“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. 3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. 4 I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (NKJV)e verse that starts off the article“Psalms 34:1
I’m picking up where I left off last week, talking about the subject of fear. Our key scripture is from the Book of Psalms.
Bless the Lord, praise the Lord, boast in the Lord, magnify the Lord, exalt the Lord, and seek the Lord, we can do those things? Yes. We are also left with the impression that to follow these steps to their logical conclusion would deliver us from fear. Simple, right?
The difficulty many of us have is twofold. First, we don’t have a connection to God like we should and secondly, we are often more influenced by “Christian tradition” than we realize.
Today I am going to look at the possibility of a direct connection between problems one and two. Like the old TV commercial that begged the question, “How do you get a job without experience and how do you get experience without a job?”
My question to you sounds like this, “How do I get closer to God with all this tradition in the way, and how do I get rid of this tradition so I can get closer to God?”
I’m sure you’ve figured out that I am going to zero in on one thing. One thing that I think will address both sides of this dilemma. I have three sections of scripture that will demonstrate what that one thing is (you’ll only get one today).
I asked several ministers, a writer, and two English teachers for feedback on my blog. The responses I received were eye-opening.
Something Anne Durant, one of my minister friends, told me really opened my eyes, she said;
“We must look for ways to connect our people to His empowerment in us to do the Word. Otherwise it just becomes another formula for success instead of the way God gives us success.”
I call that sage advice. So, over the next couple of weeks I am going to point to a largely overlooked tidbit in scripture that encourages us to make that very connection with God.
And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. 14 Then He appointed twelve, that they might be withHim and that He might send them out to preach, 15 and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons: (NKJV)Mark 3:13-15
There are two statements here that reveal our “overlooked tidbit,” first, “they came to Him.”
The disciples responded when Jesus called. What did He call them to do? Follow Him. My favorite response to this comes from Matthew 4:20 “…immediately they left their nets and followed Him.” (NKJV)
They immediately left. What did they leave? We are told that they left their nets, but what does that represent? Their very livelihood. Their business partners, their boats, their coworkers (in the case of James and John, they left their father). This isn’t just a stroll on the beach, this was a calling to a life of dedication. They came.
But that dedication had another element. Mark 3:14 “Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him…” (NKJV)
We all know the Great Commission is a calling to go into the world and preach the Gospel, that part of it is there too, Mark 3:15“that He might send them out to preach, 15 and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons:” (NKJV).
We have all heard sermon after sermon tell us of the responsibility we have to let others know about Jesus, but I don’t think I have ever heard a sermon point out the fact that we should, “be with Him,” first.
Follow Him. Immediately. Be with Him. Now. The power to fulfill the Great Commission comes from being intimate with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit, and ultimately with God Himself.
But we must first shed the Garth and Wayne tradition that tells us, “We’re not worthy, we’re not worthy.” The Christian tradition side of things. Like generational sin, and being guilted into feeling or acting a certain way.
My Bible says, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;” Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)
I am convinced that the “power” to accomplish all we are called to do (see verse 15 of Mark 3) comes from time spent with Him.
The implication is that we don’t spend enough time with Him. Literally, with Him. Talking to Him like He is real, listening to Him as if He had something to say to us that isn’t written down somewhere. Getting in touch with Him through prompting and nudging of the Holy Spirit.
The idea I want to leave with this week is this. When you were a child and something scared you, or you were going to do something that you had never done before and were feeling butterflies and trepidation, what brought you peace and comfort? What alleviated that fear and reduced those butterflies?
For most of us is was when dad came into the room, or when we took his hand while walking into the new school. The presence of our earthly father brought us comfort and steadied our nerves. Being with our dad reduced our fear. Sound familiar?
”I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
Jim Clayton is currently the pastor at Colchester and Hills Grove United Methodist Church in McDonough County, Illinois. He has over 20 years of ministry experience and is an avid student of the Bible. He also has 20 years of experience in the criminal justice field having worked law enforcement, juvenile corrections, private and retail security, and as a court liaison for Family Service Association of the Wabash Valley.
He has a bachelor’s degree in Criminology and attended a two-year Biblical studies program at Rhema Bible College and is currently enrolled in Asbury Theological Seminary’s MDiv program.