Fearless Fridays

Living Free From Fear

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337. Gratitude Empowers Us to Live Fearlessly

Posted by John Smith on June 2, 2017

John 9:22-25 NKJV  His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue.  (23)  Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”  (24)  So they again called the man who was blind, and said to him, “Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner.”  (25)  He answered and said, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”

In John chapter 9 we meet a man that was born blind and has spent his entire adult life begging (v8).  He was well known by those that visited the temple at the Mt. of Olives.  As Jesus left the temple after supernaturally avoiding being stoned after He revealed Himself as I AM he passed by this man and healed him.

Later this man’s neighbors saw him seeing, questioned him about who healed him, and took him to the Pharisees when he told them that some guy named Jesus healed him by putting mud in his eyes and sending him to go wash it off at the pool of Siloam.  Everyone was shocked that this man could see.  The Pharisees sought confirmation from his parents that he had indeed been blind from birth.  Once they confirmed they were asked how Jesus could heal their son and what they thought about Him.  That’s when they became afraid.  His parents believed that this miracle pointed to the reality that Jesus was the Christ, but didn’t know how they could even begin to scripturally explain their belief.  They also knew that saying such a thing would have them excommunicated from the synagogue and they would be harshly criticized.

Sometimes people don’t speak up because they are not confident in their understanding of Scripture to answer all the arguments that people have.  Praise God, you don’t have to.  In verse 25 the man previously blind speaks up saying, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know.  One thing I know; that thought I was blind, now I see.”  His statement proves you don’t have to have a theology degree to speak up about Jesus.  All you have to do is tell others what He’s done for you.  But what about His parent’s fear of being criticized and socially outcast… well they did kick this man out of the synagogue, but then Jesus found him, strengthened him, and ministered to him.

I hear from people that tell me they are too afraid to tell people about Jesus.  First of all that is selfish.  People are dying and going to Hell because they don’t know Him and they are concerned that someone won’t like them.  Well if they wake up in Hell and know you could have at least told them about Jesus they really won’t like you.  Sometimes they tell me they just don’t know enough or how to answer the questions that people ask.  Neither did this ex-blind guy in John 9 but he told them what he did know.  He told them what Jesus had done for them.  Nobody can argue that.  Secondly, so what if you are ostracized.  This man was kicked out of the synagogue and then Jesus strengthened and ministered to him.  His parents fear kept them in the in crowd, but it also kept them from being personally strengthened and ministered to by Jesus

What freed the man born blind from fear?  Perhaps it was that his whole life he had already been a kind of social outcast relegated to begging for an income.  If you’ve never really been accepted the threat of rejection might not hold as much power.  Or maybe it was the fact that he had a LIFE CHANGING encounter with Jesus that was so fresh to him, he simply couldn’t keep his mouth shut.  I lean to the latter.  Keeping ourselves grateful and in mind of all that Jesus has done for us empowers and emboldens us to share what He’s done with others without fear.

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336. Speak Up

Posted by John Smith on May 26, 2017

John 7:13 NKJV  However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews.

The Jewish feast of Tabernacles was at hand and families were busily with their final preparations for the feast.  People were cleaning, picking up items from the market, etc… Just think about the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving morning and you’ll probably have a decent picture of the hustle and bustle.  And just like at your family or community gatherings around holidays everyone is swapping stories about the most recent television news broadcasts except in Jerusalem Jesus was the topic of the hour.

Some liked Him.  Some hated Him.  Some believed He was Messiah.  Some thought He was a charlatan.  Unfortunately as seems to be the norm, the doubters, haters, and negative folk were not silent about their thoughts concerning Jesus.  Their bombastic hate filled rhetoric cast fear into the hearts of those that had heard, seen & experienced His teachings, healings, signs, and testimonies of those that were familiar with His ministry, so that the best they could must up was to say that He was good (John 7:12). 

These tactics are favorites of the enemy who continues to use them effectively against the church.  At least the people had not yet experienced the wonder of redemption through Christ nor encountered His amazing grace through which we have been born-again by faith in Him.  Yet there are many such people who have experienced the goodness of His grace and have been radically changed having become a new creation in Christ, but from fear of ridicule, shame, or persecution have been silenced by the clamor of those that refuse to believe.

The word translated “openly” in John 7:13 could also be used as boldly.  It wasn’t that people didn’t say anything, but they just didn’t make it fully know what they believed.  Instead of saying, “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God” they might’ve said, “Well he really seems like a pretty nice guy to me.”  There is increase in societal pressure to not speak about Jesus and the new life we experience in Him.  Jesus conquered fear on the cross when He gave His life for ours, now we can live in His freedom boldly living for Him.  Don’t give in to the pressure and fear to profess who Jesus is and what He’s done.  He wrote a letter on your heart (2 Corinthians 3:3).  Stand up, read it, and speak up.

“Let us not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless when facing them.” Rabindanath Tagore

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335. Help is on the Way

Posted by John Smith on May 19, 2017

Luke 21:25-28 NKJV  “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring;  (26)  men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  (27)  Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  (28)  Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

Some of my friends only read this Scripture to refer to the destruction of Jerusalem.  I have to just smile and respectfully disagree.  I’m convinced that Jesus was referring to both events the destruction of Jerusalem and the last days.  Still, Jesus said that what was going on would be do devastating that people’s heart would fail them because of fear.  The picture painted here is that people would be so overcome with fear that it would take their breath away or faint under the anxiety of what is occurring around them and the thoughts of what will come next.  Sounds horrible.

However… regardless of how you want to read this Scripture (destruction of Jerusalem, tribulation period, or both) it talks about a horrible breathe taking fear.  Fear can literally cause you to hyperventilate and “lose your breathe.”  But Jesus went on to let them know that even in this difficult time they didn’t have to fear, but could lift their heads and look up with anticipation to their coming redemption.

In other words, even in the darkest of days where there seems to be no hope in sight and only terror abounds, Jesus told us not to worry about these things.  Instead we are encouraged to look up because help is on its way.  For the Believer, you’ve already received your redemption.  But in difficult times it is easy to forget that.  In our darkest days where anxiety, worry, and fear seek to overtake us, we must remember to embrace the freedom that is our in Christ by following His advice and lift our heads to look upon Christ our Redeemer.  Even on the darkest of days, the sun is shining above the clouds.  Look to the Lord and take a deep breathe, and Fear not, help is on the way.

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334. Jesus says, “Do not be Terrified.”

Posted by John Smith on May 12, 2017

Luke 21:9 NKJV  But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.

Luke 21:11 NKJV  And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.

Though most Christians universally agree that Jesus was speaking about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD, many believe that He was also speaking of the climate of the world prior to his second coming.  Regardless of how you interpret the Scripture, Jesus’ advice not to fear still holds true.

We live in a volatile world with wars and commotions erupting constantly around the globe.  In addition, the frequency of earthquakes and other natural disasters are also on the rise.  The nightly news is constantly filled with armed conflicts, civil unrest, and devastating storms, all of which are fearful sights.  Still we do not need to fear.  Jesus knew they would take place.

No matter how you interpret the passages in Luke 21 or Matthew 24, the Lord is not surprised.  He is the Alpha & the Omega, the beginning and the end.  He saw your present circumstance before you were ever in it.  He saw the decisions lawmakers and world leaders would make and nothing surprises Him.  That’s good news for us.  That means that our loving Father knew what would take place and is working to lead away from harm before we get in it.  For the circumstances beyond our decision making control, we have promises that He has provided a way of escape (1Cor 10:13).

So listen to Jesus, “…do not be terrified.”  Jesus isn’t surprised of the circumstance and He has a plan for you to bring you through it in victory.

“If we let things terrify us, life will not be worth living.” –Seneca

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333. He’s a Good, Good Father

Posted by John Smith on May 5, 2017

Luke 12:32 NLT  So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.

Jesus uses the familiar imagery of a sheep and their Shepherd, which is familiar in Scripture because of how common the profession was that it makes for a great illustration to talk about the love of the Father God for His people.  Like a good shepherd for his sheep, God leads, feeds, guides, provides, watches, & protects His people.  Yet many times we still fall victim to fear that we’ll miss out or do without.  But we needn’t fear.  It is the Father’s great happiness and joy to give us all that the Kingdom has.

Jesus is telling us we don’t need to clutch the things of the world or fear we’ll do without, because the Father has given us all that Heaven holds.  We have received an inheritance of all He has and of all He is.  We are partakers of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) and in all that He possesses, which is everything (Psalm 24:1).

The Father loves providing for and protecting His children.  He takes joy leading us to places of refreshing where we can find good food, both physically and spiritually.  The Father has purposed to care for us.  All we need to do is apply Proverbs 3:5-6 and Fear NOT!

Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;  (6)  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

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332. The World Can’t Take His Love From You

Posted by John Smith on April 28, 2017

Luke 12:4-7 NLT  “Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that.  (5)  But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, He’s the One to fear.  (6)  “What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them.  (7)  And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

Though Jesus is surrounded by a huge crowd too large to number He doesn’t specifically address the crowd.  Instead, He begins to speak to His disciples first warning them about hypocrisy both of others (Pharisees) and of their own (Luke 12:1-3).  He continues speaking to His disciples and admonished them not to fear people, pressures, and by direct implication Pharisees.

It is the fear of what others will say, what others may do, the pressures of life, and the pious lofty speeches of religious people who speak the word only to try to show how much they know and trap people in theological arguments that amount to nothing for the Kingdom that lead Believers to act in ways that are contrary to who they are (hypocrisy).  Jesus was encouraging His disciples in the midst of people that won’t always want to hear the truth and some that are there intentionally to argue that they mustn’t back down from the truth.  He further encourages them to remember just who it is that they are speaking for, the stakes for those who hear, and the absolute trust they can put in God who doesn’t overlook even what we might consider the most insignificant thing such as sparrows and the very hairs on our heads.

The reality is that the Lord is absolutely enamored with his people.  He loves you and are worth the very life blood of Jesus to Him.  Because of this love we can overcome the fears that would cause us to back away from the dreams and callings that He has for each of us to work with Him in letting the world know of His incredible mercy and grace.

Fear in the form of persecution and pressure to back away from sharing & living the Truth has always been around.  But to a Believer in Christ there is no fear for death is all the enemy has and we know that death is not the end for us.  Therefore we have an obligation to stand tall and make sure the world has an opportunity to hear of His great love.  We can be fearless in this knowing His love for us.  The world can’t take that away.

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331. Don’t Be Afraid to ASK Questions

Posted by John Smith on April 21, 2017

Luke 9:44-45 NLT  “Listen to Me and remember what I say. The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of His enemies.”  (45)  But they didn’t know what He meant. Its significance was hidden from them, so they couldn’t understand it, and they were afraid to ask Him about it.

 Whether you were in a classroom at school, at a sports practice, in youth group, or sitting around a restaurant table with friends or family there is a good chance at some point you had a question, but decided not to ask because you “felt” stupid.  For a lot of things today we just glance down at our smart phones and quickly look it up on the internet.  Other things you might just smile and nod your head as if you knew what they were talking about.  People do that because they are concerned about being seen as dumb or feel this is information they will be judged for not knowing.

Jesus just emphatically told His disciples He was going to be turned over His enemies and though they didn’t understand what He meant they didn’t ask.  They were probably afraid He would rebuke them for not knowing and none of them was willing to speak up.  Peter had just been rebuked for opening his mouth and saying something dumb by the Father God, while he, John, & James were with Jesus on a nearby mountain where Moses & Elijah appeared and Jesus began to shine with glory (Luke 9:27-36).  And the rest of the disciples had been rebuked by Jesus when He learned they had not been successful in casting the demon out of the young boy whose father brought him to them (Luke 9:37-42).  But living in ignorance is not bliss.

 Their lack of clarity led to greater fear later when Jesus was betrayed into the hands of the chief priests and turned over to Pilot to be crucified.  They had an opportunity to ask Jesus for clarity, to explain what He was talking about as they had done many times in the previous 3 years as He taught the masses in parables.  But this time they were afraid.  They probably felt like they should know what He meant and maybe they should have.  But they let the social pressure and desire to look smart keep them from understanding something their teacher wanted them to know.  But if they understood what was going to happen better, how might they have prepared and reacted differently at His crucifixion, burial, and resurrection (it wasn’t just Thomas that doubted when Mary, Joanna, and Mary Magdalene told the disciples that Jesus had raised from the dead (Luke 24:10-11)).

 Don’t let social anxiety keep you in the dark and ignorant about things your children, your parents, your boss, your pastor, etc… are trying to tell you.  If you don’t understand, ask for clarity.  Understanding today can lead you to live fearlessly tomorrow. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

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330. Fearlessly Pursuing His Presence

Posted by John Smith on April 14, 2017

Luke 9:33-34 NKJV  Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said.  (34)  While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud.

Some people get nervous in the presence of God.  It’s because they don’t know what to expect.  Unfortunately that’s because they’ve either never been there or they don’t spend a lot of time in His presence.

Peter didn’t seem to be too phased by being in the presence of Moses, Elijah, or even with Jesus after He was transfigured and His face began to glow.  But when another person of the Trinity shows up in a way unfamiliar to him, in the form of an overshadowing cloud instead of the familiar package of a man as they regularly interacted with Jesus the second part of the Trinity in, they freaked out. 

The verse says they became fearful as they entered into the cloud of God’s presence.  They were fine with Jesus lit up like a lightbulb and even with two old dead prophets showing up, but when the cloud of God’s presence began to overshadow them they became fearful.  They had already seen the dead raised and Jesus walking on the water in His ministry, but never had they been enveloped in the presence of God before.

I remember when Valarie and I co-founded FCFTucson.org alongside our pastors Virgil & Judy Stokes.  For about the first year, the majority of the people who came were either new Believers or had never been in a church that taught or allowed the Presence of God to move in their midst in any kind of real or tangible way.  We’d get to worshipping and when God’s presence would begin to show up and fill that little building, you could just see the looks of shock and “oh my… what now” on their faces as they encountered His presence in a way they had never experienced before.  It took a little while of teaching, explaining, and regular exposure for them to get comfortable just being in the Lord’s presence like that.  Now not only are they used to it but love and expect God’s presence to show up in our midst in amazing ways.

Regardless of whether or not you’ve experienced God’s presence in this kind of powerful way, you needn’t be afraid.  If you have, great keep fearlessly pursuing His presence.  If you haven’t, FEAR NOT you’ve got a glorious encounter with the Father just waiting for you to boldly enter in (Hebrews 4:16).

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329. I Fear Therefore I am Fearless

Posted by John Smith on April 7, 2017

Luke 5:26 NKJV  And they were all amazed, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen strange things today!”

Luke 7:16 NKJV  Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.”

Luke 8:25 NKJV  But He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!”

Luke 8:35-37 NKJV  Then they went out to see what had happened, and came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.  (36)  They also who had seen it told them by what means he who had been demon-possessed was healed.  (37)  Then the whole multitude of the surrounding region of the Gadarenes asked Him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. And He got into the boat and returned.

In each of these Scriptures people became overwhelmed with the only good kind of fear… a holy one.  In Luke 5:26 they saw a paralyzed man walk carrying the stretcher he was lowered through the roof on.  In Luke 7:16 Holy fear fell upon all present when Jesus raised a widow’s only son from the dead.  In Luke 8:25 the disciples were overcome with fear after Jesus calmed the wind and the waves.  Then in Luke 8:35-37 we see town overcome with fear after Jesus delivered a demonized man.

These of these examples that left people in Holy awe and fear of the awesomeness of our Lord.  They show His power, compassion, mercy, and authority.  Each of them provide us with examples why we needn’t live in any fear other than one produced from getting a revelation of just how marvelous and mighty our Lord is.  It is that revelation of just who He is and how deep His love for you and me is that causes us to sense that Holy Fear.  It is also how we know He has freed us from fear and we no longer have to be afraid.  It is our Holy Fear that leads us to live fearless.  I fear therefore I am fearless.

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328. Do What He’s Asked You to Do

Posted by John Smith on March 31, 2017

stepsoffaithLuke 5:10-11 NKJV  and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.”  (11)  So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.

This story was a very personal one to Valarie and I as we began in ministry.  We had been very active in serving in our local church and in a para church ministry, but as our second child was born and Valarie who had been on a professional track was transitioning to serve at home and as a full-time volunteer for the church we were about to help plant and I was looking for a new job… stuff got REAL.

I knew that the Lord had called me into ministry and specifically to serve with my pastors at FCFTucson.  In my lightning quick mind, I also knew this meant I needed a job that allowed me to be off Sundays and evenings and would be flexible so I could be available for other ministry meetings and conferences as needed.  I also knew that my wife and children enjoyed being housed, clothed, & fed.  Luke 5:1-11 was a reminder to me of God’s faithfulness, provision, & encouraged me to be courageous in the face of all the questions and fears.

I don’t know about John & James, but I know Peter was married and had his mother-in-law living with him.  This meant he had natural responsibilities to make sure that their basic needs were met.  John & James were employed by their father and at certainly didn’t want to hurt their fathers business by up and leaving and what about their obligations.  Still, the Lord has called them serve Him and learn from Him in a full-time traveling capacity, which would raise all kinds of fears and worries for any normal person let alone ones with family pressures.

It was the miraculous catch of fish, their faith in Him, & Jesus’ words “Do not be afraid” that encouraged them to quit their jobs, change careers, and leave their families for weeks at a time to obey the call of God and fulfill their purpose.  Their very identity was about to change from fishermen to fishers of men, but it was God’s goodness, faithfulness to provide, & His Word to them that they put their trust in.

Valarie and I have made a lot of decisions through the years that would impact our finances, where we lived, what we wore, what we drove, what we ate, and how much we give.  But once you are sure of what God has told you to do, you can do it without fear.  That is the message I want you to hear today.

You may not be called to be a pastor or have a traveling ministry, but whatever God has asked you to do (pray for somebody, give a significant gift, serve in your church, shift careers, etc.…) you can do it without fear knowing the Lord will provide for you.  He’s proven His faithfulness in His Word and in the goodness He’s shown toward you.  Do not be afraid, do what He’s asked you to do.

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