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Living Free From Fear

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Posts Tagged ‘devotional’

364. Quench Your Pastor’s Fears 1

Posted by John Smith on December 15, 2017

preaching2 Corinthians 11:3-5 MSG  And now I’m afraid that exactly as the Snake seduced Eve with his smooth patter, you are being lured away from the simple purity of your love for Christ.  (4)  It seems that if someone shows up preaching quite another Jesus than we preached–different spirit, different message–you put up with him quite nicely.  (5)  But if you put up with these big-shot “apostles,” why can’t you put up with simple me? I’m as good as they are.

Reading through the book of Acts and Paul’s letters to the churches you quickly see his passion for the Gospel, reliance on the Holy Spirit and his love for the Church, the Body of Christ, especially the churches that he was instrumental in their founding.  In those letters he also shares his greatest ministerial fear.  It wasn’t ridicule, persecution, imprisonment, beatings, or even death, though Paul certainly wasn’t excited about those things he didn’t fear them (Philippians 1:23, Acts 21:13).  So what was it that kept Paul up at night?  Paul’s greatest fear was that the people he had poured his life into would be lose the purity and simplicity of the Gospel message and their devotion to Jesus.  Your pastor shares that fear and deals with it regularly.

He had this fear, because even in the early church there were people that preached with the wrong motivations.  Some used ministry as a way to get prestige, popularity, power, & money.  One way they did this was to preach NEW STUFF, extra Biblical stuff, their own ideas, and even made up stuff.  Paul’s heart broke when he heard these bogus doctrines and saw it corrupt the faith of some Believers.  Today there is even greater access to more bizarre and weird teaching.  It breaks my heart when I hear people repeating weird non-scriptural or contextually accurate ideas they heard at some church or on the internet.

Here is how you can help your pastor avoid falling prey to this fear.

1.   Show up to your home church regularly.
2.   Take notes.
3.   Be a Berean and study out what you’re taught.
4.   Put the WORD of God first and not just the words of somebody on line or on TV.
5.   Pray.
6.   Read the Bible for yourself.
7.   Remember your pastor isn’t perfect and is still growing too, it’s possible for even the best pastor to be wrong sometimes. Extend grace.

There are some other things we could mention, but this is a great start to help protect your pastor from fearing you will fall away from the simplicity of the Gospel of Christ.

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363. The Fear that comes after Pressing SEND

Posted by John Smith on December 8, 2017

Send button on keyboard2 Corinthians 7:5 NKJV  For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears.

Have you ever sent a difficult email?  One of those emails, in which you needed to address some tough issues or relay some complex ideas and information.  Immediately after clicking send you begin to wonder… was I clear, did that make sense, will they read that with the right heart, it needed said but was I too direct?  After a few hours you check your email to see if you have a reply… nothing.  Then you think, “I wonder if they’ve got my email? I wish I knew what they were thinking right now.”  This can go on for hours or even days, depending on how frequently they check their email and of course how they reacted to your message.  During that time fearful and anxious thoughts flow through you mind.  This is what the Apostle Paul is referring to here in 2 Corinthians 7:5.

After Paul had sent 1Corinthians, which though we learn such empowering lessons from today and are encouraged by is also full of some very direct correction to people in the church and the churches leaders.  He had hoped and planned to make a stop through the area to see them face to face, but circumstances hindered him from doing so.  During the months that followed sending his letter he experienced fears regarding how it would be received.  He even regretted ever writing it (2 Cor 7:8).  That was until Titus returned safely and with news from Corinth.

Reading the rest of 2 Corinthians chapter 7 we find that Paul was ultimately please with how the letter was received, even though it did cause “sorrow” and upset the people, it pricked their hearts and led them to repentance.  Paul wrote the letter not because he wanted to punish certain people, but because he loved the church.  Even though his fears made him regret sending the letter for a moment, his love compelled him to do what was right.  But it was his friend co-laborer Titus that encouraged Paul he had done the right thing.  In this circumstance the Corinthians allowed the conviction of the Holy Spirit brought on by the truth in Paul’s letter to lead them to repentance, but not every situation always ends that way.  Still, Titus brought an encouraging word to Paul that relieved his fears and worries.  We all need people in our lives that when we have to do difficult things with the right motives, whom will encourage us and let us know we did the right thing.  You could be one for someone else. 

The next time you need to write a difficult email or are planning a difficult conversation: Check your heart and make sure your motives are right, Take time to plan and prepare what you will say, & talk to a trusted friend or mentor.  They’ll either give you advice or correction you need or will encourage you so you can proceed without fear.

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362. Encourage, Comfort, & Protect

Posted by John Smith on December 1, 2017

fear-not1 Corinthians 16:10 NKJV  And if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do.

The Apostle Paul in true spiritual father form, writes to the Church in Corinth to receive Timothy well and not to try to intimidate him should he come for a visit.  Seriously, the Church in Corinth was intimidating enough on their own.  They didn’t play nice with each other during communion (1 Corinthians 11), had to be corrected numerous times about sexual conduct (1 Corinthians 5-7), and apparently thought they were all super spiritual and got corrected for trying to show off about it (1 Corinthians 12-14).  All of that could make a seasoned ministry a bit anxious about coming in as a visiting minister.

But Paul’s heart was that Timothy be encouraged and not intimidated.  We too ought to look to see how we can encourage others so they can fearlessly fulfill their call.  This verse also speaks that Paul wanted them to protect him from any outside forces, to watch out for him and ensure that he wasn’t harmed while he was with them.  We too ought to look out for others and protect those within the family of God.

Paul’s heart to look out for Timothy ought to be our heart for others.  Watching out for, protecting, and encouraging them so that fear would not overtake any but that they would live courageously and free from fear. 

Lastly, Paul said Timothy should be without fear and specifically without intimidation because he does the work of the Lord.  Those who do the work of the Lord should not have to do it in fear.  They should be able to freely and confidently live and minister as the Lord has commanded them.  We could extend this to all of us, because we all have received a commission from the Lord and given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19).  He tied this idea of us fearlessly fulfilling our callings to the way the Body of Christ treats and responds to one another.  You see, there is plenty of opposition that will be intimidating in our lives as we walk this life of faith.  We certainly don’t need any extra fears coming from the Church.  Instead we should encourage, comfort, and protect those among us so they can fearlessly live out the Gospel and their purpose.

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361. Is Your Dream Bigger than Your Fear?

Posted by John Smith on November 24, 2017

Quotefancy-193998-3840x21601 Corinthians 2:1-3 NKJV  (1)  And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.  (2)  For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  (3)  I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.

Though Paul did not suffer from Hellenologophobia (the fear of Greek terms or complex scientific terminology), though many of us in ministry certainly fear trying to pronounce the Greek he used, his spirit-filled life was not void of fear.  Paul admits he experienced fear in 1 Corinthians 2:3.  But Paul was also a man of conviction whose heart had been touched and life changed by the Gospel of Christ.  His commitment to Jesus and love for people caused him to live a life not free from feeling fear, but free from being controlled by it.  Paul was a hero.

Jeanne Mayo once said, “Heroes are ordinary people who simply chose to place their dreams ABOVE their fears.”  This was Paul.  Having been threatened, beaten, jailed, whipped, and stoned on multiple occasions it is easy to see why one might have some in trepidation about standing and declaring the name of Jesus, for which he had endured all the aforementioned persecution.  In addition, Corinth was a city known for eloquent, strong, and well-crafted oratory.  Paul certainly was not foreign to this kind of speaking, yet he did not want his teaching to be merely judged on the intellectualism, delivery or structure, but on the reality of the content.  He feared not presenting the message in an effective way.  Though I can’t relate to the physical fears of punishment or abuse, I can certainly relate to the fear of not being effective.

Paul chose his dream (the vision the Lord had given him) above his fears.  He knew that the God who had saved him and called him into this ministry was with him and desperately cared for both Jew and Gentile even more than he did, who would have damned himself if it meant the salvation of all of God’s people (Romans 9:3).  He didn’t give into his fear and keeping his confidence in God ministered the simple truth of Jesus alive from the dead, which true to His word (Mark 16:20) was confirmed through signs and wonders.

Though we have not endured the same persecutions as Paul, the message of the Gospel of Christ is certainly frowned upon and ridiculed in our culture.  It can be scary when a situation arises that tests our devotion and commitment to the Word of God.  Sometimes we are challenged to either live the truth we speak or to speak the truth we endeavor to live.  Either situation can be scary as you wonder the reactions of those around and involved.  Nevertheless, Paul rose above the fear and placed his dream above his fear. 

Hopefully one of your dreams is to be a light to the world and live as a testament to the one who has redeemed you.  Like Paul you can be a hero.  Simply chose to follow Christ and allow your dream to be bigger than you fear.

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360. How Are You Walking

Posted by John Smith on November 17, 2017

man-walking-towards-right-direction_318-44334Romans 13:3-4 MSG  Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear. Do you want to be on good terms with the government? Be a responsible citizen and you’ll get on just fine,  (4)  the government working to your advantage. But if you’re breaking the rules right and left, watch out. The police aren’t there just to be admired in their uniforms. God also has an interest in keeping order, and he uses them to do it.

If you’ve ever been driving down the interstate and see a police officer strategically parked off the side of the road watching for speeders looked down to notice that you’re going too fast, you may have gotten a taste of fear as you begin to look in the rearview mirror to see if the officer pulls out to follow you.  Other times you drive by an officer knowing you are at or below the speed limit and feel no anxiety at all.  What was the difference?  Knowing what side of the law you are on.

I know a lot of people that had questionable and dubious pasts who had encountered law enforcement officials on any number of occasions because of poor choices that led to multiple legal infractions.  Even after laying aside their pasts and not violating the law in any way they would still feel have a sense of fear come over them anytime they saw a police officer.  This is bondage.  Thankfully over time, most of them no longer look in the rearview mirror and freak out every time they see a police car.

Though this may not be universally true, because of some poor excuses for law enforcement and those that are abusing power, it is a general truth that those who are obeying the law have nothing to fear of the people appointed to enforce it.  Verse 4 tells us that they are ministers of God commissioned to maintain order and help keep peace.  Paul also tells us that we don’t have to fear unless we are trying to get away with something.  Walk rightly and have no fear.  Walk virtuously and you don’t have to be afraid.

On a side note, this Scripture also teaches us to respect all government officials.  This includes those in law enforcement.  This doesn’t mean that all officers are worthy of respect, but the office they represent is.  It also reminds me that it is our responsibility to pray for the men and women that serve in these capacities.  We should pray for their salvation, safety, and the wisdom to do their jobs.  We should also pray that those not worthy to serve would be removed from service.

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359. Faith #Filter

Posted by John Smith on November 10, 2017

Romans 10:17  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

Faith comes through regular and consistent hearing of the Word of God.  Faith doesn’t come by just hearing the Word of God once on a subject, but often takes repeated and regular hearing of the same Scriptures, subjects, or messages.  Sometimes we hear a Scripture and simply don’t understand it.  However, through repeated reading, hearing, or saying to oneself, clarity comes.  Through that new understanding faith rises in our hearts.  This is why meditating on the Word of God is so powerful.

Sometimes we understand the meaning of the Scripture, but faith to believe that we are, can do, or possess what it actually says alludes us.  But through repeated hearing faith begins to stir and rise within us to receive that particular reality from the Word of God, so we can possess and walk in it.  You must feed on the Word of God to be strong in faith.  Smith Wigglesworth said, “Some people feed their bodies three hot meals a day, and their spirits one cold snack a week, and wonder why they’re weak in faith.”  So what does this have to do with FEAR?  Everything… you see like faith, fear comes from hearing too.  It just doesn’t come from hearing God’s Word.  While faith comes by hearing the Word of God; fear comes by hear the word of the world.

Too many times people not only feed their bodies 3 hot meals a day and their spirits one cold snack a week, but they also feed their soul by continual snack on anxiety, fear, and insecurity countless times a day.  We are so quick to bite and chew on negativity, lies, reports, and circumstances without first filtering them through the WORD of God.  When we do, we begin to feed on the word of the world instead of God’s Word.  God’s Word always produces faith, especially when we are in a habit of hearing it.  Likewise, the world’s words produce fear.  Unfortunately, we are much more prone to repeatedly hear words of fear, doubt, and negative reports totally unfiltered by the Word of God.  We must learn to filter every report and every fearful thought through the filter of God’s Word asking, “What does God say about that?”  Then instead of thinking about the circumstance or the report over and over again inviting FEAR to come, we can think, read, and say God’s Word concerning it.  Doing so will allow you to see through what the world sees and knows and into the realm of faith.  Instead of growing your fears, you’ll be growing your faith and not giving any opportunity to fear to get a foot hold.

 

Apply a #FaithFilter to every circumstance and fear not.

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358. Terror “ISM”

Posted by John Smith on November 3, 2017

Romans 8:15 NKJV  For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

According to dictionary.com “ISM” is a suffix appearing in loanwords from Greek, where it was used to form action nouns from verbs.  It is often used to define philosophies and ideologies.  Darwinism, despotism, realism, witticism, and intellectualism are all examples of isms.  We have been freed from all the isms… especially the ideology of TERROR.

Bethel Music has a great song, No Longer Slaves.  The chorus of this song rings with two powerful sentences.  “I’m no longer a slave to fear.  I am a child of God.”  You are no longer a slave to fear.  You ARE a child of God.

Some might see that word adoption in Romans 8:15 and wonder if this applies to them because they are only an “adopted” child. (smh) When you understand Biblical Adoption, it will dispel that kind of thinking and set you free.  The Greek word adoption (huiothesia) means to place as a son.  In Roman culture it was common for sons to be raised by servants in their home.  They were heirs of the estate, but they had no decision making rights or authority in the house.  But when they came of age there was a great party where they were “adopted” and placed as a son with all legal rights and representations as ab heir of the estate or joint-heir as the case may be not just by name but by blood.  This was what Paul hearkened to in Galatians 4:1-7.

Our concept of adoption is from a 21st century mindset of accepting someone from another family into your own and becoming a “legal” family member.  But when you gave your life to the Lord, you were born-again.  You were re-created in His image.  More than just a legal heir but you became a blood relative through the atoning work of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

We have been set free from fear and are no longer bound to live a life of terror.  We are now children of God.  We have been freed from terrorism of all kinds.  Terrorism from people and terrorism from the devil has no place in you and I, we have been made children of God and given the full rights and privileges thereof.  Look out devil!

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357. God Leads; Fear Drives

Posted by John Smith on October 27, 2017

Romans 8:14-15 NKJV  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.  (15)  For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

Bondage isn’t from God.  Anything that has us bound up in any area of our life is NOT from God.  Bondage leads to fear, which tells me that when fear is present (at any level) there is an element of bondage there.  What do I mean by that? 

Romans 8:14 tells us that the Spirit of God leads.  That’s important to remember.  Our Father God leads us.  Our Heavenly Father leads us by His Spirit and He wants us to follow.  I remember when my children were first crawling and then beginning to walk.  I’d bend down a few feet away from them.  Extending my hands to them I’d begin to beckon them to come towards me. “C’mon, Cannon, just one more step.  Atta boy!”  “Mira, you are doing great.  C’mon just a little bit more you’re almost there.”  Every week, I see parents and grandparents in church or at the park doing the same thing.  What are they doing?  Leading, guiding and encouraging their children experience a new level of victory, success, and freedom.  That’s exactly what the Father God does for His children.  He leads us.  He says, “Come on follow me.  I’ve got some amazing things for you right over here.”

Fear, on the other hand, doesn’t lead people.  Fear drives people.  Fear intimidates and pushes people to do or not do things.  Fear drives people to make decisions and do things.  If you don’t believe me just go sit outside of a local car lot and watch the people that come in, shopping for a new car.  Many sales associates will use fear tactics to pressure people into buying a car that isn’t exactly the car they were looking for in the first place.  These kinds of sales tactics along with other forms of popular marketing: “While supplies last,”  “Get yours before they’re gone,” etc. are ploys to get people to make impulsive decisions motivated and driven by their fears.

Anytime you start to feel that pressure, “I’ve just got to do this…  I’ve just got to buy this…  What if it’s not here tomorrow?”  STOP!  You are getting over to that place of anxiety.  A place of worry.  You are getting over into a place of FEAR.  And there is bondage in fear.  Our Heavenly Father doesn’t want us in bondage.  He did not give us a spirit of bondage again to fear. He gave us the Spirit of adoption by which we cry out “Abba, Father.”  Our Heavenly Father doesn’t want us to be driven by fear.  He wants us to be led by the Spirit.

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353. Alethephobia – Fear of Hearing the Truth

Posted by John Smith on September 29, 2017

truth

Acts 24:24-25 NKJV  And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.  (25)  Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.”

 “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”  In essence they found truth or heard truth, but quickly chose to ignore it instead of taking action because of it.  The main reason people do this is fear.  They are afraid of the responsibility that comes with the Truth they hear and how this truth impact their life.  They fear what the truth means for them.

Alethephobia is the fear of hearing the truth.  Not to be confused with veritaphobia, which is the fear of telling the truth.  Felix, the governor of Judea, had heard the reports about Jesus and the message that His followers shared and had a general understanding of what Christians believed.  But as Paul shared the In Him realities of how a relationship with Christ impacted ones righteousness, nature, and eternity, Felix became terrified.  He recognized that what Paul was saying was true and it scared him.  It frightened him because he knew that meant that for him to embrace this faith would be the end of his governorship and many would no longer respect him.

People often fear and hate the disclosure of truth, because it carries with it and self-perceived insult to their own narcissism (narcissistic insults).  Although they see a plain reality, it offends their ego.  So in effort to avoid the bruised ego and the fear of that it means, they hold onto their previous ideas for dear life, limiting the extent of both their intellect and their personal freedom.  They choose to be in bondage to a lie, instead of freed by the truth.

Some Christians do this too.  They selectively hear certain divine truths, while carefully avoiding others that challenge their personal comfort zone or compel them to take action.  The Lord wants to help you grow and walk in all the freedom he died to provide you.  John 1:1 calls Jesus the Word and John 17:17 tells us His Word is truth.  So the Lord will speak truth to you through His Spirit, His Word, and even His people that will challenge how you see Him, the world, or even (gulp) YOURSELF.

When you find yourself hearing things that makes you uncomfortable, search them out.  Examine it and make sure it says what you are hearing and that it isn’t being twisted in some way (Oh and make sure you don’t twist and try to rationalize the Scripture either), ask for clarification or further teaching instead of trying to ignore it, and then act on the truth.  The truth about ourselves is often hard to hear and can be scary, but it is necessary for us to live truly free. Don’t fear hearing the truth.

 

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352. Know Him; Fear Not; Fulfill Your Purpose

Posted by John Smith on September 22, 2017

0006873Acts 23:10-11 NKJV  Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks.  (11)  But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”

There are two instances of fear that we will look at in this passage.  The first is the fear of the Roman commander and the second is that of the Apostle Paul.  Both experienced fear, but their reasons were vastly different.

This commander had arrested Paul in Acts 22 after hearing an uproar by a number of Jews after Paul shared the testimony of his conversion.  He was going to have Paul scourged until he found out that he was a Roman citizen and had not been charged or found guilty of anything.  Fearing he would get in trouble he released Paul, but his curiosity lingered and he sent Paul to the chief priests.  After a brief dialogue Paul, being a Pharisee, managed to get the Sadducees and Pharisees arguing with one another. Their debate got so fierce that the commander feared there would be an uprising, that Paul would be killed, and that he’d be found responsible for the riot he was sure would ensue, so he had Paul placed in protective custody.

The commander feared he would be held responsible for whatever commotion took place.  If Paul had was not a Roman as well as a Jew, he would not have cared nor feared. He was afraid he would lose his status, his position and possibly face charges for not protecting Paul.

The next night Jesus appeared to Paul and told him to, “Be of good cheer….”  This phrase could also be translated, take courage or Fear Not.  Jesus told Paul not to fear.  Paul feared that the Sadducees, who were plotting against him, succeed in having him killed.  But Paul didn’t fear dying (he later wrote Philippians 1:21) so much as he was afraid he would die without fulfilling his purpose. His fear was certainly more “noble” than the commander but it was still fear.  Jesus not wanting Paul to fear, encouraged him that he still had work to do and that he had purpose.

Paul had Jesus come encourage him to Fear Not when he began to fear.  The commander had no one.  Relationship matters.

The commander feared for self-serving and selfish reasons; “What will happen to me?”  Paul’s fear was rooted in letting down His Lord.  Both fears need Jesus.  Hopefully the commander put his trust in Jesus and believed on him.  But we know what happened to Paul.  He was encouraged to stop fearing and keep focusing on what God had called him to do.  I want to encourage you to stop fearing what you will or won’t accomplish.  Instead know Him and just focus on what is before you and trust in the Lord, like Paul you too have destiny to do.

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