When We Let Fear Overrule Our Faith…

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Deuteronomy 1:19-36 (KJV)

19 And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which ye saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, as the Lord our God commanded us; and we came to Kadesh–barnea.
20 And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the Lord our God doth give unto us.
21 Behold, the Lord thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.
22 And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come.
23 And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men of you, one of a tribe:
24 And they turned and went up into the mountain, and came unto the valley of Eshcol, and searched it out.
25 And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the Lord our God doth give us.
26 Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the Lord your God:
27 And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the Lordhated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.
28 Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.discouraged: Heb. melted
29 Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them.
30 The Lord your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes;
31 And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.
32 Yet in this thing ye did not believe the Lord your God,
33 Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day.
34 And the Lord heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying,
35 Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers,
36 Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the Lord.

Standing on the edge of the Promised Land, the Israelites were overcome by fear.

The size and strength of the enemy contrasted sharply with their own weakness and inability.

Because we’re human, everyone at times will experience inadequacy and the uncomfortable feelings that accompany it.

The issue you and I face is not whether we are sufficient for a task, but how we will respond when a challenge is beyond our capabilities.

Like the children of Israel, we can give in to fear and then focus on the expectation of certain failure.

As the obstacle grows in our minds, our feet run in the opposite direction, away from the challenge and toward safety. However, turning away from the task that God has given us will lead us not to security but into bondage.

By allowing fear to control our choices, we’ll become chained to feelings of inadequacy, which will shape our future decisions and, ultimately, our destinies.

As a result of their refusal to trust the Lord and move forward to conquer the land, the Israelites were consigned to wander in the wilderness for 40 years.

The men who did not believe God’s promise never saw the land that He wanted to give them.

Opportunities are always lost when we let fear overrule our faith.

When God calls you to a task beyond your abilities, instead of giving in to your feelings, choose to rely on what you know about Him and His promises.

By moving forward in faith despite your inadequacy, you will discover the Lord’s faithfulness.

He always empowers us for the works He assigns.

How Do You Respond?

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Exodus 3:1-15 (KJV)

1  Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.
2  And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.
3  And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
4  And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
5  And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
6  Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
7  And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;
8  And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
9  Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.
10Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.
11And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?
12And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.
13And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?
14And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
15And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

How do you respond when God tells you to do something that seems beyond your capabilities?

Are you full of excuses, giving Him reasons why He picked the wrong person?

That’s exactly the way Moses responded.

In giving him the gigantic task of leading the Israelites to freedom, the Lord was calling Moses to a high level of commitment.

If we hope to step obediently into our God-given challenges, we must answer the same two questions Moses asked.

Who is God?

The answer is important because it reveals whom we recognize as having authority to tell us what to do.

The two names the Lord used in answering Moses—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Ex. 3:6) and “I am who I am” (v. 14)—identified Him as the sovereign Creator and self-existent, everlasting One who keeps His promises.

This means there is no higher authority, and He has every right to command our obedience.

Who am I?

When Moses questioned whether he was the right man for the job, the Lord gave him a promise: “Certainly I will be with you” (v. 12).

Moses was able to fulfill the assignment only because God chose to enter into a relationship with him.

Likewise, our source of adequacy is a relationship with Jesus Christ and the presence of His indwelling Holy Spirit in our life.

Has God given you a tough assignment?

Remember that as your Creator, He’s designed specific tasks for you to achieve.

If you refuse to obey, you’ll miss what He has planned for your life. Just think what Moses would have forfeited, had he said no.

Too much is at stake. Trust God and do what He says!

The Fruit of Righteousness…

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Philippians 1:1-11 (KJV)

1 Paul and Timothy, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;
6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.
8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;
11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

Since all of Paul’s letters begin with an expression of God’s grace to us, we may be tempted to think that it is simply a customary word of greeting.

But in reality, God’s grace is our foundation, our covering, and the sphere in which we live as believers in Christ.

Grace is commonly defined as God’s unmerited and undeserved favor.

According to Ephesians 2:8, it’s the means by which we are saved through faith.

And Romans 5:2 says that by our faith, we have “obtained our introduction … into this grace in which we stand.”

In other words, we are continual recipients of an abundance of grace throughout life and into eternity.

Just as our salvation never ends, so God’s grace never ceases to do its work in our life.

That’s why Paul could confidently say, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6).

We never have to fear that we will lose our salvation, because God is the one who keeps us and promises to complete us when Christ returns.

Furthermore, Paul says we have been “filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ [and glorifies] God” (v. 11).

Sometimes it’s difficult to see righteousness in ourselves, because we know how weak and flawed we are.

But if we’ve been saved, then Christ lives in us and we in Him (John 15:4).

He is our righteousness, and He’s actively producing His fruit in our life as we abide in Him. This process, known as sanctification, is God’s grace working to align our behavior with Christ’s righteousness.

So let’s stand firm in His grace and trust Him to complete us.

Manipulating Circumstances…

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Genesis 16 (KJV)

God answers prayer in one of three ways: “yes,” “no,” or “yes, but not yet.”

This last reply seems to be the most dreaded— sometimes even more than an outright “no.”

However, patience is an important trait for the Christian, as Scripture stresses repeatedly in stories, psalms, and epistles.

Waiting on the Lord to unlock a door is always wiser than attempting to pry it open ourselves, even when the delay has been long.

After God promised him descendants (Gen. 12:2), Abraham lived for 25 years with an answer of “not yet.” After that quarter-century, the answer finally became “yes.”

But meanwhile, Abraham and Sarah came up with their own plan to get an heir—Sarah’s servant Hagar bore Ishmael.

The couple may have convinced themselves they were “helping” God live up to His prophecy, but really, they were disobeying.

The consequences were disastrous.

Bitterness and blame affected every member of the family (Gen. 16:4-6; Gen. 21:9-10). What’s more, Ishmael’s people lived in enmity with their neighbors, and that hostility persists in the Middle East today (Gen. 21:9-14; Gen. 25:18).

Our patience gives God time to prepare the opportunity on the other side of a closed door.

Even if we could force our way by manipulating circumstances, we would not be happy with what we find there.

No one in Abraham’s camp was satisfied with the situation they created!

We can have contentment and joy only when we access the Lord’s will at the very moment He ordained.

The blessings we find on the other side of an open door are always worth the wait.

Human Reasoning…

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Acts 16:5-12 (KJV)

5 And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.
6 Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,
7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.
8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas.
9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.
11 Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis;
12 And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.

We cannot help feeling disappointed when a door of opportunity closes.

But our heavenly Father will often prevent us from going forward when He wants to redirect our steps toward a wiser pathway. What determines whether we partake of His greater blessing is our reaction:

Will we beat against the barred door or look for a new opening?

Paul’s second missionary journey included a series of divine “no admittance signs.” The apostle set out to visit the churches he had started across Asia, but the Holy Spirit led him away from city after city.

It must have felt quite frustrating to be prevented from carrying out the gospel commission (Matt. 28:19).

Paul kept traveling in search of fertile ground where he could plant a new church, and at last the Lord revealed an open door to Macedonia.

The new route eventually led him into key cities of that day. Philippi, Corinth, and Ephesus were major commerce centers teeming with dignitaries and foreign traders who could carry the gospel farther and faster than Paul.

The apostle set out with a wise and rational plan, but human reasoning isn’t always reliable.

The Bible tells us to trust in the Lord instead of our own understanding (Prov. 3:5).

If we’re to follow God’s will for our life, we must live by the Spirit’s prompting.

Consider that the Creator of the universe is taking a moment to nudge you in the right direction so that you may be fruitful and blessed.

Follow Him, and He will direct your steps down the right paths and through the best doorways.

Hope and An Established Future…

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1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (KJV)

19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

God tells us to surrender our lives to Him.

This is no small task.

All our plans, every desire we feel, each entitlement that once seemed our right–everything is put aside in order to make way for our King’s will.

But perhaps you have wondered why God can ask this of us.

The Lord has every right to demand that we give Him our all.

First, Scripture teaches us that He is sovereign–the King and Ruler over the entire universe.

As a result, we are under His authority, whether we choose to submit or not.

Next, through His death and resurrection, Jesus saved us from our sin and its consequences.

Therefore, we are indebted to Him more than we could ever repay. And finally, He sustains us; we should consider each breath and heartbeat a gift from Him.

Undoubtedly, God is entitled to ask that we yield our life to Him.

At the same time, surrender is in our best interest.

The Father promises that following Him leads to hope and an established future.

Psalm 31:19 states, “How great is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You . . .”

So, while He is the Almighty One with all authority to demand our life, He promises to care for us and to do what will benefit us most.

Are you willing to put yourself aside in order to follow Jesus?

His way is best, and it offers hope, joy, and peace. We will not always like everything He chooses at the moment, but He promises to work all things for good.

Will you trust God enough to hand the reins over to Him?

Didn’t You Hear Me?

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Mark 11:20-24 (KJV)

20 And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.
21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.
22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

If you made a request of God and then time passed without results, it is understandable you might start wondering if He ever heard you at all.

Do you remember thinking,

What happened, Lord? You said that if I asked in faith, You would do it. Didn’t You hear me?

Stop to consider this question: Can you think of a time you brought a petition to the Lord and it apparently went unanswered?

What was the situation? What did you pray about it? What did you say to others about it? What did you do about it?

I believe one of the most common reasons we experience a crisis of faith is that our words and our attitude get out of line with each other.

We tell ourselves that we are praying to the heavenly Father, seeking His will, and requesting His intervention, but what we’re really doing is just complaining to Him.

We say, “Lord, I really messed this up” or “I don’t deserve this.” We might pray, “How did this happen?” Or perhaps we even cry, “How did You let this happen?”

We moan about the situation, reveling in every ounce of anguish, and then petition God to fix it. Is this a prayer that honors God?

In Mark 11:24, Jesus explains that if we ask for something, we should believe in our hearts that it has already been granted.

This level of faith is found not in our whines but in our praises.

God absolutely wants us to cry out to Him and to lay our petitions at His feet (1 Pet. 5:7).

But we must be careful to do so in a way that focuses on God’s glory—not our own.

Thoughts, Desires, and Experiences…

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Luke 12:16-21 (KJV)

16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
17  And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

We’ve all heard jokes about men who refuse to stop and ask for directions.

But in reality, there’s probably a good bit of truth to the stereotype, and it isn’t limited to males.

Plenty of men and women in this world zoom along without slowing down to ask for guidance.

If you were to look at the situation from a spiritual perspective, you’d see a world of lost souls desperately trying to save themselves. They think they can earn their way into heaven through hard work and the accumulation of good deeds.

But they’re wrong.

Today’s passage from Luke describes a wealthy person who makes a lot of plans based only on his own thoughts, desires, and experience.

Take the time to look at the passage again, and notice how many times he used the words “I” and “my.”

What you’ll see is that his focus was squarely on himself.

This parable is a sad picture of the self-directed man trying to make his own way and secure his own future with no help from anyone–including God.

The Lord didn’t mince words: He called the man “fool” (v. 20).

Worldly wisdom amounts to nothing in the eyes of our omniscient, all-wise Father (1 Cor. 1:20), and He expects His children to request and follow His guidance.

The message for us today is clear: When we figure out our own plans and take action with no thought about what God would advise, we are behaving like fools.

The Lord has a plan for your life.

He knows where you’ll succeed and where you’ll fail.

Be wise and ask Him for directions.

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