The Lord is asking you this same question today…”Do you believe this?” Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved? Do you believe that He died for your sins that you may have eternal life? Maybe you’ve never been confronted to make a decision for Jesus…or maybe you’ve been resisting the wooing of the Holy Spirit. Either way, believing is a commitment of mind, body and spirit. It’s the start of an intimate spiritual journey of faith, trust, and obedience. The Lord is asking you today, “Do you believe?”
Stiff-necked is a great word picture. It comes from oxen resisting the yoke placed on them by the farmer. And when we turn away from God and His Word…we’re essentially doing the same thing. We stubbornly think God’s yoke is too difficult to bear and so in rebellion we throw off the yoke of obedience. But it warns us in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” For we become totally deceived when we think that the yoke of sin is easy to escape out of…for in reality, the bondage of its yoke is far heavier and more difficult to carry.
James 4:8 tells us to, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” What does “coming near to God” look like though? It starts with communing or fellowshiping with our Heavenly Father…and that means getting to know Him. It’s similar to when you first started dating your spouse…you talked together endless hours, getting to know each other. God wants us to know Him…and He wants us to trust Him. But we have to know Him before we can trust Him…and that means reading His Word and praying. God assures us that if we seek Him, we will find Him…for He’s longingly waiting for that opportunity to be known by us.
King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah were desperate. Enemy armies were fast approaching and they didn’t know what to do. They found themselves in a dark valley of desperation, discouragement, and fear with no way out…but they resolved to trust God. And it’s in that same valley that God worked a mighty miracle…giving them victory over their enemies. That valley of their suffering was changed into the Valley of Beracah…the Valley of Praise. With God’s help, we can grow during those hard times. Our faith can increase and be strengthened in the midst of turmoil, loss, and strife…if we trust God. It’s then that our valley of the shadow of death can also become a Valley of Praise.
Let’s say you land in a foreign country, having no knowledge of the city or its language. But there waiting for you is the leading dignitary. He welcomes you and then informs you that he personally will be escorting you around the city. All the pent-up fear and anxiety within would melt away as he guided you to his official car…for you would feel safe and secure with this help. The world is a scary place to live today, and we all feel like foreigners in a strange land. But God is like that dignitary…offering His hand in support and encouragement. Calming and assuring us that He is there to help. For anything can be faced with trust in the Lord…anything.
Habakkuk is asking, “Where are You God? And why aren’t You doing something about this situation? Our most basic needs aren’t being met. Don’t You care about us?” This is a very common response when anyone is in the midst of troubles…our vision is very myopic, only seeing what’s right in front of us, not any further. But it’s not until we can look beyond and see God’s “Big Picture” that we, like Habakkuk, can say, “In spite of what I see around me…regardless of this present situation, I will put my trust in You God! I will place my faith in You for I know You will provide.”
Jesus had answered the rich young man’s question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” But when the young man arrogantly stated he had kept all the 10 Commandments from childhood…Jesus stared directly at him. Now Jesus could have called him out on it. He could have run down a list of 100 times this young man had failed…but He didn’t. Rather, Jesus looked into the young man’s eyes and saw his potential. So He gave him an invitation, but within that invitation was also a hard decision. A decision the young man sadly was not willing to make. We all have an Achilles heel…a area of our lives we hold on to, stubbornly clinging to, unwilling to trust it completely to the Lord. But it’s not until we surrender all aspects of our life to Jesus that we can fully follow Him. Jesus told the rich young man, “Trust in Me.” …and He’s asking that of you today.