You Can’t Live in Fear

When I was young I use to read a comic book called Ghost Rider.  This was about a lost soul who could look in the eyes of an evil person and reflect all the pain and fear they had caused other people back at them and the result would drive them insane.  Now that has nothing to do with what I’m saying other than his favorite saying was, “You can’t live in fear”.  I was reminded of it when I read my verse for the day.

The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion. Proverbs 28:1.

When the Lord brought the Hebrews out of Egypt and to the Promised Land.  They sent out scouts to survey the land, and gain intelligence on the resources and the inhabitants.  They sent 12 scouts in all to investigate the land the Lord had promised.

When the scouts returned, ten of the scouts spread stories of how strong the current inhabitants were, stories of giants and great cities and powers. Effectively scaring the whole of the Hebrew race.  They whipped up a strong frenzy in the Hebrews who now wished they had never left Egypt or that they had died in the wilderness, rather than face the enemies below.

Two of the scouts however, brought back reports of how plenteous the land was, ripe fields ready for the harvest.  Cities that were waiting to be conquered, and militaries in ill repair that were weakened by to many years in splendor.  The two scouts were Caleb and Joshua.

Caleb and Joshua remembered what the Lord had done for the Hebrew, how he had called them out of Egypt, parted the sea and crushed the Pharaoh and his immense army of chariots.  How the Lord had always been before them.  Providing food, shelter, and water along their journey.  How the Lord had prepared their path and protected their way.

Many times we as followers look out at the world, work, and our neighborhood and all we see are the fortifications, the walls of stone that are build up.  The weapons poised for defense, and the fires burning behind iron gates.  We become fearful, and sheepish, choosing to avoid the confrontation, and keeping silent.  Not doing what the Lord has commanded us all.  Praying the Lord would send others to do what he has already sent us to do.

We forget that the Lord has delivered us from bondage and protected us from our enemies.  Forgetting that the Lord has provided us food and nourishment, shelter and a stronghold.  He has given us strength and a comforter who resides within us.  We forget to look at His provisions.  The armor he has given us, we choose not to take up the shield and the sword for fear of rejection from those who reject Him.

How sad it is, that if we, just looked with remembrance in what the Lord has done for us we could see so much more.  We would see the fields ripe for harvest, and the rust on the enemy’s weapons.  We would see the foundation of the enemy build on shifting sands and unable to withstand the pressures of their buildings.  We would see a tabernacle already prepared for the Lord to indwell.

We are all called to bear witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember it is written, “ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” Acts 1:8   If you have ever wondered what it is that God wants you to do…. “Here’s Your Sign!”, as Bill Engvall would say. Let us all remember that we will all be called to give a testimony for what Christ has done for us.

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Letter from Pliny the Younger

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I found something today in my studies of Jesus and how he affected changes in the world as no other person has done before or since.  I found a translation of a letter from Pliny the Younger to the Roman Emperor Trahan. Pliny was the Roman Governor of the province of Bithynia, what is modern day Turkey. It struck me as marvelous.

I found that this letter was the first official record of the Romans making a distinction of Christianity from Judaism.  In addition, the distinction that was used to see the difference in how 1st Century Christians behaved and the way they were viewed, and why Romans first started executing Christians.  If was not because they were causing riots or causing problems with the civil or federal governments.  They just simply would not deny Jesus.  This governor was not even sure if he was within his power to execute them for just being Christians, but did so anyway.  Below is his description of a Christian…

“-That they were wont, on a stated day, to meet together before it was light, and to sing a hymn to Christ, as to a god, alternately; and to oblige themselves by a sacrament [or oath], not to do anything that was ill: but that they would commit no theft, or pilfering, or adultery; that they would not break their promises, or deny what was deposited with them, when it was required back again; after which it was their custom to depart, and to meet again at a common but innocent meal.”

The 1st Christians met early before light, sang praises to Jesus and live a life that was committed to doing no one harm.  No lies, no thievery, no adultery, no breaking of promises, and no denying of Jesus.  Very simple terms to live life on.  Yet how many Christians today can say they live by these simple guides for life?

Can you say that you wish no one harm?  Do you gossip and spread lies?  Do you put your nose where it doesn’t belong, just so you can talk bad of others?  Do you steal from work? Are you honest with your taxes?  I don’t think I need to go any further.

Early Christians were killed for living this simple way of life in order to show others Christ.  Purpose your heart to do no one harm, to speak no evil, to commit no thievery or pilfering, to control your lusts and commit no adultery.  Keep your word and keep that which has been trusted to you.

Keep these in mind:

  • If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink – Proverbs 25:21
  • Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, – Luke 6:27
  • Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you – Matthew 5:44
  • Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. -1 Peter 3:9

There are many more we could include.  I hope this inspires your own study.

I am including the direct translation as provided by pbs.org the Frontline.

PLINY’S EPISTLE TO TRAJAN ABOUT 112 CE

Sir,

It is my constant method to apply myself to you for the resolution of all my doubts; for who can better govern my dilatory way of proceeding or instruct my ignorance? I have never been present at the examination of the Christians [by others], on which account I am unacquainted with what uses to be inquired into, and what, and how far they used to be punished; nor are my doubts small, whether there be not a distinction to be made between the ages [of the accused]? and whether tender youth ought to have the same punishment with strong men? Whether there be not room for pardon upon repentance?” or whether it may not be an advantage to one that had been a Christian, that he has forsaken Christianity? Whether the bare name, without any crimes besides, or the crimes adhering to that name, be to be punished? In the meantime, I have taken this course about those who have been brought before me as Christians. I asked them whether they were Christians or not? If they confessed that they were Christians, I asked them again, and a third time, intermixing threatenings with the questions. If they persevered in their confession, I ordered them to be executed; for I did not doubt but, let their confession be of any sort whatsoever, this positiveness and inflexible obstinacy deserved to be punished. There have been some of this mad sect whom I took notice of in particular as Roman citizens, that they might be sent to that city. After some time, as is usual in such examinations, the crime spread itself and many more cases came before me. A libel was sent to me, though without an author, containing many names [of persons accused]. These denied that they were Christians now, or ever had been. They called upon the gods, and supplicated to your image, which I caused to be brought to me for that purpose, with frankincense and wine; they also cursed Christ; none of which things, it is said, can any of those that are ready Christians be compelled to do; so I thought fit to let them go. Others of them that were named in the libel, said they were Christians, but presently denied it again; that indeed they had been Christians, but had ceased to be so, some three years, some many more; and one there was that said he had not been so these twenty years. All these worshipped your image, and the images of our gods; these also cursed Christ. However, they assured me that the main of their fault, or of their mistake was this:-That they were wont, on a stated day, to meet together before it was light, and to sing a hymn to Christ, as to a god, alternately; and to oblige themselves by a sacrament [or oath], not to do anything that was ill: but that they would commit no theft, or pilfering, or adultery; that they would not break their promises, or deny what was deposited with them, when it was required back again; after which it was their custom to depart, and to meet again at a common but innocent meal, which they had left off upon that edict which I published at your command, and wherein I had forbidden any such conventicles. These examinations made me think it necessary to inquire by torments what the truth was; which I did of two servant maids, who were called Deaconesses: but still I discovered no more than that they were addicted to a bad and to an extravagant superstition. Hereupon I have put off any further examinations, and have recourse to you, for the affair seems to be well worth consultation, especially on account of the number of those that are in danger; for there are many of every age, of every rank, and of both sexes, who are now and hereafter likely to be called to account, and to be in danger; for this superstition is spread like a contagion, not only into cities and towns, but into country villages also, which yet there is reason to hope may be stopped and corrected. To be sure, the temples, which were almost forsaken, begin already to be frequented; and the holy solemnities, which were long intermitted, begin to be revived. The sacrifices begin to sell well everywhere, of which very few purchasers had of late appeared; whereby it is easy to suppose how great a multitude of men may be amended, if place for repentance be admitted.

TRAJAN’S EPISTLE TO PLINY

My Pliny,

You have taken the method which you ought in examining the causes of those that had been accused as Christians, for indeed no certain and general form of judging can be ordained in this case. These people are not to be sought for; but if they be accused and convicted, they are to be punished; but with this caution, that he who denies himself to be a Christian, and makes it plain that he is not so by supplicating to our gods, although he had been so formerly, may be allowed pardon, upon his repentance. As for libels sent without an author, they ought to have no place in any accusation whatsoever, for that would be a thing of very ill example, and not agreeable to my reign.


 

From The Works of Josephus,
translated by William Whiston
Hendrickson Publishers, 1987

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/maps/primary/pliny.html

 

Matthew 6:6

“But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly”

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When I was young and in Jr. High, I use to lock myself in my bedroom closet.  The closet was big enough to put a small desk in.  So I would lock myself in and read and study my bible.  While studying I would often pray and discuss the scriptures with myself and God allowed.  While doing so I would write my studies and prayers into a journal.  I could then reflect back months later and see the things I had prayed for in secret, and see the answers to prayer and I could thank God for the things he had done or the fears he had delivered me from.  In that small little closet with a makeshift desk and the light above I often felt closer to God then in any other place.

I remember when my oldest son was a toddler and he would go into the closet and play with my shoes, because he didn’t know I was home yet, but he missed me.  I slowly enter the bedroom without making a sound, and lay on the bed and watch and listen to him.  He would pretend he was talking to me and act like he was helping me with my boots.  Then inevitably he would notice me and then his eyes would light up and he would smile the biggest smile I have ever seen while raising his hands for me to pick him up.  Out joy for one another was uncontained.

Take time to be alone with God and He will be there, just quietly listening like a father to his child.  Waiting for you to see him and he will pick you up and show you all the joy he has in being your father.