The world doesn’t understand the trust Christians have in Jesus Christ…to them it is utter craziness. They view Christians as weak-willed people using religion as a crutch. So why wouldn’t the world mock us? It’s at that point though we have to make a decision of whether to allow the insults to discourage us or not. Elsewhere in Isaiah it says, “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.” (Isaiah 50:7). Any and all fear can be faced with trust in the Lord.
No matter how spiritually strong we are, anyone of us can stray from the will of God. Here Simon Peter, nicknamed the Rock, of which Jesus had said, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church,” caved under man’s pressure. Peter had been fellowshipping with Christian Gentiles until a group of Jews showed up and started pressuring him to stop. He was afraid that his reputation and standing might be questioned…fearful of what they might think of him…so he separated himself from the Gentiles…taking everyone with him, including Barnabas. Isaiah 51:12-13 asks this question, “Who are you that you fear mortal men, the sons of men, who are but grass, that you forget the Lord your Maker?” It’s a dangerous slippery slope when we start fearing man rather than God…afraid of what people may think of us rather than doing God’s will. Peer pressure can be tremendous, for we all want to fit in and be liked…but when it causes us to deviate from God’s plan…it effects everyone around us.
Humans are funny…we get caught in something, and we’re sorry…not sorry for what we did…but rather sorry we got caught. We make a big emotional show…but there’s no humility or remorsefulness involved in our actions. Psalm 51:17 reminds us of what God really wants from us…not a showy display of emotions that look good to those who are watching, but lack the brokenness of spirit that comes from a truly regretful heart. Rather, God desires from us authenticity, humility, and taking responsibility for our actions.
The king of the Moabites, Balak, had attempted to hire Balaam, (a soothsayer who used divination and sorcery for personal gain), to pronounce a curse on the tribes of Israel. But every time Balaam tried, out came a blessing instead. Try as he might, Balaam was forced to conform to God’s will and he realized that nothing he did would change that…no matter how much King Balak offered him. We may think evil is running amuck on the earth…unimpeded by anything. But God is still in control, ruling and reigning over every situation, every detail, every person.
Jesus loves you. He knew your name before the beginning of time. He saw your tiny frame being formed in your mother’s womb and loved you even more. If you had been the only person on the face of the earth…He would of still handed over His life as a sacrifice for you…that’s how precious you are to Him. I know it’s humanly impossible to fathom the love Jesus has for us…for it’s beyond our comprehension. But Jesus loves you with a love that will never end…never give up…never forsake.
What Jabez prayed was pretty simple and straightforward. He asked for divine guidance, protection, and for the Lord to expand his circle of influence around him. And guess what? God gave it to him! Don’t ever think that God is too busy with the breaking news of the day to listen to your prayers…He’s not. Your prayers are equally as important to Him as anything happening in the world today. And remember, there’s tremendous potential power within a simple heartfelt prayer.
The disciples were being tested and challenged in their faith…Jesus was no longer at their side instructing them, and they were now being forced to depend on what they had learned . Even though Jesus had told them to,” stay in Jerusalem and wait for the gift My Father promised.” (Acts 1:4) Simon Peter reverted back to what he knew and felt confident and comfortable in…fishing. We always need to be careful when we go back to things of the past. And we need to be ever questioning our motives for it. Is it out of laziness, or insecurity, or consolation that we revert back to past things? One of my very favorite quotes from Oswald Chambers in his Devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest is, “Beware of paying attention or going back to what you once were, when God wants you to be something that you have never been.”