Fear is …

Ray and I went to see After Earth this weekend.  It was not well reviewed by the critics but we’ve found many good to great movies by not paying attention to those who think it’s their job to tear everything down.   The story line is about a father and son relationship.  It’s about how to overcome fear and totally depend on someone who knows and loves you.  I was delighted and amazed to see so many Bible ‘threads’ in a 2 hour space.  Biblical themes like honor your father and mother,  covered and protected by the wings of an eagle, do exactly what the Father says and you will succeed, and FEAR NOT.

English: There is no fear, until we make it up.

English: There is no fear, until we make it up. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I want to look at this concept of fear not today.  Did you know these words are repeated 365 times in the Word.  That’s not a coincidence.  God knows this world is a fearful and fearsome place.  He knows that every day comes with it’s own circumstances and challenges and that these can produce fear in us.  In Psalm 23 David says, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil…”  How can he say that with such trust?  He knows the One who protects, defends and loves.  He knows God’s characteristics.  He knows the One and Only will not let him down.

Fear is an emotional reaction to an unknown result.  It can paralyze us.  It can cause us to want to hide.  It can keep us from realizing our Kingdom purpose.  It can make us bitter and mean.  IF WE LET IT!

When God says FEAR NOT!  He’s saying quit looking at what could be and look at what is.  He’s saying I’m right here, hold on, look up, you can count on Me.

Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  It does not say I can do this alone,  it says depend on ME!  From Genesis to Revelation there is constant proof that when we depend on God we have nothing to fear.  He has our back (our front, our side, all that we can and can’t see).  FEAR NOT!

Worship Him with music!    He Will Make A Way

Ah, Lord, God, I am counting on You.  Create in me a spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control.  Whenever I enter the valley of fear shine Your light on me.  Make it so, Lord!

I AM

gods-love

I often feel a rush of emotion when I read the words I AM.  That the great I AM is aware of me, cares about what happens to me, and loves me more than life itself is almost incomprehensible.  Yet it is a reality!

The Word gives us another look at the I AM concept in that there are “I ams” that apply to the Believer.  Take a look at these and the scriptures that go with them.  Hide His Word in your heart and make it part of who you are!

I am a child of God   The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Romans 8:16

I am forgiven   For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.   Colossians 1:13-14

I am saved by grace through faith  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  Ephesians 2:8

I am justified    Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ    Romans 5:1

I am a new creature  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here    2 Corinthians 5:17

I am led by the Spirit of God   For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.  Romans 8:14

I am kept in safety wherever I go  For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways   Psalm 91:11

I am casting all my cares on Jesus   Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  1 Peter 5:7

I am doing all things through Christ who strengthens Me.   Philippians 4:13

I am bringing every thought into captivity   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 10:5

I am being transformed by a renewed mind  Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2

I am the righteousness of God  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  2 Corinthians 5:21

I am an imitator of Jesus  Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children  Ephesians 5:1

I am filled with laughter and rejoicing  He will yet fill your mouth with laughter
and your lips with shouts of joy.  Job 8:21

If you will mark these verses in your Bible, study, read and pray over them for the next 30 days I know the Spirit will do His work and they will become a known and usable part of who you are.

Father, You are my Protector, Perfecter, Creator, Redeemer, and One and Only God.  You have adopted me and forgiven me.  You lead me, love me and fill me with joy and delight.  I am because YOU ARE.  I lift these words of praise before the Throne in Jesus Precious Name.

YOU JUST HAVE TO GO!

booksWhen was the last time you read a book that had a powerful impact on you?  I have been an avid reader since I was able to put the written word into coherent thought.  Reading is a passion that I feed regularly.  From the Bible, to good fiction of all kinds, to non-fiction about life, business and God, to studies and blogs of all kinds I am always reading something.  As a child it was a way to escape from the toxicity of my home life, as an adult it is as necessary as breathing to me.  So when I read something that is life-changing and paradigm shifting I want to share it with everyone who will listen.

Recently I was given a copy of The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken.  This book took me into parts and people of the world that have never been really real for me.  From the horrors of Somalia to modern China and many places in-between I was transported into world that I really didn’t want to know existed.  But God had other ideas.

The story starts in Somalia in the early 90″s.  You may remember the devastation that was taking place there.  The civil war among many of the tribes had pretty much destroyed the country in all ways.  There was no food, no safety and no hope.  Enter Nel Ripken (a pseudonym to protect him and others) heeding God’s call and having no idea how far it would take him.  The book records his experiences and travels around the world, into the Persecuted Church in Africa, Russia, China, and so many other countries that do not not have the freedom’s we have in the US.  His journey was frightening and rewarding.  He tells of the millions of hidden believers in China and their challenges to worship and reading the word. A Bible will be torn into sections and passed around (secretly) so Believers can have access.  He tells of families torn apart in Russia.  He does not make this a pretty book.  It is insane.  The insanity is not really of God but of satan’s battle to take over.

Following is a quote from the book.  If it opens your heart to reading then click on the citation and it will take you to the Book Store.  It will be very rare that I make recommendations in the blog for things to purchase but this is a book that needs to be read by every Believer who reads Matthew 28:19, recognizes that it applies to them, and wants to follow through.

And I quote:

Many of the stories that I heard in Russia celebrated God’s faithfulness and provision.

One pastor was arrested and placed in prison, while his wife and children were sent to live (or die) in Siberia.

One wintry night in their remote, dilapidated wooden cabin which now served as their home, the three children divided their family’s last crust of bread, and drank the last cup of tea in the house before climbing into bed still hungry.  Kneeling to say their prayers, they asked, “Where are we going to get some more food, Mama?  We’re hungry!  Do you think Papa even knows where we live now?”  Their mother assured them their heavenly Father knew where they lived.  For now, He was the one who would have to provide.  They prayed and asked for God’s provision.

Thirty kilometers away, in the middle of the night, God woke up the deacon of a church and instructed him, “get out of bed.  Harness your horse, hitch the horse to the sled, load up all the extra vegetables that the church has harvested, the meat, and the other food that the congregation has collected, and take it to the pastor’s family living outside the village.  They are hungry!”

The deacon said, “But, Lord, I can’t do that!  It’s below Zero outside.  My horse might freeze and I might freeze!”

The Holy Spirit told him, “You must go!  The pastor’s family is in trouble!”

The man argued, “Lord, you’ve got to know that there are wolves everywhere.  They could eat my horse and if they do, they’ll then eat me!  I’ll never make it back.”

But the deacon said that the Holy Spirit told him, “You don’t have to come back.  You just have to go.”

So he did.

When he knocked loudly on the door of that rickety cabin in the pre-dawn darkness the next morning, the banging must have terrified the mother and her children.  But imagine their joy and amazement when they fearfully, hesitantly opened the cabin door to find one very small, very cold member of the Body of Christ standing on their front step.  His food-laden sleigh was behind him.  He held a huge sack and announced, “Our church collected this food for you.  Be fed.  When this runs out, I’ll bring more.”

Long after I heard that story  I kept thinking about God’s final instruction to the deacon: “YOU JUST HAVE TO GO.”

YOU DON’T HAVE TO COME BACK.  YOU JUST HAVE TO GO.

As it turns out, he did come back.  Even so, the instruction is clear.  You just have to go.  You just have to go.  Even if there is no clarity about your return, you just have to go.

The memory of that deacon’s courageous obedience lives on in his story.  The story has been told by his family for generations.  And the story is also told by the extended family of those who were saved by his gift.  The story celebrates one man’s obedience and God’s miraculous provision.

Insanity of GodRipkin, Nik, The Insanity of God, (Nashville, Tennessee: B & H Publishing Group, 2013), pp. 166-167.

Heavenly Father, how can We say thinks?  How can We share as You want us to?  Speak to us. Lord!  Open our hearts to Your desires.  Make it so Lord.

God’s Resolutions

Happy New Year

At this ending of the year many are making resolutions to bring in the new.  Things like lose weight, exercise more, learn more, read more and on and on and on…  Interestingly these re-solutions to old problems last for only a few days, perhaps weeks at best.  As I thought about this it crossed my mind that God has SOLUTIONS and has spelled them out very plainly for us in His Word.  We only need to believe that He can and will do what He says He can.

10 Solutions from God (I have capitalized the solution.)

  1. DON’T WORRY, because I am with you.  DON’T BE AFRAID because I am your God, I will make you strong and will help you: I will support you with my right hand that saves you.          Isaiah 43:1-3
  2. The LORD’S LOVE never ends; His mercies never sop.  They are new every morning;  LORD, Your loyalty is great.  I say to myself, “The LORD is mine, so I hope in Him.”  The LORD is good to those who HOPE IN HIM, to those who SEEK HIM.     Lamentations 3:22-25
  3. COME TO ME, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you REST.  Accept my teachings and LEARN FROM ME, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find REST for your lives.   Matthew 11:28-29
  4. God will show His MERCY forever and ever to those who WORSHIP and SERVE HIM.    Luke 1:50
  5. The LORD your God is with you;  the mighty One will save you.  He will REJOICE over you.  You will REST IN HIS LOVE; He will sing and be joyful about you.   Zephaniah 3:17
  6. WAIT and TRUST the LORD.  DON’T BE UPSET when others get rich or when some else’s plans succeed.  DON’T GET ANGRY.  Don’t be upset; it only leads to trouble.   Psalm 37:7-8
  7. I tell you the truth, whoever HEARS what I say and BELIEVES in the One who sent Me has eternal life.  That person will not be judged guilty but has already left death and entered life.    John 5:24
  8. In Christ we can COME BEFORE GOD with freedom and WITHOUT FEAR.  We can do this through faith in Christ.  Ephesians 3:12
  9. Anyone who speaks should SPEAK WORDS FROM GOD.  Anyone who serves should SERVE WITH THE STRENGTH GOD GIVES so that in everything God will be praised through Jesus Christ.  Power and glory belong to Him forever and ever.     1 Peter 4:11
  10. Let the teaching of Christ live in you richly.  Use all wisdom to teach and instruct each other by SINGING psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with THANKFULNESS in your hearts to God.  Everything you do or say should be done to OBEY JESUS your Lord.  And in all you do, GIVE THANKS to God the Father through Jesus.       Colossians 3:16-17

There are so many solutions in the Word it was hard to choose just 10.  That really is the gist of this short article…the solutions are in the Word.  I hope that every believer will spend more time this year, in the Bible, searching for God’s Solutions.

Heavenly Father, my One and Only, You alone are worthy of my praise.  How can I ever give thanks often enough for the Words You have breathed on every page of the Bible.  Oh, Lord, help us all have an uncurable passion for You and Your Word.  I lift these words before the Throne in the Precious Name of Jesus.  Make it so!

Scriptural passages from The Holy Bible, New Century Version

Pleasing God (part 3)

English: Icon of Jesus Christ

English: Icon of Jesus Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we continue through Hebrews 13, we will find there are only a few more suggested ways to please God.  Verse 9 says, “Do not let all kinds of strange teachings lead you from the right way.”   What are strange teachings?  Anything that takes away from the 3 basic commands of the New Testament…Love God, love others, and tell the world.  Pretty simple isn’t it?  When a religion determines to attach  man-made rules to the Word it falls under the heading of ‘strange teachings’.  Paul uses the example of dietary practices.  He says those who follow these ‘teachings’ have not been helped.  Why?  Because it replaces what we should be thinking on (Philippians 4:8) with the voices of the world.

The next word we receive on this issue is–ALWAYS offer praise!  What is praise?  It is the sacrifice offered with our lips through Jesus.  We are proclaiming Him as Lord and through that God as the One and Only. 

Two other sacrifices are mentioned here.  We are to do good and help one another.  These are listed as sacrifices because it is not in our sinful nature to want to do these.  Well, whether we want to or not is really not the point.  We are simply to do it, to make these part of our life skills.  Imagine a world where an attitude of what’s in it for me is replaced with the constant thought of what can I do for you.

And finally, we are told to obey our leaders and follow their orders.  Oh, my, really, do I have to?  These types of commands are put in the Bible because God knows us.  He knows that we would rather do it our way, than let someone else tell us what to do.  Our leaders, both in the church and in the world at large have been placed in that position by God, for a specific purpose.  Both have the same type of protection for their followers, constituents on their shoulders.  When rules are made, they are often because the one in charge, chosen by God, knows we will be protected by it.  Jesus tells us to ‘give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.  That is not only about taxes it is about remembering who’s in charge and honoring that person.  So the next time a speeding ticket is issued just remember the rule was there for our protections.

My prayer, in the words of Paul (verse 21):

May the God of peace provide you with every good thing you need in order to do his will, and may He, through Jesus Christ, do in us what pleases Him.  And to Christ be the glory forever and ever!  Amen.  (Today’s English Version)

A BIBLE’S DIARY

 

God’s word is God’s guide book for every minute, hour, day, situation, and celebration.

2 Timothy 3:16 says:

 

All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training and righteousness so that the man of God is thoroughly equipped for every good work.

English: The Bible

Psalm 119:105 says:

 

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my

Old lamp

path.

 

Psalm 119:11 says:

 

Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin

English: Cross, anchor, and heart for Faith, H...

against God.

I hope as you read the Bible Diary below that yours is marked up, ragged, used, and loved.  I pray that you are using the Word for more than a table top decoration.

 

A BIBLE’S DIARY

 

JANUARY–a busy time for me.  Most of the family decided to read me through this.  They kept me busy for two weeks.  The have forgotten me now.

 

FEBRUARY–My owner used me for a few minutes last week.  He had an argument and was looking up a reference point to prove his point.

 

MARCH–Grandpa visited us.  He kept me on his lap for an hour as he read 1 Corinthians 13.  I was used a lot by Grandpa.

 

APRIL–I had one busy day.  My owner was appointed leader of some project at church, so he used me.  Got to go to church service for the first time this year…on Easter.

 

MAY–I have a few green stains on my pages.  Some early flowers were pressed in me.

 

JUNE–I look like a scrapbook.  They have me full of clippings from the newspaper.  One of the girls got married.

 

JULY–they put me in a suitcase today.  I guess we are off on a vacation.  I wish I could stay hame because I know I’ll be in this dark thing for the whole time.

 

AUGUST–I’m still in the suitcase.

 

SEPTEMBER–Back home again in my old place.  Have lots of company.  Two romance novels and four comic books are on top of me.  I wish I could get the attention they get.

 

OCTOBER–They used me a little today.  One of them is very sick.  At this moment I’m shined up and on the middle of the coffee table.  The pastor must be coming.

 

NOVEMBER–I’m back in my old place.

 

DECEMBER–They are getting me ready for Christmas.  I’ll be cover with wrapping paper and presents.  Well, I always have the New Year to look forward to.

 

Not Again

What does work when we’ve managed, once again, to jump into the ‘sin-pit’?  We can be the most disciplined believer on the face of the earth, we can have had enough life experiences that we should have seen it coming, we can know our Bible so well that good choices are second nature to us, BUT when the perfect personal sin is dangled in front of us and looks like the best apple on the tree…So what is our protection?  Knowing His Word so well that we can use it as a guide in all situations (2 Timothy 3:16).  Developing  a life habit of prayer in all situations (1 Thessalonians 5:17)  Understanding that we are totally, completely, covered in His blanket of loving forgiveness (Song of Songs 2:4). Taking refuge in the shadow of His loving and merciful wings (Psalms 17:8).  Yes, we will sin.  Unfortunately, that’s a guaranteed result of life in this fallen world.  Paying attention to the Spirit within can help with that.  When we are about to say or do something we shouldn’t, there is more than likely a prodding or consciousness that we should not follow through with it.  I believe that this is the Paraclete, the Counselor, the Spirit of Christ, living in us, wanting what is best for us, trying to warn us that what we’re about to do is not in line with what is expected of us as part of the Kingdom.  We need to learn to listen to this voice.  A dear friend once told me to keep this in mind…When in doubt, don’t.  That small command has worked for me…when I let it.

Heavenly Father, speak to me.  When I am about to sin, speak to me.  When You know I need to hear You,  speak to me.  Open my ears, mind, and heart to hear the sound of Your voice.  Oh, Lord, speak to me.  

Make it so!