Devotional: ‘Fear Not, I Am With Thee, O Be Not Dismayed’

One of my favorite radio Bible teachers has always been J. Vernon McGee.  (He’s the guy with the strange voice!)  If you are familiar with Dr. McGee’s program, you are also familiar with the song always used to introduce it -  “How Firm a Foundation.”

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

I suppose that as long as Dr. McGee’s program is on the air, that song will be used to introduce it.  There are also several other great verses to that precious hymn.  Here are three of my favorites-

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

A man by the name of John Rippon penned those words back in the late 1700′s.  I am not sure what his motivation was, but I wonder if part of it came from the book of 1 Peter.

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” (1 Peter 1:6-7) 

Peter was writing to the saints who were suffering and scattered throughout Asia Minor.  Throughout his letter he gave them many words of instruction and comfort.  At the close of his letter he said something that I believe is extremely important.

“…I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand.”   (1 Peter 5:12)

“The true grace of God wherein ye stand.”  Grace is often described as the ‘unmerited favor of God.’  Consider that carefully.  It is ‘unmerited.’  If our spiritual foundation was something that we ourselves had developed , it might also be something that we ourselves could destroy.  God determined to provided for us a sure foundation of His grace while we were yet sinners.  Our firm foundation is based upon the faithfulness of God; not ours.

Notice also that grace is God’s unmerited ‘favor.’  I looked up the word favor and found for its definition {effort in one’s behalf or interest.}  What a blessing!  As children of God, we stand in a place where God Himself “makes effort” on our behalf and interest.  That is why Paul could write, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.”  Grace is a place where we become the recipients of God’s goodness.

Lastly, let me remind you that grace is the unmerited favor ‘of God.’  My family loves me, but they cannot come close to providing for me what my heavenly Father can.  My church family supports me, but there is no way that they can meet all of my needs.  No friend or family can do for us what God can.  Our God shall supply all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus!

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.