Though this world with devils filled

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Yesterday, I stood at the bedside of an old saint whose awareness is gone, her brain tangled with Alzheimer’s Disease. It was a privilege to read the Scripture and pray for her, though I don’t think she knew who I was or why I was there. Walking to my car, I thought back several years to a time when she came to me for prayer as she realized she was descending into that ‘long good-bye.’  She was afraid of what was beyond her control. The memory broke my heart.  I also felt the chill of fear for a moment, “Jerry, what if …”

There is much that can make us afraid. Aging, sickness, death’s approach, the threat of war – a long, long list somewhat unique to each of us.

That is why God says this, over and over, throughout the Scripture: “Fear not!”  He keeps reminding us to look higher, to trust that He holds us secure in His hand.

In my reading this morning, Moses knows that he is near the end of his time of leadership. “Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:7-8, NIV)

Our fears are not baseless nor are they silly. Our flesh is frail. Our world is full of threats. The Devil is at work to destroy. Think about that and you will tremble. So, how can we live fearlessly? Never does God counsel us to ignore reality or to try to just ‘be positive.’  God says that we face our fears with the promise of His eternal Presence. “I go before you and will be with you.”  It was true for Israel, it is true for me. That elderly saint I visited yesterday is not alone, for the Spirit of the Lord surrounds her and she will be lifted to His Heaven where the awful will be forever forgotten. Let this declaration settle over you. “This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and He delivers them.” (Psalm 34:6-7, NIV)

Martin Luther, in the great hymn of hope, included these lines:
And though this world with devils filled
Should threaten to undo us;
We will not fear for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us!

We will not always understand why He allows the darkness to encroach on our lives. But, we know Who He is. “O for grace to trust Him more!”

Fearful? Is your future uncertain?  In the word from the Word today, we read Paul’s affirmation of hope. He did not write from the Hilton Presidential suite in Rome, at the end of a string of unbroken triumphs, while waiting for a ceremony to recognize his amazing accomplishments. He penned these words to a younger pastor, while sitting in a dark prison cell, knowing that he was days from execution for his faith. Was he afraid? Was he asking somebody to please to do something to save him? You read the words and pray to know the same faith that conquers fear.

“So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.  …Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that Day.” (2 Timothy 1:8-12, NIV)

________

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

(A video from 1987 of Steve Green singing this great hymn)

A mighty fortress is our God
A bulwark never failing
Our helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe
His craft and power are great
And armed with cruel hate
On earth is not his equal

Did we in our own strength confide
Our striving would be losing
Were not the right Man on our side
The Man of God’s own choosing
Dost ask who that may be
Christ Jesus it is He
Lord Sabaoth His name
From age to age the same
And He must win the battle

And though this world
With devils filled
Should threaten to undo us
We will not fear
For God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us
The prince of darkness grim
We tremble not for him
His rage we can endure
For lo his doom is sure
One little word shall fell him

That word above all earthly pow’rs
No thanks to them abideth
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through Him who with us sideth
Let goods and kindred go
This mortal life also
The body they may kill
God’s truth abideth still
His kingdom is forever

Martin Luther © Words: Public Domain

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