Simple and Dependent

boy holding bible

In this world, a little child is generally considered to be at the lowest level in society regarding knowledge, maturity, experience, and gullibility. Yet in God’s plan, this concept is completely the opposite. He looks with great favor upon little children, more so than adults. Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14b). Why? It is due to the child’s simple and dependent nature. God wants us in complete dependence on Him, not on our self. When Jesus came to this world as a man, He did not rise up and overthrow the government, declaring Himself the almighty Emperor. Instead, He came in dependence on His Father in Heaven for everything—from what He should say, to where He should go next. He was never concerned about how He would get His next meal or where He was to sleep each night. Even while in a boat during a fierce storm, He slept on in peace. He knew that His Father would take care of everything.

Now if Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, was totally dependent on God, how much more so should we be in all areas of our life? Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). Which kingdom are we seeking? Is it one where we are constantly struggling to get ahead without God, in order to achieve a high position in a fragile and evil world that will one day perish forever? Or is it a kingdom where our needs can be met just by asking and believing in simplicity like a child—with no room or need for anxiety, fears, or worry?

Father, I surrender myself to You, wholly and completely. Forgive me for my self-centered ways and motives. Turn my heart and life into one that is dependent on you. May I have the simple faith of a child that I may enter into Your kingdom and dwell there forever with You. Amen.

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Greater Than Any Fence

sunset and heron behind fence

A simple chain-link fence was all that separated me from the Great Blue Heron standing at the pond’s edge. Hoping for the “perfect shot,” I carefully inched closer, camera in hand. With each successive step toward the fence, the heron became more wary of my presence. I slowly raised my camera to the fence top, when—whoosh—the heron made its rapid egress gracefully into the sky, evading me once again.

I spotted ibises later, moving across a grassy bank. With the tangled network of trees, bushes, and vines before me, the possibility was small that my presence would disturb them. Yet they still continued to hurriedly move farther down the bank. I cautiously repositioned myself just a short distance down along this barrier between the birds and me. Taking careful aim, I brought the ibises into focus, and waited silently. Suddenly, two boys gleefully bounded out of woods nearby toward my direction. The birds spotted them through this ‘fence’ and quickly flew off. Another fine photograph evaded me!

One would think that birds and animals feel safer behind fences and barriers. Yet almost every time, they flee at the slightest disturbance without hesitation. I’ve seen squirrels and doves high in a tree quite alarmed, that would run or fly away while I carefully walked underneath them. They didn’t know how difficult it was to reach them. So why would they, or a larger animal such as a cow or deer, feel compelled to move away from a human being, even though a large barricade stands between them? Could it simply be that they don’t understand just how secure they really are?

sheep behind fence

Many in today’s world harbor a similar fear. They consider the devil and all the evil associated with him a threat, and flee in the opposite direction at the slightest disturbance. This effort may be effective if someone nearby deliberately planned to throw a large object at them, but the devil operates in both the non-spiritual (natural, visible) realm, and in the spiritual (supernatural, unseen) realm. He is already waiting on the opposite side before they even get near there!

Wait—what about the fence mentioned earlier? Could the devil attack if a fence is in place in our life to protect us? It depends on our relationship with God. When we allow sin in our life, gaps appear in our fence, giving the devil access to us. Ever since the first man’s failure in the Garden of Eden, no human being has been able to be in God’s presence—whether in Heaven or on Earth—because of sin. Sin is disobedience to God’s laws and commandments, put in place for our benefit. Violating them results in both natural and spiritual consequences. God cannot permit or tolerate any sin in His presence, yet God wants every human being to be in His presence.

fence with hole

This is the point where Jesus, God’s only Son, comes in. Sin caused separation in the relationship between God and man. Through the requirements laid out in the Bible’s first five books, God made a way for man to come before Him, but only in a veiled manner back then. Sin couldn’t truly be defeated, because it required something sinless to overcome it—meaning no one from this earth would ever qualify. Sin could only be covered, or temporarily hidden, through the shed blood from the sacrifice of a spotless, innocent lamb. This meant that these lambs had to be continually sacrificed.

Jesus was sinless before He was born on this Earth as a man, and remained so all the way through His death on the cross and beyond. He was therefore able to fulfill this sinless requirement. He was the ultimate ‘spotless, innocent lamb’ that willingly (God never forced Him) shed His innocent blood by sacrificing His life on the cross. He permanently covered the sin of every man, woman and child that has lived, is living, and is yet to be born! Because He was the final sacrifice, no more lambs had to be sacrificed. When He cried out on the cross, “It is finished (literally just “finished,” John 19:30), He was referring to the end of the old physical sacrificial system, and of sin’s control over our lives. Not only did He sacrifice His life on the cross—three days later He arose from His tomb alive, completely victorious over sin and death!

So how does this apply to the fence I mentioned? Well, initially you need to admit to God that you were wrong and accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross by faith, as if it was your own sacrifice of yourself. He took your place and paid your debt for sin that He didn’t owe (remember, He was continuously sinless and blameless) —a debt impossible for you to repay. In fact, you can’t even pay the interest! Ask Him to forgive you for all of your sins against Him, and turn completely around in the opposite direction of them, thereby allowing Him to be in control of your life. [Click here for more information about giving your life to Him.] Do this, and He, in essence, becomes a hedge or fence around you. Not a literal fence you can see, but a spiritual fence that the devil and his minions are aware of, yet cannot get past.

cross with blue sunset

Because of Jesus’ victory at the cross, the devil no longer has the legal right to break through this fence and attack you—as long as you are yielding to Jesus, allowing Him to work in your heart and life. This doesn’t mean that the devil won’t threaten and intimidate you though. Like the boys running near the barrier scaring the birds, the devil will still create quite a racket—enough to make you believe that he has actually broken through the fence! The difference is, when you put your trust in Jesus, focusing on Him and not yourself or anyone else, that fence will remain secure.

Actually, you will be even more protected than the birds I mentioned. They are only safe from direct attacks on the side that the physical fence covers. But Jesus protects you on all sides. “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust” (Psalm 91:2). He is greater than any fence or hedge of protection that you’ll ever find on this Earth. Make a commitment to Jesus today and let Him be your shield and barrier.

“Wash my feet?”

multiple sandy feet in a circle

“…He poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded. Then …Peter saith unto Him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? …Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me” (John 13:5-8).

Peter could hardly believe what he was seeing when Jesus knelt before him with a towel in His hand and told him to extend his feet so He could wash them. Peter replied that he would not allow Jesus to bring Himself down to such a low level. He could not in any way envision Christ as a servant. But Jesus explained that rejecting this offer would be the same as rejecting Him, and then He said, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

What is the essential qualification to have a part with Christ? It doesn’t matter what our sin may be—we can be made pure through the actions of Jesus. But the only way we can receive is to have our feet washed by Him first. Jesus is willing and able to wash us to purify us of all our sins. He did not say that we have to pay Him or give Him anything to do this. It is an honor we cannot buy or earn, because it only comes by the mercy of God, and it is from Him alone that we receive it.

bowing to royalty

Royalty demands that we bow at their feet if we hope to get a favor from them. They might even require us to wash their feet before we could be considered for a favor. But what did the King of kings and Lord of lords do? He took off His outer garment, picked up a towel, and bent His knee before us in order to wash our feet! We should be serving Him, yet He serves us!

After He washed the feet of the disciples, Jesus said that “…ye ought also to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14-15). So why didn’t they continue washing each other’s feet after Jesus left them? Because they understood that He was simply demonstrating the need for lowliness before each other to them. There was no set way this was to be done, only according to the time and place and need, sometimes one way, sometimes another. The lesson Jesus was trying to get across was to have humble love for one another.

Jesus also wanted His disciples to be as clean inwardly as they were outwardly once they were washed.

He wanted them to help each other to reach toward the goal of purity, which might include washing one another’s feet when necessary. They were to be willing to serve those of any class, not just their own, whenever they had the opportunity. Jesus desired for His disciples to not just be morally right toward their brothers in the Lord, but to go to the extent of humbly denying themselves in order to help their brothers to be morally clean and pure also.

red heart

“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently…” (1 Peter 1:22).

Jesus wanted them to demonstrate brotherly love for each other, coming from a pure heart of godly love. He wanted the disciples to see each other as brothers because they would all soon be cleansed, not by water this time, but by His blood shed on the cross of Calvary. This would be their true source of cleansing and purification. He also told them that “What I do thou knowest not now. But thou shall know hereafter.”

We who belong to Christ need to do what He wanted us to do—to humbly lower ourselves to the level of servant to one another. Then we will be able to help remove the dirt and stain of the world and sin from each other which we all come in contact with day after day. If we will lower ourselves to walk a simple life of humility, we will be able to help lift our brothers and sisters to a life that is pure and noble.

If we feel unworthy to have Jesus wash our feet, and let this keep us away from Him, do we think we will be saved by what we think is being humble? We won’t be saved unless we let Him wash us and cleanse us of all sin.

If we are not willing for Him to do so, then we will not have a part in Him. It is my prayer that each of us, as children of God, will have a part with Him, and that we will all be faithful and diligent to watch over each other’s souls in order to give account to our Lord.

The Means or the Master

Where is the main focus of your faith? Is it in the head of a religious organization, or maybe the person speaking at a church service? Is it in what is written in the Bible or your effort spent in reading it? Is it in the actions of an alluring individual healing the sick? Is it in prayer? Is it in all of your good works and efforts you’ve accomplished for God? Is it in a literal cross mounted on a place of worship, or hanging on a chain around someone’s neck? Or is it solely in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross?

Reading the Bible is wonderful, prayer is essential, and proclaiming the Gospel needs to be done, but they are, in themselves, only the results of a relationship with Jesus our Master and Savior—not the primary goal. The object of our faith and belief is not to be in the means—it is to be in the Master Himself.

Heavenly Father, forgive me for allowing things other than your Son be the only focus of my faith instead of your Son alone. Help me to place my faith solely in Christ and what He has done on the cross. May my ways and thoughts be on your Son and not on the products of my relationship with Him. Keep me from focusing on anything or anyone other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Amen.

Pushing Fear Out of Your Life

headshot closeup of fearful man

Whether it’s something small, like a pen running out of ink in the middle of an important exam, or something major, such as a bomb detonating on an airplane, there will be fear in our life. None is exempt from having fear, regardless of age, background, standing in society, or physical location. Now fearing something, someone, or a certain circumstance is not necessarily wrong in itself, as long as we recognize it, and heed it as a warning to be careful or to make a change. But fear becomes a problem when it begins to hinder or control us. If fear dominates part or all of our life, and we just can’t seem to free ourself, then something in our heart is causing it—like doubt, unbelief, rebellion, or a whole host of other things. God may also use fear to alert us to the presence of sin in our life. As a result, even if we attempt to elude or hide from the situation, it is very likely to return until we are overtaken. God never wants anything in our life to bring us to the point that we are forced to succumb to our fears. But He does allow problems and difficult situations to come our way to wake us up, and to stir us to the point of repentance. God loves us greatly and does not want fear in our life any more than we do.

To remove fear from our life, we need to establish a solid relationship with God through His Son Jesus. But as long as sin dominates the heart, an intimate, godly relationship cannot exist. If a spouse in an earthly marriage relationship has an affair with another person, the marriage trust is broken and the original intimacy is lost.

Similarly, fear and perfect love cannot coexist in the same person. What we need is perfect (complete) love to fill our hearts, not sin.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love [drives] out fear: because fear hath torment [corrective misery]. He that feareth is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18). The perfect love mentioned here is not the kind of love expressed toward a family member or a friend, and is certainly not the love of erotic desire. It is, instead, the sacrificial, godly type of love. This kind of unconditional and unselfish love transcends all physical boundaries. It is the love that “…suffereth long, and is kind…envieth not…[boasts] not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

The more love enters in, the more fear is pushed out. But when we continue to allow sin in our heart, perfect love is driven out, allowing fear to rush in to take its place. Think of this like a transparent, U-shaped tube filled with a dark, putrefying fluid—a dreadful mixture representing fear. Then picture pure, clear water being poured into one end of the tube. The dark fluid will begin to spew out of the other end, until eventually the tube is as clear as the water itself. God’s perfect love accomplishes this toward fear when we let it flow in our hearts. But if we break that flow of love with sin, then that appalling black fluid has a place to re-enter and flood our heart again with fear.

U shaped tube showing fear and fear exiting

Do fear and anxiety currently dominate your heart? Are you able to sleep in peace? Or do you regularly feel like someone is watching you, like an evil presence hovers over your every move? Does a sense of failure or defeat continually loom over much of what you do? Are you filled with worry about how to make it through tomorrow, or even tonight? Then you need to lose no more time in yielding your heart and life over to Jesus Christ. He unselfishly sacrificed His very life on the cross so that you could have victory over fear and even death. Don’t try to remove the ugly fluid of fear from your life by trying to draw it out yourself. You’ll only form a void for some other abysmal hindrance to fill later. Fear can’t be defeated simply by your own effort or strength. If you truly want to have victory, it has to be turned over to Jesus.

“Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth [abides] in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:15-16). Take a moment right now and go before Him in prayer. Ask Him for forgiveness for your sins, and then open your heart fully to Him. Seek Him for a deeper relationship that will fill your heart with not just love, but perfect love. Don’t let any more time go by without yielding your deepest fears over to Him. “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed” (Psalm 34:4, 5). You can trust in Jesus—the only One who can expel your fear, and fill your heart with perfect love.

(If you want to surrender your heart and life to Him right now, look at this page to learn more.)