Do Not Fear

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” — Deuteronomy 31:6

The  reading for this week is a double portion, Nitzavim-Vayelech, from Deuteronomy 29:9. Nitzavim means “standing” and Vayelech means “and he went.” The Haftorah is from Isaiah 61:10–63:9.

In this week’s reading, Moses told the people that he was about to die. He would not go with them into the Promised Land; instead, his disciple Joshua would take over and lead the children of Israel.

Now, let’s take a moment to appreciate what impact this must have had on the people of Israel. Until that time, Moses was the only person who had ever led them. It was Moses who led their parents out of Egypt and shepherded them through the desert. It was Moses who ascended to the mountaintop in order to receive and bring down the Word of God. After the Israelites had sinned with the golden calf, it was Moses who prayed for them and brought them God’s forgiveness. Moses was more than a leader; he was a parent, a confidant, a savior.

Just as Moses was about to depart, the people would face their greatest challenge. Back in Deuteronomy 9 we read a description of what was ahead for the Israelites. They were told that they would face giants who were greater and stronger than they. The cities they were commanded to conquer were surrounded by strong impenetrable walls. Talk about a challenge!

And yet, God, through Moses, reassured the people with these stirring words, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” In essence, God was telling them, “You will succeed because I am with you and will continue to be with you always.”

Recently, comedian Jim Carrey was asked to give a college commencement speech. Among his advice to the new graduates was the following: “Now fear is going to be a player in life, but you get to decide how much . . . . You are ready and able to do beautiful things in this world . . . don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart.”

Today, I want to encourage us to choose trust over fear knowing that God is with us in any battles that we might face. We may feel like the Israelites did at the bank of the Jordan River, about to face a monumental battle and on the verge of losing their leader. Things might seem uncertain, difficult, and even impossible. But we must know today, as God told the Israelites then: He is with us. Even when other people and things that we may have relied upon have disappeared, God is always here. If we walk in faith and obedience, God will fight our battles. And when God fights for us, no one and nothing can stand against us.

Mark 9:19 Bring him unto me.  

Despairingly the poor disappointed father turned away from the disciples to their Master. His son was in the worst possible condition, and all means had failed, but the miserable child was soon delivered from the evil one when the parent in faith obeyed the Lord Jesus’ word, “Bring him unto me.” Children are a precious gift from God, but much anxiety comes with them. They may be a great joy or a great bitterness to their parents; they may be filled with the Spirit of God, or possessed with the spirit of evil. In all cases, the Word of God gives us one receipt for the curing of all their ills, “Bring him unto me.” O for more agonizing prayer on their behalf while they are yet babes! Sin is there, let our prayers begin to attack it. Our cries for our offspring should precede those cries which betoken their actual advent into a world of sin. In the days of their youth we shall see sad tokens of that dumb and deaf spirit which will neither pray aright, nor hear the voice of God in the soul, but Jesus still commands, “Bring them unto me.” When they are grown up they may wallow in sin and foam with enmity against God; then when our hearts are breaking we should remember the great Physician’s words, “Bring them unto me.” Never must we cease to pray until they cease to breathe. No case is hopeless while Jesus lives. The Lord sometimes suffers His people to be driven into a corner that they may experimentally know how necessary He is to them. Ungodly children, when they show us our own powerlessness against the depravity of their hearts, drive us to flee to the strong for strength, and this is a great blessing to us. Whatever our morning’s need may be, let it like a strong current bear us to the ocean of divine love. Jesus can soon remove our sorrow, He delights to comfort us. Let us hasten to Him while He waits to meet us.

Let God Illuminate Your Mind

The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” Ps 19:8 NIV

The Psalmist writes, “The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” God can put an idea in your mind that changes the direction of your life. Marconi had an idea from which came the radio. Bell had an idea from which came the telephone. God, Who’s a creator, gives creative ideas to people all the time. But you must act on them; otherwise He will give them to somebody else. Isn’t it time you asked Him for one of His ideas for your life? The fact that you believe in God is wonderful. But here’s something equally wonderful—God believes in you! Instead of looking at your present situation and thinking, “I guess my life’s as good as it’s ever going to get,” start asking, “Lord, what do You have in mind for me?” If you let it, life can beat you down and make you feel low, lost, lacking, and limited in ability and potential. And if you act on these feelings and thoughts instead of what God says about you in His Word, you’ll never move forward and fulfill what He put you on this earth to do. You say, “God has never given me one of His great ideas.” Maybe that’s because you have never asked Him for one! He gives them to seeking hearts, prepared hearts, faith-filled hearts, and obedient hearts. Here’s a profile of the kind of person God gives great ideas to: “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night…Whatever he does prospers” (Ps 1:2-3 NIV).

All That We Have

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. — Deuteronomy 30:15

The  reading for this week is a double portion, Nitzavim-Vayelech, from Deuteronomy 29:9. Nitzavim means “standing” and Vayelech means “and he went.” The Haftorah is from Isaiah 61:10–63:9.

What do we have? What is it that we can truly say we possess? Money? Health? Wisdom? Possessions?

God asked Moses this question from the burning bush in Exodus. God asked him, “What is that in your hand?” (Exodus 4:2). The Sages explain that what God was really asking Moses is, “What do you have?” Moses answered: “A staff” (Exodus 4:2). According to Jewish tradition, at that point Moses was already considerably wealthy. In addition, he was wise and strong. So why did Moses answer that the only thing he had was a staff?

The Sages explain that Moses understood that for all the gold and silver that he might have at the moment, it wasn’t truly his. It was all a gift from God that He could just as easily take away should He choose to do so. As we read in Haggai, “‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty” (2:8).

Moses also understood that even his knowledge wasn’t truly his own. Should God choose to do so, He could remove that, too, in an instant. As we read in Isaiah, “I am the LORD, the Maker of all things . . . who overthrows the learning of the wise and turns it into nonsense”(44:24–25).

Finally, Moses acknowledged that even his health and strength were not truly his own. As we read in Daniel, “He will become very strong . . . . Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power” (8:24–25). God could take away the strength of the mightiest in the blink of an eye.

So what was it that Moses had? What is it that any of us can ever truly possess?

A staff. The staff in Moses’s hand represented his ability to choose. The staff, which could be turned in any direction and lead Moses on any path, was all that he truly had. And that’s true for us as well. All any of us really have is the power to choose – what we will say, what we will do, what we will believe, and how we will react to any situation that we might find ourselves in. The power to choose is all we have, but it’s also all we need. The power of choice brings the opportunity for all other blessings.

In this week’s Torah portion we are reminded that we possess this great gift of choice. We read, “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.” God gives us the option – in all situations – to choose life and prosperity or death and destruction. The choice is completely in our hands. We must pray to God to help us choose wisely, to know which path is the right one for us, and then to have the courage to choose it.

2 Peter 1:4 Partakers of the divine nature.

To be a partaker of the divine nature is not, of course, to become God. That cannot be. The essence of Deity is not to be participated in by the creature. Between the creature and the Creator there must ever be a gulf fixed in respect of essence; but as the first man Adam was made in the image of God, so we, by the renewal of the Holy Spirit, are in a yet diviner sense made in the image of the Most High, and are partakers of the divine nature. We are, by grace, made like God. “God is love”; we become love-“He that loveth is born of God.” God is truth; we become true, and we love that which is true: God is good, and He makes us good by His grace, so that we become the pure in heart who shall see God. Moreover, we become partakers of the divine nature in even a higher sense than this-in fact, in as lofty a sense as can be conceived, short of our being absolutely divine. Do we not become members of the body of the divine person of Christ? Yes, the same blood which flows in the head flows in the hand: and the same life which quickens Christ quickens His people, for “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Nay, as if this were not enough, we are married unto Christ. He hath betrothed us unto Himself in righteousness and in faithfulness, and he who is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Oh! marvellous mystery! we look into it, but who shall understand it? One with Jesus-so one with Him that the branch is not more one with the vine than we are a part of the Lord, our Saviour, and our Redeemer! While we rejoice in this, let us remember that those who are made partakers of the divine nature will manifest their high and holy relationship in their intercourse with others, and make it evident by their daily walk and conversation that they have escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. O for more divine holiness of life!