Which god?    God or god?

“Thou shalt have no other god before me.”  (Exodus 20:3 KJV)

Which God Saves Us home Something From My Day home

In the field I work in, there's a common practice - use FUD to get people worried about a competitors product - so they will buy yours instead.

I first thought of writing about this two or three weeks ago - because I was (am) really getting tired with so many things going on in my life right now. Too many problems at work. Too many problems at home - like the tree that fell in the back yard - like getting hit and having my car totaled - and on and on. It really feels like being under attack.
Sometimes it's impossible not to wonder -
What am I doing that's causing this?
Would it stop if I stopped writing?
Would it stop if I ...
And on and on.

FUD


Then - last week - we were studying 1 Peter 1:1-9 in a Bible Study class - and there it was - FUD.


The verses that really stood out are -

Praise to God for a Living Hope

1Pe 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

1Pe 1:4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you,

1Pe 1:5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

1Pe 1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

1Pe 1:7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1Pe 1:8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,

1Pe 1:9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

So Peter is telling the people that things are going to happen - the trials may come

now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

But we're still supposed to rejoice, because that entire sentence is actually -

1Pe 1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

Easier said than done - that's for sure.


There's a saying that I often think about at times like this (haven't found a reliable source) -

When you're knee deep in alligators,
it's hard to remember that your original task was to drain the swamp.

When we're up to our necks in suffer<ing> grief in all kinds of trials. -
sometimes it's hard to remember the original task was
receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.


So - where does Peter get this from?
Where does he get the idea that we can actually come through these trials and something good will come out of them?
Whether it's one - or a few - really traumatic things -
or a series of little ones -
sometimes there seems to be either an alligator that's way too big - or so many little alligators - that's there's just no way to drain the swamp.

Well - if we can take a breath and forget the alligators for a moment or two -
Peter actually has some personal history with them.

Remember - he's the guy who went through this sequence:

It starts with a discussion at The Last Supper - which included

Lk 22:31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.

Lk 22:32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Lk 22:33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

Lk 22:34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”

Sounds easy when things are going well -
Peter (Simon) says he would never deny Jesus.
And yet - Jesus knows better.
On top of that - since Jesus does know better - He even prays for Peter!

Of course - as events play out -

Peter Disowns Jesus

Lk 22:54 Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance.

Lk 22:55 But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them.

Lk 22:56 A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”

Lk 22:57 But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.

Lk 22:58 A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” “Man, I am not!” Peter replied.

Lk 22:59 About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”

Lk 22:60 Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed.

Lk 22:61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.”

Oops.

The alligators got too deep.


But -
this is the very same Peter who Jesus was talking to when He said -

Mt 16:18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

BTW - that complete sequence is -

Peter’s Confession of Christ

Mt 16:13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

Mt 16:14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

Mt 16:15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Mt 16:16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Mt 16:17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.

Mt 16:18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

Mt 16:19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Pretty amazing for the guy who denies Jesus three times in one night.


So what we see is this -
when things are calm -
when Peter isn't up to his knees in alligators -
when things are going well -
he knows the task -
He knows who Jesus is -
and Jesus tells him what will be.

When things go south -
when Peter is up to his knees (and higher) in alligators -
Peter forgets what the task was -
does exactly what he said he would never do -
and fails to drain the swamp.

And yet -
here he is - writing this book -
using his first hand experience to help us get through
suffer<ing> grief in all kinds of trials.

Helping us get through the FUD.

It's not like this was Peter's only failure at draining the swamp either.
There were others.
But I think this makes my point -
Peter does know a thing or two about this.


Anyway -

I said I had the idea to write this a couple weeks ago -
before reading 1 Peter.

The original topic was going to be about Jesus Himself.

When He was tempted in the desert -
there was no evidence of any FUD -
He had very straightforward answers to everything that was thrown at Him.

But - it wasn't always that way.

There was a time -
a time when there was some FUD creeping in.
After all - Jesus is God -
but He was also human.


Remember the part earlier where Peter says he will never disown Jesus?

Later that same night - this takes place:

Gethsemane

Mt 26:36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”

Mt 26:37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.

Mt 26:38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Mt 26:39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Mt 26:40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.

Mt 26:41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

Mt 26:42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”

Mt 26:43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.

Mt 26:44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

Mt 26:45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

Mt 26:46 Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Jesus says

"My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. "
and
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Maybe a bit of FUD from the human side of Jesus?


While Jesus was hanging on the cross -
just before He died -
we read in Matthew -

Mt 27:45 From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land.

Mt 27:46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” —which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”


More FUD?


FUD

The first letter - remember - stands for Fear.

In the NIV - there are 65 instances of the phrase "Do not be afraid".
I'd say that's pretty significant -
that's a lot of times where we are reminded to not be afraid.

“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.

The questions is - afraid of what?


As Peter puts it -

though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

there are trials that will be coming.


The very last instance of "Do not be afraid" (in the NIV) comes from Jesus in the Book of Revelation -

To the Church in Smyrna

Rev 2:8 “To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:

These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.

Rev 2:9 I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

Rev 2:10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Rev 2:11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.


Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer.


There's a theme here -

though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer.


Things are going to happen.
Jesus never promised us that life here would be all wonderful and happy all the time.

Quite the opposite -
in another exchange with Peter, Jesus says this -


Jesus Predicts His Death

Mt 16:21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Mt 16:22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Mt 16:23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

Mt 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Mt 16:25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

Mt 16:26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

Mt 16:27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.

Mt 16:28 I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

There's plenty of room for fear in this life.

The question is - what do we let it do to us?

Sometimes - it's going to make us forget about draining the swamp.


FUD

Let's skip to the last letter - Doubt


Staying with Peter - let's see an example where he went though some doubt -

Jesus Walks on the Water

Mt 14:22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.

Mt 14:23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,

Mt 14:24 but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

Mt 14:25 During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.

Mt 14:26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

Mt 14:27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Mt 14:28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

Mt 14:29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

Mt 14:30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Mt 14:31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Mt 14:32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.

Mt 14:33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

So we see Peter again -
The rock upon whom Jesus is going to build His church -
afraid -
doubting -
being just like us.


The problem with fear -
it gets us to the point where we start to doubt -
where we wonder if we're doing the right thing -
where we wonder if it wouldn't be better - or easier - to do something different -
if there isn't an easier way.

“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.

Maybe what we're facing isn't as severe as what Jesus was about to face.

But still -
we reach those points -
and we wonder -
is there another way.


FUD

And then we get to the third letter - the one in the middle - Uncertainty

The way I see it, there are cases where we see the fear and the doubt -
but it appears one thing is lacking -
Uncertainty.

Yet not as I will, but as you will.

for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

No - the uncertainty part shouldn't be there for us.

The fear -
obviously is to be expected -
otherwise God wouldn't be telling us so often "Do not be afraid".
He knows we are -
and keeps trying to tell us that we don't need to be.

The doubt -
obviously that's there too.
it comes from being afraid -
And Jesus tells us we don't really need to do either -

“Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

But since He knows that we will do both -
He keeps reminding us that it's really not necessary.


And the reward for maintaining the certainty -
even through the fear & the doubt -

Rev 2:10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Rev 2:11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.

FUD

It seems like where we really run into trouble is when we let the fear and the doubt take over -
when we reach the point where we become uncertain.


In Hebrews, there's an entire chapter (11) talking about faith -
it goes through a series of Old Testament people and the things they did on faith.

Chapter 11 starts off with -

Heb 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

In other words -
faith is being
certain of what we hope for
and
certain of things that we cannot see.


Chapter 11 ends with this description of the people mentioned in that list -

Heb 11:36 Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison.

Heb 11:37 They were stoned ; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—

Heb 11:38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

Heb 11:39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.

Heb 11:40 God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Talk about alligators!


Let me close with one more sequence from Mark -

The Healing of a Boy With an Evil Spirit

Mk 9:14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them.

Mk 9:15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.

Mk 9:16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.

Mk 9:17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech.

Mk 9:18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”

Mk 9:19 “O unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

Mk 9:20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

Mk 9:21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered.

Mk 9:22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

Mk 9:23 “ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

Mk 9:24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Mk 9:25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

Mk 9:26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.”

Mk 9:27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

Mk 9:28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

Mk 9:29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.’”


Mk 9:23 “ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

Mk 9:24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”


“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”


The really good news from this event -

Jesus did drive the spirit from the boy after his father said those words -

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Jesus did help the man with his unbelief -

just as with Peter -

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

I am certain - help me overcome my FUD.



April 14, 2012

FUD

Fear

Uncertainty

Doubt

Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD)