Faith > Fear

Goliath stood and shouted a taunt across to the Israelites. ‘Why are you all coming out to fight?’ he called. ‘I am the Philistine champion, but you are only the servants of Saul. Choose one man to come down here and fight me! If he kills me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves. I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me a man who will fight me!’ When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken.  1 Samuel 17:8-11

Goliath stood 9′ tall. His bronze coat weighed 125 pounds and his spear head weighed 15 pounds. He was an extraordinary warrior.  Funny to me having these attributes he called for one little Israelite to fight.  Seems to me he could have fought many of them and succeeded.  But he just asked for one.  With all of his weighty talk it sounds like deep inside there was some inferiority. Maybe he had heard of the God of Israel and wasn’t so sure he could win.  His arrogant taunts went on for 40 days.  Ever known anyone like that?  So deeply inferior that they are boastful about all they want you to think they are.

Saul and the Israelites were deeply shaken by his size and threats.  Day after day the same taunts from Goliath.  I surmise that their fear and anxiety increased with each passing day.  There is no mention that they went before Almighty God and petitioned Him as what to do.  Their anxiety over their situation had snuffed their ability to effectively reason.  Fear will do that to you.  It will grip your heart firmly.  Fear is the dependence on yourself or someone else (or lack thereof) to rescue you.  It’s hard to have confidence when trusting in fallible humans.

Enter David.  Enter faith. David is so offended by Goliath taunting God’s army that he volunteers to go. David doesn’t see a giant.  David sees his God that is more colossal than anyone can imagine.  David sees the solution rather than the problem. He has experience with God.  He fully trusts in Him. In his eyes, no one is going to oppose his God in that way.

Mind you, David is a shepherd.  He has no military training.  He knows how to tend sheep.  He also knows how to defend them against predators. With the help of Almighty God he had been victorious over lions and bears. This reminds me of Psalm 91:13 where it says that we will trample the lion and the cobra underfoot.

God likely used David because of his faith.  God uses highly unlikely people for great feats.  He does this for His own glory.  If he would have sent a great warrior against Goliath, him and the Israelites would likely have taken the credit for the victory.

Saul and David’s brothers opposed him.  They looked at David and then Goliath and thought “No way!” But that didn’t stop him. You can always expect opposition when on a mission for God. Press on, if God is for you who can be against?

David tried on Saul’s armor but it was heavy, awkward and unfamiliar.  Instead of doing it the way it had always been done, he went a different route.  He went into battle with no armor.  Just his faith, a sling and a stone. Faith is the absence of fear.  Fear is the absence of faith. Don’t be afraid to step out and take a different path than the others.

God went before David that day.  He was standing behind Him.  I believe that the glory of our Holy God shown in the face of that giant rendering him helpless.  The only thing David had to do was what he knew how to do.  Hurl the rock. He had no fear, he fully trusted God for the outcome. Of course he was victorious! Do what you know how to do.  Offer what you have to Him and let him couple it with supernatural power and just wait for the victory.

What about you?  What kind of giant are you facing?  Has fear gripped your heart and you have no idea what to do? Do you feel like you have faith but you are still afraid? I’ve been there.  I lived in fear most of my life.  I was afraid of everything because I was depending on myself to fix my problems.  I had botched up my past so badly, fear of my next decision crippled my life.

Enter Jesus.  Enter Hope.  Enter Strength and Resolution.  When I fully trusted God, my anxiety left.  I placed my life at his feet and walked forward in faith.  You can too.  You kind of feel like you are falling off of a cliff, but He’s there to catch you, I promise.  Trust Him, let Him take control. Show your giant who your God is.

 

Pick Up Your Mat

“When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?” “I can’t sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up.  Someone else always gets there ahead of me.” Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat and walk!” John 5:6-8

Jesus is full of compassion.  He looked at this lame man that had been ill for a long time.  He saw him and knew his affliction.  He knew exactly how long that he had suffered. There were many there that day but he chose him to bless.

What is interesting is that Jesus knew that the man wanted to be healed yet he asked him if he did.  Sometimes we get comfortable in affliction and sin.  It is easier to stay on the mat than to get up and implement change and receive what Jesus is offering.  Jesus was aiming for his heart with his question.  He was asking about the condition of his heart, not of his physical impairment.

The man’s response was simple.  “I can’t sir.”  He then goes onto explain why he could not be healed.  In essence he was saying that he had no friends or family that would help him into the healing waters when the angel came to stir them.  See, the first person into the pool after the angel had stirred the waters would be healed.

It would seem to me that once a person was healed that they would turn to help one of the others lying by the pool.  That is often the case though.  People experience healing and hope and keep it to themselves instead of spreading it to all around them.

He was telling Jesus someone was always ahead of him.  No one would help him.  He had no hope.  Have you ever felt like him?  I know that I have.  There is such good news! Hope Himself was standing in front of the lame man and He is standing in front of you!

He’s asking you, do you want to be healed?  Then stand up, take your mat and walk.  Make the changes necessary to get rid of the mat! Why can’t it be you? You may not have anyone close to you that can help you up, but let me tell you that Jesus is all of the help that you will ever need! With help from the Holy Spirit you can overcome any sin or affliction that is in your life.  Put your trust into Hope Himself.  He wants you to be free!

 

 

Worrywart

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.  God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”  Matthew 6:34

As long as I can remember, people called me a worrywart.  When I was a small child I was told that the wart that grew on my hand was due to me either playing with frogs or worrying.  I thought about that for quite some time.  I knew I hadn’t played with frogs because I couldn’t bear to hold one.  So the logical explanation for my wart was worrying.  I couldn’t remember what I had been worrying about.  So I worried about that.

I found it hysterical to look this word up in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and actually find it listed there!  It is a common southern expression which has migrated toward the north.  It’s origin is a comic strip called Out Our Way by J R Williams that ran from 1922 to 1977. It was actually a character in the strip.

The definition is: a person who worries too much or who worries about things that are not important.  Hmm.  I get that a person can worry too much.  But who determines what is important to one person or the other?  My neighbor might find it necessary to worry about the acidity of her pool.  That wouldn’t be important for me to worry about because I don’t have a pool.

Our key verse from Eugene Peterson’s translation “The Message” urges us to deal with what is right before us.  We can only process and make good decisions based on the information that we currently have.  I know people that obsess and worry over things that will likely never happen.  They take the small amount of information that they have for today and try to apply it to what will happen six weeks from now.  Only God knows our tomorrow.  He is already there.

Why do some people obsess over the future?  Because they aren’t secure in their present. I believe that when I am secure in my relationship with Jesus Christ, I realize He is the One in charge.  He is the one completely perfect, having no fault at all and ABLE to do exceedingly abundantly more than you could ask think or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). If you have not trusted in Jesus, you are depending on yourself or someone else that is human.  People are capable of failing, capable of making mistakes, capable of blowing it completely.

It’s unfair really, to impose that kind of responsibility on yourself or anyone else.  When you have expectations for humans you will always be disappointed.  When you have expectations for Jesus you will always be satisfied.  I became free to love and appreciate all of the people in my life when I stopped expecting them to meet my all of my needs.  I can’t be disappointed or let down now because I don’t expect anything from them.  I can just love them for who God made them to be, not who I want them to be.

The last sentence in the verse states that God will help you when the time comes.  You don’t have His help yet?  It’s not time.  He is never late.  He is an on time God.  I often impose deadlines upon Him but He doesn’t work on my timetable.  So often I have “helped” God out by implementing my own plan.  I read recently that it is better to trust God now than wished you had later.  I have found that to be profoundly true.

I realize that not worrying is difficult for most people.  Just give Jesus a try.  Put all of your trust in Him and not yourself or anyone else and watch what He will do. You will be free to love others which is what He had in mind anyway.  Live in today.  Tomorrow will be here soon enough.  I have found what I worried about yesterday is not even an issue today.

 

 

Amazing Grace

“But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased Him to reveal His Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles.” Galatians 1:15-16

I am in awe and wonder at this verse.  It astounds me that He knew everything that I would ever do and made me anyway.  The revelation of His Son and the blood that was sacrificed for me was certainly mercy and grace.

Grace is the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God.  Let that resonate within your soul.  God freely gives his love and favor to us.  We certainly don’t deserve it.  He thinks we are worth it.  He is crazy about us and proved that by sending His Son to be the propitiation for our sin.

The greatest example of grace in my life are my children.  I have the sin of abortion in my past.  So I did not whatsoever deserve to have children.  I recall the sonogram of my first child.  I was so sick when I saw the baby on the screen.  It was not tissue as I was informed.  I was terrified that God was going to punish me through her.  I had not given my heart and life to Jesus yet.  I believed in God and had gone through the motions of baptism when I was sixteen but had not surrendered my life.

The first two years of her life were joyous but so difficult.  I loved her so much.  I would not sleep for days at a time so I could watch her breathe all night long.  I was terrified that God was going to take her away from me.  I was obsessive about her being in my constant eye sight.  I even quit my office job and worked at night for a while so my husband or I would always be with her.  I did everything that I could get my hands on in the church to try to make up for my past.  I later discovered that you can’t work your way into Heaven.  It is a free gift.

I gave my heart and life to Jesus in October of 1998.  It would be years later before I really understood that I was fully forgiven.   Grace came again in 2002 when my son was born.  All of the tests said that he had spina bifida.  We cried out to God in the weeks before the appointment in Winston Salem to affirm the tests.  Before we went back the nurse said you can still have an abortion if you don’t want to bring a child into the world like this.  We said no! This is our child.

The sonogram showed a perfectly healthy baby boy growing inside of me.  He has a place at the base of his spine that used to be more prominent.  I believe that is where my Jesus closed his back.

He has called me to share my story with you today.  He knows where you have been and He knows what you have done. The blood covers it all.  If He can extend grace to me, He can for you too. Amazing grace.  Unmerited favor from God.  It is for you today. All you have to do is admit your sin, believe that He is the Son of God and confess that He is the Lord of your life.  You are made new! A new creation in Christ Jesus!

Lord Jesus, wrap your loving arms around this reader.  Hold them tight and shower them with your mercy and grace.  I pray for them today and anyone in their lives that they love.  I pray that they would share this with anyone who needs to know You and about your grace.

Leave

“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country, your relatives and your father’s family and go to a land that I will show you.’ Abram departed as the Lord had instructed and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.”

I have discovered that when God calls you out, it is rarely a place of comfort.  The struggle is real.  He calls you to a place where depending on your own strength and even the strength of your family will not suffice; a place of the unknown.  He will plant in your heart just enough vision to make the leap, but that is all.  The rest of the journey is merely faith over fear.

Think about Abram.  He was seventy-five years old and had always been with his father’s family.  Their ways, their customs.  He was secure in that land with family and wealth.  Then God stepped in and said “Leave.” Abram was promised a land that God would show him.  He did not give him a specific road map as to where he was going.  But God does go on to promise him great things.

Abram’s response is simple.  He departed.  He left everything he had always known and stepped into the unknown with God.  It does not say that he wrestled with the decision for an extended amount of time and then he left.  He simply left.  He did not have a fear of the unknown because he completely knew the One leading him.  Abram did not have all of the answers but He trusted God with the outcome.

Recently, I was driving on the highway at 65 miles per hour.  I was cresting a hill and could not see the road before me.  I felt God speak to my heart, “You cannot see the road but you are not lowering your speed as to what lies ahead.  You trust the road is there and that there are no obstructions.  Why don’t you trust Me and the road I have for you? I have promised to be with you wherever you go.”  Ouch.

My husband was talking to the corporate chaplain yesterday.  He explained that I had been called to leave my job that we depend on and go on assignment for God.  He explained that we do not know how it will work on paper.  The chaplain said he and is wife had a significantly similar experience earlier in their life together.  God told them to leave their jobs and they left.  It was four months until God opened the perfect door for them.  It was even part of their heart’s desire.  He explained to my husband that in that four months, they never wanted for anything.  It was as though they were still working.

Is God asking you to leave?  Are you frightened and uncertain of what to do? 1 John 4:18 says there is no fear in love, fear involves torment.  God sees you.  He hears you.  All He wants is your complete trust and faith.  He is completely in control.  You cannot go wrong when you step out with God.  He was with Abram and He is with you too.  Joshua 1:9 says to be strong and courageous.  Do not wrestle with the decision.  Walk forward with joy! A life you never imagined possible is available to you.  All you have to do is obey.

 

A Bigger Plan

“Come,  let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages.  Then they won’t be able to understand each other.” In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world and they stopped building the city.  Genesis 11:7-8

After the flood, God instructed Noah and his sons to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.  I find it interesting that few generations had passed and the people of Shinar were already attempting to rebel against God.  I feel that the account of the flood was passed down through the generations.  Unfortunately, this knowledge did not stop them from sin and pride.

The people gathered together at the plain of Shinar and did not act on God’s plan to fill the earth.  As a collective body, they all spoke the same language.  They devised their own plan.  They would build a city and a tower that reached the heavens.  They wanted to make a name for themselves.

Enter pride and sin.  God would remedy the situation.  You see, His plan was far greater than any plan they could contrive.  You can be assured that His plans will always come to pass.  We can choose to carry out His plans or we can force Him into action.  I have found the latter to be extremely uncomfortable and painful.

God sees that the people have united.  He is fully aware that there is no limit to the trouble that they will face if they continue on their course.  He confuses the languages.  A communication barrier.  Friends and co-workers no longer able to speak to one another.  Imagine how scary and even annoying that must have been!  I imagined myself in the worship service at church and all of the sudden everyone speaking different languages.  Confusion would ensue.  That’s exactly what happened here.  Thus the name of “the tower of Babel,” which comes from a Hebrew term meaning “confusion.”

The people could not finish the work.  This drove them apart.  They moved away to other parts of the earth.  This was God’s plan coming to pass.  Were friends lost? Yes.  Were people driven out of their security net? Yes. Was it painful to leave behind all that they knew and start over again? Yes.

See friends, had they listened to begin with, they could have saved themselves the pain.  If they had pushed away their pride (thinking you know better than God and taking credit for the accomplishments in your life) and arrogance, maybe a different outcome would have taken place.

Last year, God was specific with me about what He desired for my life.  I was so paralyzed with fear, I remained where I was and did nothing.  Two months later I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I feel like God allowed that to come into my life to get my attention.  Make no mistake, God did not cause the cancer, rather He allowed it.  God is good and is not the author of anything bad.

Has God been specific with you about a plan He will see come to pass?  Have you been on the fence and not sure which way to go?  Have you been filled with pride and continued full steam ahead without regard to God’s grander plan?  Please, slow down and reconsider.  This may be a message to you that God will see his plan come to pass.  He loves you completely.  He is fully trustworthy and only has the best in mind for you.  Choose His way and leave the outcome to Him.  You will find peace and rest in obedience.

Useful or Good for Nothing?

Then I went to the Euphrates and dug, and I took the sash from the place where I had hidden it; and there was the sash, ruined.  It was profitable for nothing. Jeremiah 13:7

God instructed Jeremiah to take a new linen loin cloth and wear it for a time.  God then instructed him to take it to the Euphrates River and hide it in a hole in the rock.  After some time had passed God asked Jeremiah to make the journey again to the river and retrieve the cloth.

Because it had been wet and dry repeatedly by the rising and falling of the river, it had decayed.  It was no longer useful for anything.  God likened the example to the Israelites.  They had become prideful and arrogant.  They had inter-mingled with the people of the land which they had been instructed not to do.  He said the cloth represented them clinging to God but then separating themselves, becoming defiled, rotten rags, good for nothing.

When I think about decay, a tooth automatically comes to mind.  The tooth starts out strong, brilliant white, useful for chewing food and making a winsome smile. As time progresses it becomes stained by coffee and tea.  Excessive amounts of sugar or improper care of the tooth can cause decay.  Once the tooth is decayed, no amount of brushing will remedy the situation.  If left too long it may have to be pulled and taken away from you.  Only a visit to the dentist will suffice.  He will extract the decay and fill the hole so it is made strong again and useful for chewing.

Our hearts are prone to stray.  We become prideful and arrogant, declaring that anything good in our lives has been the work of our hands. We are tainted by sinful choices.  We are stained by guilt, shame and regret.  The longer we dabble with pride and sin the more rotten and decayed we become.  We have to humble ourselves and come to Jesus. He is the only remedy we have against sin. He will come in and forgive you and fill you with his love and peace.  He will make you strong and able to withstand temptation and the trials we all face every day.  You will then be useful to carry out kingdom work.

Does your life look like a rotten loin cloth or decayed tooth today?  I can relate to where you are.  The good news is there is hope.  Hope for a second, third or fourth chance.  Don’t put it off another second! Simply pray for forgiveness, turn from your current way and allow Him to live through you to empower you to make the right choices.  He is faithful and He is able to make this happen for you.  Trust Him today.