When Fear Ends

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Today I open a Bible and flipped around randomly through its pages. I just so happened to look down at where I landed and, lo and behold, I looked right at Psalm 27. Here’s what I read:

The Eternal is my light amidst my darkness
    and my rescue in times of trouble.
    So whom shall I fear?
He surrounds me with a fortress of protection.
    So nothing should cause me alarm” (Psalm 27:1)

That reminded me of something I learned a long time ago about fear.

What are you afraid of right now? What is the greatest cause of anxiety and stress for you at the moment you are reading this?

Imagine the worst-case scenario were to come true (which is highly unlikely– think 1 out of 1,000 times). Imagine that you get fired from your job, you flunk out of school, your checking account goes belly-up.

Now, picture this. Even in the midst of all that wreckage, God is still there. You can lose jobs, money, possessions, friends– even spouses– but you can never lose God, because it’s not you holding on to God, but God holding onto you.

I love the image that I heard somewhere. When you hit rock bottom, you find that God is the Rock at the bottom. And maybe that’s a good place to be, where you have nothing left to stand on but the One True Foundation of Jesus.

An old black preacher described fear as “False Evidence Appearing Real.” The future that fear shows you may look legit, but it is always a lie. That’s because fear will always show you a future without God in it.

God promised in His word that perfect Love casts out fear. Fear can’t stand in the presence of God’s unfailing love. The only way for fear to win is for you to doubt God’s love and believe that it has come to an end. Faith is the antidote to fear and it doesn’t have to be great faith in God. All you need is faith in a great God.

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Stewardship

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In ye olden castle days, stewards were the ones who took care of the finances and property management of the castle and surrounding village. The stewards didn’t own any of it, but they took care of it as though it were their own.

Most people, when they hear a preacher bring up the word “steward” or “stewardship,” automatically think, “Uh-oh. Here comes another sermon on tithing.”

Stewardship is about money. But it is so much more than that.

The truth is that nothing you have really belongs to you. The earth and everything in it, including you, belong to the Lord.

Your money? It really belongs to God.

Your career? Also God’s.

Your spouse? Ditto.

Your children? Not yours.

When you make Jesus Lord of your life, He takes over ownership of all that you call yours. But when you think about it, everything you have is really a gift from God anyway.

Your money and your ability to earn it come from God. He created you with unique talents and gifts to be able to start a career and earn a living.

Your spouse and your children? They belong to God, not you. God has entrusted them to your care and expects that you will present them back better than when He gave them to you.

It’s humbling when you realize you’re not the king of your castle. Even more so when you realize you don’t even own your own castle.

May we all remember that we are stewards of what really belongs to God. May we take good care of what– and who– He has entrusted into our care so that when He comes, He can say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

A Really Good Question

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While I was house/dog-sitting at a friend’s house, i was channel surfing. I ran across a program that was just getting started on TBN.

Normally, I avoid that channel like the plague, but the program featured Max Lucado, one of my favorite authors, so I gave it a shot. As it turns out, I did indeed choose wisely.

Max spoke on Joseph of Old Testament fame losing everything he had– possessions, family, reputation, freedom. He was literally looking up from the lowest point in his life at one point.

Then Max asked a profound question: “What do you still have that you cannot lose?”

Maybe you’ve lost your health. Or a job. Maybe it was a spouse. Or a child.

Maybe you’ve lost your reputation.

Whatever it is, there’s one thing you can’t lose. Your destiny as a child of God. Because God looked down on you at your very worst and said, “I choose that one. I want him. I have great plans for her.”

Your identity isn’t lost when you lose everything. You are still God’s. He still loves you and still has your name tattooed on His hands and on His heart.

Joseph was faithful to His destiny and God rewarded him. And so he will reward you. Maybe not in this lifetime, but you can bet there is nothing you’ve lost that won’t be restored a thousandfold over.

I love how Max said that our lives aren’t the dashes between our birth-dates and death-dates. They’re more like a grain of sand on the beach of the eternity of God’s stedfast love. I like that.

Maybe I should watch TBN more often.

Blessed are the pure in heart

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8).

Blessed are the pure in heart. You may be like me and think, “Well, that rules me out right there. I am not pure in heart. If you could only see inside my heart and see some of the addictions and lies and crap that I carry around, the last word you would use to describe my heart is ‘pure.'” I have good news for you. If you have trusted Christ for your salvation, He has cleansed your heart. God sees you now as if you had never sinned. You are pure in heart.

The Message puts it this way: “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.” That’s what being made righteous means– your inside world is put right with God. Then, instead of seeing fate and coincidence and random occurances in the outside world, you see God. You see His hand in everything.

Soren Kierkegaard said, “Purity of heart is to will one thing.” To stay pure in heart, it is important to not have divided priorities. Like loving God and money, or God and popularity, or God and success, or God and (you fill in the blanks). If anything competes with God for my attention, that thing must go, whether it be a possession or a relationship or a cherished dream. God is jealous and will not abide anything put alongside of Him as equal importance.

The good news is that the effort to have one focus is not a “strain and try harder”, but a “be filled with the Spirit and transformed by the renewing of your mind” event. Your and my job is to know God. To know what blesses and breaks His heart, to know what His will is for the world, and to know His Word so well that it becomes a part of you. Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they know the Father and the One He has sent.”

Lord, I long to stay pure in heart and not wear myself out chasing in five different directions things that can only truly come from You. Be my passion, my heart’s overwhelming desire. Be so glorious in my sight that everything else fades away. Show me Your glory, and then I will be satisfied. Thank You that You have promised that one day I will see You clearly and love You perfectly.

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.