an exhaustive commentary, so that I will have a better grasp of what is going on here, and/or what I might be learning from it.

I can clearly see this: Moses trusted God.

I will think about that today.

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Deuteronomy 1:21

See, the Lord your God has given you the land.  Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your fathers, told you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. NIV

It’s been 40 years.  Moses is now, it appears to me, reciting the history of what had happened all those years ago, before the people of Israel began the 40 years of wandering in the desert.

Moses explains how they had reached the hill country of the Amorites, and how God told him and he told the people that this was the land that God had planned for them.  I saw something this morning that I had not previously seen in this story.  In verse 22 and 23, Moses says, “Then all of you came to me and said, ‘Let us send men ahead to spy out the land for us and to bring back a report about the route we are to take and the towns we will come to.’ The idea seemed good to me so I selected twelve of you, one from each tribe.” NIV

Of course, the spies go up and they come back and spread the rumors that I looked at earlier this week and, everyone gets terribly worried and doubts God and consequently, no-one gets to enter the promised land except the two spies who were faithful, and they only get to go after wandering for 40 years in the desert.

This lesson dovetails perfectly with what I was studying yesterday in The Purpose Driven Life.  Rick Warren uses Noah as an example of one who is perfectly obedient and consequently completely blessed by God.  He notes that God is looking for obedience from his children.  Noah, he writes, “obeyed God wholeheartedly.  That means doing whatever God asks without reservation or hesitation.  You don’t procrastinate and say, ‘I’ll pray about it.’  You do it without delay.  Every parent knows that delayed obedience is really disobedience.”

I don’t want to be Moses.  I don’t want to do things because an idea seems good to me.  I want to be Noah.  I want to be obedient to God.  To do that, I must seek Him and listen to Him and then DO what it is that I am called to do.

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Filed under Deuteronomy, Fear, Old Testament

Numbers 21:34

The Lord said to Moses, “Do not be afraid of him, for I have handed him over to you, with his whole army and his land.  Do to him what you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon.” NIV

Sihon, apparently, had not been a very charitable person.  The Israelites had politely requested leave to pass through his country.  They had said that they would stick to the road, and, in verse 22, they even promised “We will not turn aside into any field or vineyard or drink water from any well.  We will travel along the King’s highway until we have passed through your territory.” NIV

Long story short, Sihon wouldn’t allow it and things did not end well for him or his family.

So, while the original plan had been merely to pass through the land of the Amorites (of which Sihon had been the king) once they conquered it, the Israelites settled there.

Now, Og, king of Bashan has shown up with his whole army, marching out to meet the Israelites in battle.  This is where God says, “Do not be afraid of him.”  Before the battle has even begun, God promises Moses that he already has handed Bashan over to Israel, along with his whole army and his land. At the end of the chapter, they strike down Bashan and take his land, too.

I”m not certain what there is here to learn … the Israelites are wandering in the desert because they were disobedient and they did not fulfill God’s original plan for them.  But, even though they were disobedient, God is still clearly on their side, protecting them from these unpleasant rulers who wish to do them harm.  More than protecting the Israelites, He’s actually exterminating their attackers.

Maybe that’s the thing — there is punishment for disobedience (the wandering in the desert part) but, God does not withdraw His hand, or His blessing from His children — maybe that is the point of this story.

I will think about that today.

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Filed under Numbers, Old Testament

Numbers 14:9

Only, do not rebel against the Lord.  And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up.  Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us.  Do not be afraid of them. NIV

Joshua and Caleb are pleading with the Israelites to abandon their fears and obey God.

The people of Israel are terrified to take the next step that God has laid out for them.  They — who have been provided for day and night by God, who have been led by a pillar of fire through the desert, who have gathered manna from heaven each morning, who walked across the Red Sea on dry ground — doubt that God can overcome the inhabitants of their new land.  And, why?  Because someone spread a rumor.  Numbers 13:32&33 say that the people who had accompanied Joshua and Caleb on their scouting trip into the promised land “spread scary rumors among the people of Israel.  They said, ‘We scouted out the land from one end to the other — it’s a land that swallows people whole.  Everybody we saw was huge.   Why; we even saw the Nephilim giants … alongside them we felt like grasshoppers.  And the looked down on us as if we were grasshoppers.'” MSG

They doubted God.  They were worried and terrified because they did not trust.

I’ve thought alot over the last several weeks about choosing to trust instead of choosing to worry.  But, it never occurred to me until just now that a lack of trust is the SOURCE of worry.

Trust is not the antidote for worry … it is the vaccine against it.

Wow.  I will think about that today.

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Filed under Fear, Numbers, Old Testament

Exodus 20:20

Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid.  God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” NIV

This verse comes from the list of “fear nots” in my concordance.  It is interesting to me that even though the King James Version of the Bible uses the word “fear” twice in this sentence, it is two different Hebrew words.  The first word means “to frighten,” while the second is translated, “reverence.”  This is consistent with how The Message translates this verse, “Don’t be afraid, God has come to test you and instill a deep and reverent awe within you so that yo won’t sin.” MSG

I’ve never thought much about tests from God.  But, I’ve recently begun working through The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren.  In it, he posits that our life here on earth is three things: a test, a trust and a temporary assignment.  He goes on to say, “you will be tested by major changes, delayed promises, impossible problems, unanswered prayers, undeserved criticism and even senseless tragedies.”  When I read this a couple of days ago, it didn’t make me feel very good.  It was not consistent with my image of who God is, and it caused me to question Warren’s thinking a bit.

But, this morning, here is a verse that would seem to an example of Warren’s point … right here on my “fear not,” list.

I think that the rest of what Warren had to say about tests from God was pretty interesting.  He notes that tests in life are “a growth opportunity to deepen your character, to demonstrate love, or to depend on God.”

I’m thinking about all of that today … if tests are a part of life, and if God admonishes me not to worry, but to trust Him and to see His presence in all things, and to praise Him and to be reverent of Him, that’s a pretty good road map.  An excellent one, in fact.

As I continue to earnestly seek God’s will for my life, I am heartened by I Corinthians 10:13, “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face.  All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” MSG

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Filed under Exodus, Fear, Old Testament

Luke 12:22-24

Then Jesus said to his disciples:  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.  Consider the ravens:  They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them.  And how much more valuable you are than birds!”  NIV

I am so thankful that Luke wrote this down.  Matthew recorded it, too, but, I think it is significant that more than one disciple thought to write out this advice.  I, for one, can stand to hear it more than once.

When I looked at these verses in The Message translation this morning, I was surprised by what I found there in verse 24, “Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree  in the care of God.” MSG

Where I live, one’s job description is pretty important.  Everyone, it seems, defines themselves by what they get paid to do.  And yet, God sees me as more than my job description, I am His child and I am valuable to Him.  I will trust in Him and praise Him, and He will ensure that I am cared for.

I don’t need to worry — it isn’t in my job description.

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Filed under Luke, New Testament, Worry