Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust. Psalm 16:1
Agoraphobia comes from agora, the Greek word for the “commercial or civic center of the city,” and phobia, the Greek/Latin word for “fear.” An agoraphobic is a person who fears venturing out into public spaces. They worry about what might happen—accidents, attacks, animals, adversaries, and more. Agoraphobia is a severely limiting affliction, confining the sufferer to a life of fear.
The affliction is not unfounded; life is filled with dangers and misadventures of all sorts. So, what should we do? We could do what David, the psalmist did: He asked God to keep him safe—“Preserve me, O God,” (Psalm 16:1). He was confident of the boundaries God had established for his life and that he had a “good inheritance” in store (Psalm 16:6). It was the same idea as the “hedge” God established around the life of Job, protecting him from ultimate harm (Job 1:10). And it makes us think of the angels (“ministering spirits”) sent forth by God to protect the inheritance of His people (Hebrews 1:14).
Are you in the practice of asking God daily to keep you safe? Make it a habit. Commit your ways to Him and He will establish your thoughts (Proverbs 16:3).
Let us learn to trust [God] for who He is. Elisabeth Elliot
The Path to Full and Lasting Pleasure
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:18
Pastor Watson Jones remembers learning to ride a bike. His father was walking alongside when little Watson saw some girls sitting on a porch. “Daddy, I got this!” he said. He didn’t. He realized too late he hadn’t learned to balance without his father’s steadying grip. He wasn’t as grown up as he thought.
Our heavenly Father longs for us to grow up and “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). But spiritual maturity is different from natural maturity. Parents raise their children to become independent, to no longer need them. Our divine Father raises us to daily depend on Him more.
Peter begins his letter by promising “grace and peace . . . through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,” and he ends by urging us to “grow in” that same “grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:2; 3:18). Mature Christians never outgrow their need for Jesus.
Watson warns, “Some of us are busy slapping Jesus’s hands off the handlebars of our life.” As if we didn’t need His strong hands to hold us, to pick us up, and to hug us when we wobble and flop. We can’t grow beyond our dependence on Christ. We only grow by sinking our roots deeper in the grace and knowledge of Him.
Reflect & Pray
Where do you feel your dependence on Jesus? How is that a sign of maturity?
Jesus, thank You for walking alongside me as I grow in my relationship with You.
An old gospel song says, “This world is not my home. I’m just a-passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.” Does this describe how you think about life? As believers, we face the danger of forgetting that our citizenship is in heaven—it’s all too easy to start thinking of this world as our home.
Whenever anyone turns from sin and trusts in Jesus for salvation, that person’s name is forever recorded in heaven. It’s as if the new believer is already there. Ephesians 2:5-6 puts it this way: God has “made us alive together with Christ … raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” As a further guarantee of our spiritual position in heaven, we’ve been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise as a pledge of our inheritance (Eph. 1:13-14).
But for now, we live here on earth and are subject to pain, illness, infirmities, and death. However, when Christ returns, He will transform these weak, mortal frames into glorious bodies like His. Although we don’t know exactly what we’ll look like, we can be sure that our new heavenly bodies will far exceed the ones we have now.
Are you eagerly awaiting that day, or have you been captivated by the fleeting pleasures and pursuits of this world? Since the earth is only our temporary home, we must be careful not to become too attached to the things it offers. A right understanding of our eternal citizenship changes our perspective and priorities in this life, prompting us to lay up treasures in heaven rather than on earth.
“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29)
What rich blessings Christ promises to those who “hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (v. 27). To think that the omnipotent Creator knows us and gives us eternal life! He is certainly powerful enough to see that this life is in no danger, either from our own weaknesses (“they shall never perish”) or from the enemy without (“pluck them out”). Temporary eternal life simply cannot be. The eternal life that He gives lasts for eternity.
Actually, the promise “they shall never perish” is very strong in the original Greek. A repeating negative precedes the word “perish,” and the specific form of the word “never” literally includes “eternally,” or “forever.” A more complete rendering would then be, “They shall not, in no wise perish, no, not for eternity.”
The word “man” is not in the original, and the word “any” is more properly translated “any one” or “any being.” This includes Satan—no match for the Savior. He is powerless to pluck or snatch us from either the Father’s or the Son’s hands. How could we be any more secure?
Note that the Father gave us to His beloved Son as gifts of His love. In turn, Christ values these precious gifts so much that He holds us securely in His hand, so tightly that no created being can snatch us away. The Father even assists in providing us this security, for we are also in the “Father’s hand,” and “I and my Father are one” (v. 30).
When we consider the size and strength of the Creator’s hand, we can understand why no one, not even Satan, can snatch us out of its protective care. JDM
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
God knows that sin is a terrible thing—and the devil knows it, too. So he follows us around and as long as we will permit it, he will taunt us about our past sins.
As for myself, I have learned to talk back to him on this score. I say, “Yes, Devil, sin is terrible—but I remind you that I got it from you! And I remind you, Devil, that everything good—forgiveness and cleansing and blessing—everything that is good I have freely received from Jesus Christ!”
Everything that is bad and that is against me I got from the devil—so why should he have the effrontery and the brass to argue with me about it? Yet he will do it because he is the devil, and he is committed to keeping God’s children shut up in a little cage, their wings clipped so that they can never fly! ITB006
Thank You again this morning, Father, for Your marvelous “forgiveness and cleansing and blessing.” Thank You for Your grace that completely silences the devil. Amen.
He that contemneth small things shall fall by little and little.—Ecclesiasticus 29:1.
Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.—1 Corinthians 16:13.
Stand then in His great might,
With all His strength endued,
But take, to arm you for the fight,
The panoply of God,
Leave no unguarded place,
No weakness of the soul,
Take every virtue, every grace,
And fortify the whole.
Let every one consider what his weak point is; in that is his trial. His trial is not in those things, which are easy to him, but in that one thing, in those several things, whatever they are, in which to do his duty is against his nature. Never think yourself safe because you do your duty in ninety-nine points; it is the hundredth which is to be the ground of your self-denial. It is with reference to this you must watch and pray, pray continually for God’s grace to help you, and watch with fear and trembling lest you fall, oh that you may (as it were) sweep the house diligently to discover what you lack of the full measure of obedience! for be quite sure, that this apparently small defect will influence your whole spirit and judgment in all things.
John Henry Newman.
“Your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” John 16:20
Their particular sorrow was the death and absence of their Lord, and it was turned into joy when He rose from the dead and showed Himself in their midst. All the sorrows of saints shall be thus transmuted; even the worst of them, which look as if they must for ever remain fountains of bitterness.
Then the more sorrow the more joy. If we have loads of sorrow, then the Lord’s power will turn them into tons of joy. Then the bitterer the trouble the sweeter the pleasure: the swinging of the pendulum far to the left will cause it to go all the farther to the right. The remembrance of the grief shall heighten the flavor of the delight: we shall set the one in contrast with the other, and the brilliance of the diamond shall be the more clearly seen because of the black foil behind it.
Come, my heart, cheer up! In a little while I shall be as glad as I am now gloomy. Jesus tells me that by a heavenly alchemy my sorrow shall be turned into joy. I do not see how it is to be, but I believe it, and I begin to sing by way of anticipation. This depression of spirit is not for long, I shall soon be up among the happy ones who praise the Lord day and night, and there I shall sing of the mercy which delivered me out of great afflictions.