What Are You Afraid of?

Fear: “A painful emotion or passion excited by an expectation of evil, or the apprehension of impending danger.” – Webster’s 1828 Dictionary

So, what are you afraid of? If we asked people to list what they fear their lists might include, death, poverty, sickness…but perhaps things like public speaking, other’s opinions, failure, and rejection might also appear.

If we use Webster’s definition of fear, the expectation of evil or danger, we would have to revise our list.  What actual evil  threatens a person who fails, or who must speak in public? What danger presents itself in other’s opinions?

What if we revised our list to only include those things that truly brought the risk of danger? Let’s take a closer look.

Do you fear death? John 11:25: “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”

Do you fear poverty? Philippians 4:19: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Do you fear for your safety? Psalm27:1: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” 

And just in case we forgot a few, God has already covered those too.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4 (ESV)

There will be times when we are afraid but David tells us the simple remedy.

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3 (ESV)

So again I ask, what are you afraid of?

 

 

 

Do You Trust Someone You Don’t Know?

First impressions aren’t always positive. Sometimes you can meet a person and be uncomfortable without knowing why. You wouldn’t trust them to watch your children or to enter your house when you are away. But then you spend more time with them and realize they are trustworthy. You can now leave them with your child and your house key without a second thought. They are the ones you can call in an emergency and know they will be there for you. They’ve become friends.

When we moved from Ohio to Iowa many years ago, we had to start fresh in a new place. The friends we’d left behind were people we trusted completely because we knew them well. It took time to build new relationships. We spent time with acquaintances and eventually embraced them as lifelong friends. We did the same thing when we moved to Florida a few years ago. Now we are making new friends again. Learning to trust people to come into our lives.

How does that happen? How to you learn to trust someone? The key is spending time with them. Getting to know them. Watching the way they live their lives to see if their “walk” is consistent with their “talk.”

It’s the same with God. He wants you to trust Him completely. But how can you trust Him if you barely know Him? If you haven’t spent time with Him, how do you know that He will be faithful to His promises? If you haven’t spent time in His word, learning about His character, how can you expect to believe He is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do?

The best way to learn to trust Him is to get to know Him. Then you will be able to trust Him with your child, your house key, and your very life.

Paul says it well in 2 Timothy 1:12:

“For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” (NASB)

 

What Does Learning to Swim Have to Do With God?

This summer I had the privilege of watching my 4-year-old granddaughter learn to swim. First, she got comfortable putting her tiny face in the water. Then she would jump into my arms and let me catch her after she was completely submerged. Finally, she got brave enough to hold on to the side and swim to me.

She would hold the side of the pool with one hand and hold her nose with the other. When she mustered up the courage she would take a deep breath and let go. The first time she needed me to be only a few inches away. Then she got a little braver and let me back up a bit. Sometimes she would lose her courage and say, “come closer!” and I would move a step toward her. Each time, right before she was ready to go, she would say, “and you’re not going to move?” And each time I would assure her that I wouldn’t.

After many attempts, she began to say, “Grandma back up just a little,” and after I did, she always added, “and you’re not going to move?” I would assure her again and she would scrunch up her face and let go of the side.
Now she can swim halfway across the pool into my arms. She always knows I will catch her, and she knows I will keep my word and not move the “finish line” when she isn’t looking.

God wants us to trust Him in the same way my little granddaughter trusts me. He will not trick us and move the goal farther away. He won’t get distracted and forget to catch us. He will encourage us and challenge us to expand our ability to trust Him just like she was able to let me get further and further away. God wants us to grow in our faith. He expects us to trust Him for bigger things as we mature in our walk with Him.

When my precious little one jumps off the side of the pool or musters the courage to push off from the edge in water that is over her head, she is trusting me with her entire self. She is letting go with abandon and feels completely secure.

That’s exactly what God wants us to do.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5(ESV)

“Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established.” – Proverbs 4:25-26(NASB)

 

 

How to Be a Friend of God

When was the last time you ordered food or coffee from a drive-thru? Maybe you visit the same place frequently. Perhaps you have become familiar with the person who takes your order every day.  You might even know their name.

But do you really know them? You may exchange “good mornings,” on a regular basis but you really know nothing about them. You order, you pay, you smile and say thank-you as they hand you your order. Then you drive away.

Isn’t that how we sometimes treat God? We know where to go for what we need. We can express our needs in a clear way. We pay our dues by trying to do the things we know God expects. Finally, we thank Him for all he does for us and then we… drive away.

Beth Moore said in a devotion I read recently, “We cannot have a drive-thru relationship with God and expect to behold His glory.”

God wants more from us than a list of requests and a few words of appreciation.  He wants relationship.

Think of your best friend. Does that person know things about you that most people don’t? How did that happen? They know you because they have spent time with you. Probably LOTS of time. When you are with your friend, wouldn’t you rather go to a nice restaurant where you can sit and talk and laugh together instead of going through the drive-thru? Or maybe you would have them over to your house for a meal and an evening of visiting. God wants us to spend time with Him like we do our friends. He wants to tell us things that only His closest friends know.

A while back I wrote a devotion called, “Do You Have a BFF?”  where I talked about how well God knows you and wants to bless you. He knows everything about you. But He wants more than a relationship where He knows you. He wants you to know HIM. He has so much to tell you!  Spend some time just sitting in His presence and listening to His voice.

God is who He says He is but how will we believe it unless we get to know Him? How can we trust Him if we don’t know Him? And how can we get to know Him if we treat Him like a Drive-Thru God?

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”– Jeremiah 29:13(ESV)

“So the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness, and he was called God’s friend” – James 2:23 (HCSB)

Who Can You Trust?

Have you ever had an experience like this?

Someone you trust promises they will do a specific thing. You believe them because you trust them. Then time moves on and what they said they would do doesn’t happen.  You begin to doubt their word. If you let it go further, you begin to doubt their character. You start asking questions like, “will they ever come through with their promise?” And maybe you even start second guessing whether they even care about you. Maybe you aren’t important to them after all. Maybe they aren’t even who you ever believed them to be.

Not many of us actually go to this extreme in our thought process but you can see how it could go even further than what I described. We have to admit that we DO allow our expectations of what people will or won’t do go off in the wrong direction sometimes.

Perhaps after you get all bent out of shape because you decide the person must not love you anymore and therefore never intends to fulfill their promises to you, they suddenly come through and you feel ridiculous about what you were thinking. It sounds like something out of a movie where the wife is completely convinced that her husband has been cheating on her because he’s late getting home. When he walks in the door to find a hysterical wife, he says he’s stopped to pick up flowers for her.  She feels ridiculous for worrying needlessly.

It all sounds comical but isn’t that what we do to God all the time?  When we ask Him for something we need and He makes us wait we get impatient. Then we start wondering if He even heard us. Then if we aren’t careful we can begin to doubt that He even loves us. We allow doubt to creep in and cloud our thinking.

Yesterday, our pastor said, ” Why do we believe our doubts and doubt our beliefs?”  That’s a great question. Why is it so easy to allow doubt to come in when we are waiting on God to answer our prayers?

Doubt was introduced in the Garden when the serpent said to Eve, “Indeed, has God said…?”  If we allow doubt to guide our thinking we will surely lose the battle.

So when we pray and we are waiting for God to answer, what do we do?  We’ve all heard the advice to “stand on God’s promises” but what does that mean?  It means making a decision to believe God is who He says He is. If His character is trustworthy then what He says is also to be trusted.  You will find His promises in His Word. He has given them to us in writing so there can be no misunderstanding.

Now when the devil comes and says, “indeed, did God say?”  we can go straight to God’s word and find out exactly what He said.

When the devil tempted Jesus to doubt God, Jesus went right to the word and quoted it back to the devil.

If it worked for Jesus it will work for us.  Try it.

Psalm 33: 20-22

We wait in hope for the Lord;

he is our help and our shield.

In him our hearts rejoice,

for we trust in his holy name.

May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,

even as we put our hope in you.