Isolation; June 22, 2021

Psalm 61:2 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Verses six and seven indicate that David was already king when he wrote this, so we know that the imagery in this verse is metaphorical and/or emotional, but it’s still striking. We do sometimes feel like we’re “on the backside of nowhere,” disconnected from all we find familiar and comforting. The turn of phrase in the Japanese makes that a little clearer, using the same character in “ends of the earth” and “heart grows faint.” For all the fact that the earth is a globe, and thus has no “ends,” we would still agree, I think, that Antarctica, for example, would be “the ends of the earth” geographically. Few people ever have the chance even to visit there, but emotional isolation is a different matter. It is possible, and indeed not uncommon, to feel intensely lonely in a dense crowd. What we long for is the connection with others, the belonging. David recognized that God was the ultimate answer to that, because as Paul said, (quoting a Greek poet) “For in him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) At issue is not whether God is near, but whether we feel He is near. The problems are always on our side. When we are submitted to Him, quiet before Him, then we can be aware of Him and our sense of isolation disappears. It is indeed nice to have other people in the picture, but as much as we might like that, it’s not essential. I’m reminded of the child who didn’t want to be alone in their room at night. When their parent reminded them that “Jesus is always with you,” they replied, “But I want Jesus with skin on.” When we have experienced such feelings ourselves, it is important for us to be willing to be “Jesus with skin on” for others.

I’m a member of a Facebook group for children of missionaries, many of whom, like I, are missionaries themselves. Frankly, a sense of isolation is very common in that group, not feeling like we “belong” wherever we are. From the standpoint of the “sending country,” the expression, “the ends of the earth” is often very appropriate! The community, the acceptance and understanding we feel in that group can be very sweet and affirming. At the same time, we need to remember that our ultimate acceptance and belonging is in Christ, and nothing less. I currently feel more accepted than I have perhaps any time since I became aware of the world outside my immediate family, but I must not let that be a substitute for abiding in Christ and letting Him abide in me by His Word and His Spirit. I can never be isolated when I am in Him!

Father, thank You for how accepted I feel at this point. It’s a sign of the depth of it that I haven’t thought about it in quite a while! I ask that You use me as “Jesus with skin on” to demonstrate Your love to many, so that they too may discover “the Rock that is higher,” for their salvation and healing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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God Cares; June 21, 2021

Psalm 55:22 Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you;
he will never let the righteous fall.

To be honest, I had forgotten that this was in the Old Testament. I just had Peter’s expression of this in my mind: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) The Japanese translation here is much closer to what Peter wrote than the NIV is. In any case, the truth is that God cares about His children. From one standpoint that seems absurd. Why would the Creator of the universe care about such insignificant beings as we are? However, we have the very clear evidence that He cares so much that He sent His Son to die in our place, taking the penalty for our sins. The flip side of that is that He cares whether we are obedient to Him or not. Some people don’t want God to care, because they want to do their own thing. We have such trouble really grasping that all of God’s commands are for our good. If He didn’t care about us, collectively and individually, then it wouldn’t much matter what we did, because we’d all go to destruction anyway. We don’t know who wrote Psalm 116, but it contains a very important truth: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” (Psalm 116:15) We might misunderstand that, thinking God is happy when someone dies, but the actual meaning is that human death is something of great importance to God. The Psalmist probably didn’t have a clear understanding of eternal life, but he did grasp that human life is a big deal to God. There are many things that are essentially beyond the grasp of human intellect, and the depth of God’s love and care is one of those. We can’t really explain it but we can receive it by revelation. As in so many things, it comes down to our choice: we can choose to believe, and we are incalculably blessed if we do.

Once again I am reminded of something I wrote just two days ago when the subject was depression. I was thinking about all the junk in the world, and God clearly said to me, “How do you think I feel?” The thing is, He cares. I have every reason to believe that, not only from the Bible but from everything in my life, but I still waver from it at times in practical terms. Part of my difficulty is that my caring burns out. Caring is emotionally expensive! However, not caring leaves me emotionally bankrupt. I can’t begin to carry the burdens of everyone around me, but instead of running from them, I need to let God carry those burdens, and sometimes even use me in the process. When I want to be like my Lord Jesus, I need to let Him express His caring through me, for the blessing of many and for His glory.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You also for the example of my wife, who is the most caring person I know. She is greatly loved, because she loves so much! Help me learn from her, and from You how to be a more effective and accurate vessel of Your caring for everyone in my sphere, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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Answers to Prayer; June 20, 2021

Psalm 54:7 For he has delivered me from all my troubles,
and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.

The introduction to this Psalm indicates it was written when David was in yet another really tight spot. That leaves us with the question of whether this verse is referring to past times the Lord had delivered David, or whether it is a faith declaration of what God was about to do. In either case, the focus is on God and His power, and not on how clever or strong David is. When we pray it is helpful to remember all the times God has answered prayer, or even acted before we prayed, (Isaiah 65:24) to bolster our faith and give us anticipation of what He might do this time. Prayer is hardly a deterministic system, where if you do A, then B will always happen. It is far more wonderful and powerful than that, because it isn’t limited by our perceptions or intellect. That’s all the more reason to be careful our prayers are focused on God, and not on ourselves or our circumstances. Joy Dawson very wisely said that to hear clearly from God, we need to die to the issue about which we are praying. By that she meant that we need to surrender our judgment, our desires, to God, trusting fully that He knows the end from the beginning and He desires the very best for us. Sometimes we get ourselves into situations where the way out, even, is quite painful, and of course, Jesus cautioned us that in this world we will have trouble, regardless. (John 16:33) However, we need to rest in the assurance Paul had, that “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) We will come to that assurance only when we get our eyes off of ourselves and our circumstances and fix them on Christ Jesus our Lord. (Hebrews 12:2)

This certainly applies to me, as I have learned through sometimes painful experience. I have had prayers answered instantly, I have had them answered over time, and I have had prayers receive a rather firm, “No.” I need to thank God for every one of those, and not just the “quick answer” type. I need to trust God enough to ask, seek, and knock, (Matthew 7:7-8) trusting that however God answers, it will be the best thing for me, whether it’s what I expected, or desired, or not. (Matthew 7:9-11) And actually, I need to rejoice and thank Him before I know what the answer will be. I’m reminded of the story of a Bible smuggler into eastern Europe before the fall of the Soviet Union. He was in a room with a row of tables across the middle for customs inspection, and he had a suitcase of “contraband” Bibles. It came his turn, and the customs agent opened his suitcase, seemed oblivious to all the Bibles, closed it up and sent him on. As he moved to the other side of the room with his bag he was naturally rejoicing, but then he heard God say to him, “You’re doing that on the wrong side of the room.” In other words, he should have been rejoicing before the customs agent opened his bag. I don’t have that kind of faith consistently yet, but I would sure like to! However, I’ve moved a long way in that direction, and my peace and joy continue to grow.

Father, thank You for Your incredible faithfulness. Thank You for the countless times You have met my needs far better than I could have specified, and often better than I was asking. I am faced with challenges daily, but You already have it all worked out. Help me rest, relax, and rejoice in that assurance, just as You have told me to do, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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Depression; June 19, 2021

Psalm 42:1-2 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

I personally think these two verses express the biggest reason God allows trouble in our lives: to get us to recognize our need for Him so that we will seek Him. There is literally no substitute for that, even though we try to substitute various things for God all the time. This particular Psalm (along with Psalm 43, which is in all probability part of the same original Psalm) deals explicitly with depression. Sometimes we tend to think depression is a modern problem, but it is as old as mankind. There are lots of reasons for it, but it fundamentally comes from truncated vision, the inability to see beyond current events and circumstances. Frankly, there’s plenty going on around us to cause us to feel down, but at the same time, we are surrounded by God’s gracious blessings. Depression comes when we focus on the one and not the other. There are chemical/biological things that influence depression, either positively or negatively, and I’m not discounting that, but I stand by my premise. The Psalmist here recognizes that with the admonition to himself, first stated in verse five and repeated in verse 11 and 43:5, to focus on God. I’m sure I will be accused of being simplistic, but that is ultimately, and always, the answer. We can think of countless excuses, but it comes down to the choice to trust God. Depression isn’t something that can be switched on and off like a light, but if we manage to focus on seeking God, He will answer.

I don’t write this casually. I attempted suicide once when I was in college. I can say with assurance that suicide is the ultimate expression of being self-centered. Lately “bipolar” is a popular diagnosis and excuse, but in my observation, people who are being chemically treated for such a condition are some of the most pathetic people around, because their emotions are compressed from both sides, to the point of being essentially unable to feel anything emotionally at all. People who are emotionally sensitive do need a support structure of family and friends, but running from emotion isn’t the answer. Many creative people have this issue, and squashing their emotions can likewise squash their creativity. Handel had this issue, and wrote the entire Messiah in the space of about two weeks, hardly sleeping, and then crashed. Thankfully there were no psychiatrists to dope him up, and with the support of those around him he recovered and went on to create much more magnificent music. In one of my own experiences, I was lying in bed, not consciously praying but just thinking, “There are so many things I wish were different.” Very clearly, so clearly it could have been an audible voice, except that my wife beside me didn’t hear anything, I heard the Lord say, “How do you think I feel?” Ever since then I have been comforted by the assurance that though things are a mess right now, God isn’t through with it all, and He is to be trusted.

Father, thank You for this reminder. It’s not something I’m likely to forget! I ask for wisdom and compassion as I deal with people around me all the time who are depressed, often with good reason. Help me point them to You without making them feel I am taking their suffering lightly. I’ve had some real problems in that area. May I be so focused on You that those with whom I interact may likewise lift their eyes to You, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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Testifying; June 18, 2021

Psalm 40:10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and salvation.
I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.

At first glance this might seem to conflict with another famous verse from Psalms: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11) However, in Japanese there’s no conflict, because the Psalm 119 passage says, “I have stored up your Word in my heart.” The point here is acknowledging blessings. Frankly, we do that far too little, because we feel entitled to all we have. Much is made of “entitled young people,” and that is indeed a major problem, but it certainly isn’t limited to the young. As has come up in my readings recently, parents who shield their children from any possible hurt or even disappointment are doing them no favors. We can’t appreciate good stuff until we understand that bad stuff exists. This Psalm is well known and loved, with the first four verses having been set to music multiple times. Verse six and verse eight are both quoted in the New Testament as referring to Jesus. However, from verse 12 on, David is speaking of his current dire circumstances. We gain much more understanding of David when we realize that he wrote some beautiful songs of praise while he was in pretty bad situations. In other words, he was not hiding God’s abundant goodness to him simply because the current moment didn’t seem so good. Testifying to God’s character is always a good idea! The fact of the matter is, as Jesus told us, in this world we will have trouble. (John 16:33) The more we focus on God, remembering how incredibly good and gracious He has been to us, the better we will be able to rejoice in Him regardless of what is going on around us. On top of that, the more we do that openly and vocally, as this verse talks about, the more those around us will be led into a right relationship with their gracious Creator.

I think one thing that inhibits me from testifying of God’s blessings is that I’m afraid of being seen as bragging. There really is the danger it would turn into that, but the far greater danger is of my failing to give Him the thanks and praise He deserves. Sometimes I get the response, “Of course God’s good to you. You’re a missionary.” I’m a missionary not to get God’s blessings, but in response to them! I seek to teach others not only to recognize God’s grace to them but also to be vocal about it. That’s really difficult in Japan, where people tend to be very private and bragging is strongly discouraged. My concerns about being seen as bragging myself come from that. I need God’s wisdom all the way around. However, the difficulty should not keep me from the attempt, either of testifying myself or of getting others to testify.

Father, Your grace and blessings are indeed without number, and even I fail to recognize the vast majority of them. I ask You to open my eyes to see You more and more, and to use me in opening the eyes of others to do likewise, to that we will be the grateful, obedient children that You desire, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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Confession; June 17, 2021

Psalm 32:5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”– and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Confession is an interesting thing. We certainly aren’t telling God anything He doesn’t already know. However, the act of confession frees us from the prison we have created for ourselves by our sin. It is when we try to hide everything that we wind up in more and more bondage. That’s not to say that being open about our sin gives us license to continue it; that is making a mockery of the grace of God. That’s exactly what the “pride” movement is doing, trying to get others not only to accept but affirm degeneracy of all sorts. The vast majority of such people got into perversion through the sins of others against them, in one way or another, but that ultimately isn’t an excuse. We all encounter a great deal of junk of one sort or another, living in a fallen world and surrounded by fallen individuals, but how we respond to what is done to us is ultimately our own responsibility. That’s what confession is all about: accepting responsibility. Another trick of the devil at this point is to try to get us to atone for our own sins, rather than accepting that only God can do that. That’s what Judas did, committing suicide in an acknowledgment of his sin without submitting himself to God for Him to deal with it. His confession to the priests (Matthew 27:3-5) didn’t cut it, because he was just confessing to people and not yielding himself to God. Genuine confession is inseparable from repentance, which is turning from the sin in question. If you confess your sin but then continue to wallow in it, you certainly haven’t repented. The devil does his utmost to convince us we can’t really be freed from our sin, and sadly, he’s often effective, causing people to give up. Paul wrote extensively about this in such places as Romans 6, where he admonishes us to “count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:11) That doesn’t mean we’ll never slip up, as Paul himself laments in Romans 7, but then he starts the next chapter with a glorious affirmation: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) Confession to God is what opens the door to that glorious grace.

I could write at considerable length about this because I have experienced it so much myself! I well remember one time when I was liberated from a persistent sin by a verse from Peter: “But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.” (2 Peter 1:9) God used that verse to get through to me that when sins are confessed and repented of, they are gone. The devil keeps bringing them up, telling us nothing has changed, but he’s a liar as always. It’s just like John wrote: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 ) I earnestly look forward to heaven, where I will be freed from the presence of sin, but meanwhile I can rejoice that right now I am freed from the power of sin.

Father, thank You for this reminder. It’s such a vital truth, yet so many are blind to it. I pray that You would enable me to communicate it to others so that they may be freed from the traps of the enemy, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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Seeking God; June 16, 2021

Psalms 27:8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.

This Psalm is loaded with familiar, dearly loved passages, many of which have been set to music. However, I think this verse is what has impacted me most personally. The Japanese puts a slightly different twist on it: “My heart says in your place, ‘seek my face.’” In other words, David recognized that the voice, the desire in his heart, was a Word from the Lord. God speaks to all of us far more often that we generally recognize, but we have to choose to obey what He says to us, as David does here. “Lord, You are telling me to seek Your face. I choose to seek Your face.” The specific term for “seek” that the Japanese uses actually means, “earnestly desire and ask for.” It’s the same “earnestly desire” that is used in Psalms 42:1. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” When we recognize that God is telling us to seek Him, we need to choose to obey. It’s like Jesus so famously told us in terms of seeking our physical needs: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) We have all sorts of impulses, some from God and some not, and it is our choice which we will pursue. The path of blessing is always to follow God!

Many years ago I wrote, “Yes, Lord,” beside this verse in the Bible I was using at the time. I wish I could say I have been totally consistent in following through with that in the years since! I can say that the longer I walk with the Lord the easier and more natural it is to seek Him above and before anything else. I just wish I didn’t act so “unnaturally” at times! I am reminded of a man who has recently expressed a commitment to follow the Lord in baptism. However, when I talked with him about the timing, he wanted to put it off for a year! He actually said, “I want to play around for a year.” He quickly realized what he had said and backpedaled, but I think he was expressing his true feelings. He has already put off such a commitment for several years because of a “pet sin,” recognizing that Jesus will allow no other gods beside Him, and he is still being deceived to value that sin above eternal salvation. God is speaking to his heart as surely as He did to David, but he hasn’t yet responded fully to say, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” It’s easy for me to see what’s going on in him, but I am too often blind to my own deviations from the path the Lord has laid out for me. The “toys” the devil dangles in front of me can be pretty distracting at times!

Father, thank You for this clear reminder. Thank You for indeed speaking to me, and frequently at that. Help me recognize and obey everything You say to me, seeking the intimacy with You for which I was created, so that all the lies of the devil may be defeated and I be fully useful to You, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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Blessing Others; June 15, 2021

Psalms 20:1-2 May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.

It’s interesting that this is labeled “A Psalm of David,” whereas others are labeled “prayers” of David. I think that’s because the focus here isn’t on David himself; he’s actually praying blessing for others. Blessing others is one of the highest return-for-effort activities we can do. The only reason we don’t do it a lot more often is that we are so self-centered. The famous priestly blessing in Numbers 6:24-26 has been set to music multiple times, to marvelous effect. Just recently my younger daughter, who leads worship at her church in the US, used one of those arrangements in a farewell service for their pastor, to marvelous effect. Not only was the pastor and his family blessed, or even everyone in the congregation, but also, I think, all who saw and heard it via the Internet. Imparting blessing with our words is real, however illogical that might seem. Genesis 1 says that God spoke the universe into existence, and He has given us the gift of speech as well. How we use that gift is our responsibility. As James points out, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” (James 3:9-10) We have been given the privilege of praising God and blessing people, and we do well to make full use of it. I think many people hesitate to speak blessing to others because they think it would seem like they are putting themselves on a higher level than the person they are blessing. That’s not the case at all, because the fulfillment of the blessing comes from God, not us. Blessing others is simply acting as a tube so that some of God’s living water can drip through, at least.

I had a real revelation in terms of intentionally blessing others not long after we came to Omura, almost 40 years ago. Yongi Cho came to Fukuoka for a big meeting to encourage Japanese Christians, and he touched on the subject. I have absolutely no memory of what he said, actually, but I do remember getting the message from the Lord that I could and should bless others intentionally with my words. The group I was with had lunch, I think it was, at a little restaurant, and there was a little girl, maybe three years old, not with our group, running around. I very clearly remember speaking blessing to her, and how much it blessed me to be an agent of God’s blessing. In the years since I have tried to make a practice of that, but I haven’t been as consistent as I could have been. For many years now I have opened each of my school classes with prayer, praying blessing on my students, and I have gotten some very grateful feedback. I’m very thankful the Lord opened my eyes to the practice of blessing, because it has certainly blessed me!

Father, thank You for the privilege of blessing others. Thank You for Your unlimited blessings to us all – even the ones that don’t feel like blessings in the moment. Help me be a faithful and consistent channel of Your blessings, that many would be drawn to You for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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Being Heard by God; June 14, 2021

Psalms 17:6 I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer.

I think a common characteristic of those who pray a lot is the faith that they are being heard. I frankly don’t see how someone who is convinced that God is listening wouldn’t pray. We are all too easily persuaded that either God isn’t aware of everything that goes on, or that He just doesn’t care. Neither of those things are true. We tend to think that any difficulty we have means that God either doesn’t care or that He’s mean, when in fact He loves us enough to want us to mature, and we aren’t going to do that without overcoming obstacles. Parents who try to shield their children from every possible danger are doing them no favor. We have had an epidemic of that kind of parenting in the US – and elsewhere, for that matter – and the result has been a generation of snowflakes, who fall apart at being crossed about anything. I think that’s a major reason for the high divorce rate. Every couple has conflict of one sort or another, and generally of several kinds. It is in confronting those issues and resolving them that both partners grow and the relationship is strengthened. With today’s spoiled generation, they are all too likely to throw in the towel. Children need to be taught to deal with difficulties, respecting themselves and respecting the other people involved. In difficulties it’s always OK to ask for help, and that’s a major function of prayer. We can and should ask for wisdom and direction, to know what we should do, and we can and should ask for strength, both emotional and physical, to carry through with what we should do. It is highly unreasonable to ask, much less expect, God to put everything we want on a big pillow and set it down in front of us. If that’s the way we’re praying, we’ll quickly come to the conclusion that “prayer doesn’t work.” That fits in with what James said: “You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:2-3) Self-centered prayer isn’t going to teach you that prayer works!

As I have commented frequently, I grew up in a home where prayer was as natural as breathing, but I’ve still had to learn a lot about prayer in the years since then. I’ve been preaching a series on prayer for the past couple of months, but as I mentioned in yesterday’s message, I have no idea when it will end, because the topic is so deep. I have learned that God is always listening, so if there’s a problem, it usually means I’m not listening! I personally have a strong distaste for confrontation, but I’ve learned the hard way that seldom makes problems go away. Recently someone consulted me in distress because they were being lied about at work, to the point that they were considering quitting their job. I told them to go talk to the person doing the lying, and only if that didn’t resolve the issue, to go to their supervisor. Last night I got the report that the liar at first denied lying about their coworker, but when pressed, they admitted it and even apologized. The result was a restored relationship and major growth in the person who had been lied about. God allows these situation to grow us as He knows we need to, so praying to get out of every pressure is counterproductive. We need to pray to get through each situation. If we will do that, not only will we grow, we will discover that God is indeed always listening, and He truly cares.

Father, thank You for all that You have taught me about prayer over the years, and for the joy of sharing it. I pray that my words would be fully effective, chosen and guided by Your Spirit, to tear down the lies of the enemy and bring people into the fellowship with You for which they were created, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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Boldness; June 13, 2021

Psalms 6:8-9 Away from me, all you who do evil,
for the Lord has heard my weeping.
The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;
the Lord accepts my prayer.

We don’t know what gave David this assurance that he had been heard, but whatever it was impacted him greatly. The thing is, he had to have fairly strong faith to have interpreted it as God speaking to him. Current secular society, and certainly the current school system, actively teach us not to interpret anything as God’s action toward us. What a loss! We can certainly see the hand of the devil in that, because the last thing he wants is for people to have an active awareness of their Creator. When we know we are hearing from Him and that He hears us, then we are very bold, just as David is here. There are various kinds of boldness, and some are very stupid, because they rely on false premises. However, there’s no substitute for the calm assurance that “God’s got this, and He can use me in the process.” That’s what John wrote about. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15) The point is to be actively pressing in toward God, to know Him better so that we may know His will better, and thus pray and act in line with that. Often that will require that we lay down whatever we want, just as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane, (Luke 22:42) but the closer we walk with Him, the more likely we are to want what He wants in the first place. That gives us an assurance that the world cannot touch, even if in the short term it leads to martyrdom. It was said of the early Christians, “They really know how to love each other, and they really know how to die.” When our faith is clear and strong, then we know that “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)

I have experienced the stupid boldness of conceit, and I have also tasted the boldness of complete assurance of God. Believe me, there’s no comparison, even though from the outside they might look similar. I am reminded of the hymn, It Is Well with my Soul. The author/ composer experienced extreme loss and heartache, but his faith, the assurance of God’s presence and love, carried him through. That’s the kind of boldness I want, not based on me or my circumstances but on my Father who loves me, even when He’s leading me through rough times.

Father, for some reason I’m reminded of what Melvin Bradshaw said about my father after he visited him in the hospital the day before the surgery that took my father home to you: “I never saw a man with more reason to live, or more ready to die.” That’s how I want to live, with complete assurance in You, whatever You have planned for me. Help me indeed have the bold faith that comes from being at rest in Christ Jesus my Lord, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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