VIDEO Forget Me Not: In the Face of Fear

Do not hide Your face from me; do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; do not leave me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation. Psalm 27:9

In spite of King David being a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; 1 Kings 11:4), he was sometimes confronted by fear. In Psalm 27, David cried out to God, asking Him not to leave or forsake him during a time of great fear. True to His promises, God never left David—even when David momentarily left Him.

The apostle Paul faced fear at times, just as David did. On one occasion in Jerusalem, he was almost lynched by an angry Sanhedrin, saved only by the intervention of a Roman commander. “But the following night the Lord stood by [Paul] and said” (Acts 23:11). Just as the Lord never deserted David, neither did He ever desert Paul. In the face of fear, faith in God’s presence gave both men courage to continue in God’s will.

Who doesn’t experience fear at times? In such moments, follow the examples of David and Paul and pray the prayer you know will be answered: “Do not leave me nor forsake me.”

The chains of love are stronger than the chains of fear. William Gurnall


Sure Steps for Uncertain Times – Psalm 27 – Skip Heitzig

Mar 23, 2020

Not Seeking Revenge

[Saul said], “The Lord delivered me into your hands, but you did not kill me.” 1 Samuel 24:18

The farmer climbed into his truck and began his morning inspection of the crops. On reaching the farthest edge of the property, his blood began to boil. Someone had used the farm’s seclusion to illegally dump their trash—again.

As he filled the truck with the bags of food scraps, the farmer found an envelope. On it was printed the offender’s address. Here was an opportunity too good to ignore. That night he drove to the offender’s house and filled his garden with not just the dumped trash but his own!

Revenge is sweet, some say, but is it right? In 1 Samuel 24, David and his men were hiding in a cave to escape a murderous King Saul. When Saul wandered into the same cave to relieve himself, David’s men saw a too-good-to-ignore opportunity for David to get revenge (vv. 3–4). But David went against this desire to get even. “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master,” he said (v. 6). When Saul discovered that David chose to spare his life, he was incredulous. “You are more righteous than I,” he exclaimed (vv. 17–18).

As we or our loved ones face injustice, opportunities to take revenge on offenders may well come. Will we give in to these desires, as the farmer did, or go against them, like David? Will we choose righteousness over revenge?

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

When have you most felt like getting even with someone? How can David’s response guide you as you seek justice for yourself and others?

Jesus, lover of our enemies, may I seek justice Your way.

Visit odbu.org/SF107to learn more about finding personal peace in forgiveness.

Sunday Reflection: Learning Godly Restraint

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.

WE ALL WANT TO EXHIBIT the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23), but oftentimes that is easier said than done. Let’s look at one aspect of this fruit that’s a struggle for many of us: patience.

The Greek word translated as “patience” is makrothumia. Also rendered as “forbearance” or “longsuffering,” it is a term packed with meaning. According to theologian F. F. Bruce, the word “embraces steadfastness and staying-power. If in English we had an adjective ‘long-tempered’ as a counterpart to ‘short-tempered,’ then makrothumia could be called the quality of being ‘long-tempered’ … which is a quality of God.”

Think about all the times God should have lost His patience with you. But He never has and never will. We can’t attain such a standard in this life, but that’s not to say we can’t make progress with God’s help. All we need do is ask (John 14:13-15). We may face challenges in the process, but our heavenly Father will see that in time everything is perfectly completed—including us (Phil. 1:6).

Think about it
• How can you grow in patience toward others? Toward yourself? Talk to the Lord about this good desire and ask Him to help you cultivate it.

The Face of Jesus Christ

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)

The light that shines in the soul of a lost sinner when he first comes to know Jesus Christ can only be compared to the light that Christ called forth on Day One of the creation week. We met this God of glory spiritually when we first beheld in our hearts the face of Jesus Christ.

But the face of Jesus Christ was not always deemed so glorious. We read of a time when ungodly men “did…spit in his face” (Matthew 26:67), then took a blindfold “to cover his face” (Mark 14:65), and finally with a rain of terrible blows “struck him on the face” (Luke 22:64). Once His “countenance [was] as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars” (Song of Solomon 5:15), but when they finished their assault, “his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men” (Isaiah 52:14).

“The face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (1 Peter 3:12), however, and the time is coming very soon when all those who have turned their faces from Him will call “to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:16). When finally they will have seen the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ in all its consuming strength, not even the world itself could stand, “from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away” (Revelation 20:11).

For those who have looked on Him in faith, however, this will not be a time of judgment but blessing, for “they shall see his face” (Revelation 22:4). The face of Jesus Christ, fierce as devouring fire to those He must judge, is glorious in beauty and love to those who believe. HMM

Psalm of Integrity — Psalm 101

I will sing of faithful love and justice; I will sing praise to You, Lord. I will pay attention to the way of integrity. When will You come to me? I will live with integrity of heart in my house. I will not set anything godless before my eyes. I hate the doing of transgression; it will not cling to me… No one who acts deceitfully will live in my palace; no one who tells lies will remain in my presence. Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land, eliminating all evildoers from the Lord’s city (vv. 1-3, 7-8).

I’ve given a lot of thought lately to personal and professional ethics. Rumors of corruption in government have always been rife; business empires crumble in the face of fraud and embezzlement at the level of top management; politicians and preachers alike succumb to greed and lust. How can I guard my own integrity in these perverse times?

David’s psalm gives me some cues to managing my personal and professional life. Unique among the rulers of the ancient Near East, David was a man whose lifestyle and reign were marked by integrity. He was scarred, fallen, and flawed like the rest of us; yet he submitted to God’s authority over his life. Here is the character by which he ruled.

First, he pledged himself to be “pay attention to the way of integrity,” realizing that the attitude of one’s heart dictates his actions (vv. 2-3), Second, he warned the people that he would tolerate no shady deals, no under-the-counter maneuvers, no ethical hanky-panky (vv. 4-6). More than that, he threatened to deal sternly with those who violated sound principles of moral conduct (vv. 7-8), and then God allowed David to experience the consequences of his own actions’ David chose justice over popularity, integrity over peace at any price. He boldly confronted evil in his empire and set the standard by his strong commitment to personal purity.

Nor can I abdicate my responsibility as God’s man in my own world. He calls me to authenticity—not just image—both in the office and at home.

Personal Prayer

O Lord, keep me pure and blameless as I move from the realm of my business dealings to my God-ordained position as head of my home.

Ostrich Christians

The Lord’s lamp sheds light on a person’s life, searching the innermost parts.—Proverbs 20:27

Most of us (myself included) are not good at observing ourselves and reflecting honestly on what goes on beneath the surface of our lives. Why is this so? I think one of the reasons is fear—fear of the unknown, fear of losing control, fear of spoiling a comfortable existence, or fear of having to face some unpleasant discoveries about ourselves. I have met many Christians in my time who adopt this attitude: however things are, good or bad, they could be worse, so it is better to leave well enough alone.

When we read the Bible, however, we discover texts like the one before us today, showing us that God has designed us with the ability to explore our deepest parts. We also hear men like the psalmist crying out to God: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way” (Ps 139:23-24).

I want to stress that too much introspection is unhealthy, but occasionally and in proper doses it is “good medicine.” Those who resist this and pretend everything is well when it isn’t are what a friend of mine calls “ostrich Christians.” They have peace, but it is a peace built on unreality. When they lift their heads out of the sand, the peace they possess somehow falls to pieces. God’s peace can keep our hearts and minds intact while we face whatever is true—outside and inside.

Prayer

Father, save me from becoming an “ostrich Christian”—someone who pretends everything is well when it isn’t. Nothing must be allowed to hinder the work that You want to do in my heart. Corner my soul and make me what You want me to be. Amen.

Further Study

Mk 2:1-8; Mt 12:25; Lk 6:8; Jn 2:25

How deeply did Jesus see into people’s lives?

How deeply do you let Him penetrate into your life?

Introduction to Greatness

Matthew 1:21

Wouldn’t you agree that the word “great” is greatly overused and abused in the English vocabulary?

What would a sportscaster do without the word? No longer could he say:

“What a great play… great catch… great throw… great stop.” Or the talk show host. No longer could he introduce “a great actress” or plug “a great book” or listen to “a great song” or watch “a great performance.”

You get the point. The word “great” isn’t so great anymore. Too bad. It used to be a noble word. It meant distinguished, preeminent, elevated, remarkable, of large scale and stature. The Greek word Luke uses to describe the angel Gabriel’s word to address Mary, is megas, from which we get megaton, megalopolis, megabucks. Basically the Greek word means the ultimate of whatever it is you’re talking about.

When the angel Gabriel made his startling announcement to Mary, he was talking about a person. “He will be great.” Mary was not only to become great with child, she was to become great with a great child. Very few people in the world would deny the greatness of Jesus of Nazareth.

He was a great teacher. He had a mastery of simple parables to convey profound spiritual truth, and a phenomenal insight into the longings, fears, hopes and needs of others. He was a great healer and miracle worker. He was a great prophet, with the seer’s insight into the times and course of events. He was a great lover of people, always with time for the individual and a special place in His heart for society’s outcasts.

Wherein lies the greatness of a man? By accident or fortune of history some men rise to positions of importance, but they are not great men. Great men are men of simplicity and humility. They have the ability to see through the complex maze of life to the basic realities, and they live before those realities with great reverence and humility. Jesus was such a man.

But there is more to be said about Jesus’ greatness. It was the greatness of God incarnate. He interpreted His own life on earth as an act of God.

In Jesus we see the greatness of a Savior. It seems that the parents of the Bethlehem Babe had no choice about their Son’s name. As His destiny was fixed, so must His name be fixed to suit it: “You are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Have you in your life met this true greatness? If you haven’t, make the acquaintance. Meet Immanuel—God with us. And you’ll never be the same again.

Philip D. Needham, The War Cry