Just Watch and See

“The Egyptians are coming!  The Egyptians are coming!”  No, that’s not a misquote of a funny movie from the 60s.  This may not be an exact quote, but it could have been said as the Israelites camped between the Red Sea and Migdol and the whole Egyptian army approached, apparently ready to annihilate them (Exodus 14:10).  It was a scary time!

What do you do when you’re trapped, there’s nowhere to run or hide and the enemy is right there?  In the case of the Israelites, God had a plan for their salvation.  Even though they sarcastically criticized Moses for putting them into that position (verses 11, 12), God was going to make an example out of Pharaoh and his army.

Exodus 14:13, 14 are words that still apply to us today, especially when we begin to feel put upon and think we suffer unjustly.  In a nutshell, God had Moses tell the people:  1) Don’t be afraid!  2) Stand by (be patient)!  3) Watch God win this battle! And 4) keep your mouth shut!  That advice applies in so many areas of my life!!

Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

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When I Am Afraid

In Psalm 56:1 David said:  Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me; fighting all day long he oppresses me. I’m glad I can’t say that literally, but sometimes it feels like I could.

All of us, from time to time, feel as though the whole world is against us.  And often, it feels like the world is winning.  However, King David had a plan.  In verse 3 he said:  When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.

So, that will be my plan!  When I am afraid, I will trust in the God Whose Word I praise and I will be afraid no longer (verse 4).

I know it seems a lot easier to say than to do, but that really must be our plan.  We must learn to praise His Word, which means studying it and obeying it, and then we will simply have to decide to fear no longer and trust in the fact that “mere man” (verse 4) can do nothing to us if we put our trust in God.

Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Take Courage

The incident of Jesus (and Peter) walking on water is a great example of faith and, of course, what happens when faith is weak (Matthew 14:22-32).  I find encouragement here from Barnabas’ perspective.

What a great victory Peter achieved!  He was the only one in the boat with enough faith to get out and start walking….on water!  Sometimes we are blessed to win great victories of faith, either through sharing the Gospel with someone or helping someone else in need, but then…

I have found that often I am at my most vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks right after such a victory.  Peter saw the wind and began to sink.  How many times have we found ourselves on top of the waves and then began to sink because we were distracted by the worries and cares of this life?

It encourages me to know that when my faith is weak, I can cry out to God (Matthew 14:30) and He is there; not in the flesh, but He has told us what is necessary to take His offered hand.  He loves you, you know, and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Momentary Light Affliction

In 2 Corinthians 4:17 the apostle Paul uses an interesting phrase:  momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison… Just what did he mean by “momentary, light affliction”?

In the context, Paul is describing the hope we have of something better after this life.  Specifically, the “affliction” here is the decay of the physical body.  However, the truth of Paul’s words is not just in the case of the natural wearing down of the body after a long life.  It would also apply when that “decay” comes through any other kind of suffering.  Take a look at Paul’s list of “momentary, light affliction” in 2 Corinthians 11:21-28; that list would be among those things he refers to as not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18).

I guess those things that often discourage me begin to pale somewhat in comparison.  How about your list?  Does it measure up to Paul’s?  Whether it does or not, we have reason to hope in what lies ahead, if we are prepared for it.

Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Extinguishing the Arrows

Did you ever wonder about that shield of faith that is part of the “whole armor of God” listed in Ephesians 6:13-18?  I don’t know about you, but whether I’m teaching or studying I try to visualize what I’m studying (or teaching) to understand it (or help students understand it) better.

In this text I see a soldier decked out in battle armor.  The shield of faith comes with a specific purpose; it protects the soldier of God from those flaming arrows of the enemy (Satan).  Those arrows are the things in life that afflict, or discourage us and life is full of such arrows.

In my mind’s eye I see that soldier of God, kneeling with his shield in place, fervently turning the pages of his Bible looking for the answers to those attacks from Satan; in short, readying his sword for his own attack.

When (not if) those arrows come, use your shield (faith) and hang in there.  Sharpen your sword (the Word of God); learn how to use it effectively (2 Timothy 2:15) and don’t let the enemy win!

Remember, God loves and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Though He Slay Me

Job may be one of the most difficult books of the Bible to read, primarily because of the suffering he was going through.  Those who are familiar with the story know that he had lost almost everything very suddenly, including his children.  You may also remember that by the time the Lord began to speak to him at the end of the book, Job had become a little proud of his innocence.

The title of this note from friend Barnabas comes from Job 13:15 which says:  “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.  Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him.” “Argue” should probably be understood as in presenting his case before the Judge at which time he is sure he will be vindicated, rather than boasting of an impending argument with God.

It is the first part of that verse that interests us here.  So often people who are suffering want to blame God.  Job’s wife encouraged him to do that (2:9).  Nevertheless, Job’s faith remained strong in the Lord.  When we suffer, we have nowhere else to go but to God.  Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Helping Through Prayer

I wonder sometimes if we really believe in the power of prayer.  Does it really work?  Do my prayers do any good?

It is true that sometimes it’s hard to see the good that is accomplished through prayer.  What I mean is that we pray and we pray and bad things still happen.  Good things happen too, but those same good things also happen to people who don’t pray.

Faith is a key ingredient in prayer, and one we may forget.  In the opening verses of 2 Corinthians Paul is thankful for prayers that delivered him and his companions from a “sentence of death” (1:9).  He told his readers their prayers had helped and would help (1:11).

How many times have we been delivered from some threat we never knew about?  How many times have we been helped by the prayers of people we never knew about?  And how many spirits have been lifted and strengthened to endure the bad things that happened even after the prayers?

Today’s word of encouragement is to be thankful for prayer, and for those who offer it on your behalf.  God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates