Tag Archives: fear

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.

Stay With Me

Have you ever seen a frightened toddler? Maybe a barking, nipping dog scares the little one, or a spider crawling out of a flower he’s just put his nose into takes him by surprise. The natural reaction is to jump into Daddy’s arms. Then what? That baby climbs frantically higher to get away from that which is scaring him. And if he could, that child would crawl right into his Daddy’s skin for safety. At that moment of fright, the child just can’t get close enough to his father.

I was reading I Samuel 22 this morning and like what David told Abiathar when Saul was trying to kill them both: “Stay with me. Don’t fear. For he who seeks my life seeks your life, but with me you shall be safe.” (vs 23)

I hear Jesus saying the same to me about our mutual enemy, Satan. Jesus, whom John describes as the Word, Creator of all that is made, who came to earth in the flesh and blood body fully God, fully human. Jesus, who willingly went to the cross so that I can be forgiven. Jesus, who died, defeated death and the power of sin, and rose again. Jesus who bodily went to heaven and sits on the throne from where he whispers in my ear:

“Stay with me. Satan is my enemy, too. And if you stay close to me, you shall be safe.”

Jesus. My Protector! My Savior!

Dear Abba Father, Thank you for your protection. You’ve told us to come to you like little children, and I see that in what I read this morning in your written Word. Sometimes it feels like I can’t get close enough to you. I want to crawl right into your skin. So I thank you for reminding me that YOU are my protector. It’s not, how close can I get to you. But how much do I trust your strong arms. So as I jump into those arms through reading your Word and praying, I want to thank you for your promise for my soul’s safety. Keep me close to you where I am safe from Satan’s snarling teeth. I trust you completely.

Stormy Seas

I’ve never been in a storm at sea. I don’t even want to imagine the fear of being that exposed to danger out there surrounded by water miles deep. I’ve never been in a tropical storm or lived through a tornado. In fact, there have been only a few times I’ve even come close.

But as I read about the terror the passengers and crew experienced in the ship carrying Paul to Rome, I can relate. (Acts 27) Not because I’ve been there, but because I know to an extent, what it’s like to face storms of life.

Getting laid off from my job, Mom’s cancer, financial struggles, my sister’s cancer, my nephew Geoff’s death, Dad’s death. I can’t hold my storms up next to anyone else’s and say mine were harder or that mine were less significant. I only know there have been times that I felt hopeless and lost, when I found it hard to breathe, when fear of the future (or present) caused me sleepless nights.

The account of Paul’s storm at sea reminds me that, no matter how bad the circumstances, no matter how hopeless the future appears, when I am tossed about and can’t find the sun, God is standing next to me.

My only hope is to stay in the boat, holding on to my Savior, riding out the storm together. In this account in the book of Acts, God didn’t calm the storm. But the people on board made it safely to shore. This tells me that my circumstances might not change. The cancer diagnosis might not be a mistake. A broken relationship might not heal. Whatever the cause of my anxiety, depression, fear, might not magically disappear.

But God can see me safely to the other side. I can trust him. And I will.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for your Presence. You are stronger than any storm I have to face. And I find comfort in knowing that… knowing You. I pray for those reading this today who are being bounced around in a frightening storm. I pray your strength, your comfort, your direction will be evident in the midst. I pray they will hold on, that they will trust you to see them through. Thank you in advance for what you are going to do in the lives of those of us who are facing stormy seas.

Our Treasure

Isaiah 33: 6b says: The fear of the Lord will be your treasure.

Fear? Why doesn’t Isaiah say, “love’, or “grace”, or even “presence”? He talks about God reigning in Jerusalem and “providing a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge”. Then he says fearing God is our treasure.

I wonder how well we really know God. This Scripture tells me that being saved, receiving wisdom from above, and learning who God is, leads to fear of him. I wonder, if we were polled, how many Christians would say that God scares them.

I loved my dad and was loved by him. But I made certain choices in my life based on the fear of disobeying him. He wore a belt that was a reminder of painful consequences for disobedience.

I don’t see many children fearing their parents. I see some parents fearing their children, afraid to hurt their egos if they say, “No”, or if they swat their bottoms, heaven forbid. I don’t see many Christians fearing God, either.

The Bible teaches that fear and love are not mutually exclusive, and both are necessary for healthy living. We can’t preach God’s love and ignore his holiness, his demand to be obeyed.

We’re foolish if we neglect to remember that the consequences for disobeying him are painful and eternal.

Holy God, you scare me. When I really try to picture your holiness, your power, your anger toward sin, and when I realize how serious you are about being obeyed, I am afraid. I am afraid of the consequences, afraid of disappointing you or angering you. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for saving me. Help me to live with a healthy fear, and a realistic look at who you are. Give me your righteousness, and strengthen me to live a life pleasing to you. I love you. I praise you. I worship you in all your holiness.