A look at John 12:12-28. Sometimes things have to get desperate before they get better. Let’s look at the final week of Jesus earthly ministry. Things are getting desperate, but Easter is coming!
Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. Psalm 77:19
...through the darkest days of my life…..where were you God…..I only saw one set of footprints in the sand…..where were you God….those were the times, my child, when I carried you…….
You are familiar with the “Footprints” poem that has been commercialized onto plates, pictures, ties, refrigerator magnets, bookmarks, etc, etc, etc. I once thought it was overused. In fact, I wondered where the Biblical reference for it was. I knew it was sound doctrinally, because I had experienced it so many times in my life, but I didn’t have a reference to back it up until I read this verse years ago.
Of course, the opening Bible verse refers to the famous march through the middle of the waters by that powerful leader we know as Moses. (I wrote more about that time HERE.)
Can you imagine how the Israelites must have felt? They had escaped the years of slavery and persecution to head for what they thought was a chance at real freedom and along came the Pharoah’s finest, ready to put them on the chopping block. Needless to say they were slightly disappointed. Moses summoned God, who told them to go through the center of the sea.
Yea, right! Yet, as strange as that may have sounded at the time, the people enter the “water” on dry ground! I know, it doesn’t make sense, but that is what happened. Read it for yourself if you don’t believe me. (Exodus 14)
Did they see the footprints of God? No! Did they doubt who parted the water? Did they question who dried up the dirt? Well, let me ask you, could you have done it? Neither could they!
They knew that God was being God….again!
Has He ever been God in your life? Can you explain it? Did you see His footprints? But if you submit yourself to God and allow God to do His work in your life, make no mistake about it, you will clearly know He is God and there is no other!
Read the poem footprints again. You probably have it on a coffee mug somewhere. Then recall the many times that He has taken you through the waters. Thank Him for carrying you all the way…though His footprints may not be seen!
He is a mighty God!
I hear people use this verse for the wrong application:
Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
I’ve heard well meaning people use it as an indicator that, because we are on the winning team, we will never face another battle. Not true.
Here’s something you need to understand about this verse, before you try to live it.
The verse doesn’t mean you don’t have an assignment. It doesn’t mean the assignment you have won’t be difficult. It doesn’t mean doing nothing.
Consider the next verse:
Exodus 15:15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.”
In other words…get going! Do what you’re supposed to do! Don’t stand there in fear…MOVE ON!
The Israelites were going to cross the sea. It would be something they had never done before. Have you ever walked through a wall of water, on ground that used to be the bottom of the sea?
Seriously, have you?
The Israelites were going to have to trust God that God would part the waters and dry up the land. Keep in mind, this command was given before the sea had even started to separate. They had to believe that the water would divide. They then had to believe the wall of water wouldn’t drop and fish wouldn’t fall on their head as they drown. They had to believe that crossing the sea was a better option than surrendering to the Egyptians. It wasn’t doing nothing. It was walking by faith.
The verse, then, means that if you are moving at the direction of God…if you are following His plan for your life…if you are being obedient…you don’t have to fear the outcome. You don’t have to worry about the provision of God for your journey. You don’t have to wonder if God will do as God said He will do. He’s got your back! He’s got the ultimate victory. You can rest in Him. You can be still!
Being still doesn’t mean doing nothing!
Have you been “standing still” when you need to be moving?
Quit making excuses and act on what you know God has called you to do!
I command you…be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
As I read the Scripture, I see little room for the follower of Christ to be afraid (except for the fear of God).
Perplexed; yes. Confused; sometimes. Overwhelmed; often. Angry; when necessary. Distressed; possibly.
Yes, I fully agree, just the fact that the command is there does not mean we will always follow it. Quite the contrary; I have been afraid many times. I fight the worry battle like all the rest. Wasn’t it David, the man after God’s own heart, who said that “when I am afraid, I will trust in you”? Sounds like he may have struggled with fear also.
Still, the Bible is consistent, and it consistently reminds us not to allow fear to captivate our lives. Obviously, when God first gave this command to Joshua, being an all knowing God, He knew that Joshua was about to encounter some pretty scary days. No doubt the enemies of Joshua had ample opportunity to attempt to make him squirm.
Today God knows there will be times that cause fear to be our primary emotion. He sees the trouble before it comes. It was He who MADE the disciples get into the boat and face the raging sea. It is He who allows the storms in our lives to come.
God knows there is plenty in life to make us afraid. Still, the challenge remains, and the command remains to not be afraid! And, in those moments, God know we will need to rely on His strength being perfect when our strength is none.
How are you doing these days obeying the command of God to not be afraid?
Call on the Lord today and ask Him to help you overcome your fears!
I love the story in Judges 6 where God called Gideon to save the Israelites from the land of Midian. Gideon was the weakest of his clan from the weakest clan, yet God chose to use him for a powerful leadership role for God’s people. You might read the story again HERE.
Consider a small part of Gideon’s conversation with angel of the Lord:
(I’ve embellished the story a bit to illustrate the way I view the story. My embellishment is in parenthesis.)
“The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor”
“Well, please sir…(I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but) if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? …
…And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us…”
Imagine the scene. An angel shows up, which was usually a pretty scary part of the story, but instead of reacting in surprise, Gideon respectfully questions where God has been lately. He’s not disrespectful, but he is gut honest with the concerns he has with God.
Do you ever wonder where God is when life seems to be falling apart?
Do you ever question God’s involvement when He seems to be nowhere around?
Do you ever think things may never improve?
Gideon had those type questions, and he didn’t cover them up with phony praise, he let his concerns be known.
Yet God’s angel didn’t curse Gideon. Instead, God used Gideon, in spite of his doubts and fears.
“The Lord said to him, but I will be with you…” Judges 6:16 God simply pointed Gideon back to the faith he originally had in Him. That was not the end of Gideon’s fear or questioning, but it was the beginning of his journey back to complete faith.
Perhaps instead of continuing in our own doubts and fears, you and I should get gut honest with God. Maybe we should tell Him how we really feel. I’m not suggesting we become flippant towards a Holy God. That’s never a good idea. I’m suggesting we be honest with the God who already knows our heart and allow Him to restore our faith and strengthen us for the journey ahead. That often begins when we become real with God with who we are, who we are not, and who He is.
God uses people who are willing to humbly surrender their insufficiencies; their doubts and fears, to His sufficiency.
By the way, He knows your heart because He made your heart.
How are you at being honest with God?
What do you do when life is uncertain?
Trust – God has a plan even when you can’t discern it. Faith is being certain when life is uncertain; believing when you cannot see. It’s much harder to worry when you are trusting. Psalm 56:3, Proverbs 3:5, Jeremiah 17:7
Pray – Ask God for discernment and clarity, but also for patience. Keep talking and listening. Jeremiah 29:12, Mark 14:38, 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Wait – God will reveal Himself in due time. Our job is to be still. Psalm 27:14, Psalm 46:10
Act – Waiting doesn’t mean doing nothing. It means acting on only what you’ve been given instructions to do. That’s usually plenty to keep us busy. 1 Kings 2:6a, Isaiah 52:13, 1 Corinthians 16:13, Colossians 3:23
Are you in a time of uncertainty?
Which of these is proving most difficult for you right now?
Which do you most need to do?
I am often asked how to know if the plans we make are God’s will for our life. This is a common concern. Most of us want to do God’s will, but God seems to give us a tremendous amount of freedom. If you’re like me, you’re fully capable of making a mistake. I’ve made many.
Here are 5 Questions I often ask myself to help discern God’s will:
Does what I’m doing (or planning to do) conflict with Scripture?
God’s will never will. God is always true to Himself and His Word is the best place to start. We may differ in interpretation of a passage, but if it’s clearly spelled out in Scripture, then we clearly know His will.
Does what I am doing conflict with the counsel of others?
God uses others to confirm His will. I am thankful for the people in my life, including my wife and sons, who have helped shaped the path of my life. Often they see things I can see or believe in me when I can’t believe in myself. God sends the body of Christ to encourage, challenge and strengthen the body. (Don’t be confused, however, with times God calls us to go against the grain of life and walk by faith when everyone is saying we are crazy. See Noah about that one.)
Does what I am doing conflict with the spirit within me?
God sent the Holy Spirit as a helper. He guides us with an inner peace or a holy unrest. If Christ is in you, He will not leave you to make a decision completely alone. Often God provides a peace or a lack thereof when He is trying to confirm His will.
Does what I am doing conflict with my life experience?
God uses our experiences in life to teach and mold us to His will. Often it isn’t as unusual of a path when we look back over our life experiences. Again, don’t be confused, because He usually stretches us out of our comfort zone also.
Does what I am doing conflict with my passion for life?
God tends to work with the things that fuel our fire. He loves when we are energized for the tasks He calls us to. When I look at Bible characters like Joseph, David, the disciples, Abraham or Paul it appears their calling matched their wiring. Paul was zealous for whatever he did. God used that passion for good. What’s your passion? God may work within it to confirm His will.
Try those 5 questions together and see how they line up to help discern God’s will as it relates with your plans.
Here’s some good news.
I fully believe God works all things for good even when we miss His will in individual decisions. You can make a bad decision, but God retains the right to finish your story His way. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”
Do you ever struggle as to whether your plans are God’s will? Tell me your current situation and I’ll pray with you.
You may want to read 7 Ways to Distinguish God’s Voice from the Circumstances of Life
I have a hard time saying something is my “favorite” of anything, but perhaps especially a Bible verse. There are so many.
What about you?
Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
What if we shared some of our favorites with each other? It could be an encouragement.
I’ll go first. As I said, not sure I can land on just one, but here is certainly one of my favorites:
There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.