I Am Not Afraid!

Sometimes, it seems, we have to keep telling ourselves “I am not afraid” just so we’ll eventually believe it!  The evidence we can see suggests that we have reason to be afraid, doesn’t it?

King David said:  I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me round about (Psalm 3:6).  Why would (or could) he say that?  The three verses immediately before this one give us our answer.  God was his shield between him and his enemies (v. 3).  God lifted his head when he was beaten down (v. 3).  God heard his prayers and answered from His holy mountain (v. 4).  As a weary soldier who badly needed rest, he could lay down and sleep while God stood watch (v. 5).

Today’s word of encouragement is that we can sing this same song (psalm).  God will deliver us if we will stand with Him.  The New Testament gives us all the information we need to know how to do that.

Are you afraid?  You don’t have to be!  God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

It’s Only a Test

Why does it seem like God not only allows, but seemingly blesses some people, groups, or activities that clearly are contrary to His Word?  Although Scripture has made it clear that we no longer have miracles like those of the New Testament, many people still look for some kind of sign to indicate what God’s will for them is.  Scripture, on the other hand, says that we have all we need to make us what God wants us to be (2 Timothy 3:16, 17; 2 Peter 1:3).

The Jews of Moses’ day faced the same dilemma.  He wrote that if a prophet gives a sign and the sign comes true, but his word was contrary to God’s Word, don’t believe him!  Read Deuteronomy 13:1-4.  God says we are to listen to Him, to His Word, no matter what “signs” we think we’ve seen!

What is our word of encouragement here?  When life appears to give us mixed signals about what God wants us to do, or believe, we have a source to tell us the truth; the truth that sets men free if, and only if, we will abide in that Word (John 8:31, 32).

Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

A Study in Contrasts

The first psalm in the book of Psalms sets the tone for the entire book.  In many ways, Psalm 1 is a concise overview of the entire Bible in that it offers us two choices (and there are no others) of how to live our lives and the consequences of each.  It breaks down into a simple contrast between living a righteous life or living a wicked life.

The first two verses tell us that the righteous man is blessed and describes for us what is meant by righteous.  In verse 3 the psalmist says:  He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.  Here we find our word of encouragement for today.

If we will choose to live the righteous life, rather than the wicked life, we will have the strength we need to resist the storms of life, because we will be like that tree planted by streams of water.  That means we will have the access to what feeds us and makes us strong.  I find that to be of tremendous encouragement.

Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Unless Given from Above

There can be no more significant example of suffering than that of Jesus!  That is not to say that no one else has ever suffered as much.  On the contrary, crucifixions were common in His day and many others have suffered in horrible ways.  However, in no other example does the suffering mean so much for the rest of us.

The example Jesus left in both His life and death were meant to give us an example of how we should live, including how we should suffer and even die…in faith!  See 1 Peter 2:21-24.

Our word of encouragement, however, comes from a comment Jesus made to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who crucified Him.  When Pilate claimed authority to release or crucify Him, Jesus said, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above…” (John 19:11).

It encourages me to know that no authority in this world, including the authority to make my life here miserable, exists apart from the authority of God.  My God has all authority (Matthew 28:18), meaning He knows what is happening and why, and can get me through it!

Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

My Friends If…

Have you ever noticed the conditional nature of God’s grace?  I only point it out because so many in the religious world seem to want to ignore it.  It’s as though some think that to make God’s grace conditional somehow makes Him mercenary; a sort of “you scratch My back, I’ll scratch yours” thing.

Well, the condition cannot be denied; it is clearly part of the grammar throughout God’s Word.  When Jesus said:  “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.  You are My friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:13, 14), He didn’t mean that He doesn’t really care about us, as long as His conditions are met.  Scripture is equally clear about His concern that no one be lost (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4).

What encourages us is that with the condition in place, God has granted us access to His grace.  All we have to do is meet the condition.  And Jesus’ words show that is really is about love.  If we love Him, we will obey Him; meet His condition (John 14:15).  We know He loves us (John 3:16) and with the condition met, we have access to His grace.

Yes, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Ask Me Anything

Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).  Of course, we find encouragement in the implications of loving Jesus and receiving His blessings.

However, consider the immediate context of these words by Jesus.  “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it”(John 14:14); and in verse 16 He said, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever…”  That Helper, of course, is the Holy Spirit.

The point of this context, and the source of our word of encouragement, is that when we give ourselves to Christ in faithful obedience, He works to make sure we have what we need in this world to survive; and by “survive” we mean survive spiritually, whether our faith results in physical blessing or suffering.  The key is the choice we make:  to obey or not to obey.

It’s not about faith vs. works like so many in the religious world want to make it.  It’s about faith working together with our works (obedience) (James 2:22).  Is your faith a working (obedient) faith?  Then look for the Help that’s available.  Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

The Oil of Gladness

I find an interesting concept in Hebrews 1:9:  “You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your companions.”  Verse 8 clearly tells us this is what God the Father says to God the Son.  However, while this is addressed to the Son, can we not follow His example (1 Peter 2:21) and love righteousness and hate lawlessness, which is sin (1 John 3:4)?  Of course, we can!  And if we follow the example of our elder Brother, our Joint Heir (Romans 8:17), can we not expect to receive “the oil of gladness”?

This passage is a quote of Psalm 45 which is a song of celebration for the marriage of the King.  Our King, of course, is Jesus Christ, Who reigns over His kingdom.  His marriage is to His bride, the church (Ephesians 5:23).

Lest we take this application too far out of the context of the verse, understand that the “oil of gladness” is the blessing that comes from a life dedicated to righteousness instead of lawlessness.  That blessing is available to us if we will approach life with the same attitude as the Bridegroom.

Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates