The Key to Having Peace, Joy, and Supernatural Strength

 I have found that all too often professing Christians give lip service to the word of God. Why do I say that? Many Christians say they believe God is sovereign, good and trustworthy, but they don’t really believe that. If they did, they would experience the peace, joy and strength that are promised to those who fully put their trust in Him. How do I know that? Because I was one of those people who professed a belief in God but my life belied my words; the fruit of my life then was anxiety, stress, exhaustion, and lack of inner peace and joy. God was a slice of my life, but He wasn’t my life! I have experienced the difference between saying I believe in and trust God, and truly trusting Him and living in complete dependence upon Him. It’s like the difference between an empty cup and a cup that’s not just filled with but actually overflowing with peace, joy, and supernatural strength!

My life has radically changed since I surrendered it to the Lord over 25 years ago. Before that I would have said that I believed in God’s Word and in Jesus as my Savior. However, I didn’t really know God or His word and my life sure wasn’t focused upon Him or upon doing His will. My life was 'me' focused, it was all about doing 'my' will and living for my pleasure rather than 'God focused', about doing His will, and living for His pleasure. That kind of living led me to where such a lifestyle will always and inevitably lead—to stress, worry, and fear because eventually you find out that there are things in this world that are WAY beyond your ability to control! Like job losses. Broken relationships. A poor health diagnosis. Loss of loved ones. And as long as we are deceived into thinking we are in control of our lives and that we know what is best for us, we will be in a state of striving to control what we cannot, and therefore we will be unable to experience the peace, joy, and rest that God longs for us to have. Peace we can have through Jesus regardless of our personal circumstances, and regardless of what is going on in our nation or the world. That kind of peace can only be found by putting our lives into God’s far more capable hands, and trusting Him for every aspect of our lives. 

I discovered the key to experiencing peace, joy, contentment and supernatural strength when I finally came to the ‘end of myself’ and cried out to God, telling Him I was done living my life ‘my way’ and that I was ready to live it ‘His way’. I chose to take refuge in Him and to submit to His authority over my life; as I did, I found that He can be depended upon for He is sovereign, all wise, all knowing, faithful and true, and always at work for my good. When you know His character, you will trust Him fully, and when you trust Him fully, you will experience His perfect peace.

You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation]. Isaiah 26:3 Amplified

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This verse emphasizes that in order to experience perfect, constant peace that your mind must be steadfastly fixed upon the Lord. It is not glancing at the Lord every now and then; it is keeping your gaze upon Him. And it is having the confident expectation that God WILL do what He says He will do! It is knowing that God cannot fail, for His very nature is love, and love never fails! (John 4:8; 1 Corinthians 13:8)

 God has never once failed me since I have put my trust in Him! I have found that as I have kept my eyes fixed upon Him and counted on His faithfulness and His goodness-- even when I haven’t understood His ways-- I have been flooded with His peace. 

 Over the last year and a half my husband and I have faced a situation that we would never have chosen. Had we gone through this same set of circumstances before we surrendered our lives to the Lord, I am certain we would have been ‘basket cases’; FULL of worry, anxiety, and fear. But I can attest that when we learned of the situation, our initial response was, ‘This didn’t catch God by surprise even if it did us.’ Then we prayed together and declared, ‘We can trust the Man Who died for us to give us everything we need!’ (Romans 8:32) And He has! We not only have had peace, but we have also had joy in the midst of this trial. We rejoice in knowing God can be nothing other than faithful, for that is His very nature! It is truly the trials of life that stretch our faith, and reveal what we really believe. I am so grateful for this time of testing and ‘waiting upon the Lord’! We have gained a deeper revelation of God and His totally trustworthy character, and we have grown deeper in love with Him! 

 Our daily ‘bread’ has been His Word that has nourished us. Matthew 6:11; John 6:33

 God has been our refuge and our strength, our very present help, and the Rock upon whom we have leaned for strength. Psalm 46:1 

Our eyes have been fixed upon Him, knowing He is the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Hebrews 12:2

 Our lips have declared His praises and made us aware of His Presence, for He inhabits the praises of His people. Psalm 22:3

 Our ears have been attuned to hearing His voice giving us His direction as to what we should do. Isaiah 30:21; Proverbs 3:6

 We have tasted and seen that the Lord is good and that blessed are those who take refuge in Him! Psalm 34:8

Not long after I gave my life to the Lord someone asked me what my favorite verse was. I remember telling them it was Isaiah 40: 31. I had head knowledge of the verse at that time, but now I have experienced the truth of this passage that assures us that when we know we have no strength apart from Him, that He will give us His strength and renew us by His power! He has been so faithful to do this for me, and I want to testify to His goodness, and to not only the peace and joy that is found in Him, but the strength that is found in Him as well!

 Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become tired or grow weary;
There is no searching of His understanding. 
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who has no might He increases power. 
Even youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him]
Will gain new strength and renew their power;
They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun];
They will run and not become weary,
They will walk and not grow tired. Isaiah 40:28-31

 Are you experiencing the ‘peace that surpasses all human understanding as you keep your heart and mind on Christ Jesus’? (Philippians 4:7) Have you experienced the joy of truly surrendering your life to Christ, of totally trusting Him and allowing Him to ‘take over’ your life? Are you weary, and do you need the strength that is found in Him alone? 

 Lord, I have been guilty of saying I trust you when in fact I have been putting my trust in myself and in my way of doing things rather than really trusting You. I long to have the peace, joy, contentment and strength that is found when my mind is steadfastly fixed upon you and continually expecting you to do what only You can do. Help me to truly ‘let go’ of thinking I am in control or that my ways are higher than yours, and by your grace at work in my life empower me to completely release my life into your unfailing, loving care! Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief! And give me an insatiable desire to be in your Word so that I might grow in my knowledge of You so that I can know that You are always faithful and true! Amen 

 If you would like to know more about surrendering your life to God and how to be set free from fear, worry and anxiety, please reach out to us at https://www.trueviewministries.org/contact

Written by Julie 

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This One Thing Can Transform Your Marriage 

After almost 40 years of marriage I have learned a lot of things I should not to do, and several things I should do, if I want a God-glorifying, satisfying marriage. But there is one thing that I have learned that is most important if I am to have the marriage that I truly desire, and that God longs for me to have. My marriage, like most Christian marriages, started in front of a church altar. There we said our vows before God and the attendees. I know there was a brief sermon as well as prayers that emphasized the importance of God in our marriage; however, at the ripe old age of 23 we were so ‘star stuck’ and convinced that our love for each other was all we needed for a great marriage that I know we didn’t tune into the pastor’s words, or much of any other wise counsel given to us at the time. I think many marriages start off the same way ours did: a perfunctory acknowledgement of God’s role in the marriage, and then shortly after the wedding vows have been uttered, living as if the marriage is just between and dependent upon the two of you. 

 It is good to recognize the need for God to be at the center of your marriage at your wedding ceremony, but it’s far, far more important to realize your need for Him every minute, every hour and every day of your marriage. As we grow in our maturity in Christ, we recognize more and more the truth of God’s Word that, ‘apart from Him we can do nothing’ (John 15:5). That is as true in our marriage as it is in our individual lives; we desperately need to be aware of our need for God to be ‘front and center’ in our marriage if we desire it to be all that God intended it to be when He instituted this special union. Since He’s the one who came up with the idea of marriage, you can be confident that He’s the greatest authority and expert on marriage in the world. He’s also the greatest advocate you could ever have for your marriage. He’s for you, He’s for your spouse, and most of all-- He’s for your marriage! And, He’s available to you 24/7—and at no charge! God alone has the power to transform you, to transform your spouse, and to transform your marriage! He is able to redeem your marriage, to sustain it, and to enhance it!  All He asks is that you choose to entrust it to Him!

The best way for you to know that you are entrusting your marriage to
God is to do this one thing: invite Him to come into and take over your marriage. What do I mean by that? I mean that you pray and commit every aspect of your marriage into God’s expert, tender, loving care, and His almighty power! The marriage that is fully surrendered to God and to His will for it will enjoy the greatest intimacy, mutual love and respect, and the joy of ‘oneness’ that God intends for it to have.

I encourage you to pray the prayer below— or a similar one— with your spouse. If he/she is unwilling to pray with you, or you don’t feel comfortable even approaching them about praying it with you at this time, I encourage you to pray it on your own for your marriage. God is waiting to be asked to intervene on behalf of your marriage! We have a miracle-working God Who is not only able to fix ‘broken people’, but also to heal, restore, and redeem ‘broken or troubled relationships’! Trust Him: He is more than able!

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 Entrust your marriage to God, and see what He can and will do!

 Lord, I confess that my spouse and I have ignored the reality that we desperately need you to be at the center of our marriage. All too often we have tried to accomplish our will for our lives rather than to ask you to reveal to us Your will; often we have done things ‘our way’ rather than Your way and we have reaped the consequences of leaving you out of our lives. Lord, I/we invite you to come into our marriage and to completely take it over. Into your hands, I/we commit my/our marriage and ask you to do what only you can do: redeem where it needs to be redeemed; sustain us where we need to be sustained; enhance that which is good. Thank You Lord for Your love for me and for my spouse, and for your desire for our marriage to be a union that reflects your love. I/we desire for our marriage to be all that You created it to be, and I/we ask You to give me/us the faith to believe that You are able to transform our lives and our marriage into something beautiful for Your glory and kingdom purposes! Oh, Lord, how we need you! Please come into our marriage and take it over so that it is all that you created and desire it to be! Into Your hands I/we commit our marriage. Amen.

If you feel inadequate and need more wisdom, knowledge and understanding…ask God to give you the desire to read His Word (the bible), the Source of all truth, wisdom, knowledge and understanding…Lord, into Your loving and capable hands I/we commit my/our need for wisdom, knowledge and understanding and open up our minds to Your truth, guidance and instruction

If you are having communication issues…ask God to give you His ears to hear your spouse, to give you His words for you to speak to your spouse in a way that your spouse will hear you, and to give you His heart of love for your spouse…Lord, into Your loving and capable hands I/we commit what and how we communicate with one another

 If you are having issues with physical, emotional, or spiritual intimacy…ask God to give you His perspective on your spouse so that you can be a vessel through which His love flows through you and meets the physical and emotional needs of your spouse…Lord, into Your loving and capable hands I/we commit our physical, emotional, and spiritual issues

 If you are having financial issues…ask God to take over your situation and to show you what, if anything, you should be doing to address the issue, and to trust Him as Your Provider…Lord, into Your loving and capable hands I/we commit our financial situation/issues

 If you are having issues with your children…ask God to give you and your spouse His wisdom and His heart, mind and spirit regarding how to raise/respond to your children...Lord, into Your loving and capable hands I/we commit our children’s lives, and how we are to raise, counsel/coach them

 If you are having issues with in-laws/family members/friends…ask God to give you His heart of love for the people involved and to respond to them with His truth, wisdom and love…Lord, into Your loving and capable hands I/we commit our issue/s with our family and friends

 If you feel weary and overburdened...ask God to give you His strength, patience and perseverance...Lord, into Your loving and capable hands we commit our bodies, souls, and spirits

 If you feel fearful for the future…ask God to increase your faith in Him so that you will grow confident that He is over and above every circumstance that you are facing today and that will arise in the future...Lord, into Your loving and capable hands we commit our lives and our future

Once you have committed your marriage into the Lord’s hands, I encourage you to listen to His leading, ask Him to give you the ability and faith to do what He has called you to do, and then obey Him and rely upon His power to work in you. If you find that you try to ‘take back’ that which you have committed to God and to do things your way again rather than His, immediately confess it to Him, and recommit it into the Lord’s hands. Remember, God loves you with an unfailing love; He has a plan for your marriage; and He is available to help you at all times. He is more than able to make your marriage ALL that you desire it to be…and even better than you can possibly imagine!

 Written by Julie

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A Revelation of God’s Love…From Outside a Bathroom

I firmly believe that if we have our ears attuned to God’s voice and our eyes fixed upon Him, we will understand that God can reveal Himself to us in every situation in our lives. The circumstances themselves may not be entirely pleasurable—as in the case of His revelation to me last weekend—but I rejoice that no matter the circumstances-- God is able to reveal the depth of His love for me, and for you.

So, how did He speak to my heart last weekend? My husband and I were watching our 2½ year- old grandson and almost one -year old granddaughter while my son and daughter-in-law are away on a much deserved weekend retreat. We thoroughly enjoy our time with them, and yet-- as most if not all grandparents will attest—we understand why God had us bear children in our younger years! (Except for biblical characters like Sarah and Abraham, and they had lots of servants to help them out!) After a wonderful, packed day with our grandchildren, my husband and I were exhausted, so following a couple of hours of respite, we ‘hit the hay’. I had just fallen asleep when our grandson let out a cry of terror. I rushed to his crib and found that he had thrown up all over his crib. I immediately took him to the bathroom, he threw up once more, and then I sat with him on the floor for some time to see if he was going to have another bout. He didn’t seem feverish and said his tummy felt fine, so after getting the soiled sheets off the bed and putting fresh linens on it, I laid him back down. No sooner had I put him down and gone to my room to go back to sleep, I heard him cry out again. He had gotten sick again.  We went back to our vigil on the floor by the toilet.

After quite some time, I thought it was safe to put him back down again—after of course changing out the bed linens—but regrettably, it was not; he got sick again. I finally decided the only way he’d be fine is if he lay on me and near the toilet, but not on the bathroom tile floor again because it was too cold. So I moved the rocking chair from his bedroom to outside of the bathroom. He snuggled next to me, and assumed a position where he slept fitfully, and I slept not at all.  He became more restless and I was uncomfortable, so I thought it would be a better idea for us to both lay down outside of the bathroom on the carpeted floor together. By this time, he was thoroughly exhausted, had eliminated everything from his tummy, and fell right to sleep.

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Once he was asleep, I knew I could go into the bedroom right around the corner from him and go to sleep—which I desperately needed at this point—but I also knew it was important to him that I lay right next to him in case he awoke again feeling sick or just needing my comfort. So that, along with the fact I’d already gone through several sets of sheets, ruled out putting him back into his crib. I thought about taking him to the bed where my husband and I had been sleeping, but I was concerned that my grandson could awaken and get sick again in the bed and I didn’t want to risk his giving the virus to my husband. So I remained right by his side on the floor. And, as I lay there, gladly choosing to forfeit my comfort and restful sleep for the remainder of the night in order to be by his side, I felt Jesus speak to my heart:

“Like John (my grandson) you were sick—sick with sin—and you needed me to come to your rescue. I didn’t leave all of the glories of Heaven to come down to earth to take care of you and then to leave you on your own. I came to be Immanuel—’God with you’— to remain with you in order to provide for your every need. I have given you the Holy Spirit to dwell within you, to guide and teach you, to encourage and comfort you, and to remind you of my constant Presence and unfailing love. Just as you were gladly willing to give up your sleep and comfort for John’s sake and to do all you could for him throughout the night, remember that I am always by your side, always at work on your behalf, and I will never leave or forsake you. If you ever doubt how much I love you and what I am willing to do for you, remember what you were willing to do for John, and know that my love for you is far, far greater than your love for him could ever be. You will grow weary and eventually fall asleep, but I neither slumber nor sleep; I am continually by your side, watching over you, ready at an instant to do what is best for you. As John trusts you, how much more should you trust Me?! I know that you would do all in your power for John, but you cannot provide for his every need. Only I can. And only I can provide for all of your needs. And I will. As you delight in having John by your side and watching over him, I delight in being by your side and continually keeping watch over you; I rejoice over you with singing!

As I lay there next to my grandson who had finally fallen peacefully asleep by my side, my heart was bursting with joy! Joy because my Heavenly Father had used this unforeseen circumstance— one that I would not have chosen— to reveal to me the depth of His love for me, the constancy of His presence, protection, and provision in my life, and He gave me a keener awareness of the joy that He experiences watching over me and caring for my every need. How great is our Father’s love for us, His beloved children! How blessed we are to have such a good, caring, loving Lord and Heavenly Father!

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
    he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
    your going out and your coming in
    from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 121 ESV

 If you ever doubt your Heavenly Father’s love for you, I encourage you to think of the love you have for someone on earth and what you have done-- or would be wiling to do for them-- and then contemplate how much greater your Heavenly Father’s love is for you! And just as I didn’t take my grandson into bed with my husband due to my love for my husband and concern for his well-being, keep in mind that at the same time that God is watching over you, He is also watching over others and doing what is best for them too. He alone is able to provide for everyone’s need and in a way that is best for everyone. God is always at work on your behalf, and on behalf of all of those He loves and who love Him!

Written by Julie

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How to Extinguish Fear and Feed Your Faith While Waiting for A Miracle

When I was a young girl and heard Bibles stories like God parting the Red Sea for the Israelites; David slaying the giant Goliath; Daniel surviving the lions’ den; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego coming out unscathed from the fiery furnace; Jesus healing lepers, paralytics, the blind, deaf, and dumb and raising the dead, I was enthralled by those stories of God’s miraculous power. I didn’t doubt for a minute God’s ability to work such miracles, and I vividly remember thinking, “How amazing it would be to be a part of such a story!” “I’d love to experience such a miracle in my own life!” 

Have you had similar thoughts? Maybe you’ve had friends or family who’ve experienced the miraculous power of God through something like healing from a life-threatening illness, deliverance from a drug addition, surviving a horrific car wreck, or a totally unexpected and positive overturn of their financial situation. Did you ever think, “Wow! I’d love to be a part of a miracle story too!” Or, maybe you’ve been the subject of one of God’s miraculous stories.

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What I didn’t take into consideration when I heard the Bible stories—and what you also might not have considered when you’ve heard stories of God’s power-- is that before a miracle can occur, the recipients of the miracles first must face a time of great trial, a testing of their faith, and the temptation to succumb to fear and doubt. For instance, the Israelites were fleeing a huge, well-trained army when they came upon the Red Sea where there was no apparent way forward. David had to overcome the mocking of his brothers and the entire Israeli army who wanted to undermine his belief that he would defeat the giant. Daniel had to contend with the continual envy of his peers who plotted against him. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had to decide whether they’d disobey and dishonor God by worshipping an earthly king, or obey God and face the real possibility of dying a horrible death in a blazing hot fire. Everyone whom Jesus healed beforehand had experienced the suffering of physical pain or the emotional pain of being an outcast. We all would like to be a part of a miracle; however, we usually don’t want to sign up for the circumstances that must necessarily precede the working of that miracle! 

I am waiting on the Lord to show Himself faithful in a situation in my life right now where a miracle is needed. I fully believe God is capable of working the miracle. But I am also keenly aware of the temptation to succumb to fear and doubt; I feel that I am living in a crucible where my faith is being tested and refined. I know that if I focus on the circumstances of my situation--the ‘what ifs’—I will be tempted to doubt God’s goodness or His miracle-working power. So as I wait upon Him, I have a choice: I can feed my faith, or I can feed my fears. I cannot feed them both as fear and faith cannot co-exist. You have the same choice. What will you choose?

·    I am choosing: To keep my focus upon God Who is the ‘Author and Perfecter of my faith’, and over and above my every circumstance. (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:12) I am praising Him for orchestrating the circumstances of my life so that my faith— which is more precious than gold— will be strengthened, and so that the stage is set for a miracle to occur! (1 Peter 1:7)

·    I am choosing: To rejoice in knowing that the trial I am going through is an instrument of God’s grace, and thank Him for this trial which was designed to test my faith, produce steadfastness in me, and cause me to grow more and more into His image, complete and lacking nothing. (James 4:2-4)

·    I am choosing: To praise Him for His faithfulness and love, and to thank Him for interceding for me, that my faith would not fail. (Hebrews 7:25; Luke 22:32)

·    I am choosing: To praise God for His perfect timing; He is never ahead or behind, but ALWAYS comes through in the ‘fullness of time’! (Galatians 4:4; Romans 5:6; 1 Timothy 2:6)

·    I am choosing: To praise God that His thoughts and ways are not my thoughts and ways, His are infinitely greater because He is infinitely wiser than I! (Isaiah 55:9)

·    I am choosing: To commit my will to God’s will, pray and pour out my heart to  Him, and listen to His Spirit speak to me! (Psalm 37:5; Psalm 62:8; Psalm 25:14; Daniel 2:22)

·    I am choosing: To trust in the Lord and not lean upon my own understanding, to look for every path God may open before me--and as doors open—make sure to inquire of Him whether that is the way He would have me to go. ( Proverbs 3:5-7; 1 Chronicles 10:14; 2 Samuel 5:19, 23)

·    I am choosing: To immediately renew my mind in the truth of Who God is and what He is able to do every time a fearful thought or doubt about God’s faithfulness arises! (2 Corinthians 10:5) Truth such as that God is with me at ALL times, that He will never leave me or forsake me, and that He is ‘mighty to save’! (Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:9; Isaiah 43:2; Zephaniah 3:17)

·    I am choosing: To trust in Jehovah Jireh, the God Who will provide for ALL of my needs according to His glorious riches (Genesis 22:14; Philippians 4:19) and Who knows me best, loves me most, and is ‘always at work for my good and His glory’! (Romans 8:28)

·    I am choosing: To feed my faith by reading the Bible daily, by reading devotionals like Streams in the Desert and My Utmost for His Highest, as well as biographies of heroes of faith to remind me that God is ALWAYS trustworthy and ALWAYS unfailing in His love. (Psalm 52:8; 85:7; 119:41; Revelation 3:7; 19:11)

·    I am choosing: To not listen to grumblers, complainers, faith and joy ‘robbers’. (Psalm 28:7; Nehemiah 8:10; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; 2 Timothy 2)

·    I am choosing: To share my need for a miracle with others whom I know will join with me in prayer and lift me and my need up to the Lord. (Exodus 17:11-12; 1 Timothy 2:1; James 5:16; Galatians 6:2)

Faith means taking God at His Word. As you feed your faith by reading the Bible -- the Word of One Who cannot lie and that is filled with accounts of His miracle working power—you will be convinced that NOTHING is impossible for God! (Numbers 23:19; Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17; Luke 1:37; Matthew 19:26) And I’m confident that your faith will result in you seeing the miraculous hand of God at work on your behalf, and you’ll find yourself at the center of your own miraculous story that will in turn build up the faith of others in the Body of Christ! 

What about you? Are you waiting upon God to act on your behalf in some situation in your life, or in the life of a loved one? How are you choosing to spend your time as you wait upon Him? Are you feeding your fears, or feeding your faith? Was there a particular choice (or choices) that I am choosing to make that God convicted that you need to be making as well?

Written by Julie

 

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Could this Fear Be Affecting Your Witness?

It can be easy to identify the fear of flying, or of spiders, or of heights, or other fears that seem tangible. As prevalent as those fears may be, I think most people struggle with a fear that they’re often unaware of, and that can have a major impact upon their daily life. And it most definitely is a fear that can impact our Christian witness; especially in these days of ‘political correctness’ when being a Christian is highly unpopular. It is a fear that must be overcome if we are going to obey God and live for His glory. That fear is the ‘fear of man’.The ‘fear of man’ is rooted in our pride and desire for others—especially those we like, or those we fear due to what they could do to us-- to approve of us. It is a fear that often leads us to remain silent when we should speak; to skirt telling the truth or lie; to engage in behavior we might not otherwise so that others will accept us; and it can lead to sleepless nights or daytime anxiety due to our fear that we may have offended someone who will no longer like us and may in fact cause us harm. Can you identify with this fear? I certainly can! 


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 The Bible is replete with stories of those who also had this fear. Abraham, the ‘Father of Faith’, instructed Sarah, his half sister but also his wife, to tell Pharaoh that she was his sister rather than his wife due to his fear that Pharaoh might kill him (Genesis 12:12). Isaac followed his father Abraham’s example and lied to the men of Gerar by saying his wife Rebekah was his sister because of his fear that those men would kill him to gain her (Genesis 26:6-10). Saul disobeyed God’s instruction given to him through the prophet Samuel to kill Agag, as well as all of the Amalekites and their animals, because  (1 Samuel 15:24) he ‘feared the people and obeyed their voice’. 

 One of the saddest—and most convicting-- passages in the Bible to me is found in John 12:42-43:

 Nevertheless, even many of the leading men believed in Him [as Savior and Messiah], but because of the Pharisees they would not confess it, for fear that [if they acknowledged Him openly] they would be put out of the synagogue (excommunicated); for they loved the approval of men more than the approval of God. John 12:42-43 AMP (Boldness added)

 You may think, “But they believed that Jesus was the Savior and Messiah, so what was the problem? Isn’t salvation all about faith?” True, saving faith will be proven by our words and actions, for God’s Word also states: 

 if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lordand believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.Romans 10:9-10 ESV (Boldness added)

 Regrettably, our fear of man can cause us to remain silent rather than confess to others our belief that Jesus is Lord. Our silence is an indication that we, like the leaders in Jesus’ day, love the approval of men and women more than we love the approval of God. God warns us not to fear those who may be able to kill our body, but who cannot kill our soul. (Luke 12:4) We are to fear—to honor, to hold in awe and reverence-- only God Who has the power to destroy both body and soul (Matthew 10:28). 

 The world was turned ‘upside down’, the gospel of Christ spread throughout the world, and you and I are believers today only because the disciples overcame their fear of man and were instead filled with a holy fear of God. Following Jesus’ ascension into Heaven and the outpouring of the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Jesus’ apostles Peter and John were willing to boldly confess that Jesus was the ‘Holy and Righteous One’ (Acts 3:14). Not only did they proclaim Jesus as the Messiah, they also courageously accused their audience of delivering Jesus over to Pilate, and that it was they who had ‘killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead’ (Acts 3:15). They went on to call the people to repentance in order that their sins might be blotted out and so that they would experience refreshing from the Lord (Acts: 3:18). Talk about being willing to be an offense to others for the sake of truth and the glory of God! Talk about being released from the snare of the fear of man! (Proverbs 29:5) 

 Even though they knew that they could be imprisoned, tortured, or even killed for their faith, they did not allow that to stand in the way of their sharing the life-transforming news of the gospel. In fact, because they overcome their fear of man, “…many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.” Think of how many people they will spend eternity in heaven with because they were willing to offend them for the sake of the gospel! How many people will be in heaven because of you boldly declaring the gospel?

 Shortly after this incident, Peter and John were jailed, and then released and commanded by the Jewish leaders—the very ones who were behind Jesus’ crucifixion—‘not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.’ What was their response? Did they cower in fear and defer to men-- men they knew had the power to destroy their bodies? No! Instead they declared: 

 Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19-20 ESV

 When we know God through His written Word, have a personal relationship with Jesus, the Living Word, and are willing to fully surrender our lives to His authority in every aspect of our life, we too will be empowered by the Holy Spirit and compelled to speak to others of Jesus, the One and Only Person Who can deliver us from all of our fears and keep us truly secure… for all eternity!

 The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever leans on, trusts in, and puts his confidence in the Lord is safe and set on high. Proverbs 29:5 AMP

 Have you ever found yourself telling a ‘white lie’ so that you don’t hurt others’ feelings rather than accurately representing Jesus by speaking the truth in love and trusting Him with the outcome? Do you remain silent in the face of those whom you suspect will be offended if you share your faith in Jesus? Do you care more about what others think of you than you do about pleasing God? Ask the Holy Spirit to release you from all ‘fear of man’, to empower you to be bold like Peter and John and the other disciples, and be willing to confess before everyone without regard to personal cost that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God! 

 Lord, forgive me for succumbing to my fear of man. I ask you to release me from all fear of men and to fill me with a holy fear of You! Empower me by the Holy Spirit at work in me to be bold like Peter, John, and the other disciples and willing to declare my belief in and love for Jesus, and call others to repent and turn to You so that they too can have the Truth that will set them free and bring about true and lasting refreshing to their souls, for now and all eternity! 

Written by Julie

 

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Be a 'Believer' in 2019!

What do you believe?  Do you believe you are protecting someone when you tell them that what they are attempting to accomplish will not work or is impossible?  Do you warn and educate others in the ‘reality’ of a situation to keep them from being disappointed? 


Pastor Rick Renner shares how fellow Christians tried to keep him from being disappointed and obeying what he felt God was asking him to do.  “When God called us to start our church in the heart of Moscow, people came crawling out of the woodwork to tell us, ‘Moscow is the seat of demonic principalities and powers.  This heavily concentrated demonic influence is so strong that no one has been able to break through and establish a powerful church in the heart of Moscow.  We want to prepare you so you won’t be too disappointed, because you probably won’t be able to do it either!’” Thankfully, this pastor did not allow others to influence his decisions and chose to trust God. His faith in God allowed him to plant and grow a thriving church in the heart of Moscow! When we believe and trust God, He is glorified!

Faith


Jesus says in Mark 9:23 “…if thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”  “The word ‘believeth’ is the Greek word pisteuonti, from the word pistes, the Greek word for faith.  However, when pistes becomes pisteuonti, as in this verse, it pictures a person who is believing.  This is not someone that once had an experience of faith in the past; rather,  this is a person who is presently believing right now.  He didn’t just believe in the past; his is a believer.  His faith is actively reaching forward right now to grab hold of what God has promised.  His faith is habitually, constantly, consistently, unwaveringly straining forward to take hold of that desired goal he sees before him!” (Sparkling Gems from the Greek by Rick Renner)


If God asks you to do something, or gives you the desire to accomplish a particular goal in your heart then act in faith and do it.  As fellow Christians what right do we have to tell another that his goals will not succeed?  In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV God asks us to build one another up.  “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” God never tells us to remind people of the slim statistical chances and likely impossibility of what they are setting out to accomplish, praying or believing God for.  Our God specializes in ‘small chances!’  As 2019 approaches and your friends and family share resolutions with you choose to encourage them and build them up in faith and remember that with God ‘all things are possible!’


Written by Jamie Shaver







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How Does God Make His Plans for Your Life Known? Tips From the Christmas Story

Recently when talking with a friend who has a big decision to make regarding where her son will attend school, she asked me “How do you know what God’s plan is?  How can you hear God speak?”  

I like to use the acronym P.E.W.S. to remember the most common ways that God speaks to us.  God can speak to us in any way He chooses, He is God, but below are some of the most common ways God speaks to us as revealed in Scripture:

P - Through other PEOPLE

E - Through EVENTS

W - Through His WORD

S - Through His SPIRIT living in us

Using part of the Christmas story I would like to show examples of these methods in action:

1460px-Gerard_van_Honthorst_-_Adoration_of_the_Shepherds_(1622).jpg


God first chose to speak to Mary through His angel Gabriel, and this EVENT began a new chapter in Mary’s life.  He clearly told Mary what was going to happen, answered questions she had and provided additional information regarding Elizabeth’s pregnancy as well. 

EVENT: In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.  And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be borne will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.  Luke 1:26-38 ESV

God then confirms what had been told to Mary in secret by another PERSON, her relative Elizabeth who had no knowledge of Mary’s revelation until she saw her and was given insight from the Holy Spirit.

PEOPLE: In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.  And blessed is she who believed that there would beg a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Luke 1:39-45 ESV

Other people that brought confirmation that all was as the angel Gabriel proclaimed were the shepherds that came to see Jesus in the manger after they were visited by the angels. Luke 2:8-21 ESV

God’s WORD also confirmed these events.  God will never ask us to do something that goes against His written Word to us, for example God wouldn’t tell you to steal something when His Word tells us to not steal.  In Mary’s situation, God’s Word also confirmed what she was told by the angel and was happening:  These prophesies were given hundreds of years before Mary was visited by an angel.

The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem: But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.  Micah 5:2 

Born of a virgin: "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.  Isaiah 7:14

God’s SPIRIT lives in each of us that believe in His Son Jesus and can guide, direct and teach us many things.  We see God’s Spirit at work in Elizabeth when she sees Mary and proclaims truth that she would not have otherwise known.  Today in our lives, the Spirit of God can warn us, or speak to our Spirits to help us discern God’s plan for our lives of the lives of our children.  

While Mary was being prepared to bring the Savior of mankind into the world, and God made His plans for her clear.  God also has a plan for you and I.  God promises us that He does not have favorites, and He is the same yesterday, today and forever…God still speaks and makes His plan known to His children.  This Christmas it is my prayer that you would thank God for the gift of purpose in your life, and always be willing to respond to the plan God has for you by using the words Mary spoke, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”


Written by Jamie

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