Stepping into 2014
I don't know about you, but New Year's Day doesn't always come filled with freshness and excitement. This year was like that...and the other day I found myself feeling afraid.
That shouldn't be, because all of the promises of the Lord for this year are good! They echo Jeremiah 29:11 that He has a future and a hope for every single one of us. He is thinking good thoughts about us and about out futures. Still, it seems that everything around me undermines that "good future and hope." And our minds barrage us with questions:
- How is He at work? I'm just not seeing it.
- How are the bills going to get paid?
- I'm tired of being sick.
- How are all of my kids?
- What about that alert my identity theft protection just sent?
- Will I get my Obama-care sorted out?
- Oh...another dent on the car...
- So much to do...
- The list can go on and on.
Yet the word of the Lord to me for 2014 is
Sounds good; but how do we get there?
In my three short days in "2014--Year of Rest" I've already learned that rest has a lot to do with trust. I cannot rest when I do not trust. Of course, it depends on where you're putting your trust.
There are a couple of other things I've figured out, too.
- I know that if I'm afraid, it isn't the Lord. The Lord gives us power, love, and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7). He may challenge us to growth, but he doesn't come to scare us.
- I’ve also recognized how easy it is to run down the road of fear if we don't capture our thoughts and align them with His (2 Cor. 10:5).
- And, I’ve discovered that the best place to realign our hearts and minds is in the Word. When we go there, we find that Scripture makes some pretty clear statements about what to do when we're afraid.
First, we are called to make a choice. I love that in Psalm 56:3, the psalmist writes I WILL! "Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.” We get the choice of focusing on the promises of God, or running wildly down the fear-road.
Second, the Word calls us to address the true enemy. It's easy to get mad at the neighbor, or blame the co-worker. But they aren't the enemy. The psalmist goes on to write that, "In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (v. 56:11) Frankly, the answer to that is that sometimes it feels like they can do a lot to us, but when we address the true enemy—the enemy of our souls—in prayer and spiritual battle, we accomplish a lot more than just arguing with people, or trying to defend ourselves in our own strength. Fighting for ourselves will never bring us to rest; the Lord fighting for us can only accomplish that. “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Ex. 14:14)
Finally, Isaiah 12:2 calls us to look at past victories to build our faith and boldness; to remind ourselves that the Lord will answer. He writes, “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for YAH, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.”
That verse is a direct quote from Exodus 15:2, "The LORD is my strength and song, and he has become my salvation: He is my God, and I will praise Him; my father's God, and I will exalt Him."
Every self-respecting Israelite would have recognized that quotation and known its context. It's from a song Moses sang right after Israel had crossed the Red Sea. In fact, this became the defining moment of deliverance in Old Testament history. Deliverance. Freedom. A miracle move of God. When it looked like certain death, salvation came instead. And when there was nothing the people could do to help themselves, God stepped in.
We've been in the same situation: When we were dead in trespasses and sins...God, who is rich in mercy…made us alive together with Christ (Eph. 2:1-5)
We forget our miraculous moment in the fears of today. Not to minimize whatever you may be afraid of—or whatever I may be afraid of—but today is small potatoes to what God has already accomplished on our behalf! And He calls us to trust based on the simple fact that He has answered in the past.
In Hebrews 3 and 4, we are called to enter into God's rest while it is today. Comparing us to Israel, the writer points out that they didn't enter into their rest because of disobedience and unbelief (which could be roughly compared to running wildly in fear and doubt). And he calls to us today...
Today...hear His voice.
Today...accept the promise.
Today...enter His rest.
What has the Lord promised you for 2014? You, as I, may have already experienced doubt and fear about the fulfillment of those promises. But this isn't a New Year’s “resolution.” Resolutions are accomplished in our own strength.If I'm afraid on January 3, it doesn't mean I've "already blown it." It just means it's time to realign with His Word, trust His past working in your life, and rest in the promise He has given you.
Realign. Trust. Rest.
“Therefore do not fear, O My servant Jacob,” says the Lord, “nor be dismayed, O Israel; For behold, I will save you from afar, and your seed from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return, have rest and be quiet, And no one shall make him afraid.” (Jeremiah 30:10)
Happy New Year!