Tag Archives: fear

What God Wants You To Know (Psalm 94)

God’s Word is alive. Whenever I prayerfully read it, God always – always – speaks to me about something that applies to my life at that very moment. It might be a verse I’ve read many times before, but when I am going through something and need a word from God, that same verse brings on new meaning at just the right time. Oh, what a treasure I forfeit when I don’t spend time reading God’s love letter to me every day.

I’d like to share something Mom had underlined in her Bible, a couple verses that spoke to me from this psalm this morning. I think it might be something God wants us all to hear Him say as our world slowly opens up after the forced separation surrounding the virus.

When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. (verses 18-19)

My prayer is that all of us will rest in the supporting love of our Lord. I pray that any anxiety we might feel will be replaced with joy that only God can give as we allow Him to console us.

Dear one, I would ask all of us to stop listening to the media tell us how scared we should be. Stop allowing Satan to cause us anxiety and hopelessness.

Listen instead to God, read His Word instead of the newspaper, and hear Him say that He is able to keep us from falling (Jude 24); He wants us to cast our cares and anxieties on Him because He cares for us (I Peter 5:7).

Then, may we all go through this day, and tomorrow, and the next day with the confidence of God’s support, the joy that is ours through our relationship with the Creator. This is the day the Lord has made. We can rejoice and be glad in it, May 29, 2020, virus and all.

I think that’s what God wants us to know today.

Afraid? (Psalm 56)

In God, whose word I praise – in the Lord, whose word I praise – in God I trust; I will not be afraid. (56:10-11a)

I hear a lot of fear in the voices of people these days. Fear about the virus. Fear about the future. Fear about the economy. Fear about the government. We are living in a time in our history marked by fear.

But fear need not be a part of the Christian experience. Why? Because our trust is in our God, our future is held by God, our present is blessed by God.

Dear Christian, please rest in the fact that you are God’s beloved child. Listen to what God would say to us today through the prophet Isaiah:

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. (Isaiah 41:10)

People who do not know God have reason to be afraid. They can’t have the same assurance that we who know the Lord have. Our relationship with God through the blood of Jesus, can (and should) block out all fear. After all, God often tells us in Scripture to “fear not.”

Here’s a suggestion: when you begin to feel afraid, praise God like the psalmist said. Do you trust that God is true to His Word? Praise Him! Do you have the Spirit of God living in you? Praise Him! Do you believe that God works all things for the good of we who love Him? Praise Him!

Even during this virus outbreak, we need not be afraid.

 

 

 

Real Hope (Psalm 59)

I had a conversation with someone recently who doesn’t have a relationship with the Lord. The fear in her voice was strong as she talked about the covid19 virus. That fear paralyzed her. She had no hope.

The hope she expressed was merely wishful thinking. She said things like, “I hope my family doesn’t get it,” “I hope this ends soon,” “I hope the government does something about this.” But the more she spoke, the more evident it became that she had no real hope at all.

David knew what it was like to live in fear. He lived amid a plague of jealousy and hate. Spears and arrows were aimed at his heart. In fact, we’ll find out he self-quarantined in a cave to protect himself from coming in contact with those spears and arrows.

Today, instead of weapons of war pointing at us, we have a virus, germs, disease taking aim. And, like David, we are hunkered down, removing ourselves from the danger of contact. But not all of us are experiencing the same thing.

Some are isolated in their homes, wringing their hands, stuck to the TV news channels, hoarding toilet paper. And some are joyfully spending time with family, playing games, singing praise songs, even reaching out to help neighbors.

I know not everyone is living one extreme or the other. But I think how we approach this virus depends on where we place our confidence.

Do I look to the government or medical researchers for protection? Or do I look to God? Do I trust social distancing, or God? Do I look for answers in the media? Or do I go to the Word of God for answers?

Listen to what David said during this frightening time in his life:

O, my Strength, I watch for you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. (Psalm 59:9)

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. O my Strength, I sing praises to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. (verses 16-17)

David repeatedly called God his fortress. To me a fortress is that sturdy, impenetrable place where no harm can come. David could rest in that fortress, and so can we.

Now, don’t misunderstand. I don’t believe that putting my hope in God will make me immune to this virus. But living in the fortress that is God gives me the assurance, the real hope, that if I stay healthy and don’t get this virus, I win. And if I get this virus and die, I win.

Am I worried about this virus? I can honestly say no. I’m following orders and staying in my home, washing my hands, etc. But I’m not losing sleep over the “what ifs.” I’ve given God those “what ifs,” and I pray you have, too.

I believe real hope isn’t a state of mind. I believe real hope is a constant relationship with the God of Creation, who does all things well. That’s not just wishful thinking.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and His righteousness. It’s that solid rock, that fortress, that strength, that love.

My hope is real because God is real.

God’s Power In Me (Joshua 1-4)

Rahab’s testimony spoke to me today. She was a prostitute living in Jericho. She most likely had never met a Jewish person before. But when Joshua’s two spies came to her house, she welcomed them based on Israel’s reputation. Hear what she said to them:

I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts sank and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below. (2:8-11)

Rahab went on to save the lives of the two spies, and later we’ll find out her faith and obedience saved her own. But what spoke to me today is what she said about God.

She told the spies that she and everyone around her trembled in fear because of the great things God had done for Israel. They had heard about Israel’s great victories, the crossing of the Red Sea. Israel’s reputation as the children of God made them realize how weak and helpless they were against Him.

In fact, in the case of Rahab, she put her faith in the God of Israel in response to the power she heard about in the lives of the Jews. Which got me to thinking.

Is God’s power seen in me? Is God recognizable in my life to people who are lost without Him? I don’t want people to see me and think what a religious, good person I am. I want people to see what a great God I serve.

The world is experiencing something in this virus outbreak that I don’t think has ever brought us together before on common ground in such a way. It’s not just the US who are practicing social distancing. Countries all around the world share the same restrictions, face the same challenges, and are searching for that last roll of toilet paper. For the first time in my lifetime, I feel we are one in something.

And that puts a responsibility on the shoulders of we who know the Lord. And believe me, people all over the world are watching how Christians handle this pandemic. Let me ask you, what are your family members, neighbors, friends, coworkers learning about God as they watch how you act and react to what is going on? Do they see a powerful God, the God of hope, the God who saves? Or do they see a God who can’t be trusted because you are in a panic, wringing your hands, and hoarding the TP?

Rahab came to faith in God by watching Him demonstrate His power through the people of Israel. Let’s pray that people will come to faith in God by watching Him demonstrate His power through each of us.

Don’t Be Discouraged (Deuteronomy 30-31)

How are you fairing during this quarantine? I trust you are well, and making good choices for yourself and your family. Seriously, have your hands ever been this clean?

I know for most of you, this is not a vacation. Loss of wages is serious. Bills still need paid even if the money isn’t coming in. Your kids need you to guide their school work, AND to be creative about how they spend their days, after days, after days. It’s not exactly what you signed up for, is it?

Toilet paper? Yeah. There’s that.

For many, this virus epidemic is more than an inconvenience. Having the virus is serious, and some people are dying. Our entire world is feeling the effects of this thing, and it’s hard.

But as bad as it is right now, reading Deuteronomy 28 reminds me it’s not as bad as it could be. What God has recorded in this chapter is truly awful. He is warning His people what the consequences for disobedience looks like. And it’s ugly.

Some people are saying they don’t know why God would allow this virus to go unchecked. Personally, I don’t know why God didn’t remove His protection long ago. I mean, we haven’t been exactly obedient for quite some time, have we? Is this virus a judgment on sin? I don’t know. But I do know God said this:

Be strong and courageous…, The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (31:7-8)

Now Moses was talking to the Jews about entering the Promised Land. There would be trouble ahead, but in 30:15 God told them that His children had a choice. They could choose life and prosperity, or death and destruction. Then He commanded them to…

love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws.”  (verse 16)

Obedience to that would mean choosing life. Disobedience would mean choosing death.

Remember God is talking to His children. And, friend, I believe He’s talking to His children – His Church – today. Let’s each of us who know Jesus as our Savior reevaluate our relationship with Him while we are practicing social distancing. Let’s spend time in His Word and let Him lay a heavy finger on sin in our lies, to point out inconsistencies in our walk, to reveal Truth.

Then may we confess, draw close to Him, love Him like He deserves and determine to walk in His ways. May we keep His commands and decrees and laws, resting in the fact that if we do, He will go before us and be with us, He will never leave or forsake us, and we need not be afraid or discouraged, because He is true to His Word.

It’s easy to be fearful during this time in our lives. Those who don’t know God probably have reason to fear. But we who are His children through the blood of His precious Son need not be discouraged or fearful. Do you believe God means what He says? Then hear Him say, choose life today. Obey Him. Trust Him. He goes before us and will never forsake us.

Don’t be discouraged.

 

 

September 7; Changing Anxiety Into Joy

Daniel 11b3 6-12:13; Psalms 93-96

Often when I read the psalms God will hit me right where I live. I’ll hear something on the news, or someone close to me will share something that has me concerned, or I will have something happen that shakes me. Then, when I read God’s Word, it’s like God is addressing that very thing that is on my heart. He is amazing!

I’m not going into detail today about what is specifically heavy on my heart because that which is on your heart is very likely something quite different. But I want to share with you what God has said to me through His Word about handling our concerns and battles. I think it applies to us all.

In Psalm 94 the writer begins by pointing out the things that are wrong in the world, that wickedness is seemingly going unchecked. But then we are reminded that God created us with ears, do we think He can’t hear? He created us with eyes, do we think He can’t see? The psalmist calls us foolish for thinking God can ever be caught off-guard. He knows every thought we have. We can rest assured that the things on our hearts are on His heart, too.

The psalmist points us to Scripture, the place where God teaches us, where we find relief from our trouble, where we are assured that as God’s inheritance we are not forsaken. It’s the place where I love to go to hear God’s heart-beat.

Then lastly, the psalmist tells us if we are fighting a battle, God fights with us. When we fall, He catches us. When we are weak, He is our fortress and refuge.  Then in verse 19, listen to this:

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.

You remember Philippians 4:6-7, don’t you?

Be anxious for nothing but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I Peter 5:7 says,

Cast all your anxiety on him because he care for you.

So I guess today, as my heart is heavy, as I find myself worrying about people I love, I am reminded that God wants to be in this with me. He wants to be my rock and my refuge. He wants to teach me, assure me, love me through it.

He wants to change my anxiety to joy. And I am going to let Him!

July 20; Wake up! I Mean It!

Isaiah 51-55

I will confess I am not usually a morning person. I’m better now than I was as an adolescent, but I still stay in bed until the very last minute every chance I get. My parents had the challenge of getting five girls up and ready to catch the bus every morning during the school year. I’m pretty sure they’d tell you that was not fun.

Our dad finally had had enough. “Time to get up, girls.” “Get up, girls.” “You’ll be late for school, girls.” “Get out of that bed RIGHT NOW.” And we would turn over and go right back to sleep.

So one day we heard, “Either get out of that bed right now, or I am going to pour water on your head.” And I turned a deaf ear, rolled over and went back to sleep. I’m pretty sure I was in a deep sleep the first time I got drenched with cold water. Let’s just say I got out of bed.

And, after that when Dad told us it was time to get up, all he had to do was turn the faucet on in the kitchen, and our feet hit the floor! “I’m up!” We learned that when he said, “Wake up,” he meant it.

I remembered that today as I read God saying, “Awake! Awake!” in Isaiah 51:9, then again in verse 17, and a third time in 52:1. It sounded rather urgent, so I decided to look at what else God was demanding of His children (just in case He had a glass full of water at the ready).

The first thing was, “Listen to me,” (51:1 and 4). Like a mom who takes her child’s face in her hands and is face to face with that little one. “Listen to me,” God says. “What I have to say is important.”

Then He says in 51:7, “Hear me.” And both here and in the verses above God is telling us His righteousness is unchanging, His salvation is forever. Just listening to the words is not enough. God wants us to take it in, to understand it, to pay attention.

When He tells us to “Awake,” He also tells us to get dressed. Clothe ourselves with strength. And in verse 2 of chapter 52 He tells us to free ourselves from the chains on our necks. Wake up… and get moving.

52:7 says we are to “Depart, depart, go out from there!” There is an urgency here for us to leave sin behind, to come out from among it and be pure.

In 54:1 He says, “Sing.” Burst into song, shout for joy. And in verse 4 He tells us, “Do not be afraid.” God is true to His Word. That is reason to rejoice, and put aside any fear.

I love that, in 55:1 God bids us to “Come.” Think about it. The Creator God wants you and me with Him so that He can bless us.

And lastly, He invites us to “Seek the Lord” (verse 6). Call on Him. Turn to Him and He will have mercy on us.

Friend, that is the Gospel in a nutshell. God has given us His Word. He has repeated the Truth over and over, given example after example, and tells us to pay attention. Listen! Hear!

Wake up! It’s time. It’s time to repent, to depart from Satan, to come out from the presence of sin and be separate. Because when we do, He gives us reason to sing. Our sins are forgiven, our hearts are clean.

And we need not fear. God is greater, more powerful, more loving than we can imagine. And He WANTS us to come to Him. He gives food for the hungry and water for the thirsty. We have reason for joy.

Then, as a sinner saved by grace, we can continually seek Him, read His word, pray, grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus, and be blessed.

In the middle of these chapters is the beautiful description of Jesus. (chapter 53) Jesus, the center of God’s plan to adopt each of us into His family. Jesus is the Gospel, the good news!

Listen. Hear. Awake. Depart. Sing. Fear not. Come. Seek.

I pray you are awake. God means it.

 

Judges 6-8; Fear and Fearlessness

I live on an island in the Atlantic Ocean, so one of my least favorite movies is “Jaws.” I’d rather not think about what’s swimming around out there. But the movie makers did an incredible job of instilling fear into the audience with the use of music. Well, two notes, really. They’d play those two notes softly at first, then gradually those notes would get faster, and louder, then at just the right moment, the shark would attack, leaving the audience gasping or screaming at the screen. During the movie, hearing those two notes caused heart rates to rise, even if the action on the screen was happy and carefree. Those two notes could make you believe something bad was about to happen.

Fear often causes us to lose control, and we wind up screaming at a movie screen while sitting in a cushioned chair thousands of miles away from any ocean. That’s why I never liked haunted houses, either. The longer I groped my way through darkened halls, the faster my heart beat, and the more irrational thoughts became reality, sometimes causing me to see things that weren’t really there.

So I’m reading in Judges today how Gideon, with 300 soldiers, lamps, and trumpets, defeated an army of 15,000. And I had one of those laugh-out-loud moments.

The night before the battle, Gideon and one of his soldiers, sneaked into the enemy camp. God, wanting to ease Gideon’s fears, told him to go and hear what the enemy soldiers were saying. Gideon learned that the enemy soldiers were telling each other that the Jewish God was going to help the Jews, that the battle was already lost before it began.

Now, Scripture doesn’t tell us this, but when I put myself in the enemy’s shoes, I can imagine their confidence was low. I imagine the more they thought about what could be ahead for them, their level of fear rose. I bet they didn’t sleep peacefully the night before they knew there was a good chance they were going to die in battle. If it were me, I’d toss and turn imaging worst case.

Then, just before dawn, this sleep deprived and fearful army were startled by the sound of trumpets, the crashing of breaking glass, and the sudden light of dozens of torches. You’re going to think I’m a bit morbid, but here is where I laughed out loud.

Because I pictured the Three Stooges, suddenly surprised, and hitting and poking each other in the dark.

These soldiers, fueled by their fear, began thrashing their swords, killing anything that moved, not even realizing they were killing their own.

How often in Scripture do we read, “Fear not?” Or how often are we told by God not to worry? Even when we know God’s got this covered, do we allow our fears and worries dominate our thoughts, causing those sleepless nights, that anxiety, until we begin to see things that aren’t even there?

We’ve got to understand that, at the height of fear, we are apt to think and act irrationally, impulsively, distrustfully. We’re liable to start striking out at the people closest to us. God wants better for us than that.

Gideon was comforted and strengthened when God assured Him of the victory. I believe God would like to do the same for us.

Are you facing something really scary? Do you hear that two note Jaws theme getting louder and faster? Then pray. Read God’s Word. Trust Him. Hear Him assure you He’s got this covered. Then believe Him.

Cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you. (from I Peter 5:7). He cares that you have peace in the storm, that you are prepared to face the battle, that you are sober minded and able to act and react rationally, and with confidence in His ability to give you the victory.

I pray that you will live fearlessly as a result of putting your faith in God.

July 5 – Angel Armies

2 Kings 5-8

We just celebrated the birthday of this great nation. The United States of America was founded on Christian principles, and has been blessed by God because of it. I know there are some who would re-write history to obliterate the facts, but their denial doesn’t change the truth.

It’s because of the flagrant disregard of God and His Presence that the US is in trouble today. But reading about Elisha reminds me that God is standing at there ready to fight the battle for His children.

Christian, do you believe that? Do you pray believing that? It’s not the Hillary Clintons of the world we should fear. It’s the Christian who doesn’t pray, doesn’t vote, doesn’t spend time in God’s Word, and doesn’t nurture a relationship with the Savior. We should fear the Christian who sits back and waits for God’s “will” to be done. It’s the Christian who laughs at sin, is tolerant of sinful lifestyles, accepts multiple ways to God who should scare us.

Do you know that, as a Christian, you hold the key to America’s future? In 2 Kings 6:16-17 Elisha says: Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.

Then he prayed: O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see. What that servant saw was a mountain full of angels ready for battle.

That same angel army is standing at the ready today.

O Lord, open our eyes that we might see and believe. May Christians humble ourselves, and turn to You once again. Defeat our enemy Satan in this land, and around the world. In Jesus’ name, and for His sake.

April 9 – I Am Afraid

I Samuel 9-12

There are some things I am afraid of. I’m afraid of guns. I’m afraid of policemen. I am afraid of dogs. I’m afraid of water. I’m afraid of falling off a cliff.

But I love to shoot. My nephew, whom I love, is a cop. We’ve got several dogs in our family. I swim, and I go boating. And I love exploring nature in all terrains.

My fears effect how I live. But it doesn’t stop me from living. My fear of guns has me treat them carefully, and aim them purposefully at the target, because I know a bullet shot in the wrong direction can kill. My fear of cops has me driving the speed limit, because I know that they have the authority to ticket me. I don’t approach a snarling dog because I know a bite from a dog will hurt, but I pet dogs with wagging tails. I wear a life jacket, and don’t swim in the ocean alone or in a storm, because I don’t want to drown. And I never run up to the brink of a cliff, because a fall could kill me.

My fears make me aware of the danger and cause me to respect those things I fear.

I Samuel 12:24 tells us to fear the Lord “for consider the great things he has done for you.”

Do I fear God? Absolutely! He is Holy. He is a fierce Judge. He is Almighty Creator. I’ve read in Scripture what He thinks about sin. And I believe Him when He says sinners go to hell.

But does my fear of God keep me from loving Him, from spending time with Him every day, from trusting Him. Absolutely NOT!

There are many places in the Bible that tell us not to fear. But I can’t find anywhere where it says not to fear God. Don’t fear the future. Don’t fear Satan. Don’t fear what man can do to us. But I think the Bible clearly warns us that God is someone to be feared.

And loved. And trusted. And respected. God wants us to live life, to enjoy His creation, to walk boldly and share the Gospel. But I think it’s pretty clear that we need to have that healthy fear of Him who is our Judge, who demands holiness of us.

My fear of God effects how I live. It makes me aware of the penalty of disobeying Him, and causes me to respect Him and His Word. But it also gives me the awareness of just how amazing is my walk with Him. This God who is to be feared loves me. He gave Himself for me. He is my constant companion, my strength, my very life.