Thoughts on Fear

I’ve been pondering lately what makes people afraid. To fear is to not trust God but the average person would not give that as a reason for their fears. I know, in my life, my biggest fears have been due to thinking God would not intervene in a bad situation. The bottom line was that I wanted what I wanted and I did not want to accept the fact that God may not give me what I wanted. (How selfish is that!)

In talking with a friend recently, I realized that fear in some people may have to do with knowing that one is not right with God. Maybe they fear God will do bad things to them because of how they are living, or maybe they’re afraid of dying because they know that they are not ready to meet Him.

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If this is the root of your fear, it is not too late to repent of your sins and ask God’s forgiveness. God did not give you that spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). He desires for you to walk in faith and victory, completely trusting Him in everything! This is not impossible.

When one knows that there is nothing hidden in their life that is displeasing to the Lord, he or she can lay down that fear and walk in complete trust, knowing that God will take care of them. Sure, disappointments will still come. We will still face financial stress, sickness, death, and a myriad of other things but we will also be able to say with Job, “Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him” (Job 13:15).

I am praying for strength to trust Him more than ever this year. This past few years, I’ve dealt with more fears than I remember dealing with previously, but I know in reality that nothing can happen to me that my God doesn’t allow. I am continuing to learn to rest in that. I pray that you are too.

Sin Has Consequences

“That which is has already been, and what is to be has already been; and God requires an account of what is past” (Ecclesiastes 3:15).

I feel like, in many churches, more emphasis is placed on God’s forgiveness as opposed to His holiness. I am so grateful for God’s mercy and forgiveness, but there are often still consequences to the fleshly decisions that we make. This is one reason that it is important to walk in the Spirit so that you do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).

I don’t believe that God causes bad things to happen to His people but He does allow them, and sometimes it’s to remind us that sin has a price. Like most parents, He doesn’t give children instructions to be mean; He can see what the ravages of sin looks like, and He desires to spare us those things. He didn’t tell Adam and Eve not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil because He didn’t want them to taste something good; He saw the destruction and devastation that would cause, and we are still reaping the effects of that today.

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As you look at your life and see the various sins and struggles you deal with, think about the effect those sins have on others. Even if no one knows what sin(s) you struggle with, everything is naked and open to God (Hebrews 4:13) and, if you are His child, and it will not be hidden forever.

If I end up writing more about this this year, it’s because I believe it is the message of 2017. Each year brings us closer to Christ’s return. We can’t afford to ignore His call to stop what we are doing, lay down the sins that so easily beset us, and follow Him. We must encourage others to do that as well but our words will have no bearing if we are not living that self-denying life.

I am writing to myself as well. The year is still young. I want to be faithful to allow God to show me my heart and the things which displease Him and trust that, at the end of this year, I will be closer to Him than ever before as I allow Him to rid me of myself and fill me with more of His love, peace, joy, patience, gentleness, self-control, and every other attribute that reflects Him.

I dealt with some physical challenges last year, and this year is starting out rough but, if I can do nothing else, I pray for God’s help to use the down times to listen to Him, hear what He would speak, and share those words with you.

Praise the Lord For He is Good!

Praise ye the Lord! O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: and His mercy endureth forever. Psalm 106:1

The Lord is worthy of all praise. Whether we are going through easy or rough times we know that He alone is the worthy one. As the days draw nearer to the end times we see the world falling apart. Praise the Lord for He is good! We see people we thought were godly and standing for truth suddenly fall away to heresy. Praise the Lord for He is good! We see an ungrateful generation who think they are owed everything. Praise the Lord for He is good! We see a generation that has no natural affection and are truce breakers and unholy. Praise the Lord for He is good! We see loved ones turn on us and break our hearts. Praise the Lord for He is good!

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Whatever we are going through, we, as true believers, are told to give thanks to the Lord and praise Him no matter what happens. How can we be thankful to the Lord when the hard times keep rolling our way? Give thanks and praise to the only One Who deserves it. Learn contentment even in the midst of trials. Let’s look to the Lord when our heart is breaking and there is no one who will listen to us or when we can’t tell anyone what is going on in our lives. Praise the Lord for He is good!

As we go through life we can’t expect we will be trial free. Sometimes the trials feel like they are more than we can bear but we must cast all our cares on the Lord. He knows what we need and He will give us strength to make it through. Don’t wait until life is falling apart before you praise the Lord. Do it in the good times and the bad. Do it whether you feel like it or not. Praise the Lord for He is good!

Beloved of God

And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent.  ~Daniel 10:11

And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong.  ~Daniel 10:19

I admit I’m a bit different in the way I think sometimes. Words jump out at me and send my mind to wandering. As I was reading the Book of Daniel a few weeks ago, I was struck by the angel calling him “greatly beloved.” To me, that speaks more than just, “You are loved.” “Beloved” means “adored, cherished, treasured, highly regarded, esteemed, much loved.” Daniel held a special place in God’s heart, and God wanted Daniel to know that.

We all know that God loved the world that He gave His Son but it seems like there are some who hold an especially close place in His heart. With Moses, God talked face to face (Numbers 12:8). At one point, God stated, “I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated” (Malachi 1:2-3). He called David a man after His own heart (Acts 13:22). I’m sure there are more examples I could give, but you get my point.

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I don’t write this to begin a doctrinal dispute. I just feel like it’s easy to take God’s love for granted and to think that, since God loves us, He will love us regardless of how we live. I want to study the lives of people like Moses and Daniel and David and find out what it was that made God pay special attention to them. They were just men and yet each one of them had a heart that was fully toward the Lord.

I pray that God will find me drawing ever closer to Him, that nothing will be more important than spending time with Him and taking time to hear what He would speak. I pray that pleasing Him would be my goal before anything else. I pray that He would say to me, “O daughter, greatly beloved, I am here.” I can’t think of anything that speaks peace more than that.

Having A Tender Heart

As I’ve gone through my life I’ve found many times that my heart has been hardened against the things of the Lord. Before the Lord drew me to Himself, my conscience was pretty much hard and cold except every once in a while. Then, I would have a glimpse of what would happen if I continued on the path I was traveling.

After salvation, I was still quite a bit like a worldling in most everything. As I watched my husband and learned a lot from him, who’d been saved for awhile, I began slowly changing in areas. He read a lot of theological books and I wanted to learn so I began reading them. There were many times I stopped reading, struggled for awhile and then grow hard and cold again. The Lord sent trials my way and I’d realize how cold I’d gotten. I had been so immersed in my own self that I never even saw what had happened and the stagnation within my own life. My heart was no longer tender towards the Lord and it would take awhile to return to tenderness towards the Lord.

Many churches we went to made a call for the conscience but not a call that would bring my heart to a tenderness towards the Lord. It was normally done to make me feel guilty over something I was doing (or not doing) that would prove to the leadership that I wasn’t spiritual enough. Some of the things were valid points but most weren’t.

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Sadly, a lot of churches and even believers can be very dictatorial over what is spiritual and what isn’t. We find, in evangelicalism, that rules or the lack thereof seems to take precedence over Biblical truth. So many churches that claim to be preaching the truth only tend to preach a portion of it. It’s easy to add a little error to truth but a little error makes the truth nonexistent.

The example Mark Anthony Escalera used about the barrel of apples is prime. If you have a barrel of apples and one is poisoned how will you know which one to choose? You might grab the first one and it could be clear of the poison but how will you know? Eventually you will grab the wrong one and pay the price.

So, how do you know which church has the poison, the error mixed in with the truth, and which doesn’t? Well, the Word of God is there for our learning and, as we grow in faith and in the knowledge of the Lord, we will have our senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Heb. 5:11-14. The Word of God has both truth and principles to follow in our lives. 2 Peter 1:3 tells us, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” The Holy Spirit makes it plain to us.

The poison can apply to either churches that add extra to God’s Word or say that God’s Word is irrelevant and you can do whatever you want or that all roads lead to heaven. As we study God’s Word regularly and feast on His truth, let us be mindful to exercise our senses to discern good and evil. So many are headed in a direction that goes contrary to God’s Word because they refuse to read and refuse to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in such areas as is important for their walk with the Lord. May we be of that number who “might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that we might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”

As we journey in this life towards the next, our hearts need to be tender towards the Lord. The strength of tenderness towards the Lord is where our relationship with Him grows. As we desire to do His will as well as do it, our hearts are exercised in obedience towards Him. Next time you visit a church the questions should not be — What can I get out of this? Or…is the music my style? Do they have great programs here? How long do services last!

Instead, ask these questions, Is this church teaching the Word of God in its entirety? Am I seeing the sin within my life and being convicted of it? Am I becoming more like the Lord Jesus Christ according to the Word of God? Am I able to discern if the leaders are teaching truth or error? May each of us be always tender towards the Lord.

Old and New

Normally, at the beginning of the year we ask ourselves, How can I get rid of the old and begin anew? What can I do differently in my life? Where do I need to go from here?

In the Bible we see a lot of places that talk about the old and new. We see that after salvation we are new creations in Christ and we are to put off the old man and put on the new man. We know that we need to put away the “leaven” out of our lives and follow the Lord. The old and new can be represented by either “old” is bad and “new” is good. Although sometimes “old” could be better than “new” if it’s in the way of wisdom.

As we go along further in our walk with the Lord things grow harder. These are times that we are to keep something that is old instead of replacing it with new. The things the Lord places in our path is always necessary and good but isn’t always new. Even in 2nd John, the writer tells us that it’s not as though a new commandment had been written but it was from the beginning.

When we fail a test placed before us then the Lord brings that situation back into our lives, not necessarily in the exact same way but close enough to the original situation that we almost have to say, “This seems to be a deja vu type situation. I already went through that so why am I going through it again?” Going through the same type situation doesn’t always mean that it’s about the same test, either, even though it could be.

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Our hearts tend to grow cold and distant towards the Lord when things go our way. We tend to want our will to be done not the Lord’s will. This, of course, isn’t unusual as it’s part of human nature. Doing our will instead of God’s will should, though, be unusual for a child of God. We each have sinful ways in our hearts and lives that have to be changed and conformed to the image of Christ. We are not exempt from both general suffering and discipline given us from the Lord when we follow our will.

However, going back to the old and new. The Lord guides our hearts in what we’ve learned in the past and builds on those areas at the present and future. Each thing we’ve learned is a grace the Lord has worked in and through us within each situation. We can either grow to be more like the Lord or stay stagnant, which eventually causes us to lose ground. This means the trial we go through will be even more difficult and we will need to work even harder on those areas we’ve lost.

On a more personal level, I find even in my own heart that the further I go in my walk with the Lord, the more dependent I need to be on the Lord. The example was made of a man being on an airplane about to go down. He was given a parachute and the other passengers, who didn’t have one, made fun of him. They tried every way they could to get him to take it off but it only caused him to cling tighter to the parachute knowing the plane was going down and that was the only way he would be saved. Friend, whoever you may be, if you are a true believer cling tight to the Lord through all your trials. Yes, this is a poor illustration but the idea is still the same. Do not let the things of this world allure you away from the Lord. Remember this “airplane” is going down and we should be more like the Lord today than yesterday and tomorrow more than today.

The question was asked, Where do I need to go from here? The answer is simple. Depend on the Lord, wait for Him to guide your path, follow His will no matter who deserts you, makes fun of you, persecutes you, or even tries to wheedle you into leaving the “parachute” behind, so to speak. No, we can’t leave the Lord as He has adopted His children into His family, but we can sure be like His disciples and deny Him or even follow the world for a time. May His grace, from everlasting to everlasting, be ever poured out into our hearts so we, His true children, will do His will always no matter what comes our way.

Reflecting on ’16 While Looking toward ’17

I’ve noticed people posting their “word for 2017″ on Facebook. There are two words that come to my mind that I feel a need to grow in: Faith and Victory.

This past year, I really struggled in those departments. It is so easy to let the cares of life bring one down and yet, when we do that, we are failing to communicate to the world that we serve a magnificent God who is greater than our burdens.

I also want to be more of an encouragement to others this year. This will require focusing on others more than myself but, with God’s help, I want to do that. There are so many hurting, lonely people in the world. I pray that I will do better at pointing others to Jesus, who is the Hope and Life that they need.

I know that I will be tested on these things. Any time God is working, the enemy of our souls is also working to discourage us and keep us from fulfilling God’s plans for our lives.

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We never know what a year will bring, but we do know that, if we walk with the Lord, He will walk with us through every storm that we face.

I am blessed with friends who have stuck with me and encouraged me this year when I felt like they should have left me to wallow in my own misery.  That is the sign of a true friend: one who will not be pushed away by negativity but will continue to be there to listen, pray for you, and just “be there” for you. I am so blessed to have people like that in my life.

This reminds me of how much we need the Body of Christ. Don’t take your Brothers and Sisters for granted. If you find that person who knows how to encourage you and is not afraid to challenge you when you need it, treasure them. Friends like that are hard to find and yet sometimes we don’t notice them because we are too busy with our own lives to pay attention.

May this coming year find you drawing ever closer to our Lord and Savior. May we all become more selfless and more God-full. May this be our greatest year yet!