373. Don’t Doubt Your Call

walking-worthy-of-your-calling-pictures2 Timothy 1:6-7 NKJV  Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  (7)  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7 is a verse often used out of context to preach a lot of different things regarding fear.  I’ve twisted the context countless times myself.  Though there are some other applications we can make from this Scripture at its root it is and encouragement from Paul to Timothy to be bold and confident in the ministry (doma) gift and calling that is in him and in exercising and using the various (charisma) gifts within him for the benefit of the Kingdom and to fulfill his calling as the Pastor in Ephesus and as a minister to the Body of Christ.

I’m so grateful for Paul’s letters to Timothy and especially Second Timothy, as I’ve received so much encouragement from this letter through the years.  I’m also grateful for my pastor, Virgil Stokes, the Paul in my life who encouraged me in the gift, purpose, and calling in me when I doubted or couldn’t see it because I had let it settle under a heavy weight of the opinions of others, intimidation by those that are or sound more knowledgeable about things, and the other pressures of life and leadership.  Like Paul, Pastor Virgil, would encourage me to remind myself of the call and of the moment I knew God called me into the ministry.

You may or may not be called into pulpit or the 5-fold ministry, but you are called a place of ministry.  Every Believer is called into ministry and service in the Kingdom of God.  We also can all have times where we lack the confidence or are timid and afraid of doing what we’ve been called to do.  Sometimes it is a commitment factor and we fear the personal or time cost of the ministry.  Either way, it is in remembering WHO has called us, WHO we serve and the moment WHEN He spoke to our heart about serving Him that will stir back up the passion and fervor to complete the task.

No matter what is before you to do; whether it is to clean the church, usher, work with youth, help with outreaches, or preach, you have the gifting to get the job done.  The empowerment and the gifting came with the call.  Fear Not!

Advertisements

372. Paul’s Advice on Living Fearless

apostle-paul1 Timothy 4:11-16 NKJV  These things command and teach.  (12)  Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.  (13)  Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.  (14)  Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.  (15)  Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.  (16)  Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

I really enjoy Paul’s letters to Timothy.  They are filled with such fatherly instruction, encouragement, and of course pastoral wisdom.  Timothy faced a number of obstacles as pastor of the church of Ephesus.  He had strong opposition from those against Christianity in the community.  He had opposition from those within the church that didn’t respect his leadership.  And he had opposition from within himself where he dealt with thoughts of self-confidence and self-doubt.  Throughout his letters to Timothy, Paul touched on these areas and exhorted Timothy.  We can learn some things here too that will help us in the face of opposition or any other kind of obstacles that might begin to cause us to fear.

In the face of fear or any obstacle remember these 3 things.

1.  Identity – Who are you?  Paul encouraged Timothy to be strong in who he was and live it out in every facet of his life.  Like Timothy we are Believers and we can be encouraged by Paul’s letter to be examples to others in what we say, how we act, how we love, our disposition, our faithfulness & confidence in God, & holiness of our lifestyle.  We can continue to grow in these areas as we study the Word and apply what we learn (Rom 12:1-2)

2.  Calling – What is your call?  Not all of us are called to pastor, like Timothy, but we all have a call and have been given gifts to assist us in that call.  Some will be called to ministry, some will be called to sort mail, design buildings, work in the medical field, teach, build houses, etc… for the Glory of God.  Our identity tells us who we are.  Our calling tells us what we are to do.  Even if you are not walking in your calling yet, it gives you direction in where to head.

 3.  Purpose – Why are you here?  Purpose tells us why we are here.  Your purpose and mine may be vastly different, but we share at least one commonality together with Timothy.  We are called to bring others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and teach them to do likewise.  Our individual purposes can vastly differ as do our callings, but that thread is entwined in the fabric of the purpose of every Believer.

Knowing who you are, what you are supposed to do & why you are here will encourage you to stand and press forward when you are tempted to give in to fear.  Take some time to reflect on who you are in Christ, the gifts and callings on your life, and why you are here.  If you are unclear or not sure yet, talk to your pastor and help them fulfill the vision of your church, re-read Mark 16 a written purpose for the Body of Christ and get busy doing those things before you to do.

371. Cibophobia – The Fear of Food

cibophobia1 Timothy 4:4-5 NET  For every creation of God is good and no food is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.  (5)  For it is sanctified by God’s word and by prayer.

 Some people suffer from a horrible condition and are actually afraid of food.  This is often confused with anorexia but they are entirely different as sufferers are actually afraid of the food itself.  Thankfully most of us will never know anyone who ever deals with this fear; however, we’ve all had a bit of anxiety about eating certain things before.  Especially those on the mission field.

I’ve done a fair amount of traveling both here in the USA and outside of our nation and I’ve learned that not everywhere in the world or just down the street store or prepare our food properly.  Not only that, but there are different types of bacteria and viruses in other parts of the world that can get your stomach spinning in a hurry… I’ve been there.  Praise God eating in roadside restaurants and oversees has gotten much easier for me since I grabbed a hold of this verse.

You see I used to get nervous in some places and in the natural rightfully so.  I’d see the cleanliness of the place or see the meat just hanging with flies on it and get nervous.  Well, fear always opens the door to the enemy.  Listen up… you should use wisdom and listen to the voice of the Spirit of God all the time, but especially while traveling and eating in foreign countries.  Obey the Spirit of God, He’ll tell you if you should pass on a dish or not, but you do not have to fear.  You see when I first used to travel and people would give me something I had never eaten before, I’d get extremely nervous and afraid that I’d get sick and often I would get queasy feeling, sometimes even before I ate. Why? Because I believed the food would contaminate me.  And my faith often received exactly what I believed.

Now I’ve learned I never have to fear, because God has provided a way for me to enjoy every meal and eat without getting sick. Instead of eating in fear I can rejoice, thank the Lord and enjoy the food in faith.  When I sit down for a meal, especially in a place that gives me reason to pause I pray, “Thank you, Father, that this food is sanctified by Your Word and my prayer. Thank you for providing and protecting me.”  Then I eat in faith, receiving what I just prayed.  I also often tell people with me to watch what I eat and follow my lead.  Why?  Because the Holy Spirit not only sanctifies our food but He also knows what might not sit well overnight or is undercooked etc… Some folk have told me that isn’t faith and ate whatever they wanted after praying.  The next day many have felt different.

Through thanksgiving, prayer, and listening to the Holy Ghost, we never have to fear what we eat.  He will sanctify it, purify it, and lead to what to enjoy and what to skip on.  One time I remember the Holy Ghost told me only to eat one small portion of a stew, I obeyed and told the other gentleman with me that I believed we should only eat a little bit.  I obeyed and enjoyed my small meal.  Unfortunately, it was his favorite and he dug in and had a few large bowls.  The next day he was super sick and I felt great, other than getting to hang out with and pray for a sick friend.  Thank God for your food, listen to the Holy Ghost, purify your food in prayer and you won’t have to fear your food.

370. Don’t Give in to Fear

53035-cheer-up-its-fridayPhilippians 1:27-28 NKJV  Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,  (28)  and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.

Philippians 1:28 NLT  Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God Himself.

Paul knew that the character, consistency, and commitment of a Christian to the Gospel of Christ served as a sign to the unbeliever that either makes them very angry or contrite in heart.  We cannot become terrified or intimidated by those that want would desire to silence the Church.  To be silenced by fear diminished our capacity to be the examples and light to the world that we are called to be. 

Paul wrote to the Philippians to encourage them to during a time they were experiencing considerable opposition from both Jews and the pagans of the region.  Yet Paul encouraged them to remain steady in the midst of the persecution.  Steady in their character and steady in their commitment to live for and share the reality of Jesus.  In essence he told them, “Keep living and keep sharing your faith.  Be kind and full of the compassion of Christ to everyone, even though there are many how oppose the Gospel there.  Your consistency in character, and commitment to Christ is making them wonder.  It is a sign that Jesus is alive.”

That is still true for us.  Don’t give in to fear.  Keep preaching Jesus and loving people.  It is a sign that makes them wonder and the world desperately needs us to stay steady and be the people of character committed to Christ and the glorious truth of the Gospel that we are called to be.

369. Find Yourself a Hero

heroPhilippians 1:12-14 NKJV  But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel,  (13)  so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ;  (14)  and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

The way you respond to fearful situation will either encourage and embolden others or it will cause them to be discouraged, become fearful, and feel hopeless.  Paul’s response to the persecution, imprisonment, and threats he faced emboldened other believers around him.  It also served to prove the sincerity and conviction of his heart to all including unbelievers.

Paul wrote the Philippians to encourage them to be bold in the midst of the persecution and pressures they were facing.  Besides reminding them of the Word, he also told them of his fearful situation, how he was standing strong in the midst of it and how many other believers around him were becoming increasingly bold to live and share the Gospel of Jesus without fear.  The sincere example of faith and the unwavering commitment to Jesus that Paul provided inspired others to live fearlessly.

We should all have heroes and examples that we can look up to whenever we are tempted to become afraid.  People that withstood great adversity, overcame huge hurdles, or who boldly with civility stood up for what they believed in.  There have been a great number of amazing people like this: Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Betsy & Corrie Ten Boom, Jim Abbott, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Apostle Paul, Daniel, etc…. Sometimes simply finding someone living or dead that has overcome a terrifying situation or is courageously standing in the midst of one is all we need to embolden our hearts to courageously press on.  Whatever may begin terrifying you, find someone who overcame something similar and let their story motivate you to write your own.  Then stand tall and courageous with sincerity and conviction as you begin to encourage and embolden those who are now being inspired by you to live fearless.

368. Work Unto the Lord

fearEphesians 6:5-7 NKJV  Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ;  (6)  not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,  (7)  with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men,

A little bit of a twist on fear today as we look at this verse.  Although the Apostle Paul was addressing the attitudes of bondservants or slaves toward their masters the principles are applicable to our attitudes toward our employers or managers/team leaders on the job.  Paul’s command was to listen and follow the instructions or job assignments of our bosses, with fear & trembling “as unto Christ (KJV)”.  He isn’t telling us to literally cower in fear of those we work for but instead to treat them with the same dignity and respect that we would in service to Jesus.  Though this Scripture isn’t directly about living free from fear, applying the principle conveyed, may help you avoid the fear of being fired.

Paul begins by saying, “be obedient… in sincerity of heart”.  In other words, listen intently with an ear to sincerely apply and follow their instructions or vision for your company or department.  Paul thought this was so important he wrote it again to the Colossians (Col 3:22).  Then he writes, “not with eyeservies, as men-pleasers…”  This means don’t be the kind of employee that only works when the boss is watching.  Instead, Paul writes that we should work unto the Glory of God as if Jesus were your supervisor, with a good attitude doing what you are expected to do.

Too many employees are self-centered and looking only to complete as little as possible.  Others don’t mind working but believe that their way of doing things is better than their bosses.  It might be.  Maintaining the right attitude and proposing a new method or asking if you can do something differently is ok.  However, if they still want you to do it their way smile and say, “yes sir/ma’am.”  Then do the task or fulfill your duties to the best of your abilities in a way that would Glorify God.

If we fulfilled all of the duties on our job description as if they were assigned by Jesus, Himself (and you know you’d so things not in your job description for the Lord too), and looked for opportunities to be a blessing and sincere help to our managers, supervisors, or employers; your probably not going to have to fear getting fired.  Instead, you’ll probably get promoted.  Don’t fear getting fired, work as unto the Lord.  P.S. even if you were ultimately laid off, verse 8 tells us that if we served as unto the Lord, He will reward us for our good work.

Ephesians 6:8 GNB  Remember that the Lord will reward each of us, whether slave or free, for the good work we do.

367. Be a Person of Principle

oft-lending-principlesGalatians 4:11 NKJV  I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.

Principles are a precious.  They guide us through uncertainty, charting the course that we will follow.  Without them we are at the whim of the pressures of life as well as people.  The Apostle Paul feared that the Galatians had forsaken the Christian principles he had taught them after hearing that many were replacing their pagan feasts and traditions with Jewish ones.  They had previously followed dead rituals and now some were being convinced to leave the freedom in Christ to follow now dead practices in Judaism that have now been done away with through the fulfillment of the law by Christ Jesus.

We all have our principles tested and are pressured to bend or break them, how we respond matters.  It’s important to note that there are preferences and principles.  Preferences I can life without, principles I cannot.  It’s also good to note that although I believe all of my principles would be great for everybody, not all of my principles are matters of Scripture so someone else might not agree or follow the same ones, but we all need some.

As a parent, I pray I never fear that my children have forsaken the principles I’ve worked so hard to impart to them.  As a pastor, I know Paul’s pain having poured into people only to see them rationalize, and justify sinful behavior.  In the political realm principles even affect how people vote, often choosing personal privileges and desires over the principles they profess.  How do we avoid fearing that our children and loved ones will back off of the principles we cherish and long to pass on to them?  We live them.

Paul wrote in verse 12, “Brethren, I urge you to become like me….”  Paul not only told them how to live, but he provided an example and challenged them to live like him.  Jesus, himself, is recorded 21 times challenging his disciples to “follow (Him)”.  Principles will keep you from fearing and they also keep others from fearing too.  Living them openly will help others do the same.

“I have principles and I am not going to be forced to compromise them.” –  Alan Sugar

“Laws and principles are not for the times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour … If at my convenience I might break them, what would be their worth?” – Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

 

Elisabeth Elliot said, “Fear arises when we imagine that everything depends on us.”