Goodness and Mercy Shall Follow Me

               When we say that goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives, it’s not that goodness and mercy tail along, as if they are chasing us and never catch up. We live a life of God’s goodness and mercy all the time.

               When it says it follows us, it means that we can look back, and what we see behind us is a trail of goodness and mercy. Every moment that could have been a memory of suffering is now a memory of God’s goodness and mercy. Everything that could be a memory of trial and struggle is now a memory of God’s goodness and mercy.

               Our lives should be a story of God’s goodness and mercy because every moment of suffering, of trial, of tribulation is an opportunity for a miracle, an opportunity for deliverance, an opportunity for God’s goodness and mercy to shine brighter than the world around you.

Don’t Be Afraid. Just Believe.

Don’t be afraid; just believe.

Mark 5:36

Jairus’ daughter was sick. He goes to Jesus for help. Jesus starts to go with him and gets interrupted. Then people come and tell him that his daughter has died, to let it go. It’s over.

Jesus’ response? “Don’t be afraid. Just believe.”

Don’t be afraid. Afraid? Afraid of what? Is fear what you would describe Jairus as feeling when he heard that his daughter had died? Grief? Shock? Fear? We might say, “I’m afraid it’s true.” Fear? It’s not how I would describe it. I’m trying to place it. Fear of the future? Fear of the unknown? What happens to our family?

Fear is defined by the dictionary as the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. Fear is a belief. It’s a belief that something is bigger than God. It’s a belief that something is more true, more real than God.

We can’t believe in God and believe in fear. They are contrary beliefs.

When Adam and Eve sinned, the first expression of sin in them was fear. They were afraid and hid. They used to love God and go to Him. Now they were afraid of Him and ran and hid from Him. They ate the forbidden fruit. They took in Satan’s lies instead of feasting on God’s true word, our bread of life. We need to live by it. A life lived by the Word is a life free from fear. Where there is fear, there is a lack of either knowing or believing the truth.

I Will Set My Eyes on Them for Good

“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans. I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up. I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.

Jeremiah 24:5-7 (ESV)

They were exiles. They had lost their homeland. They were going to be gone for seventy years. This was not a little bump in the road. They lost their homes, belongings. They lost their land and crops and income. It’s not what we would call good.

But it had to happen. It had been foretold. Their leaders had led them astray and they hadn’t been following God’s laws, especially the laws of the Sabbath. They hadn’t rested. They hadn’t rested the land. They hadn’t set the slaves free. There were cycles that were meant to be followed and they ignored them. They lived by their own thoughts and wisdom. In choosing to ignore the freedom God offered them, they chose slavery for themselves.

Judah’s leaders were not given this promise of good. They are given a promise of “horror.” There is a distinction, even though all the people have to go through the exile.

There are things that have to happen. There are things declared that must come to pass. Tribulations must happen. The Tribulation must happen. The end must come. But there will be a separation.

There will be those for whom it is a horror. There will be others who are going through it, but God is building them up; His eyes will be on them for good. They will not be forgotten or abandoned. God will turn their hearts to seek Him and to know their God. They will grow in their knowledge and love of the Lord. It will purify them and bring them closer to God.

The Babylonian exile, which this is referring to, is also the time of Daniel and the 3 boys in the fire. Their hearts were already turned to the Lord. They were already serving Him and desiring to know and honor Him with their lives. We know their stories. Their blessing from God was evident and caused them to be noticed for good and for evil. It brought them position and power, but it also brought persecution their way. However, it wasn’t a moment of horror; it was a moment of great glory. God was glorified and His servants were honored.

While we may not get honor in this world, one who walks through the fire by faith is one of whom “the world is not worthy.” You will take your place in the Hall of Faith. How? Just love the Lord above all else.

My Favorite Chapter of the Bible

I just read 2 Chronicles 20, my favorite chapter of the Bible since I was filled with the Holy Spirit 15 years ago. It’s about the believer’s rest.

Jehosaphat had three enemies coming to fight him, but he doesn’t call out the chariots or sharpen his sword. He prays saying, “We are powerless before this great multitude who are coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”

Just as Moses was told to be still when he faced his greatest challenge–being enclosed by the Red Sea and Pharoah’s army–Jehosaphat is told the same message. “You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.” At this all of Judah falls to their faces, worshiping the Lord.

The next day when it’s time to head out for battle. What do they do? Jehosaphat stations the singers in front of the army, so they literally marched into battle praising God, saying, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

Is this how we face a battle? Sickness, financial lack, broken relationship, persistent sin…Do we face our battles trusting in God and showing it by praising Him and thanking Him for His deliverance?

We don’t need to run to get the chariots when a problem arises. Our deliverance has already been accomplished by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

That’s the believer’s rest–knowing our deliverance has already been accomplished. Our job is to be like Jehosaphat and not fight our battles ourselves but trust in receiving our promised salvation and PRAISE Him that our salvation–from whatever our battle is–has already been accomplished!