Don't Worry, God is Watching

The Lord has truly blessed us, hasn’t He? Oh, I know that things are not as good as we would like them to be, or as good as we think they could be. Nevertheless, if we look at our lives objectively, we can see that God really does take care of us. The problem is, we do not always look at our lives objectively, do we?

For some reason, it is very easy to focus on someone else, especially when something good happens to them. My life never seems to be as good as someone else’s. When I hear of something good happening to someone else, it becomes painfully obvious to me that nothing like that has ever happened to me, or at least, it seems like it never has. It is so easy to forget the blessings in our lives and look with envy on the blessings of others. And the problem is magnified when we see people who do not deserve those blessings getting away with their evil ways. I mean truly bad, evil people. Here I am, doing my best to be faithful to God and resisting temptation right and left and I can never seem to get ahead. In fact, I am barely able to keep myself afloat. It’s just not fair! From the standpoint of church work and life, doesn’t it just gall you to see people believe and teach false doctrine and still grow churches so fast it makes the head spin? Why does God allow such people, even in the church, to get away with things like that? Do you ever feel like the psalmist who said, “I will say to God my rock, ‘Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?'” (Psalm 42:9)?

Whew!! That last paragraph needs a chill pill! That is what happens when we start focusing on ourselves. Aren’t you glad that the Bible is so full of answers? I know I am. It would be a lot harder to write encouraging words if I had to depend on my own wisdom to answer questions like this. In Psalm 37:1-3 David writes, “Do not fret because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb. Trust in the Lord and do good.” In other words, don’t worry about other people. You just do what God wants you to do. It may seem like evil people are getting away with sin and are prospering in life, but they are not! Now, the point here is not to realize that God will judge those people in the end and gleefully rub our hands together in anticipation of Judgment Day so they will get their comeuppance. The point is, God has told you what He expects of you. Don’t worry about other people!

A word of caution is in order, however. Another temptation we face is sometimes overwhelming. It is the temptation to take the admonitions Do not fret because of evildoers and Do not judge so that you will not be judged (Matthew 7:1) to the extreme. Some people are not the least bit discouraged about the evil in the world. They just want to live their lives and let others live theirs. Do you remember that David said our responsibility is “Trust in the Lord and do good”? Well, part of “doing good” is telling others about what God expects them to do. There seems to be no end to the number of people who tell us that we should leave well enough alone; to not be judgmental. And yet, the Bible plainly tells (commands) us to preach the Gospel to every creature and that is going to involve telling people that they are living in sin and if they do not repent and obey the commands of the Lord concerning salvation, they are going to be lost in hell for eternity. Never should that be done with glee! However, it must be done if we are to obey the command, “Trust in the Lord and do good.”

A word of encouragement? Yes, I think there is a word that will do. The next time you feel discouraged by the unfairness of life (as it appears to you), the next time you are tempted to think evil has triumphed over good, remember these words: The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against evildoers, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:15-18).

I hope you have a wonderful day. I pray that God will richly bless you and encourage you. If I may borrow words from the apostle Paul, I would like to close with this word from me to you: For this reason I bow my knees before the Father…that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:14-19). Please know that God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

God is Near

“Words of encouragement”… that sounded so easy when I had the idea to create this series of articles. I really just wanted to put something together that would help friends of mine get through a tough time, perhaps offer some encouragement to the discouraged; maybe even replace a tear with a smile.

Personally, I have never been more discouraged than when I have been alone, or at least when I have felt alone. I was visiting with a brother in Christ once who was discouraged. I asked him a question that may have changed my life more than his. I like to ask questions that are easy to answer, but in the answering make us see a particular point. I asked this man, “Do you feel that God has abandoned you?” I intended for him to give the obvious answer (“No!”) and then, magically understand, open his eyes and realize that God was still with him and that his situation was not as hopeless as he thought. To my amazement he answered, “Yes!” Well, that caused me to change my approach drastically. I now had to convince him that God was still nearby (see Psalm 139).

From that day I have made that question a regular part of my conversations with those who are discouraged to some degree. And a large number of them answer, “Yes, I feel abandoned by God!” Before we go any further, let me assure you, one and all, that God has not gone anywhere! Did you read Psalm 139? Take out your Bible and do so if you have not already. Go ahead…I’ll wait.

Now, some may see a threat in those verses (i.e. God is everywhere, watching over your shoulder to see if you do something wrong), but I encourage you to look at this passage from the point of view of someone who is discouraged and feels that God has abandoned him (or her). Maybe you have sunk to the depths of despair; you are deeper than you have ever been. Well, even in the deepest depths Your [God’s] hand will lead me (verse 10). Even in the darkest night (gloomiest circumstances) God sees you (verse 12).

Does it encourage you to know that you are in complete control? Well, I hate to tell you this (not really), but you are not in complete control. But wait! There is good news. There is One Who is in complete control!! And He is on your side, if you are on His.

Wipe the tears away and smile. God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

An Encouraging Word

Several years ago a young teenage girl in the congregation where I was preaching was feeling a lot of pressure to join in with her peers. Her eighth grade class was planning a project that she did not feel she could participate in as a Christian. She told her teacher that she would not be able to participate. Some of her peers thought she was a spoil-sport who did not want to have any fun and would ruin it for everyone else, too. The things that were said to her hurt. The victory she won by holding to her principles was a painful one and she was very discouraged. It struck me at the time that Matthew 5:10-12 was an appropriate passage to share with her: Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Jesus says, in effect, when people say those kinds of things to you because of your faith, you are in good company. The young lady I described was encouraged by God’s Word and received the grace to help in her time of need (see Hebrews 4:16).

This is the first in a series of articles that were first sent out in e-mails almost five years ago. They are designed to offer encouragement from God’s Word to those who are discouraged by what life has to offer. Christians are assailed from every direction today, including from within the church herself. We want to offer encouragement; a reason to hope and to feel that we are on the winning side of the Good Fight and not on the losing side. It will not be the purpose of Barnabas’ Notes to offer criticism or to attack anyone. That does not mean, however, that we will not offer encouragement by pointing out that sin is sin, and that to resist sin and the teaching of false doctrine is a good and positive thing. It will be our purpose, first and foremost, to remain faithful to God’s Word. Second, we intend to lift up the heads of those faithful who are tempted to think the battle has become too difficult.

The apostle Paul asked, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). That is a question that every Christian needs to consider. His point in asking is to say, “No one can overcome us, if we remain faithful to Him!” Paul went on to say, “In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer!” (Romans 8:37). Notice what “things” from verse 35: “Neither tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or sword can separate us from the love of Christ.” In verses 38, 39 he says “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing” can separate us from the love of God. Pretty cool, huh? Just ask yourself, “Can this little things that afflicts me today separate me from the love of God?” The answer is: No! No!! NO!!

I know that sometimes it sounds trite to say that God is on our side and we can overcome. It never seems like the one who says it has been through what we are suffering right this moment. Still, the One Who originally said it has been through it (see Hebrews 4:15). He knows what it’s like to suffer what you are suffering. In coming articles we are going to explore more specific application of Scripture to more specific afflictions. Know this: God knows you and He knows how to rescue the godly from temptation (see 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Peter 2:9). He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates