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Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

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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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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355. Anchored!

Posted by John Smith on October 13, 2017

Acts 27:29 NKJV  Then, fearing lest we should run aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come.

In the midst of a deadly storm the crew and captives of this prison ship carrying Paul and heading for Rome all thought they were going to die and had given up hope (Acts 27:20).  To stabilize the ship 4 anchors were dropped.  Although we are not on a literal ship in a storm there are 4 anchors for our soul (mind, will, & emotions) that will give us stability and protect us from the fear that destroys when storms in life strike.

1)   I Belong to God – Acts 27:23.  The enemy will try to get you to doubt or question your identity.  Be confident in whose you are.  You are a child of God (Romans 8:15).  God is for you and not against you (Hebrews 11:6, Romans 8:31).

2)   God Cannot Lie – Acts 27:25.  Paul said two powerful statements.  “I believe God.” & “It will be just as it was told me.”  When the thunderous threats producing fear come remember, God cannot lie (Numbers 23:19, Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18).  His promises are true.  Trust in Him and He will see you safely through.

3)   The Purposes of God will Prevail – Acts 27:24.  That doesn’t mean that everything you are supposed to or called to do will get done, your will is involved in the process.  However, if the Lord has given you something to do, you can stay steady, faithful, & consistent at it doing what is before you to do and He will make sure you prevail. It is His purpose.  If you’ll keep pursuing it, His Word will prevail.

4)   There is Always a Way of Escape – Acts 27:43-44.  Even in the darkest circumstances God has provided the way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Get a vision of life on the other side of the storm.  Let the Lord open your eyes to His desire for your freedom and victory.  Even in the darkest of times, the Lord is there and He is faithful to provide the way of escape.  It is there.  We just need to listen to His guidance, trust and obey.

These 4 truths will stabilize your mind and emotions in the midst of even the most terrifying of times.  Drop these anchors and FEAR NOT!

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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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351. Membership has its Privileges

Posted by John Smith on September 15, 2017

membershipActs 22:25-29 NKJV   And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?”  (26)  When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, “Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman.”  (27)  Then the commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman?” He said, “Yes.”  (28)  The commander answered, “With a large sum I obtained this citizenship.” And Paul said, “But I was born a citizen.”  (29)  Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him; and the commander was also afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.

“Membership has its privileges” is a trademarked phrase by the American Express credit card company that was once frequently heard in all of their commercials.  Though I can’t speak of the benefits of being an American Express card member, the phrase is true when it comes to our relationship with the Lord and as members of the Kingdom of God.  It also benefited the Apostle Paul as a citizen (a member) of Rome.

Paul has just recently returned to Jerusalem for what he knows by both revelation and prophecy will end in his incarceration.  After properly following the purification ceremonies entered the temple.  It wasn’t long before a number of Jews from Asia, where Paul had spent a great deal of time ministering recognized him and after brazen allegations were made a mod grabbed Paul and dragged him out of the temple and began severely beating him and intended to kill him.  News got the Roman military commander who intervened before they could kill Paul.  Even though they bound him in chains to take him to the barracks, the mob persisted.  Paul convinced the commander to allow him to address the crowd and shared the testimony of his conversion and faith in Jesus as Messiah.  This did not go over well and the commander, fearing there would be a great riot had Paul taken to the barracks and ordered him scourged.

Here is where membership has its privileges.  Now back at the base, Paul reveals to the commander that although he is Jewish he is also a Roman citizen by birth.  As a citizen, to be punished without a trial was unlawful.  The commander was now terrified that he could have charges brought up against him and they backed off of Paul.  Paul’s citizenship of Rome had its privileges to relieve him from his present bondage, to now gain protection from the military who would keep him from being killed by the Sadducees the next day, and ultimately help him fulfill his calling to minister to the highest officials in the Roman government.  Membership has its privileges.

Membership has its privileges for you to.  Only instead of being a part of Rome, you have citizenship in Heaven (Php 3:20).  That means that Heaven is working on your behalf to protect you, to keep you, and to open doors for you to fulfill your divine destiny.  The road might look dark and scary sometimes, but Fear Not and walk on ahead.  Heaven is on your side.  Membership has its privileges.

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349. Impulsive Decisions

Posted by John Smith on September 1, 2017

fear-of-water-picActs 16:37-38 NKJV  But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out.”  (38)  And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans.

Impulsive actions and rash uninformed decisions have a habit of getting people into fearful circumstances.  Whether it is buying a used car from a guy on the street without having a mechanic look at it, signing a contract without reading the fine print, or making a big purchase without thoroughly looking at your finances, not taking the time to ask questions and get informed can lead you into some fearful situations.

Here in Philippi, after Paul and Silas had cast a fortune-telling demon out of a slave girl who apparently was very accurate, making her master a lot of money in the business world, they were arrested as trouble makers and accused of trying to stir up obstinacy among the Jews.  There was no trial and no questioning, only anger and spite against Paul and Silas, who they perceived to be just regular Jews, who were under the oppression of Rome.  They were severely beaten and thrown into jail.

We know the amazing story that happened that night as Paul and Silas worshiped the Lord even while locked in stocks and the flesh on their backs ripped open and wound exposed.  While they worshiped the ground began to shake, every door in the prison sprang open and all the chains loosened, freeing all the prisoners in the jail, yet none of them walked out.  The jailer was astonished, and he and his entire household became followers of Christ and were water baptized.

The next day those that commissioned the beating and imprisonment of Paul and Silas sent word to have them released as there were no charges that could stick against them, but they would not leave.  Paul demanded to face the men that had them beaten without trial because Paul and Silas were both citizens of Rome.  The magistrates never considered that Paul and Silas might have been Romans.  They never asked about them and only made assumptions about them and the situation.  This new revelation and detail sent fear through men as they knew they could now be charged with a serious crime.  These men who had condemned Paul and Silas to be brought to their knees being beaten with rods, were now at their feet begging them to please leave town so they wouldn’t be able to press charges against them.

Impulsive, emotional decisions can lead to big regrets accompanied with fear.  You can avoid this by asking questions, getting informed, taking time to weigh your options, and give the Lord an opportunity to chime in to.  Don’t make half-cocked decisions; it will reduce your regrets and help you Fear Not.

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348. Pistanthrophobia – Fear of Trusting People

Posted by John Smith on August 25, 2017

left-outActs 9:26-27 NKJV  And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.  (27)  But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

Pistanthrophobia is the fear of trusting people or the fear of putting any faith in people.  For some this is a debilitating phobia that not only isolates them from loved ones, it also makes it difficult for them to receive any of the kind of help that they need.  Though I’m sure most of you don’t suffer from this on that level, we’ve all experienced not trusting someone before.

*Disclaimer* I have had circumstances where the Spirit of God was warning me not to trust certain people I’ve met and I just knew in my spirit to be nice, but not to trust them.  I’m not talking about that… always follow the leading of the Spirit.  Is what I’m talking about are those people who many instinctively recoil from; those with a past.

We have all met people that have a not so great past and past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior… unless there is a REAL change.  But sometimes we meet people, find out about their past and immediately write them off as totally untrustworthy and though we know Theologically they are redeemable we’re reticent to believe they have changed.  This is what Saul experienced after his conversion.

Many of the disciples were afraid of him because of his past (he was arresting Christians after all) and though he didn’t cast any stones personally, he did hold the coats for those that stoned Stephen.  We have the hindsight to see that a real and genuine change had taken place in Saul/Paul, but these people didn’t….  Many churches push new converts or attenders away when they begin to get to know them, because of something in their past.  We all have a past that would raise somebody’s eyebrows and make them nervous if they don’t know us today, so how do we overcome this fear so we can begin to trust others and connect with them.

First, recognize that your suspicions may be unfounded.  Are you just negatively recoiling about how they look, speak, or their past?  A relationship with Jesus can change people.  It changed you.

Second, take them to leadership. Barnabas took Saul to the apostles who met with him and heard his story. These men were all very close with Jesus and were experienced with the leading of the Holy Spirit. It was also part of their responsibility to protect the people.  They should have a good sense about someone’s intentions and trustworthiness. NOTE: not all church leaders are as sensitive as these ones were either.  They might be wrong.

Third, spend time with them. Saul was invited to spend time with the Early Church Leaders (Acts 9:28).  They were able to watch him. NOTE: If you have a speckled past, submit yourself to the elders of your church. Somethings you have to live down and show over time through your actions that the change in you is genuine.  The apostles didn’t just immediately sign off on Saul and promote him to a leadership position.  Saul had to live down his past and prove himself.

Lastly, provide opportunities for people to earn your trust. Give them non-critical places where they can prove themselves and let them grow to greater responsibility as they do (Acts 9:28-30).

Following these steps will help you grow and strengthen new relationships while fostering trust within them.  The person you are afraid to trust because of their past, might just be the next Apostle Paul.

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347. Pray For Boldness to Stand Against Your Fear

Posted by John Smith on August 18, 2017

Acts 4:29-31 NKJV  Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,  (30)  by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”  (31)  And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

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Peter and John had gone to the temple to pray where they encountered a man unable to walk from his birth sitting by the temple gate called Beautiful asking alms of all those that entered.  Instead of giving him money, which they did not have, the Lord used them to heal this man.  This made quite a scene as people as people who knew this man saw the miracle and began to rejoice and praise God along with him.  Then Peter and John took full advantage of the situation and preached Christ to the multitude letting them know it was Jesus, the risen savior, who healed this man and 5,000 people believed in Christ that day.

 

The priests and Sadducees were greatly angered and had them thrown in jail for telling people that Jesus was alive and how believing in Him brought salvation.  The next day they were brought up on charges, questioned, and threatened.  However, the priests could not deny that a miracle had truly been done so they couldn’t punish Peter & John, so they continued to threaten them and then finally let them go.

Peter and John went to some of their faithful friends and reported all that happened and then they began to pray.  Notably they prayed for boldness.  Reading Acts 3 & 4 one would think that they wouldn’t need any more boldness, but they needed boldness because the threats had sown some timidity and fear in their hearts.  You don’t need boldness unless there is some timidity to overcome.

Acts 4:31 tells us that they received a refreshing encounter with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God with BOLDNESS.  They received the boldness they prayed for.  Let’s look at a few elements that bolstered their faith and destroyed any timidity the threats produced.

  1. They were not alone. When they were threatened and needed encouraged they went to their friends.
  2. They were open and honest with their trusted confidants. You need people you can be real with about situations in life. NOTE: Their friends encouraged them.  Don’t go to people that encourage your fears, go to people that speak life into you.
  3. They prayed for the solution and not against the problem. They didn’t pray that the mean and overbearing religious leaders would leave them alone… NOPE they didn’t pray against the problem.  But they prayed for the solution of BOLDNESS to proclaim the truth regardless of the threats.

Peter, John and some of the other disciples that saw what happened to them experienced some timidity and fear after the threats they received.  But they came together, encouraged one another, prayed for one another and left with BOLDNESS that destroyed their fears.  Who do you have that is praying for you about the fears in your life?

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