Joshua 1:9 – Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (HCSB)
Fear can give a quick jump in heart rate that soon passes or fear can be paralyzing. Fear can be amusing or life altering. Fear can take control of a moment or control of your life. Recently I realized I have allowed fear to become my idol, giving it more power than God in my life. Several years ago I felt God giving me a directive, but instead mimicking Isaiah’s “I’m ready to go” (Isaiah 6:8), I was more like Moses with “I can’t do that.” (Exodus 3:11). God answered me much like He answered Moses – “I’ve taken care of everything. Don’t worry about it.” (Exodus 3:12), but I allowed Fear to build on the foundation of my low self-esteem to create a wall of panic and doubt. Some of my fears proved to be true, which made the wall even more substantial. Time after time I was Gideon asking for a sign (Judges 6). Time after time God answered, but Fear told me I needed more. When I should have been fierce, I was frightened. I continued to question God and continued to point out the flaws in His plan. I was so focused on the “what if” my eyes lost sight of the “I AM”. In Judges 6:15 Gideon asks “How can I save Israel?” and then went on to explain his shortcomings. Instead of being electrified, Gideon was terrified. He used the words “how can I”, but he was saying “I can’t”. In verse 16 God answers “I will be with you.” Instead of thinking, “Well, that changes everything!”, Gideon is thinking “yeah, but” and begins to ask for proof that it really is God talking. Often, like Gideon, I feel that I need to explain things to God and give Him a clear picture of the situation. God answers and I ask for a sign ….. and another sign ….. and another. I may begin to march out with self-confidence and tenacity but Fear blocks my way and I become shaken and timid. I knew that I could not accomplish anything on my own, and I was right about that, but He never even hinted that I was on my own. Isaiah 41:10 says I don’t need to be faint-hearted because He is God and He is holding my hand. Peter was able to walk on water until he took his eyes off Jesus and then Fear took over (Matthew 14:29-30). Fear kept Gideon’s eyes focused in the wrong direction, but he had to turn his eyes away from himself to see God (Judges 6). When my eyes are on Fear, I am focused on people’s criticisms, comparisons, and even my own opinion of my abilities. When I turn my eyes to God those things are no longer in my line of sight. To paraphrase Paul in Romans 9: 31 “since God has my back, what difference does it make about what people think or do?” Fear is a bully waiting to pounce, but God says “Don’t worry. I’m with you and nothing can take Me away.” (Romans 8:35-39)
Matthew 5:13 – “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men. (HCSB)
I was looking on a web site that gives household tips and read about adding a pinch of salt to the brewing basket of the coffeepot. There were several tips that involved salt and that lead me to thinking about how Jesus said we are the salt of the earth. Of everything He could have said, why salt? The Salt Institute tells us there are over 14,000 different uses for salt. I started researching salt and found that salt is used in food, drug, agricultural, chemical, and industrial areas. Salt is the only rock humans can eat. Like a snowflake, every crystal of salt is uniquely different. The human body needs salt but we cannot make it for ourselves; we must take it in. Roman soldiers were paid in salt. Ever heard the term “not worth his salt” to describe a lazy person? Salt is used to preserve meat because it stops rot. Salt is an antiseptic, a cleansing agent. Salt is used to melt ice on wintery days. When the correct amount of salt is placed on food, the salt disappears but the flavor of the food is enhanced. Colossians 4:6 says that our speech should be seasoned with salt. Jesus has called us to be salt, to add flavor to the world around us, to stand against the rot of a sinful world. But, salt that has lost its taste is worthless. Pure salt does not lose its saltiness, but contaminated salt does. Romans 12:2 tells us not to conform to this world, not be so much a part of the world that we can’t make a difference, not to become contaminated salt. Does that mean that we should only socialize with people who are just like us? Salt is powerful but is absolutely worthless unless it is applied. Matthew and Mark both tell us that Jesus said “go out into the world and teach the gospel.” Romans 10:14 reminds us that people can’t know the truth unless someone tells them. Salt sitting on the table is pretty but it must come into contact with the food to make a difference. There is even a book by Rebecca Manley Pippert titled “Out of the Saltshaker & into the World: Evangelism as a Way of Life”. People need salt but need someone to give it to them. People need You but need someone to show the way. Lord, I want to be salt. I want to be uniquely different from the world but still enhance the world. I want to be worth my salt in Your sight, Lord. I want to be the salt of the earth.
Romans 5:8 – But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! (HCSB)
Romans 3:23 – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (NIV)
As I am sitting at the kitchen table and finishing my coffee, I am listening to the grandchildren play down the hall. They are building towers with blocks when our grandson kicks over our granddaughter’s tower. I am listening to the heated conversation that follows; ready to step in if necessary. The storm appears to have blown over when I hear him say that he is sorry but then goes on to inform her that she MUST forgive him because he apologized. In a very calm voice she says “no”. I’m thinking I’d better tip-toe down the hall and take a peek at this situation! I watch as he starts to explain to her again how she MUST forgive him. She just sits quietly and looks at him while he gets more and more agitated, then very calmly says “no”. He starts in again on how she MUST forgive him but then adds that if she doesn’t forgive him, she is a sinner. She looks at him and, without a sound, gets up and walks out of the room. He goes after her and in a loud voice says, “you can’t walk away when I’m telling you that you’re a sinner!” I am swallowing my laughter as I try to explain to him that you can’t MAKE someone forgive you and that calling her a sinner probably isn’t the best way to get her to forgive him!! Lord, aren’t Your children just like these children? We try to tell people that they MUST behave a certain way and then call them sinners and wonder why they won’t listen to what we have to say. Lord, I think of how You treat sinners. You speak to sinners and allowed them to speak to You. Mark 2:13-17 tells of You having dinner with sinners and talking to them with respect. You didn’t yell at sinners or threaten them. Instead You died an indescribably horrible death so that sins could be forgiven. Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned, so Lord, thank You for talking to me and allowing me to talk to You. Thank You for not giving up on me when I disappoint You, but You welcome me home like Your parable of the son in Luke 15. Father, thank You for giving Your only son so that I could be forgiven.
Deuteronomy 6:5 – Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. (HCSB)
I am drinking my coffee this morning from my flip-flop mug my friend gave me. I love flip-flops and wear them from the first hint of warmth in Spring until my toes are getting frosty in the Fall. I think blue toes add just the right hint of color to an outfit, don’t you? People who know me know of my love of flip-flops and are always giving me things to do with flip-flops. I have been given this flip-flop mug, a flip-flop tumbler for cold drinks, flip-flop jewelry, a flip- flop towel, a decorative flip-flop, and even flip-flops to wear. I used to have flip-flop cookies until my grandkids ate them! All of these were gifts; some even from people that don’t know me well but know that I love flip-flops. They see my love for flip-flops, but do they see my love for You, Lord? People know that I have my flip-flops all the time. Do they know that I am with You all the time? When people see flip-flops they think of me. Do they think of You when then they see me? Deuteronomy 6:5 tells me to love You with all my mind and all my heart, with my entire being and with all my might. That says to me that everything I do, everything I say, and just the way I live day-to-day shows people how much I love you. Romans 13:10 says to me that love doesn’t hurt anyone on purpose, and I interpret that to mean that I need to watch my thoughts which so often turn into words — or worse the words that come out without thought! Lord, people can see from the way I dress that I love flip-flops. I want them to see from the way I live that I love You.