Wednesday, May 23, 2018

2 Deadly Diseases

Recently, I was reading about 2 spiritual diseases that a Christian can have.
The “if” diseases. These 2 diseases are similar, but different.
Both display an absence of faith.

Firstly, the What If disease. The What If disease looks to the future
and worries and fears what God might allow. 

Secondly, the If Only disesase. This disease looks to the past and
grumbles about what God has given.

What If leads to anxiety.
If Only leads to anger. 

In this post, I'd like to look at the first disease.
What If.

At some time in our lives we will catch this disease, and unfortunately for some, many times. This disease manifests itself in many forms, but they all begin with “What If”.

What If God doesn't answer in time? What If God doesn't answer like I want Him to? What If something happens to my family? Or my job? Or my child?
What If What If What If?

Have a look at these verses found in the book of Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 17:5-8 

Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man,
and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.

For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh;
but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness,
in a salt land and not inhabited.

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD,
and whose hope the LORD is.

For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters,
and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh,
but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought,
neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

As I said before, these 2 diseases display a lack of faith.
In these verses, the Lord says that a man is cursed that trusteth in himself.
This lack of faith puts his trust in himself or in some other man, instead of God. When we are trusting in man, we are putting our confidence in the wisdom and power of man, instead of the God who gives all wisdom and power and who wants and deserves our
trust and our faith and our worship.

The verses goes on to say that the cursed man makes 'flesh his arm'.
We know that often in the Bible the arm is a symbol of strength.

Psalms 89:10
….thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm.

Here in this context it has the idea of strength, power and might.

So to make our flesh our strength is foolish as we know that our flesh is weak.

We read in Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Our flesh is likened to mankind, to the human nature with its frailities, morally or physically. But even if we look at it literally as a piece of flesh without bones or sinew, then it is still weak.

So to put trust in something that is weak and feeble, and not to trust God who is mighty and powerful, is foolishness and God curses that man.

The verse also says that the cursed man's heart departs from the Lord.
He turns aside from the Lord. He may draw nigh to God with his mouth
and say that his hope is in the Lord, but in his heart he is not trusting the
Lord and he is departing from His leading and not heeding His counsel. 

Often when the What Ifs come into our lives, we try to control, strategize, manipulate and
'help' God. Waiting on Him is too hard. It's too slow. So we handle the uncertainity of the What Ifs by using control tactics. How foolish it is that we think that
we can control an Almighty God! 

The Bible tells us that if we trust in our own strength, we shall be like the heath in the desert. Stripped. Destitute. Barren. A wasteland. We will inhabit the
'parched places' in a 'salt land'.

In our travels around Australia, we came across many salt lakes. As beautiful as they were, they were barren wastelands. Hot, dry and uninhabited. Not the
kind of place you'd want to live.

Contrast this cursed man with the blessed man. What a difference! This is a man who trusts. He has hope and confidence in the Lord. His is secure and knows
his safety is in God's hand.

When our eyes are focused on God in times of drought, we look to Him and our leaf stays green and we bear fruit even when the heat cometh. I love how the verse tells us that we don't even see when the heat cometh. We're not fearful,
concerned or anxious because our hope is in the Lord.

Our roots are deep in the living water of God's Word and His promises. We look to Him to sustain us. We don't have to fear the drought. We don't even see when the heat cometh, we are that secure in Him. We are so rooted in the His life giving water,
that we don't notice the heat that is upon us.

Isaiah 41:10

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed;
for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee;
yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Psalms 112:7

He shall not be afraid of evil tidings:
his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD.

I love the fact that our hearts can be 'fixed'. The meaning here is firm, stable, established, secure, steadfast, settled. Trusing in the Lord. But alternatively, our hearts can be 'fixed' by the Lord Jesus too. He is a healer of broken hearts and He can
'fix' our wicked hearts and wash them clean.

If our hearts are fixed, we can be at peace. Do you trust in God so wholeheartedly that you believe He is with you in your anxiety, even though you
don't see any evidence of His presence and power?

Our What Ifs will drive us to God and faith or they'll drive us to worry and dependence on self. God brings peace. Worry only brings misery.

When we try and 'help' God out, it only leads to anxiety. If our eyes are focused on God, our leaf will be green and fruit will be produced, God's Word promises this.

Psalms 1:3 

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither;
and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

It's so easy to try and take things into our own hands when we face the What Ifs in our lives. If we hope in God and put our total trust in Him, then we will not fear. We will be content and not anxious. God's Word tells us that we can still bear fruit in the midst of our trials. Our times of drought can be times of fruitfulness. It sounds contradictory doesn't it? How can we possibly bear fruit when the heat beats down upon us and we feel our strength failing? By trusting in the Lord, that's how. By keeping our hope in the Lord and not departing from Him. By holding to His promises and by letting Him have our What Ifs. By refusing to let our What Ifs stand in the way of His perfect will.
By giving all our cares and worries to Him.

Psalms 55:22

Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee:
he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

Rest in His promises. Let God carry you and your burdens.
Don't fall victim to the What If disease.
God is bigger than all the 'ifs' in our lives. Open your hearts to Him
and let him take the 'what ifs' and replace them with His peace.

Elisabeth Elliot once said:

Neither go back in fear and misgiving to the past, nor in anxiety and forecasting to the future, but lie quiet under His hand, having no will but His”

Lying quiet under His hand. No What Ifs. Only peace.

To be continued …....................