The meaning of the Hebrew names for these four men all affirmed God’s sovereignty, mercy, and grace for His people. But the new names they were given by the Babylonian chief official sought to undermine and degrade this. For their new names were deliberately drawn from the Babylonian false religions, gods and idols, and erased any trace of God from them. Even today we have the challenge of believing what God calls us vs what the world calls us. The world will call us fat, dumb, ugly, stupid and old….while the Lord will call us loved, free, healed, whole, and His. The world is all about demeaning and humiliating…while God is all about lifting us up. So just remember this…no matter what the world calls you…the Lord named you first, and that name is all that matters.
Within this verse is a perfectly simple but totally effective description of the Trinity. The Trinity being three persons in one Godhead… Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. First, we are called or summoned to salvation through the the Gospel Message by the Holy Spirit as we are wooed or drawn in. For the Holy Spirit shows us very plainly our shortcomings and convicts us… so that we may be saved. Next, we need to grasp just how greatly valued, esteemed, and loved we are by God the Father. For who else would give His only Son to die on a cross for all that we might have eternal life? (John 3:16) Finally, know you belong to Jesus who watches over you to keep you safe. (John 17:12) So just think of it…we are His and He is ours, and no one can ever snatch us out of His hand. (John 10:28)
This verse in a very straightforward manner shows the frailty of man. For at any point in time, we are but one breath away from dying…so how can we be trusted? Our lives are like fleeting shadows, (Psalm 144:4) or like a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. (James 4:14) Bottom line is, we can’t put our trust in man…for our life here on earth is but a momentary passing. No, our trust must be in the eternal God, Who created man from the dust of the ground and breathed the breath of life into him. (Genesis 2:7)
The Nation of Israel was enjoying a time of prosperity…but with this great prosperity came great division between the rich and poor. And because of it, the people became self-reliant, prideful, and walked away from God. Amos’s message to the people was that of denouncing their privileged life-style that exploited the poor, and calling them to repentance. He warned them of the consequences of their complacency in not doing what was morally right and just for all. Amos was a contemporary of the Prophet Isaiah who wrote in Isaiah 1:17, “Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”
King Hezekiah’s message to his people was simple…your source of strength comes from God and not from mortal man…and you need to rely on Him, for He is always with you. In II Kings 6:16-17, Elisha echoed these same words of encouragement when his servant could only see enemy horses and chariots surrounding the city…”Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed that the Lord might open his servant’s eyes, and suddenly the servant saw that the hills were full of horses and chariots of fire. Today, if you’re afraid or discouraged, I pray that God would open your eyes to His promises…that He would show you His perspective, plan and purpose in your situation…and that you would experience revelation knowledge of where your strength truly lies.
If we take anything away from the past few months it’s this – COVID19 isn’t a respecter of socio-economic status. It doesn’t matter how much money you make a year, how big a portfolio you have, or what kind of car you drive…the virus is nondiscriminatory when choosing its victims. And amassing large amounts of “things” won’t stop the virus from invading your body if you’re exposed. Job very wisely tells us that we can’t save ourselves by hoarding “things” nor that we can put our trust in those “things”, for our only security comes from God alone. (Job 20:20 & Job 31:24) When Jesus spoke these words in Luke, He was warning us about the sin of covetousness and selfishness…for we do not exist for “things”… we live to have relationship with Him.
The Corona virus has us all weary with battle fatigue and frightened at this invisible enemy that has invaded our land. So today I would encourage you to take a step back, turn off the continuous loop of news shows, and as this verse exhorts, “consider what great things He has done for you.” Reflect on God’s mercy and providence if all your family and friends are healthy and safe. Contemplate His goodness if you have plenty of food in the house and are not in need. Meditate on His hand of protection that is keeping the vast majority of people safe in our Nation. Finally, ponder all the simple things God has done for you personally this week just to say, “I’m with you and I love you.”
This has to be one of the hardest verses in the Bible to do, and do well. This verse says that if we want to follow Jesus we must make a conscious decision to renounce our old self and instead follow the example of our crucified Christ. And no one, including Jesus, Himself, ever said it would be easy, for there is a tremendous cost to following the Lord. Considering it takes daily getting our priorities right and properly arranging our lives so that Jesus ranks supreme in everything we do, carrying our cross becomes a trial of faith and obedience.
Human emotions can be all over the place…from jubilation to despair. But when your trust is firmly fixed on Jesus, the highs and lows aren’t as severe. For when your faith is based on Him and what He can do and not on fate or luck…you can face any bad news with confidence that Jesus will see you through. This is shown to us in Psalm 112:7, “He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear.” Thank you Lord for that certainty we can have.
As I studied this verse I discovered that the Hebrew word for afraid, Yare, has two separate meanings. The first is the negative emotion of fearful…while the second is the positive emotion of reverence and awe for God. So what David is explaining here is that in the time of fear he consciously shifted his mind from one meaning to the other… from dwelling on a negative emotion to focusing on a positive one. So instead of standing on the shifting sands of fear and anxiety David planted his feet firmly and confidently on the solid rock of Christ.