Standing Still or Running Scared?

Trust God not man

Ex. 14-17 If there is one story that evokes the villain/victor story it is this one. First, we have the villains, They are the guys in the black hats; a.k.a. the Egyptians standing around looking at each other and saying; “What have we done? For we have released the people of Israel from serving us!” [Ex 14:5] So they hop on their horses (ok, chariots). On the other side are the guys in the white hats, but they don’t know they are the guys in the white hats…yet.

As I read this I am reminded of the hymn: Count your blessings, name them one by one and see what the Lord has done. I wonder if the hymn writer thought of this story when he penned those words? The Israelites had seen ten plagues and defeated enemies, yet they murmur because they are thirsty! Like them, we quickly forget that if God destroyed the firstborn and you were saved, guess what? He can do it again! So, “Moses reminds them to “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord,” [Ex 14:13] because even victors in the white hats have to learn this principle: The fear of man is a snare but he who trusts in God is exalted. [Prov 29:25]

We have short memories; we quickly forget God’s power and presence. Maybe that is why that hymn is such a good reminder. so we can recall what God has done.

Are we standing still recalling what God has done or running scared?

Abimelech and Abraham

Trust God

Genesis 20 Sometimes God allows the unrighteous to act more righteously than us to show us how truly unrighteous we are. For example, we find Abraham in a strange land due to his not seeking God’s direction. In his mind, he thinks, “Surely no one fears God in this place. They will kill me because of my wife.” [Gen 20:11] Proverbs 29:25 speaks to that: “The fear of people becomes a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord will be set on high.” 

Only when Abimelech confronts Abraham does he “fess up.” God has his way of making his will known and encounters Abimelech in a dream. Abimelech fearing God’s pronouncement of death hears and obeys Him and then confronts Abraham with this question: “what prompted you to do such a thing?” [Gen 20:10] Has an unbeliever ever confronted you with such a question? 

The Holy Spirit has placed this story here to give us an example of what not trusting God reveals. Unrighteous Abimelech fears God more than Abraham who seeks to obey only to protect himself; not Sarah. We can learn much from this simple episode.

Pay attention to the unbelievers around you when you are confronted with their accusations. God has allowed that to reveal who we truly are. When God says to trust Him, He means it! God blessed Abraham graciously not because of what he did, but because God is a covenant keeper.

James, A Practical Book

James is a practical man

James 1 to 5 Trials Abound, but God is greater than any trial.

James knows that life comes with trials, and each trial proves whether our faith is true or false. and how we handle a trial proves where our faith is. He begins with this statement; “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations [trials].” [James 1:2] That is the foundation. You either prove your faith by facing a trial with a joyful spirit, or you don’t. Agreed, trials are NOT FUN! We want them to go away, but James says we should be joyful because there are different trials that everyone will face. What we need is practical advice for each one so we can pass them and be successful.

James begins by laying the foundation: Be joyful. Unfortunately, we get ‘hung up on the “why” when  God wants us to know the “how.” First, go to God! Seek His face! Ask Him what to do and how to do it! That is a beautiful lesson from James. Then step by step, James takes us through the various trials of life we all face, and his advice for each one.

There is a life lesson here for all of us: Study and memorize the book of James so you can discern the trial and seek the wisdom of God to know how to face it and pass the test He has allowed.

An Example to Follow!

Ezra, an example to follow

Ezra 7 -10 – 2 Tim 2:15

Ezra 7 to 10 takes place after the drama of Esther in the palace. King Xerxes has passed on, and King Artaxerxes is in power. What took place in the book of Esther prepares us for the drama in Ezra, a man dedicated to God. “Now Ezra had dedicated himself to the study of the law of the Lord, to its observance, and to teaching its statutes and judgments in Israel.” [Ezra 7:10] A man who wants to be an approved workman of God is to include all three steps: study, do, and then teach. Psalm 1 is the foundation: “But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD, and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”  Then he will be an approved workman that is unashamed before God. [2Tim 2:15]

Because of those principles, Ezra found favor in the eyes of the king and was granted all he sought.

The NT places this warning before us:  “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, and sisters because you know that we will be judged more strictly.” [James 3:1] as well as the one from Mark 9:42: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.”

Ezra set his heart to do all that was needed and God blessed him. He is a great example to follow! 

Times change but not the message

The times change but not the message:

Haggai 1 and 2 What keeps you from obeying?

As then, so today, fear is the tool of the enemy.  Cyrus gave the returning Israelites permission to rebuild the Temple, so what was the problem? The Samaritans used fear and intimidation to stop the work. As God’s prophet, Haggai reminded them that as God provided food, protection, and leading in the wilderness so He would provide now. Yet, the Israelites were excusing their delay in rebuilding by telling one another, “The time for rebuilding the Lord’s temple has not yet come.” [Hag 1:2] How often do we excuse our obedience using similar reasoning? Haggai reminded them that it was time and God was behind them, so “do not fear!” Haggai was saying, look at your life and your lack of provision for yourselves. God has withdrawn his blessing because of your disobedience. Has that been your experience as well?

Both Haggai and Zechariah were pleading with the people, “turn back to God and He will turn back to you.” Learn from your ancestors who did not listen and obey Me. [Zech 1:2, 3]

 Are we listening? Do we trust God to do what seems an impossible task? Remember the words of another prophet of God; Isaiah. “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ [Is 41:10]

In what/whom do you trust?

What do you trust...

Jeremiah 49-50 The Bible once again proves to be true. Jeremiah prophesies against the nations surrounding Israel for their aggression against her when she needed help against King Nebuchadnezzar. Centuries later, when Saddam Hussein was in power in Iraq, he saw himself as a modern reincarnation of Nebuchadnezzar. To prove it, he spent millions building a massive reconstruction of Babylon. But, as Jeremiah prophesied, Babylon would never be rebuilt but be a habitation of jackals. “For out of the north a nation has come up against her, which shall make her land desolation, and none shall dwell in it; both man and beast shall flee away.” [Jer 50:3] One of the tour guides laments; history is a poignant reminder; nothing built by men lasts forever. 

Men seek to play God, and God reminds us over and over:He will never share his glory with another. [Is 42:8] Again, Psa 20:7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Where do you put your trust? 

Which will you trust?

which can you trust...

Jeremiah 46 -48 “Rattling Swords or God?”

The years may change but the enemies of God remain entrenched. Just as there were enemies all around “Jacob,” they are there today. The enemy’s goal is to decimate the land and God’s people yet God sees God hears, and God will make an end of those who seek the end of His people.

Jeremiah is to pronounce three prophecies about Egypt, Philistia, and Moab. All served false gods as those lands do even today. Then it was the false stone idols; today, it is many false religions. Thus amid this, God reminds his people twice: “do not fear; you shall return. I will not make a complete end of all the nations to which I have driven you, but of you, I will not make a full end. Yes. I will discipline you, and I will not leave you unpunished, yet do not fear.” [Jer 46:27-28]

Today, Egypt is a lowly kingdom fraught with the unrest that comes from those who seek power through force. Philistia as a kingdom is no more but a strip of land we call Gaza controlled by warlords who starve the people to make war machines against Israel. Moab is the land of Jordan and a nation that waffles, and between all three lay Israel.

What is the truth for today? When the enemies of God seem to be in control, fear not for all their rattling swords is just that. Trust God. 

The Truth of Prov 29:25

Trust God not men

2Kings 18-19, Ps 46, Ps 80, Ps 135 “How to Handle a Bully.”

King Hezekiah was a righteous king who followed the Lord but faltered when the bully King Sennacherib sent his emissary to taunt King Hezekiah. King Sennacherib is what we call a bully, for his words do not match his actions unless we capitulate to his demands, which Hezekiah did the first time. Bullies, seek to shame, ridicule, tease and yes even slander our faith. When you concede, you give a bully the right to up his demands, precisely what Sennacherib did. The second time, Hezekiah did not falter but took the demand to the Lord. Why is it that we follow Hezekiah’s example? The answer is found in Prov 29:25 “The fear of man is a snare…” We fear men more than we fear God.  But, don’t forget the last part of that verse: “he who trust in the Lord will be exalted.”

We should learn from Hezekiah how God works when we do not meet the bully’s demands but lay them before the Lord. When Hezekiah did that, Isaiah the prophet sent him the answer: Do not fear but trust in the Lord. So then, to cement that truth in Hezekiah’s mind and the minds of his kingdom, God sent his angel of death into the camp of the Assyrians and killed not just one but 185,000 in one night.

Lesson from Hezekiah’s playbook on how to handle a bully; humble thyself and seek the face of God.  Trust in God that He will work to protect His own. He may not kill the enemy but then again He just might. The lesson for us is to stand back and watch God work!

God’s Got This!

God is God

Isaiah 40 – 42 Trusting God in Uncertain Times

We live in tumultuous times of uncertainty, and many men and women are troubled. It seems that our entire world is topsy turvy. Many say there is no peace; they wring their hands and moan. They ask where is God?  It seems the Lord is unaware of what is happening! Yet Isaiah’s words from the Holy One are comforting:

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you! Don’t be frightened, for I am your God! I strengthen you – yes, I help you –yes, I uphold you with my saving right hand!” [Is 41:10] “I am the Lord! That is my name!” [Is 42:8]

God is not only aware, but He is still on the throne and waiting patiently for men to turn to Him.  “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” [2Pet 3:9]  The evidence is overwhelming: “For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.” [Rom 1:20]

Whatever you are facing, know this truth: God is the Holy One; give Him praise for He sees, He hears, He knows. He is waiting for you to turn to Him.

God can be trusted

God can be trusted

Isaiah 30 to 34 “So return to God”

God speaks to His children through Isaiah: woe to you who make alliances with those who are not My Sheep. You are a rebellious people who refuse to listen to the instruction of the Lord. You are saying we don’t want to hear any more about the Holy One of Israel. Don’t prophesy to us what is right but speak to us of pleasant words. Does this not sound just like today? 

“For there will be a time when people will not tolerate sound teaching. Instead, following their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves because they have an insatiable curiosity to hear new things.”  [2Ti 4:3] 

God asked his people: “What did you not learn after 430 yrs. of bondage? These are the very ones who held you captive, and only after ten plagues did they release you!” Their gods did not save them, and they won’t save you. So why do you trust in them instead of the Holy One of Israel?  Have you forgotten this? “The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.” [Prov 29:25]

Isaiah’s words are pertinent today. “For the Lord is our judge; the Lord is our lawgiver; the Lord is our king; he will save us.” Isaiah 33:22 If you are like these to whom Isaiah was speaking, return to Him, and trust Him. He alone is God. He is waiting.