Day 9: Facing Fear

copy-of-copy-of-salvation

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

We face fear when we see its potential consequences, place them in God’s hands and adopt His hope, instead.

Scripture of the Day:

Proverbs 23:18

“Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”

Psalm 119:116

“Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.”


The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s words from his first inaugural address still profoundly convey a truth that exposes fear’s impact.

Fear has been a foe of mine for some time. Over and over again it would rise up, taunting me with its threats. It promised destruction and failure. It spoke of an end to hope and propagated a message of being forgotten or forsaken. It left a lingering feeling of uncertainty and insecurity.

Fear grips our hearts and minds and threatens to paralyze us from moving forward in life. When we give in to fear, we let it rule us and limit the life God has for us.

Fear is formed in the midst of a disruption of our hope for our life. Struggling to put together the pieces of our broken dreams, we grasp onto a counterfeit hope and try to build again. We fake a smile or try to pretend the fear building inside of us does not exist. We try to placate the fear with a substitute hope, but it just does not work.

God has something better to help us overcome fear and restore a new hope.

Instead of trying to escape fear, we can look at it square in the eyes and speak to it in light of what God says about our hope and future. Fear is intimidating, but in the face of perfect love, it is cast out. 

When fear attempts to consume us, God’s word speaks a living promise.

Isaiah 34:4

“Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear;

your God will come, he will come with vengeance;

with divine retribution he will come to save you.’”

The gavel pounded and my heart pounded within me. My children would have to testify in court. The asthma which was formerly in remission tightened its noose around me and I struggled to breathe. Looking around the room, I felt the piercing stare of hatred from those who pursued me relentlessly.

Trying to maintain control over my emotions, I silently prayed for God to give me strength to not give in to fear. He overwhelmed me with His grace and strength. I did not want to endure the suffering I had feared, but I learned to trust Him when the path hurts that He has me on and to approach fear with God’s grace instead of my own strength.

My heart hurt so desperately for my children and I wanted to spare them, but in that moment the LORD told me that they were His and He would enable them. Sometimes we don’t want to have to walk through the door of fear, but until we walk through it we cannot see the victory and hope that God has for us on the other side.

Ultimately, God granted victory, but more important than the victory in court was the victory over broken hope and the creation of a firm hope in Him.

Fear can take on a life of its own. Fear feels so very real and sometimes it is not based on reality at all. Either way, there is a way out and it is not through our own manufactured hope. We face fear when we see its potential consequences, place them in God’s hands and adopt His hope, instead.

Rather than fearing losing what we planned or hoped for, we have an alternative that never fails. If we give our hopes and fears to God, He can show us another kind of hope that is based on His goodness and mercy, rather than our gain.

Lord, thank You for revealing Your goodness and hope to us. Help us to trust you when we are filled with fear and fill us with Your hope and joy instead.

 

 

Mundane Monday: Count Your Blessings

Count your blessings

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Don’t let the burdens of this life weigh you down – God will use them to lift you up!

Scriptures:

Psalm 68:19 “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.”

Psalm 103:2 “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”

James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Psalm 103:10 “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”

From one thing to another, this day had Monday written all over it.  I thought about not posting today.  It was one of those days that I’d rather forget . . . until God gently whispered to me His encouragement through precious saints in my life.

While I pondered wearing the “rejection” or “failure” sticker today, my oldest daughter came and shared a post she wrote today about contentment.  God was using one who I had poured into to encourage me.  Then my son came next and shared an essay he wrote about how he hopes to be used by God to help others.  On and on it went, my children circling me and sharing one blessing after another, followed by my precious husband who, with a smile, wiped away my tears.  Wow.  Now what was I complaining about?

Trials and problems have a tendency to discourage and disillusion us if we let them, but God has a much better plan.  Taking our discomforts, insults, judgments and rejection as a tool for His glory and our good, He redeems it all.

Instead of regretting such problems or treatment, we can rejoice that God sees everything and always chooses to delight in us, giving us His amazing undeserved gift of salvation.

This life is hard.  Maybe today was a rough one for you, too.  Look around.  What blessings are right there in your midst, that has God accomplished in and through you that are often taken for granted?  He is indeed good – all the time – and our ever-present help in time of trouble.

Lord, thank You for encouraging us when we are hurt and prone to self-pity.  You are able to take what seemed pointless and give us a precious jewel in the midst.  You are our treasure, Lord, and You are enough.

Thoughtful Thursday: Illusive Discipline

Photo Credits: quotivee.com

Photo Credits:
quotivee.com

Proverbs 5:11-12, 23

11 “And at the end of your life you will groan when your flesh and your body are wasted away.  12 And you will say, “How I hated discipline! My heart spurned reproof!” 23 He will die because there was no discipline; because of the greatness of his folly he will reel.”

1 Timothy 4:7

“But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.”

1 Corinthians 9:27

“But I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

Our flesh despises discipline.  Routine is agony and seemingly inhibits freedom.  I have struggled for most of my adult life to be consistent in exercise, healthy eating and devotions.  Just when I thought I mastered one of these areas, I saw how woefully wrong I was.

We never arrive.  So what is the point of still trying?  It is in the trying, the persisting, the pressing on that character is formed, often unknowingly to the soul that seeks to follow God closely.

Discipline gets bad publicity.  It is seen as wrong in today’s society when applied to the parent/child relationship.  It might even be viewed as abusive to apply punishment for a wrong done.  Denying self seems brutal to many, too, because flesh is the god this world bows to.

Christ knew we would struggle to be disciplined, but He did not lower the bar.  He raised the bar and demonstrated a disciplined life, yielded to God.  We all prefer lavish grace – we are only human, after all.  But God expects more and so should we.  Lowering the bar because we are imperfect is not grace – it is laziness.

We would never accept a lackluster job performance for something we paid for, yet we expect forgiveness, mercy and understanding when we live our lives -which were bought at a high price – for self.  The dichotomy of our expectations and contributions brings us to a crisis.  A crisis of seeing God’s requirement and our inability to carry it out.  In that moment of realization, though, we see our need of Him to help us exercise our will toward righteousness and kingdom purposes.

Being disciplined is so very hard.  The flesh wars against our soul and is a pushy personality.  It wants what it wants – when it wants it. Paul understood this and battled against his flesh, too.  This is where victory lies – staying in the battle. When failure after failure pile up as witnesses against us, we rise again to battle, because the war is already won.  To give up is not an option – we are not defeated if we will only continue to deny the flesh and ask God to help us choose the disciplined path.

Lord, thank You for your grace.  Your laws and precepts are perfect and medicine to our soul.  What we perceive as discipline is what we really need.  Thank You for Your patience, LORD.  Help us to walk in victory, faithfully following Your decrees all for Your glory.

God-Confidence & the Cloak of Many Colors

Philipians 4:13

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

2 Timothy 1:7

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  

Psalm 27:3

Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.

My stomach betrayed the personna of confidence I wanted to convey.  Why did I doubt myself so much?  Then suddenly the LORD gave me a visual: a cloak of confidence.  I did not recognize that I was wearing so many cloaks that needed to be cast off, one by one.  The cloak of insecurity, the cloak of fear, the cloak of unworthiness, the cloak of guilt, the cloak of self-doubt and my biggest one: the cloak of rejection.

We all are wounded in this life and do not realize that while we have forgiven and moved on from places of pain, we still carry the wounds . . . subtly . . . without recognizing it.  While I do not believe truly in self-confidence as much as I do in God-confidence, there is a role for self in the confidence cloak we need to put on.  We must choose to wear the cloak of truth in who we are in Christ and His promises.  Sure, we are aware of our weaknesses, but that does not need to hold us back.

This cloak of confidence reminds me of an atonement cover – blotting out those aspects of my personality that are still like a frightened little girl, and covering them with Christ’s acceptance, Christ’s strength, and Christ’s enablement.  It means no longer contemplating all of the reasons we are not qualified and putting on all of the reasons Christ says we are qualified.  It means looking at ourselves with truth and grace.

Fear of failure can make us run and hide underneath counterfeit cloaks, but they never give the peace of Christ like abiding in Him and trusting in His word does.  Healthy confidence is confidence placed in God and a willingness to step out in faith in the calling He has on our lives.  It does not depend on or is not obtained by man’s opinion or even perceived success.  It is found in obedience and quiet trust, silencing the deafening accusations swirling around in our own mind or in the minds of others.  May we wear this cloak with gratitude and offer Christ praise for what He will do in us.