Faith Over Fear, Part 5: The Sacrifice of Patience

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Check out my other fruits of the Holy Spirit posts here: Being filled with the Spirit, love, joy, peace

How does patience counteract fear in our lives? It is an interesting question to ask, and actually very relevant to our current age if you think about it. With all this technology, we have learned to be quickly and easily gratified by one tap of the finger. We rush around trying to earn money to make a living. We rarely have time—or make the time—to just slow down for people.

Fear of lack of time or fear of vulnerability can get us to rush past important things in relationships in order to gratify ourselves, meanwhile dismissing the needs and wishes of another, like their desire to be listened to.

The famous love chapter, in 1 Corinthians 13, describes love right from the beginning as patient (v. 4). Why is patience so important in learning to love others?

Because impatient people show by their behavior that they don’t care about the person in front of them and they want to get on with their lives. Ouch. Haha!

You see, exercising patience reveals the deep value and care God has for people. God slows down for people because He knows that they matter more than “the next thing.” People’s hearts matter to God more than getting things done.

Real success isn’t finishing that work project, it is taking the time to listen to a friend or neighbor pour out their frustration about their finance issue. Real success is choosing to go deeper with a teenager when they say they’re fine but you know they don’t really mean it. Real success is listening to a coworker talk about what they are passionate about even though you don’t totally get why they like sports so much. Real success is intimacy, not efficiency.

(I heard something similar to the last statement one time somewhere, at a conference I think. So I don’t get full credit for it! :P)

Sometimes, though, people aren’t opening up their hearts to you in a heart-to-heart way, but more in a fist-to-fist way. They have no interest in being intimate with you. Your boss yells at you to work faster even though you already are going as fast as you can. Your parent tells you you can’t go out and meet your friends today. Your friend or sibling talks about you behind your back.

Being patient with people who are just flat out behaving badly is pretty hard. While irritation may come easy to many people, the Lord calls us to a different standard. Ephesians 4:1-3 says, “…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

Being patient in the face of difficult people is a tremendous task, but one that can be done with the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is a high calling the Lord invites us into, but it is totally possible through Jesus to bear with even the most difficult people in love. To live in constant forgiveness towards others and always desire and aim to have peaceful relationships with others.

Patience counteracts fear because through patience you can choose to care, slow down, and see the value of the person in front of you in spite of all their flaws and in spite of all you have to get done. Choosing to be patient with someone is trusting God’s love reaches to this person so deeply that nothing else matters. It’s refusing the fear that leads to frustration and choosing the love that leads to peace and harmony.

This is what denying ourselves as Christians looks like in everyday life! It’s saying “no” to what we want and saying “yes” to what Jesus wants for that person. And He wants them to know how deeply and truly He cares for them through our living, breathing example.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.'” – Matthew 16:24

Today, Beloved, choose to be patient with a friend, family member, coworker, or someone else you encounter. Ask Jesus for the patience you need to deal with him or her graciously and lovingly. God wants this person to know how loved they are by Him, and rushing past things won’t bring the message across. You are God’s vessel, and He wants to use you to show love that surpasses all fear, a love that chooses patience at the cost of your own preferences and desires. Watch and see how your patience towards someone leads to joy and blessing!

Be blessed today, as you make the sacrifice of patience and choose love over fear in your life!

 

Faith Over Fear, Part 3: The Joy of the Lord is Our Strength!

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I hope you all are doing well, brothers and sisters in the Lord! I pray you all are seeking Christ every day and are preparing your hearts for His coming. Jesus could really come back any day, and we always need to be prepared for that! Now today let’s talk about a beautiful fruit of the Holy Spirit that we probably all desire more of in our lives: joy.

“How can I have joy, Lord?”

I asked this to the Lord earlier this year as I was journaling and spending time with Him. His reply? Well, He told me to go inside. So I went inside and shared with my dad about some things God had been speaking to me during that time with Him. Soon my dad and I had a good refreshing laugh, and I was overflowing with joy!

God cares about His children and wants for us to have joy. He created joy, and He created us with a desire for joy!

Not only that, but He wants us to have joy even in the midst of great trials. This is because having joy isn’t about having a feeling, it’s about having Jesus. Even in the midst of trials, if we can cling to Jesus and rejoice in Him, the trials will seem so much less in comparison with God’s goodness. It really is possible to have joy in the midst of great difficulty! 

In fact, James urges us to make the choice to be joyful in these times: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:1-3)

Consider it pure joy? What!? I used to look at that verse in awe, but never did anything about it. It just amazed me. I didn’t know if I could truly put such a thing into practice.

Well, James wasn’t just saying something! He meant it, and he knew it could be true because of our connection with the Holy Spirit, who has an unlimited supply of joy!

How can we feel joy when fear seems overwhelming? The other day I was experiencing a lot of fear. Fear may indeed be an easy thing to give into, but if we are children of the light, we must–and I repeat, MUST–learn how to conquer the fear in our lives through faith in Jesus Christ. As I was reminded the other day, we must stand firm in the Lord and in the power of his might (Eph. 6:10).

Yes, God can meet you in your weakness. But, if we never fight against the fear with the authority of Christ we have been given, we will understandably be overwhelmed by it and be very far from joy.

In spite of our weakness, we have been given the authority of Christ and we must use it! Jesus is with us wanting to strengthen us, and it’s our job to choose to be firm and to choose to fight in the name of Jesus! We must do our part, being instilled with faith, and He will meet us with His strength! And what is His strength?

Nehemiah 8:10b gives an example of people who found that in God, they could find strength, and that strength was in fact joy: “…the joy of the Lord is our strength.”

This is exactly the words the Holy Spirit gave me to fight the fear last night: The joy of the Lord is my strength! As I said those words against the enemy and stood against fear, I experienced so much joy in the Lord! Praise God!!!

Listen up, folks. Joy is not just a good feeling, it is a weapon God has give us. Joy is a weapon we have been given through the Holy Spirit to counteract the fear in our lives!

It’s OK if you have to fight again and again… and again. Do NOT let the enemy make you feel stupid. PERSEVERE in the power of the Holy Spirit, standing strong against the enemy and praising God with the joy He has given you. Hallelujah! Wishy-washy words aren’t going to give you victory over fear. Only a spirit standing firm, rejecting fear, and praising God can bring you victory–all in the name of Jesus!

Let me tell you, I haven’t always been a “strong” person. In fact I hesitate to call myself strong now, because I still have so many moments of weakness, and I know I am completely weak and helpless without Jesus.

But ever since I have discovered how necessary it is to fight against fear, doubt, and unbelief, that come at me, I have learned to be a fighter. And learning to be a fighter has taught me how to be a joyful person.

A year ago, I would probably have said something like: “Oh, that’s not my thing.” I am so against hurting things, guys, really! The thought of going to a shooting range to shoot even just targets does not appeal to me.

Still, when you are a child of God, you must learn to fight against the spiritual forces of evil. (These are the only things God calls us to fight in Scripture–people themselves we are called to love.) You must admit that these dark forces will ALWAYS be dark and they deserve NO compassion. God is calling you to rise up and drive them out of your life in the name of Jesus! Give up on fear. Get on your knees. Get sanctified in the blood of Jesus. He will strengthen you!

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:12-13

Even in the midst of your pain, your struggle, your devastating circumstances, your everyday job, your finals during school, your family relationships–whatever you are going through, put on the full armor of God! Stand your ground. Stop letting these circumstances drown you and rise above them in the victory you have in Jesus.

Bring your hurts to God. Every hurt. Bring your burdens to God. Every burden. Bring everything to God in prayer and rejoice in His love! He is good! He is kind! He is faithful!

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21

This verse encourages me many times. Don’t let fear overwhelm you. Don’t let your emotions overwhelm you. Don’t let your circumstances overwhelm. Rise up and trust in the Lord! Rise up and praise Him!

Today, my challenge to you is to rejoice, as Philippians 4:4 talks about: “Rejoice always! Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

Paul doesn’t just tell us to rejoice one time, he repeats himself, and he says to rejoice all the time! Don’t be defeated by lies or circumstances, but rise up and praise the Lord! Sing praises to God to combat fear and worry.

Choose to believe that He is in control and He is so, so good. Choose to believe that He is better and more satisfying than your circumstances, and that eternity in heaven with Him is something worth rejoicing about. Hallelujah!

He has saved you and bought you at a great price with the precious blood of Jesus. You can put to death fear because Jesus died and you can rise up with joy because Jesus came to life again. Praise the Lord! Praise Him forevermore!!! (I am extremely happy writing this post, if you can’t tell. These exclamation points aren’t just here, they are trying to express what is going on inside me. 😀 😀 😀 YAY! Thank You, Jesus!!!)

Choose joy today, Beloved!

Choose a joy that fights and believes and remains steady and strong no matter what tries to diminish it. Choose a joy that strengthens you and nourishes you with the holy presence of God. Choose a joy that is totally worshipful and in awe of our precious Savior who bled and died for us so we might live in unity with Him now and forever!

I used to have trouble believing that God wanted me to enjoy Him, but one time at a conference my new friend (who later became one of my dearest friends) said to me: “I am going to pray for you to have fullness of joy in God’s presence.” I was thinking something like: “Ok… That’s nice, I guess?” I didn’t really believe such joy was possible.

But guess what? By the end of the conference I was bursting with joy in God’s presence. I was worshiping my heart out to Him! I was discovering how truly satisfying He was and always is, far more satisfying than anything this earth can supply. I had never experienced such unfathomable joy before. I had never before realized how much God delights in filling His people with joy. He wants to fill your cup today, till it overflows, like in Psalm 23!

God is good, friends! He is so, so good. I pray you all experience boundless joy, energy, and life from the Holy Spirit today. I pray you all learn to stand firm in the Lord, fight against fear by the power of the Holy Spirit, and praise God in the middle of the storm! Joy overcomes fear! Light overcomes darkness. Good overcomes evil. Jesus overcomes your weakness with His strength!

Jesus is with you always, and I personally believe Jesus is coming very soon, so be prepared! Endure and persevere through the end, considering it pure joy as the Lord refines you through these times. No matter how bad things get, you will end up a more beautiful masterpiece on the other side, with a closer intimacy with our precious Savior.

Fix your eyes on Him, each and every day. Live each day to the fullest for Him. And please, by all means, share about the incredible joy and life God has given you with every person possible–stranger, friend, or family! You have a story worth sharing. And there’s people out there who need to hear it.

Remember, Beloved: You are so precious to God, far more than you can imagine. ❤

Have a blessed night, brothers and sisters!

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11

 

 

 

Faith Over Fear, Part 2: Love Drives Out Fear

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Have you ever seen a young couple in love? Or a mother who really loves her child? It may be easy to love a person when we are “in love” or to love a child when he or she is behaving well. But what is true love?

How can we love ALL people—old people, young people, children, parents, siblings, friends, coworkers, spouses, strangers, our enemies—at ALL times, deeply and genuinely, the way the Lord loves us?

As you may know from my last post about being filled with the Holy Spirit, I am going through a series about the fruits of the Spirit and how those overcome and banish the fear in our lives. We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit–filled with purity, love, and a clean heart–to be able to truly love others in the ways God loves us—sacrificially, unconditionally, unreservedly.

The topic of loving others and being loved by God go hand in hand. Through experiencing the love of God, we learn to love others. Through loving others, we experience the love of God.

Honestly, when my eyes aren’t fixed on Jesus, I have absolutely no idea how to truly love others in a genuine way. Without Him, I am going to fail. I am going to be self-seeking. I am going to not care for others. But with Him filling me up to overflowing, His love naturally flows out of me into others lives.

To be totally honest I am REALLY new to learning how to love others. I am so prone to failing, and I am still just beginning to learn what it means to love others without reserve.

Lord Jesus, teach us how to love. Fill us with the love of Your Holy Spirit. We need to know the depths of Your love for us that is right now so beyond our comprehension. We have so much more to learn of Your love. Speak to us tonight. Speak to us, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

You and I need to be filled with God Himself in order to know how to love people. This filling of the Holy Spirit is in contrast to following the ways of our fleshly desires.

“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” – Galatians 5:19-26

Have you crucified your flesh with its passions and desires? Right here it says that if you belong to Christ Jesus you have. Plain and straight. In Christ Jesus, your passions and desires are dead.

Do you believe that? Or do you still live by your passions and desires? I know I do. I mess up. And it’s not because my passions and desires aren’t dead, it’s because I don’t believe that they are. It’s because I don’t believe that Jesus paid the price for those passions and desires to be put to death. I don’t believe that Jesus’ finished work on the cross is enough, because I don’t desire holiness enough. When I don’t desire Him, I don’t trust Him. When I don’t trust Him, I don’t know what love is.

The truth is we need Him–we desperately need Him! We desperately need to desire Him in order to get to know His love. We need to desire God in order to experience His love and in turn love others.

Lord Jesus, teach us how to be holy. Right now fill us with the holiness that is in the very name of your Holy Spirit. Holy, holy, holy, are You, Lord. Uproot everything within us that isn’t of You. Completely uproot it and destroy it. Make us clean in Your Spirit. Sanctify us, Lord. Purge every impurities and sanctify us in You. Burn a fire in our hearts to desire holiness, through and through. Nothing else but You, Lord Jesus. Nothing else but You. Burn away every fear, doubt, and unbelief, and fill us with faith, Lord. You are all we want and all we need, Jesus. Help us, Lord.

In order to love well we need to be holy. In order to love well need your holiness inside us, Jesus. Make us holy, in Jesus’ name. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.

In order to love well we need to be holy. God says in 1 Peter 1: 15-16, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”

I bet you never expected a post about “love” to talk about holiness. Well, that goes to show how little we know about God’s love. The world’s version of love is perverse, lustful, self-seeking, out of control, spontaneous, short-lasting, and leads to ruin. God’s version of love is patient, humble, pure, kind, self-controlled, powerful, sacrificial, eternal, and leads to life and peace.

The only way to be rid of fear in our lives is to cast it out with the perfect love as describe above: God Himself.

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4: 16-18

God is Love. God wants us to know and rely on His love, to live in His love, and so have Him live in us. He makes us like Jesus in order to make us complete in perfect Love, which in turn drives out fear from our lives. His perfect Love drives out fear from our lives!

Wow! I want some of Your perfect Love, Lord. So what exactly is it? Perfect Love…

…fights for our holiness, fights for our purity, fights for our sanctity.

…drives out every impurity in our hearts with a jealousy and passion for us to be intimate with God.

…banishes all condemnation, guilt, shame, and every lie from the devil that says we aren’t worthy of Him.

…fills us with the truth that we are worthy, valuable, and precious to God.

…protects and covers us with the blood of Jesus.

…comforts us when we are sad, heals us when we are broken, and encourages us when we feel discouraged.

…speaks tenderly to us in the wilderness of hard times and speaks boldly to us when we turn our face away from God.

…leads us onto paths of righteousness of His name’s sake.

…cherishes, guards, and keeps us

…delights in us passionately, intensely, and unreservedly

….accepts us for who we are and doesn’t let us stay the same

…makes us like Jesus.

…makes us holy.

Have you been made perfect in God’s love? Do you have any fear inside you—even an ounce of it in your being? Seek God today for purity and holiness. Seek Him for the fire that will purge you of impurities and make you clean. Seek Him for confidence, for boldness, for strength. Ask Him to uproot every fear in you and replace every area of fear with faith—full faith in His perfect love.

Do you believe that God loves you? Do you deep down, in your soul, have a peace in the Father’s tender regard for you?

If not, what is holding you back? Fear? Doubt? Guilt? One of the most helpful things I have heard about trusting in the Lord’s love for you is something like this: You feeling like God doesn’t love you doesn’t determine that He doesn’t love you.

Your feelings of condemnation don’t determine the truth. Go straight to His Word to discover His enormous love for you! There is NO condemnation in the Father’s eyes for those who are in Christ Jesus! (Rom. 8:1). Christ’s love is wide and long and high and deep for you (Eph. 3:18)! His love will NEVER let you go (Rom. 8:35-39). Check out what His Word says and then believe it, no matter what you feel!

God the Father is looking at you right now with the deepest love for you and you are sitting there believing that He doesn’t actually care that much. (Ouch.) Well, open your eyes, Beloved! Open your heart. This love isn’t like any love you’ve ever experienced from people before! God’s love knows no limits. He never stops loving you. He never stops delighting in you! He has pure, unrestrained delight in who you are: His Beloved son or daughter.

I pray that you would truly discover the infinite measure of love which God is pouring in your heart tonight. Because you hope in Him, He pours His love out in your heart through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Because you trust in Him, His love fights off the impurities and fills you with holiness.

God loves you and so He demands your whole heart. He gives His whole heart to you, now will you give your whole heart to Him?

Lord Jesus, set us free. Set us free. Set us free to love in a radical way. Make known Your love for us in Christ Jesus who bled and died for us on the cross to restore us back into a relationship with You. You give and give and give and NEVER hold anything back from us! Let us receive the depths of Your love tonight and let it fill our beings so completely that nothing else has a place to stay. Nothing else! Has! A! Place! To! Stay! Lord Jesus, draw us close to You. Captivate us with Your love! Make us so in love with You that there’s nothing else we’d rather do but be with You. Pour out Your love in our hearts, Lord. Pour out Your love, over and over, until rivers of living water flow out from us and spill over into the lives of those around us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The truth is, without total surrender, we can never be totally set free from fear. Without complete abandon to the will of God, we can never be made complete in the love of God that is deep, genuine, and sacrificial. Surrender. Let go everything but the One who is holding on to you and will never let you go.

Give your whole heart to Him tonight. Start afresh and experience God’s love more deeply than you ever have before! He loves you SO dearly and holds you close to His heart.

I hope and pray you are blessed, refreshed, and encouraged tonight, Beloved!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7d_oYr-P16M

Faith Over Fear, Part 1: Be Filled with the Spirit!

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Hello, friends! I hope you all are doing OK with this whole quarantine going on. No, actually, I hope you all are feeling WONDER-full, amazing, and blessed by God today. Doesn’t sound like you? Well, I want to encourage you today to be filled with the Spirit, rather than be driven by fear. God is bigger than COVID-19, bigger than your anxiety, bigger than your timidity, and bigger than any burden or worry or stress you have been carrying. Be blessed today!

What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? To be led by the Spirit? To not only live by the Spirit, but keep in step with the Spirit, as Paul urges us to do? (Gal. 5:25)

OK. First of all, you may be wondering what this has to do with being afraid, since the title of the post includes “Faith Over Fear.” Well, as it turns out, God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7).

You might say, But I still feel afraid, and I am a child of God. This coronavirus gets me so anxious! Well, have no fear, my friend! If you trust in Jesus, you have full access to a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. The Holy Spirit within you is capable of boldness instead of cowardice, love instead of timidity, and a sound mind instead of unstable, scattered thoughts. Fix your eyes on Jesus, and the fears will melt away. Look to the Lord at all times in your heart, and you will remain steadfast and firm.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3

Ask Jesus to help you. Let “I believe; help my unbelief” be the cry of your heart if you are daily attacked by fears, doubts, and unbelief. You will soon notice a big difference and a greater degree of faith in your heart. To “have confidence” is really to be filled with faith. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with faith. This is how we we can have victory over fear in our Christian walk – to be filled with faith! And this is faith totally and completely in Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross. He has power over your fear, should we only trust in Him–that He is greater than any problems we face! Have faith in Him and seek Him to set you free from the bondage of fear! (Psalm 34:4)

So if to be filled with Spirit is the same as being filled with faith, how can we be filled up with the Spirit in our daily lives? Well, here is what Paul has to say about being filled with the Spirit:

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 15:18-20

He tells us to “be filled” with the Spirit, instead of filling ourselves up with alcohol! This suggests that this filling is not a one time thing at the point of salvation. (I am not about getting all theological here, but I am simply expressing what the Bible is saying and how I have experienced God myself.) While you always have the Holy Spirit available to you as a child of God, you may not be totally filled with Him all the time. I know I’m not! Too often I walk in my flesh and follow the desires of my flesh. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit you find yourself deeply compelled to follow God, to love others, to speak truth, and to obey Him wholeheartedly. It is a filling of faith, a filling of God Himself, and a filling of deep desire for God.

So how do we get this filling of the Holy Spirit on a regular basis? There are five ways to do that that I will talk about today:

  1. Worship and thanksgiving
  2. God’s Word
  3. Prayer
  4. Fellowship
  5. Obedience

1. Worship and thanksgiving. Scroll up a bit and take a look at Ephesians 15:18-20. One way of feeling God’s presence near to me is in worship to Him through songs or simply giving thanks to Him. Worship and thankfulness are so powerful and uplifting, feeding our souls and nourishing us. Through these things, we can become filled with the Spirit, and all fear is banished from our beings. Lifting up praise to Jesus changes things!

Have you worshiped God lately? Can you set aside time in your schedule to worship Him during this quarantine season? What about thanksgiving? Ask yourself daily: What am I thankful for? There is so much to be thankful for in Christ Jesus!

2. God’s Word. Now, how else can we be filled with faith? God’s Word! Whenever you feel doubtful or weary, get yourself in the Word of God and pour over the pages. In fact, get yourself in His Word on a daily basis no matter how you feel. There is so much to learn to bring life and refreshment to your soul! Drink it in! Let the truth instruct you and convict you. Draw near to Jesus through His life-giving Word.

Have you read the Bible lately? Can you invest more time in it during this quarantine season?

3. Prayer. Along with God’s Word, prayer is a vital tool. Pray for the filling of the Holy Spirit! Pray for more faith! Pray for more of God–more of His love, more of His joy, peace, patience, and kindness, etc. And be in prayerful dependence on God in all you do. Abide in Jesus. Any prayer can fill you with more of the Holy Spirit, no matter what you are praying about. Talk to the Father about how your day is going! Being filled with faith is all about becoming more deeply connected to God in a vibrant relationship with Him. He loves you so much and wants you to draw near to Him in deeper ways and be filled up with Him to overflowing!

Have you prayed lately? Do you pray regularly? Does your spirit “prayerfully depend” on God even if you aren’t consciously focused on God? Consider how you can grow your prayer life during this quarantine season!

4. Fellowship. Real fellowship among other believers should be encouraging, edifying and uplifting us in our walk with God. What God desires for us is to feel the Holy Spirit so present among other believers that their zeal for the Lord feeds off onto us and helps us learn to love more deeply and follow God more wholeheartedly. If you don’t have them in your life already, seek out the kinds of people who genuinely care about you and are authentically pursuing their relationship with Jesus. You will be infinitely glad you did! And if you already do have this type of fellowship–praise God! Continue in that and seek out ways you can love your brothers and sisters in Christ more sacrificially, and have more meaningful conversations about the Lord with one another that really encourage and edify one another. 

In what ways is God asking you to engage in fellowship with other believers today? This week? This quarantine season? Even in this COVID-19 season, there are many ways to connect with believers through technology and such! Don’t let fear hold you back from reaching out to someone. The Lord delights in us reaching out to Him, just as other sincere believers delight in us reaching out to them. In fact, anyone loves to be reached out to!

5. Obedience. Finally, obeying God is of utmost importance. Hearing Him and obeying Him. Take time to sit at His feet and listen to that still, small voice. What does He want from you? What is He saying? Sometimes–in fact most of the time– the answer is simple. Maybe it’s to clean your room. To love your sibling. To serve your neighbor in some way. To reach out to a friend. To open up a spiritual conversation with a non-believing classmate or coworker. Maybe it’s just to sit with Him a little while longer and receive His love for you.

Once you quiet your mind, God is only an answer away. Rest in Him. Slow your racing thoughts down. Be still, and know that He is God. Lean into that whisper. And then obey.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

Oftentimes we don’t need a long period of waiting on the Lord to know what He wants for us. In-the-moment situations happen to us all the time. Like your sister interrupting you in schoolwork… or writing this blog post. What do I do? The Spirit of God in me urges me to stop what I am doing and look at her. Make eye contact. Care.

As we learn to rest in and rely on the Holy Spirit, we become quicker and quicker to knowing what God wants for us in a situation and then obeying Him. This is what it means to be “led by the Spirit” (Romans 8:14). Obey God and walk in His truth! He will bless you abundantly for it, as you do it out of love for Him, and in reliance on Him.

Walking in the Spirit is like an actor learning to play their role. The only thing is you aren’t learning to be someone else, you are learning to be yourself! Your true self–who you really are in Christ Jesus. You are special to Him!

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

You are chosen! You are royal! You are holy! You are God’s own possession! Because you trust in Jesus to have the victory over sin and death in your life, you now live by the Spirit. Now keep in step with the Spirit, follow God’s guidance each day. Be led by the Spirit–listen to Him! Tune into God’s voice and be in touch with Him every day.

As you do so, your life will be blessed, your mind at peace, and fears dissipated. Be filled with the Spirit, so your faith will triumph over your fear! Stand firm in Him against any fear that does come at you, using the shield of faith to protect you from the fiery darts of the evil one (Eph. 6:16)!

Let this reassure your heart today, Beloved! You are SO loved, valued, and precious to God. Nothing can separate you from His love. In fact, His love casts out fear (1 John 4:18)! And His love is what my next post will be about, as I continue in my series “Faith Over Fear” and discuss how the fruits of the Spirit counteract the fear in our lives.

Have a truly blessed, Spirit-filled day!

 

Can You Ever “Take Back” That Thing You Said?

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Have you ever wished you could “take back” something you said or did?

Well, guess what! When you choose to trust in Jesus, in the power of His death and resurrection, God “takes back” everything you ever have done or will do, say or will say, that is displeasing to Him. He is completely 100% pleased with you! While the temporary short-lived consequences may remain, the permanent eternal consequences are completely removed. Now you have fellowship with God now and forever, empowered to live a life pleasing to Him by the power of the Holy Spirit!

Today, please know, whoever you are, whatever you’ve done, and wherever on earth you are (quarantining, perhaps!), you are loved. You are SO loved! You are loved by a God who knows you more than you know yourself. You are loved by a God who always offers you an open invitation to come to Him. Be honest with Him. Be flat-out vulnerable with God! He can handle your brokenness. Only when you give up trying and admit you need Jesus will He be able to restore your life again–or even for the first time!

God already knows, He already cares, and He already is pleading for you to leave your life of sin and come to Him. He will free your soul from every burden, every anxiety, every sin that constrains you if you only hand your life over to Him. Trust Him through Jesus Christ, who has bridged the way for you to come to God!

God loves you, and He offers you freedom from guilt, shame, and fear that you so desperately need through Jesus Christ. It seems too good to be true, but that’s exactly why it’s true! Jesus is the answer. He is what every human soul is longing for. ❤️

I hope these verses encourage you today:

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“In [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” Ephesians 1:7

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16

I hope this song encourages you as well. You really are SO loved! God is longing for you to come to Him. ❤

Have you ever experienced the freedom you can have in Christ? Or are you a believer and are struggling right now? If you feel God leading you to, please share how God has freed you or what you are struggling with in the comments! Or have you never experienced Jesus’ freedom and would like to? Comment below, or seek out other Christians you may know! 😃 Find a Bible online or pick up your own if you have one and read it like a child, because child-like faith is what God is looking for. Have a day filled with God’s love, dear friends!

The COVID-19 Gospel

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Are you lonely? Are you wandering, frustrated, stressed out, not knowing what the point if this season of life is? Are you jobless? Angry? Afraid? Sick? Are you suffering–whether it be physically, emotionally or mentally? Are you burdened? Wherever you are at right now, please, take a moment and listen to what God has to say to you. Listen to what He has done for you and take the step of faith to enter a right relationship with Himself. Today is the day of salvation!

Don’t social distance Jesus, no matter how dangerous He seems! He is safer than any other place you can go. He is your refuge! (Ps. 46:1)

The world is full of the corona (spiritual death, sin, fear, shame, guilt) but when you trust in Him to be your doctor, Jesus heals you and then sanitizes you completely so it can’t touch you ever again. You have a life of safety and health in His presence! (Safety= purity, wisdom, discernment, and holiness; health =life, joy, peace, hope, love, and freedom)

When you come to Him, He cleans you of all viruses of sin and distraction! He prepares you to live in a corona-free kingdom forever by filling you with His healthy life without the disease of sin here on earth. With His healthy life living inside you, anything is possible! (Phil. 4:13)

Trust in Jesus — His death on the cross and His coming to life again, so you can destroy the corona (sin) inside you and come alive in the safety and healthy of your home in Jesus. Put your faith in Him! He is trustworthy, as He has proven over and over in His Word (the Bible). Trust in Him with all your heart! (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Even when you rebel against His ways and then get sick in Jesus’ home, He is always your friendly doctor to heal you up again should you desire to continue living a healthy life with Him in His home (or else be plagued by the corona everywhere else). He loves you and accepts you no matter what!

Jesus is safer than a thousand toilet paper rolls, loaves of bread, and gallons of water. He is the Cleanser of your soul, the Bread of Life, and the Spring of Living Water. He is healthier than a hundred pounds of spinach—health that gives your soul vitality forever and ever. 

Quarantine in Him, and you will never catch the deadliest disease of all: sin. And even though you self-isolate from the things of this world, in reality you are staying at home and staying safe in Jesus and thus saving your soul.

“My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.“ Psalm 62:7

“For the wages of sin is death (spiritual death, disease, bad consequences), but the gift of God is eternal life(spiritual life, health, security) in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit (lose) their soul?“ Mark 8:36

Let this be the greatest news for your soul in the midst of all the bad news! Let this be the most contagious thing you spread during this season of fear, loneliness, and sickness–Not necessarily this post, but the gospel of grace–the good news of what Jesus has done for you and for me! Have a blessed day living in the safety of God’s enormous grace!

P.S. If you have just now placed your faith in Jesus and given your life to Him after reading this post, I would be overjoyed to know in the comments!!! Or if anything I’ve said here is confusing or you have any questions, I am more than open to having a dialogue about this! 😀

Freedom From Anxiety: How God Freed Me + 5 Steps of Faith for You to Take Towards Freedom

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Do you struggle with anxiety? Have you ever felt like you could never be at peace again?

Anxiety affects 19.1% of Americans today. It is a mental illness of, more often than not, irrational fears. It hurts, and it hurt me too, for several months this year. There were certainly a few times when it felt impossible to overcome, and impossible to ever be at peace of mind again. Peace seemed like a far-off dream or fantasy that I could never again obtain.

I didn’t really experience anxiety much until I entered college. Suddenly, I was thrown into a secular atmosphere with people very different from me, loads of school, and little sleep. Added to that were other pressures of life, such as the aching knowledge that so many people around me needed Jesus, and my hopelessness to make a difference in their lives.

The anxiety got its worst last May, during finals. In a future post (an essay I wrote for a Creative Nonfiction class this semester), I will go into more detail about what happened then. In short, I was taken to the hospital for a muscle spasm caused by stress and anxiety, and I never wanted to experience that type of pain ever again.

What I learned a few months ago through the wisdom and faith of a godly lady, I will surely never forget. I left her that day experiencing so much freedom and inexplicable peace. God had always had the ability, it was only a matter of me trusting that He did.

To this day, I have a lot of freedom from anxiety. Though it still creeps up on me from time to time, I now have a newfound faith in God’s ability to trump anxiety in my life.
I cannot go on living my life without sharing how I was healed here, for any of you out there who are in the same boat as I was: crippled by anxiety, uncertain of your identity, doubting the truth.

God is not a God of confusion, but a God of peace! Let your minds and hearts be at rest in the name of Jesus as your prepare to read the rest of this post. I bind the enemy in the name of Jesus from any distractions trying to get in the way. Jesus Christ has the full victory in your life, now and forever!

So here are some key things that helped me trust in God’s power to defeat my anxiety:

1. Recognize that fear is fake

Fear is a huge deceiver, enslaving so many people’s lives with irrational beliefs about reality. Fear makes you believe that the shadow in your room must be a monster. Only when you turn the light on do you realize how ridiculous it was for you to believe that—it was only your jacket hanging up in your closet! As children of God, we have nothing to be anxious about. God is in total control! Jesus Himself is sustaining all of life—even the mundane parts. Rest in Him!

“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” – Colossians 1:17

2. Recognize the anxiety is NOT yours

If you are believing anything like I was – that anxiety defines you, that it is your anxiety, that you simply are an anxious person – then, Beloved of God, turn away from these false beliefs! Did God give you a spirit of fear or anxiety? Absolutely not! In fact, 2 Timothy 1:7 says just the opposite:

“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (ESV)

You already have this powerful, loving, self-controlled spirit through your faith in Jesus! This strong, life-giving spirit is already yours–because you are a child of God, you have full access to it. If you experience anxiety, it is coming from an outside source – an anxious spirit – and it is imposing itself onto you, taking advantage of your lack of faith. But all along you are more than a conqueror through Jesus, and are more than able to claim the authority over it which Jesus has already given you (Matthew 28:18-20). Anxiety has no place in your life! Anxiety is not your true identity. Instead you are one with Christ, fully able to do all things through Him (Philippians 4:13). Praise God!

3. Recognize Jesus is stronger than your feeble efforts

Over the summer, I read a classic book called, The God of All Comfort (which I highly recommend!). The author, Hannah Whitall Smith, encourages readers to simply trust in God, especially trusting in His comfort, love, grace, and forgiveness. She touches on some key truths about God that may give us the faith to fully believe Him. She describes God’s presence as a dwelling place incapable of arousing fear or doubt, and completely full of the peace that passes all understanding. When you put your faith in Jesus and trust that you are as a state of being in the presence of God, there is peace.

But for many people, this requires a battle against the spiritual forces of evil around us. At another point in the book, Hannah exhorts the reader to put off all doubt and fear all together, to slam the door on it once and for all, and to claim once in for all the victory over them in the name of Jesus! I remember when I first read that, I paused in shock, reading it over again to see if I’d really just read that. Was this actually possible? And yet, a part of me had been thinking that it might be true. She had affirmed that it was.

And so, I made an attempt to do just that. The anxiety must go away—now and forever! But before I knew it, the anxiety came creeping back to me same as ever. What was wrong with me?

After talking with the wise woman of God, I realized that I had been trusting in my own power to slam the door shut on anxiety. I myself am utterly weak, but Jesus is strong in me! Trust in Jesus’ strength to overcome your weakness. Trust that His peaceful presence can submerge all doubts, fears and anxieties. Trust that He can and will have the full victory in your life if you only let Him!

As the same wise woman told me, the healing doesn’t have to be a process, it can happen in an instant. The instant we put our faith in Jesus’ full victory is the instant we are healed. More often than not, anxiety may keep trying to get a hold of you and may come in at times when we are not alert of it, but with faith in Jesus it has no long-lasting hold in your life! With faith in Jesus, you can keep slamming the door on it, no matter how many times it takes, until it becomes easier and easier for it to go away—until at last it is gone. Anxiety can go away the instant we recognize what is going on and put our full trust in the Son of God, it’s just a matter of perseverance and faith, no in our own strength, but in God’s.

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” – 1 John 5:4 (ESV)

4. Desire anxiety to be rid of in your life

Something particularly intriguing I realized as I made steps to freedom from anxiety, is that I truly had to want very badly for the anxiety to disappear. If I were indecisive of how much I wanted it to go away and I let it hang around like an old friend, then it would—naturally—get worse. The spirit of anxiety also, in a way, seemed so bent on enslaving me that it felt similar to what people would normally call temptations. It was as if the anxiety was tempting me to be anxious! I don’t know how the enemy gets you to be anxious, but that was a particular key part of my own personal struggle.

Realize that getting rid of your anxiety isn’t just about you, it’s about obeying God. It’s about submitting to Him so that you may experience a life of freedom that glorifies Him. Turn from anxiety and let peace rule in your heart, because it is what the Lord commands us!

“…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7 (ESV)

5. Believe that God desires anxiety to flee from you, too!

Not only is anxiety something you want out of your life, and not only would being less anxious make you more fit for His kingdom, but the Lord genuinely cares for you, as the verse from the last sections indicates. Your Father in heaven can’t bear to see you suffer from anxiety! It breaks His heart. He is moved with pity and tenderness towards you. He sees it as no little thing for you to have such mental sickness. He wants to heal you! He loves you just because He is God, and you are His precious child, whom He created in your mother’s womb. He knew you before He even created you! Have no doubt in your mind that He values you and considers you worth freeing from anxiety. He longs to show compassion on you!

“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” – Isaiah 30:18

Now, Beloved, I have taken you along my journey of how God freed me from anxiety and how He can and wants to free you, too. Hear me out: there is a bright future ahead of you! Do NOT believe that anxiety is impossible to overcome because that is a lie straight from the devil. Have a little faith, even if it be just as small as a mustard seed, because our God is an awesome God!

The Lord is waiting patiently for you in hopes you will lay back in His arms and rest in His grace. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, nothing you do or don’t do can remove His love for you, or blot out His forgiveness that stretches as far as the east is from the west. He knows exactly where you’re at right now, and He can meet you right where you’re at with patience and tenderness, and at the same time with victory.

He freed me, so He can free you, too.

God is with you, Beloved! Where His presence is, there can be no doubts, fear, or anxiety but only peace. And so, may the peace of God truly be with you, at all times and in every way. (2 Thess. 3:16)

Have a wonderful day, abiding in the Lord’s peaceful dwelling place!

 

Do you struggle with anxiety? Do you have questions for me about how to overcome it? Comment below—I would be so happy to encourage you further into the freedom you have been given in Christ!

 

The Persecution of the Spirit of Fear

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Though we Christians in the United States are not being persecuted with threats, weapons, torture, or imprisonment as Christian in other countries are, we are being persecuted by our overwhelming lack of courage, our sense of powerlessness, our deep desire to fit in, our passivity, our complacency, and overall, our terror to bring love, joy, peace, truth, and righteousness to other people. Persecuted Christians job is to count it all joy to surrender their physical lives to Jesus; our job is to count it all joy to surrender our self-focus and fear to Jesus.

“Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.” – Jeremiah 1:17

We talk about God’s love so much, but we don’t know what it is. If we knew God’s love, His perfect love would cast out all our fear.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” – 1 John 4:18

Please don’t settle for anything less than what the Holy Spirit has already given access to you–a spirit of power, love, and self-control (2 Timothy 2:7)! There is fullness of life in pressing in to Jesus!

Living in Fear vs. Abiding in Love

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It can be easy to make check lists when we try to follow Christ. All too easily our journey with Him can turn into trying to be the best people we can be without Him. Keeping track of our actions and being critical of every one of them. Never being sure if you’re “okay” or a total failure.

It can be easy to live in fear.

Oh, beloved of God, do not live in fear! Those mess-ups will be graciously redeemed when we run to the love of God, and those uncertainties can be cleared up when we run to His wisdom. Do not let the spirit of fear take over you instead of God’s Spirit which is of power, love, and self-control.

“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)

Notice that fear and self-control are contrasted as opposites. Keeping ourselves from sin should not be a death-giving exercise (fear), but a life-giving one (self-control). The kind of discipline that God gives does not lead to fear but to freedom. Anything else is from the devil, who invents the most right-sounding lies to keep us in bondage. The devil might even convince you, like he did to me, that “denying yourself” means “not being yourself,” while in fact it really means denying your flesh which leads to you being yourself free in Christ, abiding in His love, and walking by His Spirit.

It all comes down to our need for Christ to set us free. Christ desired for us to live in freedom—that’s why He died for us!

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

Put on the armor of God, and do not let the devil convince you that God is keeping a record of your wrongs. When you trust in Jesus, you are covered by His Love. And Love does not keep a record of wrongs! (1 Cor. 13:5)

In John 15:9, Jesus instructs us to abide in His love: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” (ESV)

What does it mean to abide in the love of Christ? What does that look like?

It means to live in freedom, without fear, perfected by His love, and not trying to perfect ourselves by our own strivings. It looks like soaking in His presence after a long day’s work or before the beginning of one, drinking deeply of the Spring of Living Water, and feasting upon the Bread of Life. It looks like walking into the world resting in the acceptance of your Father, and gladly pouring that love into other people, so affected by Your Savior that others can’t help but be affected by the love expressed through you.

“You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” – Galatians 5:4-6

Through the Spirit we wait for God to grow plants of righteousness and goodness in our lives. It is only God who makes anything grow! (1 Cor. 3:7) We wait eagerly through the Spirit which hungers for righteousness, trusting that we will be filled. (Matthew 5:6) When we trust in Jesus to be our righteousness rather than strive to be righteous on our own, our faith WILL express itself through love. If we truly have faith in Christ, we will long to express that faith to others. Our desire for expression is satisfied when we love people the way we have experienced the abundant love of God.

The Lord’s love is a place to take refuge in, not to shy away from in fear you don’t deserve it. Yes, Beloved, you don’t deserve an ounce of it—but that’s what’s so precious about it! That’s the kind of God we serve. He is more than capable of being our Refuge and our place of safety. He is more than willing to hold us and speak tenderly to us in our moments of weakness. He loves you.

Do not be afraid! That’s a command given many times in the Bible, not a suggestion. Bring your fears and anxieties to Him and He will accept you as His child in His open arms. I believe the phrase “Do not be afraid!” can imply the same thing as “Do not walk away from your Father’s embrace.” Only with Him can you be free of fear!

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” – 1 John 4:18

Life isn’t about trying to be the best you can be, as good as that may sound. The best a person could ever do on their own would even then only be a façade, while deep inside brokenness and hurt abound in their souls.

Life isn’t about striving. It’s about being healed by Christ in the inmost parts of your being. It’s about Him setting you free from the bondages of fear, shame, and guilt. It’s about abiding in His love, and letting that love perfect you into His image.

“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” – Psalm 36:7

The More I Fear You

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“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” – Proverbs 1:7 

“But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children— with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.” – Psalm 103:17-18

The more I fear You, the more I find You

The more I fear You, the more I want what You want

The more I fear You, the more Your Word fills my heart

The more I fear You, the more sensitive I am to Your Spirit

The more I fear You, the more I find joy in You.

 

The more I fear You, the  more anxiety disappears

The more I fear You, the more the things of earth don’t matter

The more I fear You, the more my heart expands with love for others

The more I fear You, the less control I try to have

The more I fear You, the more I hear You.

 

The more I fear You, the more accepted I feel

The more I fear You, the more dependent I am on You

The more I fear You, the more I have the courage to step out in faith

The more I fear You, the more I can experience freedom

The more I fear You, the quieter my heart is in Your presence.

 

The more I fear You, the more I don’t have to fear anything else

The more I fear You, the more beautiful You are to me

The more I fear You, the more Your grace becomes miraculous to me

The more I fear You, the more I want to spend time with You

The more I fear You, the more You’re ALL that matters to me.

 

The more I fear You, the more sin becomes repulsive to me

The more I fear You, the more grateful I am

The more I fear You, the more satisfied in You I am.

The more I fear You, the more I hunger for You

The more I fear You, the more Your life fills me.

 

The more I fear You, the more I rest in You

The more I fear You, the more confident I am in You

The more I fear You, the more I want You

The more I fear You, the more I need You

The more I fear You, the more I love You.