"We received the same promises as those people in the wilderness, but the promises didn't do them a bit of good because they didn't receive the promises with faith."
- Hebrews 4:2 MSG
During my quiet time with the Lord recently, I asked Him why a certain promise I had been standing on for a long time had still not come to pass. As I listened for His still, small voice, I sensed Him saying to me, “Stop mixing worry with My Word.” He led me to a passage in Scripture where Jesus talks about sowing the Word of God into our hearts and lives. "Then the cares and anxieties of the world…creep in and choke and suffocate the Word, and it becomes fruitless." (Mark 4:19 AMP) There it was as clear as day—our cares and anxieties have the potential to neutralize the effectiveness of the Word of God in our lives and circumstances. Suddenly, I understood the importance of Peter’s instructions to us when he wrote: "[Cast] the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on [God], for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully." (1 Peter 5:7 AMP) This is no warm and fuzzy verse to simply comfort us in hard times. It’s an admonition from the Lord to refuse to try to handle our own burdens and concerns, so that we can receive the most benefit from His Word and promises in every situation we face. In some cases, heeding this warning can make the difference between victory and defeat, safety and destruction, and even life and death.
The Bible talks about the failure of the Israelites during their desert wanderings to benefit from the promises of God. Hebrews 4:2 (NKJV) says: "But the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it." God had a promise of rest for His people, but it didn’t do them any good because they failed to believe it and receive it in faith. Hebrews 3:19 (AMP) puts it this way: “So we see that they were not able to enter [into His rest], because of their unwillingness to adhere to and trust in and rely on God [unbelief had shut them out].” We, too, can shut ourselves out from the promises of God when we refuse to believe and trust God in a situation.
It’s interesting that right after Peter tells us to cast all of our cares and anxieties on God, he says: “Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 AMP) In other words, we mustn’t open the door to Satan and his dark forces through fear, anxiety, dread, or doubt. All these things make us vulnerable to the enemy, and they have the potential to rob us of God’s best. Next, Peter tells us to: “Withstand [the devil]; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world.” (1 Peter 5:9 AMP) How do we build up our resistance against violent attacks like these? We become strong in spirit by spending regular “quiet times” with God. We get still before Him. We pray undistracted prayers. We read and study His Word. We memorize it and meditate on it “day and night,” as the Bible instructs. (Joshua 1:8) And we lift praise and thanksgiving to God throughout the day, every day. Notice that while Peter admits that Satan will come against all believers, he also indicates that those who stand firm in their faith will be better able to withstand his attacks.
Today, I’m telling you the same thing that God told me that day: Stop mixing worry with the Word. Start mixing faith with each promise that God speaks to your heart, and refuse to cave in to unbelief. Then reap the harvest of blessings and rewards that are your inheritance in Christ!
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for trying to mix doubt with Your Word, expecting to get a good result. Teach me how to cast ALL of my cares and worries upon You, and to resist carrying them myself. Thank You that as I do my part to build my faith, I will receive the fulfillment of every promise You put in my heart!
- J. M. Farro