Monthly Archives: June 2010

It will wear you down

Isaiah 31:9a

Their stronghold will fall because of terror; at sight of the battle standard their commanders will panic.  NIV

Here’s another reason not to worry … eventually, it will wear you down.

The Message translates this, “Terrorized, that rock solid people will fall to pieces, their leaders scatter hysterically.” MSG

When I think about those “rock solid people” falling to pieces, the image that comes to mind is the Grand Canyon.  I am amazed at its size and scope.  My understanding is that it was once fairly flat rock, but, over time, the Colorado River wore it down until it is what we see today.  It was all caused by water.  Surely, a little bit of water must have, at one point, seemed harmless.  Not so.  The effects on the rock were devastating.

Worry is like that.  I might think that I can afford to do it every so often, but, really, that’s not true.

Worry will have an effect. Just like water causes erosion of rocks or beaches or whatever it is that it repetitively rubs against.

I need to focus on trusting God, and preserving me, just as He made me … not allowing myself to be worn down and broken by the worries of this world.

That’s what I’ll think about today!

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Filed under Isaiah, Old Testament, Worry

Storms pass

Isaiah 25:4 & 5

You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.  For the breath of the ruthless is like a storm driving against a wall and like the heat of the desert.  You silence the uproar of foreigners; as heat is reduced by the shadow of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is stilled. NIV

These verses, I think, are all about the relief and the perspective you get once a big worry has passed.  And, they are certainly an acknowledgement of God’s faithfulness and awesome power.  He is the refuge, He is the protection.

I love the perspective that the writer shares … he describes the sources of his worries as being, “like a storm driving against a wall,” and “like the heat of the desert.”  Both of these things have a seemingly infinite quality to them when you are experiencing them, but, once they have passed, you can see that at most times, no real harm was done.

When I was in college, a hurricane came through town.  We had plenty of warning that it was coming, and, hurricanes are not uncommon in my home state.  I lived in a large, concrete fortress that had been built in the 60s.  It had long, skinny floor to ceiling windows in each room which, I’m sure, the architect had found aesthetically pleasing, but they had long since ceased to be functional and, when I lived there, they had all been sealed shut.  They were not, however, impervious to the winds of the hurricane.  As the storm raged, those windows shook, and water poured through them at a pretty decent rate.  At one point, the water in my room covered the tops of my feet, and, I was on an upper floor.

But, my bed was nice and dry and the walls held.

In the morning, after the storm had passed, a glorious day dawned.  Trees had been uprooted, cars had been crushed, some people had lost their homes because trees fell through their roofs, but, no one had died. The town began busily putting itself back in order.

In most cases, my worries are just like that storm.  They might make a lot of noise to distract me, they might make my life a bit  uncomfortable or inconvenient, but, they don’t really affect me at the core of where I live.  I need to remember that the next time I face a big worry.  And, these verses paint a beautiful picture to remind me.  I no longer live in a concrete fortress, but, I live each day in the fortress that is Jesus Christ.

I am so thankful for that gift today.


Filed under christianity, Isaiah, Old Testament, Worry

You’re not in this alone

Isaiah 19:20

It will be a sign and witness to the Lord Almighty in the land of Egypt.  When they cry out to the Lord because of their oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and he will rescue them.  NIV

I almost skipped this reminder.  I don’t really understand the context of all of the verses around it, which is not unusual when I find myself in Isaiah.  This book is filled with prophecy, and I am in no way qualified to decipher it.

But, the second half of this verse stuck out for me, I know it is true, so, here I am.

And, this may be the most important of all of the reminders.  God is faithful.  He keeps His promises.

He promised to send a savior, and He did.  His son.

Because Christ lived, and died, and rose again, I have absolutely nothing to fear or to worry about.

One part of this verse that I find really interesting is, “When they cry out to the Lord because of their oppressors.”  This is something that I’ve seen over and over again in many of the verses that I have found.  God wants us to cry out to Him.  He doesn’t expect us to “buck up,” or to bear the trials of this life on our own.  He knows it is hard, He lived it himself through Jesus, and He wants to fulfill our needs.

But, there is something about crying out to God that is important.  I think it may be tied to glorifying Him.  If I go to Him with my problems, and He solves them, I give Him the glory for that.  But, I think that He wants everything about our lives here to glorify Him.  Crying out to Him is an acknowledgement that I cannot accomplish anything on my own.

I will think about that today.

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Filed under Isaiah, Old Testament, Trust

All bad things will come to an end

Isaiah 14: 3-4

On the day the Lord gives you relief from suffering and turmoil and cruel bondage, you will take up this taunt against the King of Babylon:  How the oppressor has come to an end!  How his fury has ended! NIV

The biggest list of “fear not” verses is in my King James concordance.  Since, for the most part, I’m not working with a King James translation on this project, each day holds a little surprise when I get to the verse that is noted.  Here, the concordance said, “from thy sorrow, and from thy fear,” which looked interesting to me, so, here I am, still in Isaiah.

This is a very powerful reminder not to worry — all bad things will come to an end.

The rest of this chapter, which comprises the taunt against the King of Babylon,is, to me, the biblical equivalent of “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead.”

I absolutely love the Wizard of Oz.  When I was a kid, it came on TV just once a year, and, for the week before it was on, I was very excited.  I knew that I would be too scared to watch the house drop on the witch, and I would also chicken out when her feet curled up under the house  after the Good Witch took her shoes, but, I still wanted to watch it.

One year, on the big day, our TV broke.  My sweet father went to the 7-11, and rented a TV so that we would not miss the movie.  Turned out, it was a color TV.  Ours was black-and-white.  Nothing seemed different when the movie started, but, once the witch died, I was amazed at all of the gorgeous colors!  I saw the movie in a whole new light … everything in the Emerald City was, well GREEN, and I was amazed by all of it.

But, my absolute favorite part of the whole movie has always been the musical number “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead.”  Over my life, when trials have come to an end, and they always do, I have found myself singing it.  Sometimes, really loudly.  I love the feeling of absolute relief that prompts me to want to sing that song.

And here, in Isaiah, the people are being directed to do just that sort of celebrating, “When God has given you time to recover from the abuse and trouble and harsh servitude that you had to endure, your can amuse yourselves by taking up this satire, a taunt against the King of Babylon.” MSG

Everything in life is a sine wave.  There will always be ups and there will always be downs, but, neither will last forever.

Today, I will embrace that feeling of relief.  I will sing “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead,” just for good measure.  And, I will delight in the wonders that this day is sure to hold.


Filed under Hope, Isaiah, Old Testament, Worry

Don’t fear what they fear

Isaiah 8:12

“Do not call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy;  do not fear what they fear and do not dread it.” NIV

In this, the next verse on the “fear not” list, God is speaking to Isaiah, and it appears to be an urgent message.  When I go back to the preceding verse, it says, “God spoke strongly to me, grabbed me with both hands and warned me not to go along with this people.” MSG

I can’t imagine what that would be like.  In 2010, you don’t hear people referring to God this way very often.  I wonder why that is.  God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  So, if it is not God who has changed, how have we changed that these personal encounters are either less frequent, less powerful or less documented?

I felt like God spoke to me, once.  I was very worried about a situation.  This woman was making a speech, and she was trying to worry her audience.  Having done some public speaking myself, I can imagine what she was seeing.  With each frightening sentence, as she was describing what in her words seemed to be an insurmountable obstacle, I am certain that she could see in the eyes of her listeners a panoply of reactions ranging from surprise to fear to hopelessness.  I know that is what she saw in mine.

In the years since, I have often wondered about her motivation.  Everyone in that class needed to climb that hill successfully.  What did she gain by making it seem so hard to do?

So, as I sat there, in the midst of her speech, I said to myself, “This cannot be done.”  And, immediately, out of nowhere, a very confident voice spoke in my head and in my heart.  It said, “This is my plan.”  That’s it.  No more.  No less.  Just four words.  But, so powerful!

I knew those words didn’t come from me.  I believed the woman.  The hill could not be climbed.  But, God had a plan.

This morning, as I read this verse, the phrase, “don’t fear what they fear, don’t take on their worries,” (MSG) is the one that sticks out for me.

Perhaps, that woman herself had feared the obstacle.  Perhaps she wanted the class to fear what she feared, and to take on her worries.  But for God’s intervention, she would have succeeded in at least one case.

I wonder how many other times in my life, I have feared what others told me was frightening, or taken on the worries of others.

I don’t want to do that.

This chapter goes on to talk about the fear of the Lord … and, I think, keeping things in perspective.

I’m really going to think about that today.


Filed under Fear, Isaiah, Old Testament

Trust will protect you

Proverbs 29:25

The fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.  NIV

I think it is interesting that  two of the verses that I’ve found this month in Proverbs both talk about “snares.”  I like the way The Message translates this verse, “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.” MSG

I love that it says that worrying about what other people think is disabling, which is absolutely true; and I also love that it says that trusting God protects you from the trap of worrying about what other people think.

I don’t think I’d ever looked at it that way, and, I find, that’s a pretty powerful concept.  Today, I will take hold of that protection.  I will wrap myself in trust and walk confidently forward.

That’s what I will think about today.

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Filed under Fear, Old Testament, Proverbs

I AM here

Matthew 14:27

But Jesus immediately said to them, “Take courage!  It is I.  Don’t be afraid.” NIV

In the New Living Translation this verse reads, “But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here![a]”  That footnote then says, “Or The ‘I Am’ is here; Greek reads I am. See Exod 3:14.”

Last night, a dear friend taught a beautiful lesson on this passage.  This is the story of a great storm.  The disciples are in a boat, and Jesus is not with them, and they are all pretty worried, and then Jesus appears to them walking on the water.

In the midst of this discussion, the leader mentioned something that really got me thinking.  She was talking about the humanity of Jesus, and she asked the group, “Was He fully God?  Or, was He fully man?”  I believe, and the group also said, that He was both.

But then, she pointed out the phrase, “I am here!” and, she said, there is something special about “I am.”  It is, of course, one of the names of God, as noted in Exodus 3:14 — “I AM WHO I AM.  This is what you are to say to the Israelites, I AM has sent me to you.”

So, when Jesus tells Peter, “I am here,” it is beyond powerful.

That’s what struck me.  God was right there.  Fully God, and fully man, and Peter had nothing to fear.

Those who knew Jesus had the privilege of having God RIGHT THERE.  I won’t know that joy until I cross over into heaven, but, I have the same assurance.

There is nothing to fear or worry about, I must only remember that God, the Great I AM, is here.

That’s what I’m thinking about today.


Filed under Fear, Matthew, New Testament

Stand firm in your faith

Isaiah 7:4; 9b

“Say to him, ‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid.  Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood — because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah … If you do not stand firm in your faith you will not stand at all.'” NIV

God is speaking here.  These are instructions that He is giving to Isaiah to pass on to Ahaz, the King of Judah.  The people of Jerusalem are very worried because two seemingly powerful groups have partnered with a third in an attempt to overpower them.

But God sends this message and then says, “It will not take place, it will not happen” (v. 7).

Now, how nice would that be?  What if, the next time I was worried about something, God sent a messenger straight to me to tell me that what I’m worrying over will not happen?  I don’t expect that will be the case, but, it would be a very powerful gift.

I especially like the end of God’s message in verse 9, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.”

There is a lot in that sentence for me to ponder.

That’s what I will think about today.

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Filed under Faith, Fear, Isaiah, Old Testament, Worry

God loves you, no matter what

2 Samuel 13:28-29

Absalom ordered his men, “Listen, when Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine and I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ then kill him.  Don’t be afraid.  Have I not given you this order? Be strong and brave.”  So Absalom’s men did to Amnon what Absalom had ordered.  Then all the kings sons got up, mounted their mules and fled. NIV

I found this verse several weeks ago as I was working my way through my “fear not” list.  Even though the King James version clearly says, “fear not,” and even though the NIV also says that Abasalom reassured his men, I didn’t think that this qualified as a reminder not to worry.

This is a bad story.  Amnon becomes obsessed with his sister, Tamar, he lures her into his quarters and takes advantage of her.  She begs him to marry her, and instead he discards her.  Absalom, their brother, is so angry that he cannot contain himself, and ultimately plots the man’s death.

The Message says, “Absalom prepared a banquet fit for a king.  Then he instructed his servants …”

A lot of planning went into this, on everybody’s part.

Amnon planned to be ill in bed so that Tamar would come to take care of him, and Absalom plotted out getting Amnon drunk so that he could be killed.

But, here’s the thing: no-one seems to feel at all good about this, and, when all of the kings sons run off after Amnon is killed, they were likely pretty worried about what would happen next.

So, what’s the point here?

I’m pretty sure that this story is here to provide us an example.

When David first hears the news, it gets bungled.  He is told that Absalom has killed all of his brothers.  This means that almost all of David’s sons are dead, and he is, understandably, devastated.  “The king stood up, ripped his clothes to shreds, and threw himself on the floor.  All his servants who were standing around at the time did the same.” MSG

Then, David’s brother tells him that only Amnon has been killed, saying, “This has been Absalom’s expressed intention ever since Amnon raped his sister Tamar.”

So, all of the brothers, except Absalom come to David, and everyone mourns.

It’s like a Tennessee William’s play.  I’ve often heard it said that at the start of a Tennessee Williams play everyone is on their way to hell in a hand basket and by the end of the last act, they’re there.

The example, I think, is David’s love for his children.  Amnon was clearly not a good guy, and yet, David loved him.  He bitterly mourned the man’s death.

Absalom goes off the rails, kills his brother, and then, as I remember the story, romps around the countryside doing a whole variety of unpleasant things, and yet, David still loves him.  The story is long and convoluted and Absalom makes things miserable for everyone, but, when he is finally dead, David mourns him, too.  I remember the first time I read this story.  I was so suprised that David would be so upset when Abasalom died because he had been so awful to David and to everyone else.

But, David loved his children.

Just like God loves His children.

We have free will.  We can make a complete mess of our lives here and yet, God still loves us. So, while I can’t say that any part of this story holds something not to worry about … I can say that God cares enough to provide us detailed examples of a father’s love.  He knew that not all of us would have earthly fathers who would fulfill that role, and so, He gives us the story of David’s love for his wayward children in detail, that we might glimpse a portion of the love that He has for us.

David was a good father.  God is the ultimate father, a father who loves His children, no matter what.  Now, that’s a reminder not to worry.

That’s what I will think about today.

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Filed under Fear, II Samuel, Old Testament

The best of everything will be ours

Genesis 45: 19-20

“You are also directed to tell them, ‘Do this:  Take some carts from Egypt for your children and your wives, and get your father and come.  Never mind about your belongings, because the best of all Egypt will be yours.’ “ NIV

I’m approaching the 1/3 point in my project. It is hard to believe that I already have found so many reminders not to worry and that there might be so many more.

Over the last four months, I’ve taken a variety of approaches to finding reminders, but, I’ve not spent much time using the Internet to find them.  I really enjoy looking through my two concordances and the two versions of the Bible that I’m consulting to find each day’s verse.

But, this morning, I went to a site my father had shared with me at the beginning of this process, and I plugged in the word, “worry,” (which does not appear in the King James version of the Bible even once) and I chose The Message translation.  The screen was immediately filled with verses, many of which I’ve already looked at, because the search engine started in Genesis, and, for the most part, I did, too.

But, here on that first page of the search results was Genesis 19-20. “Also tell them this: ‘Here’s what I want you to do:  Take wagons from Egypt to carry your little ones and your wives and load up your father and come back.  Don’t worry about having to leave things behind; the best in all of Egypt will be yours.’ “ MSG

These are Pharaoh’s instructions to Joseph about what he was to tell his brothers, once he had revealed his identity to them.

It was a relocation program.

Sometimes, moves are fun.  If you’re heading to an exciting new city for a great new job, and if someone else is doing all the packing, they can be fun … until you get to the unpacking part — which I always find difficult.

But, sometimes, even if you think that things will be better or different in the new place, it is hard to leave the familiar.

Pharaoh is very kind to say that the people shouldn’t worry about the things that they will leave behind, but, he says that through the lens of a king who has always had the best of his own land … he must have been thinking, “Egypt is really great … these people will absolutely love living here.”

But, this morning, my heart goes out to the those who had to move, especially the “little ones,” that Pharaoh references.  They left the only place that they had ever known for someplace new, and, I’m betting at least a few of them were worried about it.

Two children who are very dear to me are facing a move like this in the coming weeks, and they are reacting to it very differently.   One is excited about what will be, and the other is saddened to leave what has been.

Today, I am praying that their worries will be lessened and that they can have a full measure of excitement for what is to come, and that they will truly enjoy this next place that they will be living.

It strikes me, too, that we all will ultimately move.  We will leave this life for the next, and, Pharoah’s advice holds here, too.  We can’t worry about the things that we will leave behind.  Even though we might love things about this life, in the next life, the best of everything will be ours.

I will think about that today.


Filed under Genesis, Old Testament, Worry