Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who worship You, goodness which You have wrought for those who trust and take refuge in You!”
“Thy calmness bends serene above
My restlessness to still;
Around me flows Thy quickening life,
To nerve my faltering will;
Thy presence fills my solitude;
Thy providence turns all to good.”
Today’s Study Text:
“Elisha answered, ‘Fear not; for those with us are more than those with them!’”
The God of Dothan – Part 5
“Man-Talk Versus God-Talk”
“Be not dismayed whatever betide,
God will take care of you;
Beneath His wings of love abide,
God will take care of you.
Through days of toil when your heart doth fail,
God will take care of you;
When dangers fierce your path assail,
God will take care of you.”
Civilla D. Martin
What problems in my life have given me cause to feel afraid?
Do I believe my heavenly Father can handle all the challenges in my life?
“Casting the whole of your care, all your anxious fears, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares for you watchfully.”
1 Peter 5: 7
“The feeling of fear is a very painful emotion.”
On many occasions, in my mind’s eye, I have tried to transport myself to a place of perfection described in Genesis 1-3. This garden home of Adam and Eve was what is called Eden – meaning in Hebrew, delight and pleasure. These two words give us a glimpse into the plan God had for His children who made the Garden of Eden their home. God’s desire was for Adam and Eve to enjoy the pleasure of cultivating this environment and filling the earth with the joy of heaven.
When I consider the chaos we try to survive in today on our overcrowded and underfed planet of “earthlings,” it makes me yearn for the harmony of Eden. As Adam and Eve knew their abode in it’s beginning, the corrosive toxin of sin had not blighted even one leaf or blade of grass. Death was unheard of. And the emotion of fear didn’t exist at all. As I think about a place where you and I could have lived without any knowledge of fear, it breaks my heart to realize that the Garden of Eden’s complete perfection was soiled just so we could “be smarter” as the serpent led two gullible individuals to believe.
For me, probably one of the saddest passages in the entire Bible is found in Genesis 3: 9-10, “And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, ‘Where art thou?’ And (Adam) said, ‘I hear Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid.’” Fear. An emotion that up to that point in time had never been experienced by these two beings created by God. And now, when their Maker arrived for some quiet time and conversation with His beloved children, they hid because they didn’t want Him to see them “naked.” It was ludicrous for Adam and Eve to be afraid of God. He knew everything about them in the first place for they were sculpted in His image.
However, by direct disobedience to God’s request, they now felt within themselves a feeling that made them exclaim, “We are afraid.” As Meister Eckhart noted in a sermon he preached in the 14th century, “Slavish fear of God is to be put away. The right fear is the fear of losing God.” If we look again at Adam and Eve, hiding out in the bushes, trying to keep as far away from God as possible, it is easier for us to understand that once sin entered the “world” of humankind, even the way we talk became different for rather than embracing the presence of their Father, this pair hid. What a tragic scene. How grateful you and I can be that rather than leave us to suffer the consequences with its “Man-Talk” – “We are afraid” – God chose to embrace us in the talk of His world – God-Talk – which says, “Fear not.”
As we study the Bible, we learn that with the calling of a special man and his offspring, God reintroduced His earthly children to His heavenly conversation. Genesis 15: 1 is a perfect example of God-Talk: “After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.” No matter how chaotic Abram’s world was, no matter the level of sin and tragedy, God wanted to encourage His child, Abram, with the fact that with God at his side, he should ‘Fear not.’
But Abram wasn’t the only one of God’s children who was blessed with the assuring words of God. Abraham’s child of promise, Isaac was also given a message from his Father in heaven who told Isaac, “I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee” (Genesis 26: 24, K.J.V.). Just a few chapters later in Genesis 28, when Jacob was forced to leave home because of his own deceit, again God came to His child with the calming words, “I will not leave thee,” a healing balm to allay his fears.
In his words of exhortation and instruction to the children of Israel, Moses shared with them a sermon filled with encouragement for he reminded the multitude that, “the Lord God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 1: 21, K.J.V.).
Down through time, the Old Testament patriarchs, prophets as well as kings found God frequently came to His children with the uplifting message, “Fear not.” And then, in the New Testament, when Christ came to earth, bringing the heavenly image of His Father in human form so that people like you and me would gain a complete picture of what our Father is really like, we find Jesus’ representation of His Father to be a familiar one, especially as it relates to fear! When Jesus called Peter to follow him, He encouraged His disciple with these words: “Have no fear: from now on you will be catching men” (Luke 5: 10, Amplified Bible). Again, in Luke 12: 32, we read Jesus’ reassuring message to His children, “Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear.” But my favorite “Fear not” message in all the Bible is the tender kindness Jesus showed to the women who early in the morning after His resurrection came to find the tomb that held Jesus’ body was empty – that is Jesus wasn’t there! However, He left behind heavenly messengers who told God’s daughters, “Do not be alarmed and frightened, for I know you are looking for Jesus…He is not here; He has risen” (Matthew 28: 5, 6). This to me is the ultimate “fear not” message. He is risen – don’t fear anything anymore!
I love the way Leslie D. Weatherhead discusses how we can handle the emotion we call “fear” in the book, Prescription for Anxiety:
“So let us, fifty times a day if need be, set before us a picture of the real God, utterly loving, whatever we have done, infinitely strong, resourceful and purposeful, finding this way for us when that way is closed for whatever reason, who will not allow us to be lost and defeated if we trust Him, and who is generous beyond all thoughts of generosity. Let us commit ourselves to Him every morning, for the real God is to be trusted, and whatever happens to us – called, as it may be by others, failure, catastrophe or defeat – we shall know that eternal love still bears us on its bosom, and that we shall find our way home without regret.”
Whether it was Elisha’s helper or it is you and me, facing challenges each day, we have nothing to fear. Our Father has given us His word.
“’Tis always up the Pilgrims travel;
While love rejoices at their side,
To feel the press of faith more strongly,
To know He’s near, whatever betide.”
“To You alone, O Jesus, I must cling;
running to Your arms, dear Lord;
there let me hide, safe from all fear,
loving You with the tenderness of a child.”
Thérese of Lisieux
“Lord, I know that, however fearful I may be,
Nothing can separate me from Your love:
Neither death, nor life, angels, nor principalities,
things present, nor things to come, evil powers,
heights, depths, nor anything else in all creation –
nothing at all.”
Based on Romans 8: 31-39
“In the hour of my fear I will put my trust in You; In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust and will fear not; what can flesh do to me?”
Psalm 56: 3, 4
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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