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Posts Tagged ‘LiveFearless’

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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350. 4 Keys to Fearless Living

Posted by John Smith on September 8, 2017

FrontCoverOnlyActs 18:9-10 NASB  And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent;  (10)  for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.”

We all need encouraged from time to time and the Apostle Paul was no exception.  Entering Corinth, Paul immediately experienced some pretty stout rejection to the Gospel of Christ.  Heading to the gentiles he gained some traction, then the ruler of the synagogue believed and was baptized.  Still, the rejection Paul faced initially had caused him to experience some fear.

Then one evening the Lord appeared to Paul in a vision and told him to Fear Not.  He actually told Paul 4 key things that we can glean from to help us live free from fear.  He told Paul:

  1. Don’t be afraid. Fear Not! (This is a command from the Lord.)
  2. Do not be silent, but confront your fear. (For Paul that meant preach the Word)
  3. I am with you.
  4. You are not alone. “I have many people in this city.”

Jesus told Paul to stop fearing.  This is a pretty common message from Him (Mt 10:26,28,31; Mt 14:27; Mt 17:7; Mt 28:10; Mk 5:36; etc…).  Thankfully He also gives us some instruction on how to stop.

He told Paul to preach the Word and not to be silent.  Paul’s fear stemmed from the many painful rejections and the opposition he had face as a minister of God’s grace.  It was triggered by the hostile interaction he had shortly after arriving in Corinth.  Jesus encouraged Paul not to quit but to face his fear.  When fear grips us we must face it, we cannot remain silent and let it run rough shod over us.  Stand up.  Declare your freedom.  Then take a deep breath and confront your fear.

Next Jesus reminded Paul, the very one given the revelation of the mystery of Christ in us, that He was with him.  If you’ve been born again, then you are never alone.  Jesus is always with you by His Spirit.  But He didn’t stop there.  He went on to say that there were other people who loved God and would be a support and strength to Paul.  You have these people too.  They are found in your local church.

Jesus is always with you and is ready to walk with you as you confront your fears.  There are also many people in your city church that will support you, encourage you, and stand with you.  Don’t be afraid.  Don’t be silent.  Jesus is with you.  You don’t have to be alone.  There is a whole church waiting for you.  Fear Not!

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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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346. Supernatural Boldness

Posted by John Smith on August 11, 2017

Acts 2:43 NKJV  Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.

A great reverence and awe fell upon this entire community as 3,000 people gladly received Jesus as their Lord, were baptized, and devoutly continued to follow the teachings of the Apostles.  It was just a few weeks before that many of these same people had been shouting “crucify Him” and now they have believed on Him as Messiah.  The verse records that a great many wonders and signs were now also being done through the Apostles of Jesus.  Now notice the first word in this verse. It says “then”.

Before this great reverential fear took hold of the community, before these many signs and wonders were done, before these 3,000 people were saved and baptized, Peter overcame fear.  On the day of Pentecost Peter, who 7 weeks prior had denied even knowing Jesus when inquired by a lowly servant girl (Luke 22:54), stands up with the other apostles and addresses a large crowd that had gathered after hearing the sound of a rushing mighty wind (Acts 2:2,6) and then hears the disciples off Jesus who were in the upper room all speaking and praising God in many different languages not previously known to them.  Something happened to Peter.  A few things actually.

The first thing to note is that Peter had been born-again.  Peter had seen and spent 40 days with Jesus after His death, burial, and subsequent resurrection.  Peter knew Jesus was alive from the dead and determined to follow the risen Lord (John 21:1-10, Romans 10:9-10, Acts 1:3).

Peter also received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4).  This new encounter and relationship with the Spirit of God not only empowered Peter and the others for the supernatural ministry that would follow, but also brought an increased confidence & boldness through this encounter that Jesus he would, “receive power” through to “be witnesses to Me (Jesus)” throughout the world (Acts 1:8).

Thirdly, Peter wasn’t standing alone.  Although there would be times he might be physically alone in the future, this day he had 119 of his closest friends and supporters nearby.  Acts 2:14 says that as he stood to address the crowd and explain to them what they were seeing and hearing the other 11 apostles (original 10 and Matthias chosen to replace Judas) stood up with him.  It is easier to be courageous when you have support.

All these things added to the boldness of Peter as he ministered to the multitudes that day.  He had received the fearless nature of Christ through the New Birth.  He had received supernatural power and boldness through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  And he had a core group of people that were standing with and supporting him.  He fearlessly stepped out to proclaim the Gospel of Christ and explain the move of the Spirit, “THEN” a holy fear came upon everyone in Jerusalem.  You too can be bold and live fearless.  Be born-again giving your life to Christ.  Pray for and receive the baptism in the Spirit (Luke 11:9-13).  Congregate with other like-minded Believers that will encourage you to step out in faith and be the light you are.  Then stand up and be bold for Christ, who knows… maybe a holy fear will fall on your community too.

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345. Macrophobia – A fear of long waits.

Posted by John Smith on August 4, 2017

how-long-would-you-wait-the-high-cost-of-wasting-customers-timeActs 1:7-11 NKJV  And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.  (8)  But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  (9)  Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.  (10)  And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel,  (11)  who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

I don’t know anyone that just loves to wait, but some don’t just hate it; they fear it.  Like any fear there are higher, more debilitating levels and lower levels.  If you spend some time thinking you will probably think of a number of people that have exhibited macrophobia.  It’s not that they are necessarily in a hurry but they are just anxious about waiting for the answer, the movie, the phone call, the amusement park ride, the doctor’s office, etc….  Some Christians even get anxious as we WAIT for His return.  I believe some of the people that saw the Lord ascend into Heaven experienced macrophobia.

Jesus just told them that it was none of their business when the Father would have Him return to set up His earthly kingdom.  Instead, He told them they should be walking in the power of the Spirit and providing evidence that Jesus is Alive.  Yet as He ascended, they just stood there staring up into the sky.  We don’t know how long they stood there looking, but apparently it was long enough that the Lord had to send some angels to them to tell them to get back to the important business at hand.

Sometimes I think He wants to send angels to us to tell us the same thing.  Many times under the stresses and trials of life I’ve told the Lord, “You can come back anytime now.”  Or said, “You know this would be a whole lot easier if you just came back already.”  And I don’t think I’m alone.  I look forward to the glorious day that our Savior returns for His Church, but sometimes I just want it now because I don’t want to deal with something or am under some other pressure and want relief.  Sometimes though, I just yearn to be with Him so bad that I no longer want to wait to see Him face to face.  You know what the Lord’s response to people that don’t want to wait is?  Stop waiting and go do something.

That’s it.  He said do something.  If you hate waiting for things, do something else.  Take a book with you to the doctor’s office, do some push-ups or crunches during commercials, or find something else use full to do while you wait.  For those waiting for His return or getting over anxious for it, reading and re-reading every eschatological book they can get their hands on; or for those just wishing He’d come back so we could avoid a difficult conversation or circumstance… Stop it!  Go do something productive for the Kingdom.  Jesus is coming back.  We’ve been commissioned to tell others about His return.  Get busy!

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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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339. No mo’ FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

Posted by John Smith on June 16, 2017

John 14:16 NKJV  And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—

One might think that nomophobia is being free from fear and having No-Mo-phobia… but it is actually the fear of being without your mobile device.  It is one of the fastest growing fears and anxieties in our culture.  Studies have shown that about 66 percent of adults feel extreme anxiety if they lose connection with their mobile device.  Before we start spending too much time on discussing this phenomenon let’s just jump to the root of the fear. People are afraid of being out contact… perhaps FOMO (fear of missing out) is partly to blame too.  But people increasingly become anxious the longer they are out of contact or the ability to be out of contact with others.

This phenomenon leads us to isolate and be alone even when together because we feel we must keep up on what is going on so we don’t miss out.  In reality we end up missing out on present opportunities to connect, laugh, and live life with others.  Don’t let FOMO steal from you and what you can have right now.  In John 14:16, Jesus said the Holy Spirit is with the Believer all the time.  Hebrews 13:5 tells us that He will never leave us.  You are never alone.  With the Holy Spirit with you, you are never alone and you are never missing out.  It’s ok to check your social media from time to time, but don’t let FOMO keep you from experiencing all that God has for you through a living and vital relationship with the ONE friend who you can always utterly depend on.  You don’t have to miss out on anything in life when you pull in close to the Holy Spirit, who desires to make sure you walk in and possess everything that Christ died for you to have.  Through your relationship with Him you can have no mo’ FOMO.

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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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