Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Fight the good fight of the faith: lay hold of the eternal life to which you were summoned and for which you confessed the good confession of faith before many witnesses.”
“Lord, give me faith! To live from day to day,
With tranquil heart to do my simple part,
And, with my hand in Thine, just go Thy way.
Lord, give me faith! To trust, if not to know;
With quiet mind in all things Thee to find,
And, child-like, go where Thou wouldst have me go.”
Today’s Study Text:
“Be not afraid.”
“Heaven’s Solution to Earthy Fear” Part 4
“Don’t you trouble trouble till trouble troubles you.
Don’t you look for trouble let trouble look for you.
Who feareth hath forsaken the heavenly Father’s Side;
What He hath undertaken He surely will provide.
The very birds reprove thee with their happy song;
The very flowers teach thee that fretting is a wrong.
‘Cheer up,’ the sparrow chirpeth; ‘Thy Father feedeth me;’
Think how much He careth, oh, lonely child, for thee;
‘Fear Not,’ the flowers whisper; ‘since thus He hath arrayed
The buttercup and daisy, how canst thou be afraid?’
Then don’t you trouble trouble till trouble troubles you;
You’ll only double trouble, and trouble others too.”
Mark Guy Pearse
What is there in my life that has caused me to be fearful?
What was it that made the disciples become so fearful?
F.E.A.R. = False Evidence Appearing Real
“What are fears but voices airy?
Whispering harm where harm is not.
And deluding the unwary
Till the fatal bolt is shot!”
“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”
His name was Saul. His occupation – destroyer of Christians. But as we read the text above, we would never know that the author of this passage in Romans was an individual who had, at first, the destruction of the work of Jesus Christ as his life’s mission.
Instead, in this revelation of his new relationship, we find the Apostle Paul declaring to the Christians in Rome that he had been “adopted” into God’s family.
I find the way the paraphrase in The Message Bible reads, assists me greatly in understanding what Paul is trying to convey:
“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike, ‘What’s next, Papa?’ God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who (God) is and we know who we are: Father and children.”
The Message Bible
It is this unique family tie – our Father watching over His children, that is what the Apostle Paul assures us releases us from the “bondage of fear” as the Amplified Bible calls this negative emotion which paralyzes us. In commenting on Romans 8: 15, author and teacher Beth Moore provides this wise instruction: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind…when we are driven by a spirit of fear, we will act out the antithesis or perversion of all three of those.”
As I reflected on this statement, I thought about what happened to the disciples when fear had grasped them in iron-clutches. They didn’t recognize Jesus. Instead, they convinced themselves He was something so scary they called the water-walking apparition a ghost. Interestingly enough, in the Hebraic thought at that time, as Iwan Russell-Jones tells us, “water represented much more than a mere physical reality. Whether it was the sea with its unfathomable depths, the relentless river in full flood, or the all-consuming deluge, there was something metaphysical about the threat water posed to human life.”
However, throughout the Old Testament, we are treated to repeated lessons on God’s ability to show “lordship” over the water, whether it was leading His children through the Red Sea on dry land or having His prophets, Elijah and Elisha, pass across the Jordan River after smiting the water with a mantle. The “God of Israel” has trodden the sea…beside the heap of great and surging waters,” the prophet Habakkuk reminds us (Habakkuk 3: 15, Amplified Bible).
Although it brought fear, at first, to the hearts of the disciples as they watched a figure come toward them, across the top of the water, as Russell-Jones asks, “Who can walk here with such authority and freedom? The act and its associations are unmistakable. Jesus is exercising a prerogative that belongs to God alone. When He speaks to them (the disciples), His words serve only to reinforce the sense that this is a divine revelation.”
It is extremely encouraging to uncover the way Russell-Jones sums up Jesus’ excursion on the water:
“(Jesus) words instill courage and banish fear, assuring the disciples that this awesome vision in the midst of the storm is intended as good news…‘Do not be afraid’ is a keynote of the gospel itself. The unveiling of God’s majesty is not intended to terrorize or diminish, but to save and uphold.”
The poet Anna Shipton, in such touching language, beautifully expresses how courage and hope are ours when the presence of Jesus comes to us during any storm we face:
“He was better to me than all my hopes,
He was better than all my fears;
He made a bridge of my broken works,
And a rainbow of my tears,
The billows that guarded my sea-girt path
But carried my Lord on their crest;
When I dwell on the days of my wilderness march
I can lean on His love for the rest.”
In summing up the experience of Jesus and the disciples at this frightening moment, J. R. Miller writes: “It seems strange to us that the disciples should ever have been afraid of their own Master…We ought to learn that Jesus is in every providence that comes to us…It is our duty to train ourselves to see Christ in each event. Then, whether it be sorrow or joy that knocks at our door; we shall give it like loving welcome, knowing that Jesus, Himself, is veiled in whatever form it is that enters. Then we shall find that when we welcome Him in the somber garments of pain, He has always a rich blessing for our lives.”
“Jesus came treading the waves; and so He puts all the swelling tumults of life under His feet. Christian – why afraid?”
Augustine of Hippo
Thy Strength and My Day
“Give me Thy strength for my day, Lord,
That wheresoe’er I go,
There shall no danger daunt me
And I shall fear no foe;
So shall no task o’ercome me,
So shall no trail fret,
So shall I walk unwearied
The path where my feet are set;
So shall I find no burden
Greater than I can bear,
So shall I have a courage
Equal to all my care;
So shall no grief o’erwhelm me,
So shall no wave o’erflow;
Give me Thy strength for my day, Lord,
Cover my weakness so.”
Annie Johnson Flint
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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