Do Not Tremble

The time had come.  For forty years they had wandered in the wilderness, but now it was time to enter the promised land.  Yet Moses would not be coming with them.

Forty years ago their fathers had feared the Canaanites.  Their choices had resulted in this period of wilderness wandering.  Now, it was their children’s turn, but their leader, the one they had trusted for most of their lives, says he is not coming.  What are they going to do?

All of us reach a point in our lives when we have to step out on our own, without the constant presence of those who have cared for and guided us for so long.  It is exciting and terrifying at the same time.  And when you think about it, every day we begin, looking forward to an uncertain future, is a small piece of the same emotional contradiction.  What do we do?

Listen to Moses:  “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Whatever tomorrow brings, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

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Let Us Show Ourselves Courageous

The apostle Paul said that our struggle is not against flesh and blood as Christians (Ephesians 6:12).  In the Old Testament, however, it very often was and it is in one such incident that we find our word of encouragement today.  Joab was one of King David’s greatest generals, but in one engagement he found himself surrounded by a numerically superior force.  Where I find encouragement in this story is not that Israel won the battle, nor even that the Lord delivered them.

What encourages me here is the attitude of Joab.  After arranging his army to meet the threat from every direction, putting part of it under the command of his brother Abshai, listen to his counsel:  “Be strong, and let us show ourselves courageous for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God; and may the Lord do what is good in His sight” (1 Chronicles 19:13).

We must do our part and obey God’s will, but whatever happens, whether we are delivered in this life or not until the next, we are content with the Lord doing what is right in His sight.  Trust Him, because He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Giving and Receiving

Jesus said:  “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).  The goal of letting your light shine (ministry) is that people glorify God.

The apostle Paul urged us to be “cheerful givers” (2 Corinthians 9:7).  Some say this context means that the more money you give, the more money God will give to you.  However, the blessings we receive will help us increase our harvest “of righteousness” (verse 10).  Whatever we give in ministering to others is a spiritual “blessing,” even if it is also a physical one.  And the reward we receive from God is also a spiritual blessing, whether it has any physical side or not.

Notice the result of ministry:  Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you.  Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:13-15).

Remember, God loves you and so do I!

Donnie Bates

Not Disappointed

The apostle Paul wrote that there is a reason for tribulation.  And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope (Romans 5:3, 4).

No one likes tribulation, but it helps to know that there is a silver lining to this particular cloud, doesn’t it?  The apostle goes on to add that hope in Jesus Christ is hope well-placed, i.e. it doesn’t disappoint!

In the two verses previous to those we just quoted, Paul gives us the real reason for our rejoicing and that is that we have peace with God.  Reading further into the chapter we can see that we were “helpless” (verse 6), “sinners” (verse 8), even “enemies” of God (verse 10) before God’s grace and our faith allowed us to be at peace with Him.  In the first few verses of chapter 6 Paul shows the process by which our faith and His grace accomplished this peace and then thanks God that these Romans had followed that pattern, i.e. “form of doctrine” (Romans 6:17).

Yes, if you have hope, genuine, Bible-based hope, you are not disappointed.  Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Something Better

You cannot help but be challenged to greater faith when you read through Hebrews 11.  So many men and women are listed who had great faith and accomplished great things because of their great faith.  Many are not even named, but still God said that “the world is not worthy of” such people (Hebrews 11:38).

Our purpose here is not to use such a statement as a reason to feel superior.  For this post I wanted to point out the last thing recorded in this great chapter:  And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect (Hebrews 11:39, 40).

All these great heroes of faith lived their lives, giving us their wonderful examples, without receiving “what was promised,” i.e. what God has given to us.  God has given us something better in this life, and that something better is the opportunity to be a part of His kingdom.  For all of us, there is also something even better coming after this life.  God wants that for you (2 Peter 3:9) and tells you how to have it in the pages of the New Testament.  He loves you, you know, and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Reminders

The apostle Paul told Titus:  Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men (Titus 3:1, 2).

Reminders are good, even though we very often don’t like them.  Looking around at the world we live in, these same reminders are in short supply and, therefore, much in need.  I find it encouraging to think about how things would be if everyone took these reminders to heart and practiced them.

So, our word of encouragement on this day, is to be the kind of person Paul describes here and encourage others to follow suit.  Even if some resent such reminders, the world will be a better place.

Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

In Him Only

For many, the holiday season is not a time of joy.  There are many among us, closer than we might think, who suffer intense emotional pain during this time of year when so many think the whole world is happy, or “merry.”  It may be that because the death of a loved one occurred around Christmas time, or some other traumatic event, that the season evokes pain.  Or, it may simply be that the general focus of society on family and friends reminds someone, or makes them think, that they are alone.

Our enemy is very good at convincing people that they are alone.  It must be remembered that he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).  You are not alone!

David wrote:  My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation.  He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken (Psalm 62:1, 2).

God will not allow you to be alone this time of year or any other, if you will remain by His side.  Always remember that He is there, that He loves you, and that I love you, too.

Donnie Bates