The Lesson of the Garden

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin.

Hebrews 12:4 (NASB)

For the Hebrews being addressed in this context, persecution was a daily reminder that they were going against the grain of culture. Choosing Jesus meant denying the way of the world around them. It meant living a life set apart. That is difficult, especially when we lose sight of Jesus Himself.

In addressing His disciples in the garden, the night he was to surrender for His execution, Jesus told them to remain in prayer with Him for their flesh was too weak to stand against what was coming. Temptation was around the corner and if they weren’t spiritually connected, then they would succumb to it. As we know, all the disciples did succumb to it. They fled in fear. They denied Jesus. They were weak and faltered because of it. And so have I.

Keep watching and praying, so that you do not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Matthew 26:41 (NASB)

Sin seeks to corrupt and pollute. But most of all, sin seeks to separate further those who are already separated. What I mean by that is, if we are not spiritually in tuned, then sin will seep in through the cracks of separation and drive a further wedge. For the disciples, they allowed exhaustion and pride to lead to complacency, which gave way to falling away. It’s no different for us. If our physical life gets in the way of our spiritual life, then it’s only a matter of time before we too crack under temptation.

For those being addressed in the book of Hebrews it was a matter of bending to the pressures of those around them. Choosing the easy path rather than the holy path. Fear is the main driving force whether in the case of the disciples, those in Hebrews, or you and me. We fear not having enough, not being enough, not doing enough, and not being accepted enough. And before we know it, we’ve strayed from the path. We’ve compromised our time, our relationships, and our very hearts for things that mattered little, or even nothing at all.

My brothers and sisters, don’t allow complacency to set it. Don’t be distracted or drawn away from your first love. Are you drained and weary? Are you hungering for more and don’t even know why? Are you on the verge of compromise? Please stop and take stock of your heart. It isn’t too late to be refilled with those things that are lacking. Joy and peace are right around the corner. Hope and healing can happen in an instance.

Most of the disciples returned to Jesus and lived amazing lives of faith. They changed the world. They resisted sin to the point of shedding of blood. They paid the ultimate sacrifice for holiness. Are you willing to do that? Am I? Perhaps we should start with the small things first. Praying first thing in the morning, last thing at night, and all day long in between. We need to retreat to a quiet place often to allow God to restore our souls. And day after day, we need to make the individual choices to not compromise who we are in Christ or the mission we’ve been called to. Resist brothers and sisters. At all costs, resist.

Keep watching and praying brothers and sisters.

Fearless

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)

Fear is a painful emotion or passion excited by the expectation of evil, anxiety, or dread. To be hopeless or doubt. That, my friends, should not define a Christian.

As a follower of Christ, and children of God, we are to be anxious about nothing (Philippians 4:6), understanding that hardships will come but that we will overcome because Christ has overcome (John 16:33). In the midst of these trials of life we are to rejoice because we are in a living hope (1 Peter 1:3-7) knowing that our faith is being perfected.

Christ did not intent for us to live in doubt or dread, but instead, He’s calling us to something greater. He’s calling us to live out a life of faith and trust in Him. A life that lifts up those around us and speaks to Who our God is. Be encouraged brothers and sisters, because God is upholding you with His righteous right hand. Lets go out and live in that hope and the strength that comes from this knowledge.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I pray that your day is empowered. I pray that your day is full of love. God is in your present and God is in your future. Fear can’t cripple the one whom God empowers.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters.

Toxic Fears

This is the third and final post in the series about certain toxins that humanity is plagued with. In the last two posts I shared my journey of mind games and poor word usage that have not been profitable whatsoever. But through my struggles in these areas, I’ve grown and become more aware of how to focus my thoughts and use my words as a life-giving agent. Today’s post is all about my fear.

I’ve been afraid of not being able to provide for my family. There’s no way around it. It has terrified me at times that my children and wife will not have all that they need. I’m not talking about wants or the menial pleasures of life. I mean their needs. I’ve been afraid of losing my loved ones, especially since I’ve lost two people extremely close to me in the last six years. One of the greatest fears I’ve had to tackle is the fear of something bad happening to my kids. Growing up I can’t remember being afraid of anything. Since having a family of my own, the fears have crept in. It’s like the more you have, the more room there is for fear. Being on my own I was care-free. Now with a wife and three kids…not so much.

I’m also a believer that it doesn’t have to be so. A family doesn’t have to open the door for fear to rule in my heart. To each of my fears above, God has spoken words of affirmation and promise. God has reminded me that Hs is ultimately the one who has been and always will be the one providing for my family. He’s also comforted me through my loss so that I can rest in the life to come, not this temporary existence. Me, and my loved ones, are living for that life to come, not for this one. Death is only the beginning and He has numbered all of our days. As far as my children go, God’s love for them far exceeds my own. He’s watching over them. He’ll give me wisdom and I can rest in that God is sovereign over my kids’ lives.

In the end, in what ever area we fear the most is where we value the most and trust God the least. I need to value Him above all things and people. His mission needs to be my mission. His kingdom and righteousness should be my aim and the rest will fall into place.

As always, here are some verses that have helped me along my journey. I hope they can be a help to you. Remember, these are paraphrases and what I felt God speaking to me through His word. I would encourage you to look up the passages yourself to read them in context and their entirety.:

Isaiah 26:3-4 tells me to keep my mind and focus on God and that’s when I will experience peace.

Isaiah 41:8-13 says that God has done great things on my behalf as He did for Israel and He is the one who upholds me. Because of that, there is nothing I should be afraid of.

Philippians 4:6-9 says that through prayer, giving thanks, and staying focused on good things God’s peace will be with me.

2 Timothy 1:7 tells me that God’s Spirit is within me so I already have power and love and sound mind.

John 14:27 is Jesus’ promise that His peace has been given to me.

Psalm 23 is a beautiful picture of being in harmony with God which brings peace in all circumstances.

Luke 12:22-34 treasure the kingdom, trust the King, and tend to others. That’s the mission of peace.

In the grand scheme of things, the only reason I fear is when my faith is lacking and my short term memory lost kicks in. God has a flawless track record in my life. There is no reason to not trust Him. It’s really the consequences of living in a fallen and broken world that we fear. And it’s hard to imagine that great of love that can overcome it on our behalf. But that’s exactly what we have in Jesus.

Brothers and sisters, if you battle with fear, draw closer to Him. He is the calm in your storm, just as He has been in mine.

Fear vs. Love

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Fear is one of the most basic human motivations. It drives stock markets and fuels wars. Its unruly energies can be used for great harm or channeled for great good. Professional boxers are often told fear is their friend. Fear can make them better fighters. It keeps them alert. It sensitizes their determination. In the same way, God can use our fears and make us better fighters for his cause. Whenever we are afraid, we have the potential to do the impossible. Why? That which is impossible in our own strength is made possible with God’s help. Fear makes us more likely to forsake our own resources and rely on God instead. In this way, extreme fear can lead to extreme faith.

The following is a story shared from Voice of the Martyrs.

The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear?

Psalm 27:1

LAOS: The unwritten code of the police was clear: If you catch the Khmu or other tribesmen converting to Christianity, arrest them. If you catch anyone evangelizing the tribesmen, kill him.

After “Lu” had been shackled at the hands and feet and shamefully marched through the village, the Communist police threw him in a pit. “We will let you go,” they said, “when one hundred Christians in your village renounce their conversion to Christianity.” But they were unable to find believers willing to turn their backs on Christ. Then tragedy struck the police. One officer’s son broke both legs in an accident. His other son became critically ill. The officer who had beaten and harassed new Christians suddenly died of a heart attack. Other officials fearfully pulled “Lu” from the pit and allowed him to return home. Government authorities were too frightened to take action against the Christians in the village after seeing what happened to their leader. Seeing God’s show of power, more Khmu became believers. Where there had been one hundred Christians, now there were seven hundred. They even sent Christians out to tell other villages about Jesus. While the Laotian authorities were controlled by their fear, the Christians in Southeast Asia overcame theirs.

For some people living in post-modern nations, sharing the gospel may result in losing friends, not being invited places, being written up at work, being overlooked, and perhaps being ridiculed and given a nasty label. But it won’t result in death and imprisonment. Yet, fear still grips the believer. Fear of rejection. Fear of being different. Fear of what people will say. When we compare this with Lu’s story in Laos, it’s embarrassing that anyone would allow these minor inconveniences to prevent them from spreading the greatest news the world has ever heard. Fear is strong. But not as strong as love.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

1 John 4:18 ESV

Believer, we no longer need to fear anything. Not sickness, not persecution, not ridicule, not rejection, and not even death. Because we are perfectly loved and that love is our view of those who need to know Jesus. No matter how they respond, they need to know Jesus just as much as we did. We can’t keep this great love to ourselves, not even from those who reject it. Never forget that your courage and love could change someone’s life forever.

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

2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

Be brave brothers and sisters, and go change the world!

 

 

What Fear Says About us

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What we fear reveals what we value the most and where we trust God the least.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”
Isaiah 26:3-4 ESV

There is no fear in those who have Jesus because they already know how great and loving God is.