386. Fearless and Faithful

il_340x270-1301284640_ix7bRevelation 2:10 NKJV  Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Faithfulness is the quality of being true and utterly constant in our lives.  It is more than commitment; it is the allowing ones commitment to permeate into every aspect of their daily life.  The faithfulness of God is one reason we never have to fear in life.  Faithfulness is also to be our response in the midst of a fearful circumstance.

In Jesus’ discourse to the church in Smyrna as recorded by the Apostle John, He warns them that suffering will be coming their way and admonishes them not to be afraid but to instead be faithful in the midst of their tribulation.  He tells them that suffering is coming their way and does not promise them exemption from it, but instead commands them not to be afraid of it and to simply remain faithful during it.

Despite what most of us would desire, the Gospel does not promise that life with Christ will be free from problems, difficulties, persecution or even suffering.  Jesus actually tells us, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 NLT)”  In a world still, itself, suffering from the results of sin, it’s inhabitants even those who follow Jesus also find themselves impacted by the effects of a world infected by it.  But don’t despair, both of these verse give us direction and hope.

It is first important to note that the Lord is was not the author of the church in Smyrna’s suffering.  Nor is He the source of yours.  Suffering in the world is a result of any number of things: the fallen world, the devil, decisions of others, our own decisions, etc… but it is not because of God.  Instead He gives us hope.  A hope that tells us to remain encouraged, because He has overcome the world and though we are here in a messed up world, we are part of Glorious Kingdom and have been crowned with His everlasting life.  Therefore, no matter the circumstance or trial we can and should take heart, not fear, and faithfully live out His Word.

Allow your commitment to Christ to permeate every area of your life.  You can remain faithful and constant even in the midst of a horrifying situation.  Jesus is with you and He has given you the crown of life.  So fear not and faithfully live for Him now because no matter what you face you have already triumphed and been crowned victorious.  Let’s live fearless & faithful.

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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.

376. Don’t Be Turned From Your Purpose

484142_18_e9135bHebrews 11:27 NKJV  By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.
Hebrews 11:27 BBE  By faith he went out of Egypt, not being turned from his purpose by fear of the wrath of the king; for he kept on his way, as seeing him who is unseen.

You don’t have to allow fear to turn you from what you began in faith.  Moses led the Children of Israel out of Egypt by faith.  Immediately after making starting the journey the thoughts rushed in.  Even if Moses himself didn’t have personal thoughts of fear, he heard the fears of the people. “What if Pharaoh changes his mind?” “How will we survive in the wilderness?” “It would have been better if we never left Egypt.”  But Moses was not turned from his purpose, even when it looked like they might succumb to the wrath of the Pharaoh when he led his army against the Children of Israel.  Moses stayed steady, endured, and kept on his way.

No matter what God directed journey you are on, there is an enemy that will try to turn you from the purpose God has given you.  His number one weapon is fear.  This verse gives us 3 great points to help us stay free from fear.

  1. Live by faith. “By faith he went out…”  Whether you are going to work, visiting the doctor, or playing a game with the kids, do it in faith.  Pray often and remind yourself of the Word, then trust in the Lord and walk in the Word.  Romans 1:17.
  2. Stay your course. “…not being turned from his purpose by fear… for he kept on his way” The opportunity to fear and doubt will come.  Keep your mind stayed on the Word and Spirit of God because you trust Him. Isaiah 26:3 tells us that doing so will keep us in His perfect peace.
  3. Look unto Jesus. “…as seeing him who is unseen.” Moses looked unto God and the plan and purpose that God had for him and His people.  We look, unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2.  Looking unto Him, keeps us in constant contact with Him and watching for any course correction or new instructions along the way that will keep us steady and in our lane.

We don’t have to be derailed by fear.  Like Moses we are to begin in faith, knowing the Word and Character of God.  We keep our minds on the promises of His Word and our eyes on the victory set before us.  We keep our eyes on Him and follow His leading which keeps us in our lane and out of the ditch.  Don’t be turned from your purpose. Live by faith, stay your course, look unto Jesus, and Fear Not.

371. Cibophobia – The Fear of Food

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

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

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

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

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

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

370. Don’t Give in to Fear

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

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

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

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

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