Lenten Journey Day 7 – Letting Go of Fear

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 “Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Matthew Henry’s Complete Bible Commentary
Those methods of divine conduct that vain men are apt to censure as unwise and weak have more true, solid, and successful wisdom in them, than all the learning and wisdom that are among men: “You see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called, v. 26, etc. You see the state of Christianity; not many men of learning, or authority, or honourable extraction, are called.’’ There is a great deal of meanness and weakness in the outward appearance of our religion. For, (1.) Few of distinguished character in any of these respects were chosen for the work of the ministry. God did not choose philosophers, nor orators, nor statesmen, nor men of wealth and power and interest in the world, to publish the gospel of grace and peace. Not the wise men after the flesh, though men would apt to think that a reputation for wisdom and learning might have contributed much to the success of the gospel. Not the mighty and noble, however men might be apt to imagine that secular pomp and power would make way for its reception in the world. But God seeth not as man seeth. He hath chosen the foolish things of the world, the weak things of the world, the base and despicable things of the world, men of mean birth, of low rank, of no liberal education, to be the preachers of the gospel and planters of the church. His thoughts are not as our thoughts, nor his ways as our ways. He is a better judge than we what instruments and measures will best serve the purposes of his glory. (2.) Few of distinguished rank and character were called to be Christians. As the teachers were poor and mean, so generally were the converts. Few of the wise, and mighty, and noble, embraced the doctrine of the cross. The first Christians, both among Jews and Greeks, were weak, and foolish, and base; men of mean furniture as to their mental improvements, and very mean rank and condition as to their outward estate; and yet what glorious discoveries are there of divine wisdom in the whole scheme of the gospel, and in this particular circumstance of its success!IV. We have an account how admirably all is fitted, 1. To beat down the pride and vanity of men. God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise —men of no learning to confound the most learned; the weak things of the world to confound the might —men of mean rank and circumstances to confound and prevail against all the power and authority of earthly kings; and base things, and things which are despised —things which men have in the lowest esteem, or in the utmost contempt, to pour contempt and disgrace on all they value and have in veneration; and things which are not, to bring to nought (to abolish) things that are —the conversion of the Gentiles (of whom the Jews had the most contemptuous and vilifying thoughts) was to open a way to the abolishing of that constitution of which they were so fond, and upon which they valued themselves so much as for the sake of it to despise the rest of the world. It is common for the Jews to speak of the Gentiles under this character, as things that are not. Thus, in the apocryphal book of Esther, she is brought in praying that God would not give his sceptre to those who are not,Esth. 14:11 . Esdras, in one of the apocryphal books under his name, speaks to God of the heathen as those who are reputed as nothing, 2 Esdras. 6:56, 2 Esdras. 6:57 . And the apostle Paul seems to have this common language of the Jews in his view when he calls Abraham the father of us all before him whom he believed, God, who calleth those things that are not as though they were, Rom. 4:17 . The gospel is fitted to bring down the pride of both Jews and Greeks, to shame the boasted science and learning of the Greeks, and to take down that constitution on which the Jews valued themselves and despised all the world besides, that no flesh should glory in his presence (v. 29), that there might be no pretence for boasting. Divine wisdom alone had the contrivance of the method of redemption; divine grace alone revealed it, and made it known. It lay, in both respects, out of human reach. And the doctrine and discovery prevailed, in spite of all the opposition it met with from human art or authority: so effectually did God veil the glory and disgrace the pride of man in all. The gospel dispensation is a contrivance to humble man. But, 2. It is as admirably fitted to glorify God. There is a great deal of power and glory in the substance and life of Christianity. Though the ministers were poor and unlearned, and the converts generally of the meanest rank, yet the hand of the Lord went along with the preachers, and was mighty in the hearts of the hearers; and Jesus Christ was made both to ministers and Christians what was truly great and honourable. All we have we have from God as the fountain, and in and through Christ as the channel of conveyance. He is made of God to us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (v. 30): all we need, or can desire. We are foolishness, ignorant and blind in the things of God, with all our boasted knowledge; and he is made wisdom to us. We are guilty, obnoxious to justice; and he is made righteousness, our great atonement and sacrifice. We are depraved and corrupt; and he is made sanctification, the spring of our spiritual life; from him, the head, it is communicated to all the members of his mystical body by his Holy Spirit. We are in bonds, and he is made redemption to us, our Saviour and deliverer. Observe, Where Christ is made righteousness to any soul, he is also made sanctification. He never discharges from the guilt of sin, without delivering from the power of it; and he is made righteousness and sanctification, that he may in the end be made complete redemption, may free the soul from the very being of sin, and loose the body from the bonds of the grave: and what is designed in all is that all flesh may glory in the Lord, v. 31. Observe, It is the will of God that all our glorifying should be in the Lord: and, our salvation being only through Christ, it is thereby effectually provided that it should be so. Man is humbled, and God glorified and exalted, by the whole scheme.

Psalm 97:1-7 “The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side. His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all peoples see his glory. All who worship images are put to shame, those who boast in idols— worship him, all you gods!”

Matthew Henry’s Complete Bible Commentary
This psalm dwells upon the same subject, and is set to the same tune, with the foregoing psalm. Christ is the Alpha and the Omega of both; they are both penned, and are both to be sung to his honour; and we make nothing of them if we do not, in them, make melody with our hearts to the Lord Jesus. He it is that reigns, to the joy of all mankind (v. 1); and his government speaks, I. Terror to his enemies; for he is a prince of inflexible justice and irresistible power (v. 2-7). II. Comfort to his friends and loyal subjects, arising from his sovereign dominion, the care he takes of his people, and the provision he makes for them (v. 8-12). In singing this psalm we must be affected with the glory of the exalted Redeemer, must dread the lot of his enemies, and think ourselves happy if we are of those that “kiss the son.’’  Verses 1-7 What was to be said among the heathen in the foregoing psalm (v. 10) is here said again (v. 1) and is made the subject of this psalm, and of Psalm 99, . The Lord reigns; that is the great truth here laid down. The Lord Jehovah reigns, he that made the world governs it; he that gave being gives motion and power, gives law and commission, gives success and event. Every man’s judgment proceeds from the Lord, from his counsel and providence, and in all affairs, both public and private, he performs the thing which he himself has appointed. The Lord Jesus reigns; the providential kingdom is twisted in with the mediatorial and the administration of both is in the hand of Christ, who therefore is both the head of the church and head over all things to the church. The kingdom of Christ is so constituted that,I. It may be matter of joy to all; and it will be so if it be not their own fault. Let the earth rejoice, for hereby it is established (Ps. 96:10 ); it is honoured and enriched, and, in part, rescued from the vanity which by sin it is made subject to. Not only let the people of Israel rejoice in him as King of the Jews, and the daughter of Zion as her King, but let all the earth rejoice in his elevation; for the kingdoms of the world shall, more or less, sooner or later, become his kingdoms: Let the multitude of isles, the many or great isles, be glad thereof.This is applicable to our country, which is a great isle, and has many belonging to it; at least, it speaks comfort in general to the Gentiles, whose countries are called the isles of the Gentiles, Gen. 10:5 . There is enough in Christ for the multitude of the isles to rejoice in; for, though many have been made happy in him, yet still there is room. All have reason to rejoice in Christ’s government. 1. In the equity of it. There is an incontestable justice in all the acts of his government, both legislative and judicial. Sometimes indeed clouds and darkness are round about him; his dispensations are altogether unaccountable; his way is in the sea and his path in the great waters. We are not aware of what he designs, what he drives at; nor is it fit that we should be let into the secrets of his government. There is a depth in his counsels, which we must not pretend to fathom. But still righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne; a golden thread of justice runs through the whole web of his administration. In this he resides, for it is his habitation. In this he rules, for it is the habitation of his throne. His commandments are, and will be, all righteous. Righteousness and judgment are the basis of his throne (so Dr. Hammond); for therefore his throne is for ever and ever,because his sceptre is a right sceptre, Ps. 45:6 . The throne is established in righteousness. Even the heavens declare his righteousness (v. 6); it is as conspicuous and as illustrious as the heavens themselves. The angels of heaven will declare it, who are employed as messengers in the administration of his government and therefore know more of it than any of his creatures. His righteousness is incontestable; for who can contradict or dispute what the heavens declare? Ps. 50:6 . In the extent of it in the upper and lower world. (1.) All the men on earth are under his government; either he is served by them or he serves himself by them. All the people see his glory, or may see it. The glory of God, in the face of Christ, was made to shine in distant countries, among many people, more or less among all people; the gospel was preached, for aught we know, in all languages, Acts. 2:5, Acts. 2:11 . Miracles were wrought in all nations, and so all the people saw his glory. Have they not heard? Rom. 10:18 . (2.) All the angels in heaven are so. Perhaps we should not have found this truth in those words (v. 7), Worship him, all you gods, if we had not been directed to it by the inspired apostle, who, from the Septuagint version of those words, makes the Messiah to be introduced into the upper world at the ascension with this charge (Heb. 1:6 ), Let all the angels of God worship him, which helps us to a key to this whole psalm, and shows us that it must be applied to the exalted Redeemer, who has gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God,which intimates that all power is given him both in heaven and earth, angels, authorities, and powers, being made subject unto him, 1 Pt. 3:22 . This speaks the honour of Christ, that he has such worshippers, and the honour of all good Christians, that they have such fellow-worshippers.II. Christ’s government, though it may be matter of joy to all, will yet be matter of terror to some, and it is their own fault that it is so, v. 3-5, v. 7. Observe,1. When the kingdom of Christ was to be set up in the world, after his ascension, it would meet with many enemies, and much opposition would be given to it. He that reigns, to the joy of the whole earth, yet, as he has his subjects, so he has his enemies(v. 3), that not only will not have him to reign over them, but would not have him to reign at all, that not only will not enter into the kingdom of heaven themselves, but do all they can to hinder those that are entering, Mt. 23:13 . This was fulfilled in the enmity of the unbelieving Jews to the gospel of Christ, and the violent persecution which in all places they stirred up against the preachers and professors of it. These enemies are here called hills (v. 5), for their height, and strength, and immovable obstinacy. It was the princes of this world that crucified the Lord of glory, 1 Co. 2:8 ; Ps. 2:2 .2. The opposition which the Jews gave to the setting up of Christ’s kingdom turned to their own ruin. Their persecuting the apostles, and forbidding them to speak to the Gentiles, filled up their sin, and brought wrath upon them to the uttermost, 1 Th. 2:15, 1 Th. 2:16 . That wrath is here compared, (1.) To consuming fire, which goes before him, and burns up his enemies, that have made themselves like chaff and stubble, and have set the briers and thorns before him in battle, Isa. 27:4 . This fire of divine wrath will not only burn the rubbish upon the hills, but will even melt the hills themselves like wax, v. 5. When our God appears as a consuming fire even rocks will be wax before him. The most resolute and daring opposition will be baffled at the presence of the Lord. His very presence is enough to shame and sink it, for he is the Lord of the whole earth, by whom all the children of men are manageable and to whom they are accountable. Men hate and persecute God’s people, because they think him absent, that the Lord has forsaken the earth; but, when he manifests his presence, they melt. (2.) To amazing lightnings (v. 4), which strike a terror upon many. The judgments God brought upon the enemies of Christ’s kingdom were such as all the world took notice of with terror: The earth saw and trembled, and the ears of all that heard were made to tingle. This was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish nation by the Romans, about forty years after Christ’s resurrection, which, like fire, wholly destroyed that people, and, like lightning, astonished all their neighbours (Deu. 29:24 ); but the heavens declare God’s righteousness in it, and all the people, to this day, see his glory, in those lasting monuments of his justice, the scattered Jews.3. Idolaters also would be put to confusion by the setting up of Christ’s kingdom (v. 7): Confounded be all those who serve graven images, the Gentile world, who did service to those that by nature are no gods (Gal. 4:8 ), who boasted themselves of idols as their protectors and benefactors. Did those that served idols boast of them, and shall the servants of the living God distrust him, or be ashamed of him? Let those be ashamed that serve graven images. (1.) This is a prayer for the conversion of the Gentiles, that those who have been so long serving dumb idols may be convinced of their error, ashamed of their folly, and may, by the power of Christ’s gospel, be brought to serve the only living and true God, and may be as much ashamed of their idols as ever they were proud of them. See Isa. 2:20, Isa. 2:21 . (2.) This is a prophecy of the ruin of those that would not be reformed and reclaimed from their idolatry; they shall be confounded by the destruction of Paganism in the Roman empire, which was fulfilled about 300 years after Christ, so much to the terror of idolaters that some think it was the revolution under Constantine that made even the mighty men say to the rocks, Fall on us and hide us, Rev. 6:15, Rev. 6:16 . This prayer and prophecy are still in force against antichristian idolaters, who may here read their doom: Confounded be all those that worship graven images, v. 7. See Jer. 48:13 .  Verses 8-12 The kingdom of the Messiah, like the pillar of cloud and fire, as it has a dark side towards the Egyptians, so it has a bright side towards the Israel of God. It is set up in spite of opposition; and then the earth saw and trembled(v. 4), but Zion heard and was glad, very glad, to hear of the conversion of some and of the confusion of others, that is, the conquest of all that stood it out against Christ. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! for behold thy king comes unto thee, Zec. 9:9 . And not Zion only, where the temple was, but even the daughters of Judah, rejoiced; the common people, the inhabitants of the villages, they shall triumph in Christ’s victories. The command (v. 1) is, Let the earth rejoice; but it is only the sons of Zion and the daughters of Judah that do rejoice. All should bid the kingdom of the Messiah welcome, but few do. Now here observe,I. The reasons that are given for Zion’s joy in the government of the Redeemer. The faithful servants of God may well rejoice and be glad, 1. Because God is glorified, and whatever redounds to his honour is very much his people’s pleasure. They rejoice because of thy judgments, O Lord! which may take in both the judgments of his mouth and the judgments of his hand, the word of his gospel and his works wrought for the propagating of it, miracles and marvellous providences; for in these we must own, “Thou, Lord, art high above all the earth (v. 9); thou hast manifested thy sovereignty in the kingdom of nature, and thy command of all its powers, and thy dominion over all nations, over all hearts; thou art exalted far above all gods’’ —all deputed gods, that is, princes—all counterfeit gods, that is, idols. The exaltation of Christ, and the advancement of God’s glory among men thereby, are the rejoicing of all the saints. 2. Because care is taken for their safety. Those that pay allegiance to Christ as a King shall be sure of his protection. Princes are the shields of the earth; Christ is so to his subjects; they may put their trust under his shadow and rejoice in it, for (v. 10) He preserves the souls of the saints;he preserves their lives as long as he has any work for them to do, and wonderfully delivers them many a time out of the hand of the wicked, their persecutors that thirst after their blood; for precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. But something more is meant than their lives; for those that will be his disciples must be willing to lay down their lives, and not indent for the securing of them. It is the immortal soul that Christ preserves, the inward man,which may be renewed more and more when the outward man decays. He will preserve the souls of his saints from sin, from apostasy, and despair, under their greatest trials; he will deliver them out of the hands of the wicked one that seeks to devour them; he will preserve them safely to his heavenly kingdom, 2 Tim. 4:18 . They have therefore reason to be glad, being thus safe. Because provision is made for their comfort. Those that rejoice in Christ Jesus, and in his exaltation, have fountains of joy treasured up for them, which will be opened sooner or later (v. 11): Light is sown for the righteous, that is, gladness for the upright in heart. The subjects of Christ’s kingdom are told to expect tribulation in the world. They must suffer by its malice, and must not share in its mirth; yet let them know, to their comfort, that light is sown for them; it is designed and prepared for them. What is sown will come up again in due time; though, like a winter seedness, it may lie long under the clods, and seem to be lost and buried, yet it will return in a rich and plentiful increase. God’s goodness shall be sure of a harvest in the appointed weeks. Those that sow in tears shall, without fail, reap in joy, Ps. 126:5, Ps. 126:6 . Christ told his disciples, at parting (Jn. 16:20 ), You shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. Gladness is sure to the upright in heart, to those only that are sincere in religion. The joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment.There is no serenity without a lasting sincerity,II. The rules that are given for Zion’s joy. 1. Let it be a pure and holy joy. “You that love the Lord Jesus, that love his appearing and kingdom, that love his word and his exaltation, see that you hate evil, the evil of sin, every thing that is offensive to him and will throw you out of his favour.’’ Note, A true love to God will show itself in a real hatred of all sin, as that abominable thing which he hates. The joy of the saints should likewise confirm their antipathy to sin and divine comforts should put their mouths out of taste for sensual pleasures. 2. Let the joy terminate in God (v. 12): Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous. Let all the streams of comfort, which flow to us in the channel of Christ’s kingdom, lead us to the fountain, and oblige us to rejoice in the Lord. All the lines of joy must meet in him as in the centre. See Phil. 3:3 Phil. 4:4 . Let it express itself in praise and thanksgiving: Give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. Whatever is the matter of our rejoicing ought to be the matter of our thanksgiving, and particularly the holiness of God. Those that hate sin themselves are glad that God does so, in hopes that therefore he will not suffer it to have dominion over them. Note, (1.) We ought to be much in the remembrance of God’s holiness, the infinite purity, rectitude, and perfection of the divine nature. We must be ever mindful of his holy covenant, which he has confirmed with an oath by his holiness. (2.) We ought to give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness, not only give him the glory of it as it is an honour to him, but give him thanks for it as it is a favour to us; and an unspeakable favour it will be if, through grace, we are partakers of his holiness. It is God’s holiness which, above all his attributes, the angels celebrate. Isa. 6:3 , Holy, holy, holy. Sinners tremble, but saints rejoice, at the remembrance of God’s holiness,Ps. 30:4

What is fear? What is fear to you? I have a friend that gave me this acronym for FEAR “False Expectations Appearing Real!”.  I’ve heard it’s been said that the words “Do not fear,” is listed throughout the Bible 365 times. While researching today’s message I found some conflicting stories about the actually amount of time with as few as 100 and as many as 400, I personally am not going to count them for just for my personal satisfaction, the thing I find most interesting is God simply telling us, His children to not be afraid or fearful. The other obvious message I hear is to “Trust God!” Letting Go and Letting God do His work, may we all pause and simply say ” thank you” to God the Father, Jesus Christ the Lord and to the Holy Spirit and their unchanging love for each of us. Amen!

~Blessings and Peace~

References:                                                     Matthew Henry’s Complete Bible Commentary
Preparing for Easter by C.S.Lewis
God on the Dock by C.S.Lewis