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

The Reason

Luke Chapter 2

Luke 2 11 NIV

Luke chapter 2 begins with the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the little town of Bethlehem.  Caesar Augustus ordered everyone to be registered, so Joseph and Mary traveled from the town of Nazareth to Bethlehem, which is where he was to be registered because of his lineage, the lineage of David.  When they were in the small town of Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to Jesus and laid him in a manger because there was no room in the inn.

 

The location of Jesus’ birth at first may seem insignificant.  However, the small fact that Jesus was born in the little town of Bethlehem is extremely important.  It is important because of the words of Micah 5:2: “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient of days.”  Here, it is recorded that there will be a ruler of Israel born in Bethlehem, whose coming forth is from of old.  We know that the ruler talked about in Micah is Jesus!  Jesus is the fulfillment to this prophecy!

 

The date of the writing of Micah was about 700 BC, about 700 years before Jesus was born!  One of the best ways to prove that the Bible is true is that there were many prophecies written in the Old Testament that were fulfilled later on in the Old Testament or in the New Testament.  Jesus being born in Bethlehem is just one of many examples of a prophecy in the Bible being fulfilled.  Prophecies being fulfilled hundreds of years later is a great way to defend the authority of the Bible.

 

It is very appropriate that we are reading about the birth of Jesus at the beginning of December, as the birth of Jesus Christ is the reason of the season of Christmas!  The weeks leading up to Christmas and Christmas itself has been my favorite time of the year.  Everybody seems to be in a holly jolly mood, we get time off of work/school, the exchanging of gifts, and especially time with family are all reasons to enjoy the holiday season.  We can get so wrapped up in the festivities of the holiday season that sometimes we forget the true reason for the season.  I urge you to not let the festivities of the holiday season cause you to forget about the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Sometimes even the innocent joy of hanging out with our families can cause us to miss the true reason of the season.  While enjoying the holiday season, put your focus on the birth of our Lord and Savior.

 

I hope you all enjoy this Christmas season, and most importantly, I hope you remember and focus on the reason of the season – the birth of Jesus Christ!

 

Kyle McClain