Don’t yield an inch to fear

Psalm 118:6 NIV

You’ll always have to deal with fear in one form or another. And your fears will be different at different seasons of life. Once you accept that, you can make progress. For example, Julius Caesar conquered the world but he was terrified of thunder. Peter the Great of Russia cried like a child when he had to cross bridges. The celebrated British writer Dr. Samuel Johnson wouldn’t enter a room left foot first. If he accidentally did, he backed up and reentered with his right one. (Talk about putting your best foot forward!) If you let it control you, fear will keep you from living to the fullest. Fear breeds inaction, inaction breeds lack of experience, lack of experience breeds ignorance, and ignorance breeds fear. It’s a cycle, and if you’re caught in it here are some Scriptures that can help you: (1) “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3). (2) “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). (3) “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7). (4) “In God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me” (Psalm 56:4). (5) “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Personalize these Scriptures in prayer, stand on them, and don’t yield an inch to fear.

Soul food: Lev 5-7; Luke 20:27-33; Ps 72:1-11; Prov 9:1-6

Dealing with fear

Psalm 118:6 NIV

We’ll probably always have to deal with fear in one form or another. Anxiety is a natural response to our circumstances. Things like exams, job interviews, and health issues can all cause us to fear. But we don’t have to let fear overcome us. Sometimes fear can become such a stronghold in our lives that we need some help from other people, such as counsellors, to deal with it. But at all times, we need to try and remember what God says to us about not being afraid, and ask Him to give us His peace. If we let fear control us, it can keep us from living to the full. Fear can stop us doing things which are outside of our comfort zone, which, in turn, can cause us to fear those things more. It’s a cycle. But there are a plenty of verses in the Bible which can help us break this cycle: 1) ‘You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you’ (Isaiah 26:3 NIV). 2) ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid’ (John 14:27 NIV). 3) ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation…present your requests to God’ (Philippians 4:6 NIV). 4) ‘In God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’ (Psalm 56:4 NIV). 5) ‘For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline’ (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV). To help us deal with fear we can take these verses on board, memorise them, pray about them, and repeat them when fear starts to rise.

Lev 5-7; Luke 20:27-33; Ps 72:1-11; Prov 9:1-6

God’s correction

Proverbs 3:12 NCV

None of us like being corrected. We all like to be right, and to have someone correct us can make us feel uncomfortable and even angry. The Bible says: ‘My child, do not reject the LORD’s discipline, and don’t get angry when he corrects you. The LORD corrects those he loves, just as parents correct the child they delight in’ (Proverbs 3:11-12 NCV). When God corrects us, we should welcome it rather than despise it. It’s never a nice experience to be corrected, but we need to see the bigger picture. Correction from God isn’t punishment or criticism, it’s an opportunity to learn, grow, and become more like Christ – our ultimate aim. It also shows that we are in the privileged position of being a child of God. God corrects us out of love. Just as someone in our family, like a parent, may correct us as children, God corrects us as His children. Hebrews 12 sums it up like this: ‘So hold on through your sufferings, because they are like a father’s discipline. God is treating you as children. All children are disciplined by their fathers…God disciplines us to help us, so we can become holy as he is. We do not enjoy being disciplined. It is painful at the time, but later, after we have learned from it, we have peace, because we start living in the right way’ (vv.7;11 NCV). God wants us to become holy, like Him. Isn’t that amazing? He loves us so much that He wants to help transform us into holy beings. And He doesn’t angrily punish us, He gently corrects us, guides us back to the right path, and strengthens us so we can keep walking the right way.

Rom 9:17-11:36; Luke 5:27-39; Ps 100; Prov 3:7-8

Why sin doesn’t work

James 1:14 CEV

James writes: “Don’t blame God when you are tempted! God cannot be tempted by evil, and he doesn’t use evil to tempt others. We are tempted by our own desires that drag us off and trap us. Our desires make us sin, and when sin is finished with us, it leaves us dead. Don’t be fooled, my dear friends” (vv. 13-16 CEV). When you keep sinning and violating your values, you can reach a place where it’s hard to live comfortably in your own skin. Any appetite that’s overindulged can quickly become an addiction. What you wanted yesterday, you find yourself needing today. Then before you know it, you give yourself over to the thing that’s controlling your life because it’s the only way you can find temporary escape. Stop and ask: (1) “What about my life’s purpose?” What about the person God called you to be? Seeing the joy others have is a constant reminder of the joy you’ve lost, and what you’re missing out on. (2) “What happens when trouble hits my life or my family?” In such moments you wonder, “Is this happening because of me?” A thousand voices may tell you it’s not your fault, but deep down you are never sure. The only way to find real peace is to get right with God. And you can. Here’s His offer: “Turn to the Lord! He can still be found. Call out to God! He is near. Give up your crooked ways and your evil thoughts. Return to the Lord our God. He will be merciful and forgive your sins” (Isaiah 55:6-7 CEV).

Soul food: Heb 11:7; Gen 6:9-22; Gen 8:18-22

At peace

Romans 12:18 NIV

‘Live at peace with everyone’ is overwhelmingly general when it’s taken out of context. However, Paul gives us a lot more advice on how to live that instruction out if we go back to Romans 12. He writes: ‘Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord’ (Romans 12:17-19 NIV). What Paul is encouraging us to do is to take responsibility for our own actions. We can think of peaceful living as an idyllic world where everyone is happy and loving towards each other, but Paul makes it less about the world being lovely in general, and more about our responses. He seems to define living ‘at peace’ as having everything to do with how we respond to actions committed against us. That leads to a really interesting possibility. We can choose to live at peace with those who make life difficult for us, whether they regret their actions or not. That is how peace depends on us, and also how we can avoid the mentality that someone else’s wrongdoing can excuse our own if we’re putting them to rights. Romans 12 shows us that we are called to live to godly standards even when those around us don’t. We’re told ‘not be overcome by evil, but [to] overcome evil with good’ (Romans 12:21 NIV). And that is the key to spreading peace. Even when we’re faced with wrong, we can still forgive and live right.

Neh 1-4; Luke 21:12-24; Ps 78:17-31; Prov 23:26-28