Fear is a Liar

Sometimes we need to hear this as though God Himself is squaring up, shoulder to shoulder, looking us in the eye because we tend to believe the lie more than the truth.

Fear not. Do not fear. Don’t be afraid.

Listen to it in every scripture that God breathes these words into and you won’t necessarily hear the gentle, coddling voice that you think you need to hear when you are operating out of this broken, vulnerable and fragile place: afraid.

What you need to hear is truth. That the fear you are operating in is holding you back. It’s keeping you from loving those around you with your whole heart. It’s keeping you from trusting God and loving HIM with your heart, soul, mind and strength. It’s causing you to lean on your own understanding (which happens to be quite limited) instead of trusting the Lord with all your heart.

He wants all your heart.

Trust the Lord with all your heart… (Proverbs 3:5)

Love the Lord with all your heart… (Luke 10:27)

Is your heart giving way to fear or to faith today?

Isaiah 43:1: “But now, this is what the LORD says — he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” 

Listen to the lie of fear and you will hang on to your past. You will not believe you have been called by name for a purpose. You will forget that you already belong to Jesus.

Fear is a liar. Slay it with the truth.

What other truth do you need to remind yourself of today?

Ears to Hear

Exodus 6:6-9:

Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.’” Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.

The Great I AM proclaims who He is and how He scoops up His people out of slavery and makes them his own. He does this with us all the time. He rescues us out of our trespasses and breathes life into our dead souls with the love of a Father who is willing to give ANYTHING for the life of His own.  He continuously wants to bring us out from under the burdens of all that shackles us to enjoy Him and run wild and free in the best of ways, knowing we are his.

Moses takes these words and speaks them with confidence because He heard them first hand from the LORD Himself.

But the people couldn’t hear it.

They may have heard, but it didn’t sink in. Nothing changed for them in that moment. Discouraged from all those years of laying brick after brick. The day in and day out of dealing with the same problems and the same harshness of the world they were in, left them broken shells of the people they were intended to be.

But God… He never loses hope for the people we are intended to become because while you and I are wallowing in whatever it is we are wallowing in, He doesn’t stop working. He doesn’t stop taking ALL these things and working them together for our good. He doesn’t want to stop redeeming and reclaiming what was meant for evil and using it for good. The best thing about Exodus 6 is that even after the people don’t listen and Moses whines a bit about it, God keeps going. He tells Moses, ‘It doesn’t matter how the people respond or how Pharaoh responds. You just keep on doing what I tell you to do and I will make it happen. I have a plan and nothing can stop me!’ {Okay, I paraphrased that a bit, but you get the point}

This is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and He is also the God of Joseph who can take a life thrown into the pit of slavery and make it second only to the king with the authority to save an entire nation and reconcile with the family who betrayed him in the first place. This is the God of you and I, who doesn’t let anything thwart His good plans, so how much of Him do we miss out on because we focus too much on what we think is getting in the way of progress? How much have I missed because I couldn’t hear? How much have I missed out on the daily grace of God because I have been leaning on my own understanding, enslaved to fear, enslaved to anxiety, enslaved to my own need for control and order and the brokenness from disappointment that causes me not to listen?

I want to be a better listener which means that when we read what it says in passages like the one above, we listen to what God says and we leave it at that.  We don’t look for what we want to hear that will make us feel good immediately but we look for what God speaks about Himself and rest. I want to listen to these God breathed proclamations that tell me WHO He is and what He has already done and take Him at His word. Then when I’m worried about this, that and the other thing and all the uncertainties of the next few months, I want to go back to what I have resolved… He has gone before me and is taking me forward to what has already been established for me.

He speaks. We listen. We walk forward. And we wait.

Repeat.

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Trippin’ on Friday

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My friend Linda gave me the best gift this year. New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp has been a much needed, gospel centered companion this year. In fact, she gave the book to me but Steve and I arm wrestle for it every day.

Here is an excerpt from today’s reading:

“So many Christians load onto their shoulders a burden that they do not have to bear. They get up every morning and pick up the heavy load of trying somehow, some way to achieve something with God. They work hard to exercise what they do not have in hopes that they can achieve what is impossible. It simply cannot work. So where does it lead? It leads either to the scary pride of self-righteousness – a culture of moralistic self-backslappers, who have no problem judging those who have not achieved the level of righteousness they think that they have – or to fear and discouragement – a culture of people who don’t run to God with their sin because they’re afraid of him.”

What do you think of this?

When I read things like this, my mind immediately goes to all the legalistic people that drive me crazy. I am less inclined to see how it actually relates to me and how I measure my own value by “how I’m doing.” Ouch.

Here’s how he ends it:

“So stop trying to measure up to get whatever from God. Stop hiding from him when you mess up. Stop comparing yourself to other people, wondering if God loves you less because you’re not as “good” as them. Stop naming the good things you do as righteousness that not only gets you closer to God, but also proves to others that you are. Just stop asking the law to do what only grace can achieve, and start resting in the fact that you don’t have any moral bills due because Jesus paid them all on the cross. And when you sin, don’t pretend you didn’t, don’t panic, and don’t hide. Run to Jesus and receive mercy in your time of need, the kind of mercy he paid for you to have.”

How do you measure yourself? Is it with the measuring stick of grace or the law? Or comparison to those around you?

Do you know how beloved you are – just as you are?

 

 

Not Me But We

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This morning’s She Reads Truth reading directed us to the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:16-20 and Mark 16:14-20.

The writer told a lovely story of following an impression from the Holy Spirit to tell a stranger standing in line with her at Starbucks about God’s love for him. Her response to the word “Go” was immediate, obedient and didn’t take into account any discipleship programs, how long she should spend meeting with him or what the outcome would be.

We often look at these passages and think they are for people who have more time on their hands, who have been following Christ for years, who have a wider breadth of knowledge than we do…yada, yada, yada. Or we get tripped up by what “discipleship” should look like and think we need to make certain scheduling commitments, ask our pastors for permission and again… yada, yada, yada.

The passage was an account of Jesus’ words to the disciples. All of the disciples together – not just one.

It still speaks to today to all of us as a collective. Not just me, but we.

What if we looked at the passage and decided, this is our calling?

To go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that has been taught to us?  And what if we realized we are not responsible for every part of it but maybe just a piece of it?

What if we recognized this is how we are to live and just did the next right thing?

Even Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:6 that his job has been planting, Apollos watered, but it is God who makes things grow. Paul had a part, Apollos had a part and you and I each have our own part today to fulfill God’s great purpose for our lives here on Earth. To go… and tell someone how He loves, how He saves, how He sees, how He knows.

Not you, but we. Not me, but we.

What is your part today?

Leading Through

“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “if they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. {Exodus 13:17-18}

 

God knows what we can and can’t deal with. He knows how much we can take and what our capacity is.

I’ll be honest. I have felt filled to the brim of my capacity lately and at times have wondered if these thorns in my flesh and heart are ever going to leave me.

But God.

To read this in the Exodus narrative and know God doesn’t do short cuts, especially when they are not beneficial to us. He knows our limits better than we do and knows that we will often resort to something besides him for the sake of our own comfort that will often lead us to bondage. He is aware of the insidiousness in our hearts far more than we are. He can see what will tempt us earlier than we can and he knows what will cause us to go backwards, especially when the road forward is long and arduous.

Sometimes the long way is the best way.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. {1 Corinthians 10:13}

If you are also feeling at capacity today, if you think you can’t take it anymore, perhaps the next right thing is simply to go to God and ask Him to show you the way out or to show you where the hope lies and how He is going to part the Red Seas of your life to lead you through.

This is how we prepare for battle.