Turn fear to faith

2017-10-17
Isaiah 12:2 NKJV

How much does fear play a part in your life? Sometimes fear can be useful, such as when we, or people we love, are in physical danger. Then it can act as an alarm that something’s wrong and we need to get help or get out of the situation. (If we find we’re not recognising dangerous situations, we need to ask God for greater discernment and wisdom.) The Bible mentions fearing God; take a look at Psalm 11:10, Ecclesiastes 12:13 and Proverbs 14:27 for some examples – you’ll come across others too. This doesn’t mean we have to be scared of God. Instead, it means we should respect Him and His will. But the Bible also talks about the type of fear that can overwhelm us and change the way we live our lives. Nearly all of us have some area of fear that we want to break free from, but if we try to do it in our strength, we’ll find it very difficult, if not impossible, to completely remove it. We need to do it in God’s strength. Virtually every time the Bible talks about this type of fear, it’s in the context of ‘do not fear’, or ‘don’t be afraid’, or ‘God calmed my fears’ (you’ll find some examples in Psalm 34:3, Isaiah 41:10 or Joshua 1:9). In Psalm 56, David wrote: ‘When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise – in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’ (vv. 3-4 NIV). So when we’re feeling frightened, for whatever reason, let’s tell God all about our feelings and resolve to turn our fear into faith and trust in Him.

Exo 33-35; John 4:1-12; Ps 87; Prov 27:4-6

Keep growing

2017-10-16
Proverbs 1:5 NIV

In life we’ve got to keep growing, keep maturing and keep working to become more like Jesus. The Bible says that we need to ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (1 Peter 3:18 NIVUK) and that ‘the wise listen and add to their learning.’ But how do we grow? We grow through changing our attitudes and responses to things. We need to take a look at ourselves and see where we’re stopping ourselves from moving forwards. Maybe it’s a bad habit, repeatedly giving in to temptation, fear of leaving our comfort zone, or not making the time to spend with God. So many things can become barriers to us advancing to spiritual maturity. And that’s something we should be heading towards. Babies have milk before they’re ready to move on to solid foods. And it’s the same for us in a spiritual sense. We need to be fed the basics, but at some point we need to mature enough in our faith to move on to the solid foods. The Bible says: ‘solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil’ (Hebrews 5:14 NIV). But we’re not going to move to spiritual maturity by just wishing we’d reached it. We need to work every day at becoming mature in our faith. We need to be prioritising time with God, reading His Word, working with Him to overcome the things that get in the way and spending time with people who are more mature in their faith than we are. Without effort on our part, we won’t keep growing, so let’s make spiritual growth a priority in our lives.

Exo 30-32; John 3:22-36; Ps 32; Prov 27:1-3

When God calls you

2017-07-26
Isaiah 48:15 NIV

God told Jeremiah, “Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work” (Jer 1:5 NCV). When God decides to use you, five things happen: First, there is a call. God asks common people to do uncommon things, like Peter getting out of a boat and walking on water. Second, there is fear. When God called Moses to stand before Pharaoh, he said, “I’m not a good enough speaker; use somebody else.” Third, there is reassurance. The thought of filling Moses’ shoes must have shaken Joshua to the core, so God told him, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you” (Joshua 1:5 NKJV). Fourth, there is a decision. Sometimes we say yes to God and sometimes we say no. When we say yes we live with joy; when we say no we forfeit that joy. But there’s always a decision. Fifth, there is a changed life. Those who say yes to God’s call don’t walk perfectly, not by a long shot. But because they say yes, they learn and grow even from their failures. Indeed, their failures often become part of their ability to minister to others. And those who say no to God are changed too; they become a little harder, a little more resistant to His calling, and a little more likely to say no next time. Is God calling you? Maybe it has to do with your work, or your relationships, or your money, or facing your biggest fear. God’s call will go to the core of who you are and what you do. Saying yes to Him is the best decision you’ll ever make.

Soul food: Zeph 1-3; Mat 27:45-56; Ps 46; Prov 19:18-20

When God calls you


Isaiah 48:15 NIV

God told Jeremiah, ‘Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work’ (Jeremiah 1:5 NCV). When God decides to use us, five things happen: first, there’s a call. God asks ordinary people to do extraordinary things, like Peter getting out of a boat and walking on water. Second, there’s fear. When God called Moses to stand before Pharaoh, he said, ‘Master, please, I don’t talk well. I’ve never been good with words…please! Send somebody else!’ (Exodus 4:10;13 MSG). Third, there’s reassurance. The thought of having to fill Moses’ shoes must have terrified Joshua, so God told him, ‘As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you’ (Joshua 1:5 NIV). Fourth, there’s a decision. Sometimes we say yes to God and sometimes we say no. When we say yes we live with joy; when we say no that joy can pass us by. But there’s always a choice. Fifth, there’s a changed life. When we say yes to God’s call we don’t suddenly do everything perfectly. But because we said yes, we learn and grow even from our failures. Our failures often become part of our ability to reach out to others. And when we say no to God we’re changed too; but not in the best way. We become a little more resistant to His calling, and a little more likely to say no next time. So is God calling us today? Maybe it’s to do with our future career, or our current job, or our relationships, or our money, or facing our biggest fears. God’s call will go to the core of who we are and what we do. Saying yes to Him is the best decision we’ll ever make.

Zeph 1-3; Mat 27:45-56; Ps 46; Prov 19:18-20

Don’t let jealousy destroy your marriage

2017-07-07
1 John 4:18 NLT

Solomon writes, “Jealousy is cruel as the grave” (Song of Solomon 8:6). There are many practical applications for this verse, and one of them is that jealousy can cause the death of a marriage. When you’re jealous of your partner, you distrust them and try to control their every move. And that’s doubly true when someone in your past has betrayed you. Your fear of it happening again can make your spouse feel like his or her feet are always being held to the fire. And if you keep doing it long enough you’ll create the very thing you fear; you’ll end up driving them away. Even if they do stay, they may live in emotional isolation without ever fully giving themselves to you. With that in mind, here’s what the Bible has to say: “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them…as we live in God, our love grows more perfect…Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear” (1 John 4:16-18 NLT). When you know that God loves you in spite of your imperfections, your sense of self-worth grows and you start believing you are worthy of love. And when that happens, it’s easier to accept that your spouse loves you too and will be faithful. That’s like getting out of prison – a prison of your own making called “jealousy.” Today God wants to set you free from jealousy and give you the relationship you’ve always longed for. Talk to Him about it.

Soul food: 1 Sam 27-31; Mat 24:15-25; Ps 137; Prov 17:22-23