Lord I Need You, I’m Afraid

Do you struggle with fear?

I know I do. I learned to be afraid of storms as a child because of the fear demonstrated by two adults in my life. I continue to struggle with this fear even after all these years.

Fear can paralyze me in an instant. A little over a year ago when I was going to have surgery and I started to read about what I had to go through, I became very anxious.  The fear and anxiety were overwhelming.

There are so many times fear can engulf our hearts, and we need only cry out, “Lord, I need You!” The Lord has many lessons to teach us in the circumstances that life brings. I remember one that occurred just prior to my surgery. I had decided to take a walk, and as I walked I was talking to the Lord about all of the fear within. I rambled on and on, hoping to somehow find some relief for the anxiety within. My thoughts were racing, my brain was conjuring up all kinds of awful possibilities. And then suddenly, “PEACE, BE STILL.” The words literally stopped me in my tracks. The raging sea of anxiety calmed immediately. How had I forgotten that God was with me? How had I overlooked the fact that He would be with me during the surgery?

How do we forget God and His great power to help us through the fearful times in our lives?

The Israelites forgot too. In Numbers 13 we learn that the Lord had instructed Moses to send spies to scout out the land of Canaan. The Israelites wer finally getting close to entering the Promised Land. So Moses followed the Lord’s instruction by sending one man from each of the 12 tribes. Before they went he gave them a list of things to evaluate as they traveled. They were to see if the people living in Canaan were strong or weak and if there were many or few. They were to check out the land and see if it was good or bad, whether it was fertile or unproductive. They were to see if the people lived in encampments or in fortified cities. And they were told to also bring back some of the fruit that grew there.

The trip took the twelve men 40 days. When they came back to give their report, of course, the men had different viewpoints regarding what they had seen. Our level of faith leads us to see the same obstacles in different ways. Ten of the men shared how daunting the large, fortified cities were and how strong the people were. When the Israelites heard this they became very riled up. So much so, that when Caleb wanted to speak he had to quiet the group down. Caleb told the group that they definitely should go and conquer the land. His idea wasn’t popular after hearing what the other men had to say. Caleb knew that the Lord would be with them and he trusted that the Lord would be their help. Yet, the other spies went on with their report causing the Israelites to fear even more as they talked about the giants of Nephilim.

When fear overtakes us it is an obvious sign that our trust is dissipating. Our trust is God diminishes. We forget the truth that God is who He has told us He is, and that He can do what He says He can do. When fear takes over the giants only increase in size and strength. Our God becomes a dwarf in comparison. Our thinking becomes skewed and all hope is lost.

Have you been there? Maybe you are there now? What insurmountable giants stand before you? Is it disease? Or an upcoming surgery? Maybe you’re in the midst of a messy divorce that causes you fear. Or is it a job loss which means a loss of income?

When we look at circumstances with faithless eyes, we see with fear all that is coming at us. When we remember God’s faithfulness and look at circumstances with trusting hearts suddenly the giants are conquerable because our God is a great God.

Deuteronomy 31:5 tells us: “Be strong and courageous, don’t be terrified or afraid of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

The Lord goes with us. He won’t leave us no matter where this life takes us. Psalm 91 promises that the Lord will deliver us. It says that we can take refuge under His wing and He will cover us with His feathers. What a beautiful picture of safety and security. The truths of the Lord’s faithfulness will be our shield of protection. We can count on Him.

Jeremy Camp’s song “The Same Power” says that the same power that God used to raise Jesus from the dead is the power we have access to. The Lord can calm the raging sea and I know from personal experience He can calm the anxiety and fear raging in my heart.

If you are living in fear today, remember God. Remember His loving presence, call on Him, you are not alone.

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Equality at the Cross

Romans 3:23 tells us that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” 

We find equality at the cross. We find equality because:

  • We all are sinful before a Holy God. Our sin is the reason for our need of a Savior. we all come to Jesus as sinners in need of forgiveness and salvation.
  • We need Him to live through us, because we cannot live this Christian life apart from Him. We cannot live as little Christ’s if not empowered by HIm.
  • There at the cross we all need to surrender our rights and yield to Him as well as to others. Not one of us can do it our way and find that acceptable by God.

The bottom line is we all need God’s grace. We are all guilty apart from His grace. Then why is it that we sometime forget this? Why is it that there are Christians walking away from the church with deep hurts because of what people say and do? Why is so much damage being done in a place that is to be filled with His love?

I ask these questions because of a sadness growing in my heart. I am hearing more and more from other believers about how they have been hurt by their Christian brothers and sisters. Brothers and sisters who have chosen to leave the church because of such deep hurt and feelings of abandonment.

Do we accept the grace the Lord extends to us and then refuse to give it to others?

Jesus tells the parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21-35) in response to Peter asking how many times one should forgive. This parable tells how a servant whose Lord had forgiven him much (a debt to the equivalent of several million dollars), then turns around and refuses to forgive another servant.

Jesus was painting a pictures of the magnitude of the debt He paid for our sin. He wants us to recognize that, to realize the grace we have received and He commands us to give that same grace to others. He wants us to give grace to those who sin against us or offend us.

Critical and judgmental attitudes hurt many, pushing some away to even question the Lord’s love. Harsh words spoken cause some to leave the church. how this must grieve the Lord.

I know this is a touchy subject. Should we condone sin? How are we suppose to respond? How do we balance grace and truth? God’s truth and God’s grace need to be shared. The problems arise when one gets out of balance. When we either grow legalistic or when we take the cost of grace lightly, either way we can get ourselves into trouble.

We need to remember the truth about our sinfulness, each one of us. We must come daily, sometimes moment-by-moment to the foot of the cross for forgiveness. And we need to remember that the grace given cost Jesus His life. Jesus was given to die for us out of God’s love for us. we have done nothing to earn that grace.

When the Pharisee’s drag the woman caught in adultery before Jesus, He did not condemn her, instead He said that the one without sin should cast the first stone (to begin the stoning as the law required). You can read this account in 1 John 8:1-11.

James 2:10 tells us that if we have broken one commandment, we have broken them all. Jesus wants us to see our own self-righteousness stinks before our holy God. Jesus is our righteousness. He want us to see the sin of others and say, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” Apart from God’s grace who knows what choices we may make. The Lord has shown each of us amazing favor in our lives.

This takes me back to Ann Voskamp in The Broken Way. She said that everyone is just asking “will you love me?” I think that in our need for love, in our love-hunger, we all commit sinful acts. We commit adultery or idolatry each day as we choose something else above the Lord. We seek to find what will fill us and reach for an empty substitute that looks good. But we so often don’t even recognize it, yet another’s sin is very visible to us. And how quickly we make judgments or criticize. We forget that we are not God, we are not able to judge anyone’s heart correctly. Only the Lord can do that. Only God is holy and omniscient.

As a recipient of God’s grace I am called to be gracious as He is gracious.. The parable of the unforgiving servant makes that very clear. The unforgiving one was thrown into prison.

When we choose the way of grace responding to people with love, we give them hope and power to find the right path. We are to share God’s truth in His love, wrapped in the hope of His grace.  We come to the foot of the cross as sinners, our debt paid by Christ, by Him alone.

O Lord, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart please You. for You alone are holy. Help me Lord to share Your truth and Your grace in perfect balance. Do not let me deterr anyone by word or deed but instead may they see You welcoming them. Amen.

We all must return to the Lord daily to confess our sins and keep our relationship right. He does not turn us away but instead we find His grace and love to lead us to repent. May we treat others as He treats us. Do you know of any hurting brother or sister who needs to know the reality of God’s grace in the midst of a difficult ot painful situation? How are you responding to them? What will you do to help them know the truth about His grace? We are equal at the foot of the cross.

God is Gracious

What does the graciousness of God mean to you?

The word gracious means to show kindness to those who are inferior, and to be filled with compassion. Grace is defined as unmerited favor. These words are a perfect description of who God is and how He has acted and continues to act towards us.

God’s grace towards us is a result of His unconditional love. Our Heavenly Father loves us, His children, as a parent does their own child. A parent desires the best for their child, and the Lord desires His best for us.

The Lord shows us His grace through His gift of redemption to us. He offers us forgiveness and eternal life through Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Lord has demonstrated His grace throughout the Bible.

In the Old Testament, we learn this about our God and His graciousness:

Joel 2:13 “And rend your heart and not your garments. Now return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and compassionate. Slow to anger, abounding in loving-kindness, And relenting of evil.”

Joel is telling the people don’t just tear our clothes in grief, but tear your hearts. Your sin should make you that sad. He wants the people to recognize what they have left when they turned their back on God. He is speaking to us too, we also turn our backs on the Lord and we also need to repent.

Psalm 145:8 “The Lord is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in loving-kindness.”

Psalm 116:5 “Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate.”

The Psalmists in these two Psalms is describing the God each one has come to know.

Isaiah 30:15 “Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you, For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.”

Isaiah is explaining to the Israelites, who have been very rebellious, that although God hates their evil ways, He is actually waiting to be gracious and compassionate to them. God loves His people that much. God desires so much to show us compassion and grace, He waits while we walk the path of sin, He waits for us to turn back to Him so He can demonstrate His love to us. His heart longs to do that. Can we even comprehend a love such as this?

In the New Testament, we find:

Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.” 

Paul explains in Romans that we have justification through our faith, we have been declared just or righteous, we, who believe, have been acquitted. And because of that we are no longer at war with God as we had been when we lived in sinfulness. But, now we stand in grace and can boast of the hope we have in this amazing grace. We have been declared right before God. God knows that we still sin, but he has robed us in Christ’s righteousness. 

Ephesians 2:8-10 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from ourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good words, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Paul goes on to explain that none of this is about us, it is nothing that we have done, it is all God’s gift to us. We cannot take credit for any of it.

Titus 2:11 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,”

Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). He came to earth for all of us, we all are in need of a Savior. He came to seek and save those lost in a sinful life, That describes mankind. He came to bring hope to sinners.

We recently celebrated Easter or sometimes called Resurrection Sunday by believers.

 We celebrate this holiday because:

  • Through faith in Him we have the hope of heaven.
  • Through faith in Him we have Eternal life.
  • Through faith in Him we have access to God (our Heavenly Father).
  • Through faith in Him we have forgiveness of sins.

Grace, Grace, God’s Grace, greater than all our sins. All of these are ours through faith in Jesus. Do you want to learn more about God’s grace? My posts for the month of May will center around the grace of God, topics such as the sufficiency of His grace, the equality we find at the foot of the cross, and the throne of grace that He invites us to. I also want to dig into some illustrations of His grace found in Scripture.

Our hope rests in the grace that Jesus has bought for us on the cross through His death and resurrection. Do you have that hope? I look forward to sharing with you about all we have through Jesus. Let’s find refreshment for our souls in God’s word, in His Truths, and in His promises. Without His grace we are left in the hopelessness of our sinful state.

Yield Your Mind

Health and wellness are very important topics, especially at the beginning of a new year. Many people are all hyped up about eating well and working out. There is much talk about losing inches, losing pounds, and throwing away sugar-laden foods. Our physical health is of utmost importance. Our bodies are the temple of God.

But, as much as we are to care well for our bodies, the Lord is just as concerned with our minds. 

Ask yourself these question:

  • What am I feeding my mind?
  • Is my mind filled with unhealthy thoughts?
  • Does anything need to be thrown out?

Romans 8:16 says “To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Do you have life and peace?

Setting the mind on the flesh is to be carnal minded, to follow the inclinations of the flesh as a gateway to sin.

Whereas to set the mind on the Spirit is to “cultivate the graces of the Spirit and to submit to his influence. To be Spirit-minded is to seek those feelings and views which the Holy Spirit produces and follow His leadings.” (Studylight.org- Albert Barnes commentary public domain)

Our minds as Christian, belong to the Lord. We have been blood-bought. The Apostle Paul knew the human mind and the struggles of this life. He knew the importance of having a mind that honored the Lord and one that was Spirit-controlled. He says “I am destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.” 2 Corinthian s 10:5a

Paul’s words emphasize the importance of checking our thoughts against the knowledge of God. I came up with a few questions for us to use as we consider what is going on in our minds:

  1. Is this thought truth? Or am I bring duped by the Devil with a lie? Does it measure up to the plumb-line of what God’s Word says?
  2. Does it honor the Lord?
  3. Does this thought adhere to God judgment? Will it lead to making a choice considered to be righteous?
  4. Will moving forward with this edify others? Does it build up or tear down?
  5. Am I using this idea to seek my own advance apart from seeking to bring glory to God?

Paul goes on to say “I am taking every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthian s 10:5b

We, like Paul, need to imprison each thought and lay it at the feet of Jesus, subjecting all to the obedience of Christ. I like the word “imprison,” I think it gives us a good word-picture. Think of it this way, it would mean taking our thoughts and putting them in a place where they can’t move on until we know that they measure up. How different our minds would be and the thoughts that travel through, if we yielded them to God, if they were under Spirit-control!

Philippians 4:8 tells us specifically what we should be thinking about. Our minds should be filled with what is true, with goodness, rightness, purity, loveliness, with things that are admirable, and with anything that is excellent or praiseworthy.

I don’t know about you, but if I had to take inventory for a day and see how many thoughts fit in those categories, I would find many that would not belong. So many negative thoughts go through our minds, whether the words are self-talk or thoughts in response to what someone else says or does.

Choosing to yield our minds to the Lord may mean we stop and evaluate our thoughts, considering what is not pleasing to Him. Replacing a lie with a scriptural truth, turning a worry into a prayer, or stopping to ask forgiveness for a sinful or prideful thought.

Our minds are a clutter with so many thoughts. Maybe as we get our bodies in shape, this would also  be a good time to take inventory of what our thoughts are. What could be more important than to seek to exercise ways to grow in holiness as we yield to the Lord? How will you begin?