The Paralyzing Grip of Fear!

Fear1Ten out of the twelve spies who went into the Promised Land saw the inhabitants and were gripped by fear. It was a tormenting fear that not only skewed their vision but spread to many others. The Biblical account that we read in Num. 13:26-30 continues to let us know that the other two, Joshua and Caleb, had an attitude of a warrior. These two did not succumb to spreading fear but kept their eyes on God’s promises and declared with boldness, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it,”. Their tenacious heart revealed their victorious attitude for the battle that lay before them. Yet, the majority of the spies were affected by fear just like a big part of God’s people.

Let me share with you six facts about fear that every believer should know: First, fear is a tactic of the enemy that will grip and paralyze you. Fear is your imagination running wild. It asks the question, “What if?” and answers with the worst-case scenario, picturing a future without God’s Intervention.


Fear is a lack of understanding in who God is, as well as, a lack of trust in Him. (tweet)


     Second, fear will stop you from being effective for God. Have you ever seen someone who is afraid to try anything new? What about your child and broccoli? All the disciples were in the boat but only Peter ventured out and walked on the water (Matt. 14:29). Fear held the others back from having that same supernatural testimony. Too often we are hindered from moving forward in God because of this enemy.

                  Third, fear can spread to other believers and limit their impact. In Num. 14:1 it reads, “So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried”. Why did they cry? Because fear had spread to everyone who heard the spies say that they lacked the strength to go up against their enemy. Fear will sweep across others like a wildfire on a dry prairie.


Fear held the other disciples back from having the same supernatural testimony as Peter who walked on the water.   (tweet)


              Fourth, fear is a serious defect in a warrior. In Deuteronomy 20:8 the commanders were suppose to ask their troops, “What man is there who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, lest the heart of his brethren faint like his heart.” Being fearful and faint-hearted will affect and impact many. The fainthearted Christian will melt in the face of a spiritual battle.

Fifth, fear brings bondage. Romans 8:14-15 declares, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear…” Many Christians walk around in bondage because they live in fear. Fear is a lack of understanding in who God is, as well as, a lack of trust in Him.

                  Sixth, fear is a torment that can hold you back from fulfilling God’s purposes. Elisha’s servant was overcome by fear when he thought he was outnumbered by the encircling enemy (II Kings 6:15). The apostle John assures us, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love,” (I Jn. 4:18). A Christian who is tormented by fear is a Christian who is not grounded in God’s love.

Knowing these six crucial points about fear will help you not be distracted from serving the Lord. A prayer warrior must be aware of the effects of fear in the realm of intercession. If fear grips us as we move into spiritual warfare then we will be limited in our prayers and impact to those around us.

 

My Father Always Let Me Find Him

hide n seek girlDuring the beautiful summer nights most kids enjoy playing hide and seek in their neighborhoods or at family gatherings. I am sure you were also raised playing this popular game throughout your childhood.
The thrill and adventure of either being the best person to hide or the one who is known as the one who can find everyone, seems to promote the game to every kid.

Some of my fondest memories were when my father would play “hide -n- seek” with my siblings and I in our jammies before bedtime. We would all get our turn to be the one who would count and then go and seek, trying to find everyone else. I didn’t realize until I was older, that my father would deliberately let me find him. Whether it was by making a little noise or by not being hid very well, he would help me.


From the very beginning of time our heavenly Father has enjoyed being with us and wants us close to Him.   (tweet)


If you really think about it, my father could have made it hard and probably impossible to find him, but he didn’t! He wanted me to find him so he could cuddle and love on me.

In the scriptures we see the same loving character of our heavenly Father. In Jer 29:13-14 we see where it says, “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, says the LORD…” (NKJ) The two words, seek and search describes one who is passionately and diligently inquiring after God.  If we are whole-heartedly striving after God, He promises us that He will let us find Him.

In the story of Adam and Eve in the midst of the Garden of Eden, we see that after they had been enticed into sin hid from God. It was their guilt and shame that pushed them to hide from the one that had made them and loved them. The Biblical story in Genesis 3:8-10 goes on to say, “the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” This statement wasn’t because God didn’t know where they were, but was asking them if they knew that they were separating themselves. From the very beginning of time our heavenly Father has enjoyed being with us and wants us close to Him. God doesn’t like being separated from us. We even see Him allow to be called “Emanuel” meaning “God with us”.

Yet, so many people because of deception have fallen into the clutches of sin, driving them to hide in shame.  And even though God is well able to deliver us from ever falling into sin He gives us a free choice to walk away from Him. In Isa. 59:1 we read that when we sin it puts a wedge between us, and the lover of our soul. Yet, if you do, remember just as the Father in the story of the prodigal son looked for and ran to the wayward son when he returned, so your heavenly Father desires the same for you. It’s so important for us to understand how much God loves us and wants to hold us in His Fatherly arms of love.

I encourage you therefore, whether you are hiding or are on a journey of seeking after God. Be convinced and know that your heavenly Father wants to be with you. If you seek after him passionately and diligently, He will be found by you and if need be, He will also never quit seeking after you!

Counting the Cost of the Journey

empty houseOn an interstate north of Dallas that I have traveled many times over the years there is a half finished mansion that has become a memorial of “Unfinished Business”. If hear say is correct, the house was owned by a wealthy rancher who was financially devastated when the oil prices crashed years ago. It turns out this rancher ended up not having enough resources to complete his mansion. Therefore it has stood there for many years abandon and deteriorating.

In the gospel of Luke Jesus says in 14:27-30, “…whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it…’”.(NKJV) Jesus uses the principle of


We can’t expect to continue living our life as it was before we surrendered and made a decision to follow Christ.   (tweet)


finishing a construction project as an illustration of a person that chooses to follow Him. In other words a disciple of Christ needs to count the cost and not make a casual commitment but a decisive and thoughtful commitment to follow Jesus.

            My father had a gifting in building and over the years had established a trustworthy construction company. I remember many nights he would be sitting at his desk calculating building projects, making sure he had everything that was needed to start and finish the job. It wasn’t just a passing thought but a well-planned project.

In the same manner Jesus is declaring that making a decision to follow Him is not a fly by night decision. Too often individuals are pulled by emotions, events and circumstances to try a “quick fix” of religion. Never making a real calculation of what it will take. They are never able to follow through and finish their decision to follow Christ in which they started all because they are not willing to let go of things. In His dialogue Jesus goes on to say in verse 33, “whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”

In Luke 16:13, we are told, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.” We can’t expect to continue living our life as it was before we surrendered and made a decision to follow Christ. Like the saying goes, “you can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Meaning we must let go of the former lifestyle and grab on to Christ with the rope of faith. You can’t straddle the fence or serve two masters.


A true disciple puts off the characteristics of our former allegiance and must be filled with fruits of righteousness.      (tweet)


The author of the book of Hebrews exhorts us in Heb 12:1, “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”. NKJV Paul is telling us to get rid of everything that would hinder or hold us back from finishing our race of faith. In telling us to lay aside every weight, Paul is saying that there are things that can trip us up in finishing strong. In his letter to the Colossians he says, “…put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man…”

      Therefore, as we pursue being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ let us count the cost. A true disciple puts off the characteristics of our former allegiance and must be filled with fruits of righteousness.

It’s not Enough to just Start…You must Finish!

77930917The anticipation of the opening gunfire for the race to begin was gut wrenching to say the least. The runner gets himself all strategically situated in the starting blocks and tunes in on the starting judge in hopes of having a perfect start. Even with an exceptional start it is still how you finish that will grade your performance. There must be a start for sure, but just because you start a race doesn’t make you a winner… only if you finish can you possibly win and receive the reward.


It’s not enough to just start strong; we must finish strong like Paul. (Tweet)


Paul wrote at the end of his life to young Timothy giving every believer some incredible insights for us to live by. We read in 2 Tim 4:7-8, Paul says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day…”.   He was referring to his journey of life as a race and fight, as he also did in his letter to the Corinthians. He says “I fought the good fight” insinuating that it isn’t easy but will take endurance and tenacity. Then Paul says, “I have finished the race. He didn’t quit because it was difficult or to long, but completed the course set before him. In Cor. 9 he says that we need to run not as a casual jog through a park, but run the race to win. He lets us know that there is a reward for all of us that finish the race of life keeping our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

In his tremendous book “Multiplication” Tommy Barnett gives a startling comparison of three young preachers. All of them were filling up auditoriums and having record crowds. Graham, Templeton, and Clifford launched out of the starting blocks like Olympic gold medalist in 1945.

Those that observed them thought the young man; Templeton would be the one who would make it to the top. Even a magazine wrote a feature article calling Templeton the “Babe Ruth of evangelism.” Clifford was a young fireball evangelist. Many thought that he was the most gifted and powerful preacher to come up in the church for many centuries. People lined up for hours to get into where he was preaching. Yet why haven’t we heard of Templeton and Clifford?

Well, in just five years, 1950 Templeton had left the ministry. He pursued a radio career. He became an announcer and a newscaster, telling the world that he no longer believed in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Can you believe this future “babe Ruth” of preaching was no longer even in the ball park. By 1954 Clifford had lost his family, ministry and health. Eventually he lost his life because of addiction to alcohol. Financial irresponsibility left his wife and their two Downs-syndrome children with no money. This once famous preacher didn’t even finish his race.

In the Christian life…it’s not how you start the race, but how you finish the race that matters. It’s not enough to just start strong; we must finish strong as Paul and the third young man did. His name, Billy Graham, has faithfully run his race keeping the faith for all these years! Even so, let me encourage you not to quit! But synch up your belt and commit to finish the race that God has set before you.

 

 

What will You Give Christ This CHRISTMAS?

161819599-3The white snow, the lights and the cheerful music all enhance the experience of fervently shopping for the perfect gift for those on our lists. Then comes the anticipation of the moment of presenting our gift and watching our loved ones unwrap them, which is nothing short of breathtaking. It’s only when their face lights up as the Bethlehem star that we know we have picked the right gift or not.

With Christmas being known as a time of giving of gifts. It should also be a joyous time of the year, yet so often it can be stressful and exhausting. To many people are caught up in the rut of frantically trying to find that perfect gift for that special person, which will express our feelings toward them. Yet, if we are honest with ourselves we know we have all given and also received imperfect gifts haven’t we?


Jesus is Lord of all, and the faith He demands involves unconditional surrender and allegiance.   (tweet)


In 1999 “USA Today” published a survey that revealed what adults say they do with that not-quite-right holiday gift.” Well, 31% keep it, 30% hide it, 13% toss it, 12% give it away and 6% return it. It’s a dilemma we have all experienced.

But, before we chuck the whole holiday lets go back to the familiar passage in Matt 2 where the Wiseman come and present gifts to the young Jesus. As they arrived at the place they fell down and worshiped Him. The wise men came from the East crossing many different lines to get to Jesus…countries, religious, ethnic and political. Finding Him they presented Him with gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. These gifts were appropriate for they express the very essence of who Jesus Christ is.

Gold carries obvious worth. It’s precious, worthy across all cultures and times. It’s a gift fit for royalty. It was a fitting gift for Jesus who is the Supreme sovereign Lord. In Revelation 19:16 it declares that written on His vesture is “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”. What will you give Christ as your King this Christmas? As King He deserves your allegiance, and demands your subjection to His authority. Jesus is Lord of all, and the faith He demands involves unconditional surrender and allegiance.

The second gift the wise men gave the child Jesus was frankincense. Frankincense was the ceremonial incense of the Jews and was part of a compounded with four ’sweet scents,’ pounded together in equal proportion. It was considered holy incense, which honored God. As the Holy One, God Incarnate, what will you give Christ? We owe Him our worship, our praise, our adoration.

The final gift of the wise men was myrrh. In ancient times, the red-brown resin of myrrh was used to preserve mummies and in embalming. The infant child was born to die. He was born to be the sin bearer – the sacrificial Lamb of God who would take all of our sins upon Himself that we might have eternal life. What will you give Christ as your Sacrificial Lamb – your Savior . As Savior we owe Him our lives and our all. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Paul writes, “…ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price…”.

This Christmas let us follow the wise men’s example and give Jesus gifts appropriate for the King of Kings, a Holy God and a Sacrificial Lamb. He deserves our gift of worship, our surrender and our life. He is the reason for the season.

 

I Just don’t have any Room this Christmas!

1 vacacyOver the years William H. Hunt’s famous allegorical painting, “The Light of the World” has stirred not only my heart but thousands of onlookers. The painting was originally painted over a hundred and fifty years ago in a small hut at Worcester Park Farm in Surrey and now beautifies the wall of the chapel at Keble College in Oxford. According to Hunt he painted the picture with what he thought was a divine command, and not simply as a good subject. This heart gripping painting illustrate Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him”.


This time of the year we celebrate the birth of Christ our Lord, yet so many have no room for Him.  (Tweet)


In the very beginning of scripture we see God’s heart in His creation. It says in Genesis not only did God create mankind, but also walked and talked with them in the garden. God has always wanted to be with us. To say it frankly, God can’t get enough of us. Hunt’s painting rightly shows God’s desire to come and commune with mankind. He is knocking and calling to us, but the ability to open the door lies within our responsibility.

The innkeeper in the Christmas story had no room for the baby Jesus. We read in Luke 2:7, “And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” The savior of the world makes His entrance into history through the humbleness of a barn due to there being no room in the local inn. Every time I see a neon “No Vacancy” sign in the window of a motel I think of this sad story. The bottom line is there was room in the inn. Where you ask? The innkeeper had his room and could have easily given it to the young pregnant mother. Whatever his excuse might have been, it locked the door on Jesus coming into his house.

Have you made room for Jesus in your life? Have you opened the door for Christ to come in and sup with you? This time of the year we celebrate the birth of Christ our Lord, yet so many have no room for Him. They have been caught and swept away in the hustle and bustle of the holiday.


The innkeeper had his room and could have easily given it to the young pregnant mother. (tweet)


The multitudes are rushing around trying to get the perfect gift and decorations so they can please everyone except for the one that it matters the most, the king and savior of the world.

In 2 Kings 4:8 there’s a story of the Shunammite women who made room for Elisha to stay at her house, which is a type of making room for Christ in our lives. She even went so far as setting up a permanent room for him. She didn’t want just a casual acquaintance with him, but a in-depth relationship. It says as often as the man of God would go that way that he would turn in there. That says it all… If we make room for God, He will come in and commune with us.

In Luke 19:5 Jesus tells Zacchaeus, “make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” Wow! He was up in a tree trying to see Jesus and therefore Jesus goes to his House. God can’t get enough of us and wants to spend time with us. Will you this Christmas make room for Jesus?

The Eye of the Tiger!

589218387The movie Braveheart chronicles Sir William Wallace’s fight against England’s oppression for Scotland’s freedom. It illustrates the heart of a warrior. Wallace’s grassroots army lined up for battle against the mocking English and Wallace inspired his army with a cry for freedom. It was a rallying call for justice. I don’t think I am alone in saying that I was stirred in the depths of my being. That scene made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

Numbers 25:6-11 tells how Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron the priest, displayed this same fervor and passion for justice. When many were whoring themselves, he along with others was at the temple gate


When deteriorating circumstances are running rampant, they demand drastic and bold actions to combat vicious spreading of evil  (tweet)


crying out to the Lord. He ran to the offense and passionately thrust a javelin through the violating individuals. This bold, and what some might think seemed to be overly drastic, action was pronounced by God as righteous and stopped the destruction among the nation. It’s evident that Phinehas had a warrior’s heart. When he saw evil creeping in and overtaking his family, friends and Nation, he turned back God’s wrath against them. Scripture tells us that his actions were motivated with the zeal of God. He had the heart of God and it manifested through his attitude toward evil. When deteriorating circumstances are running rampant, they demand drastic and bold actions to combat viciously spreading evil.

Do you remember the scene in the classic movie “Rocky” where his coach tells the apathetical and lethargic boxer that he lost the eye of the tiger? The coach was referring to Rocky not having an attitude of a warrior. He had lost his focus and zeal for victory. It is only when we have the “eye of the tiger” that we become victorious in our spiritual battle as William Wallace and Phinehas were.

We must never allow ourselves to think that we are not in a spiritual battle. We must realize that spiritual warfare will be a big part of our Christian life. The passage in Deuteronomy 20 says we should not be afraid when we see the tactics and onslaught of the enemy. When we are overcome with fear we agree with the enemy’s portrayal of himself as


Through focusing on his God and His promises, David was able to stand strong and defeat the mocking giant.     (tweet)


mightier than our God. Verse three continues exhorting the children of Israel as they go into battle saying, “Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; for the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.”

In 1 Sam17: it says that each day Israel’s army positioned itself for battle and when the Philistine giant mocked their God and threatened them, they trembled with fear. But, Goliath did not deter and embed fear in young David’s heart. Through focusing on his God and His promises, David was able to stand strong and defeat this mocking giant. His attitude reflected his confidence and zeal for God. The result of this young shepherd boy defeating this giant was that the whole nation was motivated with a confidence and attitude to win the victory that day.

Any time that we do not understand who we are in Christ and believe the enemy’s lies we will be defeated within ourselves. God wants His children to have an “eye of the tiger” or attitude of victory as they contend in spiritual warfare.