From Fear to Faith

“God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.’ So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments.  Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.’ So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods they had…

“As they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.  And Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him, and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother. And Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried under an oak below Bethel…

“God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-aram, and blessed him.., ‘Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.’ So he called his name Israel…

“Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone. He poured out a drink offering on it and poured oil on it. So Jacob called the name of the place where God had spoken with him Bethel.” Genesis 35:1-10,14-15

Jacob was a man of inconsistencies. Passionate, deceptive, industrious, conflicted between fear and faith. A wrestler, a conniver, a lover. And God’s loving, merciful, patient hands kept molding him as His chosen to bear the blessing of Israel. He allowed him to taste his own folly and walked him through treacherous and bitter circumstances, all the while supernaturally protecting him and moving His plan forward. He commanded that he keep worship foremost, remembering whose he was. That would be the key to his transformation. (Genesis 25:31-34; 29:18-20; 31:4-7,26-31; 32:6-12,22-30)

As believers, we too struggle with inconsistencies in attitude, obedience, prayer, and faith. Our personalities, family and work situations, and circumstances present ongoing and varied challenges to spiritual progress, and we can get frustrated, discouraged, even feel unworthy of the Lord’s patient striving with us. We can wallow in past failures and consequences of past (forgiven) sins, and dread moving ahead or being changed.

But God issues commands that, when heeded, transform fears and establish our faith in Him. He’s always purposeful in what seems strange or threatening to us. Hemmed in behind and before, we must remember we no longer bear condemnation, but own new life in the land of freedom. We are weak but He is strong. We are fallible but He is perfect. He’s praying for our faith to be exercised and increased. (Psalm 19:7-11; 139:5; Luke 22:32; Romans 8:1; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 12:9-10)

What current situations crush God-appointed confidence? Will we move from fear to faith? How can we establish regular rhythms of worship, gratitude, and ready obedience to propel us forward?

Father, may faith mark my every action and altar, to Your praise.

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