Fixated on the Master’s Hand

An older man in Elizabethan period dress looking outside from a doorway

If you dine out at a fine restaurant, you will usually find that the person who waits on you will be extremely attentive to your dining needs. Drop a fork or knife, and your server will appear almost immediately, replacement in hand. When the level of the beverage in your glass begins to run low, your server is already present, refilling your glass or exchanging it for another previously filled before even a word has been spoken. Should a question or need arise on your part, a simple glance in the server’s direction will be all that is necessary to bring him or her to your assistance. It seems like the server’s eye is constantly on you. If you are a regular patron there, the wait-staff might even have become so knowledgeable and observant of you that your movements, your habits—your very body language—will attract their presence so that there is no need for an additional indication from you.

This is not limited to a restaurant only. In the home of someone of significant wealth or stature, there is usually a butler or trained employee who is so focused on the commands of the owner of the house that they are able to immediately and discreetly detect the signaling of their employer’s hand and its meaning. The signal might be as simple as a raised, bent index finger indicating that a particular dish is cold and needs to be replaced. Or the hand could be uplifted slightly to the left, signaling for a particular hat or coat. Whatever the indicator used, the servant is always fixated on the employer, remaining ready to fulfill any upcoming request or need at once.

This is the concept the psalmist was referring to in Psalm 123: “Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that [lives] in the heavens. Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God…” (Psalm 123:1,2). But for many, their eyes do not remain focused on the Master, even though they genuinely have the desire to please Him. They allow themselves to be distracted, looking at something or someone else when they should be attentive to His call, no matter how small. As a result, they miss the subtle cues and indicators that they should have noticed and responded to at once.

When Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, had his eyes focused on Christ, he actually walked on the water one time to meet Him. “But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me” (Matthew 14:30). He allowed himself to be distracted by the stormy wind and took his eyes off of the Master. He was doing fine before, but it was then that he began to sink.

A man in linen garment holding a portion of fishing net in hands

In our relationship with Jesus, we need to be constantly looking to Him in order to reach the point that we know just what He wants us to do. We cannot allow ourselves to become spiritually inattentive to His needs and desires. Just imagine how we would feel if we went into a posh restaurant and were ignored for a good portion of our visit. We sit and wait and wait for a server to take our order. Then several side dishes are delivered which are either incorrect or already cold. We raise our hand to signal the server, but only after a lot of vigorously waving do we finally catch the server’s attention. Our beverage glasses remain empty so long that all of the remaining ice has melted. We look forward to having dessert after the main meal, but the wait-staff is too busy or inattentive to even look our way. We very likely become angry and upset at this point, so we get up and leave the restaurant. After all of their initial efforts to please us and do what is right, the servers have allowed themselves to become distracted to the point that they have driven us away!

But how often have we as believers in Christ done this to our Master? We go to church, we read the Bible, we pray to God. Yet, in all our efforts to please Him, we have failed to keep our eyes continually attentive to the movement of His hand. He has subtly spoken to our hearts, but in our zeal to do what we think is right, we have missed it. Instead of just trying to do what is right before God, why don’t we go beyond that point and strive to reach the place where “our eyes wait upon the Lord our God”?

Lord, help us to be so close and established in our relationship with You that we are able to know and discern the meaning of every movement and indication of Your hand. Amen.

 

[Image credits: Tamas King/freeimages & Veronica Moore/freeimages]

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.)

Anger Management

angry man

“That idiot! Why, I’ll run him into the trees!” Geoff exclaimed with violent passion. He eased his truck up closer and closer, until he was just a couple of inches from the car that had cut him off moments earlier. Eighty-five, ninety-five, one hundred—the speedometer kept climbing on Geoff’s truck as he attempted to pass the offending car in front of him. “That fool messed with me at a bad time, and the time’s ain’t gonna get no better for him,” Geoff relished with vengeful glee. “I’ll show him what it means to cut me off, the rotten…”

Suddenly, the other car swerved over to the shoulder of the highway, nearly clipping a nearby sedan, and almost crashing into the guardrail on the side. Geoff managed to pull over quickly onto the same shoulder in front of the other car. He was going to jam the truck into reverse, then floor the accelerator in an attempt to finish the car off.

His anger was not just getting the best of him; it had already gotten all of him.

After a quick look in the rearview mirror, Geoff realized he was too far away from the other car for the effort to be worth it. He pulled back out instead and took off down the highway again.

As his anger subsided, he began to feel smug about what he had just done. Later that evening, when he was just arriving at his friend’s place, he could hear uproarious laughter emanating from the open front window. “Yeah, Geoff in his truck was all over some guy on the highway today,” one of his friends belted out. “I saw the whole thing! All the guy did was pull in front of him a little too quick. You’d think Geoff was going to knock him into the trees, the way he came up fast behind that car! What a fool!” Another round of laughter filled the room.

Geoff decided not to go in after all. “What a fool I made of myself today,” he thought as he returned to his truck. “These anger sprees are going to get me locked up one of these days, and I don’t know what to do about it!”

Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away, a young lady was standing at her boss’ desk. “Julie, I know the man was wrong, but you can’t keep blowing up in anger at our customers,” her boss reprimanded her. “Three times before I put up with this, but this is the last time—you’re fired!”

Hurt and distraught, Julie left the office and slowly moved though the store to the exit, while all of her co-worker’s eyes were fixed upon her. “What can I do about this sudden anger?” she fretted to herself.

What can people like these two do about their anger? The Bible addresses this situation in Proverbs 14:29: “He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.” God’s view of quick and impulsive anger has always been negative. “Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9). While it is not wrong to be angry at certain things on appropriate occasions, we can’t be quick to blow up in anger over every little thing that fails to please us.

statues of anger management

An “anger management” program is the most common solution recommended today. In severe cases, drugs may be prescribed. While the impulsive anger may become more controllable and even subside for a while by these methods, are they the real answer to the problem? For those who take the drug route, the drugs may very well remain a part of their life for the rest of their life. Is that the best solution? Like so many other problems today, has this really caused the anger problem to be eliminated? Just a brief review of the news today confirms that the problem has only been increasing.

Yet God had a solution, even before this problem began. It came through His Son, Jesus, as He hung on the cross. “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost [His spirit]” (John 19:30).

wooden cross

When Jesus said “finished,” all of the laws and requirements that God laid out in the Old Testament were fulfilled through His sacrifice of His life on the cross.

All the animal sacrifices, all the ceremonial procedures, and everything else God had set out in the law He gave to Moses, Jesus fulfilled. This doesn’t mean that the Law of Moses has been eliminated, but rather, that it is has now all been fulfilled through Jesus. He said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Matthew 5:17).

Our sin-desiring self—our “flesh”—has to die daily in Him. This may sound awful, but it is actually good news! If we will stop trying to control our flesh by ourselves and lay the situation upon Him, if we simply take our hands off of these problems or issues, and let Him take control, we will be overcomers. Problems like impulsive anger won’t control us anymore, because we have handed them off to Jesus. But when we stop letting Him work through us, and pick these problems up again, then they will control us.

Impulsive anger, lust, lying, stealing, etc., are all by-products of our rejection of the finished work of Jesus at the cross. If we won’t accept what He has done for us, why should He choose to work through us?

This is the reason why it is almost impossible to control or eliminate these kinds of problems like anger in our lives by ourselves. By the time these problems come to the surface, we have already crossed the point of no return. It’s like trying to stop ourselves from going over a waterfall when we are at the very edge of it, instead of searching for a solution upstream long before, where all the means were available. Sure, there are all kinds of help to keep us from going over, but the waterfall is still there, and we are still right at the edge. Instead of trying to just control impulsive anger, try seeking the Lord and establishing a real relationship with Him. We need to let Him control us, instead of trying to control ourselves by ourselves.