Freedom from Fear

Fear. It’s something each of us deals with. Some people are enslaved by fear to the point that they won’t step out and tackle something new. Some are afraid of something that may happen to them. Some are so fearful that it paralyzes them emotionally and sometimes physically. Our Bible Journaling comes from 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (KJV) Notice the verse says that God has not given us the spirit of fear. Fear comes from the enemy!

Satan’s whole purpose is to “kill, steal, and destroy.” (John 10:10) He wants to derail us in our walk with the Lord. He wants us so paralyzed in fear that we become ineffective witnesses for Christ, and our lives are in bondage to the fear that holds us. On Sunday, my Pastor spoke about how Satan speaks to us, telling us we are less than what God says we are, degrading us, telling us we can’t do this because….” In the process we become bound by what the enemy is telling us because we allow him to demean us in our minds. We can be locked up in fear.

But our verse tells us that God has not given us the spirit of fear. Instead He gives us power, love, and a sound mind. Fear can be debilitating to the point of becoming a psychological disorder. Some people are afraid of being out in crowds or around people, that is called agoraphobia, and they are holed up in their houses, afraid to step outside. I have never experienced that kind of fear, but I do have a fear.

I am totally deaf in one ear due to an illness I had as a child. My fear is that I will lose my hearing totally in my good ear and go completely deaf. To this day I don’t like being in totally quiet rooms, I must have noise, the radio or TV, in the background. A few years ago, I experienced an ear infection that was so bad that I lost a part of my hearing in my good ear. My husband could stand next to me and yell in my ear and I could barely hear him. It scared me badly. I experienced the closest thing to being totally deaf, the thing I feared the most, and I was in a panic. Praise God for His healing and antibiotics and medication to clear the ear infection. I did regain my hearing, however; my hearing was diminished a little. I’ve worn hearing aids for about 30 years, and my hearing continues to decline. Losing my hearing completely is still a fear, but God has helped me through that experience, and it no longer is as strong of a fear as it was before. I have learned a little sign language, so that I will be able to communicate with others. I’m grateful for friends who are sign language interpreters and help me out when I don’t understand something. I’ve also learned to read lips a little.

There are other types of fear that can cause us to step back and not be who we are called to be. We can also be fearful to step out into an area of growth that God is calling us into. We must believe that we are who God says we are. We must remember that it is God who gives us the ability to do what He has called us to. When I first started doing my blog, I was very hesitant. Several years ago, a prophetic word, that I was to begin journaling and I would be ministering to others, was spoken over me. First, I had never had a prophetic word spoken over me before and I wasn’t sure just how to take it. After consulting with my Pastor and talking to some others about what I felt God was leading me to, I launched out. It has been a slow beginning, but I am now beginning to see some rewards, small ones, but rewards none the less. I had to believe that I was able to do what God said I could do and not allow fear to stop me from being obedient to step into my calling.

We must go to God’s Word to reaffirm what He says about us. Romans 8:37 tells us that “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (NASB) God promises that He will not forsake us. (Psalm 37:25) Ephesians 4:8 tells us that He leads us out of slavery. “Wherefore he saith ‘When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men.’” (KJV) Philippians 4:3 says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (NASB) Jesus gives us the strength and helps us to step out into whatever it is that we need to do.

We can follow God and His call on our lives because He does not give us the spirit of fear, He frees us from it. All we need to do is allow Him to free us from that fear and surrender it to Him.

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Unshakeable Confidence

 

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Psalm 3:3-6, “But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me. I will not be afraid of thousands of people who have taken their stand against me on every side.” (CSB) This passage was written by David as he was fleeing his son, Absalom. Absalom wanted to take over David’s throne and become king. Despite being on the run and having those in Israel who were favorable toward Absalom come against him, David still had confidence in God.

God had him anointed and placed on the throne of Israel. David could rest and not be worried or concerned because he knew that God was in control of everything and God had his back.

Worry can be disabling. It can cause sleepless nights, physical ailments, and take away our peace. But when we have confidence that God has everything under His control, that He sees our path beginning to end, we can have peace, we can rest. I love how David says, “I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me.” (verse 5) He could sleep at night in peace. Absalom had an agenda and desired to take David out so that he could become king, and David kept his confidence that God would settle the matter in His own time and way. He even says he is not afraid of those who are coming against him! That is Unshakeable Confidence!

I am not necessarily a worrier, however; there are times I can become concerned or even worry a little bit about a situation. I try not to let it get me to the point of being overwhelmed with worry, but I can have that situation uppermost in my mind, and it can always be there in my thoughts. If I don’t stop and pray about the situation, give it to God, and then trust Him to work it out for my good, then I become miserable.

God gives us His promise that when we pray, He will listen and answer. I John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (NASB) When we pray, He will hear and answer! That is our confidence!

God also gives us confidence to step out in faith when He has given us direction into an area that is not in our comfort zone. Doing new things can be scary, but God is orchestrating things in our lives to make us more like Him, to become a vessel that He can use in bringing others to faith in Jesus. Knowing He is directing my steps gives me confidence that I can do what He is asking me to do. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (NASB) As Believers, we know this verse and quote it quite often, but we never really pay attention to that little word in the middle of the verse…all! There is nothing we can not do when we put our trust and confidence in Christ. Everything is possible through Jesus!

So, as we look at placing our confidence in God, step out in faith, rely on His leading, rest in peace that He knows what is best for us, and He will always walk with us!

 

Confidence is Mediated by the Holy Spirit

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Ephesians 1:13-14, “In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed. The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory.” (CSB) The Holy Spirit’s purpose is not only to draw us to Jesus, but to help us in our daily walk with the Lord. One way He helps us is in assisting us to have confidence in God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Our confidence is then mediated by the Holy Spirit. Mediation, in this instance, is defined as “intervention in a process of relationship; intercession. The Holy Spirit helps us have confidence in Jesus, He encourages us to step forward when God is leading us into territory that is unfamiliar. As an example, when I felt God calling me to begin to minister through a blog, I was very hesitant. I didn’t know the first thing about blogging, didn’t even know how to begin. The Holy Spirit, through the counsel of my Pastor and others who journal and blog, encouraged me to begin. It was a slow beginning, and in some ways, it still is. But, without the prompting of the Holy Spirit to step out of my comfort zone, I would never have begun my ministry through Bible Journaling and this blog. I don’t claim to be an organized ministry to the point of being incorporated or needing licensing or any of the things full-time ministries do, but to the few that read my journaling, I am endeavoring to minister hope, healing, salvation, and encouragement. I have no grand ideas that my blog will develop into some huge ministry with thousands of followers. I am content to share with those who find my blog or read my entries on Facebook. God never said it would be earth shattering, but it is what He has called me to do, and I pray that it influences the tiny corner of the world I reach.

There may be something that God is calling you to do, but you have been hesitant to step out in faith. It’s scary beginning something new. However, if you truly feel God is leading you to begin something you are not accustomed to doing, rely upon the encouragement of the Holy Spirit and the confidence that God will guide you in the way you are to proceed. Is God calling you to minister in your church? It may not be something as prominent as singing or playing on the worship team or teaching a Sunday School class, but there are other positions that are needed in the church, that a lot of times, must be done by the pastor because no one else will step up. His or her calling is to be the shepherd of the congregation, not the janitor. Maybe there is a need for nursery duty or hospitality. Our church has a dear lady who quietly ministers by sending cards to those in our church who need encouragement. She sends our pastor something almost every week to help him and lift him up. He needs that little push to be able to minister to us. That is her ministry! Something like that, even though it seems so trivial, can be just the thing to help someone who is struggling.

The Holy Spirit seals us so that we have the assurance that we belong to God, and because of this, we have confidence that whatever God has for us in our walk with Him, we know that it is for our good, and will help us to grow daily as we seek to live our lives in glory and honor to Him.

God is Able

 

Today we’re looking at II Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need you will abound in every good work.” (NIV) The New American Standard Bible (NASB) says, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” What jumped out at me is, GOD IS ABLE!

That is such an encouragement for me. No matter what I’m going through, God is able! He is able to bless me above anything I can even dream of, He is able to hold me tight when I am going through a trial, He is able to guide me in wisdom, HE IS ABLE!

What a blessing to know that I don’t walk this walk alone, He is with me! I have Pandora on at the moment, and a little bit ago, it was playing, “Good, Good Father”, and that song just resonated with me. He is able because He loves me, and He is a good Father who desires to give me all that is good for me. When discouragement hits me, He is there to bring encouragement and remind me that I have peace, joy, grace, and salvation through Him and Him alone. When I am burdened, He is there to lighten the load, for He tells me to “take my yoke upon me and learn of me.” (Matthew 11:29 KJV)

As I write this, my heart is heavy. In the middle of working on this post, my sister emailed me to let me know that my nephew is in the hospital after a heroin overdose, and he almost died. How “on time” God is…to remind me that He is able, and then to hear news that could shake my foundation of faith in Him if it weren’t for that reminder that “He is able!” He can take my nephew and turn him 180° in the opposite direction, save his life, physically and spiritually, and set him on a new course. My faith in God is not shaken. I’ve already put my nephew on a couple of prayer boards, and I’ve heard from so many who have said they’ve been there, and sent me encouragement, and are praying for my family. How good God is to surround us with a body of Believers who uphold each other in prayer, give encouragement, and sometimes even wrap their arms around us physically to keep us on our feet.

That is such a great blessing from God! I am so grateful to Him for His care. He knows right where I am. He knows what is heavy on my heart, He knows just what I need, He knows! We do not serve a God who is distant from us, nor unconcerned with our lives and what we experience. He loves us with an everlasting love, He walks with us, His desire is to bless us immeasurably, and He is faithful!

As I just looked at the verse again, I notice it says that He is able to bless us abundantly so that at ALL TIMES we have what we need. Do you need encouragement? He is able. Do you need healing? He is able. Do you need financial freedom? He is able. Do you need peace? He is able. Do you need your marriage restored? He is able. Do you need chains broken? He is able. Whatever your need is…HE IS ABLE!

My friends, even in the depths of despair, GOD IS ABLE! Take courage and gain strength in the knowledge that God is able no matter what your situation. Reach out to Him and give Him whatever it is you need for Him to do for you. Remember, “the God of Angel Armies is always by your side!”

The Battle is Already Won

Today’s devotional is from John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage I have overcome the world.” (NASB) In our study on courage, we must remember that in the face of the battles we struggle with, we have already won. Notice Jesus said that we will have trouble! Tribulation, trials, problems, struggles…they are all part of life.

When I was a new Christian there was a movement going around that said once we became Believers, we would never have problems. Everything would be smooth sailing. The only problem with that is, as new Believers, the first battle we come up against, we begin to feel discouraged, some even think they have lost their salvation. But Jesus never said we wouldn’t have battles to face, in fact, He said that we would have to go through these things. It is a certain fact! My mind goes to a song that was popular when I was a late teen/early adult that said, “I never promised you a rose garden.” That is exactly the point! Jesus never promised that we would go through life unscathed, without difficulties.

But, Jesus has won the battle for us, therefore we are victors in those things that the enemy would throw into our pathway. Once we have become Christians, Satan is not a happy camper! That’s when he throws everything including the kitchen sink at us. He knows he can’t take away our salvation, but he can make it so that our witness is ineffective, that we become discouraged, that we lose our peace, and that we give up. I’ve heard Believers state that before they were Christians they didn’t have as many battles and problems as they did after becoming Believers. Well, there’s a good reason for that. Satan isn’t worried when we belong to him, but he is worried when we belong to HIM…the One who gives life, peace, joy, strength, and saves completely!

Notice that Jesus says we should take courage! We can rest in the knowledge that God already has the battle won. We do not have to walk defeated lives, we can find peace, strength, and encouragement as we fight those battles. We must remember that the battle is the Lord’s (I Samuel 17:47), and it is He who fights our battles. Now, that doesn’t mean we just sit back and not try to fight. But what it means is, He fights with us, and it is He who brings the final victory.

My battle with anger is a prime example. Yes, Jesus has won the battle for me, but it is up to me to try and control my anger. Every victory is because He has given me the strength and courage to fight to get my anger under control. For me, this a life long battle. I win by baby steps. I am far from where I need to be, but I must say, I have seen some improvements. Satan knows how to get me to the point of exploding, I just need to recognize what weapons he uses to cause me to fail, and then fight against them.

As we walk out this life as Believers we know we do not walk alone. God is walking right next to us. He is fighting for us, encouraging us, strengthening us, helping us to become strong in our faith, to live lives that would draw others to Jesus. Be encouraged, you are not alone!

Trusting in God Develops Courage

Today’s Bible study is from Psalm 31:24, “Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the Lord.” Courage isn’t something that comes easily. We get attacked from every side and amid those attacks, we find that in our own strength we are defeated and haven’t much courage to face the battle. Today as I am doing my Bible Journaling, I am really struggling to concentrate. I have had a growing sinus headache, and even though I have taken medication and asked the Lord to ease the pain, it is still with me. I seriously believe that this is one of the tools Satan uses to distract us from doing the things God is calling us to do.

David had similar problems. When we read the 31st chapter of Psalm, David is praying to God, pouring out his heart of all the things, people, and situations that are coming against him. Enemies were seeking to kill him, others were being judgmental about his sin and attacking him with slurs and gossip, he is grieving deeply in his heart over the results of his sin, to the point where he physically has “wasted away” (verse 10), and he is discouraged. However, sprinkled throughout the chapter David reminds himself that God is the one who is his source of strength, his deliverer, his refuge, and in the end, David reminds us that we are to “be strong and let your heart take courage.” We can do this when we hope or trust in God. It is God who gives us the strength and the courage to face the things that come against us.

Satan knows our weak points and he knows just what buttons to push to cause us to turn away from trusting God. We can find hope in our lives in Jesus. David, in the middle of his sorrow and pain, declared in verse 14, “But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD,
I say, “You are my God.”’ We need to remind ourselves that we are not forgotten, God knows where we are, He knows the battle we face, and He is right beside us. Therefore, we can trust Him. We can put our full faith and belief in Him to deliver us and to give us the courage to face those hardships.

For me, the struggles at this stage in my life have been physical pain and trying to win the battle over my anger issues. Satan is constantly at me, trying to get me to become distracted and turn away from God. My husband says the attacks are coming because I have determined in my heart to Bible Journaling and blogging as a means of ministry to others. This may be true. But the funny thing is, I have been in ministry work almost my entire adult life and the attacks have never been this constant or severe. My pastor has said that when the enemy attacks, it means that something is about to happen to where we are heading for another level in our walk with the Lord, and Satan is pulling out all the stops to prevent us from succeeding and becoming an effective Christian in our witness to others. He’s running scared and he’s throwing everything he can think of in our pathway to derail us.

Without God to give us the courage and strength to persevere in those times of hardship, we would fail miserably, and our witness would be ineffective. We can find victory when we place our trust in Him. He hears our heart’s cry and He is ready to give us what it is we need. Then we can boldly say, as David did, “But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD,
I say, “You are my God.”’

The Armor of God

Today’s devotion is from Ephesians 6:10, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” (NASB) The question is, how do we become strong in the Lord? If you read Ephesians 6:10-18, the Apostle Paul tells us. We are to put on the whole armor of God. Each piece of the armor is important. As Believers, we are in a battle daily. It is a battle that we don’t necessarily see in the flesh and is mostly a Spiritual battle being waged between the old man and the new man.

The first element of the armor of God is the Belt of Truth. We must seek out truth and that is found in God’s Word. Without knowing what is true, we have no defense against the lies of the enemy. The Bible says that Satan is a deceiver and the father of lies. John 8:44 says that he has no truth in him. So, when he speaks, he lies, and we must know the truth to be discerning when we hear him speak and know what we hear is not truth. We must also speak truth and believe the truth of the Bible.

The second element is the Breastplate of Righteousness. The Breastplate is extremely important because it protects the vital organs of the soldier’s body. Having the Breastplate of Righteousness is a protection against Satan’s attacks. Right living is also a testimony to others of the work God has done in our lives. Again, the only way to know how God expects us to live, is to read His Word and apply His principles and laws to our lives and exhibit those precepts so that unbelievers will see and know that God has made a change in our lives and is a testimony of God’s faithfulness to us.

Element number three is footwear…the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace. First of all, peace comes only through a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We are to spread the Gospel to others and to do that we must be prepared. Again, we are to search the Scriptures, hide God’s Word in our hearts, and go out to share the Good News that Jesus brings peace. Knowing God’s Word helps to strengthen us and helps others to know that they can rely on Him to deliver them.

The Shield of Faith is our next piece of armor. Shields fend off the attack of swords and other weapons of warfare delivered by the enemy. Satan wants to weaken our faith and he will throw all kinds of ammunition at us to derail our faith. Reading God’s Word, assembling with fellow Believers to be encouraged, learning more of God and His love for us, and remembering the times God has delivered us, all go toward strengthening our faith.

The next element of the armor is the Helmet of Salvation. Salvation is where our journey begins. Salvation is accepting Jesus into our hearts and lives, allowing Him to take total control, repenting for our sins, and endeavoring to live for Him for the rest of our lives. Joyce Meyer says that the battlefield is the mind, and it is true. It is one of Satan’s favorite areas to try and defeat Christians. He will try to deceive us into thinking that we have lost our salvation, or at least are a horrible Christian, and so we should give up trying to live a godly life. The helmet protects the head; therefore, the Helmet of Salvation is to protect us from the lies the enemy tries to place in our minds.
The last element of the armor is the Sword of the Spirit, which is God’s Word. We are to read it daily for instruction, for encouragement, and for strength. As you look at the armor, notice it is the only piece of armor that is used for defense. The Sword is the only means of defense we have against Satan. The Bible says that God’s Word is a two-edged sword. It is given for teaching, reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness. (II Timothy 3:16-17) Not only does it teach us, but it also shows us our sins and where we have messed up so that we can repent and correct our relationship with Jesus, and then in turn, as we bury His Word into our hearts, we can use it to fight against the enemy’s attacks. Jesus showed us how to use the Word to fight back when He was being tempted by Satan.

Satan knows the Word of God also, but he twists things around to mean something it doesn’t say. Jesus quoted Scripture in response to every temptation Satan brought before Him. Satan had no defense, because He knew that God’s Word is true, and his lies were no match for God’s Word.

The one thing you will notice about the armor of God is, there is no protection for the back. God does not want us to retreat or turn our back on the enemy. That is a very vulnerable position for the Believer. As the Army of God, we are to fight back to back, standing together to defeat the adversary of our souls. That is the reason meeting together as Believers is so vital. When one is weak, there are others who are strong who can help that one to gain strength in Christ. Having an accountability partner is a great help. We can keep each other from straying or retreating in the face of heavy opposition from the enemy, and that strengthens us when we are weak. Being with other Christians also encourages us to keep in the fight, and to rely on Jesus when the battle gets too hard.

So today, do you have your armor on? Are you prepared to fight the enemy? As Soldiers of God, put on your armor and prepare to win the battle against Satan’s attacks.