fear

Don’t Fall

Idolatry is still a thing, and you may not think you have a problem with it, but the part about you being human means you probably struggle like most people. Idolatry takes place when something or someone comes between you and God. Idolatry takes place when God takes second place in our lives. Our lives will always be ordered by the objects of our worship. There are idols of entertainment, and there’s nothing wrong with wholesome entertainment, but when the majority of our time, energy and efforts are spent somewhere else instead of on the things of God, it’s a problem. The pursuit of worldly riches and the pursuit of popularity completely robs followers of Christ of the blessings of an idol-free life.

Idolatry is not ok, and it’s something we should constantly be examining in our lives. It’s crazy to even consider this, but some people idolize other people and some people idolize themselves. No one should worship the ground you walk on, and if someone does, you should stop their worship instantly. God alone is worthy of your worship! You can appreciate and be thankful for the people in your life without crossing the line of idolatry. This was the problem with many of the Hebrews coming out of Egyptian bondage. They had been surrounded by physical idols and had only heard of God, the Father of creation. Let’s admit that it’s easier to worship what you can see and touch, but we can admit also that worship doesn’t require faith. Here’s what God’s word says about man-made idols. “Their idols [are] silver and gold, The work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see; They have ears, but they do not hear; Noses they have, but they do not smell; They have hands, but they do not handle; Feet they have, but they do not walk; Nor do they mutter through their throat. Those who make them are like them; [So is] everyone who trusts in them. O Israel, trust in the LORD; He [is] their help and their shield.” Psalm 115:4-9. The apostle Paul said, “Flee from idolatry.”

To not fall before an idol you must live a disciplined life, because even today you are surrounded by them. Don’t fall for them. Worship the One True and Living God!

Running from God

Here’s something to keep in mind—you can’t successfully run from the presence of God, but many have tried. It said of Jonah after having received clear directions from God, “But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” —Jonah 1:2. God was not only right behind Jonah as he fled, but He was in front of Jonah and all around Jonah, in the wind and in the great fish. When you run away from God, you bring trouble wherever you go. You will bring trouble to work and trouble on the highway. When you run from the Lord and begin to live in a manner you know is against God’s Will, you bring trouble to your house and trouble to the Lord’s house.

This is for the child of God who thinks they know better than God Himself. You may be able to sleep in your trouble just like Jonah slept in the storm, but you will not sleep in the whale. It’s amazing to me that God didn’t just kill Jonah, but that tells us there is grace for the rebel runners. It would shock us to know how many live in the deep consequences of disobedience to God. I’ve been there and perhaps you have to, and it’s very likely you will come into contact with someone running from the Lord before you come into contact with someone who has the virus. In case you come into contact with a runner, unless they will hear you and turn back to the Lord, your only option may be separation. Make this note right here, not every difficulty and trial is a sign of rebellion. But if you have been swallowed by a difficult circumstance, you should examine yourself and also know there is grace for another chance. If the winds of trouble are stirring, it might be someone near you inviting God’s correction.

Jonah got a second chance to do God’s Will because the One true and living God is full of grace and mercy. We all have an option when God starts calling—receive the call and walk in obedience or rebel and run. Let me encourage you to put the way you feel on the ship and let them sail away, and let us do God’s Will.

Have You Come to Yourself?

“And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!” Luke 15:17

This was the turnaround moment for the prodigal son who had taken his inheritance, traveled to a far country, wasted all that he had been given, only to find himself at the very lowest place he could go. I have imagined over the past few days how long this young man had already been living in the pit of life. Life pits are everywhere and many are headed that way today and many have just come from that miserable place. You most likely will run into someone today. We can only wonder and speculate what it was that caused the young man to come to himself. It definitely had something to do with his memory, because he remembered how well his father’s servants were treated. He must have thought, “If I’m going to be someone’s servant, I want to be one of my father’s servants, because he treats them so well.” This young man was wearing rags and was starving to death and completely alone and at the most desperate place in his life—and that’s when he came to himself. What a moment! That should speak to us today. You don’t have to live in misery. You don’t have to stay where you are and keep doing what you’re doing. But you must come to yourself and start walking towards the Father. Just like the prodigal son’s father was daily looking and waiting on him, our great God and Father stares towards the far country expecting one of His own to come home. This is a good day for someone to come to their senses, as one version translates it, and start your way back home to God. Our Father will receive you with grace and mercy and with great joy!

Be Healed!

You may not need to go to the hospital or to see your doctor, but you still may need to be healed. Everyone gets hurt in life in ways a prescription cannot help. Everyone gets hurt by relationships, broken hearts, shattered dreams, crushed expectations and loss. Most often those inner wounds don’t get the attention and care they should, and over time they have a negative effect on us. What do I mean? Inner wounds that haven’t been adequately healed will rob you of the ability to live in the fullness of God in your life. You can live with inner wounds the same way people live with a limp from an injury or live life in a wheel chair after a stroke. The loss of a loved one is the most difficult to heal from, but that is why God has given us faith to trust in eternal life. If you haven’t been healed, you will miss out on the joys of life. You will miss out on the richness in relationships of those near you. You will miss out allowing other dreams to capture the passion of your life. Let me ask you, do you need to be healed on the inside? Have you buried the hurt and sorrow in your heart rather than being healed from it? If so, acknowledge it, and then ask God to heal you today. Be healed on the inside in the name of Jesus and live the life God has for you.

Jeremiah 17:14 “Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, For You [are] my praise.”

What Are You Doing Here?

Here’s a question for you!  “And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD [came] to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:9. This was God asking Elijah but it’s a great question to mediate on. What are you doing here?  Are you are a place in your life that you have been driven to out of fear?  Are you at a place in your life that doesn’t fit the high calling of God in your life?  What are you doing here?  You must recognize that God didn’t ask, “What are you doing THERE, but here?”  That means that God was there with Elijah just like God is there with you. When fear overtakes us, we run away and back to the familiar just as the disciples went back to fishing. Elijah ran as far as he could to go hide in a cave when his calling was to represent God to people. God knew the answer to the question before Elijah said a word, just like God knows what you are doing where you are. The question insinuated the answer, “You shouldn’t be here.”   The question suggested a mission and the mission is that God is not finished using you. The question should motivate you to listen for the next assignment by God. You and I are not Elijah, but we’ve been out of place, off the grid, but God is faithful and ready to speak with clear directions. Listen today for that still small voice.

God has something for you to do and you maybe in the wrong place to do it. Believe that He is with you and that He is speaking to you today with new directions.

Secrets of God

We all have secrets, but no one has as many secrets as God, and God’s secrets concern you and me.  When you share a secret or private message with someone you trust, you expect that person to keep it private.  There are many things in our lives that do not need to be publicized or posted on Facebook.  You may share a secret with someone you trust, but usually you share that secret for a few different reasons.  The secret may be a burden you need to share with someone so they can pray for you.  You may share a secret because it is a matter of accountability you want help with.  You may share a secret because whatever it is directly effects the person you are sharing with.  And then some share secrets because they can’t keep things to themselves.  

But who does God share His secrets with and why?  

“The secret of the LORD [is] with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant.” Psalms 25:14

God shares His secrets with those who fear Him not because it’s a burden He can’t bear, nor a matter of accountability.  God shares His secrets with us to move us to action.  

Then the men rose from there and looked toward Sodom, and Abraham went with them to send them on the way.  And the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, “since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?”  Genesis 18:16-18

The secret God shared with Abraham had to do with the judgment that was about to rain down on Sodom and Gomorrah.  When this secret was revealed to Abraham, Abraham immediately began to plead with God to spare the cities.  Abraham pleaded with God for mercy because Lot and his family lived in Sodom.  When God shares a secret with you it is not to inform you of His future plans, but He shares with you to hear the Christ-like intercession Jesus made from the cross, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  Do you want to know a secret of God?  Be the one who fears the Lord and He will share with you.  

Suddenly

Life was very different just two weeks ago.  Two weeks ago we were still freely moving about without fear and fully engaged in our community and church activities.  But now all of that has changed and the change has come by the day and hour as with the rise of the coronavirus.  This sudden change didn’t take much effort at all, but only with  news reports of the spread of the virus and recommendations and executive orders by our government officials.  The sudden and drastic change we have experienced should alert us spiritually.  Because of these global events, not just local, we should make a note of what time it is.  Let me ask you, do you know what time it is?  Your phone or watch or clock will be of no use in telling what time it is concerning this global event.  Is this not a spiritual hour we live in when sudden global change has taken place?  I certainly believe so!  Look at what Solomon wrote about things happening suddenly.  

 “I returned and saw under the sun that– The race [is] not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all. For man also does not know his time: Like fish taken in a cruel net, Like birds caught in a snare, So the sons of men [are] snared in an evil time, When it falls suddenly upon them.” Ecclesiastes 9:11-12

This global event is explained away by so many as only “time and chance.”  But then it says, “man also does not know his time.”  At any time of the day you can look up at the sun and give a good estimate on the time, but have you considered observing the activities of men to tell the spiritual time?  Spiritually it is time to wake up and return to God and call on Him.  Amazingly, there are so many Christians who are still sleeping because they don’t know the time, and to them this virus is like a bad dream.  Let me encourage you to wake up and know and believe that what has happened globally is a great indicator of what time it is spiritually.  Draw near to God and live like you understand the times. 

What you Need to Know

In a time of non-stop news, many times we are told things we don’t even need to know. Understanding the threat level of the coronavirus and the time frame of when our lives may get back to normal is something I feel like I need to know. If there is an outbreak in my area, I need to know. If the virus is spreading at a faster rate than predicted, that is something I need to know.  If our State Department and C.D.C and Health departments are making progress in developing a vaccine or treatment for the virus, that’s something I need to know. How I can do my part in stopping the spread of the virus is what I need to know.  

There is something else I need to know in a time of widespread panic and fear, but the government is not going to tell me in daily briefings, nor is the news. I need to know how to have peace in my heart and mind that is greater than the shocking news reports with all the analysis. If you don’t know this already, you need to, because fear is gripping the hearts and minds of thousands and thousands of people right now.  Peace can be so incredibly fragile when the source of your peace is found in something outside of you.  If your source of peace is found in the circumstances around you, peace may stop by for a short visit, but it’s not staying.  If your peace is found in a dollar amount you have secured in a bank somewhere, your peace can completely disappear overnight without bank robbers having anything to do with it.  If your peace is found in the person closest to you, that peace can disappear because it’s only a matter of time a virus or something else will visit that person and they will be gone.  So the source of your peace is critically important.  What would you say is the source of your peace?  Do you have peace and is it holding you or is panic and fear shaking you?  

The way to have this peace I’m talking about is by having a presence inside of you.  The peace we need must come from within us, because we can never control the environment around us.  This amazing peace is only found in once place in all the world, it’s found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  To have this peace, you must open your heart and allow Him to come in and live inside of you.  You will still have all hell break loose around you, but heaven can open up inside of you.  If that’s what you want in your life, you have to open the door of your heart because no one else can.  You must know the one thing that keeps God out of our lives and that is our sin.  

Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  

As far as human standards are concerned, you may be a great person, even citizen of the year, but your sin keeps God at a distance just like mine does.  But God will be faithful to knock on the door of your heart and will be merciful and gracious to come inside you if you will open that door by faith.  

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”  

Salvation and God’s peace is all by grace, meaning we don’t deserve it.  It is a gift.  You don’t pay for it because Jesus did on the cross.  Jesus Christ did what was required for heaven’s doors to be open wide for you and for God’s amazing peace to be in you.  

Ephesians 2:14 says, “For He Himself is our peace.”  

You might think, “Is that all?”  Well, there is so much more, but this right now is what you need to know.  So right where you are, you can open the door of your heart and invite God to live inside of you.  God sees your heart and He knows if the words that come from our mouths line up with the desires of our hearts.  And listen, peace is just one of the incredible products that come with having God in your life.  But if peace is what you need right now and you don’t know if Christ lives in you or not, tell God, “I’m opening my heart and life to you right now.  I believe you sent your Son to die on the cross for my sins and I believe that He rose from the dead, and right now I hand over the title and keys to my life.  Forgive me for all my sins and fill me with your Spirit.  From this moment forward, my life is yours.  I ask this believing in Jesus name, Amen.”   

Be Sober

When I worked for the Sheriff’s Department, I came into contact with intoxicated people all the time.  My first few years at the Sheriff’s Department was working in the jail as a booking officer.  The booking office was the first stop when an offender entered the jail with the arresting officer.  Some of the intoxicated people couldn’t stand and answer questions, and some couldn’t even speak to where you could understand.  Those who were extremely intoxicated would either want to fight, sleep, or joke around.  I would say that very few intoxicated people became sober even after being arrested, having their possessions taken from them and being closed up in a confined area.  Only a handful understood that what was happening was going to cost them and their families severely.  Only a handful experienced the sobering effect of being confined with almost all of their privileges immediately taken away from them.  

What is happening in our nation and world this moment should have a very sobering effect on each one of us.  We all have been arrested by the spread of the coronavirus and confined to our homes.  The news of many deaths, the loss of many jobs, the crippling of our economy, and the removal of life as we have always known it, should be very sobering.  This sudden change in our lives should be changing something in us spiritually.  We should be sobering up and understanding the serious spiritual nature of what is taking place and not just the life-altering implications.  God is calling us to the prayer closet and only spiritually sober people will go to their prayer closet and seek God.  Those who remain intoxicated will remain the same spiritually.  Those who remain intoxicated may still want to joke around or just want to sleep it off until everything goes back to normal assuming that it will.  Let me ask you, are you sobering up spiritually?  Look at what the apostle Paul said,  

“But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others [do,] but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and [as] a helmet the hope of salvation.”  1 Thessalonians 5:4-8

Are you of the day or of the night?  Be of the day and be sober and put on faith, love and hope.  Those who are spiritually sobering up renew their faith and trust in God, love others as Christ has loved us, and hope because we know God is in control!

The Other Side of Faith

When you think about placing complete faith in God certain images come to mind.  One of the images is that of David standing and fighting Goliath.  Another image of faith is that of the three Hebrews who refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s image and were thrown into the fire.  When I think about faith in God, I imagine the apostle Peter stepping out of the boat on the Sea of Galilee and walking on water to Jesus.  What does faith look like?  It looks like someone in complete surrender to God and by faith calling on the name of Jesus to save them.   

Have you ever considered the other side of faith that doesn’t look like an act of courage or great risk?  There is another side of faith we need to understand and walk in right now because of the threat of this coronavirus.  Look at the other side of faith in these verses:

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. 14 Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!”  Psalms 27:13-14

“Be still, and know that I [am] God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! 11 The LORD of hosts [is] with us; The God of Jacob [is] our refuge.” Selah Psalms 46:10-11

“Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end [intended by] the Lord–that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.“ James 5:11

Right now is the time you need to practice the other side of faith. God has given us wisdom and faith and our faith looks different in times like this, but it is still trusting in God.  Faith is still faith when we wait on the Lord.  Faith is still faith when we are still before the Lord.  Faith is still faith when we endure affliction, persecution, and uncertainties like a sudden outbreak of a deadly virus.  You are no less of a disciple of Christ when you practice the other side of faith. 

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