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Living Free From Fear

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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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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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299. You’re Worth Everything to Jesus

Posted by John Smith on September 9, 2016

precious-1199183_640Matthew 10:29-31 MSG “What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. (30) He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail–even numbering the hairs on your head! (31) 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.

You are valuable to God. I speak to people, Believers everyday who… wait let’s go back to that first statement. You ARE Valuable To God. YOU, yourself, the person reading this right now. ARE, verb, present tense “to be” consist of, contain of, speaks of one’s nature and state. VALUABLE, a thing of great worth. TO GOD!!!!! Yet, believers everyday who I speak with live in fear that their Heavenly Father won’t take care of them and recoil from simple faith and trust in their loving Father.

I hate to admit it but I’ve even had moments where a situation seems so big and I’ve allowed the awareness of God’s awesome and loving omnipresence to diminish and begin to worry and think… what am “I” going to do. That is always a problem.

It isn’t what am I going to do… It’s what has HE done and desires WE (me along with His help) do? The creator of the universe has joyfully and lovingly bonded Himself to us as great personal expense to Himself, having paid the price of our discretions with His own priceless blood. His love is so great that, He knows even the most obscure details about each of us on a molecular… and apparently according to this Scripture a follicular basis. Bottom line – He love us.

Whatever bill, report, or symptom you are facing today, remember He loves you and is with you. You are not alone. Father loves you so much that He sent Jesus, who willingly laid down His life for you out of LOVE. When we begin to forget our immense value to the Lord, fear steps in and begins to isolate us from Him. Don’t let it. Take time to remember and rejoice that the God of all creation is your loving Father and cares for you so much that He paid the ultimate price. Then when that problem that was causing anxiety and fear begins to rise its head, instead of saying, “Oh no, what am I going to do?” remember He is with you and He has delivered you. You are worth everything to God. Fear Not!

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281. Better Days Are Ahead

Posted by John Smith on May 6, 2016

Micah 4:4 NKJV But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, And no one shall make them afraid; For the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.

 This verse speaks of a glorious time after the Lord’s Second Coming where there will be no more war and no longer any need for weapons. A time when people are resting in the shade of God’s provision and where jealousy has subsided so no one fears their neighbor trying to take or destroy what is theirs. A time when there will be nothing to fear.

But what about today?! There are wars. There is pestilence. There really are people out to take what isn’t theirs. In faith we can still sit under HIS VINE resting fearlessly in His presence and in the FULLNESS of who we are in Him. There are better days ahead, but today is not a day of fear or a day of defeat. Today is a day of faith. Today is a day of victory. He has overcome the grave. He has overcome disease. He has overcome the devil. And we now carry that victory.

We carry the victory. That is why Jesus told us not to be afraid of those who might want to destroy us (Matt 10:28) and He gave us authority over our fears, by giving us authority over the enemy. Jesus said in Luke 10:19, “Look, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions and on the full force of the enemy, and nothing will hurt you.” Glory!

There are better days coming, but we don’t have to be afraid today. We carry His victory. Let that be your anthem and your song today as you walk confident and fearless in His victory.

Here are the words to a song by Pastor Benjamin Delay, Family Harvest Church, Seminole, TX, which I couldn’t stop singing when I began writing this post.

 Carry the Victory… by Ben Delay and Legacy Youth

You have overcome death and the grave;
You have overcome sickness and pain.
We carry the victory.
We Carry the victory. He is Alive!

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278. Disobedience, Depression & Fear

Posted by John Smith on April 15, 2016

Jonah 1:5 NLT Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship. But all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold.

Jonah had been given an assignment by the Lord to warn the Ninevites that God was about to deal with their wickedness, but Jonah decided not to obey Him. Jonah knew the compassion and goodness of God and feared that God might show the people of Ninevah mercy if they repented of their evil ways. Jonah was harboring some resentments against the Ninevites for all the evil they had done to the Children of Israel in the past and didn’t want to see them saved, so he was running away from the call of God.

He arranged transport on a ship going in the opposite direction of where God was leading Him, and the journey got tough. Troubles come and the journey of life and following God isn’t always easy… but anytime you run away from the direction He is calling you, can count on one rough ride. A massive storm came, which was so bad that the experience sailors feared for their lives. But Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold. He was beyond fear and not in a positive way.

Jonah was depressed and in great personal anguish knowing that he was turning his back on the Lord he loved and the mission that God had sent him on. Sorrow makes you sleepy. There is a reason Peter, John and James couldn’t stay awake with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane… they were sorrowful (Luke 22:45). Jonah was in such a place of despair that when the horrible storm came against the ship, he didn’t even care. Everyone else was in terror, but Jonah didn’t even care whether he lived or died because his heart was so heavy from the grief of his stubbornness to follow God’s command. That is a very dangerous place to live.

Ultimately, Jonah repented, obeyed God, and a nation of people turned to God. However the journey to that place of obedience was filled with mental anguish, depression and put others in a place of fear. Our takeaway from this should be to simply obey God. Sometimes the things we are instructed to do don’t sound pleasant or we just don’t feel like doing, but God’s heart is always right. Follow Him. Walk with Him. Obey Him. This will help you avoid the anguish of Jonah and make the lives of others around you miserable. Jonah’s disobedience left him depressed and others in fear. His obedience set people free.

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277. Fear Not: He will do, has done, and is doing great things

Posted by John Smith on April 8, 2016

ulsan-442399_640Joel 2:21 KJV Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things.

Joel 2:21 NKJV Fear not, O land; Be glad and rejoice, For the LORD has done marvelous things!

Joel 2:21 LITV Fear not, O land, be glad and rejoice, for Jehovah is doing great things.

Oh no…error alert!!! I’m just kidding, but some people might say that, when they see this verse translated in 3 different tenses. But all three are exactly right.

The Hebrew word ‛âśâh (aw-saw) translated will do, has done, and is doing in these different translations can mean all three. It is a common Hebrew word used 2633 times in the Old Testament and it is used in each one of the three tenses. So how do I know which one it is supposed to be? You let the context determine it. In this case though, I’d have to say YES they are all right and appropriate.

Joel is encouraging Israel not to fear, “FEAR NOT” because the Lord will do great things (note vs 28-29 one of those great things is receiving the Holy Ghost Acts 2). Joel is also encouraging them that they needn’t fear because God has done marvelous things and has a great track record of taking care of His people. So they could rest confidently and fearlessly knowing that the Lord who will do great things, has done great things, and certainly is doing great things.

This hasn’t changed. As a Believer under the New Covenant, you have nothing to fear because God has done marvelous things for us and to us through our redemption provided by Christ Jesus. But He isn’t done. Jesus will continue to do great things, one of them being His glorious return for His Church so we needn’t fear. And of course, He ever continues to live and is doing great things in us and among us by His Spirit. It’s a win, win, win situation.

We have nothing to fear. So FEAR NOT, God has done, will do, and is doing great things for us.

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276. Very Precious to God

Posted by John Smith on April 1, 2016

precious-1199183_640Daniel 10:11-12 NKJV And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling. (12) Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.

Daniel 10:19 NKJV And he said, “O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!” So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”

 Daniel had received a mighty message from God and had begun to lose heart because of the magnitude of the End-Time Message and the 70-week prophecy that he had seen in a vision and heard from Gabriel. Now he just had a vision of the Lord, the pre-incarnate Jesus, Himself and is utterly overwhelmed.

I’ve not yet had this kind of encounter with the Lord, but I have had the opportunities or assignments from the Lord that have made my eyes pop out of my head and my heart to beat out of my chest. In those moments the enormity of the task just seems so vast that I can’t grasp how I’ll get it done or even where to start. Thank God, no matter the calling, the mission, or the task that He gives us, we are never alone.

Daniel was not alone. And you are never alone in the call of God. The Lord wanted to make sure Daniel knew this and sent Gabriel to encourage him (verse 19). I love the way the NLT reads here.

 Daniel 10:19 NLT “Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, “Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me.”

 The Lord wanted to make sure that Daniel knew how precious he was to God and to speak peace and strength over him. In Daniel’s case it took 3 weeks for that encouragement to arrive because of demonic forces blocking the messenger, but you and I no longer have any time delay to be concerned with because the Spirit of God now dwells in us.

God’s indwelling presence provides us with constant encouragement and instant access to His wisdom and presence. We don’t have to fast for 3 weeks to be encouraged by God; it doesn’t even have to take 3 minutes. All we have to do is unplug from the situation or task that is overwhelming us and causing us to fear, and plug into His glorious presence.

So take a moment right now to unplug from stress, problems, and deadlines. Now plug into His indwelling presence and take a deep breath. Let Him speak words of peace, strength and encouragement to you and over you right now. Be refreshed and be encouraged. You are never alone and you are very precious to God.

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272. There is a Higher Authority

Posted by John Smith on March 4, 2016

0006873Daniel 5:18-21 NKJV O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor. (19) And because of the majesty that He gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whomever he wished, he executed; whomever he wished, he kept alive; whomever he wished, he set up; and whomever he wished, he put down. (20) But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him. (21) Then he was driven from the sons of men, his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. They fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses.

King Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful leader and ruler of his day. During his reign there were no kingdoms that could compare to the strength and riches of the Babylonians. Daniel 5:19 records that “all peoples, nations & languages trembled and feared before him.” There was no one that could stand against him and everyone feared his power and the greatness of his kingdom. At least that is what he thought.

Nebuchadnezzar was greatly lifted up in pride and although God reached out to him, warned him and gave him a year to humble himself and repent of his pride, he did not. In one day, Nebuchadnezzar was driven from the palace to the fields and away from aristocratic society. He lived as an animal eating the grass of the field, sleeping on the ground, apparently unable to communicate or think like a man. He lived as a beast with his hair and fingernails growing like one. (Daniel 4)

During this time, he was not feared for his great intellect, strength or power. He may have been feared for his appearance, but no one feared the power he wielded. It had been taken from him and with it the fear of man toward him. After 7 seasons, his sanity returned and he had a massive attitude adjustment. He now understood that no matter how much power he may amass that the Lord was Most High and rules over all human kingdoms.

There are a few takeaways we can have here. One is to remember the dangers of pride and recognize that everything we do or accomplish could not be done without the Lord. Another and what I’d like to stress is that no matter how much real or perceived power a person, a group, or a government may amass, our God is still Lord Most High and the ruler over all kingdoms. At present there are many Christians throughout the world, as well as here in the United States that are afraid of political powers and figures. We are to love them, respect the offices they hold, but we are not to fear them or the power they possess.

We never have to fear nations, political leaders, or anyone because we are children of the Most High who rules over all kingdoms. It is in Him that we trust, serve and live. The just shall live by faith (Rom 1:17) and not in fear. Love God! Love People! Preach the Truth in Love! Do not fear! There is a Higher Authority.

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268. Oneirophobia – The Fear of Dreams

Posted by John Smith on February 5, 2016

Daniel 4:5 NKJV I saw a dream which made me afraid, and the thoughts on my bed and the visions of my head troubled me.

Oneirophobia is the fear of dreams or dreaming. It is generally present in those who have had a traumatic experience or traumatic nightmare who fear dreaming about the experience or having a reoccurrence of the terrifying dream again. In this case, Nebuchadnezzar was having a prophetic dream about himself.

Nebuchadnezzar was a powerful king and man of war from his youth. There was no man nor nation that he feared, yet “God can make the minds of the greatest men uneasy amidest all their glory, pride, and pleasure (John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible).” Still, God wasn’t out to torment the guy. The Lord was trying to help him. Nebuchadnezzar was a very prideful man and the Lord was trying to warn him about the upcoming pending fall he would take unless he had an immediate change in his attitude. He didn’t heed the advice given in Daniel 4:27 and a year later while boasting on himself (v30), God spoke and the dream was fulfilled.

The most terrifying dream I’ve ever had was when I was about 11. It involved a cartoon version of the Incredible Hulk chasing me around my house and I hid in the clothes dryer prior to waking up in a panic. Hey, stop laughing! It was terrifying. I also used to have reoccurring night terrors where boulders like in “Indiana Jones” were following me. I’d wake up after physically running through the house and my Dad would have to grab me and helped me come out of the dream. Now, I doubt either of those were prophetic warnings from the Lord and am relatively convinced they were a result of bad diet both in what I ate and what I watched on TV, and because I hadn’t yet experienced the peace of God that comes with salvation. I certainly don’t discount the Lord speaking to people through dreams. Joel prophesied about it (Joel 2:28-30), Peter preached about it in Acts 2 and Paul experienced it in Acts 16:9. But none of these guys feared dreams. And neither should you.

Nebuchadnezzar feared because he was a prideful man, lacking reverence and Holy fear of God. Even so, the dream was only terrifying if he would not recognize that the God’s Lordship over him. God loved Nebuchadnezzar enough to warn him of where his pride was taking him and to show him that if he would mend his ways and submit himself to God’s Lordship that there would be nothing to fear. Is Jesus your Lord? If so, then Fear Not! If not, read Romans 10:8-13, believe what it says, ask Jesus to be the Lord of your life, and Fear Not!

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267. The Ultimatum

Posted by John Smith on January 29, 2016

Daniel 3:15-16 MSG I’m giving you a second chance–but from now on, when the big band strikes up you must go to your knees and worship the statue I have made. If you don’t worship it, you will be pitched into a roaring furnace, no questions asked. Who is the god who can rescue you from my power?” (16) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “Your threat means nothing to us.

When your boss or political leaders in your nation make a new law, regulation, or protocol that is directly opposed to what the Lord has established in His Word, what do you do? You may not be asked to bow down and worship a statue, but will you bow down to a statute? Lay down for a lie? Prostrate for a proclamation? When your boss asks you to fudge a few numbers on a report or stretch the truth on a statement, what will you do?

Although throwing people alive into flaming furnaces is a practice presently frowned upon in most of the free world, there are consequences that we will face if we don’t go along with the establishment. You could be passed over for promotion, lose benefits, be fired, potentially jailed or lose your 501c3 tax exempt status depending on how our government decides on some legislation presently and that will be before them in the future. What will you do when faced with very real, life changing, and fearful consequences? Life will present you with ultimatums; how will you decide?

Some choose the “flight” response and knuckle under to the fear and pressure, sacrificing their morals and uprooting their faith. Others choose to “fight” in response to the pressure and their fears forming protests and often lacing their opposition to the policy with hate and even threats or violence. Don’t get me wrong when our civil liberties are being taken away we should stand up and do something, but hate is not the answer. Thankfully we at least presently have a system of government that allows us to take legal action against unjust laws and the people still have a voice, although if we refrain from using that voice we won’t have it for long. Still, look at these young men’s response. They courageously submitted themselves to the present law of the land and its penalty, which was about to roast them alive, while respectfully declining to follow the ordinance.

These men were full of integrity and would not allow the fear of the fire to move them from doing what was right in the sight of God. They knew they were not to have any other gods besides Him and were to only worship the Lord God of Israel (Exodus 20). They chose to accept whatever the consequences of following God’s Word would be and they did it without malice or hatred toward the one imposing the command. How could they do such a thing? Their faith.

Daniel 3:17-18 MSG If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. (18) But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”

They knew God was more than able to deliver them. They also knew that if they perished in the flames they would be in Paradise. The ultimatum from the enemy was a win-win situation for them. Either God would miraculously deliver them or they would be delivered and set free from the bondage they were in as slaves. All they had to do was remember that and not allow fear to drive them away from God. Their faith in God allowed them to both follow His Word and submit themselves to the law of man boldly and without fear. May we be as bold.

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