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Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

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

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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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344. Get Out of the House!

Posted by John Smith on July 28, 2017

John 20:19 NKJV  Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

On the evening of the day of His resurrection, Jesus who had already been seen by Mary Magdalene and proclaimed to be alive to a few other ladies by an angel is about to appear to His disciples.  These great men and women of God, who had been following Jesus for years now, were huddled together in a home with the windows drawn and the doors shut because they were afraid.  They were hiding.  They were afraid.

They had heard that Jesus body was gone.  They weren’t sure what they thought about Mary’s testimony that she had seen and spoken to Jesus, but they were sure that they were being considered as prime suspects in the disappearance of Jesus’ body.  They feared that they would be put to death as His disciples or apprehended as body snatchers so they hid.  Their fear kept them from living life, proclaiming God’s goodness, and certainly hindered them from hearing testimonies and remembering both God’s Word and what Jesus Himself had told them about how He must die and be resurrected.

Then Jesus walks in to the midst of their fearful situation and says, “Peace be with you.”  His presence and His Word bring us peace when we are overwhelmed.  When we realize that we have His peace and have been sent by God on a mission of mercy to the world we will leave the house.  Your house is whatever fears you allow to keep you bound up.  They prevent you from living life.  They keep you from embracing His Promises to you.  They also keep us from fulfilling our purpose and our call as His ambassadors in the Earth.

It is time to get out of the house.  It’s time to shed your fears.  And the Church is not exempt.  For LIGHT to truly be effective it must be in the darkness.  Fear keeps the church huddled up together and contained by the darkness all around us.  After Jesus walked into that home and said, “Peace be with you” everything changed for those men and women.  They knew it was time to get out of the house.  They knew they had destiny to do.

You have destiny to do too.  Jesus has come into your house and spoken peace to you in the midst of your fears just like He did those disciples that day.  It’s time to get out of the HOUSE.  The light in you is powerful; go shine it in the darkness.  You have His peace!  Fear Not!

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343. Honor Jesus

Posted by John Smith on July 21, 2017

honor_1110_624John 19:38 NKJV  After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus.

Joseph of Arimathea, had been one that had heard Jesus, loved Him, and believed in Him as Lord, but was too afraid to confess Him openly because of his social and political standing in the community.  He was afraid of being ex-communicated by the Jews, kicked out of the synagogue, and losing his status as a leader in the Sanhedrin.  Now moved by grief, yet inspired by integrity of Jesus and his faith in Jesus, Joseph boldly approached Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.  This action alone would have been enough to have him ostracized and restricted from attending the synagogue. 

Joseph was no longer afraid.  The disciples were in hiding having forsaken Jesus, but Joseph moved by a sense of duty, obligation, a desire to honor, and mostly his FAITH in Christ rose up against his fear acknowledging Christ and his relationship with Him.

There are many situations that come up at work, around friends, and even family that can make us nervous about speaking up concerning Christ.  Some even buckle under the pressure.  But if you will listen and yield to the Spirit within you to do, say, and believe what He is telling you and RISE UP.  Your fear will fade as your FAITH focuses on simply doing what is right and honoring Jesus.  A commitment to honoring Jesus will help you rise above your fears.

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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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