Great Insurance

Kev Sheba BeachFor the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.  1 Corinthians 1: 18-19

Sheba could easily have a career as a garbage disposal.  She will ravenously gulp down almost any food, never exercising any restraint; not even slowing down to savor the taste.  Or, perhaps she could masquerade as a pig, albeit a likeable one, maybe a bit like Miss Piggy.   Left to her own appetite—her own wisdom—Sheba would eventually destroy herself by eating herself into oblivion.  But she has a health insurance policy—me.  I’m here to make sure she doesn’t self-destruct.

Not all of us have an eating problem like Sheba, but we all have a sin problem that can eventually destroy us if we follow our own foolish plans.  But God has a life and health insurance policy that can’t be beat, one unlike anything the world has to offer. First of all, it’s free; there’s no cost to us at all.  It was purchased by Jesus on a wooden cross about two thousand years ago, and it never goes out of date or gets canceled.  Second, it wipes out all of our past mistakes and provides everything we need not only to survive but to flourish during our life on earth.  And third, it guarantees an eternal home with God in heaven.

So how do we sign up?  It’s easy. “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame…for, Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:11,13)

Be Encouraged

BibleLet the people of God be encouraged!  The unrighteous decision of the US Supreme Court this week is an affront to God as well as to His people, and it is surely one more nail in the coffin leading to His judgements on man.  But His purpose in judgement is to cause people to look to Him and be saved, not to pour out His wrath on the righteous.  We must come into agreement with His plans and purposes to draw all men to Himself, even if it takes very severe/difficult/unpleasant circumstances; and in the midst of it all we must stand in faith and rejoice that our God is on the move!

I have sort of been in mourning for a few days over the increase of evil that has been unleashed, with a heaviness of heart over it all, but this morning the Lord directed me to three Psalms that brought things into perspective for me.

First, Psalm 131, just 3 short verses, but they pack a punch, and I believe show the way to the first thing we need to do, which is to quiet our soul and rest in Him. What peace!

Second, He directed me to Psalm 75, which speaks of judgement, and there are some truths there we need to hold onto. In verse 2, we see that in the set time that He appoints,  He will judge with equity.  Wow!  From our calm place of rest in Him, we can be assured of the righteousness and justice of His judgements, for God is the One who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another, and as He does, the wicked will be cut off but the righteous will be lifted up (verses 7 and 10).

Third, was Psalm 35, David’s prayer the God would “contend with those who contend with me and fight with those who fight with me.”  We must realize we are at war, and it’s much bigger than just the “gay agenda.”  It’s an all-out attempt by all spiritual forces of evil, aided by their physical allies, to overcome the world.  But it’s simply not going to happen!!!  Jesus has already won the victory, and even as we witness the terrible consequences that come in any war, we must commit to the attitude of verses 27 and 28:

Let those who delight in my righteousness
shout for joy and be glad
and say evermore,
“Great is the Lord,
who delights in the welfare of his servant!”
Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness
and of your praise all the day long.

In the midst of the judgment that God will undoubtedly be pouring out, is our opportunity to tell those who are deceived of His righteousness, of His grace and mercy; it is an opportunity and a call for righteousness such as we’ve never had before.  There no hope except in God, and we are the ones who know the truth and are equipped to deliver His hope to those who are desperate.  Let those whom He has called rise up and joyfully enter into battle, for our commander in chief is Jesus, our Soon and Coming King!!!

He told us repeatedly not to be afraid, so heed His words.  He wouldn’t have instructed us to be fearless if it were not possible, so kick fear out the door and focus on Him.  Remember the power of obedience and praise, and watch from His rest as the present-day “walls of Jericho” are taken down.

Lonely? Never Again!!!

d9a4398f81a12bd0ac69fde82a8cb3c1-2Isolated in an exam room while waiting for my doctor (who was running very late!), I was a victim of the ‘canned music’ that played throughout the office.  I must admit, it wasn’t too bad for a baby boomer like me, since most of the tunes were those I enjoyed in years gone by.

God often speaks to me by causing a song to begin playing in my head, so I’ve become very careful about what music I listen to, not wanting a re-play of something I’ve heard recently to ‘get stuck’ and drown out what He might want to say.  For example, have you ever had a particularly obnoxious jingle from a television commercial lodge itself in your brain?  Over, and over, and over those words repeat, and nothing seems to erase the recording except time.  I’d much rather listen to His Melodies of Love, which I’ve written about previously.

But on this day, my ears were subjected to one tune after another that spoke of loneliness, loss, and depression.  Initially it was the whining words of Bob Dylan:

Go ’way from my window
Leave at your own chosen speed
I’m not the one you want, babe
I’m not the one you need
You say you’re lookin’ for someone
Never weak but always strong
To protect you an’ defend you
Whether you are right or wrong
Someone to open each and every door
But it ain’t me, babe
No, no, no, it ain’t me, babe
It ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe

What a contrast to God’s promises!

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.  Deuteronomy 31:6

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. Isaiah 41:10

Next there was the amazing voice of Sam Cooke belting out Another Saturday Night, a song I’ve always enjoyed, but one that is nevertheless an expression of loneliness.

Another Saturday night and I ain’t got nobody
I got some money ’cause i just got paid
How I wish I had someone to talk to
I’m in an awful way

Such terrible loneliness was also expressed by Bobby Vinton:

Lonely, I’m Mr. Lonely
I have nobody for my own
I am so lonely, I’m Mr. Lonely
Wish I had someone to call on the phone

When we live in the truth of the absolute presence of the Lord, loneliness is vanquished.  it has no chance against the word of God, as expressed in Psalm 139: 1-12:

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?  Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me,and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

Finally, and perhaps the saddest commentary of all, John Lennon’s Help poured out through the speakers.  The song was released in 1965, and blasted incessantly from every radio on its way to the top of the charts.  A year later, I remember clearly my disappointment and revulsion when Lennon declared that God is dead and that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus.  Aligned with the things of the world, and delving into drugs, sex, and New Age philosophies for his help, it’s doubtful that he ever found what he really needed before his murder in 1980, at just forty years of age.  Our lives do not have to be a such a hopeless testimony of loneliness because we can find our help in Jesus.  All we have to do is ask Him in.

My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:2

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20

Is All Hope Gone?

IMG_1526He’s up well before dawn, already glued to his display of computer monitors.  Hour after hour after hour, he watches; analyzing every dip or gain on his screens; debating with himself the best course of action; celebrating or mourning his bottom line.  His whole life depends on how well he can play the game—the new home, the Lexus in the driveway, the kids’ private schools—all potentially gone in an instant.  He recalls the stories his dad told him of Black Tuesday, that terrible day in 1929 when the stock market crashed and people were literally jumping out of windows to their death.  What if it happens again?  What if he loses everything?

She stares intently into the mirror.  Is that little line a new wrinkle?  Better make an appointment for some more Botox.  Sure is a good thing she’s got great hair—oh, but wait; is that a strand of gray?  Breakfast is on the run with the latest high nutrition/low-calorie energy drink in hand, and she’s off to the gym to run and climb and lift and push and pull.  By the time she’s finished, every muscle in her body will have had a workout, and every ounce of fat will have been burned away.  Her career depends on looking great, no matter how hard the advancing years are pressing in; and she so stressed out by it all that somewhere in the week she really must make some time to see her therapist.

And so goes life for many people; perhaps in ways not as obvious as the illustrations above, but still jam-packed with worry and stress about jobs, family, education, health, the economy, world affairs.  Gone are the legendary ‘good old days’ when life was beautiful all the time.  Hope has disappeared, and the future looks bleak.  Just turn on the news if you think otherwise.  Right?

Wrong!!!

Hopelessness, discouragement, depression, fear; all of them are nothing less than smokescreens designed to keep mankind from seeing the truth that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  God’s light, and His words of love prove it better than anything I could ever say…

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright. Psalm 20:7-8

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”   Lamentations 3:22-24

I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. Psalm 16:8-9

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Psalm 46:1-3

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:5

God is On the Move in Southern California!!!

God is on the move in Southern California!!!

Every day, we are seeing new evidence of His handiwork, the magnitude of which is so amazing that it’s difficult to describe;  but my friend, Paul L Cox of Aslan’s Place, has done a wonderful job of writing an introduction to what is happening.

The Harvest Has Begun

Something is happening in the High Desert of Southern California, and it looks and feels like the early rumblings of revival.

Some weeks ago, I was with a pastor-friend from Hesperia and he told me the Lord had directed him to start going witnessing door-to-door. He was surprised but obedient; and in awe, he reported that at every house that he visited the people not only received him but also received Christ as their Savior. I am also hearing of this kind of evangelism beginning in other places.

My wife, Donna, and I recently began attending Abundant Living Family Church in Hesperia, a multi-generational and multi-cultural church fellowship. I was wonderfully surprised to see that Mark Graham, the pastor, invites people to stand to receive Christ as Savior during each service, and many people respond each time. I have not seen this since the Jesus Movement in the late 60’s and 70’s, and now, 40 years after the height of the Jesus Movement in 1974, it is happening again!

When Donna and I moved up to the High Desert in 1994 we began receiving many prophetic words that there would be a great move of God here. One particular word said that cars would be backed up at the off ramps of Interstate 15 in the High Desert waiting in line to reach the locations where the tangible presence of God was located. We also met many individuals who told us that God had told them to move to the High Desert because a revival would be taking place.

During the following years, everywhere that I went in the world I would hear similar prophecies of revival coming. Often, during our local schools and seminars, words would also come indicating that that we should anticipate revival and an amazing influx of the power of God. During all these years, we have seen many wonderful moves of the Lord, but nothing as dramatic as what has been prophesied. While many of God’s moves were gracious renewals of Christians, included many magnificent healings, where was the great outpouring that would lead to thousands coming into the Kingdom?

On Pentecost of 2013, Kevin Basconi of King of Glory Ministries in Moravian Falls, NC was visiting with us. Two days prior, the Lord had spoken to us to call for a gathering at Aslan’s Place and I invited Kevin to join us. We certainly were not expecting what happened! At sundown, as Pentecost began, we started by simply waiting on the Lord. Suddenly, I felt like someone had grabbed the back of my head and was squeezing it like one would squeeze an orange. We asked the Lord what was happening and the Holy Spirit revealed that I was discerning God the Father as the Power.

Matthew 26:64 (NKJV) Jesus said to him [the High Priest], “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Suddenly I had an insight that I had never had before. Just before Pentecost the Lord promised His followers that the Holy Spirit would come upon them and they would receive Power. Could it be that what they received was the revelation of the Father as “The Power”? It is the revelation of the Father as “The Power” that is being released on the earth.

JThis Power is now releasing a move of God that will result in a billion souls coming into the Kingdom of God. Doug Addison wrote of this September 16, 2014.[1]

“Arthur Burt was a revivalist in the U.K. and was given a powerful prophetic word from God in 1934 entitled: And There Shall Be No Ebb. “It shall come as a breath and the breath shall bring the wind and the wind shall bring the rain. And there shall be floods and floods and floods and torrents and torrents and torrents. Souls shall be saved like falling leaves from mighty oaks swept by a hurricane. Arms and legs shall come down from Heaven. And there shall be no ebb.” Arthur died August 28, 2014 at 102 years old. Bob Jones had prophesied that Arthur would see his 1934 prophecy come to pass in his lifetime. This is the year of the release of Arthur Burt’s life-long prophetic word and Bob Jones’ word of one billion people coming into the Kingdom. Both of these great men went back to Heaven this year. The prophetic sign in Arthur’s death: he died at age 102 on 8/28. Psalm 102 is the cry to God to see Him move again. But 102:28 is a prophetic word for what is coming.”

And, Psalm 102:28 says, “The children of Your servants will continue,
And their descendants will be established before You.”

On January 7, 2007, I was with Patricia King and several others at a summit for the New Year. This was just after the Lord had given us the Prayer to Release the Living Stones at Aslan’s Place. I remember wondering at the airport what would happen to me. Even though I had pastored for 20 years, it seemed there was no longer a place for me in the institutional church. I said to the Lord, “I know where I have come from, but where am I going?” With this reflection in my mind, I heard Stacy Campbell deliver a profound word.

“There’s a great transformation going on in the Body of Christ in the globe. And the forms and the structures—they’re coming down from the old wineskin, and a new wineskin is being built, but it’s very hard to discern. But what is coming? The harvest that is coming is so big, it cannot be contained in one structure. And this is the key—the life is in the bricks. Living stones. They’re alive! They’re alive! They contain His Spirit! So the key is not to discern the form, but the key is to discern the brick. Who are you in God? But whenever you discern the stone, uh huh, uh huh, I see that stone! I know that stone–that’s an Apostolic stone. That’s a Prophet stone. That’s a healing stone! And you begin to let the old stones go with the young stones. The male stones go side-by-side with the female stones. When you discern the stones, you will put those living stones that contain life together with other living stones that contain life, and they will build a container for the times to house the presence of God.  It’s too small! It will NEVER be able to contain what God is about, to millions and millions and millions. Yea, a billion souls harvest that will need stone joined with stone, joined with stone united, and not divided!”

It is now 20 years since we came to the High Desert. Last Sunday, September 28, Pastor Mark Graham shared in church that the Lord told him the night before that revival had come to the High Desert. During that service, the Presence of God filled the room and the pastor walked up and down the aisle praying for people. The Lord’s Glory was obviously present. No sermon was given, and no offering was taken. At the end of the service Mark said the Lord had asked him to call for 14 days of prayer, meeting each night at 6:00pm. Last night, Monday, September 29, 2014, he handed out a call to prayer. He was clear that this was not about a pastor or a church, but about the Kingdom of God. It was time to seek the Face of God and not His Hand. It was time to ask Jesus to come and live in our midst. It was time to cry out that His will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.

Would you join in prayer with those of us in High Desert of Southern California that His Kingdom will come, not only here but also in your community? Consider the following list of prayer points from last night, and pray that:

  • Jesus and His message will return to the High Desert.
  • Salvations in the High Desert throughout all of the houses of worship will explode.
  • Biblical signs and wonders will increase dramatically, both in our families and the houses of worship.
  • Our corporate obedience will increase to Jesus.
  • Our personal obedience will increase to Jesus.
  • Our regional government will turn over and be filled with Spirit-led politicians.
  • America will be shielded from all terror, and that our hearts as a nation will return to Him.

2 Chronicles 7:14–16 (NKJV), “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.”

[1] Just in the month of September, 2014 the following articles contained reference to this new move:
– Rick Joyner: “The Full Manifestation of Jesus in Our Midst” September 28, 2014
– The Tsunami of Glory is Coming-Be There September 23, 2014
– Steve Scroggs: “The Signs of the Harvest! Can You See the Signs?”September 22, 2014
– Tim Sheets “The Alarm Clock of Heaven Is Now Ringing… Power to Prevail is Being Poured Out!” “My Shaking Has Come. I Am – Shaking Earth. I Am Shaking Heaven” “The Third Great Awakening Shall Now Advance in Tidal Waves of My Power” September 9, 2014

I Had a Dream of the Triumphant Church

 

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Echoing in my mind as I awoke a few days ago were the words made famous by Martin Luther King, “I had a dream;” and for the night that had just transpired, that was one of the biggest understatements imaginable. It had been an amazing experience as one dream segment flowed into another, and then another—waking often for a brief moment, only to quickly fall back to sleep for a continuation of the sequence. When morning finally arrived I knew I needed to write as much of it down as possible, but already the scenes were quickly fading.

In a dream, in a vision of the night, When deep sleep falls upon men, While slumbering on their beds, Then He opens the ears of men, And seals their instruction. Job 33:15-16

Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms. Psalm 73:20

What remained was the sure and certain knowledge that I had just witnessed the glory of the LORD being released among His people in a way that we perhaps have never seen since the first Pentecost; since that day when Jesus’ followers who had obediently waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit finally received Him.

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4

Failing to recall all of the specifics, yet still reeling from the weighty presence of God throughout the night, I wrote the little that I could recall in my journal; and yet I knew that in one of my waking moments a familiar song had been resounding in my spirit, a song I knew I wouldn’t forget; but I did. So I asked the LORD to remind me if it was important and, to be quite honest, I didn’t really expect Him to do it. But i immediately remembered the Gaither’s incredible song, The Church Triumphant. Please, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtCV_ysZC04 to listen and be blessed by the song, and join with me to rejoice that God’s Church is indeed alive and well.

In recent times, many of us have focused much attention on terrible circumstances—the terrible state of the world, the terrible state of the economy, the terrible state of our families or relationships, the terrible state of the modern-day church that has so compromised itself with the world. And indeed, the terrible truth of Romans 2:18-34 is everywhere we look.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

I would now contend that it’s time for the Church to change its focus. The evil all around us is only going to increase until the Day of the Lord, but we needn’t allow that to distract us from our triumphant Jesus. As a picture is blurred when the focus is off, so is the vision of the Church; and all we need is a simple adjustment to turn our gaze upon the One who has already overcome all evil at the cross. Romans 1:16-17 remains just as relevant today as the succeeding verses that were just quoted…

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Remember those faithful disciples who went into that upper room and waited for the coming of the Spirit? Many of us have much in common with them! We have been waiting for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit for years and years and years. We have waited and waited, standing in faith on the promises of God. What if our wait is just about over? I absolutely believe it is!  I’ve have held onto that promise for such a long time it seems; but now, after that night of glory-filled dreams in which the church was exploding for righteousness at every turn, I’m certain that the Church, God’s Church, is very definitely alive and well; and the triumphant power of Jesus through the presence of the Holy Spirit is even now being poured out upon the world.

Let this day of Pentecost be a day that history will look back at as the turning point, as the day when the Holy Spirit began to blow anew throughout creation to revolutionize the Bride of Christ as she prepares for the arrival of her Bridegroom.

He’s Kidding…Isn’t He?

ID-10083939    Television, Internet, newspapers—any media; take your pick, and it will be full of bad news—violence, dissention, hurricanes, fires, deception, scandals, unemployment, and more.  So, while only God himself knows exactly where we are in terms of the end times, we’re certainly far enough along for people to be overcome with negative emotions—disgust, hopelessness, anxiety, depression, worry, fear.  But, as He explained what end times would look like to the disciples, Jesus said that these things should not be frightening .

 “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.  And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.  “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.  And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.  And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.  And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. (Matthew 24:4-12)

    He must have been kidding!!! Could knowledge of such a dire future be comforting?  Yes, because it comes with His promise.

But the one who endures to the end will be saved.  And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:13-14)

    These days it can be hard to trust others because, somewhere along the way, deception and manipulation seem to have become acceptable behavior in order to achieve a goal.  Some might ask how we can trust what Jesus said?  How do we know that He was any different than our leaders today; that He was telling the truth?  What’s His track record?  Are we really supposed to believe that we don’t need to worry?  That doesn’t seem logical, or even possible! 

    Evidence that God’s word is true is overwhelming, and many volumes have been written documenting fulfilled prophecies and promises.  So let’s narrow it down and get specific regarding His track record with people who were told not to fear.  Is there proof that He came through for them—that He kept His word?

    Abram was already 75 years old when God told him to pack up, leave his home, and go to another country; all based on His promise that, “I will make of you a great nation.”  Years passed—difficult years—years of famine, fear, family friction, battle—years in which no heir of whom a great nation would come had been born.

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” (Genesis 15:1)

    Even more difficult and disappointing years passed before Isaac finally came along; and Abram, renamed Abraham, was 100 years old.  Yet, through all of the trials, he steadfastly chose to believe God and to continue on in faith.

    Isaac had grown up and married when there was another famine, and God showed up to restate the promise he’d made to Abraham.

And the Lord appeared to him and said, “… I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father.  I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” (Genesis 26:2-5)

And the Lord appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham’s sake.” (Genesis 26:24)

    Eventually Isaac’s son, Jacob, had his own encounter with God.

Then God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, “Jacob, Jacob!”  And he said, “Here I am.”  So He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there.  I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will put his hand on your eyes.” (Genesis 46:2-4)

    Fast forward to Joshua, just after Moses’ death.  Here he was, 80 years old and taking over the leadership of the Children of Israel, with years of battle ahead in order to seize the land of Canaan.  Talk about someone who could’ve been frightened!  There were giants in that land, and 40 years earlier all of the Israelites except Joshua and Caleb had been so scared that they’d refused to go forward, and ended up wandering around the desert until they all died and a younger-and-braver generation grew up.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:8-10)

[After Joshua’s death] the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them.  Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they whored after other gods and bowed down to them.  They soon turned aside from the way in which their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the Lord, and they did not do so.  Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge.  For the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. (Judges 2:16-18)

    And along came Gideon.  One day an angel showed up with the news that God was calling him to undertake the thankless task of leading this unrighteous bunch.

Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.”  But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” (Judges 6:22-23)

    And how about some prophets?  Jeremiah and Ezekiel were both commissioned by God to warn His hard-hearted people that they were headed for destruction—not a fun job, to say the least.

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; or to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 1:7-9)

And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions. Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. (Ezekiel 2:6)

    Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; Joshua; Gideon; Jeremiah and Ezekiel; all were told by God to not be afraid in the face of tremendous trials.  Oh, but they were Bible heroes—they were special—right?  No, they were ordinary men, and the only thing that made them that made them any different than others is that they made a choice to believe that God’s would be faithful to His promises.  They all chose faith over fear.  They all understood the truth of words that had not yet even been written by Paul the Apostle…

… we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5: 3-5)

    Still, they lived so long ago in Old Testament times—surely it’s different now.  No, not unless we choose to ignore Jesus, who repeatedly encouraged His followers, “Why are you so afraid?”  “Take courage.”  “Don’t be afraid.”  “Why did you doubt, you of little faith?”   “Do you still have no faith?  It is I—don’t be afraid.”

    So here we are, living in difficult, disheartening and even frightening times; and like those Old Testament believers, we have a choice.  We can choose to dwell in the mire of fear, or we can exercise our faith in God, for He can be trusted to keep His promises.

But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)