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There are many encouraging words throughout the pages of the Holy Bible. One finds great hope in Jesus and His Word, the Bible. The scriptures are God speaking to us and showing us His deity, glory, redemption and purposes. Peter said it best by God’s inspiration: “... seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (1 Peter 1:3). “Everything pertaining to life and godliness”! That should encourage your soul. In particular, to find encouragement when life goes sideways and hope has turned into despair, one only needs to hear the assuring words of our great God: “Fear not.”

The sovereign God of the Scriptures has every situation under control. As believers in Christ, we can rest assured that God knows and will respond according to His will and character. The assurance of God’s care in the midst of our distress and despair is meant to renew our strength and enable us to face what we must. Simply stated, those words give us hope and assurance.

The words “fear not” most often accompany the great appearances of our God and His glory. For example, when God appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He said, “Fear not.” When God revealed his glory to the prophets, he said, “Fear not.” When His messengers, the holy angels, announced Jesus’ birth to Mary and the shepherds, they said “Fear not.”

Here is the key, beloved: When the glory of God is so great that it might obscure His love for his people, He always assures them that they need not fear harm from Him.

Did you get that? When the greatness of our God masks the love of God because of His Shekinah glory, God always brings assurance to us with the comforting words “fear not.”

God’s calming words are meant to instill confidence that He has never left us nor forsaken us. This reminder of God’s care and presence is often seen in a response to prayer when we cast our cares on Him. This God-wrought assurance is always a believer’s greatest strength in times of trouble. Just the very promises of God that He cares, protects and lifts up those who are in Christ Jesus give us the confidence and hope that we need to press on. We do not need to have all our questions immediately answered if we know that God hears us, beloved. We do not need to have all our problems solved at once if we know that God is with us. When the infinitely powerful and holy God comes to hear and be near to us through our prayers, we can face whatever we must with the certainty of His great care for our lives.

Beloved, that is the type of God we have — a Shepherd, who cares for His flock. He implores us to come to Him in prayer. He wants us to cast all our cares upon Him with the knowledge that He is all-wise and caring and able to handle any situation that we might find ourselves in. God doesn’t turn his back on His children. The world will, and, sadly, even some in the church will, but God never will, if you are His; you are front and center in His eyes, because you are in Christ.

In spite of all that He is doing in this world and will do through eternity, He takes the time to respond to in your greatest need. Hasn’t He already done that? When you were in the depths of your sin with nowhere to turn, with your world falling apart and sin overcoming you, God sent Jesus. Jesus was sent to care for your soul, to redeem and renew you, to justify you and atone for your sins. When you repented and came to Him in faith, you became His.

No wonder David could say in Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare at a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

Beloved, that is our God. He responds and acts. He undergirds you. That Psalm continues to be a favorite for so many.

I recently visited the room of a dying woman. She didn’t have much earthly time left. After a few words, she gazed at me and said, “Pastor, read Psalm 23 to me. Tell me again what my great Shepherd is doing for me and will do for me.”

As I read that Psalm, she repeated it back to me word for word. On her heart in the frail last moments of her life was the care and love of our great Shepherd.

Oh, the peace and comfort that only a living and believing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ brings. His peace passes understanding. He gives hope in times of great despair.

The question that begs to be answered is, do you know this great Shepherd? Have you repented of your sins and turned in faith to the only One who can save you and bring this great assurance to your life? Is He the one to whom you run when you face a crisis? When you have little hope and you find yourself in despair, your only response can be to turn to Jesus, the author and perfector of your faith. Remember God’s words, “Fear not,” for He is the only one who can truly care for your soul.

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Dr. Bear Morton shepherds Christ’s flock at Magic Valley Bible Church, 204 Main Ave. W. Twin Falls. The church has a Christian bookstore that is open from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. For more information, go to mvbibletf.org.

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