In several blog posts and in the Bible Studies that I lead I've said that in order to more fully developed our relationship with God we need to be be open with Him about how we feel about what's going on in our lives. I even preached a sermon with the title “Stop Faking It” the message was to be real with God. In the sermon I used a saying that we would use when when we knew someone was not being open. We said they were”faking the funk”, and we would say "don't fake the funk". So "don't fake the funk” with God. I didn't say we should be disrespectful, just be real.
While we shouldn’t hide our emotions, which are natural, we don't have to let them control us. We can and should manage them. Because of our sin nature and the constant interference and influence of our enemy Satan, and the evil spirits under his command, it’s difficult for us to manage our emotions without help. There are prescription and over the counter medications, certain exercises, soothing music, massages, and other things we can do but they are all temporary. The only permanent way to managing our emotions is to give them to Jesus and let the Holy Spirit manage them.
How to Deal with What You Feel
By Rick Warren
“To be controlled by human nature results in death; to be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace. . . . Those who obey their human nature cannot please God”(Romans 8:6, 8 GNT).
Learning to manage your emotions is the key to peace of mind.
I want to share with you four important reasons from God’s Word why you need to learn to deal with what you feel.
1. Learn to manage your emotions because they are often unreliable.
Your gut is often wrong. Your intuition is often flawed. Your emotions often lead you down a blind alley. You can’t depend on everything you feel!
Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death”(NIV).You don’t have to accept everything you feel, because not everything you feel is right or authentic or will lead you in the right direction.
2. Learn to manage your emotions because you don’t want to be manipulated.
If you don’t control your emotions, they will control you, and you will be manipulated by your moods. And if you’re always guided by your feelings, other people will take advantage of you. Worst of all, negative emotions are Satan’s favorite tool. He will use fear, resentment, and worry to wreak havoc in your life.
The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”(NIV).
3. Learn to manage your emotions because you want to please God.
God cannot rule your life if emotions rule your life. If you make your decisions based on how you feel, then you’ve made your feelings god, and then God can’t be God in your life.
Romans 8:6, 8 says, “To be controlled by human nature results in death; to be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace. . . . Those who obey their human nature cannot please God”(GNT).
4. Learn to manage your emotions because you want to succeed in life.
Study after study has shown that your emotional quotient is far more important than your IQ when it comes to success. How many people do you know who ruined their reputation because of something said in anger or missed a job opportunity because of their lack of self-control?
The Bible says in Proverbs 5:23, “[People] get lost and die because of their foolishness and lack of self-control”(CEV).
When you give your heart to Jesus, that commitment includes your emotions. So when you say, “I gave my heart to Jesus,” you gave your emotions to him to be managed by him. Jesus wants to be Lord of how you feel, not just what you think and do. He wants to be Lord of your emotions.
“From now on, then, you must live the rest of your earthly lives controlled by God’s will and not by human desires”(1 Peter 4:2 GNT).
You need to learn to manage your emotions. You need to name the emotion, challenge it, and direct it if you’re not going to change it. Then, you use it for good.
For more Daily Hope with Rick Warren, please visit pastorrick.com!
I wrote the first post is my blog category “Fear Not Is A Command” nearly two years ago back in November 2015. I’ve written a number of post since then on the subject of fear and how to combat it by trusting God. Not much has changed in the last two years. There are still plenty of things that that can cause fear, anxiety and worry so I’ll continue to write because, as I wrote in November two years ago, “Fear Not Is a Command”.
This post is about how biblical hope cancels out fear.
First let’s look at the difference in faith and biblical hope which is based on faith?
Faith is a complete trust or confidence in something. Faith involves intellectual assent to a set of facts and trust in those facts. For example, we have faith in Jesus Christ. This means we completely trust Jesus for our eternal destiny. We give intellectual assent to the facts of His substitutionary death and bodily resurrection, and we then trust in His death and resurrection for our salvation.
Biblical hope is built on faith. Hope is the earnest anticipation that comes with believing something good. Hope is a confident expectation that naturally stems from faith. Hope is a peaceful assurance that something that hasn’t happened yet will indeed happen.
Romans 8:24-25 (NKJV) 24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
Titus 2:11-14 (NKJV)11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,
12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
Anne Graham Lotz defines hope: “Biblical hope is absolute confidence in something you haven’t seen or received yet, but you’re absolutely confident that whatever God has said is going to come to pass.”
She also declares that “Jesus is your hope for the future. One day Jesus Christ will come back, and He will set all of the wrong right. Good will triumph over the bad. Love will triumph over hate. Righteousness will triumph over evil. He’s going to make it all right, and you can have absolute confidence that that’s going to take place. That’s your hope.”
In this post I am sharing something written by Franklin Graham, Dr. Charles Stanley, and one of the devotions that I read recently from a YouVersion Reading Plan, Living For Heaven. While I disagree with Franklin Graham in his support of our current President, and many of the policies of his administration, I do agree with his assessment that our nation is in trouble, and his admonition that we pray in hope.
As Psalm 3:11 asks; If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?
They can pray.
I believe our nation is in trouble today, probably more than I've seen in my lifetime. We are contending with issues that are causing the very foundation of our country to crumble. Our moral and spiritual roots are eroding, the economy is misleading, family life is disintegrating, and political forces are at unprecedented odds. There seem to be very few leaders who will take a stand for God and for His Word.
It can be tempting to believe that America has reached a point of no return. While these factors cause despair, we are reminded in Scripture that with God, nothing is impossible. No problem is too great for Him. Seasons of distress and uncertainty and hardship call for faithful, fervent prayer by God's people and remind us of our responsibility to humble ourselves before Almighty God. We cannot expect healing to come to our nation apart from obedience to God through His Holy Word.
God longs for His people to humble themselves and to seek forgiveness and pray for guidance. God's Word says, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord" (Psalm 33:12). The Bible commands that we repent of our sins and turn to Almighty God. And because we are confident that we serve a God of mercy and compassion, we know that He stands ready to respond to our cries out of the abundance of His divine wisdom.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
It is a crucial time for us to individually and collectively seek God's divine intervention for the challenges facing us. We need to pray not only for our nation, but we need to pray for our leaders, for all those who govern us, that they will turn to God with humble hearts and follow Him. Our military leaders need our prayers as we have dedicated men and women serving on battlefields and sacrificing their blood to protect our nation and many innocent people around the world. God is faithful to bless those who turn to Him.Pray that as a nation we would return to God. As we call on God, let us do so by genuine faith, believing that He hears our prayers. God can heal this great land, for which our forefathers fought and died. We need spiritual renewal, we need a revival in America, and we need each and everyone to pray. Lord, Hear Our Cry! —Franklin Graham (2 Chronicles 4:14 Mine)
Life in Hope
(Fom Craig Denison and First15 )
Scripture: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13
The world is a fearful and unsatisfying place without the hope of eternal life with Jesus. Apart from the expectation that comes from the hope of heaven, our world is without cause for peace, celebration, or joy. There is life in hope. There is joy in hope. There is purpose in hope. Hope is to be at the foundation of all our decisions, emotions, and pursuits. Hope fills us with joy in the midst of trial and perseverance in the midst of failure. Hope guides us to abundant life.
Romans 8:24-25 says, “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” We have the promise of eternal life in perfect, unveiled relationship with our Creator and Sustainer. The King of kings and Lord of lords waits patiently for the final redemption and restoration of all things (Revelation 21:1). He longs for the day when all pain, tears, disappointment, separation, and sin will end for good (Revelation 21:4). And he longs to fill us with the same hope and expectation he has within himself.
Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Our heavenly Father longs to make us a people of hope. He longs for his followers to live a lifestyle that declares to the world, “This life is not all there is.” He longs to fill us with a heavenly perspective that we might throw off pursuits of worldly pleasure and live for eternity with him.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The hope of eternal life with our Father is to be the guiding light set ever before us. Where have you set your hope? Where do the treasures of your heart lie? Placing our hope in heaven secures the treasures of our hearts with our heavenly Father for all of eternity. In contrast, when we treasure the things of the world, that which we accumulate will pass away as quickly as it came.
Take time in guided prayer to allow the Lord to fill you with a fresh hope for the age that is to come. Allow your perspectives to shift in light of the glory of an eternity spent in total communion with the Creator. May the hope of heaven guide you to a lifestyle of storing up your treasures, and therefore your heart, with your heavenly Father.
Where have you placed your hope in the things of the world? What have you been looking to in order to satisfy your longings that is fleeting and temporary?
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
Ask the Lord to help you place your hope in heaven alone. Choose to live your life for your heavenly Father instead of seeking worldly success and satisfaction. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you ways in which you can rid yourself of the world and receive the hope of heaven. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:2-5
Choosing Faith over Fear
(From InTouch Ministries Daily Devotions with Dr. Charles Stanley)
Isaiah 41:8-13 (NKJV) 8 "But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, The descendants of Abraham My friend.9 You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its farthest regions, And said to you, 'You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away:10 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.'11 "Behold, all those who were incensed against you Shall be ashamed and disgraced; They shall be as nothing, And those who strive with you shall perish.12 You shall seek them and not find them-- Those who contended with you. Those who war against you Shall be as nothing, As a nonexistent thing.13 For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, 'Fear not, I will help you.'
These days, there are plenty of reasons to fear. Our world seems to be in a continuous state of war and crisis. The jobs market is dismal, natural disasters wreak havoc, and stories of crime dominate the headlines. As Christians, we know that fear should have no place in our lives, but how can we ignore what's going on around us?
Basically, there are two paths you can walk: faith or fear. It's impossible to simultaneously trust God and not trust God. Another way of saying this is that you cannot both obey and disobey Him--partial obedience is disobedience. So, which road are you traveling?
Some people who read the Bible and believe in God nevertheless choose to live with fear. Seeing others experience hardship, they start wondering if it could happen to them: Someone at my office lost his job; will I be next? Someone died in an accident--I could die too. But this kind of "logic" places your circumstances above your relationship to God.
If Satan can get you to think like this, he has won the battle for your mind. But when you focus on God rather than your circumstances, whatever the situation is, you win. The Bible tells us, "God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline" (2 Tim. 1:7).
Our heavenly Father understands our disappointment, suffering, pain, fear, and doubt. He is always there to encourage our hearts and help us understand that He's sufficient for all of our needs. When I accepted this as an absolute truth in my life, I found that my worrying stopped.
Used with permission from In Touch Ministries, Inc. © 2016 All Rights Reserved.
The Bible tell us that the only person or thing that we should fear is God. In fact we are commanded to “Fear Not”.
Fear of God isn’t the emotion that usually comes to mind when we think of fear. That emotion is fright, which is a sudden intense feeling of fear. Synonyms of this type fear are fearfulness, terror, horror, alarm, panic, dread, trepidation, dismay, nervousness, apprehension, apprehensiveness, perturbation, and disquiet. The fear of God is a reverential respect of God’s power and glory. Fear of God is the result of His love for mankind and the grace that He has given to those who, in faith, believe on His Son, Jesus Christ.
Apart from this fear of God we are commanded to “fear not”. We are commanded to “fear not” because God has made promises to those who believe in Jesus. He’s promised to protect them, to provide for them, and to give them eternal life with Him.
Psalm 91:1-4 (NLT) 1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.2 This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.3 For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.4 He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Matthew 6:31-33 (NLT) 31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
John 3:16 (NLT) “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
1 John 2:24-25 (NLT) 24 So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father.25 And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life he promised us.
As I continue to look at fear and its debilitating effect on believers I will add posts to my series “Fear Not Is A Command”. In a devotion that I read recently by Dr. Charles Stanley I realized that fear in addition to being debilitating in itself, it also has side effects. In his devotion, Dr. Stanley identifies these side effects;
His conclusion is while fear is real that we should remember who God is and that He will never leave us or forsake us and that He will supply everything that we need.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (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."
Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV) 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.'
Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Dr. Stanley’s complete devotion follows.
The Side Effects of Fear
(Editor's Note: the complete text of the referenced scripture was included by the Editor and not Dr. Stanley or In Touch Ministries)
Matthew 6:25-34 (NKJV)25 "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?28 So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?31 Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Fear obviously produces anxiety, but it also creates chaos in our lives and even affects those around us.
Fear stifles our thinking and actions. It creates indecisiveness that results in stagnation. I have known talented people who procrastinate indefinitely rather than risk failure. Lost opportunities cause erosion of confidence, and the downward spiral begins.
Fear hinders us from becoming the people God wants us to be. When we are dominated by negative emotions, we cannot achieve the goals He has in mind for us. A lack of self-confidence stymies our belief in what the Lord can do with our lives.
Fear can drive people to destructive habits. To numb the pain of overbearing distress and foreboding, some turn to things like drugs and alcohol for artificial relief.
Fear steals peace and contentment. When we're always afraid, our life becomes centered on pessimism and gloom.
Fear creates doubt. God promises us an abundant life, but if we surrender instead to the chains of fear, our prayers won’t be worth very much.
What are you afraid of--loss, rejection, poverty, or death? Everybody will face such realities at some point. All you need to know is, God will never reject you. Whether you accept Him is your decision.
The Bible tells us that God will meet all our needs. He feeds the birds of the air and clothes the grass with the splendor of lilies. How much more, then, will He care for us, who are made in His image? Our only concern is to obey the heavenly Father and leave the consequences to Him.
Used with permission from In Touch Ministries, Inc. © 2016 All Rights Reserved.
For more from Dr. Charles Stanley go to our Resources Page.
Editor's note: This post was originally published before the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. We can add this natural disaster to the cause of fear, anxiety, worry, and depression.
Here in the United States, and throughout the world we are going through a season of fear, anxiety, depression, social unrest, religious, racial, and ethnic, division. During these times it’s easy to become stressful and even more fearful because it seems that everything is out of control. It's at these times that we need to be reminded that God is still in control.
Psalm 27:1 (NLT) 1 The LORD is my light and my salvation-- so why should I be afraid? The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?
The Lord is near you right now. He’s not far off, not absent, not unaware. He’s right with you. Don’t be afraid!
Joshua 1:9 (NLT) This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
This world can be a difficult place for Christians, and that fact is nothing new. Today’s headlines of wars, persecution, and fighting echo the history poured out in the Bible. But when you start to feel angry, frustrated, and hopeless, remember this: God wins! God always wins! - Jesus I Need You
In his book Anxious For Nothing Max Lucado says; The contagiously calm person is the one who reminds others, “God is in control.”
In Contagious Calm, an excerpt from the book Max recounts a true story that shows how the calmness of one person may have saved the world from a devastating nuclear war. This same calmness can be yours and it will infect those around you. Your calmness will become contagious too.
Contagious Calm - by Max Lucado, from his new book Anxious For Nothing
Disaster was as close as the press of a red button. Four Russian submarines patrolled the Florida coast. US warships had dropped depth charges. The Russian captain was stressed, trigger-happy, and ready to destroy a few American cities. Each sub was armed with a nuclear warhead. Each warhead had the potential to repeat a Hiroshima-level calamity.
Had it not been for the contagious calm of a clear-thinking officer, World War III might have begun in 1962. His name was Vasili Arkhipov. He was the thirty-six-year-old chief of staff for a clandestine fleet of Russian submarines. The crew members assumed they were being sent on a training mission off the Siberian coast. They came to learn that they had been commissioned to travel five thousand miles to the southwest to set up a spearhead for a base near Havana, Cuba.
The subs went south, and so did their mission. In order to move quickly, the submarines traveled on the surface of the water, where they ran head-on into Hurricane Daisy. The fifty-foot waves left the men nauseated and the operating systems compromised.
Then came the warm waters. Soviet subs were designed for the polar waters, not the tropical Atlantic. Temperatures inside the vessels exceeded 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The crew battled the heat and claustrophobia for much of the three-week journey. By the time they were near the coast of Cuba, the men were exhausted, on edge, and anxious.
The situation worsened when the subs received cryptic instructions from Moscow to turn northward and patrol the coastline of Florida. Soon after they entered American waters, their radar picked up the signal of a dozen ships and aircrafts. The Russians were being followed by the Americans. The US ships set off depth charges. The Russians assumed they were under attack.
The captain lost his cool. He summoned his staff to his command post and pounded the table with his fists. “We’re going to blast them now! We will die, but we will sink them all — we will not disgrace our navy!”
The world was teetering on the edge of war. But then Vasili Arkhipov asked for a moment with his captain. The two men stepped to the side. He urged his superior to reconsider. He suggested they talk to the Americans before reacting. The captain listened. His anger cooled. He gave the order for the vessels to surface.
The Americans encircled the Russians and kept them under surveillance. What they intended to do is unclear as in a couple of days the Soviets dove, eluded the Americans, and made it back home safely.
This incredible brush with death was kept secret for decades. Arkhipov deserved a medal, yet he lived the rest of his life with no recognition. It was not until 2002 that the public learned of the barely avoided catastrophe. As the director of the National Security Archive stated, “The lesson from this [event] is that a guy named Vasili Arkhipov saved the world."
Why does this story matter? You will not spend three weeks in a sweltering Russian sub. But you may spend a semester carrying a heavy class load, or you may fight the headwinds of a recession. You may spend night after night at the bedside of an afflicted child or aging parent. You may fight to keep a family together, a business afloat, a school from going under.
You will be tempted to press the button and release, not nuclear warheads, but angry outbursts, a rash of accusations, a fiery retaliation of hurtful words. Unchecked anxiety unleashes an Enola Gay of destruction. How many people have been wounded as a result of unbridled stress?
And how many disasters have been averted because one person refused to buckle under the strain? It is this composure Paul is summoning in the first of a triad of proclamations.
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything. — Philippians 4:5 NIV
The Greek word translated here as gentleness (epieikes) describes a temperament that is seasoned and mature. It envisions an attitude that is fitting to the occasion, levelheaded and tempered. The gentle reaction is one of steadiness, evenhandedness, fairness. It “looks humanely and reasonably at the facts of a case.” Its opposite would be an overreaction or a sense of panic.
This gentleness is “evident to all.” Family members take note. Your friends sense a difference. Coworkers benefit from it. Others may freak out or run out, but
the gentle person is sober minded and clear thinking. Contagiously calm.
The contagiously calm person is the one who reminds others, “God is in control.”
This is the executive who tells the company, “Let’s all do our part; we’ll be okay.” This is the leader who sees the challenge, acknowledges it, and observes, “These are tough times, but we’ll get through them.”
Gentleness. Where do we quarry this gem? How can you and I keep our hands away from the trigger? How can we keep our heads when everyone else is losing theirs? We plumb the depths of the second phrase.
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything. — Philippians 4:5 NIV
The Lord is near! You are not alone. You may feel alone. You may think you are alone. But there is never a moment in which you face life without help. God is near.
God repeatedly pledges His proverbial presence to His people.
To Abram, God said,
Do not be afraid… I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.
— Genesis 15:1
To Hagar, the angel announced,
Do not be afraid; God has heard. — Genesis 21:17 NIV
When Isaac was expelled from his land by the Philistines and forced to move from place to place, God appeared to him and reminded him,
Do not be afraid, for I am with you. — Genesis 26:24 NLT
After Moses’ death God told Joshua,
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. — Joshua 1:9 NIV
God was with David, in spite of his adultery. With Jacob, in spite of his conniving. With Elijah, in spite of his lack of faith.
Then, in the ultimate declaration of communion, God called Himself Immanuel, which means “God with us.” He became flesh. He became sin. He defeated the grave. He is still with us. In the form of His Spirit, He comforts, teaches, and convicts.
Do not assume God is watching from a distance. Avoid the quicksand that bears the marker “God has left you!” Do not indulge this lie. If you do, your problem will be amplified by a sense of loneliness. It’s one thing to face a challenge, but to face it all alone? Isolation creates a downward cycle of fret. Choose instead to be the person who clutches the presence of God with both hands.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? — Psalm 118:6 NIV
Because the Lord is near, we can be anxious for nothing.
This is Paul’s point. Remember, he was writing a letter. He did not use chapter and verse numbers. This system was created by scholars in the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries. The structure helps us, but it can also hinder us. The apostle intended the words of verses 5 and 6 to be read in one fell swoop.
The Lord is near; [consequently,] do not be anxious about anything.
Early commentators saw this. John Chrysostom liked to phrase the verse this way:
The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety.
Theodoret of Cyrus translated the words:
The Lord is near. Have no worries.
We can calmly take our concerns to God because He is as near as our next breath!
Excerpted with permission from Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado, copyright Max Lucado.
Editor’s note: There’s a good reason that Max Lucado is called “America’s Pastor.” He has his finger on the pulse of the nation and words of healing and hope to share.
Anxious For Nothing will be released 9-12-17 to pre-order click or touch any link or image.
I have written several posts on fear and God’s command that we are to “fear not”.
Fear causes anxiety and worry. Fear shatters our peace. Fear can also cause shame when it’s fear that we have disappointed God and that we are going to feel His wrath. (Click HERE to see the series Fear Not Is A Command).
Yes we know that God is love and we quote;
1 John 4:8 (NKJV) He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
We quote that Scripture when we "blow it", but deep down we are afraid. We're afraid that God is going to “get us”. That kind of fear cause shame. Fear and shame can cause us not to open up to God when we pray because we feel that we are unworthy, and we are afraid of what He will say or do. We forget that we are God’s friends and that He has already forgiven us of sin. All we need to do is acknowledge it. That’s what confession is, it’s agreeing with God.
Fear And Shame Don’t Define You
Here is something written by Brandon Hatmaker in his book “A Mile Wide: Trading a Shallow Religion for a Deeper Faith”. In his book Brandon urges readers to think bigger and go deeper into faith. It asks the questions; Do you feel like you're just skimming the surface of faith? What if the Gospel we've come to know is even deeper than we imagined?
The following is from a section of that book “Gospel Identity: Overcoming Your Fear and Shame”
One of the things important for any believer to understand is how fear and shame impact our identity. Whether I could verbalize it or not growing up, too often I envisioned God sitting on the clouds, waiting to throw thunderbolts at my every sin. I looked at my own shortfalls and could only imagine a God who was frustrated with humanity, especially my humanity. Why wouldn’t He punish me or be disappointed in me? That would make total sense.
It’s uncanny how we allow fear to seep in. Fear of failure. Fear of change. Fear of being found out. Fear of being misunderstood. Fear of judgment.
Fear leads to shame. Shame causes us to doubt. We begin to doubt God’s love and we begin to doubt God’s grace. Ultimately, we begin to doubt the ability of the gospel to work in our lives.
It’s good to remember that God is no stranger to the response of fear. Throughout Scripture, whenever God revealed Himself directly to His people, either as an angel of the Lord or as the risen Jesus , the people’s first reaction was terror. There was something about experiencing the true presence of God that was incredibly revealing and confronting.
God’s response every time: “Fear not.”
From there He would explain why.
Fear not, for I am with you. Fear not, for I am your God. Fear not, for I will strengthen you and I will help you. Fear not, for I bring you great news.
Isaiah 41:10, 13 (NKJV)10 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.' 13 For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, 'Fear not, I will help you.'
Isaiah 43:5 (NKJV) Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, And gather you from the west;
Luke 2:10 (KJV) And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
In order to take our gospel identity seriously, we have to stop fearing our inabilities and start believing in God’s ability, that He is with us and that He is for us, and that His view of us and our circumstances is more expansive than ours. This has nothing to do with what we can accomplish; it has everything to do with what we can surrender. Our fear is unnecessary and our shame is unfounded.
Excerpted with permission from A Mile Wide by Brandon Hatmaker, copyright Brandon Hatmaker. Published by Nelson Books.
Things are happening everywhere that create fear, anxiety and worry. There are terrorist attacks everyday in the Middle East and they are happening every few weeks, it seems, in Europe, and every few months here in the US. We here in the US are now having to deal with racial tensions, mistrust of law enforcement, law enforcement belief that our communities are against them, and on and on. Add to that our own personal issues Illness, financial trouble, divorce, personal relationships falling apart, and more.
It’s enough to make anybody fearful and anxious. When we as Christians hear the words, worry, fear, anxiety, and we are experiencing any of them, we often become guilty. That’s a natural response because we’ve been taught, and the Bible tells us, not to be anxious. I’ve struggled with these things in the past, and still do from time to time, and I believe that the Holy Spirit has given me the task of talking about it with believers. The proof of the pudding, so to speak, is in His giving me what to say, not with my own words but with the words He’s given others. In other words He has tasked me finding and giving you what you need to hear when you need to hear it when things seem to be closing in on you.
The assignment for this post, today, is to help you choose between anxiety and fear using the things that are happening in the world today. The remainder of this post are excerpts from a sermon titled “Choosing Between Anxiety and Faith” posted by Harbor Church, Rock Island, IL, in the Rock Island Times, Monday July 18, 2016.
Choosing Between Anxiety and Faith
The opposite of faith in the New Testament is not usually the inability to believe but rather anxiety or fear. Jesus asks, “Why do you worry, you of little faith?” Today the struggle that Christians face is not chiefly the struggle against atheism or secularism in the battle for what we call “the culture.” The biggest struggle is against our own anxiety—anxiety about the world, about money, about the church’s survival, and about our lives.
In the Sermon on the Mount, and in Luke’s version often called the Sermon on the Plain, Jesus starts the section on anxiety with some practical advice—the kind you might expect from the Buddha or Deepak Chopra. (1) Worry doesn’t change anything, so why waste your energy on it? (2) Focus on today, not tomorrow; live in the now. But the deeper advice Jesus gives is not advice we see as practical: Trust God, period. Trust God to see that you have enough to eat and clothes to wear. Our instinct is to correct Jesus: Actually, food and clothing are my job. I trust the work of my own hands to provide those. But Jesus is very clear, and he is saying this to peasants for whom food and clothing were an everyday concern. Don’t worry about it, he says. Trust God. Seek God’s kingdom—his will in everything, his rule on earth—and God will take care of those things you need for survival.
Dr. Anne Marie Albaso of Columbia University says much the same thing. She writes that anxiety is rooted in biology, based on the fight or flight response. But she distinguishes between two forms of anxiety based in two parts of the brain.
(1) Form one is in the amygdala, the reptilian part deep in the brain. It is this instinctive urge to fight or flee; it stimulates adrenalin and other physiological responses. The amygdala goes awry when it perceives danger that really isn’t there. This is what leads to the irrational forms of anxiety like panic attacks that have no basis in reality.
(2) Form two, though, is in the cortex, the part of the brain that developed later, the place where we think. It is in the cortex that we worry. Worry is based in reality, but it exaggerates the threat or minimizes the resources for dealing with it or forgets about the power of cooperation. We can worry ourselves into states of anxiety where we can get stuck and upset and generate in ourselves some of the symptoms of panic attacks.
If you assume that our first human ancestors constantly had to avoid being eaten by wild animals or being speared by other tribes, it makes sense that God would have wired us to survive. If you believe in survival of the fittest, it makes sense that the most nervous humans were the likeliest to survive, because they learned how to avoid danger. But now that we are much less likely to get eaten, we are still anxious. And our brains seem to be able to find other subjects to which to attach that anxiety. Jesus is telling us, “Don’t let your reptilian brain rule your life. Don’t live like unbelievers who have no idea that God is watching over them. Don’t live as if you are in this world all alone with no one to help you. Trust your heavenly Father.” And ultimately, I think he was saying, trust one another in the community of mutual love. Let go of your anxiety about the future and live in the security of the daily bread you have only for today, taking joy in that bread and those with whom you share it.
I want us to think this morning about two common forms of anxiety today: anxiety about “the other” and anxiety about money.
We live in a time when anxiety about the other is being fanned into flame. You see it in ISIS’ fear of Westerners, in white fears of young black men, in black fears of white policemen, in Britons’ fear of Europeans and immigrants, in Americans’ fear of Muslims. In every case, there is some very minimal basis in reality for the anxiety, some reason to fear specific members of the group, but thinking in stereotypes allows that fear to be generalized to the whole group. Those who live their lives in such anxiety are vulnerable to leaders who would steer them toward harming those who are different or at least protecting themselves from any contact with the other. As we saw last week in the story of the Good Samaritan, this is not the Jesus way.
Thursday night, in response to the truck attack in Nice, someone took an axe and broke windows at the little storefront mosque at the University of Rhode Island and spray-painted the words “Muhammad, Prophet of Butchers” on the front of the building. This is the mosque where our friend Qutaiba Albluwi is the imam; he spoke from this pulpit in December and came back in May for an ecumenical forum on Understanding Islam. Qutaiba is away in Canada for the summer (where he is a citizen). The first person to discover the damage and start to clean it up was the manager of Subway who visited our church before Christmas. He said it was ugly.
Yesterday, a peace vigil opposing all forms of violence was held at the mosque. I went to represent Harbor Church and the Block Island Ecumenical Ministries, answering the call of the State Council of Churches and our friend Don Anderson. I wish you could all have been there—although you would not have fit in that small space. Hundreds of Christians and Jews showed up. I was lucky to get a seat in front, but half the people had to stand up. Don spoke for Christians, then a rabbi spoke, then the mufti who is the highest ranking Muslim in the state. Then there were speakers who had not been expected: Congressman Langevan, United States Attorney Peter Neronha, and URI President David Dooley. Several members of the congregation spoke, saying that recent events—including the Presidential campaign—had made them feel afraid, but now they knew that they did not have to be afraid. Everyone agreed that we had to stand together for freedom of religion, and that an attack on one house of worship was an attack on all of us. It was tremendously moving.
I was thankful that I had been in that mosque a couple of times before, and that I had been able to share meals with Qutaiba and his family and build a bridge of friendship through hospitality. What I heard from many was that the way to overcome anxiety about the other was through ordinary human contact. While the Congressman called for the vandals to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, one of the members of the Muslim congregation said that he hoped that when the vandals were found, they would come have dinner at his home and meet his children and see how American they are. All the Muslims seemed to agree that the vandals were forgiven.
Those who value diversity and acceptance sometimes talk as if we are living in the worst of times. We have never had to deal with this in America, they say. But the truth is that Americans have always had this anxiety about “the other.” In the beginning, of course, the others were the Native Americans. Then the Africans brought in as slaves. But soon enough, the English settlers who formed the majority developed anxiety about every minority group as they came ashore in waves: first the Germans, then Chinese, then Italians and Poles, then Jews and Japanese. Every one of them was perceived as a threat.
A letter arrived from the American Baptist Historical Society this week reminding us of this phenomenon. In 1919, the Northern Baptists (as they were then known) were worried about immigrants, who made up 25% of the population (today they are 13%). Here’s what our denominational leaders said in a statement:
We have admitted these people…with little question as to their character or their purpose. We…have drawn a wooden horse into our midst. It has suddenly been opened and has poured out thousands who are the determined enemies of our present social order and of our American civilization.
Does that sound familiar? It’s the same old anxiety about the other that now gets aimed at Mexican-Americans and Muslim-Americans. But here’s the good news from 1919. In the face of what they saw as a great peril to American civilization, the Baptists proposed a two-pronged gospel offensive: First, providing education for leaders in each immigrant community; second, opening Christian Centers in congregations and neighborhoods that were home to immigrants. One church in Chicago called it a program of Christian Friendliness. That’s the Jesus way to address the anxiety about the other. And I know one little church on Block Island that has its own program of Christian Friendliness for the foreigners in its community. The President of the University of Rhode Island told me yesterday that he was proud to be a supporter of our International Student Center and that he thought it was one of the best ministries in the entire state.
Then there is the second anxiety, the anxiety about money that is the main focus of Jesus’ words we read from Luke. For most of us—unlike Jesus’ hearers—that anxiety is not based in worry about survival. We are not likely to go without food or have nothing at all to wear. But we seem no less anxious than the poor. Indeed, it can be argued that the wealthy are more anxious about money than those who have little; the statistics on church giving will tell you that they are clearly less generous, on average, than the poor. I think that anxiety is increased as our sense of self-worth is tied to the amount of money we earn and have.
Our whole consumer economy is based on creating desire for products that we never knew we needed. The market does not respond to demand; it creates it. In other words, it stirs up covetousness on purpose and encourages self-indulgence. But I think something even deeper is going on. The consumer culture tells us that we cannot be happy unless we have a lot of stuff, and that our standing in our community is based on how much stuff we have.
Jesus is saying, “Hold on there! That’s a lie! It’s not stuff that will make you happy. And your stuff won’t last. Why not value the things that last—and your relationship with God most of all—the one thing that will last into the next life?” That is all through his teachings. But here he goes further. Your life is based on anxiety, just as your economy is. You work because you worry. You worry because you don’t know if you will have enough. All of your anxiety is based on the premise that you are all alone in this world, that there is no one to care for you, that you have to provide for yourself or starve. The actual reality of the kingdom, Jesus says, is that you are part of a community of sharing, and that you are a child of a God who provides for you as any parent provides for a hungry child. You are acting like the people of Israel in the desert who did not trust God to provide even though he provided every day. Instead, they complained. They worried. And they wanted to go back to slavery because they would rather trust their employers than God.
Politicians of all parties prey on our economic anxiety. Things are terrible, they all say. Unless you elect me to protect your interests, those other people are going to get all your money: the Chinese, the 1%, the Mexicans, the welfare cheats, the corporations. I’m not going to debate the truth of those statements. I just want to remind you that Jesus does not want you to live in anxiety. Jesus wants you to live in faith, trusting that he will take care of you. There’s a great line in 1 Peter which the Common English Bible translates nicely as “Throw all your anxiety onto [God], because he cares about you.” Can you do that? Bring your money worries into consciousness right now. I have my own: bills I am behind on, a pledge to the church I’m behind on, worries about retirement income. All of those things are in your backpack, weighing you down every day. Now take that backpack off, and throw it onto God. Here, you take it! I can hear Jesus singing
Take a load off Annie
Take a load for free
Take a load off Annie
And you put the load right on me. [Robbie Robertson]
Anxiety about money can infect a church. In fact, it infects most churches—to the point where conversations are about survival rather than mission. A church that spends more energy raising money than reaching out to the lost and needy is an anxious church. A church that spends more time thinking about how to fix the building than about how to fix the community is an anxious church. Jesus is saying to us, “Hey, Harbor Church! Take a load off! Throw your anxiety over onto me. Trust in your heavenly Father to provide. Has he not provided for you in the past? Did he not give you this building as a free gift? When you cast your net out this spring with a mailing to your neighbors, thinking that a $5,000 goal was ridiculously wishful thinking, did your Father not bring you over $21,000 in return? Did he not fund the International Student Center from unexpected sources?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be part of an anxious church. I want to be part of a joyful church, a singing church. Because I know my Father loves me, I know that Jesus saved me and called me to follow him, and I know his Spirit is at work in our church today. “There’s within my heart a melody Jesus whispers sweet and low: Fear not, I am with thee, peace, be still.” It’s all right, child, I got this. Don’t you worry. Don’t you fret.
Click this link for the complete Rock Island Times post.
“Faith & fear both demand you believe in something you cannot see. You choose!”- Bob Proctor
Do the news headlines make you afraid to leave your home, to travel, to go to places where there are large crowds, to go around certain people, to trust technology, to trust your friends, or your family? With the constant barrage of bad news; terrorist attacks, gang violence, crime, the economy, and stealing of personal information. Add to that the fear of failure. With all these things happening in rapid succession many people are fearful and saying that the end is near.
Until that day does comes we must choose whether we are going to live in fear or to walk in faith. There is a thin line between fear and faith and Christians often flip flop between them.
I’ve heard Christians use this phrase making FEAR and acronym. F.E.A.R. False Evidence Appearing Real, meaning there's no true threat of immediate physical danger, no threat of a loss of someone or something dear to us, actually nothing there at all. F.E.A.R. is an illusion. Something we fabricate in our own minds and pretend is real. I’m not sure that’s true because there are some things to truly be afraid of. We should fear an oncoming car traveling at a high rate of speed. That’s not false it’s real and there is ample evidence that if you are hit by that car there will be significant damage to you and/or your vehicle. For me there was a fear of eternal separation from God and in that case fear was a good thing. One of them is eternal separation from God. - From The Choice Driven Life, Choose Faith Over Fear
Fear and faith are both expectations; faith expects the best and fear expects the worst.
Faith and fear are magnets; faith is a magnet that draws provision and fear is a magnet that draws lack.
Dr.Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist with a PhD in Communication Pathology specializing in Neuropsychology (the study of the relationship between behavior, emotion, and cognition on the one hand, and brain function on the other), says that fear triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses, and activates more than 30 different hormones and neurotransmitters” and that fear is at the root of all stress.
The Choice Is Yours
Fear is the tactic of Satan is is not from God. The Bible tells us to fear God, but that fear doesn’t paralyze us. Here's the way thatR. C. Sproul describes the fear of God;
It refers to the fear that a child has for his father. In this regard, Luther is thinking of a child who has tremendous respect and love for his father or mother and who dearly wants to please them. He has a fear or an anxiety of offending the one he loves, not because he’s afraid of torture or even of punishment, but rather because he’s afraid of displeasing the one who is, in that child’s world, the source of security and love.reverence for Him.
Fear and faith cannot coexist; where you have one, you cannot have the other. You can go either way, faith or fear. You can choose either to trust God or not trust Him. You can’t do both. You can obey or not. I wrote a series of posts (“Fear Not” Is A Command), last year, in which I said that God commands us to not fear anyone, or anything but Him. You must make a choice!
Deuteronomy 30:19 (NKJV)19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;
Nevertheless (that’s the favorite bible word of a young preacher who I know), there are a lot of Bible reading, and they say believing, Christians who choose to live in fear. When they see others with problems they start to wonder if it could happen to them and fear comes. They think there is a layoff coming; am I going to lose my job? What am I going to do if that happens? Should I go on vacation with all the terrorist attacks? There's going to be a big crowd at the fireworks display July 4th with everything that's going on should I just stay home? There are drive by shootings happening everyday should I just stay home and not go the the store tonight? his kind of thinking places what's going on around you above your relationship to God. If Satan can get you to think like this, he has won the battle for your mind, you're paralyzed. But when you focus on God rather than on what's going on, you win.
The Bible tells us, "God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline"
2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
The Bible tells us to be wise but wisdom is not fear. Wisdom is grounded in faith.
Matthew 10:16 (NKJV)16 "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
Proverbs 2:6 (NKJV)6 For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
Proverbs 9:10 (NKJV)10 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
You can’t avoid making the choice between faith and fear. You are either walking in faith of fear. You can’t do faith and fear at the same time. As I said before faith in the face of fear stretches us to grow up spiritually.
Romans 10:17 (NKJV) So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
6 Steps In Choosing Faith Over Fear
1. Know the Word
Psalm 119:66 (NKJV)66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge, For I believe Your commandments.
Those of you who are regular readers of my blog know how much I emphasize the importance of reading studying and knowing God’s word. It is our foundation in choosing faith over fear. It’s not enough to attend church on Sunday, attending Bible Study, or attending Prayer Meeting. To really understand that promises of God to never leave or forsake you and to protect you takes study the kind of study that causes His Word to soak into your spirit.
2. Obey the Word
James 2:22 (NKJV)22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?
The more often we walk by faith and not sight in obedience to God’s Word the more our faith grows because we see that He always keeps His promises.
2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV)7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.
Deuteronomy 7:9 (NKJV)9 Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;
3. Speak the Word
Deuteronomy 30:14 (NKJV)14 But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.
There’s something about speaking God’s Word aloud. It’s not so God can hear it. Yes, it’s so your enemy Satan can hear it. Jesus, when tempted by Satan in the wilderness spoke God’s Word and Satan left Him.
Matthew 4:10-11 (NKJV)10 Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.' "11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
When you speak God's Word you hear it too.. There's just something about repeating God’s Word that pushes you when you feel like giving in to fear and anxiety.
4. Pray the Word
Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV)12 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.
Some of the best prayers come straight from the Bible and are wonderful examples of how to move from fear to faith.
.Exodus 33:13 (NKJV)13 Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people."
Psalm 3:1-8 (NKJV)1 LORD, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me.2 Many are they who say of me, "There is no help for him in God." Selah3 But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head.4 I cried to the LORD with my voice, And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah5 I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustained me.6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people Who have set themselves against me all around.7 Arise, O LORD; Save me, O my God! For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone; You have broken the teeth of the ungodly.
8 Salvation belongs to the LORD. Your blessing is upon Your people. Selah
Jonah 2:2-9 (NKJV)2 And he said: "I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction, And He answered me. "Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, And You heard my voice.3 For You cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me.4 Then I said, 'I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.'5 The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; The deep closed around me; Weeds were wrapped around my head.6 I went down to the moorings of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed behind me forever; Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD, my God.7 "When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the LORD; And my prayer went up to You, Into Your holy temple.8 "Those who regard worthless idols Forsake their own Mercy.9 But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD."
There are many more find them, memorize them, pray them when you feel fear creeping in.
5. Live the Word
Matthew 4:4 (NKJV)4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.' "
James 1:22 (NKJV)22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
If you know, obey, speak and pray the Word of God, you will live out your life in faith and not fear.
Psalm 91:1-16 (NKJV) 1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust."
3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence.4 He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day,6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.7 A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you.8 Only with your eyes shall you look, And see the reward of the wicked.9 Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place,10 No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;11 For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.12 In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.14 "Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.16 With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation."
This Psalm says don't be afraid.
"It is the character of a true believer that he dwells in the secret place of the Most High; he is at home in God, returns to God, and reposes in him as his rest; he acquaints himself with inward religion, and makes heart-work of the service of God, worships within the veil, and loves to be alone with God, to converse with him in solitude.
It is the privilege and comfort of those that do so that they abide under the shadow of the Almighty; he shelters them, and comes between them and every thing that would annoy them, whether storm or sunshine. They shall not only have an admittance, but a residence, under God’s protection; he will be their rest and refuge for ever.
That all those who live a life of communion with God are constantly safe under his protection, and may therefore preserve a holy serenity and security of mind at all times." - Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete)
If we trust in God then he will protect us from the evils of this world. The picture that this Psalm presents is that God is always with us. We can go to Him at any time, anywhere, and for any reason. It also says if you love and trust Him He will deliver you, exalt you, and give you the victory of salvation.
Fear brings worry, stress, anxiety and torment, but the love of God, His perfect love drives it away.
1 John 4:16-18 (NKJV)16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
As you know, obey, speak and pray the Word of God His love will become even more evident. Your faith is built on the foundation of God’s love for you.
Accepting God’s love and having His Word abide in is choosing faith over fear.
You only have one life to live, choose to live it boldly and never let fear steal God’s best for you!
From the early morning hours of Sunday June 12, 2016 the horror of the terrorist attack at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL some people said that it was punishment and a warning from God to the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender) community. Those comments were made because the attack was at a nightclub frequented by members of the LGBT community. I always knew, and now we all know, that not all of those murdered were gay. Straight (heterosexual) people who were there just to dance and enjoy the music were murdered too. I’m a straight born again Christian who believes in the inerrancy of the Bible. Comments about this being punishment have greatly troubled me. They troubled me because the Bible is clear that God loves all people no matter what.
1 John 4:7-8 (NKJV)7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
If we assume that none of the people killed were straight or Christians then maybe those people are right. However if any of them were Christians and “born of God” (“born again”) or straight then we have a problem don’t we?
The Bible tells us a couple of things. One is that we all sin. All means all. Nobody is exempt.
Romans 3:23 (NKJV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
1 John 1:8,10 (NKJV)8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:10 (NKJV)10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
Another is that the punishment for sin is death.
Romans 6:23 (NKJV)23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Keep the last part of that scripture in mind for a minute.
The Bible also tells me that God doesn’t want anybody to perish.
1 Timothy 2:3-4 (NKJV)3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (emphasis mine)
2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV)9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (emphasis mine).
Don’t get me wrong I do believe that homosexuality is a sin.
Leviticus 18:22 (NKJV)22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.
Romans 1:26-28 (NKJV)26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
But so is adultery, lying, murder, coveting, etc. There are over six hundred laws or commandments in the Bible. All of them, except the “Ten Commandments” were temporary. They regulated the priesthood, sacrifices, rituals, meat and drink offerings, etc., all of which were a shadow of Jesus, His sacrifice and the cross.
If God carried out the punishment for sin when it was committed there would be no people alive today.
Having said all of this, now let’s look at this tragic event and try to make some sense of it.
The Old Versus the New Covenant
Yes, there certain acts in the Old Testament for which the penalty was death and/or harsh punishment.
Leviticus 20:13 (NKJV)13 If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.
Leviticus 20:10 (NKJV)10 The man who commits adultery with another man's wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.
Numbers 15:35 (NKJV)35 Then the LORD said to Moses, "The man must surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp."
Exodus 21:23-25 (NKJV)23 But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life,24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
Under the Old Covenant there was quick judgement and harsh punishment for disobedience quite often in execution by stoning.
Leviticus 24:17 (NKJV)17 'Whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death.
Deuteronomy 17:2-5 (NKJV)2 "If there is found among you, within any of your gates which the LORD your God gives you, a man or a woman who has been wicked in the sight of the LORD your God, in transgressing His covenant,3 who has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, either the sun or moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded,4 and it is told you, and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently. And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination has been committed in Israel,5 then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has committed that wicked thing, and shall stone to death that man or woman with stones.
Animals were even stoned.
Exodus 21:28 (NKJV)28 "If an ox gores a man or a woman to death, then the ox shall surely be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be acquitted.
People who point these scriptures as proof that sin (usually only certain sins) results in swift, harsh punishment are also the ones who say that we are no longer under the “Law” (the Ten Commandments and the six hundred laws in the Old Testament) but with the coming of Christ to earth and His sacrifice for sin we are now under “Grace”. What they fail to say, realize, or remember is that Jesus’ sacrifice was the punishment for all sin, everybody’s sin.
With the death and resurrection of Christ a New Covenant was usured in which meant that the Old Covenant was no longer in effect.
Hebrews 8:7-13 (NKJV)7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.8 Because finding fault with them, He says: "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah--9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD.10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."13 In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
The Old Covenant was a physical (earth) based agreement that was initially made at Mount Sinai with the children of Israel. It required obedience to the letter of God's law. It promised that a person or a nation would be physically blessed (health, wealth, etc.) or cursed (e.g. poverty, captivity, etc.) depending on whether or not they obeyed all of God's written commandments and statutes. It was the Being who became Jesus Christ Who established the Covenant with Israel.
The New Covenant, in contrast to the Old, is spiritually based. It is based on obedience from the heart and a fulfilling of God's laws not only in the letter but also in their spiritual intent. It promises an eternal life full of love and glory for those who obey God and eternal death for those who completely reject submission to the Creator. The beginning words of the New Covenant were given by Jesus in Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7, which is commonly referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. - The Bible Study Site
The New Covenant ushered in what many call the “Age of Grace”. Just because God has given us grace through Jesus to cover all of our sin past, present, and future, it doesn't give us license to sin. That makes no sense at all. We died to sin so we can't casually and carelessly continue to sin.
Romans 5:20-21 (NKJV)20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 6:1-2 (NKJV)1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
1 Peter 2:15-16 (NKJV)15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men--16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.
Grace should cause you to be even more obedient because of you realize that you were forgiven and will not suffer the punishment you deserve and because of your love and thanksgiving you obey.
Punishment or Discipline?
We first need to distinguish between punishment and discipline. For believers, all our sin—past, present, and future—has already been punished on the cross. As Christians, we will never be punished for sin. That was done once for all.
Romans 8:1 (NKJV)1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
God sees only the righteousness of Christ when He looks at us. Our sin has been nailed to the cross with Jesus, and we will never be punished for it.
Discipline is what turns believers from rebellion to obedience. Discipline causes us to confess and repent of sin. Discipline causes the believer to grow. Discipline proves that God love the believer.
Hebrews 12:5-11 (NKJV)5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives."7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Discipline presents us with the opportunity to learn and to conform ourselves to the image of Christ
Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)1 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.
2 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.
Discipline is a good thing!
Suffering May or May Not Be Discipline
It is possible that suffering is the Lord’s way of disciplining us. Let me point out though, that God doesn’t cause the suffering. He may allow it but He doesn’t cause it. Suffering, in general, is a result of what happened to the world because of sin.
Genesis 3:17-19 (NKJV)17 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it': "Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life.18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field.19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return."
This does not mean that every instance of personal suffering is a direct consequence of a person’s own sin. The fact that we live in a world that is not what God intended.
Look at Job.
He lost everything he had accumulated in his life, he lost his children, and finally the lost his health. His friends said it must have been punishment for sin but we know that was not the case.
Job 42:7-8 (NKJV)7 And so it was, after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.8 Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has."
It was Satan who caused Job’s suffering (see Job 1).
Good people and bad people, Christians and Muslims, gay and straight, all suffer because of inherited sin and imperfection.
Romans 5:12 (NKJV)12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned--
Godly people suffer sickness through no fault of their own.
1 Timothy 5:23 (NKJV)23 No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities.
2 Corinthians 12:7-9 (NKJV)7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Godly people also suffer because of bad judgement or not following God’s commandments.
1 Kings 11:1-3, 9-11 (NKJV)1 But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites--2 from the nations of whom the LORD had said to the children of Israel, "You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods." Solomon clung to these in love.3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. 9 So the LORD became angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned from the LORD God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice,10 and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what the LORD had commanded.11 Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, "Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant.
The Ultimate Penalty
The Bible says that the penalty for sin is death. There are times that sin results in immediate death. Being shot and killed while robbing or beating someone for example, but that happens to whether you are a believer or not. Most times that we sin we don’t die or even have bad consequences. So the death penalty for sin must be something other than physical death. It is the death that is the penalty for sin is spiritual death.
Sin separates us from God, who is the creator and sustainer of life.
Isaiah 59:1-2 (NKJV)1 Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear.2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.
Jesus said that He is life.
John 14:6 (NKJV)6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
When we sin and become separated from God, we become separated from true life.
Christians can and do still sin too and their sin results in symptoms of spiritual death; guilt, confusion, emptiness, and disconnected. Sin doesn't destroy the believer’s relationship but it does set up a barrier. That barrier can be removed though.
1 John 1:9 (NKJV)9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Those who are not Christians can do this too but only after agreeing with God that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for their sin.
Romans 10:8-10 (NKJV)8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach):9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Until the unbeliever does this they are under the specter of the ultimate penalty of sin which is eternal separation from God. That ultimate penalty is executed at the great white throne of judgement at the end of the current Age, and not before.
2 Corinthians 5:10 (NKJV)10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
Revelation 20:11-15 (NKJV)11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
If Orlando Wasn't Punishment What Was It?
The Bible does not indicate that disasters in general are acts of God designed to punish the wicked. Christians and non-Christians, good people and bad people, homosexuals and heterosexuals, black people, white people, yellow people, (you get the point) suffer and die in natural disasters, airplane crashes, home invasions, automobile accidents, terrorist attacks, and other tragedies. This was the case in 9/11, Chattanooga, Ft. Hood, San Bernardino, Aurora, Newcastle, and yes Orlando.
Luke 13:2-5 (NKJV)2 And Jesus answered and said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things?3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."
God Didn't Do This
The attack in Orlando was one of terror fueled by hate. It was the act of a man consumed by hate. It’s not my intent to speculate about the source of that hate or who, if anyone inspired it. What I can say with the utmost confidence is that it was not God.
James 1:13-15 (NKJV)13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
1 John 1:5 (NKJV)5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
God didn’t do it but He did allow it.
I don’t know. I don’t have God’s mind. I don’t see with God’s eyes. When we ask about specific events and want to know why they happened, we won’t get the full answer now. We’ll find out someday but for now we won’t get a full answer. We have some ideas like global warming, mechanical failure, human mistakes, radical religious philosophies, mental illness, and the list goes on, but we won’t get a full answer in this world. We won’t get a complete answer because we are looking from a finite perspective. God’s perspective is infinite. We don’t need a big theological answer right now anyway because it’s going to seem insensitive and inadequate. What we need is the real comforting presence of Jesus Christ in our lives. What we know is that God loves everybody. Love is His nature.
1 John 4:7-11 (NKJV)7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
The next question is, “Well if God loves everybody and He’s so powerful why does He allow tragic things to happen”?
The following are excerpts from a blog post, “Why Does God Allow Tragedy and Suffering”, written by Andy Rau, Senior Manager of Content for Bible Gateway, after the shooting at the Aurora, CO movie theater.
"So in order for us to experience love, God bestowed on us free will. But unfortunately, we humans have abused our free will by rejecting God and walking away from Him. And that has resulted in the introduction of two kinds of evil into the world: moral evil and natural evil.
Moral evil is the immorality and pain and suffering and tragedy that come because we choose to be selfish, arrogant, uncaring, hateful and abusive. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
So much of the world’s suffering results from the sinful action or inaction of ourselves and others. For example, people look at a famine and wonder where God is, but the world produces enough food for each person to have 3,000 calories a day. It’s our own irresponsibility and self-centeredness that prevents people from getting fed.
In other words: look at your hand. You can choose to use that hand to hold a gun and shoot someone, or you can use it to feed hungry people. It’s your choice. But it’s unfair to shoot someone and then blame God for the existence of evil and suffering. Like that old cartoon said: “We have seen the enemy, and he is us.”
The second kind of evil is called natural evil. These are things like wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes that cause suffering for people. But these, too, are the indirect result of sin being allowed into the world. As one author explained: “When we humans told God to shove off, He partially honored our request. Nature began to revolt. The earth was cursed. Genetic breakdown and disease began. Pain and death became part of the human experience.”
The day is coming when suffering will cease and God will judge evil."
No Orlando Wasn’t Punishment Or Warning
Orlando was an act of terror fueled by by hate and that hate was used by Satan to cause a man to act. Satan’s plan is to cause Orlando to result in fear, division, discouragement, and to question the love and faithfulness of God. Let’s not let him win.
Revelation 21:1-5 (NKJV)1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."
PRAYER: Gracious, merciful God, I will never get to the point where I understand the cause of all suffering. Your ways are not my ways, and my judgment is limited. Nevertheless, I pray that you help me to know what I should know and to be satisfied with not knowing what I don’t need to know.
I thank you, dear Lord, for using suffering to make me more like you. I can think of times when you used the pain of my life to open me up to your grace in new ways. I can even see how some of the most painful events of my life have been ultimately some of the most redemptive. Thank you for being a God who works together in all things for good, including my good.
I pray in the name of Jesus, who suffered for me. Amen.
Philippians 4:4-7 (NKJV)4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
This is the time of year that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, The Messiah, who Isaiah calls the Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV)6 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.
It’s ironic that at this time when we are celebrating the arrival of the Prince of Peace that there is no peace. There was just a very contentious Presidential election that illuminated the deep racial, economic, and social divisions in the United States. There are wars and insurrections, terrorist attacks around the world, in many of our cities there is rampant crime, bickering between politicians, dysfunctional homes, even major friction in the church. So where is this peace that the Prince of Peace was to bring?
What is this Peace that Passes all Understanding?
This peace is not just a psychological state of mind; this peace is spiritual peace…the peace of the God of all Creation. This is the peace of people whose sins are forgiven
Romans 5:1 (NKJV)1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
This peace is the opposite of anxiety. It is the tranquillity that comes when you commit all your cares to God in prayer and don’t worry about them anymore. You are confident that God can and will do what is best for you.
This peace guards you from anxiety, fear, and worry. The term that Paul used in Philippians 4:7 is a military term that means “to keep watch over”. The peace of God watches over everything in your life.
How Do I Get This Peace?
It was during the time of the illness, hospitalization, and transition, to be with the Lord, of my wife of over 40 years, that I personally experienced this peace that I'm led to share with the Bodyof Christ. It is real. I remember that we both had this same peace when our daughter went to be with the Lord. At that time I remember Ruth telling me that she just kept hearing the most peaceful music over and over. Later, Ruth did experience depression, however, from the time of our daughter’s transition through the homegoing service we experienced a peace that neither of us could explain.
That peace allowed me to continue writing blog posts; it enabled me to come home from being with Ruth at the hospital all day, realizing that it was all in God’s hands, and there was nothing I could do about it. That very peace enabled me to post the day with Ruth on Facebook the day she transistioned. Because of that peace I was able to prepare and lead a Sunday morning bible study; with that peace I could witness to the goodness of God to Ruth’s medical team. Ruth went to be with the Lord on a Saturday. The peace of God that passes all understanding gave me the strength to go to church on Sunday and lead praise and worship; in fact that may have been the greatest expression of praise, from me, in praise and worship all year.
I still can’t explain it. What I can tell you though is that you can have that peace too.
When I talk to people, Christians and non-Christians most of them want to be at peace especially during these turbulent times. A lot of us try to find peace and contentment in money, social status, drugs or alcohol, or our physical appearance. None of these things can really bring contentment or peace of mind...real peace.
The Greek word for peace eirēnē, corresponds to the Hebrew word shalom and expresses the idea of peace, well-being, restoration, reconciliation with God. Reconciliation with God happens at salvation and that only happens through the right relationship with the Prince of Peace, Jesus. The peace that comes from being in a right relationship with Jesus is not a peace that depends on everything going well. If that’s the case, when things go bad, that peace quickly goes away. Jesus made this distinction;
John 14:27 (NKJV)27 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.
Without a relationship with Jesus we are in opposition to God, we are His enemies.
Colossians 1:21-22 (NKJV)21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight--
Romans 5:10 (NKJV)10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Sin created a barrier between us and God and we can’t destroy that barrier on our own. Without God’s intervention, we would have never found the way of peace with Him. But He provided the perfect solution to our sin problem. He sent His Son, Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to pay for our sins and remove the separation that existed between us and Him. When we trusted Jesus as our Savior, we were reconciled to God and no longer His enemies. In Jesus, the Prince of Peace, we have peace with God.
Here’s what the angel said when he announced the birth of the Prince of Peace to the shepherds;
Luke 2:14 (NKJV)14 "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
Why Don’t We Always Have This Peace that Passes All Understanding
It’s easy to be at peace when things are going good, but let things start falling apart then there’s no more peace. We use the formula of Philippians 4:7 prayer + thanksgiving = peace, but we don’t have peace. Here’s what often happens when we’re pray when we’re anxious; our minds keep drifting back to the circumstances that are making us anxious. Before we know it we’re trying to figure things out ourselves. Then we try thanksgiving we start thanking God for a long list of things yet were are still anxious. If we’re honest we doubt, not that God loves us we know that He does, but that He isn’t going to take care of these circumstances.
Let’s take another look at my opening scripture;
Philippians 4:4-7 (NKJV)4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Everything in it is based on faith. Not saving faith because saving faith is constant but on your daily living faith. This kind of faith;
Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
You can’t really rejoice in the Lord unless you have this kind of faith. You can’t believe that He is with you in whatever you’re going through unless you trust Him and believe His promises.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT)6 So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
If you don’t have faith you will be anxious and if you don’t really believe that God is with you you won’t be sincere in bringing your request to Him.
Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
This kind of faith in God is not faith in your belief, it’s not even faith in your understanding of God. This kind of faith, that passes all understanding, is trust in God Himself, to the point that you know that you can risk everything in Him. When you reach that point in your faith you will experience a peace that you can’t explain, it’s beyond your understanding.
Pursue the peace that passes understanding in all you do because there is something greater at stake. In this world where there seems to be no peace and no way to achieve it, we need to be the ones who say that real peace is available only in the Prince of Peace. Make this one of the gifts, in fact the most important gift, you give this Christmas. Your witness.
This is the third post in the ““Fear Not” is a Command” series that I started last last month. In this post I’ll address what I believe to be the biggest hindrances for the believer in keeping this commandment. Those hindrances are doubt and fear. You can overcome and replace them with faith.
Doubt and fear usually go hand in hand. When we recognize doubt and fear, it’s a signal to ask ourselves if we are failing to trust God. Are we failing to truly love Him, are we failing to allow His love to be made perfect in our lives?
The Bible tells us that perfect love, the kind of love that God has for us and that we should have for Him, casts out fear.
1 John 4:17-18 (HCSB)17 In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, for we are as He is in this world.18 There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love.
Boldness is the opposite of fear. “Since love seeks the highest good of another, fear, which is shrinking from another, cannot be a part of love.” - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary
With perfect love we don’t have to doubt or fear the past, present, or future. Perfect love causes us to have boldness. It is the love which God, who is love, has produced in us through the Holy Spirit. That boldness comes about because we know that we can approach God’s presence boldly, without any shame.
Hebrews 4:14-16 (HCSB)14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to the confession.15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin.16 Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.
When we approach the throne of God in prayer, there is mercy and strength to help us because He through Christ, our high priest, meets all our needs. This help is instantly available to every believer who can come, at any time, and "call upon the name of the Lord."
Because we’re bold, then we aren’t fearful because we trust and love God perfectly so we can say with confidence;
Romans 8:28 (HCSB)28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.
We serve an incredible, amazing, and powerful God...a God who cares so much that He walks with us every second of the day. He does not sleep and He never takes a break. He never leaves us or forsakes us.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (HCSB)6 Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the LORD your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Faith and Fear Cannot Exist Together
When we find ourselves giving in to doubt and fear, and our trust and love of God starts to get shaky we need to check our faith. I’m not talking about saving faith, but our daily living faith. Our saving faith is constant, but our daily living faith has it’s ups and downs according to our to the strength of our relationship with God. When we are not spending time with Him in prayer and His Word, when the first sign of trouble comes the first reaction is panic, doubt and fear. Fear and doubt are simply unbelief or weak belief and the longer it lingers the more fear and doubt take over our emotions.
The opposite of unbelief is faith.
Hebrews 11:1 (HCSB)1 Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.
Faith is total belief that God is in control of all things concerning you even when there’s no tangible evidence. It’s something that we can’t produce ourselves, it’s a gift;
Ephesians 2:8-9 (HCSB)8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift--9 not from works, so that no one can boast.
Faith is also a characteristic (fruit) produced in the life of believers by the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23 (HCSB)22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith,23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Bold mine).
Faith is confidence in God who loves us with a perfect love. He knows everything that we are going through and cares for all our needs. The more we know about His attributes and His amazing character from study of the Bible the more our faith grows, and the less frequent we have periods of fear and doubt. We replace them with faith.
How Do We Defeat Doubt with Our Faith?
You may think “I don’t want to be afraid or doubt but there are times I just can’t help it”.
Mark 9:23-24 (HCSB)23 Then Jesus said to him, “‘If You can’? Everything is possible to the one who believes.”24 Immediately the father of the boy cried out, “I do believe! Help my unbelief.”
How do we believe God and live by faith?
Romans 10:17 (NKJV)17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
The answer is the Word of God. We need to study it and meditate on it like our lives depend on it, and they do.
Psalm 32:8 (HCSB)8 I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with My eye on you, I will give counsel.
Psalm 119:9-11, 15 (HCSB)9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping Your word.10 I have sought You with all my heart; don’t let me wander from Your commands.11 I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You. 15 I will meditate on Your precepts and think about Your ways.
As you study and speak and meditate on the Word of God, remember the good things God has done and not your problems.
Start to doubt your doubts and fears.
Abraham is a perfect example for us to follow. The bible tells us that Abraham didn’t question the promise of God and because of it, his faith grew stronger. His faith was able to overcome any doubt he may have had.
Genesis 15:4-6 (HCSB)4 Now the word of the LORD came to him: “This one will not be your heir; instead, one who comes from your own body will be your heir.”5 He took him outside and said, “Look at the sky and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then He said to him, “Your offspring will be that ⌊numerous⌋.
”6 Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.
Romans 4:19-21 (HCSB)19 He considered his own body to be already dead (since he was about 100 years old) and also considered the deadness of Sarah’s womb, without weakening in the faith.20 He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,21 because he was fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.
Believe God’s promises and don't look at the circumstance. Let your faith build cancelling out all doubt. Praise God and be fully convinced that God will do what He said that He would do.
Philippians 4:19 (NKJV) And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Matthew 6:31-33 (NKJV) 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
1 John 5:4 (NKJV) For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith.
I’ve been there
I’ve always been a risk taker, (often to the chagrin of my wife Ruth). Once I resigned from a very good position, in Orlando, to take another with a start up company in San Bernardino, CA. Thank God we hadn’t moved yet, I was commuting back and forth once a month, but six months later the exciting start up company was on the way out. Here I was in CA, going back to Orlando, without a job and no prospects for one. The first emotion was one of fear and then doubt, because here I was a 55 + senior executive on the street. What am I going to do? Where am I going to go? How are we going to be able to pay our bills. I got the shortness of breath the rapid heartbeat but then I remembered. I have always been a risk taker and not afraid to step out on faith. For most of my life I’ve been a senior executive of small companies many of them in the very years of their existence, very high risk. Every time God met all of our needs. I started speaking and meditating on the promises of God;
Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV)5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
Philippians 4:19 (NKJV)19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Matthew 6:25 (NKJV)25 "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
I replaced my doubt and fear with faith.
When I did a peace came over me that I can’ explain other than what the Apostle Paul said;
Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
I’m an example and a witness that when you replace doubt and fear with faith you win every time. Through faith you will experience that perfect love that casts off fear.
Isaiah 41:10 (HCSB)10 Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.
You can conquer doubt with faith and win every time and when you win every time you become more than a conqueror.
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.