David Westerfield

Gospel. Culture. Technology. Music.

Tag: Hope


Fear is the Enemy of Faith, Faith is the Enemy of Fear

“I do know that waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts.” | Elisabeth Elliot

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” | Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV)

These are unexpected, historic, trying times to say the least. And it is during these times I believe the Lord gives us a great opportunity for personal, communal and societal reflection. But then there’s fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of loss (whatever form that takes), anxiety that we have no control over this situation, how long it will last, what shape it will take in the future, on and on. A person (points at self) can easily get wrapped around the axle at 3am in the middle of the night on all of this (or 2pm for that matter when dealing with even more struggles with the kids as cabin fever sets in). Fear is the enemy of faith in general, but at these times it gets ratcheted up exponentially. It’s no wonder this was the most repeated command in the Bible: “Fear not…” 

Yet the reverse is also true: faith is the enemy of fear. I believe the Lord has handed us a great opportunity filled with hope. This is a time for us, His people, to slow down, to take a step back and press into our life with Jesus individually and with our families or roommates, to recapture and develop routines and habits that move and press us into the resurrection life and activity of the Spirit. 

This is where for me the Daily Office patterns of prayer and Scripture readings throughout the day have been life giving. http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/mobile/devotions/bcp/

Generally, what this looks like is simply having a morning, afternoon and evening time of prayer, Scripture reading and meditation. And it doesn’t have to be some long, drawn out time. Make it your own. Just wake up, get coffee and pray through a Psalm or two. Let it penetrate your own heart as you dwell on it. Then at lunch, stop what you’re doing, step away (as the setting allows) and repeat by reading more Psalms, an Old Testament reading or a New Testament reading. Then in the evening, either alone or with your family or roommates, read the gospel reading and pray, resting and rejoicing in Your Father’s rejoicing in and over You. Just make it consistent. This is a great pattern to start and get in the habit of, a time to take a step back from the chaos and uncertainty and be in the word and in prayer, really as a means to simply be with Jesus, either alone or with others. Let Him work His healing salve and the means of grace into Your heart. Allow Him to dine with You and fill Your soul with what is the banquet Your soul and my soul so desperately needs: Jesus Himself.

Here is a lecture series Pastor Brian (at Trinity Pres Fort Worth) did at the very beginning of Trinity I have posted before that explains this in greater detail. Such good, rich material I commend to you to sit with and take in during this time. https://trinitypresfw.org/media/lectures/formation/

None of this chaos catches our Father by surprise. The past, present and future is ever-present before Him and is all worked out for His glory and our good. He is sovereign, He is kind and loving. He is our great Physician with a surgeon’s scalpel and healing hand who knows exactly what we need to shape us and form us into the image of His Son, the very One who went through the worst form of suffering, to the cross, bearing our wrath, and rose again, victorious over sin, death and hell, so that we could live with Him forever in the City of the New Jerusalem. Let’s together as His people put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6) and stand firm in the faith, resisting the work of the devil to discourage us, fighting the temptation to fear and press toward our great King who has already won the victory, with the hope and resiliency of the saints in the past who have endured similar trials.

“On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand…”

May it be so. Amen.

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” | Romans 5:1–6 (ESV)

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” | James 1:2–5 (ESV)

The Weight of 24-Hour News Omniscience

Humans weren’t designed to know everything that’s happening in the world all the time: the despair, the suffering, the trials, the overwhelming injustices and the immensity of the problems in our modern industrialized, global society, can easily topple us emotionally and even spiritually. The Internet and its various information-pushing innovations over time, have all made it possible to know the massive tragedies in other countries, in real-time, in such a way that it can almost feel like the world is ending. All the time. Man can’t bear the weight of such knowledge.

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Our Assured Hope

Living between the first and second advents of Christ, caught between the already and the not yet, as His people, ours is an assured hope, wrapped up and summarized in the words of Christ: “It is finished.” And yet it’s a hope that contains an honest recognition of the present realities of the corrosion and decay ushered into the world by a single act of defiance against the rights of our Creator, transmitted and carried down through successive generations, even us, even me. It recognizes that the “not yet” aspect of our daily lives is all too real.

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A Present and Future Hope

If you ever had any hope of trying to please God with your good, moral behavior, put that notion to rest. Psalm 14:2-3 should lay you flat.

2The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand,a
who seek after God.

3They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one.

How then will you be able to stand in the last day, when God judges the thoughts and intentions of the hearts of all, when all must give an account? Especially in light of the passage above, that there are none righteous?

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Predestined for Adoption Through Jesus Christ

In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will…” – Ephesians 1:4-5

In writing this, Paul desired that this wondrous truth cause us to exult in our salvation, not mourn over the truth itself. Far from it! It is a shame this doctrine produces fear in His people rather than overwhelming joy, as it did with Paul, who can’t even take a break for a breath he is so elated over the implications of the Gospel for His own life, let alone those of his readers. This truth highlights the largeness and eternal depths of God’s love for His people and gives us a solid foundation that cannot fail, rooted in the very nature and essence of who God is. God is love and He is also justice. And these two seemingly contradictory attributes are perfectly expressed in the cross of Christ.

In addition, predestination is never separated from the Person and work of Christ in His life, death and resurrection. We are “predestined… for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.”

What a hope! Let us exult in the glorious wonder that 1) God has mercy on anyone, for we all deserve condemnation (justly), and 2) that He purposed to save His people in eternity past through the finished work of His own Son. The depths of God’s love are beyond searching out. They go into eternity. This gives weight to that truth. What a solid, eternal support to know that God is eternally for His people, never against them! This is just one of the many hopes we have in the Gospel.

Faith and Hope, an Inseparable Pairing – John Calvin

Wherever this living faith exists, it must have the hope of eternal life as its inseparable companion, or rather must of itself beget and manifest it; where it is wanting, however clearly and elegantly we may discourse of faith, it is certain we have it not. For if faith is (as has been said) a firm persuasion of the truth of God – a persuasion that it can never be false, never deceive, never be in vain, those who have received this assurance must at the same time expect that God will perform his promises, which in their conviction are absolutely true; so that in one word hope is nothing more than the expectation of those things which faith previously believes to have been truly promised by God.

Thus, faith believes that God is true; hope expects that in due season he will manifest his truth. Faith believes that he is our Father; hope expects that he will always act the part of a Father towards us. Faith believes that eternal life has been given to us; hope expects that it will one day be revealed. Faith is the foundation on which hope rests; hope nourishes and sustains faith. For as no man can expect any thing from God without previously believing his promises, so, on the other hand, the weakness of our faith, which might grow weary and fall away, must be supported and cherished by patient hope and expectation.

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How To Respond To The Economic Crisis

While there is a plethora of bad news that continues coming out concerning the economy, and the fog of  economic uncertainty (and in some cases dire certainty) continues to creep in amongst communities all over the country, something we believers need to make sure we’re doing is responding to these trials in a way that glorifies God. And using this as an opportunity to share the Gospel to those who don’t know Him.

Though things may certainly not get as bad as many of the top economists and investment advisers in the country are saying it will get, certainly people are already being impacted by job losses, monetary loss, all kinds of loss. Yet, it is in these very times that God’s power shines its brightest in our lives. The Gospel works great power in weakness. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

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True Change or Politics as Usual?

As I was watching CNN this morning before work, they came on with the story about the Illinois Governor and possible ties with people inside Obama’s transition team and those inside his newly minted cabinet. The CNN headline read, “True Change? Or Politics as Usual?”

I have to ask myself, where were stories like this during the campaign, you know the whole “no bias, no bull” thing that CNN pushed every night on cable news? Is Obama bringing any true political change? Or is he just bringing politicians in from one of the most politically corrupt states in recent history? And therefore, is this a negative “change” to even more corrupt politics, moreso than we have seen yet (I can hear the Bush-haters now)?

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