Confidence in the face of our greatest fears

Let not your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God; believe also in me… And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever…even the Spirit of truth… I will not leave you as orphans…he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Rejoice always.
Pray without ceasing.
Give thanks in all circumstances;
For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

This is what the great king of Assyria says:

‘What are you trusting in that makes you so confident?’

 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised—May [you] be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it—For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.—Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.

John 14:1,16-18,26; I Thess. 5:16-19; Heb. 13:20-21; Isaiah 36:4NLT; Heb 10:35-36; Col. 1:9-12; I Thess. 5:23-24; Heb 10:37-39; Heb 12:28 [ESV unless otherwise noted]

On the brink of horrific things to come Jesus counsels his disciples not to let their hearts be troubled.  Is this even possible?!  All of Scripture is laced with ‘FEAR NOT’s. This is surely God’s will for His children, made possible by His Spirit living in us, reminding us whose we are. He reminds us of God’s promises and God’s commands.  The two are inseparable.  As we follow the Spirit in rejoicing, praying, and being thankful people, as we follow His lead in worshiping our great God, we will be delivered from our obsessive fears and our stubborn anxieties.  They cannot cling to us when we have conceded our will to God’s.

I am reminded of the words to an old hymn:
 “How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent Word.  What more can He say than to you He hath said–to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?”
God grant us faith to believe the things we have heard till we know them deep in our souls where our darkest fears breed.


Bless the Lord who is my rock!

 It wasn’t the pending medical appointment that I was dreading so much as the necessity of my driving into the big city alone for the first time and finding the doctor’s office!  I got up just a bit early and over toast and tea I opened the Word to my regular set of readings and there were these reassuring words to carry me out the door and on my way:

Bless the Lord who is my rock…He gives me strength…and skill.  He is my loving ally and…my tower of safety, my deliverer.—For every child of God defeats this evil world by trusting Christ to give the victory.—Say to those who are afraid, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.  He is coming to save you.”

Ps.144:1,2; I Jn.5:4; Is.35:4 NLT

I may not have flesh-and-blood enemies as David did.  Sometimes my worst enemy seems to be myself with my built-in tendency to fear the unknown and to doubt my capabilities to handle what’s coming.  I don’t seem to be out-growing these childish fears.  Again and again I’m called to face them down with action I do everything to avoid.  So it is with wistfulness that I read this morning Isaiah’s description of the Way of Holiness where no lions will lurk and where there will be no dangers. This is the way of the Redeemed.  Its end–everlasting joy devoid of sorrow and mourning and surely of fear!  

And in the days and nights of anticipating dread ordeals my heart finds comfort in living and faithful Words.  And I must tuck in a line from an old chorus that hummed to me in the night: “All the sheep of His pasture fare so wondrously fine; His sheep am I.” Amen!


This is as good a spot as any to commend a cross-genre reading plan that has served me well for the last few years.  It’s a wonder-filled thing to see God’s heart reflected like light through a prism as I read chapters from Psalms and History, Prophets and Wisdom Lit, Gospels and Epistles each day. (No, not every day; life happens and I skip days but this is my go-to plan, always ready to go! I took a few months’ break recently but am back at it and still loving it!)  I have found it a remarkably refreshing way to hear God’s heart day by day. And it takes little more than half an hour most days. Read (lots) more at the Bible Reading Plans link in the side menu, and give it a try  ( :


No Longer Slaves!

Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out with amazing power and mighty deeds.  That is why the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day—The taskmasters were urgent, saying, “Complete your work, your daily task each day, as when there was straw.” And the foremen of the people of Israel, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten and were asked, “Why have you not done all your task of making bricks today and yesterday, as in the past?”

And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”—Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.—For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.—So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.—The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”—He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

And when you eat and are full,  then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve.—Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Deut 5:15NLT; Ex. 5:13-14 ESV;  Mk. 2:27 ESV; Mt. 11:28 ESV; Mt. 12:8 ESV; Heb. 4:9-10 ESV; Rom 6:22-23 ESV; Rom. 8:15 NIV; Col. 1:13-14 ESV; Deut. 6:11-13 ESV; Mt. 11:29-30 ESV

Once slaves to sin and Satan’s devices, we who believe in the finished work of Jesus on our behalf are set free to live in service to a good King.  Just as the Sabbath rest set God’s people apart from the nations around them who worked all week long, so we display our new-bought status by the trusting and restful state of our souls.  We are a people freely given the soul-rest the world strives to find.

No longer demeaned and duty-bound slaves in never-ending bondage to burdens we cannot bear, we now gladly serve a Good Master who has our best interests at heart in all that He commands.  He calls us to share His likeness.  He welcomes us as his Beloved.  We can rest in this.  He who began this good work in us will carry it to completion. Our welfare is in His keeping, for after all, we are His.


Then come, follow me…

“Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”–Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.–You cannot serve both God and money.–Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  I have discarded everything else, counting it all as rubbish, so that I may have Christ and become one with him.  I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God’s law, but I trust Christ to save me.–“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me.  If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it…. And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process?  Is anything worth more than your soul?”

Mark 10:21NLT; Mt.5:3ESV; Mt.6:24ESV; Phil.3:8,9NLT; Mk.8:34-36NLT; (Heb.12:2)

Jesus’ words are not always easy to swallow, nearly impossible humanly speaking.  But with God, everything is possible.  He speaks, pointing us to what really matters, calling us to loosen our grip on the things we count as treasure and to come find Life.  And I wonder today, are there things I value that hold me back from whole-heartedly following Jesus? May He work in me the attitude of Christ Himself, who gave up His rights to all that was His to take on human form and lead me back to God.  Let us so live, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.

Guard your heart

‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways…They shall never enter my rest.’ See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.–Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.–The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways…–This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me”…Hear and understand…what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts…These are what defile a person.

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled–one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! — Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.–“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you”–let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith–As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.–Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Heb.3:10-12 NIV; Prov.4:23 NIV; Jer.17:9-10 ESV; Mt.15:8,10,18-20; Heb.12:15 ESV; Deut.29:19 ESV; Ps.139: 23,24ESV; Ps.51:10 ESV; Ezek.36:26 NKJV; Heb.10:22 ESV; Lk.8:15 ESV; Mt.5:8

God looks for whole-hearted followers who are eager to know and follow His ways even when they are at odds with our own natural desires.  Where we are prone to measure our goodness by what shows on the surface, He sees our thoughts and motives.  Where we are satisfied with guarding our reputations He calls us to be honest about what is in our hearts and to recognize our inclination to stray, to resist, to hide and to deny what’s there.  But best of all He grants a new heart and His own Spirit to those who will trust Him.  And day by day His word grows and bears fruit in the hearts of those who will hear and believe that His ways are always the best ways. –LS