Jeremiah 29:11 ” For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Sometimes it’s because of serious illness or loss…sometimes it’s the result of circumstances way beyond our control…but regardless, we can find ourselves without hope.  There standing before us is no bright promise for things to come…only the bleak darkness of the here and now.   But God’s intent…His plan and purpose for each one of us, is to give us hope and a future with Him.  For God’s Will is only about doing good…His plans are perfect, His purpose for us, only the very best.  So in place of our hopelessness, God promises joy… and in place of fear, He promises peace.

Ecclesiastes 5:1 ” Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.”

A few verses later the writer of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon, sums up this verse by saying, ” It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it.” (Ecclesiastes 5:5)  We are not to be rash or hasty in our promises to God…that’s what Solomon called sacrifices of fools.  Rather, we are to use self discipline…listening for that still small voice of the Holy Spirit in order to hear clearly what the Lord wants of us.

Matthew 28: 18-19 ” Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘ All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…’ “

This week our Bible Study Group wrestled with this verse…The Great Commission, and with Evangelism.  While we all agreed that Christians everywhere are called to share the Good News of the Gospel with others…we also readily acknowledged the intimidation it can bring.  So why are so many of us uncomfortable to evangelize?  Let’s look at it from a completely different perspective…so forget yourself and your hangups, and think of it from the other person’s view.  Imagine you are a beggar telling another starving beggar where they can go and find bread…you wouldn’t have a problem with that, right?    You’d be happy to share that information so they might eat and live.  And that fellow beggar would be appreciative of your actions simply because you hadn’t hoarded or hidden the source from him.  Telling others about Jesus should be just as easy.  For we should be eager to share good news.

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.”

Something happens to us as we learn to trust the Lord.  Our reliance on our-self diminishes as our dependence on Him increases.   Our old self, with all its baggage, slowly falls away as we learn to trust and have confidence in Him and His plan for our life.  And as we’re changed from the inside out, true joy, happiness, and hope fill us to overflowing…and we too can then join in this song of praise from Moses and Miriam.

I Timothy 6:9 ” People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.”

When a person fails to think through the implications of a “get rich quick scheme”, their decision to act is usually influenced by greed and recklessness, not common sense.   For you hear it all the time – If it sounds too good to be true…it probably is.  But that still doesn’t stop foolish people from being duped and cheated everyday.  For it’s so easy to fall into the devil’s trap of running after riches… and instead ending up in ruin.

Job 11: 13-15 ” Yet if you devote your heart to Him and stretch out your hands to Him, if you put away sin that is in your heart and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, then you will lift up your face without shame; you will stand firm and without fear.”

These verses can give us great insight into what it takes to combat doubt and fear in our lives.  The first part gives us clear directions as to what our responsibilities are.  We are to be steadfast trusting in the Lord at all times…calling on Him first, and not as an afterthought.  We are to turn our back on our old sinful ways, but even more importantly, it says  we are to not tolerate or enable sin to remain in our house.  This is called compromise, and unfortunately many a Christian household has crumbled when questionable moral concessions have been made.  As we work on our responsibilities, we can as Job 22:26 says,  ” Find delight in the Almighty and lift up our face to God.” For when there is no longer the guilt and shame of sin weighting us down, we can lift up our head and look straight into the eyes of Jesus with a clear conscience…free of self-doubt and fear.

I Corinthians 11:28 ” A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.”

Paul had not been with the Believers of the Church in Corinth for about three years.  But he had gotten wind of the abuses that were happening concerning the Lord’s Supper…or if you will, Holy Communion or the Eucharist.  Here he was instructing them to stop and soberly scrutinize and determine whether they were worthy of taking Communion…before they partook.   When something becomes so ritualistic and automatic, we tend to perform it without thinking…going through the motions without allowing it to impact us.   We are to examine ourselves first, before we participate…for who better to ascertain our own spiritual condition than us?  And don’t worry, what you choose to ignore…the Holy Spirit will be faithful to point it out!