Have you noticed that fear can cause us to do all kinds of crazy things? Fear can cause anger. Fear can cause distrust. Fear can cause us to freeze, frozen in fear sound familiar?
We trust God more when we exercise our fear muscle. Now do not get me wrong, I do NOT want to have something to fear either. But I have noticed how overcoming fear can make the next time easier.
I have been blessed to travel to Israel twice. The first time was overwhelming and terrifying. I had never flown more than a short few hour distance. By that I mean that I had never flown over 3 hours in one flight, at least to the best of knowledge. My flying had up until this point been within the continental United States. I have a fear of flying over the ocean. Flying to Israel is a minimum of a 10 hour flight. Over water. My palms were sweaty, my heart was raising, and I clutched some prayer beads I have made before the trip tightly, so tightly I broke the strong wire they were made from. This time when I flew I read a book, watched a movie, and relaxed. God has taken away the anxiety that sometimes comes with fear. I am still aware and a little nervous but proud to report that no prayer beads were harmed.
I repeated the passage that says “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” from Proverbs 3:5. It was truth spoke into my life from God’s word. The Lord has been faithful. I have trusted Him and seen amazing things happen.
A great study I did this fall put it this way...life can be hard so we have to believe big. We need to find scriptures that we place on our hearts and minds that we believe to be true and speak them into our lives. Literally. Daily trusting in the Lord will help you develop the faith muscle to help you overcome a fear, disappointment, or heartache.
Here are some believe big scriptures that you should mark in your Bible, put on an index card or post-it where you can see it daily, and /or put to memory:
Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,
Psalms 119:90 Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
These are just a few of great verses that remind us that God is with us and we can trust in Him. Try saying them aloud, not allowing the devil to have a stronghold on your fear or you mind to run wild with horrible thoughts when times are tough!
Remember too that scripture tells us that is God is close to the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Trust the Lord today!
Everyday is choice of how we respond to what is thrown our way or given to us. We can choose to wake up with attitude. Come on we have all been there. We did not sleep well. We do not feel well. We have to do something that we do no want to do, so we will be snarky. By snarky I mean that the commercial for Snickers where someone is hangry, would have NOTHING on us.
I have discovered, as have many of you I bet, that my day will not improve if I have a rotten attitude. It really will not. I might succeed in dragging someone down with me. That is not very attractive at all. I might succeed in making myself miserable, that sounds wonderful! Right!?
Wonder if with unkind words from another, we choose kindness? Ephesians 4:32
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” That would be something, right? Something good!
Wonder if instead of leaning into all that is wrong we choose joy? Psalm 28:7, NLT “The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” The verse does not say easy, it says “trust” and “filled with joy”. A by produce of the choice you make to choose joy.
Wonder if instead of hatred we choose love? Romans 12:9-13 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”
Wonder if choose to wake up and rejoice? 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I believe if these are the choices that we make then God will honor our attitude with a blessing. Maybe a friend will call for coffee. Maybe someone will swing by the office with a kind word. Maybe your day will be terrible, horrible, a very bad day and you will think well that did not change a thing. Maybe just maybe someone watched how you responded to something that should have derailed you and did not. Then maybe just maybe someone will think “huh _____________(insert your name) has got it going on, what is different about them?” Then maybe just maybe you will get to share the best choice you ever made .... to follow Jesus! Let’s live as people who have a choice to make!
There is always that one. The one that says that all we do is wrong. The one that says things that hurt your feelings. The one who you work with and drives you crazy. The one that is part of you immediate family. The one that you get to spend the holidays with and you are dreading it! THAT ONE! I have had “the one” or more than “the one” in my life!
Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the LORD.
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
I was challenged years ago to pray for those that hurt you, those that you do not like, those that betray you… basically “the one’s” in my world. I began praying very maturely….with little to NO meaning. Mature right? I prayed and at that point I did not have a change because at that point I still did not like them, forgive them, etc. I had work to do. When I say I, I mean it. I had to get over myself and the issues. I had the right to be angry about things but I did not have the right to hold onto that anger or give it a foothold in my life. At this point this is exactly what I was doing!
But I prayed without ceasing...it didn’t get better...it got worse. I had more things to be praying about. Yet, God did a work in me. I began to want great things for my “one”. I began to not dread seeing them. I began to change. Not the situation. Not the ONE in my life, me! I was no longer angry. I no longer wanted to scream...stop it. The praying changed me. Never healed our relationship. At times I still find my one difficult to this day...a sign that God and I need to work some more.
I have learned what ugly love looks like...loving when you just do not want to. I could love as the earthly principles reveal to me
“love only those that love you”. John 13:34-35 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Let’s love messily...the one and other ones as Jesus loves us! It will not always be pretty or easy or fun but in the end you will feel better living as Jesus commands.
Making Room to Grow
“Other seeds fell among thorns that grew
up and choked out the tender plants.”
Jesus, Matthew 13:7 NLT
Several years ago, while Debi and I were serving at Cromwell UMC, we planted marigolds along both sides of the sidewalk leading from the street to our front porch. I have always liked marigolds because they are bright yellow and being a colorblind guy I can easily distinguish the color of marigolds. (They also seem to be a pretty hardy flower.)
This particular year after planting the marigolds, Deb and I didn’t do much with them for a few weeks and then we noticed that they really weren’t growing like we thought they should. Upon closer examination we noticed that the grass from the yard had encroached on the area in which we had planted the marigolds. The grass was actually threatening to take over the flower beds where the marigolds were planted.
Now there is nothing wrong with grass when it is in the yard but we didn’t want it to take over the flower beds. So, Deb and I went to work one day pulling up the grass in the flower beds. It took some work and some time but when we finished the flower beds looked a lot better.
Also, something happened that I hadn’t realized would take place. (Confession: I really am not much of a gardener.) The marigolds began to spread out over the flower bed and grow like never before. What we had done was that by weeding the flower beds alongside the sidewalk we had made room for the marigolds to grow.
Jesus, in the parable of the Sower & the Seed, reminds us that there are things in life that can choke out the spiritual growth that God intends for us. Jesus said it this way when He explained the parable to his disciples…
“The seed sown among weeds represents the person who receives the message, but all of life’s busy distractions, his divided heart, and his ambition for wealth result in suffocating the kingdom message and prevent him from bearing spiritual fruit.” Jesus, Matthew 13:22 TPT
So here is a question for you. What do you need to weed out of your life in order to grow into the person God wants you to be? It may be something that is bad, that is destructive to you and those around you. It maybe something not bad in and of itself (like the grass in the marigolds) but it is taking too much of your focus away from God and the Kingdom.
God’s great goal in our lives is that we grow in our relationship with Jesus and our knowing how to walk in His ways. In order see God’s goal for us realized we do need to make room to grow. The Master Gardener ((Father God) can and will make clear to us what needs to be weeded out or pruned back in order for us to grow.
What is true of us as individuals is also true corporately. God’s intention is for us to grow together as a church. The problem is that we try to do so much and our focus is so broad that we can miss the truly important. As a church, we can fail to make room to grow.
May all of us be making room to grow! May this be the best growing season we have ever experienced in knowing Jesus more and more and learning to walk in His ways!
In my mind one of the most powerful chapters in all of Scripture is Romans 8. Here are a few of my favorite verses from this chapter…
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” v. 1-2
“So, you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’”
“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example,
we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the
Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be
expressed in words.” v.26
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” v. 28
In the last part of chapter 8 in the New Living Translation the phrase “...for us” appears several times. I noticed this the other day while having my devotions. Here are the verses…
“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these?
If God is for us, who can ever be against us?” v.31
“Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up
for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” v. 32
“…for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us,
and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.” v. 35
Know this today and remember this God is for us!!! God is for you!!! The story of Jesus shows that God is for us, not against us!
Sisters and brothers, if God is for us what does it matter who is against us! Because God is for us, may each of us live wholeheartedly and passionately for Him!
It is the time of year when the sun shines less, when the schedule is crazy, and it seems like the end of the year has so many loose ends that we might not have any time to breathe. So, what is it that I recommend for you to do? Increase your rest in the Lord. It is exactly when life is the craziest that we need to cling to the Lord.
God created us for to recharge. He gives us an example of this when He rested after creation. Genesis 2:2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Now, like me you might be thinking but He rested after the works was done. This is true.
In the Jewish culture life adheres to this importance of Sabbath. They enjoy a meal with family and/or friends. They stop knowing the work will be there in 24hrs. It is not that their work may be all done but this Sabbath that the Lord has called us to is important for our mind, body, and soul.
Mark 6:31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."
So, I can hear some of you right now, “how in the world can I take a day when we are 13 days away from celebrating with family and friends?” Well, for starters if you run like mad for the finish line and never take a breath when you finally sit down you will be so exhausted that you will not be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor. When I take time with the Lord in the morning, my day always is more productive. I cannot explain it other than I believe when we honor God, God makes things that seem impossible possible.
So, in the next few days make daily time for the Lord. Start with reading, listening, and prayers. Take time to just rest. When we do not rest our bodies can get wore down and that is when we get sick, suffer from fatigue, and then hit a wall unable to accomplish anything.
Rest is something that Jesus himself did here on earth.
When we look at his life we notice that He would turn to rest after big events or prior to them. Jesus is resting by the well when He has an important conversation with another person, rest does not mean that you will not still have conversation or encounters with others. Jesus was resting on the boat before he told the strom to be calm.
Exodus 34:21 You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during plowing time and harvest you shall rest.
REST this holiday season and into 2019!
I have been reading in the book 1 Samuel every day since January 1. I am enjoying reading this book with some familiar themes. Key players in this book are Samuel, Saul, David, and Goliath to name a few. The chapters I studied this week consider with the day. So that means I read Samuel 13 on this week.
In Ch. 13 we see that there is a war going on with the Philistines. Much of the Old Testament deals with war. We still struggle with wars today. Civil. Personal wars. The list is long. Chapter 17 deals with a giant and a young shepherd. On the surface your money would be on the giant, right? Wrong! The shepherd is David and with a slingshot and a stone wars will be changed forever. We gain courage from knowing that the giant can be defeated.
What is the war that is raging in your life? Do you have an addiction that needs toppled? You can topple that giant. Need something in your life healed? The giant of poor attitudes, unforgiving spirits, and more can be toppled with the Lord. David walked in the ways of the Lord.
He was far from perfect. He stumbled in big ways we will chat about later. Yet, he sought after the Lord even after failures. 2019 is a great time to seek after the Lord.
Psalm 15 written by David gives us great insight on how to live for the Lord.
1Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
2 The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
3 whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
4 who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
5 who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.
I want to live as one not shaken. How do we do that? We live by Godly standards as seen in this Psalm. David knew the Lord intimately so we can trust in these words. Join me in reading 1 Samuel this month. Simply read the chapter that matches the day as well in the Psalm.
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