Fear – not from God

To Follow Jesus

My (Shayne McCusker) notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

November/December 2014 Issue – ‘Bringing down giants’

Text set for today’s reading and meditation:

2 Timothy 1:1-12 (NIV-UK): “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus.

To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.

He has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that God is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.”

I’m often amazed at how many times the Scripture set, for these daily studies, have a special significance for me – at that moment. A number of people, who use devotional material, such as Every Day with Jesus, have told me of similar experiences.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve grown to love the last verse above, which tells us that God guards our faith. How great is that? Another fantastic truth is that this grace was given to us before the beginning of time. Jesus knew us – you and me – before we were born – we are His ‘planned’ children; always loved and wanted.

Last point; we are called to live a holy life because of God’s purpose and grace: the way we try to live a holy life is our expression of love, for Jesus. [John 14:15, ‘If you love me, keep my commands.’] You cannot say, that you follow Jesus and continue to live a life of habitual sin. Yet, sadly, so many do.

Now onto what Selwyn has had to say about fear in today’s study.

He writes: “Before we leave the subject of fear it is important to understand that some fears are healthy and work positively in our lives. Fear of getting hurt or killed, for example, is one of the best policemen on our traffic-infested streets. [Yet, even these types of ‘helpful’ fears, can become excessive and irrational.]

The fears I have been talking about are those that are harmful and debilitating. This kind of fear we must bear in mind, is prompted by Satan. Now let me make myself clear: I do not believe every fear is a demon but I do believe that all crippling and debilitating fear has the deceiver behind it. …

So now, without going overboard on this matter of rebuking the devil, be aware that the Holy Spirit dwells in you and you can calmly and confidently stand up to fear in the authority that is yours in Jesus. …

Take your stand now against every crippling fear in your life, and resist the work of Satan in Jesus’ mighty and powerful name.”

In Jude 1:9, we read: ” … even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!'”

It is the victory that we have in Christ, that enables us to stand up to the evil ‘powers’ in this world; and say – with the authority of the Holy Spirit within you – The Lord rebukes you.

I would guess that this is a topic, that can generate a wide range of views. Care to share yours?


Satan has no power

To Follow Jesus

My (Shayne McCusker) notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

September/October 2014 Issue – ‘Property of Jesus’

The text set for today’s reading and meditation:

John 14:15-31 (NIV-UK): “‘If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you for ever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me any more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.’

Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, ‘But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?’

Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

You heard me say, “I am going away and I am coming back to you.” If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.

I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world (Satan) is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. Come now; let us leave.'”

I really like the verses selected for reading and meditation. Verses,like this one, are beautiful, and provides us with the confidence to face the world with its problems: ‘I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.’

A point I would like to make at the start, is this: Satan is a real, intelligent, powerful being – created by God. The devil is not the personification of evil. He is actively working against God’s people. I’ve had a personal experience with an evil spirit – they do exist!

In today’s study, Selwyn writes: “Jesus indicates to His disciples, that what Satan intended for evil – to crush Him once and for all – would actually be the way God saved the world.

Paul, when writing to the Corinthians on the importance of forgiveness reminded them that a forgiving heart would prevent Satan from getting a foothold in their lives. (2 Corinthians 2:11)

When we take the trouble to remove all roots of bitterness, all those things which are displeasing to Jesus from our lives, then, by God’s grace (and love), we ensure that Satan cannot gain a foothold (and control our lives).”

It needs to be stressed that we don’t have the power to prevent Satan from testing us; Satan’s interaction with us, is 100% monitored and controlled, by God. What we can be sure of; is, that Satan can never break us – our Lord’s love for us – will never allow that to happen.

Any comments?

The fall of Jerusalem

To Follow Jesus

My (Shayne McCusker) notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.

July/August 2014 Issue – ‘Poet of Hope’

Today’s text for reading and meditation:

Jeremiah 39: 1-18 (NIV-UK): ‘In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army and laid siege to it. And on the ninth day of the fourth month of Zedekiah’s eleventh year, the city wall was broken through. Then all the officials of the king of Babylon came and took seats in the Middle Gate: Nergal-Sharezer of Samgar, Nebo-Sarsekim a chief officer, Nergal-Sharezer a high official and all the other officials of the king of Babylon.

When Zedekiah king of Judah and all the soldiers saw them, they fled; they left the city at night by way of the king’s garden, through the gate between the two walls, and headed towards the Arabah.

But the Babylonian army pursued them and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. They captured him and took him to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he pronounced sentence on him. There at Riblah the king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes and also killed all the nobles of Judah. Then he put out Zedekiah’s eyes and bound him with bronze shackles to take him to Babylon.

The Babylonians set fire to the royal palace and the houses of the people and broke down the walls of Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard carried into exile to Babylon the people who remained in the city, along with those who had gone over to him, and the rest of the people. But Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard left behind in the land of Judah some of the poor people, who owned nothing; and at that time he gave them vineyards and fields.

Now Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had given these orders about Jeremiah through Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard: ‘Take him and look after him; don’t harm him but do for him whatever he asks.’ So Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard, Nebushazban a chief officer, Nergal-Sharezer a high official and all the other officers of the king of Babylon sent and had Jeremiah taken out of the courtyard of the guard. They handed him over to Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, to take him back to his home. So he remained among his own people.

While Jeremiah had been confined in the courtyard of the guard, the word of the Lord came to him: ‘Go and tell Ebed-Melek the Cushite, “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I am about to fulfil my words against this city – words concerning disaster, not prosperity. At that time they will be fulfilled before your eyes. But I will rescue you on that day, declares the Lord; you will not be given into the hands of those you fear. I will save you; you will not fall by the sword but will escape with your life, because you trust in me, declares the Lord.”’’

While I was reading the above verses, I couldn’t stop thinking about the modern Jerusalem, the city of peace, which has seen too much war. Even as I write, Israel is again in the news and people in Jerusalem are sometimes forced to shelter from rockets. I do pray that Jesus returns soon.

Selwyn covers some good points in today’s study: “ … What a difference there is between the fates of Zedekiah and Jeremiah. One was saved by faith; the other was destroyed by fear. One was filled with self-interest, the other with compassion for his people. …

A life of commitment to the Lord can sometimes be tough, but God often has special blessings or compensations for His faithful people. He allows us to be tempted, but He promises also to make a way of escape. He allows us to suffer, but He promises to support us and bring good out of evil. (Romans 8:28)”

I was also reminded when reading about Nebuchadnezzar treatment of Zedekiah, that the barbaric treatment of people still flourishes in our world. Evil people, who publish videos of cruel and inhuman deeds, demonstrating that they are Satan’s servants devoid of love, mercy and compassion; and, unless they repent, they will spend a horrific eternity with their master. Extremely sad, when you think about it.

Just picking up on a point which Selwyn made: we are often tempted and we do sometimes fail – yet, Jesus is still able to use us and strengthens us when we repent and turn back to Him. In Luke, 22:31-32, we read: “‘Simon (Peter), Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’”  Peter does fall and denies Jesus three times, yet his faith does not fail; and he does turn back, to become a ‘rock’ through the power of God’s Spirit.

At various stages in our Christian life, we will be tempted by Satan, yet we have the fantastic assurance that nothing can separate us from God’s love. He will rescue us, and will fully restore us, when we turn back. He will do this for each one of us, because He so deeply loves us.

Your thoughts?