Dare to Stand Alone – 10.30.2020

I was thinking of a song we used to sing when I was a boy. Some of you may remember “Dare to be a Daniel:”

Dare to be a Daniel

Dare to stand alone

Dare to have a purpose firm

Dare to make it known  

Standing by a purpose true

Heeding God’s command

Honor them, the faithful few

All hail to Daniel’s band

The song could also be about Daniel’s three friends who said to the ruler of the known world, “Nebuchadnezzar, we are not in need of an answer to give you concerning this matter.  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will rescue us from your hand, O king.  But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods nor worship the golden statue that you have set up.”

It could be about David who said to the giant, Goliath, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a saber, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of armies, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I will strike you and remove your head from you. Then I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that this entire assembly may know that the Lord does not save by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will hand you over to us!”

Or it could be of Joshua, or of Gideon, or of Deborah, or of any of the men and women mentioned in the annals of faith.  Men and women of great courage who chose faith over fear.  And that’s the simple point of this blog.

It feels like the news wants to keep us afraid.  Or perhaps, better said, there are genuinely fearful things happening in our world today – riots, threats of violence, election turbulence, viruses, division – none of which surprise God at all.  Courage is choosing to believe God’s got this! 

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

Context is Comforting

“Resist the devil and he will flee from you!”  Do you believe that?  It’s in the Bible, it must be true!  

It is in the Bible (James 4:7b).  And it is true.  However, the devil doesn’t have any reason to flee if you are resisting in your strength alone.  You’ve heard me and other teachers say that “context is king.”  Usually this is referring to interpretation, but in this case it refers to application.  YES, we must resist the devil’s temptations.  In order to do that, we must submit to God (v. 7a).  In order to submit to God, we must humble ourselves before Him (v. 6) and draw near to Him (v. 8).  After all, the devil is far more powerful than we are, but he’s no match for our God!  Peter’s similar exhortation is also in the context of humility and staying firm in faith and Paul instructs us to take up the full armor of God.  Satan is alive and well on this planet.  He’s not scared of much, but he is scared of our Abba!

You may have seen this clip before, but, in my humble opinion, it’s worth watching.

Pastor Scott 

Honesty is Still the Best Policy

Today, I was doing some pre-study in 1 John, where we will be on Sunday mornings for a few weeks.  One of the themes of the second paragraph, in chapter 1, is honesty.  This illustration is a bit nostalgic but also speaks to the kind of bone-deep integrity that ought to be in each of us, just as it is in our LORD!

Coming from a big city, my friend David wasn’t prepared for the approach rural Maine businessmen take toward their customers. Shortly after David moved there, he rented a rototiller. The store owner showed him how it worked and explained that the charge was not based on how many hours he had it out, but rather how long it was actually used. Looking over the tiller for some kind of meter, David asked, “How will you know how long I’ve used it?” With a puzzled look, the owner simply said, “You tell me.”

Loren Morse, Reader’s Digest, March 1991

Challenged with you,

Pastor Scott

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;  but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.  1 John 1:5-10 (NASB)

The Downside of Guarding Your Heart

by Guest Blogger, Tracie Miles, via crosscards.com

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

“Mom, you have lots of walls around your heart.”

Upon hearing my daughter’s comment and feeling somewhat offended, I immediately replied, “Ummm, no I don’t.” Yet she stood gentle but firm in her statement.

Her comment nagged at my mind. What does that even mean? Have I really put up walls around my heart? And if so, is it that obvious? The more I pondered, I slowly began to see what she was referring to as I stayed more aware of my thoughts and actions over those next few days. There were walls which had gradually erected as a result of my heart taking a beating over the past few years and enduring many painful experiences.

For example, I have a hard time trusting people and always worry someone is not being honest with me. I’m constantly thinking someone will let me down or betray me, so I secretly just wait for it to happen.

My mind is trained to assume that in any situation, the worst case scenario will probably come true. So I stay on guard at all times and often forget God is on my side, that I can rely on His peace in all situations and that He is the one person who can be trusted.

I’m hypersensitive to feeling rejected, betrayed, unaccepted, unloved or criticized, so I protect myself by hiding my emotions and putting on the “I’m fine” mask with a smile. If a conflict arises with another individual, I tend to retreat and ignore rather than face and deal.

My feelings get hurt easily. Then I let my emotions and self-critical thoughts tug at my self-confidence, fueling my deepest insecurities and pushing me back farther behind the walls where it feels safer, which often also leads to conflict in relationships.

Ouch. Reality check. Apparently, I do have a lot of walls that have formed over the years, one heartbreak, one hurt and one thrown stone at a time. Guarding my heart felt like protecting myself. But in actuality, I was only keeping other people from getting too close, keeping myself from trusting for the best in others. These reactions frequently steal my peace and joy and sometimes even stand in the way of feeling as close to God as I wanted to be.

But doesn’t Scripture instruct us to guard our hearts in Proverbs 4:23“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

This verse is where Solomon gives us one of the most important aspects of the Christian life, because the status of our hearts affects who we are, how we feel, what we do and how we live.

Yet Solomon’s description of guarding our hearts differs greatly from the way we often view guarding our hearts.

Guarding our hearts from a scriptural perspective means for us to be alert, through the power of Christ within us, to what enters and dwells in our hearts.

We need to be aware of what we say and do, because over time, our thoughts and actions shape the status of our hearts. Biblically guarding our hearts is founded on consistent communication with our Lord for direction, conviction and peace.

Putting up walls to protect my heart from being hurt again seemed like a normal self-defense mechanism, even though I often didn’t even realize I was doing it. But I’ve now realized those walls were actually doing more harm than good. All the invisible walls I’d worked so hard to erect were reaping zero benefits in my life.

Thanks to my daughter’s simple, honest comment spoken in love, I’ve learned the downside of putting up walls. There is a big difference between guarding our hearts and putting up walls. Guarding our hearts with Scripture helps keep our faith on track, but the walls we erect to keep people out or protect our emotions can become walls which keep us bound in insecurity, fear, unhappiness and loneliness.

Only God can protect our hearts from pain, and He did not create us to live in a prison of our own making. Instead, He created us for companionship and love. He wants us to live free, full of joy and with peace in our hearts. But it is our choice to climb out from behind walls we’ve built and remember all of those gifts are available through Him, no matter what we’ve been through or what lies ahead.

Life is simply too short to live behind walls, especially when freedom and peace are always accessible if only we ask.

Lord, please help me tear down the walls I’ve built and empower me to trust in Your protection of my heart. Help me release all my anger, bitterness, hurt, offense and unforgiveness to You and live in the freedom and joy You offer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.