WeepingintoDancing

Overcoming Difficult Trials

Archive for the category “Fear”

A Godly Perspective

A person’s perspective is an attitude and viewpoint. It can be positive or negative. A positive perspective sees the good in even the most painful and darkest of circumstances. A negative perspective will eventually lead to a hard heart, a root of bitterness, and a stagnant spiritual walk.

Perspective is an understanding that events, people, and circumstances are interrelated, and a positive perspective means we have the ability to see things from a larger frame of reference. A positive perspective means we are looking through the eyes of Jesus.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.Romans 8:28 (NKJV)

With the eyes of Christ we see the good in all people, even when confronted by rude, abusive, and angry people. With a Christ-like vision, we are less apt to judge and more likely to adopt a compassionate attitude. We will consider why actions and behaviors play out and hold our tongues and judgments for later.

When we consider the life of Jesus, we see he was a friend to prostitutes, tax collectors, and sinners. He was able to look past their mistakes or employment choices and see into the heart of the person. His love looked past all rebellion, greed, and lust and saw the desperation and need for acceptance and love in man’s heart.

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’”       Luke 7:34 (NIV)

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:32 (NIV)

As sinners, at some point we will act out, saying or thinking things that cause our Savior grief. One of these things occurs when we doubt the love of God. During difficult trials, our flesh cries out under the pressure and pain. Too often a man thinks, “If God loves me why must I suffer?” It is because of our sin and our need to be sanctified. The pressure of difficult times will bring the dross of our sin to the surface, enabling the Holy Spirit to remove it for our benefit. We are called to be like Christ.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5 (NKJV)

Sometimes we feel like mishandled clay in the hands of The Potter. Under intense pressure, we cry out and protest at every squeeze and pinch He makes. Then, when The Potter places us on His spinning wheel, life seems to spin out of control. No longer can we see clearly, for the world has become a blur. When the turning slows and comes to a stop, we feel the Creator’s hands lift us from the wheel. In fear, we tremble. Why? Because the heat of the kiln awaits us and we can not look past the future discomfort.

With the eyes of Christ, we see how The Potter has carefully placed us in just the right spot on his spinning wheel. As it whirls us around, we take note of how The Potter places both of His loving hands about us, molding us into a vessel of beauty and usefulness. We understand that our life is under His control, so we worry and fret not. When our Creator lifts us from the wheel and places us in the kiln, we welcome the heat. For it is in the fire that our beauty is enhanced, free of imperfections and strong.

Perspective helps when we are faced with adversity. Perspective was one reason Jesus was able to endure the cross. Without perspective, we follow our own natural inclinations. May God grant us eyes to see the good in every person and in every circumstance.

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV)

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”  Proverbs 14:12 (NKJV)

Spiritual Footholds

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The Bible warns us not to give the devil a foothold. But what is a foothold and why is it so dangerous?

And do not give the devil a foothold.Ephesians 4:27 (NIV)

When I hear the word foothold, I imagine a mountain climber scaling a steep incline. A foothold is a place where a person’s foot can be placed to support them securely, especially while climbing. It is a reliable position from which further progress may be made. A foothold can be a good and necessary thing. But when you add the devil to the equation look out!

We are told that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Paul refers to our earthly bodies as a tent in 2 Corinthians. As you read on, consider your body a type of residence.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” 1 Corinthians 6:19 (NIV)

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.2 Corinthians 5:1 (NIV)

The warning God speaks of has to do with our emotions. The devil preys upon feelings of anger, bitterness, depression, guilt, shame, fear, and worry. Examining the verse in front of Ephesians 4:27 provides us with more information. It explains how we provide the devil with footholds.

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26 (NIV)

Ephesians 4:26 is not referring to a just anger due to sin or unrighteousness. Rather, sinful anger hurts others. Proverbs 22:24 tells us to avoid those who are quick to anger and Proverbs 29:11 calls those who give full vent to their rage, fools.

It takes discipline to take every thought captive, but it is a sure way to keep the devil from our door. When we succumb to self-pity, depression, or any other negative emotion, we allow the devil to get a foot inside our house. Ephesians 4:26 instructs us to deal with our anger before the setting sun. In other words, do not let anger fester in your heart for very long. Take care of it quickly. Resolve the matter otherwise, it can lead to bitterness and a multitude of negative emotions. This can be applied to worry, fear, shame, depression, or any other emotion that does not glorify God. Seek help in prayer and through the Body of Christ.

When we provide the devil with a foothold and we do not slam the door on his foot, he will push his way into our abode. Once inside our home, he is no longer a foothold but rather a stronghold. He has gained more control. It will take a lot of “work” to evict him. So, slamming the door on footholds and bolting the lock as soon as the devil withdraws his sore foot, is a much wiser option. The robber and thief would love to usher in havoc and rob your peace of mind. Prayerfully consider your emotions and ask God to rid you of any footholds the devil may have in your life.

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NIV)

Helpless Before God

_Pray Cuz Helpless

Prayer is a gift. Human beings are the only creatures blessed with the ability to communicate with God. As with any relationship, honest communication is necessary for connections to grow and mature. God is all about intimacy. He loves us with a tenderness beyond compare. Yet, many of us neglect the prayer closet. Why?

Sin or rebellion may be our reason. If we think God can’t see our sin or actions we are foolishly trying to deceive ourselves. God knows and sees all things. He came to save the sick and lost. He understands temptations and no sin is beyond His forgiveness and love. Facing God with honesty is difficult, but the only way to recapture a broken relationship.

You have searched me, Lord, and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You, Lord, know it completely.Psalm 139:1-4 (NIV)

Fear may also be a reason for our reluctance to pray. Fear of punishment or God’s anger is a cunning trap set by the enemy. The devil loves to shovel shame and guilt our way. But God is love. Love if forgiving, gentle, and kind. But we also serve a just God who honors free will and allows consequences for sinful actions.

“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.” Isaiah 59:2 (NKJV)

Sin must be confessed if we want our prayers to be heard. Sin separates us from God. King David sinned greatly yet God still called him, “A man after My own heart.” Adultery and murder are not what we would imagine when considering this mighty declaration.

And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.Acts 13:22 (NKJV)

A reverent fear of God means we understand whom it is that we are speaking to. It shows respect and awe. With a reverent fear we recognize our condition and see that we are helpless, helpless to run our spiritual race without God’s strength and assistance.

So, when we come before God we must don a cloak of humility. Acknowledge Him as the Creator of the universe. Consider His power and might. Be in awe!

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”         Philippians 2:12-13 (NKJV)

Humility will bend our knees when we consider our position as the creation. The one true God, the Creator of all things actually wants fellowship with us. So with a reverent fear, one without terror and distress over punishment, we must lay our hearts bare and trust God to toss them as far as the east is from the west.

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”        Psalm 103:12 (NKJV)

We live in a world that praises self-reliance and it starts with infancy. Parents rejoice over their child’s first step, their first bike ride without training wheels, dressing and bathing without assistance. Even the fierce, “ME do it!” brings a measure of pride to every parent’s heart. Not needing parental help with certain activities is necessary for human development. But we will always need the help of our spiritual Father. We should strive to lay down our self-will and rely wholly on God. With an attitude of helplessness, God will lift us up and provide for our needs. Depend on God. Spend time with Him in prayer, and concede that you are wholly dependent on Him.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4:10 (NIV)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”        1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.Romans 5:6 (NASB)

God Desires Honesty

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We have the freedom to speak honestly before our King. God already knows what we think, and what we are about to say, so it is foolishness to hide our true feelings from Him. We have permission to be honest, really honest, and need not fear retribution or punishment for our transparency.

Before a word is on my tongue You, LORD, know it completely.” Psalm 139:4 (NIV)

Consider Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. Jesus considered all three to be His friend. And even though He was the King of Kings in living flesh, He welcomed their honest feelings. In one story, Martha complains about Mary sitting at His feet and listening to His word, instead of helping her serve guests. She actually rebuffed Jesus and questioned whether He cared that she had been left alone to serve guests. Furthermore, she ordered Him to tell Mary to help. Jesus acknowledged her feelings but replied that Mary had chosen the good part, which would not be taken away from her.

“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’

 And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 (NKJV)

 On another occasion, Martha, grief-stricken over her brother’s death, freely spoke of her disappointment with Jesus, for He had not been present before Lazarus passed. She did not know that her Savior intentionally stayed away so that He could perform a miracle. Lazarus was raised from the dead, which led to many conversions.

“’Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give You whatever You ask.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’” John 11:21-23 (NIV)

God does not look favorably upon liars. Truth is who God is. He cannot lie. Since we are called to be like Christ, we too must strive to speak truthfully at all times, even in our prayer closet.

In the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of timeTitus 1:2 (NKJV)

“But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? When it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God. Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last.” Acts 5:3-5a (NKJV)

If we hold feelings of hate, disappointment, lust, fear, or bitterness in our heart, it is best to acknowledge it, express it openly with God, and then ask for forgiveness. He can handle our true emotions. He knows our hidden sins and welcomes honest communication. Truth and honesty make for an intimate relationship with God. Pour your heart out to the King. Those who speak truthfully are His delight.

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are His delight.Proverbs 12:22 (NKJV)

“An honest heart loves the truth.” ~ A.W. Pink

Moving Forward In Fear

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Fear can petrify, but only because we’ve given it power. If we remember God is always by our side, the fears causing us to quake in our boots will suddenly be exposed as the imaginary monsters that once lived under our beds.

The phrases “Fear not” or “Be not afraid”, occur 103 times in the King James Version of the Bible. When we consider that God has selected every word in the Bible, we can draw a few conclusions. Repeated words are repeated for a reason. God wants us to pay attention and take them to heart.

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)

God understands the human condition, yet He still requires obedience and faith. Trusting an unseen God with daily life choices is hard enough, but when those choices include life and death situations, we must lasso and claim His undeniable love for us. Only then will we overcome the mysterious and painful challenges in our path.

Where we place our confidence will determine our stance when trouble comes. Consider Moses. God was met with resistance when He told Moses to return to Egypt and confront the mighty Pharaoh, demanding that he free the Israelites (Exodus 3 and 4). Moses was self-conscious and fearful about being the mouthpiece of Jehovah. (Some scholars believe Moses had a speech impediment, such as stuttering. Ex. 4:10). Instead of trusting that God had already enabled him for the work, he let insecurity rob his confidence. He had his eyes on his flesh and not an ALL POWERFUL God.

Although God provided Aaron as a mouth for Moses, he still had to decide whether he would obey God or let personal fears deter him from his calling. As we well know, Moses did move forward, in his fear and insecurity, to confronted Pharaoh and lead God’s people to freedom. His faith in God was greater than his fear.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.Romans 8:28 (NKJV)

Our heavenly Father never forces us to do anything. But, like a good father teaching his daughter/son how to change a flat tire or cook a meal, He encourages us to step out in faith to learn and do things that will assist us. We can be confident He has our best interests at heart. We are under His protection and all seeing eyes.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life; The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.Psalm 121:7-8 (NIV)

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.”  Psalm 139:9-10 (NKJV)

We have the Holy Spirit living within us. He will faithfully lead us into all truth and empower us to cope with every task ahead. We should not be afraid to venture out of our comfort zone to answer God’s call to serve. As we begin our new path, we might see just one step ahead, but we cannot let that deter us! When we take that single step forward, God rejoices over our decision to trust Him and will reveal sound footing for our next step.

You may ask, “Where is God taking me? What will I need to do? Is adversity and suffering part of this journey? Why is the entire footpath engulfed in a fog?” Could it be that if you saw the obstacles and blessings down the way, you would be overwhelmed? God knows us well and He wants to encourage and cheer us forward. Just as Moses walked forward in fear, we too must build up our most holy faith and face our fears. Praise God who faithfully leads, provides, protects, and helps us throughout our journey to our eternal home!

For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:14 (NKJV)

 “Seeing that a pilot steers the ship in which we sail, who will never allow us to perish even in the midst of shipwrecks, there is no reason why our minds should be overwhelmed with fear and overcome with weariness.” ~John Calvin

Valley of Detours: Trusting God

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Have you ever read the wonderful book by Hannah Hurnard, Hinds Feet In High Places? If not, I highly recommend that you do. The main character, Much Afraid, decides to trust the Good Shepherd and travel to His kingdom, which are on the high places. He appoints two companions to assist her along the way, but they lead her up and down paths that often seem like detours.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.Psalm 32:8 (NKJV)

In reality, every twist and turn, valley and rough patch Much Afraid journeyed were necessary for her equipment. Each apparent detour trained her for the challenging ascent. As the book unfolds, Much Afraid learns that she must cooperate with God while in the valley of detours. When she lays down her self will and accepts the Shepherd’s path for her life, she finds peace and joy.

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.Psalm 143:10 (NIV)

Joseph was the favored son of Jacob, which stirred the jealousy of his other brothers. Not only did their father present him with a special coat of many colors, but Joseph also had a dream that made his brothers hate him even more. The dream implied he would reign over them some future day.

“Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. So he said to them, “Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.” And his brothers said to him, “Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.” Genesis 37:5-9 (NKJV)

Joseph’s life story did not play out as he would have expected. No, the hateful plan his brother’s scheme landed Joseph in Egypt, far from family and Canaan. Into slavery, he was sold and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh was his master. But God did not forget Joseph.

And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field.Genesis 39:3-5 (NKJV)

By this time Joseph had endured several detours in his valley of sorrow. The betrayal of his brothers and the passing from the favored son of a rich patriarch to a mere slave are two examples. Another detour sent Joseph to prison, simply because he maintained his morality by rebuffing the advances of Potiphar’s wife. (Gen.39:6-8) God was watching over Joseph the entire time.

Our heavenly Father cheers us on while we run our spiritual race. But the enemy is bent on harming us. The Devil does not want to see a sinful man transformed into the image of his victor, Jesus Christ. Nor does he want us to reach our eternal home. One of the fastest ways he can disrupt God’s plan for us is to tempt our morality.

Once he was in prison, God again showed Joseph favor and mercy.

But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.  And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper.Genesis 39:21-23 (NKJV)

 Who would have thought that time as a slave, and years in prison necessary training for Pharaoh’s right-hand man? But then, who of us can understand the mind of God? Joseph remained steadfast in his faith. He was in an awful state, but he did not sit on his laurels and give up. He did not moan in self-pity and grow bitter.

There were many other valley detours in the life of Joseph. They made him stronger and wiser. They equipped Joseph for the jobs God had designed for him.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.Romans 8:28 (NKJV)

Facing Your GIANT Fears

David and Goliath

Giants were actual biblical figures (Gen. 6:4, Num. 13:33), which intimidated and triggered fear in man. If used as an analogy, giants are obstacles and fears that hinder God’s direction in our life. New career paths, a step into ministry, a move, an illness, or some monumental challenge are all calculable Goliaths.

Fear is innate, a healthy survival instinct. But fear should be a manifestation that produces positive action. Too often fear hinders our spiritual growth. It is a mighty weapon utilized by the devil and many saints have stood petrified before ominous figures or obstacles.

A popular phrase, “If God brings you to it, He will lead you through it,” is a true statement. The Bible backs it up, but the courage to face these giants will require faith in God’s power and His steadfast love for us.

“For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’” Isaiah 41:13 (NKJV)

 So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:6 (NKJV)

 “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV)

 By studying the battle Saul faced when the Philistines sent their mightiest soldier,

9’6” giant Goliath, to defy the armies of Israel, we can learn much. Here was an actual giant with a clear height advantage! Saul was probably 7 feet tall and David, a young man at the time, was probably less than six feet. Although Goliath intimidated Saul and the men of Israel, David was not afraid of the Philistine champion. Why?

“And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.” 1 Samuel 9:2 (NKJV)

“And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.” 1 Samuel 17:4 (NKJV)

Acts 13:22 describes David as, “A man after My own heart.” Some Christ-like characteristics manifested in David’s life include his devotion, trust, love, reverence, and faith in God. When David heard Goliath’s taunt, a righteous anger rose within his heart. He rebuked the men of Israel for fleeing in dreadful fear.

“And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid.” 1 Samuel 17:24 (NKJV)

The words, which David spoke, were then reported to Saul, who sent for him.

Then David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”

And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.” 1 Samuel 17:32-33 (NKJV)

With this dialogue, we see Saul assessing David’s size and ability. Surely he admired David’s courage but doubted his power to overcome the mighty giant. David then continued by telling King Saul of his shepherd experiences, defending the lambs in his charge.

But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock,  I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.”  Moreover, David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” 1 Samuel 17:34-37 (NKJV)

David, with all humility, recognized God as the one who delivered him from the paw of the lion and the bear. He also acknowledged it would be God who delivered him from the giant, Goliath. Faith allows us to conquer our fears, as opposed to being conquered by them.

David knew exactly what God thought about a man who insulted the people of God. He knew God had promised to curse anyone who cursed Abraham’s family, the Israelites (Genesis 12:3). David also knew God had promised to conquer the Israelites’ enemies, no matter how big!

“The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.” Deuteronomy 28:7 (NKJV)

At this time, Saul was out of God’s will. If we are out of step with God, the obstacles in our life will also seem like Giants. But if like David, we are abiding in Christ, relying on the tried and true promises of God, we will be overcomers. We are already victorious through Christ Jesus. What can man do to us if God is our righteous shield? He will strengthen and prepare us for every battle and journey, obstacle or adversary.

“Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22 (NIV)

I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.Psalm 18:3 (NKJV)                                                        
**Meditate on the following scriptures and pray over any giants now in your life.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is for me among those who help me; Therefore, I shall see my desire on those who hate me.” Psalm 118:6-7 (NKJV)

“The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1 (NIV)

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’” Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NKJV)

**Photo is from my recent trip to Israel. It is of the Valley of Elah

Please visit my fb page for more Christian encouragement. https://www.facebook.com/cherylzelenkaauthor

Will You Speak?

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Uniquely formed by the hands of God, with special gifts and talents, each one of us has been created to fulfill a specific purpose. Understanding the cost of our redemption, a freely given blood sacrifice, humbles man into submission. Therefore, we yield our will and take up His instead. Obedience, faith, and trust draws one into Christian service, but it is our love for the blessed Redeemer that propels us forward into unknown territory.

The prophet Jeremiah was very young when the Lord called him into service. He was ordained to be a prophet, a mouthpiece for God. Understanding the importance of such a position, he was filled with fear. He felt all of his insufficiencies. But God insisted that he go where he was sent, and speak as he was commanded. God persuaded Jeremiah there was nothing to fear, saying He would be with him to provide any necessary deliverance.

“Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: 

‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;  Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.’

 Then said I:

‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.’

 But the Lord said to me:

‘Do not say, “I am a youth,” for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,’ says the Lord.”

From that moment, Jeremiah lost all fear and pronounced the sad prophecies and warnings of God, without regard for the king and his strong men. This was often at the peril of his life. However, God was faithful to protect and deliver him from all harm. This is not to say he was free of trials and hardship, including time in a cistern. (Jeremiah 38)

Jeremiah lived during one of the most devastating periods in Jewish history. He saw the destruction of Jerusalem, after his warnings and prophecies fell on deaf ears. How sad it must have been to speak words of warning yet see them ignored. Once the catastrophe came, he lamented the terrible fate of his people in the Book Lamentations.

As children of God, we ALL have a responsibility to share the Good News with others. To hold on to this hope, found in Jesus Christ, and not speak of it is contrary to our calling. The Great Commission is not just for missionaries, evangelists, preachers, or teachers. We all need to be ready and willing to give a reason for the hope that lives within our hearts. Fear will try to hold our tongue, but like Jeremiah, we must trust God to give us the words to say and the deliverance from every evil.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

Some will ask, “What about the Christians who have been unjustly imprisoned for their faith? How is God protecting them? So many Christians are facing dreadful atrocities, painful persecution, even murder for simply professing their faith in Christ.

Here now is the hard pill to swallow. How do we know God hasn’t delivered them? Our heavenly Father is a God of compassion. He wants the very best for us. Although our feeble minds might not fathom the purpose for such trials and suffering, should we toss aside what we do know of God’s righteous character? Surely our faith assures us that there is some good, some great work, and some wondrous reward for those who refuse to deny Christ. We must remember our inheritance is in heaven.

The heavenly Father had a purpose for Jeremiah. God’s plan was to use Jeremiah to pronounce judgment upon the people of that time. It was not a job he relished. In all honesty can we say, should an opportunity arise, that we too would speak the truth regarding our faith, even if it led to persecution? Would we deny Christ to avoid imprisonment… or even death? The day may soon be upon us when the faith of every American is questioned, just as it is now questions in Syria, Iran, and across this world.

But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:33 (NKJV)

The Peace of Christ

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Jesus did not enter this world to bring peace. Rather, He came wielding a very sharp sword. In fact, this weapon is so keen and precise that it pierces between soul and spirit. With supernatural power, it discerns our thoughts and the intent of our heart.

Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.Matthew 10:34 (NKJV)

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV)

 Confusion can arise when reading John 14:27, for Jesus speaks of giving us peace. If He did not come to bring peace on earth, why would Christ speak of leaving His peace? There is a clue within the scripture, “He does not give as the world gives.”

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.John 14:27 (NKJV)

Jesus does offer peace to individuals, but He did not come to earth bringing political peace. His message was radical. Jesus taught us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. But the message written in Exodus 21:23-25 directed Jews to act without showing grace. To understand the new message, Jews first had to believe Jesus was the Son of God. They also had to embrace the power in love, the greatest and most powerful gift of all. The blood of Jesus provided forgiveness of all sin and believers were to practice and model forgiveness.

But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:44-45 (NKJV)

Man often spurs political agendas. Greed, selfish ambition, and power are all motivators. Sin prevents peace in the realm of politics. It is too saturated with self.

But Christ came to us in humility, with a servant’s heart. He brought a peace beyond comprehension, yet obtainable through a sincere faith and a trust in His perfect will. He is the Prince of peace.

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV)

When man looks to the Father, seeking the Wonderful Counselor for help, there shall be peace. When man reflects on the power of God, He who is Mighty, there shall be peace. When confused thoughts afflict and we lay our burdens at Christ’s feet, there shall be peace. For with a Savior who loves us we have hope, and in that hope we also find peace.

For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.1 Corinthians 14:23 (NKJV)

The blessing, “The peace of Christ be with you” is perfect for these days of trouble. Christ is our peace. So, when political leaders attempt to force their agendas on the world, we should rest knowing God is in control. The Lord knows about every atrocity and will transform them, some how, into good.

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.Genesis 50:20 (NKJV)

It is not for us to understand how He acts, or His perfect will. But, it is our responsibility to wait, trust and believe in His character. God is faithful. He is love. He is all-powerful. He is gentle and merciful. Jesus already won the battle, which the devil is trying to overturn. The enemy should read the book of Revelation! The Lord reveals the ending and he ends up in a pit of damnation.

And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.Revelation 20:10 (NKJV)

 May you find encouragement in these scriptures.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.Romans 15:13 (NKJV)

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV)

 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:7 (NKJV)

 

Fear Hinders Our Labor For Christ

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God does not turn a deaf ear to any righteous person crying out for help. The Lord hears their cry. Every believer should embrace this promise. And although God is spirit, and we are spirit encased within flesh, He hears our petitions from His realm on high.

Furthermore, God delivers the righteous out of all their troubles. This deliverance can occur in many different ways. God may simply remove our adversary or obstacle. He is able to do what we deem impossible. But, more often then an immediate or supernatural intervention, He will enable us to face and overcome our obstacle through His amazing grace. He equips us to subdue the enemy, who schemes to deceive us into thinking we have lost a battle that has already been won.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:17-19 (NKJV)

Fear is often the root of our trouble, and it is an obstacle that hinders the work of Christ. It is bondage, yet we have been set free! When we ought to love the unlovable, fears of the unknown often rush at us instead. When an opportunity to share the grace and love of God stands open before us, we cower at the possible pain a wretched and lost soul might inflict, forgetting to walk in victory our risen Lord and provided.

They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you.
For I am with you,” says the Lord, “to deliver you.” Jeremiah 1:19 (NKJV)

A time of testing, where a loved one is placed in the way of danger or adversity, can be especially difficult. But God understands this pain. He watched His beloved son, our Lord Jesus, suffer and endure the very cross that set us free. His crucifixion and resurrection brought about such remarkable good, the redemption of mankind and a restored relationship with God! Jesus’ fearless trust in His Father’s will and provision enabled Him to overcome all His trepidation while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew pain was in His future, but He embraced it, trusting His Father’s plan.

Suffering is found in the Refiner’s fire, and our refinement is a blessing. While in the throngs of great suffering, we might not understand the value or beauty it instills within us. But in time, it will be revealed. Understanding will come. But faith…FAITH in God’s character and goodness will propel us ahead to embrace the difficult task set before us. Grace… The GRACE of God will carry us through our test. Love…The LOVE of God that lives within us will soften our hard hearts and fearing nature to love the hateful that mock and persecute. With the eyes of Christ….Eyes that see us as we will one day be will be our own eyes, so long as we cry out to Him in righteousness.

Oh Lord, hear my cry. Make my eyes Your eyes! Let me see what You see when gazing upon the lost and spiritually dead. Help me to love them as You do and to love them as You love me.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”  James 5:16 (NKJV)

I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4 (NKJV)

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.Galatians 5:1 (NKJV)

FEARS

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