Trust God and don’t be afraid

Isaiah 41:10 NCV

Fear can steal our creativity and self-worth. The longer it lives inside us, the stronger it grows. And it’s often fed by words; not just the words others say, but the words we say to ourselves. When we think, ‘There’s no way I’m going to make it,’ we dent our armour and undermine our effectiveness.

Fear can show itself as overprotectiveness, anger, pettiness, jealousy, or boasting. It can weigh us down with the feeling that we have to protect and defend ourselves and make sure we’re not forgotten or overlooked.

So when we’re feeling fearful, what should we do? The best thing we can do is acknowledge that we’re fearful, and then bring that fear to God and ask Him to take it from us. This is what He promises us: ‘Don’t worry, because I am with you. Don’t be afraid, because I am your God. I will make you strong and will help you; I will support you with my right hand that saves you.’ In Scripture, the term ‘God’s right hand’ refers to His willingness and power to work on our behalf.

Two chapters later in Isaiah, God told the same people, ‘Don’t be afraid, because I have saved you. I have called you by name and you are mine’ (Isaiah 43:1 NCV). God takes care of what belongs to Him, and as His beloved children, He’ll look after each one of us.

So when we’re feeling anxious and afraid, let’s choose to say, ‘There’s no way I’m going to make it in my own strength, but I will make it with God’s strength.’

Gen 30:25-31:55; Matt 19:15-30; Ps 66:13-20; Prov 6:23-25

Trust God and don’t be afraid

Isaiah 41:10 NKJV

Fear will rob you of your creativity and self-worth. It is the enemy of greatness; the antithesis of faith. The longer it lives inside you, the stronger it grows. And it’s fertilized by words; not just the words others say, but the words you say to yourself. When you tell yourself, “There’s no way I’m going to make it,” you’ve dented your armor and undermined your effectiveness. And if you let it fester, it will affect you like a plague.

To overcome fear, you must first identify and expose it. It will hide in your motives. It’ll drape itself in overprotectiveness, anger, pettiness, jealousy, and boasting so you don’t get overlooked. It’ll weigh you down with the responsibility of feeling like you have to look out for yourself, protect yourself, and defend yourself.

So when you’re fearful, what should you do? There’s only one guaranteed course of action: Stand up to your fears – within and without. Here’s a promise from God’s Word that’s as true today as it was when He first spoke it: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” In Scripture the term “God’s right hand” speaks of His willingness and power to work on your behalf. Two chapters later in Isaiah, God told the same people, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine” (Isaiah 43:1 NKJV). And what God owns – He takes care of.

Soul food: Gen 30:25-31:55; Matt 19:15-30; Ps 66:13-20; Prov 6:23-25

The Bible and your health (1)

Proverbs 14:30 NLT

In the last half century, doctors have come to understand and emphasize the correlation between mental and physical health. Yet the Bible talked about it over three thousand years ago when King Solomon gave us these four proverbs: (1) “A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones.” (2) “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health” (Proverbs 15:30 NLT). (3) “Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body” (Proverbs 16:24 NLT). (4) “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength” (Proverbs 17:22 NLT).

These Scriptures could be summed up like this: a faith-filled attitude (focusing on what’s good instead of what’s bad), laughter (the ability to rejoice), and spoken words of encouragement have a profound effect on your health (and the health of those around you). What’s the antidote for stress? Serenity! What’s the remedy for fear? Faith! And where do serenity and faith come from? God!

David was in bad shape when he wrote, “I begged the Lord for mercy, saying, ‘What will you gain if I die, if I sink into the grave?'” (Psalm 30:8-9 NLT). We don’t know whether he was stressed-out mentally, or if he was physically ill. But God intervened, and later in the same psalm David wrote, “You have turned my mourning into…dancing. You have…clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent” (vv. 11-12 NLT).

There’s no doubt about it – your thinking has a profound effect on your health!

Soul food: Rom 9:17-11:36; Matt 13:36-46; Ps 138; Prov 4:14-17

Thinking positively

Philippians 4:8 NLT

Our minds can work for us or against us. When they work for us, it helps us to stay positive, reach our goals, and enjoy each day. But when they work against us, it can make us negative and discouraged, hold us back, and cause us to think unhelpful thoughts. So we need to train our minds to work for us instead of against us.

An important way to do this is to make an intentional decision to begin to think positively – in terms of faith and not fear. Our brains won’t be able to carry out this new instruction overnight. It might be a radical transformation from the way we usually tend to think, and changing a habit takes time, especially if it’s one we’ve had for a long time. But if we’re determined to do it thoroughly and accept God’s help, instead of working against us, our minds will go to work for us and become a positive force in our lives.

An interesting thing to remember is that when you’re born, every organ is fully developed and then gets bigger as you grow. Except for the brain. This develops for a number of years (approximately twenty-five, and possibly more) until it’s fully developed. And even after that, it continues to mature, creating new connections and networks for the rest of your life. That means we can constantly learn new things, and change and improve the way we think.

So let’s try to stay positive, and focus on good, godly things: ‘Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise’ (Philippians 4:8 NLT).

Matt 21:18-22; Matt 8:5-13; Mark 6:1-6

Keeping calm

2 Timothy 4:5 NIV

When we’re faced with a problem or a situation that scares us, our first reaction is often to panic. Panic is our body’s normal reaction to danger as our adrenaline levels increase, and in some circumstances it can be helpful. But if it gets excessive or uncontrollable, it can stop us living a full life. (If you experience panic attacks, or the panic is getting out of control, it’s important to seek help from a doctor or counsellor.)

If we’re experiencing panic, one thing we can do is to bring God into our situation. Fear and panic can make us overreact or make bad decisions, and acting impulsively usually means things will get worse before they get better. When we find ourselves in a stressful situation, we need to try to calm ourselves and ask God for wisdom and help.

Here are some verses from Scripture to help us keep calm and remind us of God’s goodness and love: ‘I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears’ (Psalm 34:4 NLT). ‘Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you’ (1 Peter 5:7 NLT). ‘God will save you from hidden traps and from deadly diseases. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you can hide. His truth will be your shield and protection’ (Psalm 91:3-4 NCV).

It doesn’t matter if the thing we’re worried about would seem trivial to someone else. If we’re worried about it, God cares and wants us to tell Him about how we’re feeling. ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand’ (Isaiah 41:10 NIV).

2 Sam 3:22-7:17; John 3:22-36; Ps 89:38-52; Prov 23:19-21