Jesus Never Lost His Composure

Photo of two identical men seated on couch in argument with one man's hands in the air

If we analyze the life of Jesus Christ, the one thing which is most evident out of all of His characteristics is that He never lost His composure. No matter what situation or circumstance He encountered, He was always untroubled and composed. Even when the religious leaders threatened His life, He was able to either walk right through their midst or slip away unnoticed.

Jesus was tempted (tested) by the devil in the wilderness, but He never rose up in anger or commanded him to flee. He merely responded to each attempt with a passage in context from God’s word. He knew just what to say at any given moment.

A storm arose while He and His disciples were at sea, yet Jesus never grew anxious or panicked. There was absolutely no fear in Him. In fact, during the peak of the storm, “…He was asleep” (Matthew 8:24). He had such peace in the situation that He had no need to be awake.

Then “…when He was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way” (Matthew 8:28). But He was not fazed by them at all. Instead, He cast the devils out into a nearby herd of swine, maintaining full control of the situation.

Later Jesus healed a man with a withered up hand. The religious leaders became angry because He did it on the Sabbath. They took God’s commandment given over a thousand years earlier—to honor the Sabbath, keep it holy, and do no work on that day—to such an extreme that even healing was not permitted. Yet in their ‘holy’ zeal, they were hypocrites, because they permitted livestock to be rescued out of a pit on the Sabbath without penalty. As a result of Jesus’ actions, “… the Pharisees went out, and held a council against Him, how they might destroy Him” (Matthew 12:14). But this did not bother Him. “…when Jesus knew it, He withdrew Himself from thence: and great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all” (v. 15).

Once Jesus and His disciples were in a desert area ministering to the people. The day grew late and no food was available anywhere nearby. He did not worry, but He could have let Himself become overly concerned and begun to make arrangements for getting food. On the contrary, He took a handful of bread and fish, blessed it, and gave it to His disciples to distribute.

He was fully confident that the thousands present would have enough to be satisfied, with plenty left over.

Even though Jesus always kept His composure, He was not a soft-spoken, passive, non-confrontational person. Once “…Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Matthew 21:12, 13). Yet He still maintained control of Himself and the situation. After all, this was His house and their ungodly actions were desecrating it. Afterward, “…the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple; and He healed them” (Matthew 21:14). He never demonstrated any bitterness or hatred. His anger was a righteous anger and nothing greater.

More than once the religious leaders tried to trap Him. One case involved paying tribute (taxes). They asked Jesus, “Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?” (Matthew 22:17). And once again, Jesus did not lose His composure. “…Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye Me, ye hypocrites? Shew Me the tribute money. And they brought unto Him a penny. And He saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto Him, Caesar’s. Then saith He unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:18-21). He effectually shut them up and exposed their foolishness with little more than raising His voice.

At one point, the religious leaders grew so disgusted and upset with Jesus and the truth He proclaimed that they tried to kill Him on the spot. “…they took up stones to cast at Him: but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:59). He still did not lose His composure and let Himself get out of control.

Even when Jesus was tried and hung on the cross for crimes not committed, He never angrily defended Himself. He did not try to fight physically for His innocence. While He hung on the cross in extreme pain, He cried out, “…Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do…” (Luke 23:34). He could have called out to His Father to send destruction upon the guilty and to get Him off of the cross.

So how did He manage to do all this without ever yielding to the devil, or just giving up? It was all due to His relationship with His Heavenly Father. He declared, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). Jesus continually sought and communicated with Him, never allowing their fellowship to become strained or broken. Whenever He had the opportunity, Jesus would go before His Father in prayer, sometimes all night long.

Through this unity, Jesus knew just what to say and where to go at any given moment. He never worried or doubted. He had no concern about others taking His life.

“Then they sought to take Him: but no man laid hands on Him, because His hour was not yet come” (John 7:30 emphasis added). Jesus had to fulfill all of His Father’s requirements first. He was subject to His Father’s will and none other. His Father knew what was best for Him, and anyone else who would believe in Him.

Therefore, if Jesus, the very Son of God, had to continually go before His Father in prayer as a human being, how much more so should we, as children of God, do the same? God provided His Son in the flesh for us as our perfect example. He wants us to follow His Son’s example and be in close fellowship with Him. When we grow fearful and doubt Him, we have slipped out of that fellowship. We will always lose control of a situation when our relationship with Him is strained or broken. The only way that we can have a close bond with our Heavenly Father and maintain a level of calmness in any situation is to do like His Son and spend quality time in prayer and communication with Him. We need to continually place His interests for us above our own. Jesus never lost His composure, and neither should we.

 

[Image credit: Marcello eM/Freeimages]

Don’t Blame God For Your Problems

a graphic showing Adam and Eve behind bushes with a tree, snake, dark clouds and sun in background

After having moved furniture for their boss in a large old truck since five in the morning, the two young men were now exhausted. The one driving turns to the other and says, “Let’s finish this last delivery and quit for today. I’m beat!” His partner agrees without any hesitation. The driver starts up the truck and eases it into gear. The engine roars loudly with a lot of creaking and groaning; everything shudders, but nothing happens. He backs off of the accelerator, shakes his head, puts the old truck into reverse, and tries again. Still, the truck doesn’t move.

Tired and frustrated, the driver puts the transmission back into neutral and shuts the truck off. He slides out of the cab and manages to get up onto the front bumper.

“Man, I’m fed up with the junk our boss keeps giving us to haul with. Every time I try to go somewhere, this old thing acts up. If I had a mind to do something, I’d…”

He then interrupts himself with a series of loud clunks and opens the hood of the vehicle. After looking around the engine and then grumbling some more, he jumps back down to the ground.

Once again he gets into the cab and starts the engine. He tries several times to rock the vehicle by pushing the transmission into gear, accelerating, then quickly shifting into reverse and stepping on the accelerator again. Now thoroughly exasperated, the driver crawls up on the front of the truck, slams the hood down and starts jumping up and down on it. Yet nothing has changed and the truck is still in the same place as before.

Practically admitting defeat after an hour of trying, the man crawls back into the driver’s seat and slumps over the steering wheel. His partner glances over at him from the other side of the cab and mumbles, “Did you pull the chocks out from under the wheels?”

The driver, still resting over the steering wheel, opens his eyes without turning his head and replies, “What?”

Now with more of a weary drawl, his partner responds a little louder, “I said, Did you pull the chocks out from under the back wheels?” The driver bursts out of the vehicle and disappears around to the backside. After a somewhat muted scream, a large pair of wheel chocks goes flying over the front of the truck, followed by immense laughter from his helper still in the front seat.

While humorous in itself, this anecdote provides a good example of how we are often quick to blame someone else for a problem or oversight of our own creation.

In Genesis 3, we find the first instance of blame, and this time it involved God also. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons…And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat” (Gen. 3:6, 7, 11-13).

In the same sense as the moving truck driver, Adam and Eve created a situation that they could not overcome as it stood. In their case, they disobeyed God by allowing themselves to be persuaded by the devil, via a serpent, and they ate from the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then, following their own futile wisdom and efforts, Adam and Eve tried to correct or hide their sin (a spiritual concern) with fig leaves (a natural or non-spiritual solution).

When God confronted them, Adam resorted to blaming Him and Eve, while she blamed the serpent—yet neither one mentioned that that they were at fault.

We, as children of God, often fall into disobedience by doing the same thing.  Not only do we criticize Him, we are also determined to resolve the situation in our own strength, without even a thought of asking Him for assistance. Oftentimes we will practically knock ourselves out trying to correct the problem, when the source is, figuratively speaking, right under our nose. Of course, God is not going to rush in and take care of everything for us. He will patiently wait until we reach that place where we finally give up and call out to Him for forgiveness and help. Sadly, it usually takes most of our life before we finally reach that particular point and surrender to Him, if we ever do at all.

As our loving Heavenly Father, God will never put a problem before us that we cannot overcome. We are the ones who, knowingly or unknowingly, create an insurmountable situation for ourselves. When the issues that arise in our circumstances get us down, let’s not fall into the ‘blaming God’ trap that the devil often sets before us. Instead of getting upset with God over the difficult situation at hand that we have created ourselves, why not seek Him in prayer first, and then allow Him to lead us to the solution.

 

[Image credit:OpenClipart-Vectors/Pixabay]

Don’t Lower Your Sails Prematurely

 

Large white modern sailing ship with sails rolled up

How often we believers in Christ easily become spiritually complacent in our walk with God. Throughout the Old Testament we find many examples of complacency where the Israelites took God for granted. As a result, God would withdraw and let them find out that they were operating on their own. Through defeat in a battle, or being taken captive by their enemies, they learned the hard way that to be victorious in God, they had to continually obey His Word and also prepare themselves for the next trial or attack of the enemy. But whenever they became complacent or self-righteous, they failed.

God expects us to do as the Israelites should have done. We are not going in battle physically with our spears, clubs, swords, and armor today, but we are still fighting an enemy, and ours is unseen. Jesus said, “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38 emphasis added). Jesus would not have told His disciples this if He knew that they were strong in their spirit.

It is human nature to ease off at, or after, a time of victory. Compare this to a runner or race car driver who slows down or even stops just as he is about to win a race—even though his competition is coming up fast right behind him. Yet this is the very point when we must be the most vigilant. Peter became an example of how easy it is to be complacent concerning God, even though he was one of Jesus’ closest disciples. “And as Peter was beneath in the palace, there cometh one of the maids of the high priest: And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked upon him, and said, and thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth. But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew. And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them. And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto. But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak. And the second time the cock crew. And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept” (Mark 14:66-72). Not once, but three times Peter denied that he was connected with Jesus. Yet this is the same person who, just a short time earlier, had said “…though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee” (Matthew 26:35).

Peter in his own wisdom thought he was strong spiritually, and probably felt that after having been with Jesus for some time, he could never stray away from Him.

This is why Jesus emphasized many times that we must watch and, as well, pray. Whenever something is mentioned in the Bible one time—it is important, two times—it is very important, and multiple times—it is extremely important. God knows us better than we know ourselves, and He is well aware that we tend to grow overly confident and then we stumble. Had the Israelites gone to God during and after the victories that He brought them through as much as they had prior to the battles, there would have been fewer defeats afterward. If Peter had been watching and praying prior to Jesus’ arrest, his faith would not have wavered and left him open for the devil to push him to deny Christ.

Watching doesn’t involve our physical eyesight solely; it is a spiritual matter as well. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). God wants us to be in tune with Him through the Holy Spirit. If we are not open to His Spirit trying to alert us of impending danger, we leave ourselves prone to failure when temptation arises. It is only through His Spirit that we can truly know and deal properly with spiritual matters.

Accordingly, prayer must follow when we have been made aware of any imminent peril by the Holy Spirit. We are to go to God and seek Him for direction and protection for what is to come. We need to be sensitive to the leading of His Spirit as we pray, or else we will ask amiss and be ineffectual in our petitions to Him.

If we are watching without praying, we are like a child who sees an impending attack, but just stands there, instead of crying out to a parent for help and protection.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). God expects us to continually keep watch and then pray, for we, in our own physical understanding, do not know when or where the devil may strike. Our victory only comes through Jesus and His finished work on the cross. But when we become complacent, we take our eyes off of Christ and look at ourselves. This will result in a hopeless defeat by the devil. Don’t be like the captain of a sailing ship who, upon seeing land ahead, lowered his sails prematurely hoping to come in on his momentum, while failing to look behind and see a violent storm rapidly approaching. Let’s keep our sails fully open while we watch and pray accordingly.

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.

The Key That Unlocks Our Heartfelt Desires

Jewelry case

Walk into any jewelry store and you will find that all items of real value are kept in locked display cases. Look at them all you desire, but if you want to actually hold or purchase them, you must ask the jeweler to unlock the case and hand you the item. But no reputable jeweler will give access to these items to just anybody who walks in simply because he asks. First he will ascertain just how serious and credible the request is. For many, the ‘desire’ was only an impulsive lust, a brief fancy, or they were not interested in buying anything in the first place. In return, the jeweler will generally give little to no attention to any such interests.

How often it seems that the things we desire the most in our heart are locked away and unobtainable, like the high-ticket items in the jewelry store. Since we really want these things and are willing to make enough of our own effort to get them, we think that we can readily obtain them. But, even though we know they are there, we don’t see any physical means to reach them readily available. So we give up in frustration and disappointment, yet they still remain locked up and out of our reach in the end.

Thankfully, God, the Master Jeweler, knows our situation. Are our desires actually just an occasional whim? Do they align with His plan for our life and His will for us? Will they bring Him honor and glory? Or do they just gratify our carnal self and actually work toward our detriment?

He has given us the key to unlock that which we desire—which is prayer.

He often keeps what we want so much locked away for our own good. He wants to see just how serious we are about possessing what we value so greatly.

Therefore, persist in asking Him to give you what you desire. “…Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity [persistence] he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Luke 11:8-10). The more we press through as we petition and exercise faith in our heavenly Father, the more He will show forth His faithfulness. But, at the same time, we should not just spout off our requests to God repeatedly, like a machine gun. Jesus warned about such attempts: “…when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen [do]: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking” (Matthew 6:7).

On the other hand, fulfillment of our desires is in God’s timing. He knows when and if we are able and mature enough to receive them and He will act accordingly. Think of a little boy asking his parent to take him to the store to buy an engagement ring. The parent will ask him just who he wants to buy it for (and incredulously just how he got that much money). He replies that there is no one yet. He just wants it available for the future when he meets the right person to give it to. But even if the boy did buy a ring, he could not take care of this kind of valuable item responsibly for such an extended time. Therefore, a wise parent would not fulfill the request, knowing his child is not yet mature enough to handle it. This does not mean that the boy will never get a ring—just that he will not be allowed to acquire it at this time. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8).

 

This is one reason that God made prayer the key and not some other means. Come before Him in genuine, passionate, heart-felt prayer and changes will occur—not in Him, but in us. Our understanding of who He is will change, while self-centered motives also come to light. His faithfulness makes access possible. If we could fulfill the desires of our heart by our own efforts, our relationship with the Lord would be worth little. Not the actual act of prayer, but the One we have faith in through our praying, brings fulfillment of our requests.

God wants us to have what we greatly long for that is locked away in our heart. But He wants us to come to Him to gain access, and not try to fulfill these desires by our own strength and effort or selfish ambition. Jesus said,your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:8b). God is fully aware of our desires long before we ever seek Him, but He wants to align all our wants, motives and plans with His own. This is only possible through genuine prayer and faith in Him—the real key which unlocks our heartfelt desires.

More Than Food and Clothing

“Take no thought for your life,
what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink;
nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.
Is not the life more than meat [food],
and the body than raiment [clothing]?
…If God so clothe the grass of the field…
shall He not much more clothe you?”  (Matthew 6:25, 30)

Since Jesus said, “Take no [distracting] thought for your life…”, why do you concern yourself with “what ye shall eat…drink…put on…”? Does He want you constantly anxious, distressed, or puzzled about how to get what you need? This attitude leads to despair and unbelief, which do not honor God. He expects you to leave your life in His hands—can’t you just let Him take care of getting your daily needs also? Jesus said not to worry about what we will eat or drink or wear, much less all the rest. Our Heavenly Father has so “much more” for us! Do we think we know more about how to take care of ourselves than He does? He concerns Himself with our circumstances even more than we do. Why do we let the cares of this world dominate our thinking? If we find them constantly competing for our attention, we need to stop and put our relationship with God first instead.

distressed woman

Constant perplexity over how to get what you need to survive is a waste of time, especially coming from a child of God. How we insult the One who promised to provide for us. You don’t need to get worked up about getting through tomorrow, next week, the rest of the month, or next year. There will be plenty to deal with as each new day unfolds. What will tomorrow bring? You don’t know. Why let it worry you sick, when it might be good tidings just around the corner, not more trouble? Take it one day at a time, Jesus said. Otherwise, you take out a ‘loan’ of trouble and worry on the future. You only need enough each day to get through that day.

head shot of man with concerned expression

Why such vexation about getting more fashionable clothing or a bigger house? Flowers don’t worry about buying colorful silk to make beautiful petals. Birds don’t worry about spinning yarn to knit a sweater to get through the winter. They expect to find what they need to get through each day. Both just go on, taking each day as it comes, letting God provide what they need. Can’t you do the same? If God cares so much about little birds, how much more does He care about those created in His very image? Can’t the God of the birds give you enough to get through each day? He gave us life and a body—the greater things. The same God can certainly make sure we get the lesser things—like food and clothing.

glasses and pen on sheet of financial rates

Who provided you with the body you now live in? You had nothing to do with getting it; you received it by no effort of your own. The same God who gave you your body is capable of taking care of it. Planning for the future is not wrong, but constant thoughts about a nest egg for old age should not consume your life now as you struggle to provide for a future you know nothing about. We say we trust God, and then do our utmost to provide everything we need ourselves! Where is our trust? Don’t lose your confidence in God and His provision for you. Having what you need when you need it provides contentment, not constant pursuit of more than you need. Jesus said, “Take no thought…” about your future. Then your thinking won’t be divided or distracted today. Otherwise, your mind will constantly dwell on the future, instead of concentrating on the important matters at hand in the present.

Are you experiencing the “much more” God promised to those who follow Him? Are you obeying the life He gave you? We get caught up in many things that confuse and distract us. But we only need to be very careful about one thing—our relationship with Him. Seek the kingdom of God first. Let Him be your business. Concern yourself with your soul—the matter of utmost importance. Have concern also for souls who might not make it to tomorrow, much less the distant future. Will their life end without them knowing God? (Will yours?) Help take care of others today and God will not fail to take care of you. In fact, He will provide for you so you can help others.

hands clasped in prayer

Jesus said to pray daily, to make ourselves ready to meet the temptations each day brings. Don’t be worried about fulfilling your every need; leave every need to Him. Those who fully trust and depend on Jesus simply rest in His loving arms. Let Him do all the worrying! He will provide much more than food or clothing!

Can God Help with Your Cares, Burdens, and Afflictions?

man carrying burden

“Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22).

To cast your burdens upon God means resting upon what He has promised and on what He provides. Cares can heavily weigh your heart down, but the Lord won’t allow you to come to the point of being totally cast down. He will bear the burden of all your sorrows. Therefore, let Him bear the burden of all your cares too. He knows what is best for you and He will provide according to your need. Sin and corruption are also heavy burdens. But He will bear those heavy burdens too, and will bear you up at the same time. Let Him pick you up and carry you in His powerful arms, like a father carries his little one. Your load can safely be placed upon Him. The Spirit of God will lift your spirits and make them stronger, so that you can stand up under whatever trial you may be enduring.

man in looking with distant thoughts

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous” (Psalm 34).

Affliction refers to a state of distress, pain, or grief. It can also refer to being tried, tormented, or tortured. Afflictions are the cause of continued pain of the mind or body, like sickness, calamity, adversity, losses, or persecution. What a heavy load they can be, especially if they follow the temptations of the devil.

“…He hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard” (Psalm 22:24).

No matter what cares, afflictions, or trials oppress you, you can lay them all upon God’s shoulders. What a glorious promise He has given for every tempted and afflicted soul! “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory…” (2 Corinthians 4:17). You do not know what God is working out in you as you steadily endure affliction.

depressed woman

God will never allow the righteous (those in right standing with God) to be moved, to fall, or to be lost forever. Nor will He allow troubles to upset you to the point that you slack off in finding your comfort in Him, or in doing your duty to Him. He may allow you be shaken for a while, but it will never be to the point of being utterly overwhelmed. If you are righteous, you can be sure that you can continue to trust and depend on Him. And if you continue to trust God and do what is righteous, you will be as safe as if you were already in heaven.

What is the way of relief from all your cares, all your burdens, and all your afflictions? Look to Christ, who has already borne them all on the Cross for you. Lay them all directly upon His shoulders in faith by prayer, then confidently expect a good outcome. How can you do the work of God in this world if you fold up under the burdens that interfere with your efforts? Therefore, hand them all over. Whatever you want God to give you, let Him give it to you in His own time and in His own way. In the meantime, be satisfied. Commit all your ways and works to the Lord; then let Him do what He knows is right.

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand (Psalm 37:23-24).

Call upon the Lord in every kind of trial. He will hear you and He will rescue you. He will not be upset with you for coming too often. In fact, the more often you come to Him, the more welcome you will be!

Abiding Under the Shadow

person and shadow

A shadow can be considered a nuisance or a benefit at various times, like when a cloud obscures the sun. On a hot summer afternoon, the shadow from a large cloud is a welcome relief, but on a bitter, cold winter morning, the shadow from almost any size cloud will cause discomfort. A shadow could be a sign of impending danger as well, like when a very large object is about to fall on someone. On the other hand, a shadow could also be an indicator of protection.

The psalmist declares in the first verse of Psalm 91, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” What a wonderful thought for us, the children of the Almighty, to be under His shadow! Imagine how our enemies would feel if they knew that someone the size of the continents of Asia, Europe, Africa, and Antarctica combined was hovering over us to protect us. Yet that represents only a fraction of how much God covers over us when we dwell in His secret place.

God protects and shelters those whom He loves and who are obedient to His Word. He is ready and willing to shelter us under His shadow at any moment. “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler,” the psalmist continues to declare in verse 4. His protection resembles a bird that spreads its wings to shield its young. Without the bird’s protective shadow, its young are helplessly vulnerable to predators that are quick to snatch them away. We are also helpless without His protection. His shadow is always ample to keep us covered, no matter how many enter under it, or how extreme the circumstances are outside of it. “Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday” (Psalm 91:5, 6).

shadow of cross

But God’s shadow is only available to us when we earnestly seek it. When we enter and stay in His secret place, we obtain His protection. This place can only be found through prayer and communion with Him. It is an area where we can dwell alone in an intimacy with God that can never be shared with another. As long as we stay in His secret place, His shadow will continually be over us. But when we allow ourselves to be lured away by the cares of this world, we leave the protection of His shadow and expose ourselves to the enemy. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

God expects His children to continually rest under His shadow. When we choose something else, we deny ourselves the abundant protection that He provides. The devil will try to keep us from abiding there, but God will never keep us out. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). Why should we continue to expose ourselves out in the open when He is willing and able to shelter us bountifully? “For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall” (Isaiah 25:4). Why wait until tomorrow, or next week? Come now into His presence, His secret place, and lodge under His shadow. Allow Him to be your refuge and habitation.

Floating or Sinking?

boat in water

Have you ever watched an object float on the water? All it will do is float along and it won’t sink—unless water is allowed to come inside. It doesn’t matter whether it is a huge ship on the ocean carrying hundreds of containers of cargo, or just a plastic bottle cap on top of a puddle—both float on the water. Yet, when water gets an opportunity to come inside, both will stop floating and sink to the bottom, either slowly or very quickly, depending on how much water has been allowed in.

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are like a ship floating in the ‘sea of humanity’. You have a responsibility to maintain your buoyancy in order to stay afloat. You can’t allow your exterior to deteriorate or corrode. If you do, holes will develop, or you may become structurally unstable and your ‘hull’ (a boat’s outer covering) will weaken and collapse or burst, allowing the water of godless humanity to enter in. This will cause you to sink. When you are floating in this ‘sea,’ you are in the world of the ungodly, but when you allow the water of this ‘sea’ to enter your ‘ship,’ you become full of this world of the ungodly. Then you will be liable to sink. Jesus told us to “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:15, 16). The more of the corrupt system of this world you allow into your heart, the more your ‘ship’ fills with water and starts to sink. A sunken ship seldom has value to anyone.

sinking sailboat

The ways that the ‘water’ of this ungodly world can come into you are not always obvious, since Satan, the prince of this world, usually operates in subtle ways. One of the simplest ways he likes to use is to get you to decrease your desire to pray, to the point where you eventually stop praying altogether. Satan likes to use this method, since prayer is your communication with God and it is where He aligns you with His will. Regular communication is essential for a lasting bond to develop, whether in a marriage relationship, or just between two close friends, but especially in your relationship with your heavenly Father.

Satan absolutely hates it when you diligently continue to pray to God with all your heart.

Satan also likes to discourage you from reading the Bible each day, or, better yet, he tries to bring you to the point where you stop reading it altogether. The Bible is God’s standard for your life. It shows why we are all sinners in His sight, how you can obtain His mercy, how you can be redeemed from the bondage of sin, and that forgiveness for your sins is available because of His Son’s sacrifice of His own life on the Cross on your behalf. It also tells you how to live a righteous life that is pleasing to God by coming to Him through His Son (and only through His Son). It shows us the consequences of our past, and the future of everyone who does not believe in and obey God by accepting His Son and the ultimate sacrifice He made on their behalf into their heart.

Satan likes to lure you away with the things you used to do in your ungodly past. He might also try to distract you with things that, while not outwardly sinful, will still succeed in removing your focus from Jesus. Whenever Satan can get you to focus on yourself and not Jesus, then those holes start rapidly appearing in your ‘ship’s’ hull and let water rush inside. He may even get you to become so focused on what you want, and not what God wants, that you will actually start letting in water on your own, without the need for any holes or corrosion at all! God does not want you to ever lower yourself down to the world’s standards. He wants the world to come up to the standard you are to be following, which is Jesus Christ.

cross

The best way to be in this world of ungodliness, and not become full of it, is to put Jesus Christ at the center of your faith. Stop trying to operate your ‘ship’ by yourself and place it in His hands instead. Then you will no longer give Satan the freedom to force ungodly water inside as a result. If you take your focus off of Christ and all that He accomplished for you on the Cross, you will create openings that give Satan the legal right to work in your life. In other words, the ‘water’ of the world begins entering inside you. You can’t freely mingle with the sinful world as a child of God and still walk away afterward unaffected by it. Jesus told us to Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41 emphasis mine). Fill your ship with God’s word instead. Keep your ‘hull’ strong by prayer, and you will be able to keep the ‘water’ of the world from causing you to sink, through Jesus Christ!

The Lonely Ones of God

young Japanese woman looking over railing

Many people fear loneliness. But for a child of God in His service, being alone is a necessity—because God’s way is a lonely way. If you are going to lead others as God directs, it requires a certain amount of loneliness. You cannot take friends along with you, even though they may provide you a great deal of comfort.

Anyone can go with the crowd. But how many can turn and go in the other direction—alone? Nothing but God’s grace can make it possible for a man to face any obstacle—alone.

You need to be able to stand like a solid rock that nothing can move, even if the whole world pushes against you! It is boldness like this in the name of the Lord that is worthy of His grace. Do you count all the difficulties that you encounter? You don’t need to. Why not count how many times God has gotten you through difficulties you considered insurmountable instead! In fact, it is better to have more difficult situations, and fewer friends, because more grace will be poured out on you to help you stand firm in your lonely situation—with your faith resting solely on God.

O man or woman of God, don’t think of yourself as alone! God never leaves you unprotected. You would be amazed if you could see all the mighty angelic bodyguards surrounding you all the time!

You have no right to complain of loneliness, therefore, because you never really are alone. Nor do you have to fear evil, because “thou art with me” (Psalm 23:4). When you know the Lord is with you, you will be able to go through loneliness, illness, grieving, poverty, and even terrifying torment. Yet you never need to doubt the Lord, or give up on Him, in spite of what you may go through. In fact, your song can still be full of joy, even if you have to pass through “the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4). This is the victory that your faith in Him provides!

man sitting on bench with distant mountains

Are you a child of God in some remote place, far from any friend, known by no one? Even if you have only a hut to live in, and are not near any group of Christians, don’t let your spirit be down. Lift up your voice and sing to God! He will hear you and comfort you and remain with you. Maybe you rent a room in the middle of a crowded city, without even one person you can call a friend. The Lord sees you and can help you to thrive in the midst of your loneliness, even in a crowd. He has not forgotten you and is not neglecting you.

You can’t see God’s presence when He is working on your behalf. But those who know Him and fellowship with Him can sense His presence, nevertheless.

When your ears have been constantly trained by faith, you will hear God’s ‘footsteps’ nearby. Do you ever sit in sorrow, feeling all alone at times? Every so often, lift your head and listen for that gentle whisper telling you “It is I; be not afraid” (John 6:20). “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him…” (Psalm 25:14). Instead of trying to avoid loneliness, retreat every once in a while to a private corner alone. Tell your heart to rejoice, and then break into a song of praise unto God.

 

woman standing water at sunset

Sometimes the Holy Spirit stirs you inside, calling you to come away and be alone with God. Do not take your own good time responding to His call. If you are truly born again, you need private prayer time just to live! The Spirit calls you to spend much time in loneliness. This is to your advantage, so you will have a chance to prove whether you are truly trusting only in God. There are also times when you can get very alone, and then discover that no one will be kind to you. At times like this, lean solely on the Lord. He has the power to provide the comfort you need and He will prove it to you. Then you will discover more of what God is to His people. Get alone with God and the damage done by the noise and worry and shouting of the world will be repaired in your life.

Man of God, woman of God, you don’t need to feel the pain of being lonely. No matter where you may be at any given time, God is there. All you need to do is to pray, and you and God will be together. Bring Him to mind, and you’ll find Him walking with you that very moment. Go to Him with all your needs and He will lay His hand upon you. He is your dependable, inexhaustible source of supply and support. Devote yourself to Him and you will find that lonely, narrow path which leads to His unending love.

man looking out window

No one who ever lived experienced more loneliness than Jesus did. He knows just what it’s like to be lonely and forsaken—even by His own brothers. Therefore, His sympathy is endless for all who feel alone and forsaken. But who did Jesus turn to when He was afflicted and set apart from others? Who could He uncover His innermost feelings and thoughts to? No one but His Heavenly Father. He prayed and asked for His assistance humbly and earnestly, time after time. All of His sorrow and complaints He brought to Him. And His heavenly Father answered them all and comforted Him.

Lonely one, you are not truly alone. The Spirit of the One crucified on the cross of Calvary is with you right now, whispering gently in your ear: “Fear not: for I am with thee” (Isaiah 43:5). He “is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). He promised that He will never leave you, nor forsake you. Let Him be your source of comfort whenever you are in danger of succumbing to the pain of loneliness.