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Archive for the ‘fear’ Category

Sometimes, life within the guard rails might seem confining but it is actually very liberating.

For as we respect those rails as our protectors, we can focus on enjoying the journey, not fretting every moment about our car heading off the cliff.

That’s how it is with our respect for God and His Word.

When we realize that faith is not a feeling but instead a determination of direction, we gain confidence that our lives will actually mean something more than having perpetual happy moments.

It is the respect for God and striving to honor Him that keeps us on the road and not smashing against guard rails.

Or worse.

When we live honorably because of loving Him and knowing the consequences of not doing so, we are free to thrive as people who love and serve others.

Consider the words of Proverbs 14:27 —

“Fear of the Lord is a life-giving fountain; it offers escape from the snares of death.”

Never stop drinking from that fountain, my friend.

Life as God desires for you is in that cup.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Within hours after an amazing displays of personal faith and God’s miraculous power on Mount Carmel, the prophet Elijah had a total meltdown of faith because of an evil woman who said she was going to kill him.

It really was an amazing turnaround.

Shocking, actually.

I Kings 19:3 records these words:

“Elijah was afraid and fled for his life.”

Wow.

How in the world could a divinely inspired prophet who had just witnessed one of scripture’s most dramatic miracles SO quickly collapse in his trust of God?

We’re talking a matter of hours.

I don’t know for certain but perhaps Elijah had a history of harassment by strong women.

Whatever the case, Elijah believed more in Queen Jezebel’s power than he did in God’s power.

Not good.

Lest we criticize Elijah as a spiritual wimp, let’s remember that we’ve all had times when we witnessed God’s sovereign power in a life need we had and then, seemingly, we forgot about it in the twinkling of an eye and our faith caved in.

“Fair weather friend” has been a label that we’ve all worn at one time or another.

We fear losing our job and compromise ethically to not anger the boss who determines if we keep the job. This after that great day at church on Sunday.

We fear becoming single and we go along with a rebellious spouse’s insistence for committing certain sins rather than remember the gracious display of God’s grace in providing us with a great job for which we were underqualified.

Fear compels so much of our sin.

Please, my friend, learn the Bible stories. Recite them over and over so that you never forgot that God is sovereign and forever and everywhere and that He’s never lost in the tug-of-war with scoundrels or scoundresses.

Yes, people are going to run their mouths with blustery threats against us.

Let’s remember, though, that whoever has run to God in faith has never been let down.

Just as Elijah wasn’t let down.

Read I Kings 19-20 and you’ll see what I mean.

As always, I love you

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In all sorts of work environments — and even in the church — the fear of a lost job pushes people into unhealthy compromises they’d never make if not for fear of angering the person who can make their lives miserable or even fire them.

We’ve all seen this happen.

Perhaps we’ve even experienced it.

Fortunately, most people in hire/fire positions don’t exploit this power because they know that fear-filled workers are not optimally fruitful workers.

Are you struggling with fear of a person just now because you’re afraid that person will fire you or work to get you fired?

Are you fearful of someone making it his or her mission to trash your standing among peers at school? Or within your extended familiy?

Are you afraid of speaking up at church about an unbiblical action or teaching because you don’t want to create enemies and become the target of icy stares, cold shoulders and hallway gossip?

King Solomon has something to share with us this morning that is intended to strengthen us.

“Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety.” (Proverbs 29:25)

Let’s do and say what is right in God’s sight. Let’s make sure that our faith is based on the compass of scripture — 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

At all times.

Our souls and consciences will be safe.

Notice that Solomon didn’t promise the absence of conflict.

He promised safety.

That means preservation in the midst of danger.

I’ve lost jobs because of remaining true to my conscience and the Word of God.

Tough times followed.

But my faith was strengthened — “toughened” — and I am a better person now as a result.

And my soul remains safe beyond the reach of the Enemy’s efforts to flood me with fear.

As a pastor, I am to reverently fear the Lord and keep His commandments, not fear people and ignore/edit God’s commandments.

Listen, friends. If hassles and hardships come our way because we’re fearing the Lord and His commandments, God will still carry us spiritually and economically to the safe place we need to be.

Let this be our strength. Let this be our hope. Let this be our “safe place” where our souls can abide in assurance.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It’s one of the greatest stories not only in the Bible, but in human history.

I’m talking about David and Goliath.

There are so many lessons for us but in the brief moment I have this morning, I want to focus on one — our faith should never be contingent on what humans haven’t done but instead on what God CAN do.

Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!”

Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.” (I Samuel 17:32-33)

King Saul looked at what he and his army hadn’t done against the enemy because of shallow-faith fear and he presumed that victory couldn’t be gained by David.

David wasn’t focusing on the size of his enemy, though.

David was focusing on the size of his God.

To David, that’s all that mattered.

Faith had led to dead lions and dead bears and live sheep.

And David knew that he would win again because he knew that he was going in the power of God.

Satan sends mouthy, malicious foes our way from time to time, either in human form or in circumstantial form.

Their mission is to promote fear and fleeing from the battle.

Their mission is to draw us into obsessing about the size of the threat rather than the size of our God.

David didn’t let the hollow-faith Saul corrode his faith.

And God’s power didn’t leave David throwing weak, misdirected stones.

God won and He used David in the process.

Let’s remember that God is bigger than Goliath.

No matter what modern form that loser takes when standing before us and no matter what hollow-faith advisors might be saying to us.

As always, I love you
Martin

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God gave me an incredibly encouraging and useful insight this morning while talking with somebody about faith and fear.

It was concise and potent.

It spoke precisely to the core of how we anguish or of how we stand strong.

Here’s what I heard in my inner man and immediately shared with the person with whom I was talking.

“The Enemy wants us to dwell on the “What if.” But God wants us to dwell on the “What IS.”

As soon as I spoke these words, I realized just how true the statement is.

Satan wants us to be gripped and crippled by fear of what might happen to us if things don’t go the way we want…. In all sorts of ways.

You know that this IS how he works. When you’ve been gripped by fear at times in your life – and we all have – we struggled and suffered primarily because of fear and not because of fact.

Yet, when we’ve responded to Satan’s “what ifs” with our declaration of the “what IS” facts of God’s blessings in our lives AND, most importantly, the fulfilled promises of scripture¸ we have stood strong and victorious.

That’s what I want to encourage you today to consider doing.

In every court of law, fact always reigns over supposition.

The judge and jury are to make decisions based on what is, not on what if.

Our promise of eternal life in heaven is based on the fact that the resurrection IS real, not might be real.

Our access to eternal life in heaven is based on a personal conversion that IS, not on one we might make someday.

Listen, there is no IF when it comes to God’s love, to God’s authority or to His power to save our souls and provide for our lives.

These are absolute “IS” facts.

On Christ the solid rock we stand, my friend. All other ground, including the “what if” whisperings of Satan, is sinking sand.

Be strong, my friend.

Stand on what is.

And on what IS to come.

As always, I love you
Martin

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One of the signs of a growing faith is the realization that we were created with a purpose that is greater than ourselves.

As Ephesians 2:10 teaches, we were created first in the flesh and second in the faith so that we might accomplish good works for the Kingdom of God.

It is that second stage of creation — actually regeneration — that is so vital to understand if we are to be permeated with power from on high.

When we’re doing what God wants with our lives, He promises to supply us with power and wisdom in order to keep the momentum going.

Listen to this passage from today’s reading in the One-Year Bible:

“The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” (Acts 23:11).

When Paul heard these words from the Lord Jesus Christ appearing in angelic form, Paul learned that no scheme of Satan would get in the way of God’s ultimate purpose for Paul — to preach the Gospel in the heart of the world’s most powerful earthly kingdom.

Paul had suffered all sorts of hard times because of his faith but he didn’t give up on God.

Why? Because Paul knew that God was sovereign and that He had a plan for Paul and that faith on his part would lead to blessing for the Kingdom and for Paul.

It’s because of the divine promise that Paul could endure through years of imprisonment, through near starvation on a ship, through shipwrecks and other sufferings.

Paul reasoned that if he “must also testify in Rome,” then that meant that he was going to survive whatever attack Satan threw at him.

Listen, nothing can separate us from the love of God.

Let’s each pray more fervently to discern the will of God regarding His specific purposes for our lives. There’s no doubt that such purposes exist because God created us for a purpose.

We just have to learn more from God’s Word and listen more to God’s voice in order to know what God wants us to do.

Perhaps it is to testify to certain relatives of God’s way being the ONLY way for them to overcome destructive patterns of behavior.

Perhaps it is to testify within our congregation about the importance of establishing God’s Word as the final authority over doctrine rather than ego-tainted opinions.

Perhaps it is to testify at a workplace as to the importance of honesty in all business dealings as a long-term company survival strategy, despite the short-term success of unethical competitors that WILL be discovered sooner or later.

These types of comments might lead to hassles from people, but they are holy and pleasing to the Father before whom all will stand.

Take courage, my friend. You have a vital purpose that will be fulfilled if your voice of faith does not grow silent.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Being afraid of ungodly threats is not sinful.

In fact, it’s common among believers.

Whether it is a health threat or a financial threat or a family breakdown threat, the looming calamities we sometimes face are pregnant with potential danger and we are blind if we don’t recognize them and prepare to respond should fear become fact.

Being afraid doesn’t show a flaw of character. Not displaying faith amidst the fears does.

There was a subtle but certain lesson in this regard that was woven into the account of Gideon recorded in Judges 7.

After God had sifted Gideon’s army from 30,000 down to 300 who didn’t let fear trump faith, the young commander was told to go and conquer the pagan Midianite army camped in a nearby valley.

God knew that this assignment was not logical from a human-thinking standpoint — 300 men against thousands and thousands of bloodthirsty, Hebrew-hating soldiers.

God knew that Gideon might have fears of completing the assignment.

So this is what our gracious God said to Gideon:

During that night the LORD said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp.” (vv. 9-11)

Clearly, Gideon was afraid of the Midianites.

That’s why he and his assistant went to spy out the camp.

God was even more gracious, of course, and allowed Gideon to hear that some in the enemy camp were afraid of what God might do against their army.

Rather than display a collapse of faith, Gideon’s fear prompted his reconnaisance of the camp and subsequent affirmation that God WAS in control and that victory WAS going to happen.

It’s a good story, this account of Gideon in Judges 6-8. I hope you’ll read it today.

For now, though, I simply want you to know that it’s OK to have concerns — or even fears — when faced with challenges that can’t be avoided.

Just remember that the closer you move to confronting the “enemy” circumstance that God has called you to face, the closer you will be to hearing God’s comforting, guiding voice and to seeing/feeling God’s sovereign power and plan.

This has been true in my life with various threats and it will be true in your life as well.

We just have to make sure that our faith is stronger than our fear.

As always, I love you
Martin

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