Holy Fear

“He that fears the commandment shall be rewarded.”
– Proverbs 13:13

Holy awe of God’s Word is very rare. Men think themselves wiser than the Word of the Lord and sit in judgment upon it. “So did not I, because of the fear of God.”

We accept the inspired Book as infallible and prove our esteem by our obedience. We have no terror of the Word, but we have a filial awe of it. We are not in fear of its penalties because we have a fear of its commands.

This holy fear of the commandment produces the restfulness of humility, which is far sweeter than the recklessness of pride. It becomes a guide to us in our movements: a drag when we are going downhill and a stimulus when we are climbing it.

Preserved from evil and led into righteousness by our reverence of the command, we gain a quiet conscience, which is a well of wine; a sense of freedom from responsibility, which is as life from the dead; and a confidence of pleasing God, which is heaven below.

The ungodly may ridicule our deep reverence for the Word of the Lord; but what of that? The prize of our high calling is a sufficient consolation for us. The rewards of obedience make us scorn the scorning of the scorner.

– Charles Spurgeon

An Open Door Set Before You

“I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it.”
– Revelation 3:8

Saints who remain faithful to the truth of God have an open door before them. My soul, you have resolved to live and die by that which the Lord has revealed in His Word, and therefore before you stands this open door.

I will enter in by the open door of communion with God. Who shall deny me? Jesus has removed my sin and given me His righteousness; therefore I may freely enter. Lord, I do so by Your grace.

I have also before me an open door into the mysteries of the Word. I may enter into the deep things of God. Election, union to Christ, the Second coming – all these are before me, and I may enjoy them. No promise and no doctrine are now locked up against me.

An open door of access is before me in private and an open door of usefulness in public. God will hear me; God will use me. A door is opened for my onward march to the church above, and for my daily fellowship with saints below. Some may try to shut me up or shut me out, but all in vain.

Soon shall I see an open door into heaven: the pearl gate will be my way of entrance, and then I shall go in unto my Lord and King and be with God eternally shut in.

– Charles Spurgeon

Without Fear

“And he said, Certainly I will be with thee.” (Exodus 3:12)

Of course, if the Lord sent Moses on an errand, He would not let him go alone. The tremendous risk which it would involve and the great power it would require would render it ridiculous for God to send a poor lone Hebrew to confront the mightiest king in all the world and then leave him to himself.

It could not be imagined that a wise God would match poor Moses with Pharaoh and the enormous forces of Egypt. Hence He says, “Certainly I will be with thee,” as if it were out of the question that He would send him alone.

In my case, also, the same rule will hold good. If I go upon the Lord’s errand with a simple reliance upon His power and a single eye to His glory, it is certain that He will be with me. His sending me binds Him to back me up. Is not this enough? What more can I want? If all the angels and arch-angels were with me. I might fail; but if He is with me, I must succeed.

Only let me take care that I act worthily toward this promise. Let me not go timidly, halfheartedly, carelessly, presumptuously. What manner of person ought he to be who has God with him! In such company it behooves me to play the man and, like Moses, go in unto Pharaoh without fear.

– Charles Spurgeon

He Lowers In Order To Raise

“The LORD makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up.” (1 Samuel 2:7)

All my changes come from Him who never changes. If I had grown rich, I should have seen His hand in it, and I should have praised Him; let me equally see His hand if I am made poor, and let me as heartily praise Him.

When we go down in the world, it is of the LORD, and so we may take it patiently: when we rise in the world, it is of the LORD, and we may accept it thankfully. In any case, the LORD has done it, and it is well.

It seems that Jehovah’s way is to lower those whom He means to raise and to strip those whom He intends to clothe. If it is His way, it is the wisest and best way. If I am now enduring the bringing low, I may well rejoice, because I see in as the preface to the lifting up.

The more we are humbled by grace, the more we shall be exalted in glory. That impoverishment which will be overruled for our enrichment is to be welcomed.

O LORD, You have taken me down of late and made me feel my insignificance and sin. It is not a pleasant experience, but I pray You make it a profitable one to me. Oh, that You would fit me to bear a greater weight of delight and of usefulness; and when I am ready for it, then grant it to me, for Christ’s sake! Amen.

– Charles Spurgeon

Peace, The Gift Of God

WHOM SHALL WE FEAR

The Bible tells us that in the last days before Christ’s return that, “perilous times will come” (2 Timothy 3:1). We’re told that people would turn from worshiping God to worshiping themselves (2 Timothy 3:1-4).

As a result of turning from God, many false prophets will rise up and deceive, sin will abound, there will be many “wars and rumors of wars” and the love of many people will run cold (Matthew 24:11-12, Mark 13:7).

Certainly those days have come.

But Jesus told us that we were not to fear or be afraid (Mark 13:7) because He has given us His peace. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

The peace the world offers is, at best, temporary, but the peace Christ gives is eternal and flows like a river (Isaiah 66:12). It passes all earthly understanding (Philippians 4:7).

FEAR THAT LEADS TO PEACE

So how do we obtain this peace?

Jesus said “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! (Luke 12:4-5)

The path to peace begins, ironically enough, with the fear – fear of the Lord. Fear of the Lord is the understanding that God is the King Of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19:16), who is the Creator of All things (Genesis 1) the righteous Judge over all mankind (Rev 20:12) and we stand before Him guilty of sin (Romans 3:23). With this godly respect and reverence for the Almighty we cry out for forgiveness like the tax collector in Luke 18:13, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.”

God responds to this cry by sending His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16) “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) Those who put their faith in Christ are forgiven of their sins. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

Consider these words from Charles Spurgeon: “Dear reader, where are you this evening? Can you by humble faith look to Jesus, and say, “My substitute, You are my rock, my trust”? Then, beloved, be not afraid of God’s power; for by faith you have fled to Christ for refuge, the power of God need no more terrify you, than the shield and sword of the warrior need terrify those whom he loves. Rather rejoice that He who is “great in power” is your Father and Friend.”

“Yes, Jesus said, “in the world you will have tribulation,” but He was quick to add, “be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” “I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2) No matter what happens to us in this life we will be with Christ forever. This is the foundation of our peace.

HAVING PEACE IN A TROUBLED WORLD

Now let’s build on that foundation. We are to be “anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:5-7

Once we accept Christ will we still fear the things of the world? Yes, but now our response should be to immediately take our focus off our worldly fear and look again to Christ, who is our peace (Ephesians 2:14). We “cast our cares upon Him” (1 Peter 5:7) and pray for the grace and strength to see His will be done. We let go and trust Him to handle the situation.

”Peace, peace, sweet peace,
Wonderful gift from above,
Oh, wonderful, wonderful peace,
Sweet peace, the gift of God’s love.”

Encourage One Another

The Bible uses the word “encourage”, “encouraged”, “encouragement” and “encourages” in many places. The Holman Christian Standard Bible uses “encourage” 21 times, “encouraged” 21 times, “encouragement” 12 times, and “encourages” 1 time. Strong’s Lexicon’s Hebrew word for “encourage” is chazaq (khaw-zak’), the Greek is paramutheomai (par-am-oo-theh’-om-ahee) and protrepomai (prot-rep’-om-ahee). Both mean to comfort or exhort.

If you take the time to do a word search in places like Crosswalk.com and find all the verses that contain any of the above words, you will see God’s character shining through.

In almost every instance, we see that God seeks to encourage His people as He wants us to be like Him and to encourage one another in His ways. (1Thess. 4:18; 5:11) In these last days of Apostasy where everyone seems to be doing what is right in his own eyes (Jud. 17:6; 2Tim 3:1) , we need to seek ways in which we can encourage one another as God encourages us. It is our responsibility to foster the well-being of each other as fellow believers. What are some ways we can do this?

Exhort to walk close to Jesus and remain committed to Him in faith. (Rom. 15:4) It is through our endurance and encouragement of the scriptures that we have hope. Endurance means perseverance, and we persevere because of the encouragement of the Scriptures. We can only have encouragement of the Scriptures when we “feed” on them daily and absorb their many spiritual “nutrients”. That is foundational to our Christian faith and in knowing who God is.

Build and strengthen. (2Thess. 2:17 ) Encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good work and word. We gain strength when we pursue biblical Truth in our daily activities and interactions with others. We give strength when we encourage others to stay focused on the Lord and not veer off course where we’ll be derailed by the trappings of the world.

Motivate others to be their best. (Phil. 4:8) Pursuing moral excellence through character building. Become more like Jesus. We should make it our objective to strive for excellence in everything we do, and stay away from mediocrity or lukewarmness. Likewise, we give the same support to those around us and make them feel worthy of God’s love by motivations we give them.

Comfort the hurting/weak/sick. (1Thess. 5:14 ) If we see anyone who is struggling in their Christian walk, instead of judging, we need to help them in their weakness so they’ll make better choices. Sometimes folks go through very hard times and have many personal struggles. It can happen to any of us! So when we see someone “down on their luck”, try to be of service and help in meeting their needs. It’ll make us stronger in the process!

Heal the brokenhearted. (Luke 4:18) Jesus stated publicly that it was His mission to bind up wounds and heal the brokenhearted. He ultimately did that on the Cross. There were many brokenhearted people who were lost and needed the Gospel and a Savior, which He preached to them during His earthly ministry. We need to remind ourselves and other people that we are no different and to look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith. In Him we have that healing and cleansing.

Hope for a hopeless world. (Rom. 5:1-5) We can rejoice to having obtained peace with God by accepting His Son as our personal Savior. We now have a real hope of eternal life and know with certainty that Jesus will bring us to Heaven. That is also our Blessed Hope, that we make it an event we look forward to and to obey His command to WATCH for Him and be ready. (Mark 13:33 ; Matt. 25:13; Matt. 26:41; Matt. 24:43). Watching for me is an encouragement as I see current events unfold and know how they are lining up with references about the end times. (2 Tim. 3:1; 1Thess. 5; Luke 21:28 -32; Matt. 24; Dan. 12; 2 Pet. 3:3).

Resting in the Promises given to us in Scripture. (2Pet. 1:4; Jer. 29:11) These are referred to in Peter as “great and precious promises”, and they certainly are! In my mind, there can’t be anything better than to “share in the devine nature” which we will be given. I’m looking forward to it as I get older! That is real encouragement to me, to be finally free of limitation and sin when I’m transformed into a glorious being.

Encouragement is a buffer against Satan. He would like nothing better than to tear us down, make us feel impotent, like we don’t belong, that we’re not really saved, motivate us to make wrong choices or take our eyes off Jesus. Let’s be wary of him! He goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1Pet. 5:8) Although he is an accuser of the brethren, (Rev. 12:10), his days are numbered and he has already been defeated on the Cross (1Cor. 15:51 -57). God has therefore equipped us in every way to live victorious in Him when we wholly depend upon the Holy Spirit which resides within us. Let’s keep that in mind as we go about our job of being spiritual soldiers.

– By Lynette Schaefer

He Humbled Himself

“He humbled Himself.” -Philippians 2:8

Jesus is the great teacher of lowliness of heart. We need to learn from Him daily. See the Master taking a towel and washing His disciples’ feet! Follower of Christ, will you not humble yourself? See Him as the Servant of servants, and surely you can not be proud!

“He humbled Himself” Is not this sentence the theme of His biography? Was He not on earth always stripping off first one robe of honor and then another, till, naked, He was fastened to the cross, and there did He not empty out His inmost self, pouring out His life-blood, giving up for all of us, till they laid Him penniless in a borrowed grave? How low was our dear Redeemer brought! How then can we be proud?

Stand at the foot of the cross, and count the purple drops by which you have been cleansed; see the thorn-crown; mark His scourged shoulders, see hands and feet given up to the rough iron, and His whole self to mockery and scorn; see the bitterness, and the pangs, and the throes of inward grief, showing themselves in His outward frame; hear the thrilling shriek, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” And if you do not lie face down on the ground before that cross, you have never seen it: if you are not humbled in the presence of Jesus, you do not know Him.

You were so lost that nothing could save you but the sacrifice of God’s only begotten. Think of that, and as Jesus stooped for you, bow yourself in lowliness at His feet. A sense of Christ’s amazing love to us has a greater tendency to humble us than even a consciousness of our own guilt. May the Lord bring us in contemplation to Calvary, then our position will no longer be that of the pompous man of pride, but we shall take the humble place of one who loves much because much has been forgiven him. Pride cannot live beneath the cross. Let us sit there and learn our lesson, and then rise and carry it into practice.

– Charles Spurgeon

When Jesus Sang

”When they had sung a hymn” (Matthew 26:30)

‘No man ever spoke like this Man,’ and possibly the same might be true of Christ’s singing, ‘never man sang like this man.’ Did angels listen then as did the prisoners to the singing of Paul and Silas at Philippi?

Christ sang, and the disciples joined. They were, most of them, fishermen, and fishermen are remarkable for their hearty singing. O to have heard the discourses! O to have heard that prayer (John 17)! And O to have heard that hymn! The singing would be heard outside, and perhaps the young man (Mark 14:51) who followed them to the Garden of Gethsemane may have crept near to listen. Would not you?

Christ’s singing showed the reality of His humanity. Aristotle said of his god Jupiter, that no one ever heard of his singing; it would be beneath him. But Jesus sang, and showed He was truly one of us.

We like a hymn — especially in affliction (Acts 16:25; Ps. 42:8; Job 35:10). Martyrs have sung going to the stake, and there is a tradition that the three youths in the fiery furnace sang aloud. A hymn is more unselfish than a prayer; it expresses gratitude and love. Hence, heaven is peculiarly the place of song, for all is unselfish there.

Christ is on the eve of the most terrible conflict ever witnessed — tonight and tomorrow the Garden and the Cross! He summons to His help every aid. His eye is on the Father’s glory. He bathes Himself in it and is refreshed for conflict.

What did He sing? All writers agree that it was Psalm 118. For two thousand years the Jews have concluded the Passover by singing this Psalm. If you glance over it you will see how appropriate it is, and it came in course at the Passover. What shall we sing? The Lord will tell you as occasion calls for. As it is written, ‘His song shall be with me,’ as well as ‘My prayer’ (Ps. 42:8).

When did He sing? After the solemn Passover service and the Supper, and just before the scenes of the Garden, with Calvary in view. We are not told in the Gospels of Christ singing until now — perhaps because His doing so in these circumstances was so peculiar and so fitted to instruct us. His last note was a cheerful note, though He knew what was in the future. Much more should ours be so.

Let us try unselfishly, like Jesus, to keep our friends from sorrow as long as we can. In the face of difficulties, sing to the Lord. If you have a dread of what is coming, sing, instead of brooding over it. If you are like the Master — singing before He went to the Garden — you will be enabled to go fearlessly forward.

When will He sing again? When all sorrow and conflict are over (Ps. 22:23, 69:30, 118:21). It will be the day of the Song of Moses and the Lamb. When He comes again Christ will lead that great multitude of the redeemed whom no man can number, in the song of praise. He will sing over completed redemption at the sea of glass, as did Moses at the Red Sea.

After they had sung this hymn they seem all to have been so elated, in such spirits, so full of joy, that the Master had to put in a word of warning. ‘All of you shall be offended because of Me this night.’ But, so like the Master, He added, ‘But I will not forsake you. I will go before you into Galilee.’ But the silly sheep who were to be scattered did not believe Him.

Do not blame Peter too much, for they all joined in saying, ‘Though I should die with You,’ etc. Christ did not contradict them. He knew the corruption of their heart; He knew what would happen. When they said this they were full of feeling. Let us not lay too much stress on feeling and emotion when we come to the Lord’s Table. Put stress upon this: That the Shepherd’s heart will never change toward you. ‘Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.’

– Andrew Bonar

When Foundations Are Shaken

By Charles Stanley

Nuclear weapons . . . biological warfare . . . terrorism . . . September 11, 2001 . . . these words frequent headlines and conversations. How we live during these difficult days will testify to both our focus and our priorities. Should we live defeated and fearful of the events around us? Or, will we stand confident and assured in the promises of our Lord?

The very foundations of safety and security have been shaken by threats and acts of terrorism. The fear that arises from this situation causes us to seek a place of stability. However, Hebrews 12:27 says that God will “remove those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.” Sometimes God allows our world to be shaken, so that we are forced to determine whom we will trust. Will we try to find security in the material world that easily passes away? Or, will we find our hope in the eternal Word of God? By focusing on God and claiming His promises, we can stand with confidence, determination, and perseverance in the midst of trouble.

Unconditional love is one promise that God gives His children. This love embodies His sacrifice on the cross, so that we might have forgiveness and eternal blessings. It is unconditional because He loves us no matter what we might do; His love does not depend on our behavior. God loves us absolutely, perfectly, and completely all of the time because that is His very nature. First John 4:7 says, “let us love one another, for love is from God.” In addition, 1 John 3:1 relates, “how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called the children of God.” We are blessed with the gift of God’s love simply because that is who He is.

God’s love is not only unconditional; it is also eternal. In Romans 8:38-39, Paul gives us this assurance by stating: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Can warfare separate us? No. Can terrorism separate us? No. My friend, not even death can separate us from our heavenly Father. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, I know them and they follow Me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish”( John 10:27-28). We will remain in His eternal love forever. Therefore, as children of God, whenever we face trials that we do not understand and cannot control, we can rely on the awesome assurance that we are gripped by the unconditional, eternal love of our Lord.

God has also promised to give us His undivided attention. Now, you may say, “But there are too many believers for Him to think about each one all of the time!” Not for an omniscient God. He knows everything, and He is attentive to every single one 1 John 5:14 says that if “we ask anything according to God’s will, He hears us.” God hears our prayers, and answers them, too! In fact, He even knows our deepest thoughts. Psalm 94:11 states that “The LORD knows the thoughts of man,” and Psalm 44:21 says that “[He] knows the secrets of the heart.”
God knows everything about us, including how we think and what we desire. This is how He knows exactly how to comfort and guide us. In Psalm 94:19, the psalmist praises God for consoling his anxious thoughts. Likewise, in Psalm 32:8, God promises that “…[He] will counsel you with [His] eye upon you.” Because God is attentive to every single aspect of our lives—all of our needs, wants, and desires—He knows exactly how to relieve our fears and direct us to do His will.

When I am going through a difficult time in my life, I cling to another of God’s promises: His unalterable presence. I want to know that, no matter what I am going through, He is there. He vows to never leave nor forsake His children. (Hebrews 13:5) There is no one on earth who can make such a promise to us; only God can guarantee His eternal presence. (John 14:27)

When we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, the Holy Spirit of God indwells us forevermore. He is our Helper who enables us to overcome every fear and hardship in our lives. Psalm 23:4 says that “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for [God] is with me; [His] rod and [His] staff, they comfort me.” What is it that gives us comfort? It is the very presence of God. (Psalm 91:1-9) No matter what we might face in our lives, God’s presence will enable us to remain strong, fearless, bold, and able.

God’s presence is so comforting because we also have the assurance of His unchanging power. Psalm 103:19 describes His infinite authority: “The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.” Psalm 135:6 states, “Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas, and in all deeps.”

You might think, “Well, if God’s in control, then why do bad things happen?” Isaiah 46:10 explains that God is going to fulfill His good purpose and perfect will. If He allows pain, hurt, and loss, then He has decided, in His infinite wisdom, that this will bring about His good purpose.

For example, a tragedy can persuade a nation to abandon its sinfulness and focus on God. You see, the Bible says that “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, those who are called according to His purpose”(Romans 8:28). So, we do not have to feel terrorized or afraid of what may happen. Things will only occur in our nation if God allows them. We should therefore be encouraged that all events—past, present, and future—are in the hands of our perfect and capable God.

As God’s children, we can stand firm in the knowledge of His unwavering promises. Joshua 21:45 says that all of God’s promises to the house of Israel came to pass; we can trust that they will hold true for us, as well. Therefore, we must not be controlled by events in the world. Everyone feels afraid sometimes, but we can overcome this and live confidently in the love, knowledge, presence, and power of our Lord. He knows that we cannot accomplish this by ourselves; He desires us to rely solely upon Him for assurance and direction. As His children, we have a responsibility to respond to trials with godliness, reverently serving our Lord.

If you have never accepted Jesus as your Savior and Lord, then you cannot experience the promises of God. Without a personal relationship with Him, you do not have anything of eternal value; everything you have can be shaken loose and torn away. Only God is unchanging and dependable, and, in His great love, desires that all men would come to know Him.(1 Timothy 2:3-4) He is waiting to hear you cry out to Him to confess and repent of your sins, and to surrender your life to Him. At that moment, as a new child of God, you too will be able to claim the amazing promises of our heavenly Father.

– Charles F. Stanley

IN TOUCH® Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 IN TOUCH MINISTRIES®, ITM, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia, USA, used with permission. All rights reserved.