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Posts Tagged ‘devotional’

338. Rejoice and Fear Not; Fear Not and Rejoice

Posted by John Smith on June 9, 2017

John 12:15 NKJV  “FEAR NOT, DAUGHTER OF ZION; BEHOLD, YOUR KING IS COMING, SITTING ON A DONKEY’S COLT.”

This verse quoted by John from Zechariah 9:9 indicating a prophecy regarding the Messiah was fulfilled as Jesus entered Jerusalem the last time prior to His crucifixion at what many refer to as the triumphant entry.  This verse is interesting because in Zechariah 9:9 God’s people are told to “Rejoice greatly” but John quotes it as FEAR NOT.  You see you can’t be in fear when your rejoicing greatly in victory.

The Hebrew word rejoice used in Zechariah 9:9 means to spin around violently under the influence of a powerful emotion (Strong’s) either great excitement or fear.  Context from the previous verses in Zechariah 9 talks about great deliverance from their oppressors who will no longer pass through.  This is a glorious freedom that was prophesied would come and did come in Christ Jesus.  No longer would sin oppress God’s people for it would be dealt with in Christ.  No longer would the law exact judgement upon His people, because it would be fulfilled in Him.  No longer would the fear of death oppress them for Jesus would deliver them from that bondage (Hebrews 2:15).  They would rejoice greatly because they would be delivered from all reason to fear.  This is why John quotes Zechariah 9:9 as Fear Not.

We are to rejoice greatly because Jesus has come and delivered us from anything that would try to terrorize us.  Our King has come and set up His throne in the midst of our hearts by His Spirit.  Meanwhile, He is physically sitting on the Throne in Heaven at the right hand of the Father, where we are reigning and ruling with Him as joint heirs with Christ (Ephesians 2:6; Romans 8:17).  So rejoice and fear not.  Fear not and rejoice.  Either way you look at it they go hand and hand because the King has come and has set us free.

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320. Identity, Purpose, Strategy

Posted by John Smith on February 3, 2017

Mark 11:18 NKJV  And the scribes and chief priests heard it and sought how they might destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His teaching.

You might remember the nursery rhyme, “Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? The big bad wolf? The big bad wolf…” But certainly not, who’s afraid of Jesus?  Yet the scribes and chief priests were threatened and terrified by the teaching of Jesus.  They were afraid of losing their power and position among the people they were called to serve, but instead looked at as people sent to serve them.  They were afraid of losing their power so much that they were willing to destroy others for it.

Jesus certainly didn’t want His followers to leave Him, betray Him, nor deny Him, yet He wasn’t afraid of them leaving Him either.  Jesus’ confidence in who He was/is, His purpose, and His commitment to serve others empowered Him to not fear when others weren’t so sure footed and left him.

Pastors, church leadership, ministry leaders, and church goers however often fear when they attendance begins to wain within a church.  They are afraid the bills won’t be paid, that the work won’t be done (or they will have to do even more of it themselves), other people won’t see them as influential anymore, that they aren’t a good speaker, or their own feeling of self-worth is being threatened all of which is distracting them from where their focus should lie.

You see whether its people leaving your church or leaving your life you will have the opportunity to fear, but you don’t have to.  It was Jesus’ confidence in His relationship with the Father and knowing who He was that protected Him from the fear that comes when our identity is wrapped up in people or what we do.  It was the surety in His purpose that allowed Him to fearlessly stand against the pressures that said you are going under and fulfill His purpose when nobody else was left to stand with Him.  It was His commitment to serve that protected Him from the fear of what others said about Him, fear of how many followed Him, or what they thought about Him.

In life and in local churches, people will come and go.  You don’t have to be moved to fear during those times.  The scribes and chief priests feared for selfish reasons… all fear is selfish, but knowing your identity, your purpose, and your strategy to see it through will keep you steady and fearless when people leave.

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309. How to Stand When Others Faint

Posted by John Smith on November 18, 2016

Matthew 28:2-7 NLT  Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it.  (3)  His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow.  (4)  The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.  (5)  Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  (6)  He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as He said would happen. Come, see where His body was lying.  (7)  And now, go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead, and He is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there. Remember what I have told you.”

The chief priests and Pharisees had convinced Pilate to place guard around the tomb of Jesus in case any of His disciples would come to steal his body because of the statements Jesus had repeatedly made about how He would rise after 3 days.  Due to the immense pressure and political tensions around this entire event my guess is that Pilate assigned some of their best soldiers to this assignment.  These soldiers were on assignment when a few ladies (Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James & Joses, and Salmone mother of James & John) came to visit the tomb probably to see if they could get in to anoint the bandages and burial cloth of Jesus better and complete the embalming process (Barnes’ Notes).

Then all of a sudden the ground begins to shake, an angel appears, rolls the stone away from the tomb and then sits on it.  The guards were so terrified that they fainted at this sight.  Yet these female disciples though they were comforted by the angel and told not to fear they didn’t fall to the ground, scream, run, or respond in any ‘natural’ symptom of fear to the supernatural scene before them. 

These ladies were well aware of who they believed Jesus was and had been around, witnessing some pretty remarkable things in the countless services, healing, and miracles they had seen.  They were more familiar with the supernatural happening in their midst, so when the angel showed up, the earth shook, and he rolled the stone away they didn’t respond in terror.  They probably were struck with some Holy Fear, but I suspect it was also accompanied by a great anticipation and excitement of what is going to happen next.

I’m not one that thinks we should go around looking or trying to manufacture the spectacular move of God in our midst, but we certainly should expect it.  And when He sends an angel or shows up in a new and remarkable way we shouldn’t be afraid like these soldiers.  Instead we should be familiar enough to His presence and His ways that when He shows up in a new way or moves in a way we’ve never seen or experienced before that we 1st recognize His genuine presence and 2nd are filled with anticipation of what God is going to do next.  Then you we stand when others faint in fear.

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308. He Truly is the Son of God

Posted by John Smith on November 11, 2016

Matthew 27:54 NKJV  So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

It’s amazing how fast emotions can turn when people lose a sense of power and control.  When natural events like earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods occur even the most powerful people recognize that there are some things that are bigger and more powerful than them.  Still, there was little that could prepare this Roman Centurion for what he experienced when immediately as Jesus cried out, “It is finished” and yielded up His spirit that the veil of the temple (as thick as a man’s hand) was torn in to, massive earthquakes took place that split the rocks sealing in a number of tombs, and people that had died and were sealed inside got up and walked out their graves.  When the centurion saw these things… he and the other soldiers became terrified (NLT).

These soldier’s world view and security was shaken and their fear let them know that they were not as strong and powerful as they had believed.  They recognized that there was indeed one greater than them.  But we never have to fear, because we DO recognize that there is one greater than you and I.  We KNOW that Jesus is Lord of all.  We know He is greater than earthquakes or any other natural, human, or unnatural disaster.  We know that He didn’t stay on the cross at Calvary, but He rose from the dead and is alive even now at the right hand of the Father.  We know that God is with us and lives in every Believer by the Holy Spirit.  We have nothing to fear.

The world becomes afraid because of the fear of death that holds them in bondage (Heb 2:15) when they lose a sense of personal power and control.  We never have to, because the God of all power is always with us.  The Centurion was afraid and said, “…this was the Son of God!” and was probably thinking what have I done and what am I going to do know?  But you and I say He is the Son of God and He’s with me, I will not fear.  This assurance comes from the inside and it comes from knowing that Jesus truly is the Son of God.

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307. Ergophobia: Fear of Work

Posted by John Smith on November 4, 2016

0306_market_fears_400x400-300x300Matthew 25:24-26 NKJV  “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  (25)  And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’  (26)  “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.

Sometimes the truth hurts and when we deliver a message bringing clarity and truth of a situation or an attitude to someone we want to do it as lovingly as possible but it still needs to be done.  I’m thankful for people in my life that will share with me the truth, because sometimes we don’t or overlook the genuine motivation for our actions.  We may even attempt to process and try to evaluate them, but we subconsciously overlook some things because it challenges us to look at our real motivations and character and see ourselves in a reality that is more real than we really want to know and it hurts.

This man genuinely believed that his motivation for not using the skills, the resources, and the opportunities given him was because he was afraid of his lord.  But this man’s lord knew the truth and it was he was LAZY.  This guy had a fear alright, but it was the fear of work and not the fear of his lord that drove him to simply hide the coin in the dirt.

Doing something requires Effort and Risk. Both of these things can cause anxiety, but we can’t allow them to prevent us from doing what our Lord desires and expects of us.  We need clarity to determine what these things are.  This comes in His Word, His Presence, & in Relationship with Him.  You have skills, you have been given talents, and there are opportunities all around you.  To not do anything with these things is LAZINESS and FEAR.

This servant was called wicked – a derelict, who brings annoyances, causing pain and troubles.  Don’t be a derelict, who hurts the Father’s heart.  He is with you and has empowered you to do whatever is before you to do.  That doesn’t mean it won’t take effort.  But the work is worth it.  The rewards and His gratitude are eternal (Matthew 25:21,23).

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306. Fear Not: Use Your Talents

Posted by John Smith on October 28, 2016

61bf717181e0ea092f31fd7cf67cd8e1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.  (15)  And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.

Matthew 25:24-25 NKJV  “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  (25)  And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’

Did you ever notice that in this parable the master of the house didn’t give any specific instruction to the servants to grow or multiply the talents given them?  It says the master gave each of them talents according to each of their abilities and then left.  There was no verbal command or expectation for them to do anything with what was given them.  But the master certainly had an expectation for them to do something with what was given them.  If he just wanted the talents to sit, it wouldn’t be necessary for him to put it in the hands of anyone else.  He could have just put it in a box and slid it under his bed or buried it in the ground himself.

The master gave the talents (money) to his servants with the expectation that they would do something with what they had been given.  This is why he was upset with the 3rd servant that did nothing.  These three servants all had something in common.  Even though they had different abilities/skills, they each were given an asset and an opportunity.  They had something they could use and an opportunity to use it.

Two of the servants didn’t need a specific command or word from their lord to do something with what they had been given to steward.  They jumped at the opportunity did something and their master was pleased.  The third did nothing. Even though he may not have had the same skills, he still had something he could use and an opportunity to use it.  His excuse for doing nothing after hearing the reports of the other two servants was that he was afraid.

Fear will keep you from taking advantage of the gifts and talents the Lord has given you and the opportunities all around you each day.  As we will see next week, this man had a fear, but it wasn’t the fear he said he had in verse 24 that held him back.  Still a type of fear did keep him from using the resources and opportunities given him.

What are the skills, giftings, and resources you have to use?  What, where, and who are some of your opportunities?  Are you allowing fear to keep you from using your assets and taking advantage of the opportunities you are given?  Be a good and faithful servant.  Fear not and use your talents every opportunity you get.

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305. His Hand on Your Shoulder

Posted by John Smith on October 21, 2016

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Matthew 17:5-7 NKJV  (5)  While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”  (6)  And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.  (7)  But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.”

Peter, John & James had gone up the mountain with Jesus to pray.  While they were there some amazing things happened and even though according to Luke they fell asleep and missed most of it, they had woken up in time to see Jesus light up with the glory of God and talking to Moses and Elijah.  Peter wanted to camp out in that religious experience and build three tabernacles to worship and remember this amazing moment, when God spoke in an audible voice recapturing the awe and magnitude of the moment.  Peter, James and John fell face down in holy terror.  This was one of those, “I can’t believe I just said that” moments.  While they lie on the ground trembling in fear, Jesus approached them touched them and told them, “… do not be afraid” it is going to be ok.  I picture Jesus just putting His hand on Peter’s shoulder as He spoke those words filled with grace and compassion to His friend.

Though very few could relate to how Peter, James, and John must have felt in that moment, we have all experienced fear and moments of anxiety that filled us with at least momentarily debilitating dread.  BUT no matter what the situation is, no matter the fear, no matter the worry and no matter the dread, JESUS is right there.  He has come alongside, laid His hand on your shoulder and with grace and love filled words said, “do not be afraid.”

Praise God, what is there to fear when Jesus is near.  Jesus is with us in our most terrifying moments letting us know we don’t have to fear.  He didn’t condemn them for having fear… but He didn’t want them to stay there.  Jesus has come and made contact with broken humanity touching us with the hands of His grace and love.  Fear Not!  Jesus has come, put His hand on your shoulder and said, “…do not be afraid.”

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302. Don’t Fear the Lord Moving In Your Life

Posted by John Smith on September 30, 2016

faithfearMatthew 14:25-27 NKJV Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. (26) And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. (27) But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

Early one morning after sending His disciples on a boat without Him hours before, Jesus unexpectedly shows up in a remarkable way that REALLY took the disciples by surprise. They weren’t afraid of JESUS, but they were afraid because they of how He showed up and their unbelief in how it was possible.

Will you give the Lord permission to move in your life in a way that is unexpected?

Sometimes in our lives the Lord shows up and begins to do things in a way we didn’t expect. The disciples certainly expected Him to get to the other side of the sea, but they never imagined Him walk on the water to get there. Many times we pray and believe God to move in situations in our lives, meet a need, heal, reach a loved one, etc… and we have our own notions about how He should or is going to do something. Then when He begins to move in our situation, our life, our service or in us we freak out and say, “that can’t be God” because He is moving in a way we didn’t expect and never could imagine.

One time while walking to the entrance of a grocery store to get some supplies for dinner, right out of the blue and very unexpectedly the Lord told me to go minister to a worker on break and told me to tell them that their friend who died the night before was with the Lord and God just wanted them to know not to worry and that He loved them. WHAT?! I wasn’t sure what to do and I was a bit scared. I thought, “Lord, is that you?” even though I knew His voice and recognized that it was Him speaking to me. You see He spoke to me and though I know He is with us all the time by His Spirit, I certainly wasn’t expecting Him to “show up” at the grocery store and want me to do something. I was afraid of being wrong. I was afraid of being embarrassed. And I was afraid of the idea that God really might just use me at any moment if I’d make myself available.

I obeyed and she was blessed and turns out had just received a call about a good friend who had been shot the night before. God’s timing and method was perfect. It was totally unexpected by me and by her, but the Lord knew what He was doing.

Other times we just miss the Lord because we can’t believe its Him moving in an unlikely way at an unlikely time. Learn to know His voice and recognize His Word. Then when the Lord begins to move in your situations you’ll recognize Him and not fear. If the Lord always showed up and did things the way you think that He should… we’ll He certainly wouldn’t be as effective as He is and we’d never grow in awe and in faith in how amazing He is. If the Lord showed up in your life or situation in a way you didn’t expect or understand, would you be afraid? Or would you recognize that it was the Lord, celebrate, and fear not?

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301. Cheer Up & Don’t Be Afraid

Posted by John Smith on September 23, 2016

53035-cheer-up-its-fridayMatthew 14:25-27 NKJV Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. (26) And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. (27) But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

 

You ever have one of those days that just goes on and on even spilling into the next and you’re wondering… will this day ever end? I imagine that was going through the disciples minds at some point on this day.

The previous morning they received the news that Jesus’ cousin John ‘the baptist’ had been beheaded and between wanting to encourage their friend and teacher Jesus, were probably having a very real thought that, “if he was beheaded for preaching repentance because Jesus was coming… what might they do to people who actually preach with Jesus?” Just when they thought they would get the day off because Jesus desired to spend the day alone praying; a crowd shows up and being moved by compassion Jesus spends the day ministering to them instead. The apostles spend the day ushering, directing traffic, helping Jesus minister and then waiting tables for 5000 men, not to mention the women and children present, miraculously feeding them with 5 loaves and 2 fish. When the night service was over Jesus tells the disciples to get a boat and cross to the other side of the sea, while He went off for some prayer time to get refreshed from ministry and to grieve for His cousin.

Now it is sometime between 3 and 6 in the morning and these guys probably haven’t slept any. Tired, confused and most likely worried from the day before they see Jesus walking on the water toward them and cried out in fear. Between their own physical and emotional exhaustion and seeing the laws of physics being broken, disbelieving their own hearts because they didn’t understand ‘how it was possible’, instead of rejoicing in the miraculous power of God their own intellect and lack of understanding drove them to fear.

When we get drained mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, we become uber susceptible to anxiety and fear. In those moments, always listen for His voice and let it bring you peace and comfort. Let His voice and presence free you from the fear as He says, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

He knows what we are going through and is with us in the midst of it all. When you are most perplexed, overwhelmed, and exhausted in life, recognize that the Lord desires to move in your life and He might do it in a way you don’t expect. When life is going crazy and you’re worn out, “Cheer UP!” and start looking and listening for the Lord. He is right there with you even if you don’t recognize Him at first.

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300. Empowered & Commissioned

Posted by John Smith on September 16, 2016

empoweredMatthew 10:27-31 MSG So don’t hesitate to go public now. “Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life–body and soul–in his hands. “What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail–even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.

Matthew 10:31 NKJV  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

We often use Matthew 10:31 to encourage ourselves or others that God is our provider and if His eyes are on the sparrow then we can rest assured that He is looking out for you and me. That’s true, but I want to you see the context of this verse. Matthew 10 is Jesus encouraging His disciples as He sends them off on their first solo ministry outreach project. Having seen the incredible need of the people, allowing His heart to be touched and moved with compassion for the people who, “…were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” Jesus first commands His disciples to pray for more workers and hands to be put to use in the ministry, then He empowered and sent out the twelve to minister in the surrounding cities and communities.

Jesus goes on to warn them to be watchful and not to be surprised when they are persecuted for ministering (Matt 10:16-23), and admonishes them to stand strong and fearless against the threats and attacks. The context of this Scripture is to encourage us not to fear the persecution of what others may say or do to us because we profess Christ and with a loved filled boldness declare the reality of God’s love and Jesus’ liveliness through our lives, actions, and the sharing of the glorious good news that Jesus is alive. He still shows up to heal, deliver and confirm His Word through signs and wonders (Mark 16:20).

We can’t go on living separate lives; shouting “A-men” in church while turning a blind eye to the weary wandering through life. Be bold. Be courageous. Be a Christian. Don’t be afraid of what others may say, think, or even do to you… God loved you so much that He sent Jesus. He loves the world so much that He not only sent Jesus, but is so moved by compassion that He has empowered you and commissioned you to tell them. Fear Not!

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