Updated: Nov 24, 2021
How many of us have felt weighted down by the world lately? The rhetoricalness (if that's a word) of that question probably seems obvious. Maybe it hasn't just been lately; maybe this weight has been a burden you've been carrying for some time? For others, even their whole life. The weights of burdens, anxiety's, your uncertainties or the oh so many fears that the world continues to put before us has consumed our thoughts and even robbed us of our joy. I don't want to speak for everyone, but personally, I've fallen victim to Satan's earliest scheme more times than I can recall. Do you know it? I'll give you a hint...."Did God actually say," Genesis 3:1 "Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?".
Did you catch that? God's inspired word tells us that Satan is "crafty".
Our good friend Webster says this: craft·y 1. clever at achieving one's aims by indirect or deceitful methods.
To digress for a second; when I say that I've fallen for Satan's earliest scheme, I'm referring to the craftiness he uses against me (us), and dare I reflect and say "weights" he uses to "achieve one's aims". If you are like me, you may have just asked yourself, what are Satan's aims or intentions? That can be an entire post in itself, but the apostle Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:8b "Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." John tells us in chapter 10 verse 10 that the thief (Satan), comes to steal and kill and destroy.
I think the threat that Peter and John are conveying is pretty direct. Unfortunately it's not his boldness or his in your face movie depicted like presence that typically trips us up. That approach would be too obvious most of the time and we'd be able to say "Not today Satan"! See, he didn't roar into Eve's ear like a lion, he casted doubt in saying, "Did God actually say,"? Subtle...crafty...cunning....LIES.
This is where I'd like to spend the rest of our time, sharing with you a few statements that God actually says about you. My hope; through the power of the Holy Spirit, would be that these truths would lift the weights of the world from your shoulders.
"Did God actually say," that I am made in His image?
Genesis 1:27 "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Isn't that amazing news?!! GOD, the creator of the entire universe, the Alpha and Omega, the one who makes all the rules, modeled us after himself. Let's pause for a moment and give thanks that we weren't made in the image of a Southern Cassowary. I admit it, I Googled that but so should you. Looks like an angry ostrich with a bad mohawk. He really could have done that!! But instead we were made in His image. Did you know that? Only you as a human being is representative of HIS image. He has set you apart from all other life on earth. Unique, one of kind, special, unrepeated are all qualities He designed you with. The picture I'm trying to paint is like any other child who resembles their parents, so do we resemble our almighty father. Acts 17:28 "for in him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your own poets have said, "For we are indeed his offspring."
"Did God actually say," I am not condemned? Romans 8:1-2 "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." In a world full of opinions and statements of who or what we should or shouldn't be and offering judgement when we don't fit the bill. We can rest in the words of Paul knowing we are free. Satan would love nothing more than for you to listen to the condemnations of world believing you are unworthy of a relationship with God. Have you ever felt this way or used that excuse to not go to church or learn about who God is? I sure have!! There was a period in my waywardness that I believed just that. I'm too messed up to go to church; they wouldn't want someone like me; my past is too embarrassing to share with others; God couldn't possibly forgive me for all I've done. Do any of those lies sound familiar? If they do; Satan has successfully led you astray from accepting the grace of your Creator through the sacrifice of His son Jesus Christ. The word condemn means to be sentenced (even to death), or unfit for use. Let me tell you with certainty, that through the authority of Jesus Christ, "condemned" you are not. Now thats not to say we won't experience tribulation, trials or even discipline for our lack of obedience to the Lord. If you didn't already know this; here's a little secret....Christians aren't perfect. We make mistakes and often trip up like the rest of the world, but “unfit for use”, does not describe us. Matthew 28:19-20 "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Do Jesus's instructions sound like he's addressing a condemned people? Heck no!! He actually trusts you to share His good news. Not only does he trust you if you are His follower, he actually commands you to do it. So when the world tells you that you are condemned, remember what God actually says..
"Did God actually say," that I don't have to be afraid? 2 Timothy 1:7 "for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." Fear is something we can all relate to. There is the fear that causes our bodies and our mind to fight or flight in moments of distress or danger; but that type of fear is actually meant to keep us safe. I'm sure most of us have experienced those moments. In fact, my family is quite often manufacturing them. It may be a little cruel but nothing gets a good laugh in our home like planning a scare to startle a family member, especially my lovely wife. Some of you know what I'm talking about, the one where she screams so loud the neighbors may have heard and you're not sure if she wants to run or throat punch you. That's just priceless!! I'm sure she will be having some flashbacks as she reads this...Love you honey.
Now this type of fear isn't what Paul is referring to in his letter to Timothy. He's referring to being timid, which means lacking courage or confidence. This is the type of fear that can rob us of our joy, cause depression, or keep you from stepping out into new adventures. That is not the life God had in mind for us. How do I know that? Because His word tells us from Genesis to Revelation, 33 different times to "Fear Not". Now the words "fear not" are said or used in different context throughout scripture but a majority are speaking of having a spirit of strength and confidence.
Do you know anyone like that? The person that carries themselves in a way where they appear to be 10 feet tall and bulletproof. You know, that person who seems to be killing it. Confident, fearless, strong people that seem to never be shaken no matter what the world throws at them. Man, did I envy those people! Me personally; I was worrisome, anxious, and fearful as a youth and into adulthood. Now I could fake it with the best of them, but inside I was scared and worried how I was viewed by others. Whether this used to be you too or even it's still you today, I think we can all agree that those feelings stink. Like I mentioned before they rob us of our joy, they keep us from doing new things or things we secretly long for because we continue to let fear tell us, "YOU BETTER NOT", "YOU WILL FAIL", "WHAT WILL THEY THINK OF YOU?". Sound familiar? It does to me.
The good news is that when we put our faith in God, we don't have to be timid or lack courage. Through His strength we can be strong, brave, unshakable; 10 feet tall and bulletproof if you will. "Fear Not" he tells us 33 times. Four of those times he reminds us "I am with you". Twice he states, "I am the one who helps you". In the book of creation he begins this fear not theme with saying; "I AM YOUR SHIELD". You might be saying by this point, I've tried being strong. I've tried being brave, it just doesn't work. I get it, and so does God. In Daniel 10:12, He assures Daniel, "your words have been heard". You see all you have to do is ask, through prayer, as Daniel did and give into His strength and not your own.
I wish I was typing this from a place where I've conquered all my fears and that I perfectly surrender them at the foot of the cross. Unfortunately, like the saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day. My wife often uses the phrase "one day at a time" and I'll leave you with this as it pertains to overcoming your fear; Rome may not have been built in a day, but is was built one day at a time.
"Did God Actually Say," was inspired while listening to a sermon from Pastor Alistair Begg on the Holy Spirit. I'd encourage you to check out Pastor Begg at www.truthforlife.org.
I can't put my finger on what exactly in the sermon inspired me to write this or maybe, just maybe the topic of that sermon may have had His hand in it as well. One thing I can say for certain is that I have not been immune to the craziness of 2020 either. With all the world's distractions and things it has to say, I felt led to share a few things of what God has to say.