Two Thieves

Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves.  The first thief is regret; regret for things that have happened in our past.

The second thief is fear; fear for what might happen to us in the future. 

We are truly a regretful people.  Are there any of us who do not carry many regrets in our heart concerning things that we wish had not happened in our life?

If only we had done things differently, how much better our life could be today.

We would not have that great sorrow for the things we should have done or could have done differently.

We would not have that feeling of deep saddness in our heart that we have let people we care about down when we should have been there for them.

And the saddest part of all is that we can never go back and change it, except to say that we are truly sorry for what has happened, for what we have done and mean it.

If only we had been less selfish and more loving.  If only we had realized what the consequences would be.  If only we had been more like Jesus, how much better our life would be today.

By God’s grace and mercy we can be set free from the sins, the mistakes and the regrets of our past.

Because He is a God of redemption, He forgives and restores His people.

The apostle Paul who had tremendous regrets for his past said in Phil 3:13-14, “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

The only hope we have is to come to Jesus and ask Him to take our regrets and past failures, and to give us a new beginning of closeness to Him in our life. 

Then God says in Isa 43:18-19 "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

We should be a people who regret our past regrets so much that we find freedom from them in closeness to our Savior. 

 

If you were to ask me, “how are you doing, are you afraid?”  My first reaction would be, “No, this is a good day, I don’t feel afraid.”

But a deeper consideration of your question would bring a different answer. 

We are so accustomed to our fears that unless we are looking directly into the face of a fear, we don’t seem to notice that they are there at all. 

For instance, I always carry the fear that some of the people I care about won’t have a place in God’s Kingdom.

I always carry the fear that someone I love might be seriously hurt or die.

I always carry the fear that our nation has gone too far away from God and God’s judgements will fall on our country soon.

And I have many, many more fears that are always with me, just waiting for me to remember them.

I don’t let those fears control me, but I know that they are there.

So an honest answer to your question would be, “Yes, I am afraid of things I don’t want to happen.”

We are a fearful people.  As we look at our life and the world around us, there is no limit to what we can be afraid of.

If you are running low on things to fear, you can turn on the news and get a fresh supply of fears daily.

God’s Word specificly says ‘do not fear’ or ‘do not be afraid’ 88 times from Genesis to Revelation.  In addition to that, God speaks to us about our fear hundreds of times in His Word.

Our fear must be something very important to Him. 

God knows how often we are afraid and desires to comfort His people.

Isa 51:12-13I, even I, am he who comforts you.  Who are you that you fear mortal men, the sons of men, who are but grass, that you forget the Lord your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, that you live in constant terror every day because of the wrath of the oppressor, who is bent on destruction?  For where is the wrath of the oppressor?” 

 

Isa 8:12 "Do not call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it.” 

Isa 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

There is only one way out of our fear, a relationship of closeness to our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ our Savior.

When we are in a struggle with worldly people or organizations we claim His promises and wait for His answer.  PS - the waiting is the hard part.

Deut 3:22 “Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you."

 I claim that promise on a regular basis in my life.

Deut 31:8 “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."

Isa 51:7 "Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have my law in your hearts: Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults.”  

If you feel that God doesn’t really care or listen to your prayers, then know that God is waiting for you to come closer to Him in covenant relationship.

1 Sam 12:20 "Do not be afraid," Samuel replied. "You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.” 

Isa 43:1-3a “But now, this is what the Lord says — he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  3 For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” 

Isa 44:2 “This is what the Lord says — he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you:  Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.” 

It feels good and right in our heart to be close to the Living God, to know that we are pleasing Him and that we are completely yielded to Him.

So why do we resist what we were created for, a close and intimate relationship with our creator? 

What are we afraid would happen if we truly surrendered all of ourselves to God?

Do we trust God to be in complete control of our life? – I guess that’s what faith really is, a complete trust in God.

Where do we find the courage to live in that faith? 

1.      In spending time, a lot of time with our God.

2.      In making those daily choices to live our life doing what pleases Him.

3.      In showing God that we would rather be with Him than doing the things of this world.

This world cannot offer anything more rewarding than God’s smile and to hear from Him, “Well done good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of your Lord.”

The greatest and most beneficial fear we can have is the Fear of the Lord.

Not to be afraid of Him, but to truly realize how perfect and holy He is, and then to realize how truly sinful we are before Him asking for His forgiveness.

Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” 

Now I could make the statement, “If you don’t have a deep and commited relationship to Jesus and our Father in Heaven, you don’t have a prayer, there is no hope for you.”

But the fact is as long as you are alive you have the priviledge of a prayer of true repentence to our God.

God will hear you and forgive you if that prayer is truly from your heart.  And you will live forever in His Kingdom.

But the longer we wait the more difficult that prayer becomes for us to offer.  So if God is speaking to your heart today don’t wait.  Surrender and do what He is asking you to do today.

This is your chance to avoid another regret and to give all your fears to Jesus.  He wants you to come to Him.

What are you going to say to Jesus today?