380. Thanks For the Real Talk, Peter.

2s8fyip1 Peter 3:14 NKJV  But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “AND DO NOT BE AFRAID OF THEIR THREATS, NOR BE TROUBLED.”

1 Peter 3:14-17 NLT  But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.  (15)  Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.  (16)  But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.  (17)  Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!

The Apostle Peter didn’t candy coat anything here.  Given the nature of Peter’s exhortation to Christians facing persecution, his direct nature makes sense.  There was great opposition in both Mesopotamia, which was a great hub of devout Judaism at the time and where many scholars believe was where Peter based his ministry noting 1 Peter 5:13.

Here in 1 Peter 3:14 Peter notes that even when you do the right thing, you might suffer.  This is still true today, as well as the fear that people have toward the real or perceived rejection or persecution they might face for doing the right thing and acting, living, and speaking as a Christian.  Peter tells us not to fear the threats of persecution but to rise up and do what is right.  He also tells us what we should do instead of fearing persecution.  He writes:

  • Worship Christ as LORD of your life.  This means to live in a way that reflects that you really believe He is.  Walking in a way that holds Him and His Word in a place of awe by giving it a place of reality in your life.
  •  Always be ready to explain your hope in Christ in a gentle and respectful way.  Never back down or give pat answers about your faith.  Instead take every opportunity to share why your faith is in Christ and what He has done for you.  Note: Some Christians tend to do this very aggressively and even angrily.  This is often because they are trying to overcompensate for the fear of rejection they have in their own strength, instead of allowing the reality of the love of God and their awe of Him lead the way.  Apparently these folk lived in Peter’s day too.  Therefore he admonishes us not to be jerks when we share our faith.
  • Keep your conscience clear.  Basically Peter said we should live rightly all the time and not have any places in our life we can be accused of wrong doing.  Be a person of integrity.

When I am worshiping Christ as LORD of my life (living for Him), always ready to share my hope in Christ with the right heart, and living as a person of integrity, even if persecution comes I do not have to fear.  Instead I can be blessed and confident I will be blessed and rewarded for it.  So do what is right and have no fear, for God’s gonna’ make everything alright in the end.  Thanks for the real talk, Peter.

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379. Do What is Right

1 Peter 3:1 MSG  The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated

1 Peter 3:6 MSG  Sarah, for instance, taking care of Abraham, would address him as “my dear husband.” You’ll be true daughters of Sarah if you do the same, unanxious and unintimidated.

1 Peter 3:6 NKJV  as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.

Hey single people!  Let me write to you first.  One sure way to avoid anxiety, feelings of timidity, and fear of what will my spouse think about my relationship to God, giving, serving, worship, prayer, etc… is don’t marry an unbeliever.  I actually go one step further, don’t marry someone that doesn’t agree with your doctrinal statement.  If you do… there will be conflict.

For those of you who are married and your spouse is an unbeliever or an under-believer, who do not obey, follow or are indifferent to the Word of God, don’t be afraid to do the right thing.  As a Christian, you have a responsibility to follow and serve the Lord God.  Yes, you also have a responsibility to your spouse.  You did make promises/vows to them on your wedding day.  This situation can be tough depending on your spouse.

In these situations, the believing spouse can fear upsetting their unbeliever spouse because they want to go to church at least once a week, attend a small group or Bible Study, as well as special services, outreaches, and serve in some capacity.  They certainly rarely ever want to talk about tithes or offerings, after all money is a touchy enough subject.  So what do they do.

Peter encourages those in this situation to do what is right and not fear.  He said Sarah called Abraham Lord.  She respected him and her covenant duties to him and their household.  She took care of her responsibilities.  The believing spouse should make necessary schedule arrangements to take care of their household responsibilities and fulfill their God ordained ones like showing up to services, praying for their spouse, church and leaders, giving support and pitching in for the work of God with the family of God, & serving the Lord in some capacity (usually in their local church).  If that means getting up early on Sunday to prepare breakfast for your spouse before you head to church, do it.

Some special consideration should be made with finances in that the unbelieving spouse may consider the income they were blessed with as theirs and not the Lords.  If they are ok with you giving, great.  If you keep separate accounts, pay your tithes and give from what is yours.  If they are the primary bread winner, tithe on your budgeted discretionary spending.  They might just be captivated by your devotion and decide to come with you one Sunday.  One last note to single folk: If you think you will win your boy/girlfriend to the Lord after you are married because of the amazing example of Christ you will be, you are deceiving yourself.  Statistics and Scripture lean the other direction.  Peter was addressing couples that got married as unbelievers and one of the two gave their life to the Lord after the fact and not encouraging marriage as evangelism.  As a Believer, your first obligation is to the Lord.  Do what is right by Him and fear not!

378. The Faithful One is Always Near

god_is_nearHebrews 13:5-6 NKJV  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.”  (6)  So we may boldly say: “THE LORD IS MY HELPER; I WILL NOT FEAR. WHAT CAN MAN DO TO ME?”

Over and over in the Scripture we see 4 powerful reasons not to fear.  They are:

1)Fear Not I am for you (Ex 14:14; Deut 1:29-30; Rm 8:31-32);

2) Fear Not I am with you (Heb 13:5-6; Ps23:4; Isaiah 41:10; Mt 8:26)

3) Fear Not I am In You (John 14:7; Eph 2:10)

4) Fear Not I am Faithful (1Cor 1:9, John 12:15, Heb 11:11; Deut 7:9).  Here in Hebrews 13:5-6 we see the culmination of all 4 of these principles.

We don’t need to fear because He is for us. You can boldly say, “The Lord is MY helper; I will not fear.”  He is for you.  He is on your team.  No matter the circumstance the God of the universe has your best interest in mind and is 100% for you.

We don’t need to fear because He is with us.  He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Because He is with you, you “…may boldly say: The Lord is my Helper; I will not fear.”  He loves you so much that He decided to take that a step further and live with you forever taking up residence in you by the Holy Spirit.  This ensures and gives evidence that He will never forsake you.  You have His eternal indwelling presence, so you can boldly declare, “I will not fear.”  And it is “He Himself” that has said these things.  The faithful God has declared His unending love, presence, favor, and help toward you, therefore you can surely say, “I will not fear.

There are billions of people on the planet, hundreds of diseases, & who knows how many others things to fear.  Yet when the God of the Universe, the faithful God is for you, with you, & living in you. There is nothing to fear.  What can man do to you?  Fear nothing and no one for THE faithful ONE is always NEAR.  There is no man nor force of hell that can ever separate you from Him or His love.

377. Naturally Supernatural

Hebrews 12:18 NLT  You have not come to a physical mountain, to a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai.
Hebrews 12:21 NKJV  And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I AM EXCEEDINGLY AFRAID AND TREMBLING.”)
Hebrews 12:22-24 NKJV  But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels,  (23)  to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect,  (24)  to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

There are things in the natural that have frightened me.  There are situations of genuine & perceived peril I’ve been in that were horrifying.  Still, I cannot imagine the hiking up an ominous mountain surrounded by a dark cloud with a horrible storm, lighting and fire engulfing it.  Moses was right to be, “exceedingly afraid & trembling” as he trekked up the mountain with Joshua to meet with the Lord God of Israel.  It was a truly “awesome” experience.  But though God has not changed and is still as AWESOME as ever our relationship with Him has.

No longer do we approach God like Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin-man, Cowardly Lion, & Toto approached the Wizard of Oz.  Instead we come to Him and by the Spirit dwell and commune with Him in a new and precious way.  The NLT case in Hebrews 12:23 that, “(We) have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. (We) have come to God Himself, who is the judge over all things. (We) have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect.

A lot has changed from Exodus to Hebrews.  1) The place we meet and commune is different.  It was the ominous and scary mountain, where we venture alone or with one other to meet Him; Now it is to an incredible and divine city, filled with precious saints, angelic beings, and an eternal party (festal gathering, Weymouth New Testament).  2) Our relationship with God has changed and become more intimate (from the all mighty creator to our FATHER God who is the almighty creator.)  3) Our nature has changed (no longer unrighteous sinners, but righteous joint-heirs with Christ).

This also means that in all natural circumstances we can overcome fear.  You see by the Spirit of God we can constantly dwell in this place of Mt. Zion and the heavenly Jerusalem while still being physically on the earth.  Ephesians 2:6 tells us that we are simultaneously here on earth and seated with Christ in heavenly places.  How is this possible?  Through the Holy Spirit who dwells with us, in us, and is ever present in Heaven too.  Because of where we dwell by and in the Spirit, even when in a naturally scary place we are in the comfort and divine presence of God.  When we tap into that reality and remind ourselves of it when in a fearful circumstance we don’t have to fear, because we know Heaven is with us, our Father is near, and we are walking in a position of authority as joint heirs with Christ.  The reality of all of Heaven with us reminds us to fear not.  You are naturally supernatural.

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376. Don’t Be Turned From Your Purpose

484142_18_e9135bHebrews 11:27 NKJV  By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.
Hebrews 11:27 BBE  By faith he went out of Egypt, not being turned from his purpose by fear of the wrath of the king; for he kept on his way, as seeing him who is unseen.

You don’t have to allow fear to turn you from what you began in faith.  Moses led the Children of Israel out of Egypt by faith.  Immediately after making starting the journey the thoughts rushed in.  Even if Moses himself didn’t have personal thoughts of fear, he heard the fears of the people. “What if Pharaoh changes his mind?” “How will we survive in the wilderness?” “It would have been better if we never left Egypt.”  But Moses was not turned from his purpose, even when it looked like they might succumb to the wrath of the Pharaoh when he led his army against the Children of Israel.  Moses stayed steady, endured, and kept on his way.

No matter what God directed journey you are on, there is an enemy that will try to turn you from the purpose God has given you.  His number one weapon is fear.  This verse gives us 3 great points to help us stay free from fear.

  1. Live by faith. “By faith he went out…”  Whether you are going to work, visiting the doctor, or playing a game with the kids, do it in faith.  Pray often and remind yourself of the Word, then trust in the Lord and walk in the Word.  Romans 1:17.
  2. Stay your course. “…not being turned from his purpose by fear… for he kept on his way” The opportunity to fear and doubt will come.  Keep your mind stayed on the Word and Spirit of God because you trust Him. Isaiah 26:3 tells us that doing so will keep us in His perfect peace.
  3. Look unto Jesus. “…as seeing him who is unseen.” Moses looked unto God and the plan and purpose that God had for him and His people.  We look, unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2.  Looking unto Him, keeps us in constant contact with Him and watching for any course correction or new instructions along the way that will keep us steady and in our lane.

We don’t have to be derailed by fear.  Like Moses we are to begin in faith, knowing the Word and Character of God.  We keep our minds on the promises of His Word and our eyes on the victory set before us.  We keep our eyes on Him and follow His leading which keeps us in our lane and out of the ditch.  Don’t be turned from your purpose. Live by faith, stay your course, look unto Jesus, and Fear Not.

375. You Don’t Have to Stand Alone

left-outHebrews 11:23 NKJV  By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.

 

 

 

“Be brave enough to accept the help of others.” – Melba Colgrove

In this verse we see the faith of Moses’ parents being commended.  In the face of a horrifying situation, where Pharaoh had decreed that any Israelite boy born should be turned over to the Egyptian soldiers and thrown into the Nile River to drown or be eaten by crocodiles, they refused to follow the command and risked the lives of not only themselves but of their other two children by hiding Moses for the first 3 months of his life.  I love that this verse commends both of them saying, “By faith Moses, …was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw… and they were not afraid.”  It is easier to stand against fearful circumstances when you don’t do it alone.

The Bible is not short on verses that talk about the power of agreement & unity.  Matthew 18:19-20, Ecclesiastes 4:12, Amos 3:3, James 5:14-16 ,1 Peter 3:7, and so many more all point to this truth.  We see the principle throughout the Scripture in so many examples of faith, covenant, and even the power of agreement of the ungodly seen with the Tower of Babel.  One of the reasons that agreement is so powerful is that it encourages the other party.  When we stand in agreement with one another we encourage each other in the things of God and our resolve to stand and trust God even in the most terrifying of situations is bolstered.

Besides that, the teamwork that was necessary to effectively hide a cooing and crying child and misdirect or distract the soldiers that are conducting routine searches of all the houses couldn’t not have been managed by any one person.  It required a team to be alert, vigilant, and working together to do so.  Together they persevered and preserved the life of their son.

Isolation is one of the strategies the Enemy using to keep people bound by fear.  He will try to get you to think that you are alone.  Sometimes this comes through the form of other fears like the fear of the opinions of others or the fear of failure, which will keep you from being honest about a situation or accepting help.  I’ve even seen people use “faith” as an excuse to struggle through their fears alone.  That’s just not Bible people.

The lord created us for relationship.  We are children of a relational God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit).  You don’t have to go through fearful situations alone.  Some of them you simply can’t make it through alone.  The good news is you don’t have to.  There are people who will come along side and together, like the parents of Moses, will agree with you, encourage you, and even make the battle their own and fight alongside of you.  You don’t have to stand alone.  Will you be brave enough to accept the help of others?

374. Thanatophobia – The Fear of Death

Hno-fear-of-deathebrews 2:14-15 NKJV  Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,  (15)  and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

 I believe that every fear and every phobia are all directly related to the fear of death.  They may not overtly appear to be related, but they all deal with an aspect of loss that I believe can be traced back to the garden when Adam disobeyed God, knew something about his nature radically changed as God’s glory departed and he recognized his nakedness.  Then the thought came to a being that did not know sickness or death, “what did God mean, in dying you shall surely die?” “What is dying?” “What is death?” And thus fear of any kind was experienced for the first time and it was the fear of death.  All other types of fear have emerged and have their origins from this primal fear.  But we don’t need to fear death or any fear that has come from it any longer.

This verse tells us that Jesus has destroyed the devil and his power of death that he had over mankind through His death on the cross at Calvary.  Then through His resurrection, we were released to live in newness of life.  A new life of freedom in the overcoming life of the Lord Jesus Himself.  Death has been done away with.  The power of death has been destroyed.  And we have been released from the bondage of its grasp and freed from the fear of death.

Since every fear can be traced back to the fear of death, our freedom from all fears has been obtained.  We have been freed from the fear of failure.  Freed from the fear of the dark.  Freed from the fear that has held us in bondage to the opinions of others.  Freed from the fears that have kept us bound from living in the fullness that is our in Christ Jesus.  Death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him; He is the risen Lord and we have been freed from all bondage to walk in His fearless victory.

You are no longer a slave to fear.  You have been freed to walk in glorious liberty.  Don’t allow fear to grip you and hold you in bondage any longer.  Declare your freedom from fear and cast of the chains that His victory unlocked.  The temptation to fear will come, but when it does remember that not only has Jesus set you free from the bondage of fear, but He is able and willing to help you when you are tempted.  So when you are tempted to fear, rise up in your fearless nature remembering that you have been set free, then call on His Name and ask Him to help you stand fearless in the midst of your situation.  You are no longer a slave to fear. Fear Not!

Hebrews 2:18 NKJV  For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.