• WHY ARE YOU SO FEARFUL?

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    “And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.”

    Matthew 8:24-26

    There is not one of us who has not experienced fear in some form or another. For some, it may be the fear of failing, the fear of dying, or the fear of the unknown. For others, it might be the fear of losing employment, the fear of leaving home, or the fear of being rejected. The disciples were in the midst of a terrible storm in the sea, and fear had overtaken them.

    When you think about it, just as storms are a part of life on the sea, storms are a part of life on the land. We all are going to face storms. This was a “great tempest” for the experienced sailors. That is the kind of storm that causes us to fear. We would not be afraid if there were no storms, and we would probably not fear if the storm were small and short-lived. When our trials are intense and we do not know how or when they will end, fear seeks to take hold of us.

    Jesus was not concerned in the least bit, for He was sleeping throughout the whole thing. When Jesus was awakened, He asked the question, “Why are ye fearful?” He did not ask if they were afraid, but why they were afraid. We should personalize this question. Why are we sometimes so fearful?

    One obvious reason we can be overtaken with fear is because we are not trusting the Lord. Jesus said to these disciples, “O ye of little faith.” When fear fills our hearts, it must be that we are not relying on the Savior. He wants us, as children of God, to trust Him in the practical daily circumstances of life, but especially in our storms and trials. At times we are given to fear because we have the tendency to expect the worst. The disciples were convinced they were perishing. Fear has a way of multiplying itself. The more we think about a potential danger, the more severe it becomes to us. Very often when a trial passes, we are stricken that it was not nearly as tragic as we had imagined it to be. We are also fearful when we forget that we are not alone. Jesus is always with us. With the Master on board, surely we can trust Him to see us through.

  • ASKING OUR FATHERS

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    “Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.”

    Deuteronomy 32:7

    Moses would soon die, and go to his eternal reward. He had given his life in service to God and caring for God’s people. He had counseled them, instructed them, prayed for them, and led them to the Promised Land. He would not be allowed to accompany them into Canaan. Before he departed, he gave Israel a powerful message in song. The faithful man of God admonished the people he so dearly loved to look back and learn from the generation that preceded them. “Remember the days of old…ask thy father, and he will shew thee.”

    Moses knew the people would benefit from consulting their elders and taking heed to their wisdom. This is not an isolated bit of counsel, but one that is repeated often in the Bible. It is wise to listen to the voice of experience and those who are older. Just because a person is older is no guarantee that he is wiser; more often than not, however, his advice will be beneficial.

    This practical wisdom should be applied in our homes. Children should be encouraged to respect their elders, obey their parents, and seek the counsel of godly leaders. Teenagers could also benefit greatly from some sagely insight from those who are older. It is a unique and unusually prudent teenager who draws upon the advice of those their seniors. Young adults would likewise do well to listen to the wisdom of their elders. Their parents’ and grandparents’ generations have learned many lessons by rearing their children and seeing God bless in their homes. It only stands to reason that the older generation would be able to offer some valuable counsel.

    Younger preachers would also benefit from carefully heeding the wise words of seasoned and mature spiritual leaders. It is difficult to see young and inexperienced people create hardships for their lives which could have been avoided by simply asking questions or seeking advice.

    Unfortunately many young people show little interest in the vast reservoir of wisdom available in their elders. This does not mean the older generation is more intelligent or even more spiritual. What it does mean is that years of living and walking with God provides valuable lessons. Moses’ dying message is still sound advice after all these years, “ask thy father.”

  • FEED MY SOUL

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    “For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.”

    Psalm 107:9

    The Psalmist is recalling the desperate condition of a people that were in bondage and despair. They were alone and weak, sitting in darkness and afflicted, all because of their rebellion. Their souls fainted for hunger and thirst. In their trouble, they cried unto the Lord and He delivered them. In declaring the mercy of God, the writer said, “he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.”

    There is a hunger and thirst within man that only God Himself can satisfy. God wants to feed the soul of the hungry. Unfortunately, many do not realize their need for soul nourishment. They think they are satisfied, filling their spiritual bellies with the garbage of the world. Perhaps you were once there. Thank God for the day that enlightenment began to come to our souls. Thank God for the day that the pleasures of sin were no longer satisfying. Sometimes God uses circumstances and afflictions to bring us to the place where we see how desperately we need Him.

    There is something refreshing in seeing the soul that is longing for God. Jesus said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). God satisfies the longing soul; He feeds the soul of the hungry. This is seen in the soul of the sinner seeking salvation. The Holy Spirit brings the convicted sinner to the place of realizing that he is spiritually bankrupt and deserving of eternal damnation. Made aware of his pitiful condition, he cries out to God for mercy and grace, and God fills his longing soul. This should not be the end of this new creature’s longing for the satisfaction of the soul that only Jesus can give. Although the true child of God is eternally secure in his relationship with God, there ought to be a lifetime of hungering and thirsting for more of God’s grace and Spirit to work in the heart. It is grievous for professing believers to see themselves as satisfied, having need of nothing.

    It is those who hunger and thirst for righteousness that He has promised to fill. He wants to feed our souls with the nourishment of the Word of God and the precious Spirit of God. As we daily seek Him and feast regularly upon the Word, He will indeed feed and satisfy our hungry souls.

  • LOT VEXED HIS RIGHTEOUS SOUL

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    “And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds.)”

    II Peter 2:7, 8

    This testimony concerning Lot reveals the potentially negative influence of the sinful world on the child of God. Every true Christian who has worked in a typical secular environment can relate to the challenge it can present. We know that secular employment is part of God’s plan for the majority of us. It is the means whereby the needs of the family can be met; we gain the ability to support the Lord’s work by tithes and offerings; and we are able to give to the needs of others as well. Another purpose we find in the work place is the opportunities it provides for witnessing and sharing our faith in Christ. These are all positive and productive benefits of our job.

    Although it really is a ministry, it can have a negative effect on the spiritual life. The Bible says that Lot was “just” and a “righteous man.” Lot was a believer, one of God’s children. As we know, he lived in a notoriously wicked environment, Sodom and Gomorrah. The Bible says that “his righteous soul” was vexed “from day to day.” The filthy lifestyle of his neighbors, the language he heard, the things he saw, took its toll on the spiritual health of Lot.

    The same can happen to believers today. As our world increases in its ungodliness, the language becomes more wicked and blasphemous, styles of dress are more revealing, and the respect for God and Christians declines. In this environment, we find excellent opportunities to stand for Christ, but the potential is also there for spiritual problems to arise. In such a setting, will Christians influence those without Christ or will the unsaved have a damaging impact on the believers?

    How can we keep our souls from being vexed in the wicked world where we reside? We must learn to daily feed on God’s Word and receive strength from Him. We should also see ourselves as missionaries in a hostile environment. Remain faithful in church attendance, including the very important mid-week service. We must keep our minds and hearts pure, confessing our sins daily to Christ, and learning to walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. With God as our helper, we can have victory in this world.

  • COMPLAINING

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    “And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.”

    Numbers 11:1

    The children of Israel were guilty, on numerous occasions, of displeasing the Lord. In this example, “when the people complained, it displeased the LORD.” Their complaining angered God. They complained about the general difficulty of the journey, the presence of giants in Canaan, the lack of food or water, the absence of Moses when he was away seeking God, etc. Complaining sometimes brought God’s chastening hand against His people. Most people would not consider complaining to be a serious sin, but when “the LORD heard it; . . . his anger was kindled.”

    We all have, at some time or another, been guilty of complaining. Why would complaining so displease the Lord? For one thing, those who are complaining have usually been blinded to the wonderful things that God has done or is doing. God had delivered these people from their Egyptian slavery and given them hope and promise for the future, but those realities were momentarily forgotten. Having forgotten God’s great blessings, they focused on their present lack, and the result was complaining.

    Complaining also indicates a lack of contentment with God and His will. From a prison where Paul was rejoicing, he wrote that we are to be content with the basic necessities of life. Not only is complaining an expression of personal discontent, it also helps to spread discontentment. Complaining discourages others and affects their attitudes and spiritual growth. Just as a grateful spirit can be contagious, a grumbling spirit can be infectious.

    Complaining demonstrates a lack of trust in God. God is trustworthy and He wants us to trust Him. He consistently met the needs of these Israelites by providing them with manna and water out of the rock, and by destroying their enemies.

    To complain is to forget all the ways God has guided and provided in the past and to assume that He has somehow become incapable of supplying now. Complaining is a serious sin and must be taken seriously. It displeased the Lord then, and we can be sure that it displeases Him now. Let us purpose to develop and maintain a positive attitude, free from complaining.

  • MY HEART IS TOWARD THE GOVERNORS

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    “My heart is toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless ye the LORD.”

    Judges 5:9

    The time of the Judges was the period after the death of Joshua and before Saul became the first king of Israel. During this era, when God’s people would stray far from His ways, the Lord would raise up leaders to deliver His backsliding people. Deborah was such a leader, and the Bible records the song of Deborah that was sung after God subdued their enemies. It included these words, “My heart is toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless ye the LORD.”

    She recognized the leaders, or governors, who gave themselves to their cause. Her song also indicates there were many who did not engage in the battle, as is the case in many contests. She was grateful to the leaders and to God for those who were willing to get involved. There is such a need for good and godly leaders. We should thank the Lord for leaders who are out front, leading us in the battles of life. Whether in the home or the church, they are making a great contribution.

    I have been encouraged many times by the testimony of younger Christian men expressing their indebtedness to older spiritual leaders, particularly those who serve as examples to the generations that are following. Sometimes we forget that others are watching us. Growing believers need to be able to see the consistency and courageous service of those who are stronger and more mature in the Lord.

    Deborah mentioned the fact that these governors offered themselves willingly “among the people.” They were not better than the people, or removed from the people, but were among the people. Some of us have seen when this was not the case. Older Christians, who should be leading by example, sometimes take the attitude that they have “served their time,” and thus leave the spiritual battles to the younger and more zealous. We should reject this line of reasoning as being unbiblical.

    This would be a good time to join Deborah in thanking the Lord for the leaders that have been used to encourage us in our spiritual growth and service. Where would we be without the faithful and dedicated service of mature leaders? All of us are to be engaged in the Lord’s work. Some are followers and some as leaders, but all are servants of the Lord. “Bless ye the LORD” for every soldier in the fight.

  • SUBDUING ALL THINGS UNTO HIMSELF

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    “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

    Philippians 3:20, 21

    Paul often wrote of the coming of Christ and the fact that he was looking for the Lord’s glorious return. When Jesus does return, an exciting thing will happen to the bodies of believers. The Scripture describes our present bodies as being “vile.” When Jesus comes back, our bodies will be transformed and “fashioned like unto his glorious body.” What an expression of God’s might, to change the body of every child of God into a glorious body. When that happens, this corruptible will put on incorruption and this mortal will put on immortality.

    We need not wonder if this great transformation is beyond His ability, for our text reminds us “he is able.” Not only is He able to change every sinful body in a moment of time, but the passage also tells us that this is just one example of how He is able to “subdue all things unto himself.” To subdue means “to bring into subordination, bring under obedience, or bring into subjection.” Again we marvel at the greatness of our Lord. He is able to “subdue all things unto himself.”

    This is a tremendous promise for Christians who long for a new body without the sinful tendencies associated with our present bodies. However, this promise is not just a promise of what God can do in the future, but of what He wants to do in the present. He is in the business of bringing things into subjection or under obedience to Him. One day our “vile body” will be changed, and we will receive a “glorious body” like the resurrected body of Jesus. This is possible because “he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

    In the meantime, He is interested in changing many other things about our lives. He wants to change our thinking, our attitudes, our priorities, our character, etc. He is committed to conforming us into His own image. Can He conquer habits and character traits that have been a part of us all our lives? Certainly He can, if He is able to “subdue all things unto himself.” We can believe that God is able to give us the victory through His great power.

  • ASKING WITH CONFIDENCE

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    “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”
    I John 5:14-15

    Prayer is such an important part of our lives as children of God. It is much more than ritual or reciting memorized prayers. Prayer is conversing or communicating with the Almighty, Who becomes our Father at the time of our spiritual birth. It is spending time in praise and thanksgiving for the greatness and goodness of God. Prayer is petitioning or asking God for things, with the confidence that He hears us and will respond to our prayers. But how can we know that God hears us? How can we know that God will answer us? This passage and many others are given to us that we might confidently seek the Lord in prayer, being assured that He hears us.

    Our confidence is based on our position in Christ. Because we know that God loves us and has accepted us through our faith in Jesus Christ, we can come boldly to Him in prayer. When Jesus was teaching His followers about the subject of prayer, He urged them to pray, “Our Father which art in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). God is our Father.

    We can also pray confidently when we are asking for things that we know are God’s will. The Bible clearly states, “if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.” People can pray for many things because they want them, but if they are not certain that God wants them, they will lack the assurance and confidence in prayer. James said that one of the reasons we do not receive what we desire in prayer is because we “ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3).

    Prayer should be much more than just telling God what we want to do; it should be more of asking God what He wants to do. How then might we know whether or not something is God’s will? We must be willing to yield our interests and desires to the Father, and allow the Spirit of God and the Word of God to guide us. We can be sure that many things we might pray for are His will because the Bible clearly teaches it. The basis of our faith is not our feelings, but the unchanging promises of God’s Word. When we ask God for things that we know are His will, we can be assured that He hears us and that He will answer accordingly.

  • DAVID PERCEIVED THAT HE WAS KING

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    “And David perceived that the LORD had established him as king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel’s sake.”
    II Samuel 5:12

    David had been chosen by God as the successor to Saul, the first king of Israel. While Saul was still king, the Lord sent Samuel to the house of Jesse where Samuel anointed David as king. Later we read that the men of Judah anointed David as king over the house of Judah. Then the elders of Israel anointed David as their king in Hebron. All of this occurred before the passage that tells us that “David perceived that the LORD had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel’s sake.”

    David demonstrated great patience concerning God’s will and his installment as the king of Israel. He knew that Samuel had anointed him to be the next king, yet he was never guilty of promoting himself. On several occasions, David could have killed Saul personally or had him killed, but he refused to exalt himself. He refused to touch God’s anointed leader of Israel.

    It is good for us to be reminded that God not only has a will for each of us but also that He has a time for that will to be enforced. Jesus resisted every temptation to exalt Himself or permit Himself to be exalted prematurely to the Father’s will. It is quite common for those who know God has called them into a particular ministry to get ahead of God in fulfilling that calling. There must be a time of preparation and proving. Because God has called someone to preach His Word does not necessarily mean he is equipped. We should not rush ahead to do what we think God wants us to do without getting some clear direction from the Lord. Because we think we are ready does not mean God has determined that we are ready.

    David was willing to wait for years, knowing God had chosen him for this task. None of us want to procrastinate and forfeit opportunities to serve the Savior by postponing our obedience. Nor do we want to bring damage to God’s work by getting ahead of His leadership for our lives. David was willing to wait for God to work out His will. When he was finally and officially in the position of God’s choosing, after being anointed by Samuel, the men of Judah, and the elders of Israel, “David perceived that the Lord had established him as king.”

  • IN QUIETNESS SHALL BE YOUR STRENGTH

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    “For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.”
    Isaiah 30:15

    The Lord was reproving Israel for their stubbornness and rebellion. They were guilty of looking to Egypt for their help and rejecting the Word of God. Rather than being still and coming to God with a heart of repentance, they preferred running from God and trying to manage without the direction and blessings of their Creator and Sustainer. God’s message to them was a promise of divine intervention. “In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” Their salvation would be in returning to God and in trusting Him completely, but they “would not.” They would not listen, and they suffered the consequences.

    This passage is a piece of timeless and transforming counsel for all who will take heed. We appear at times to have this innate tendency to exhaust all other resources and possibilities of solutions before we bring our needs to the Lord. Busyness is not a suitable substitute for quietness before God. Programs and innovations will not provide what waiting on God’s promises can produce. Running here and there and refusing to receive God’s wisdom cannot bring peace and rest, only frustration and weariness.

    When our typical, stress-filled schedules do not seem to provide time for being still and quiet before the Lord, we must take seriously the challenge to prioritize our activities and make time for what is important. Though our calendars are full, and our time is committed to many obligations, we must schedule appointments with God.

    Sometimes the problem with not spending quiet time with God is not a lack of time, but more a lack of interest or desire. People use their busyness as an excuse to avoid spending time alone with the Lord, an escape from doing what they know they need to do, but are not willing to do. It is not always that we do not have time to wait on the Lord; but more likely that we do not find it as important as other things.

    God has promised to strengthen us in our times of quietness before Him. He strengthens us to endure the difficulties of life, to love and forgive beyond our human ability, and to believe and trust in Him during what might seem impossible circumstances. In quietness, we will find strength.

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