384. The Wrong Way

wrong-way-sign-1477308368hguJude 1:23 NKJV  but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

Jude 1:23 NLT  Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.

As Believers we have been commissioned to share the glorious good news that Jesus is alive and has provided a way to have an abundant and eternal life with Him.  Certainly not everyone will embrace the hope that is in Him, but we are to as the Message paraphrase says, “Go after those who take the wrong way.”

In doing so we find ourselves talking to people both believers and certainly non-believers that have ideas, habits, and practices that may be very foreign to us.  These can often cause one to feel unsure about how to react, anxious, or even fearful.  Many times I’ve sat and had conversations with people whose lifestyles, beliefs and practices were outrageously abhorrent to me.  Some people’s sin really seem to bother other, but just because their sin is unthinkable to you remember that your sin was unthinkable to God too.  Our goal is to be tender to sinners.  To do so we certainly don’t embrace sin or are soft on sin, but we don’t fear the sin that people engage in.  Our job is to reverence God and watch out for spiritual pride.  If we don’t we’ll fall head first into our own mess.

Elisabeth Elliot, an author and Christian speaker, said, “Fear arises when we imagine that everything depends on us.”  Part of the fear in these situations stems from the idea that somehow we must change a person’s behavior, feeling incompetent to talk to them, or even believing that somehow we’ll be contaminated if we interact with the “wrong” people.  This is selfish and only focused on our comfort.  I certainly don’t advocate living every moment of your life around non-believers, but Jesus said, “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.”  Our mission is to try to reach them and this means you’ll have to put yourself out there sometimes.  However, that also doesn’t mean that everything depends on us.

Jesus is present and it is the Holy Spirit that brings conviction to the hearts of men (John 16:8).  Our job is to share the letter that He has written on our hearts (2 Corinthians 3:3).  So don’t fear the fire of sin that someone is in and watch out for spiritual pride which is just as bad.  Instead, reverence God and love people.  If you must fear; instead of fearing someone or their sin, fear for them and work all the more to share His glorious grace and love to those who take the wrong way.

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383. There is No Fear in Love

216a9-god27slovehasnolimits1 John 4:16 NKJV  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.

1 John 4:18 NKJV  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.

“We have known & believed the love that God has for us.”  God loves us. That is such glorious news we should be telling people about it.  Oh wait, that is what we are called to do.  God’s reason for loving us, although It’s been expressed in a number of different ways, stems from the reality of who He is.  God is love.

This is important in the discussion of fear, because, “There is no fear in love…” (1 John 4:18).  God is love.  There is no fear in love.  Therefor there is no fear in God.  God is utterly and completely fearless.  That’s good news, because at the New Birth we were made in His image.  2 Peter 1:4 tells us we have become partakers of His divine nature.  We now share in the love of God.  It is His perfect love in us that drives fear away as His love is perfected in us.

This means that, Your fear is 100% dependent on you for its survival.” – Dr Steve Maraboli.  God hasn’t given us the Holy Spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).  How could He?  There is no fear in Him.  Instead we have been given the Holy Spirit of God and remade in His loving and fearless image.

If we have fear, that doesn’t mean we aren’t saved or we don’t have God.  It just means that there is an area of our lives that we have not yet allowed to be made perfect by His love.  We all have areas that we have not allowed the Truth of God’s Word (His Love Story) to become the final authority in our lives.  But as we search out His Word, allow it to become real to us and live out of that reality applying it and continuing in it, His love is perfected in that area of our life and fear is diminished and banished from us.  Then we are able to walk in a new freedom partaking more of the loving nature of our God who is love and fears not.

382. The Law of Displacement

FrontCoverOnly1 John 4:18 KJV  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

Galatians 5:6 tells us that faith works by love.  In 1 John 4 we read that love casts out fear and there is no fear in love.  This always makes me think of the law of displacement. 

I remember this law being demonstrated in one of my classes when I was a boy.  My teacher had a large pitcher of water and added food coloring to it so it all turned a certain color, blue I believe.  This pitcher sat in a large basin so that the floor didn’t get wet during the demonstration.  Then he began to pour clean water into the pitcher.  As he did the overflow of water began to spill out into the basin.  The water in the pitcher slowly began to dilute and become less blue until finally he lifted the pitcher full of water out of the basin and it was completely clear again just like the water he was pouring in.  You see the water he poured in pushed out the water already in the pitcher until the blue colored water was completely replaced by the fresh clear water.

This idea is conveyed to us here in 1 John concerning love and fear.  Verse 18 says love casts out fear.  The more love that gets poured into ones heart, the more fear is displaced and is purged from it.

Unfortunately the converse is also true.  Remember, fear is self-centered and when one begins to get in fear their thoughts are turned solely toward themselves.  The fear focuses one on them self because of its selfish and self-centered nature and begins to push out the love of God for others in their heart.  Then fear begins to consume even more of their focus which leads to their fear increasing.  While one is thinking about them self they can’t be thinking about others.  This is detrimental and devastating to the life and walk of faith, because faith works by love (Galatians 5:6).

Faith works by love, so when you’re in fear it hinders your faith to believe and receive the promises of God and your deliverance in that situation.  Fear also keeps you from doing the things He’s called you to do.  This applies to all of us.  God wants us to be fearless so we can walk in faith and accomplish His purposes doing the things He’s called us to do.

381. Stay Alert and Stay Strong

90d837a6e3da89b1d38c67d71a5260011 Peter 5:8-9 NLT  Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  (9)  Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.

Some people don’t believe in the devil, but the Scripture is clear that he exists and he is our enemy.  Peter wrote that he, “prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”  Yet we don’t have to fear him when he roars and you really don’t want to either.  You see that’s how he locates those he can devour.  He prowls around and then lets out a ferocious roar to see how you react.  At that moment when that horrifying and deafening roar occurs, even the strongest in faith might startle, but how you respond makes all the difference.

“But wait,” you might say, “I’ve only heard a lion roar at that zoo.”  However his roar doesn’t sound how you might expect.  The devil’s roar rarely ever sounds like an actual lion and it really doesn’t matter what it actually sounds like at all (sometimes he even sounds like you).  Instead it matters more what the roar says.  While on the prowl he roars words.  He roars things that cause fear to rise in people.  Things like, “LOSS” “DEBT” “ALONE” “LOSER” “PAIN” or he’ll even roar, “CANCER!”  Then he’ll just crouch down to see how you react.  Will we start to sweat, panic, run, say, yell, or stand in faith and speak the Word.

Though I’ve never seen a Harry Potter movie (I’m not getting in the argument of whether or not it’s ok to watch or read the books. You decide for your family. I just don’t have any interest), I did read a great quote taken from one.  “Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  The enemy is counting on us to reveal our fears in what we say and how we react when we hear his roars.  But what he roars are really just names.  Names of things people fear.  People hear cancer and shudder, but as nasty as the disease is, it is still just a name associated with a disease.  A name that does not compare to the name we are associated with.

We have a name that is associated with Creator, Savior, Provider, Comforter, Victory, & Healer.  We have the name of JESUS!  When the devil begins to roar, you can stand strong in your faith, smile and say, “Jesus.”  Your struggle is not unique.  The devil prowls about looking someone, anyone to devour and though his specific roar might be different to all people the grace of God and the Name of Jesus empowers us to stand fearless and strong in faith no matter how loud he roars.  The devil is on the prowl and he roars the things nightmares are made of, but we have the Lion of Judah, the Name above all names, Jesus, living on the inside of us.  No matter what name the devil roars, stand firm, smile, strongly roar back, “JESUS!” and Fear Not!

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.

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.