Sunday, March 8, 2009

Faith over Fear...

Before reading today's encouraging passage of scripture, Joshua chapter 10, I read a discouraging breaking news bulletin. It seems that some deranged individual bolted into a church worship service in Illinois this morning and fired shots at the church's Pastor, killing him.

These days--these times--are troublesome indeed, and sometimes...scary. There is evil and wickedness reported in each day's news, accounts that are horrible enough to send chills down my spine every time I hear of the atrocities.

As I consider the realities of the world you will be growing up in, I confess that in my heart I believe that without a spiritual awakening that is unprecedented, things will only get worse and you will not be privileged to live most of your days in the relative peace and safety that I've been fortunate enough to enjoy, and for that I am grieved.

Because of these concerns, I am so grateful for the hope that is found in God's Word. His promises are real and true, and he is faithful to complete all of the good work he begins. (Philippians 1:6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.)

When God is for us, nothing--NO ONE-- can succeed against us, and that is verified by events that happened when Joshua and his armies faced tremendous opposition after their peace treaty with the people of Gibeon. Scripture records that Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, sought the aid of and alliance with neighboring kings against Gibeon because of his fear of Israel.

It's interesting to note that Adoni-zedek means "Lord of Righteousness," but this man was anything but righteous. In fact, it's been said that he was the antithesis of righteousness, and instead might be considered a representation of the Anti-Christ. That observation, coupled with Joshua's comparison to Jesus (Joshua is considered to be an Old Testament representation of Christ) make Adoni-zedek's concerted effort to rally and lead many nations against Israel quite interesting.

Admirably, Joshua kept his promise to the people of Gibeon and came to their aid against these invading enemies. As God had promised, Israel was victorious in battle and they even witnessed the miracle of a hailstorm that took out many of their attackers.

It was after seeing God's divine and amazing intervention that Joshua had the courage to make a request of God that seemed almost ridiculous. Take a look at this:

12 On the day the Lord gave the Israelites victory over the Amorites, Joshua prayed to the Lord in front of all the people of Israel. He said,

“Let the sun stand still over Gibeon,
and the moon over the valley of Aijalon.”

13 So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place until the nation of Israel had defeated its enemies.

Is this event not recorded in The Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the middle of the sky, and it did not set as on a normal day. 14 There has never been a day like this one before or since, when the Lord answered such a prayer. Surely the Lord fought for Israel that day!

The children of Israel had reason to be fearful from a human perspective as they faced their foes in Canaan that day. Instead, they exercised faith in the God for whom nothing is impossible and witnessed the miraculous defeat of their enemies as they were granted extra daylight. It's been said that the opposite of fear is faith, and I have discovered this to be true.

I began today's entry by admitting that there seem to be many good reasons to fear what might be in store for our nation, our world, and your futures. And yet I will only succumb to fear if I fail to exercise faith in the Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent God who made the sun stand still that day. There is nothing too difficult for him, and it is by reading his Word and knowing his nature that I am strengthened and encouraged--and enabled to overcome my fears.

It is inevitable that fear will sometimes rear its ugly head, but by God's grace we are equipped through scripture to remember the hope we have in our Almighty Lord. Here is just one such reminder from Isaiah:

25 “To whom will you compare me?
Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One.
26 Look up into the heavens.
Who created all the stars?
He brings them out like an army, one after another,
calling each by its name.
Because of his great power and incomparable strength,
not a single one is missing.
27 O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles?
O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?
28 Have you never heard?
Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29 He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.

Thank you Father that you have given me faith that overcomes fear. Please give that to my precious grandchildren and loved ones as we look to you alone--the author and finisher of our faith and the One who causes the sun to set and the moon to rise. In Jesus Mighty Name. Amen.

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