Overcoming Fear with Trust

Reading for Today:

Ezra 1-2 … 1 Corinthians 2

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Here’s a bit of a set-up for the book of Ezra:

Assyria conquered Babylon, then the Northern Kingdom of Israel.

But then Assyria got conquered by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian Empire who went back and conquered Jerusalem.

Then Babylon got conquered by Cyrus of Persia.

Lots of leaders doing lots of conquering, making lots of decisions that affected lots of people.

Let’s talk about that a little.

This story has great implications for us today. In a world that can seem out of control, we can rest assured that God can move the hearts of leaders.

“A king’s heart is like streams of water in the Lord’s hand:
He directs it wherever He chooses.”
Proverbs 21:1

The book of Ezra begins…

“In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia…”

We know that Cyrus reigned from 559-530 B.C. and so can accurately date this book historically.

The book continues…

“the word of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah was fulfilled. The Lord put it into the mind of King Cyrus to issue a proclamation throughout his entire kingdom and to put it in writing:

This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and has appointed me to build Him a house at Jerusalem in Judah. Whoever is among His people, may his God be with him, and may he go to Jerusalem in Judah and build the house of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem. Let every survivor, wherever he lives, be assisted by the men of that region with silver, gold, goods, and livestock, along with a freewill offering for the house of God in Jerusalem.’”

Jeremiah had prophesied that Judah would be cut off from its land for 70 years (see Jeremiah 25:1-12 & 29:10), and here we see this prophecy being fulfilled.

Many people like to keep the Bible solely in the ‘religious book’ category. But today’s reading reminds us that it is far more than that. Scripture is an historically accurate account that we can rely upon. It is also an accurate prophetic tool (albeit one that we may wrestle to interpret at times.)

Trusting that God is in control brings a peace that no amount of managing things on our own can muster.

Trust doesn’t mean that we can see everything clearly. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. In his book Ruthless Trust, Brennan Manning describes what I mean when he says,

“Craving clarity, we attempt to eliminate the risk of trusting God…We often presume that trust will dispel the confusion, illuminate the darkness, vanquish the uncertainty, and redeem the times. But the crowd of witnesses in Hebrews 11 testifies that this is not the case.”

The youth at FUEL today are considering the idea of overcoming anxiety with peace, and focusing on Isaiah 41:10 which says,

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Do not fear…why?

Do not be dismayed…why?

No matter the circumstances of our private lives or our entire civilization, we can trust that God is with us, and that he is our God.

-Susan Landry

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Ezra 1-2 and 1 Corinthians 2

Following Evil

2 Chronicles 21-22

Even though King Jehoshaphat “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.”  He was sure stupid when it came to raising his kids.  He had arranged a marriage between his son, Jehoram, and  Athaliah, Israel’s evil king Ahab’s daughter.  This was a stupid arrangement for two reasons.  First, this would virtually guarantee Jehoram would be evil and lead Judah into evil.  Second, the future of God’s plan of salvation depended on the continuation of David’s dynasty through Jehoram, and as we will see, that came into peril.

Anyway, 2 Chronicles 21 starts with Jehoshaphat’s death, and Jehoram’s ascension to the throne.  Once he established himself as king, Jehoram killed all of his brothers and some of the princes of the land – basically, anyone who may challenge his authority.  (Presumably, he wanted them out of the way so they couldn’t oppose his promoting the worship of Baal.)  Then he proceeded to follow the evil ways of the evil King Ahab, because he had married Ahab’s daughter.  

Jehoram received an astounding warning.  He received a letter from Elijah pronouncing judgment on him because of his sins.  This is astounding, because this is several years after Elijah was caught up to heaven in a whirlwind (as recorded in 2 Kings 2:11).  This passage in 2 Chronicles 21 corresponds to events recorded in 2 Kings 8.  Elijah had obviously written this prophetic letter and had directed it to be delivered at a particular future date.  Anyway, this letter declared a curse on Jehoram because of all of his sins and the sins he caused Judah to commit.  According to the letter, he was going to be inflicted with a disease of his bowels until his bowels came out.  And two years later, that’s exactly what happened, and how he died.

As the story continues, Jehoram’s son, Ahaziah, became king but only reigned one year.  After his death, Athaliah (remember her from the first paragraph?) killed all her kids and grandkids so she could rule the nation.  (Remember my comment in the first paragraph about David’s dynasty being in peril?).  Athaliah was no descendant of David!  As it turned out, her infant grandson, Joash, was whisked away while everybody else was being killed.

The main thing that jumps out at me from today’s reading is the importance of not only following the Lord ourselves wholeheartedly, but also how imperative it is to pass along a love for the Lord to our children (both physical and spiritual children).  I’m convinced Jehoram could have been a great king, who loved the Lord, and had a blessed reign, if only Jehoshaphat had stressed the importance of following the Lord, and if Jehoshaphat had chosen a godly wife for Jehoram.

The second thing that jumps out to me is the importance of choosing a godly spouse.  This is literally the second most important decision any of us can ever make (after the decision to follow the Lord).  And this will either make it easier to live for God, or will make it harder – and the implications are eternal.

The third thing that strikes me is how God alerted Elijah in advance, so he could write a letter to be delivered to Jehoram years later, declaring his downfall.  And then Elijah had to have someone deliver this letter on a specific future date, at just the right time.  God really does know everything.  (Maybe He knows a thing or two about how we should live, and maybe I should read His word to find that out, and maybe I should live for Him.)

The final thing that I see is that God saved exactly one descendant of David – and that was a baby – so he could continue David’s line, and fulfill His promise to David.  Despite everything seeming to go wrong, God was still in control.  And much later, He would ultimately fulfill His promise to David through another baby, Jesus.

I want to be on God’s side – since God can still be in control, even when everything seems to be falling apart.  How about you?


–Steve Mattison

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at Bible Gateway here – 2 Chronicles 21-22 and Romans 10

Remember

Joshua 1-4

 

The message I took out of the first four chapters of Joshua is especially timely.  We are living in unprecedented times.  Not unprecedented in history, but certainly within our own lifetimes.  Obviously, I am speaking of the coronavirus epidemic.  No one knows how long the effects of this will last, or when things will get back to “normal” But do not fear.  God is still on His throne.

 

After forty years of wandering in the desert, God finally allows His people to enter into the promised land behind the leadership of Joshua. The pivotal moment is when the Lord held back the flood-swollen waters of the Jordan river, allowing the tribes of Israel to cross over on dry land.  Of course, this bookends the forty years in the wilderness after escaping Egypt by similarly crossing the parted waters of the Red Sea on dry land.

 

But after this crossing, God instructs Joshua to have each tribe take a rock from the middle of the river, and stack them up on the side of the river they were crossing onto.

 

Joshua chapter 4, verses 20-24 say, “And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, ‘In the future when your descendants ask their parents, “What do these stones mean?” tell them, “Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.” For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.’ ”

 

Our Heavenly Father knows that we are a forgetful people.  I am an expert at it.  But certain things are worth remembering.  Like when God has rescued His people, fulfilled promises, or performed miracles.  God instructed people to remember certain events throughout history.  Thankfully, we have the history of such events at our fingertips in His word.  We know that He has fulfilled every promise that has come to pass, and so we should have confidence that the Godly promises that have not come to pass will also be fulfilled.

 

But what about events that are not written down in the Bible?  What about events in our own lives?  Has God ever demonstrated His power and love to you personally?  Think about such events, and how they can serve as our own monuments for us to hold onto and recount that God is there with us. If God has delivered you through difficult times before, have confidence that He will do so again.

 

Finally, remember that no matter what the future holds, no one can take away the promise of the future Kingdom that we will have a part in.  Nothing that ever happens on earth will take that promise away, and today, and every day going forward, God is in control.

 

For you parents, remember that this is a great time to model real faith to our children.  It is easiest to show faith in God when everything is going great.  But how will you model your faith and trust in God during these difficult times?  That is what matters most.

 

I have added some verses of encouragement below (starting with one from today’s reading), and then after that, a link to a youtube playlist I created that has songs of encouragement.

 

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

 

Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

 

Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and courageous.  Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

 

Isaiah 40:31

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

2 Timothy 1:7

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

 

 

 

Greg Landry

 

Welcome to the Books of History in our

Today’s passage, Joshua 1-4 can be read or listened to at

 

 

Let God Lead

isaiah 41 10

Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

We all have times when it seems nothing is going right. Many times, I have felt like all my plans were failing. The main thing I now realize, that was the problem: MY plans. When I take a step back and allow God to take the lead, things fall in place. This doesn’t mean things are easy, it just means God is in control and I am held safe. My fears and failures come most often from thinking I am in control instead of letting God have the control. Take a moment to allow God to take control of your problems. Thank Him for protecting you and keeping you safe.

-Susan Johnson