- God looks at us through the blood of Jesus. He loves us because of who He is, not because of who we are or what we have done.
- Mike had a stroke a few years ago, but God healed him completely except for some occasional dizziness, and He's receiving healing on that. During his hospitalization, his wife stood on the word of God, continually claiming "He will not die." (Psalm 118:17)
- God satisfies our desires and we will live long lives to the fullest, if we stand on what we have been given in Him.
- Mike says that where he is weak, his wife is strong; where she is weak, he is strong. They work together and make a perfect team.
Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; The mountains shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. Amos 9:13
- Things are speeding up. We are entering into a season of acceleration.
- The key is renewing our minds with the Word.
- Acceleration: speeding up, increase; what used to take years will now take months, what took months will take weeks, what took weeks will take days.
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. 3 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” 4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” 6 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. 9 When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. 10 And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!” 11 This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him. John 2:1-11
- The key to miracles: Whatever He says, do it.
- That's what Jesus' mom told the servants when Jesus turned the water into wine.
- God's Word is Him speaking personally to me.
- DO what His Word says, and you will HAVE what the Word says.
- We must SPEAK that we will do what the Word says we can do.
- We combat thoughts in our minds by words coming out of our mouth.
casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5
- The message of the Gospel never changes, but the method can change.
- Jesus' method of sharing the Gospel was to go into their world; He blessed them in their world, in order to bring them back into His world.
And these signs shall follow those who believe… Mark 16:17
- The signs of what you truly believe are following you. If you don't like what is following you, change what you really believe.
- If we believe sickness, poverty, etc., it will follow us.
- We say we are prospered, but then we say "We can't afford this" again and again.
- But He has “pleasure in the prosperity His servant." (Psalm 35:27)
- Mike says of him and his wife, “We operate in acceleration - we get done all that God has called us to do and have plenty of time left over.” You can too, if you don't contradict it with your words.
- The river is moving quickly in the middle; it’s slower near the banks, allowing us to get in…but we have to step in.
When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream. 2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, And our tongue with singing. Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” 3 The Lord has done great things for us,
And we are glad. Psalm 126:1
- It's time to dream again. You've set some dreams aside, but it's time to dust them off and believe for them.
“The unseen will become the seen in 2018.”
- What is unseen in your life? What have you been waiting for?
- The Lord says, “I will open your eyes so you will see in the spirit like never before. Things will be restored. The high things must be brought down. This year you will see me move like never before. 2018 is your year. I have stepped on the accelerator. It is at the door. Don't stop or give up. You will see my power manifested in your life.”
- He is moving powerfully.
- Your perceived setback is actually a setup for God to bless you like never before.
- Some have been in confusion and don't know what to do about certain situations. Confusion does not come from God. He is not the author of confusion. (1 Corinthians 14:33)
- Some have lost their joy. You have focused on your circumstances. You must put you focus on God and not the circumstances.
- What was lost will be found.
"Overcoming the Storms of Life" - book by Mike Martin
- The storm does not cause victory or defeat - it's your reaction to the storm.
"Developing a Godly Image" - book by Mike Martin
- What you think determines what you see spiritually. What you see affects what you say. What you say affects your life.
When Mike’s young grandson was very sick, and the doctor said he would die, his daughter would not agree with what the doctor said, and he and his wife came and proclaimed he would live and not die (Psalm 118:17). He is well, normal and in college today.
Pastor Trey’s comments
Referring to Psalm 126:
- When we dream, our mouths are filled with laughter... And we are glad.
- The Lord will bring us out of captivity as we step into the (accelerated) streams.
Now we left off last week with the last part of Psalm 23:4 where David went on to say, “…Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” So, let’s pick back up this week with this phrase:
THE SHEPHERD’S ROD AND STAFF
Now both the shepherds’ rod and staff served a purpose in their duties as a Shepherd.
The rod was considered more of his weapon. It was what he used to ward off predators and to defend his flock. So, I would liken the rod of our Good Shepherd to God’s Word - for it is His Word that is the offensive weapon of God’s kingdom.
If you recall, it was Moses’ rod that was used time and time again as the instrument that brought Egypt to its knees. The magicians of Pharaoh did the same miracle as Moses the first time because demons are good at doing lying signs and wonders. And that’s a good lesson for us. Just because something supernatural happens, doesn't mean it's of God. If it's not found in the Word, don't believe it. If it's not bringing glory to God, it's not God. We must be grounded in the Word, both to be empowered and to not be deceived by wrong doctrines. But then Moses' rod gobbled up the ones of the magicians. Yes, the Great I Am gave Moses this rod to execute the judgment of God on the king of Egypt, and this honor have all the saints today - to execute on the principalities and powers the written judgment of God! Amen? (see Psalm 149:5-9).
We too have God’s “rod” today that brings comfort to our souls. As Romans 15:4 calls it, “the comfort of the Scriptures.” And 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” His truths and promises give us the comfort that our God will provide, that He will deliver us, that He is indeed with us and for us! God’s Word is God’s Rod with a capital “W”! Amen?
Now the shepherd’s staff served a different purpose: First of all, it was the distinguishing mark of a shepherd. Yes, that long staff with the rounded hook at the top was one of the primary ways that one was recognized as a shepherd.
However, the staff was not used just for show. It was a tool that the shepherd used for tending to his flock of sheep. It has been said that the shepherd would use his staff to “hook” his sheep for the purpose of leading and guiding them.
This is why I see the staff as symbolic of the Holy Spirit: He is the tool (more literally, the Person) that God uses to lead and guide His sheep today. Likewise, the Holy Spirit is to us today the distinguishing mark of our Shepherd. In other words, He is the part of the Godhead who reveals to us who our Good Shepherd is. His job is to glorify the Good Shepherd and to lead us unto Him. Amen.
You need the priority of the Word and the Holy Spirit in your life. Spend time in the Word and communion with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not a goose bump, He is a person. Talk to the Holy Spirit. You don't have to pray to talk to the Holy Spirit. You talk to other people and you're not praying to them. Spend time communing with the Holy Spirit so He can lead you.
And what is He leading us unto? Notice what David goes on to say in verses 5&6...
THE HONORABLE HOST
Notice that in these verses David is continuing to directly address His Shepherd in this verse like he began to do at the end of verse 4. However, I want you to notice the transition in this Psalm: Now the example of a Shepherd and His sheep is no longer being used. Now, in verses 5&6, he is using the analogy of a person being invited into someone else’s home and being shown great hospitality and honor.
So, these last two verses of the 23rd Psalm show us another part of God’s nature. Not only is He that Good Shepherd who takes care of His sheep; He is that Honorable Host who crowns us with His lovingkindness and tender-mercies.
Yes, He prepares this table before us and makes all things good and ready! Upon entering, He honors us by anointing our head with oil! He fills our cup up to overflowing! Then our response is, “Surely, my host’s goodness and mercy follow me all the days of my life! And I will live in His house forever!” Amen! This is living the good life, my friends!
Now this ought to teach us how we should be when we host people into our own homes or into God’s house: Our guests should feel honored, blessed, and made to feel special. This is the way our Heavenly Father operates. Likewise, His children are to imitate Him in being “given to hospitality.”
Now let’s look at the beginning of the next verse in the 23rd Psalm: David says in Psalm 23:5, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…”
ACCEPTING THE INVITATION
As we begin looking at this portion of verse 5, there is another Scriptural example of being invited to the Lord’s table that we must consider:
In Luke 14:15-24, Jesus used an example to describe how the Lord invites us to His table for a meal and all that were invited began to give excuse one by one as to why they could not attend. This angered the Lord and compelled Him to begin inviting those who were less noble - the poor, the maimed, the lame, etc. (Notice here the reference to the “lame.” This will become important later).
What’s the lesson here? The Lord has prepared this table before us and has invited each of us to come partake, but we must accept the invitation - not having anything or anyone else be more important than attending His supper.
So, just because the Lord has prepared a table does not automatically mean everyone invited will partake of it - not because God is holding back, but because those He invites generally don’t make showing up to that dinner a priority in their lives. Let’s change that! Let’s make eating at the Lord’s table a priority! God is not looking for the able, but for the available. He can and will enable us to do whatever He calls us to.
Just as it was said to the Church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:20 - the Lord is standing at the door of our hearts knocking, desiring for us to open the door, invite Him in, and dine with Him. And this was written to a church, saints! So, evidently even born-again Christians are capable of not experiencing all that the Lord desires for them.
DON’T LEAVE THE PARTY
And what we see here is that all that God has for us does not just include us eating at the Lord’s table; it includes eating “in the presence of our enemies.”
Now David was certainly a man who experienced this truth in his life, amen? The Lord honored him time and time again during his time in King Saul’s presence. Yes, even though Saul was driven by iniquity and constantly persecuted David, the Lord continued to bless David and delivered him from Saul’s hands.
This shows us that our God delights in defending us from our adversaries. But the key to experiencing this is found in doing the same honorable things that David did in the midst of his persecution. He continued to honor the king. He did not take things into his own hands. He let the Lord justify and deliver him. Even when he seemed to have every right, he did not touch the Lord’s anointed.
Now we will find this out more next week, but we are all the Lord’s anointed now. Yes, if you are a part of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, you are an anointed king and priest. Therefore, even when one of your brothers and sisters in Christ (who are also loved by God as much as you are) do things that hurt you, you are to respond like David did, letting the Lord defend you. You and I are still to do good to them. We are to pray for them. We are to bless them. Bless and do not curse, knowing this that you were called to inherit a blessing! (1 Peter 3:9)
But what so many Christians do is this: when their brother or sister does something to them, they fight back. They retaliate. They take matters into their own hands. However, in doing so, they get up from the Lord’s table. And what they need to understand is - even if they are successful at avenging themselves, they are missing the meal. Do you know how many of God’s children are missing out on the party at God’s table because they decided to let their enemies spoil their fun? And don’t you know that the devil plants people and circumstances in our paths to distract us from staying on the path with God?
Church, when people - even God’s anointed ones - irritate us, we don’t need to miss the meal God has prepared for us because of someone else. We cannot control how others act, but we can “sho’ nuff” control how we react. Don’t leave the table for someone who decided not to come to the party! Amen?
EATING AT THE KING’S TABLE
Now, as I meditated on this truth about eating at the Lord’s table, I couldn’t help but think of that story in the book of 2nd Samuel that is a beautiful type and shadow of what we have in Christ - the story of a man named Mephibosheth…
Notice in 2 Samuel 4:4 that we have a brief description of this, Jonathan’s young son. And when the news came from Jezreel that both his father and grandfather were killed, his nurse took him up and fled in haste. We are told that this is when he fell and became lame.
Now as we are going to see through this story of David and Mephibosheth, these things are a type and shadow of our relationship with Christ. So, I want to bring to your attention the lesson we can learn from this:
Why did the nurse flee with Mephibosheth after hearing the news of both Saul and Jonathan being killed? It was because it was customary then for one, when taking the throne, to kill all surviving descendants who might ever try to reclaim their family’s throne. Therefore, this nurse assumed that David would do the same. But she obviously didn’t know David, did she? She was completely unaware that he was different from others. Yes, David was kind. He was noble. He was gracious. But she didn’t know Him to be this way.
Do you reckon that there are many of God’s children out there today who are, likewise, unaware of how good, gracious and kind our Lord is? It is sad, but a good portion of God’s church do not truly know their God’s true nature. Just as this woman assumed David was like any other man, likewise Christ’s bride assumes their God is like any other god (i.e. quick to judge, harsh, condemning, critical, etc.)
So, this misconception of David caused her to do what? To take Mephibosheth up and flee from David’s presence! Likewise, this misconception of God’s true nature has led many Christians when they have missed it and fallen short of His glory to run from Him rather than to Him.
But notice that this response of fear that caused Jonathan’s house to run from David is what caused this accident that left Mephibosheth lame. The same happens to us, my friends. When we run from God in fear, guilt, condemnation, etc. this is when we open ourselves up to falling even further into more permanent spiritual conditions (i.e. spiritual lameness).
WHO IS YOUR GOD?
You see, we attract what we believe. Much of the body of Christ does not realize how our belief system impacts the fruit we receive in our life. And this is particularly true with how we see our God. I am convinced that there is so much more that God desires to do in our lives than we allow Him to. Yes, just as the children of Israel were guilty of limiting God’s will for them in their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, we limit God through our wrong thinking and wrong believing.
Let me show you how this bode true for the Egyptians during this instance of the plagues in Exodus:
Did you realize that when these various plagues came upon Egypt that every one of them (save the Death of the Firstborn) were all gods of Egypt? Yes, the Egyptians had a god for everything - for the frogs, the Nile River, the lice, the livestock, etc. So, it was as if God was rubbing it in their face regarding how He is greater than their gods that they served by sending the specific plagues that He did. For instance, it was like He was saying, “You like worshipping these frogs? Then here, here are all the frogs you can handle!”
You see this in the countries that battle poverty the most. Consider the nations that are the most impoverished. Do you know what they have in common? Idolatry runs more rampant in these nations. In other words, they go beyond just not believing in a particular god; they practice witchcraft and have formed their own gods and practice ungodly behaviors. Yes, just as Egypt did in Exodus, these idolatrous nations today are in essence reaping the fruit of the gods that they believed in and served. Likewise, much of God’s church today reaps the fruit of the God that they see themselves serving. Did you hear that? Hear the word of the Lord: You get the fruit of the God you believe in and see yourself serving.
We have a powerful proverb that teaches us a similar lesson: Proverbs 28:1 says, “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion!”
You see, we are not wicked anymore. If you are a born again, child of God, your nature has been changed and you are not a sinner any longer. Sure, you can still sin after you have been saved, and likely you will. But that does not change your nature. However, notice it is the wicked who flees when no one pursues. And this is exactly what sin consciousness will do in our lives: When we see ourselves as “wicked” - that is, when we are conscious of all of our faults, weaknesses, mistakes and shortcomings - we will flee when no pursues. That means that we will run from God when He is not out to get us. This happened in the Garden after the first sin of man and it is still happening today when God’s children sin. We sin, and instead of running to God (like we should), we run from Him thinking He is pursuing us to punish us. But the truth is that God is pursuing you when you sin, but not to punish you; He is pursuing you to restore, redeem, and reconcile you!
So, the wicked - or the one who thinks he or she is wicked - will flee when no one pursues. This describes far too many Christians. They are running from the righteousness of God because they have an incorrect view of God and of themselves. But, again, God is not pursuing to punish; He is pursuing to pour out His protection and provision.
Do you see the perverted thinking much of the church has adopted? We think we are being pursued! We think God is out to get us. No, church, God is for us, so who can be against us! This is what we should be believing!
But notice the second half of this verse: “But the righteous are bold as a lion.”
This is the truth we need to displace that lie with! The devil just walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, yet we see him as the big, bad lion. But we are the righteousness of God in Christ, and we need to see ourselves as that big, bad lion! Why? Because we are in the Lion of Judah! We are the ones who are hid in the King of the Jungle! Therefore, we should be the bold, confident ones! We should be the ones that are walking about boldly like lions, seeking which works of darkness that we can devour- not the reversal! Hallelujah!
Friends, understanding our righteous position in Christ will produce boldness and confidence! Having our state of justification revealed to us will produce the full assurance of faith in our hearts! Hallelujah! We are to be playing the part of the lion; not the devil! We are to be the ones on the hunt; not him! We are the ones with the authority! We are the ones with the position! We are the ones with the name above all names! We ARE the righteousness of God in Christ!
So, stop fleeing like the wicked and start pursuing like the righteous! Be bold and be confident! God is on your side!
CONTINUE EATING AT THE KING’S TABLE
Now let’s go back over to the Book of 2nd Samuel and look at 2 Samuel chapter 9… In this chapter, we get to see what happened with Mephibosheth later in his life:
Chapter nine begins with David saying, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (verse one)
Notice, here in verse one, that David said that he was going to show this kindness for Jonathan’s sake. Here, we see a beautiful type and shadow of how God shows us the same “covenant faithfulness” for Jesus’ sake. Amen! In other words, all the goodness, grace and mercy of God that was shown to us was not given to us because of who we are, but because of the Father God’s and the Son of God’s relationship. Amen!
Then notice in verse three that David said that his desire was not just to show any old kindness, but “the kindness of God.” You see, there is a big difference between “our kindness” and “God’s kindness.” Our love is oftentimes conditional; His love is unconditional. Our love is oftentimes merited; His love is unmerited. Our love oftentimes fails; His love never fails! Thanks be to God!
Then, in verse seven, I want you to notice several of the same characteristics of the good life of Psalm 23 that are found here:
However, David went on to promise Mephibosheth that he would eat bread at his table continually. The word “continually” comes from the Hebrew word tamid (pronounced “tah-meed”) which means “constantly, always, evermore” but the root word describes continually from an eternal standpoint. So, when you look at this from the perspective of us eating at the Lord’s table, we are invited to eat from this table today in the presence of our enemies, but we will continue to partake of it all the way to the marriage supper of the Lamb and forevermore. That’s a lot of food, amen?
Then notice in verse eight, Mephibosheth’s response to this good news: He said, “What is your servant, that you should look upon such a dead dog as I?”
So, what we see here is this man had a serious identity problem. To refer to oneself as a “dead dog” means that they see themselves as having no value. This could have been because of what happened to his father’s house, but it also likely had to do with his lameness. You see, sometimes the things that have happened to us in life can warp our sense of value. But what we should be encouraged by here is that it did not change the king’s perspective of him. You see, we tend to think of ourselves as having little to no value and are unworthy, but to God, we are extremely precious and have been made worthy through our “Jonathan”- our Good, Heavenly Father.
Finally, in verse thirteen, we are told, “for he ate continually at the king’s table.” This is the fourth time in this chapter that Mephibosheth eating at David’s table is mentioned. Biblically, the number “four” describes “totality.”
Therefore, this table has be “totally” prepared for us! It is a done deal! All things have been made ready and complete! Now it is just up to us to come partake! Amen.
Notice that this beautiful story ends with the phrase, “And he was lame in both his feet.” Now the awesome thing about this whole story of kindness and mercy is that when Mephibosheth sat at David’s table, his lameness was covered. It was hidden. When eating at the table of the Lord there is no sign or indication of our weakness. We are on equal “footing” with Him. Amen!
So, in conclusion, if we continue to read in the Book of 2nd Samuel, we come to David’s gross sin with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah.
Under the old covenant, when people were judged much quicker and far more severe than King David was for his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah, what was it about David that caused him to reap unusual kindness and mercy from God? Our quick answer might be, "Well, God favored David." But I believe there were tendencies and characteristics in David that caused David to obtain this unusual favor. In other words, and more specifically, there were things that David sowed that caused him to reap like he did.
If you consider the chapters preceding David's big sin in the Book of 2nd Samuel (which occurred in chapters 11-12), you will see that he was sowing kindness and mercy into people like Mephibosheth and even Hanun (see 2 Sam chapter ten).
So, do you think it is any coincidence that David, the man after God's own heart, reaped unusual mercy right after he was sowing unusual mercy? I think not! Be merciful, my friends! Show God’s kindness to those around you! This is one sure fire way to partake of all that the Lord has prepared for us at His table. Amen!
So then, we can clearly see that being led on these paths of righteousness is not always going to be easy. We will have plenty of opportunities even during this good life to exercise our faith. We will certainly be tempted time and time again to ask the questions like, “Why did this happen? Where was God during this? Did I miss it somewhere?” But as we learned last week, it is imperative that we stay on God’s side when these times happen. And it is important for us to realize what David went on to say in verse 4…
He says, in Psalm 23:4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and staff, they comfort me.”
So, will this good life that God has planned for us to live contain trials, tribulation and persecution? The Holy Spirit, through David, foreseeing this says, “Yea” (or, YES!) Yes, our faith will be tried at times. Yes, some of our journey will take us through these dark valleys. But, as I will get into today, the good life does not involve pitching camp in these valleys; David said we are walking through these dark valleys. Amen?
Now let’s begin looking at Psalm 23:4 by noticing the transition we see in this Psalm here: What we see now is not the sheep making their boast in what their shepherd does for them; we see the sheep actually addressing the shepherd himself.
Notice the terminology used here and you will see this: After saying, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,” He says to the Lord his Shepherd, “For you are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
This teaches me that there is a time and a place for proclaiming who He is to you to others or just in general; but it also teaches me that there is a time and a place for addressing Him personally and telling Him who is to you. Amen? Both are evidently important to do.
SO WE MAY BOLDLY SAY
But what we need to take away from this is - the obvious importance for us, as the Lord’s sheep, is to make proclamations, declarations and confessions of our faith - whether that be in general or directly to the Lord Himself. Yes, what we say is important.
You see, over in Hebrews 13:5-6, the writer of this letter recalls that the Lord Himself said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” at the end of verse 5. But then he goes on to say in verse 6, “So we may boldly say…” Now don’t miss this point right here: Because the Lord Himself said that He would never leave us nor forsake us, now we may boldly say something in response! In other words, because He said this, we can boldly say that. Amen! This, my friends, is the power of confession: When the Lord has promised us something, we can with all boldness, declare things pertaining to what He has already said! And here the writer of Hebrews said that we can boldly say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Amen! And we need to remember that His Word in our mouth is just as powerful as His Word in His mouth. When we say what God has said, we can expect to receive it. Whether you feel it or not, if His word says it, it's true.
But in my experience, I don’t hear too many Christians talking like this. They either think this is prideful or presumptuous. But, again, the Bible has a LOT to say about us boldly declaring the truth, and we also see many different examples in the Scriptures where this is echoed as well. However, I for one decide to go with the Bible and not with the philosophies and traditions of men. I will confidently say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in Him I will trust!” (Psalm 91:2). I will boldly say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear! What can man do to me?” Amen.
Over in Romans chapter 8, we have a powerful truth that echoes this: In the first 30 verses of this chapter, we have the Apostle Paul giving us many of the wonderful promises of our covenant - everything from the fact that there is no condemnation for us (verse 1), we have the law of the Spirit of Life (verse 2), the Holy Spirit quickens our mortal bodies (verses 9-11), we are joint heirs with Jesus Christ (verse 12), the Holy Spirit intercedes through us (verses 26-27), God works all things together for our good (verse 28). And the list could go on and on.
Then, in Romans 8:31, Paul asks a question: “What then shall we say to these things?” In other words, with all of these exceedingly great and precious promises, what should our response be? We should say! Yes, again, our reasonable service is to verbally proclaim something. And what is it here that Paul said we shall say to these things? “If God is for us, who can be against us!?!”
You see, when you add up all of the things that God has promised us and said are ours, then the only conclusion we should come to is - God is for us! Yes, He is on our side! He has done so much for us that it is an indisputable fact that He is for us! Amen! Therefore, if He is for us and on our side, then why on God’s green earth would we ever be afraid of anything? As one commentary said, if the Lord Almighty is obviously resolved and engaged to bring us through, all our enemies must be His. Amen!
NO FEAR HERE!
So, what we say is obviously important - specifically when it comes to the many different fears that come up against us as we are walking through these valleys of the shadow of death. Amen?
You see, in these Scriptures, fear is the thing being countered with our words. For example, in Hebrews 13:6, we see one of the author’s bold proclamations was, “I will not fear!” Now ironically enough, the writer of Hebrews included in this declaration that he would not fear, because this is the subject matter of Psalm 23:4. In it, David also declares “I will fear no evil!”
You see, there is an important truth found in this - and that is that the best way to counter fear-filled thoughts is with faith-filled words. Yes, when fear tries to grip our hearts, we can replace it by speaking words of faith. Amen.
And when I say “words of faith,” I am referring to words that are concrete and positively declare the truth. For example, notice in Hebrews 13:6 that he said, “I will not fear.” This was what the writer had made the decision to do! He was essentially saying, “Nope, I will not fear - not gonna do it! No fear here!” Amen! And church, we must see how important it is to violently reject those fear-filled thoughts and vehemently war against yielding to them.
For example, we see over in Psalm 91 how a big part of receiving and walking in God’s protection is not being afraid of the things that seem capable of harming us. In Psalm 91:5-6, the Psalmist says, “You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.”
Now that sounds pretty much like we are to not fear anything, doesn’t it? On top of that, it sounds like we are not to be afraid at any point of the day too. He says that we shouldn’t be afraid at night nor during the day; at the darkest point of the night, not at the brightest part of the day. We are not to fear - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! 365 days a year, we should not fear!
In fact, it has been said that the Bible tells us not to fear 365 times. Isn’t that an interesting and convenient number? This should prove to us beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are not to ever allow ourselves to fear - no, not one day out of the year. Fear has been described as False Expectations Appearing Real.
Another way to counter fear is through praise. Our emotions are based on what we think, and the fear cannot stay when you praise God. Praising God is done best when telling God and others about all the great things He has done. On the other hand, continually talking about how big your problems are, or how afraid you may be, essentially boil down to praising the devil.
It is important to understand why fear is so bad. Most do not put worry and anxiety - all of which are products of fear - in the same category as lying, stealing, etc. I mean, some Christians would never dream of committing any of these “big sins”, but the truth is, fear is just as much sin as these other things.
The Apostle Paul said that whatever is not of faith is sin. So fear, which is the exact opposite of faith, is sin. I do not bring this up to condemn anyone who struggles with this, but rather to let you know just how intolerant you should be to fear. So, we should shun and resist fear like we would shun and resist adultery because, really, it is just as bad in many ways.
You see, allowing fear in our lives is like telling God we don’t trust Him. It is a direct violation of one of God’s greatest desires - that we believe Him. And this is why fear is such a big deal to God that He would charge us to not fear 365 times in His Word! It is because faith is such a big deal to Him! The Bible teaches us without faith it is impossible to please Him. It says that we are saved by faith. It says that we now walk by faith and not by sight. The Bible repeatedly shows us just how important it is that the child of God operates in faith.
Well, fear is the opposite of faith. You cannot be in fear and in faith at the same time. They are complete opposites. Fear is nothing but faith in the devil, or in what he is telling us, rather than in what God has told us. And just as faith is the currency that we use to obtain things in the kingdom of light, fear is the currency that we use to obtain things in the kingdom of darkness. In other words, you open yourselves up to receive whatever you allow yourselves to be afraid of. Job acted in fear (Job 1:5) by continually offering sacrifices for his sons in case they had sinned and cursed God. Then, in Job: 3:25, he says that the thing he had greatly feared had come to pass. So, can you see how yielding to fear then will lead us away from the good life God has for us? Therefore, we should resist fear like the plague it is! We must grab ourselves by the ear and reject the temptation to fear. Amen?
Now let’s look back over at Psalm 23:4 and take a look at what else David said in this powerful verse because it will help us to further understand why we shouldn’t fear…
THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH
Again, he said, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” Notice that David said here that we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Pay special attention to the words “through” and “shadow.”
First of all, let’s look at how David said we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death, not that we are to stay there. This is important because this is exactly what so many Christians do - they pitch camp right slap dab in the middle of the valley of the shadow of death. Like the children of Israel, the majority of Christians today like to wander around in the wilderness, in the valleys around the same mountains. Some do this because they like the sympathy they receive. Some do this because they like the attention it gives them.
Saints, our testimony should not be that of having pitched camp in these valleys. As Christ’s disciples, we are called to “go to the other side!” And that is exactly why we need not fear these unavoidable valleys that we will travel through as long as we are in this world. Jesus said that in this world we will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, He overcame the world!
So, yes, even though we will have valleys and tribulations that will touch us all, we are passing through them. Therefore, we ought to know that if we just don’t quit and if we just keep the faith, we will get to the other side. Amen!?!
Secondly, notice that this valley is called “the valley of the shadow of death.” It is not death itself; it is the shadow of death. Now a shadow of a dog never bit anyone, right? A shadow holds no power. Therefore, death holds no power over our lives. It is only the fear of death that we deal with.
Let me ask you a question: What is it that is the root of all fears? What is it that people ultimately fear? Now we have all kinds of things that we specifically are afraid of such as the fear of heights, the fear of snakes, claustrophobia, arachnophobia, etc. But what are all of these “phobias” rooted in? I can tell you: they are all ultimately rooted in the fear of death.
Hebrews 2:14-15 reveals this to us when it says that before we came to Christ, we were all subject to the fear of death and, therefore, were living all of our life subject to the bondage of this root of all fears. But the key phrase here is “were.” We were all of our lifetime subject to bondage through the fear of death. Therefore, living in fear should not be the case for a Christian! We should not fear death or anything else for that matter because, saints, even if the worst happens and we die, we still win! We are still going to heaven, glory to God! Therefore, we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus who loved us!
But this fear of evil, death, etc. has a remedy. And David goes on to share this with us in the rest of this verse. He goes on to say, “for You are with me.”
FOR YOU ARE WITH ME
Now the word “for” here could also be translated “because.” So, the reason that David was saying that he would fear no evil is because he knew that His God was with Him.
What an awesome truth that we seem to throw aside sometimes, saints - that our God is with us! It doesn’t matter where we go or what we are going through. Our God is with us!
It was said of Jesus at His birth that His Name would be called “Immanuel,” God with us! (Matthew 1:23) And then, at His departure, He said, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20). So, if Jesus is said to be “God with us” all the way from His birth to His Resurrection, then don’t you reckon He is with us everywhere in between? Amen!
Let’s look at a few Old Testament Scriptures where God promised to be with His chosen people:
Now here we have three witnesses where God has promised to be with His covenant people, and do you also see another reoccurring theme through these verses? In essence, He said in all three of them, “Do not fear because I am with you!” Amen! Therefore, what we should learn from this is that the key to eliminating fear from our hearts is by the truth that God is with us, entering into our hearts. Amen!
So, based on these truths and the truths of our new and better covenant, we have three awesome promises that should dispel all fear from our hearts: