Faith Beyond Fear

Scripture Focus: Deuteronomy 20.1-4, 8
1 When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. 2 When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. 3 He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. 4 For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”

8 Then the officers shall add, “Is anyone afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his fellow soldiers will not become disheartened too.”

Reflection: Faith Beyond Fear
By Marisa Jenkins

The Israelites battled fear. In fact, this fear was so prevalent that, prior to going into battle, the officers were instructed to ask if anyone was afraid. Those in fear were to be sent home lest their fellow soldiers become fearful too, because fear is contagious.

But why should they feel afraid? God had proven his faithfulness to his people. He delivered them from the hands of the Egyptians as he told them to be still, their Lord would fight for them. (Exodus 14.13-14) Yet they began to look down at their circumstances instead of up, trusting in their Creator to fight for them. Instead of fearing what was in the battle, the Israelite soldiers needed to trust in God who sees beyond the battle.  

It’s easy to point the finger at the fearful Israelites, but aren’t we the same way? When our circumstances crumble, we struggle to see God. In difficult situations, it’s easy to lose heart and give in to fear. Like Peter, how many times have we taken our eyes off of Christ and begun to look at the troubling circumstances surrounding us, only to begin to sink? (Matthew 14.30)

The Lord was going with the Israelites to fight against their enemies. God was calling his people to trust him and not be fainthearted or afraid. Faith looks beyond fear. This is trust, to look farther than our eyes can see.

Maybe we are not facing a physical battle against a foreign enemy but, as believers, we face many different battles each day. A loved one fighting cancer. The constant onslaught of chronic pain. A child wandering from the Lord. Fear wants to creep in. Fear wants us to take our eyes off of Jesus and place them on our own circumstances. 

Just as the Israelites needed to trust God, just as Peter needed to focus his eyes on Jesus, we too must learn to trust. Without this trust, we will sink in fear.

But we don’t have to sink. We have a Heavenly Father who goes with us to fight against our enemies.(Deuteronomy 20.4) Faith chooses to trust God, knowing that he sees what we cannot. We also trust that, no matter what storms or enemies we face, God will be with us every step of the way.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
I will call upon God and the Lord will deliver me.
In the evening, in the morning, and at the noonday, I will complain and lament, and he will hear my voice.
He will bring me safely back…God, who is enthroned of old, will hear me. — Psalm 55.17-19

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 20 (Listen 2:55)
2 Corinthians 13 (Listen 2:19)

Helping Fathers and the Fatherless

Psalm 109.9-12
May his children be fatherless
    and his wife a widow.
May his children be wandering beggars;
    may they be driven from their ruined homes.
May a creditor seize all he has;
    may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.
May no one extend kindness to him
    or take pity on his fatherless children.

Reflection: Helping Fathers and the Fatherless
By John Tillman

People of David’s time understood that fatherlessness was a known cause of suffering for children and families. If children were fatherless, they were expected to be poor, wandering beggars. God’s people are commanded to be compassionate to widows and orphans precisely because God knew and cared for their hardship. 

What David may not have foreseen, however, is that today’s fatherless children would suffer not only the disinterest of society but the disinterest of their own fathers. Most of the fatherless children in David’s day knew that it was the horrors of war or exile or accident that had taken their fathers away unwillingly. Today’s fatherless often are left fatherless by choice not by catastrophe. They aren’t orphans of war, but of willful abandonment.

According to Vincent Dicaro at the National Fatherhood Initiative, fatherhood in the United States has made some gains in recent years, but not for everyone.

“While it is true that among middle-class families, father involvement is looking very good, it is also true that America has record levels of father absence, a crisis that mainly affects lower-income families. In fact, 24 million children, 1 out of every 3, lives in a home in which their biological father does not live. That rate is closer to 2 out of 3 in the African American community. And among those children living in father-absent homes, 1/3 have no contact with their dads, and another 1/3 have contact once per month or less.

So, the picture is actually quite bleak in too many communities across the country.” 

Fathers in our communities need the church’s help and support, not our judgment. The fatherless are in our communities not to suffer for the sins of their parents, but that we might have an opportunity to demonstrate the love of God, their true Father.

May we, along with introducing our communities to God the Father, introduce them to a definition and example of fatherhood that is based on the love that God has shown us.

May we work to ensure that the benefits of fatherhood and the resources needed to be a good father are spread to all levels of our communities.

May we lovingly bless the fatherless in our communities knowing that they are not there because of the sin of themselves or their parents, but that through them we might show the glory of God.

Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Come now and see the works of God, how wonderful he is in his doings toward all people. — Psalm 66.5

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 19 (Listen – 3:04) 
Psalm 106 (Listen – 4:52) 

This Weekend’s Readings
Deuteronomy 20 (Listen – 2:55), Psalm 107 (Listen – 4:12) 
Deuteronomy 21 (Listen – 3:33), Psalm 108-109 (Listen – 4:28) 

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Read more about Fatherhood’s Collapse, Love’s Destruction
Our view of love is anemic because our view of fatherhood is so damaged. It is God’s fatherhood that gives the depth, intimacy, and love we desire most

Read more about The Father of Fathers
You are the Father all fathers should be.
Gentle. Caring. Loving. Righteous. Just.