Archive for January, 2011

25
Jan
11

no fear

I remember an episode of M*A*S*H in which Colonel Potter placed a phone call to one of his superior officers. One of the General’s aides answered the phone and informed the Colonel that he was “afraid the General was not available”. Colonel Potter replied, “Son, you’re a lieutenant in the United States Army. Try not to be afraid!”

That’s good advice for all of us. Fear is, perhaps, the most debilitating emotional force we ever face. Like the person who suffers from a fear of heights and becomes literally paralyzed in high places, we too can become physically, emotionally, spiritually, relationally and professionally paralyzed by our fear. The kind of fear we’re talking about is best summed up by Neale Donald Walsch: “FEAR is an acronym in the English language for False Evidence Appearing Real.”

Our enemy, the devil, is constantly trying to get us to focus on what could go wrong because, as his name literally means, he is the accuser. He is constantly making accusations against God’s faithfulness and loving care. That is why it is important to remind ourselves continually of God’s promises. So let’s do that.

Isaiah 41:10 “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 43:1,2 “But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, and he who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.”

Matthew 10:31 “So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”

Mark 5:36 “Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.”

Luke 12:32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”

Hebrews 13:6 “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?”

And finally,

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

So, to paraphrase Colonel Potter, “You’re a child of God. You have no reason to be afraid!”

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18
Jan
11

pushback

Like a lot of churches across America, our church is beginning the New Year with 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. We’ve done this for the last few years and it always proves to be a great time of discernment and revelation for our church as a whole and for the individuals who participate.

As we move into the second week of the fast I have been asking people two things. First, “what’s God doing in your life as you pray and fast? Any specific answers to prayer? Any revelation God has given you concerning your circumstances or the situations of life? Any challenges he is issuing you to change some behavior or attitude? Any breakthroughs for the difficulties you have been experiencing?”

The second thing I have been asking is this: “Where are you sensing pushback”? In other words, where are you experiencing resistance in your life as a result of the spiritual effort you are exerting?

Scripture is very clear that we are engaged in spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:12) with an “adversary” (1 Peter 5:8) who is determined to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10). It would be very naive on our part to assume that the evil one would allow our efforts to hear from God, by drawing closer to him through prayer and fasting, to go unnoticed and unchallenged.

It is very important that we acknowledge these wicked efforts for what they are because, as Ephesians 5:8-11 tells us, we are to let the light of Christ that shines within us expose the evil deeds of darkness. In so doing the enemy will flee away because he can only operate effectively in a place where he is not challenged by the light of truth and can remain under the cover of darkness.

If all this makes you a little nervous, don’t worry. 1 John 4:4 tells us that “greater is he (the Holy Spirit) who is in you than he who is in the world”. Through the presence of the Spirit of Truth in your life you have all the resources necessary available to you to resist the work of the enemy and James 4:7 is clear — when we resist him he will flee from us!

“Come Holy Spirit, we need you today!”

11
Jan
11

waiting

Recently I was speaking about what to do when the fulfillment of our dream seems to be delayed. I had four simple points based on Galatians 6:9, 10. I had a lot of requests for the notes so I decided to include them in this blog.

First, we must fight fatigue. It was legendary football coach Vince Lombardi who once commented, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” That certainly proved true for the prophet Elijah who went from a great victory to utter despair in a matter of hours. To fight fatigue we can follow Pastor Rick Warren’s advice: Divert Daily, Withdraw Weekly and Abandon Annually.

Second, it is imperative that we stand against discouragement. The Bible says that at a time of great discouragement in David’s life he “encouraged himself in the Lord”. How do we do that? Association With God’s People – Heb 10:24, 25; Saturation of the Word – Rom 15:4; and, Infatuation With Jesus – Heb 12:1, 2.

Thirdly, we cannot quit. At a time of great discouragement in his life, Charles Swindoll’s wife had a plaque made for him:

“It is not the critic who counts – not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error or shortcoming.

Who does actually try to do the deed. Who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, and spends himself on the worthy cause. Who at the worse, if he fails, at least fails while bearing greatly. Far better it is to bear mighty things to win glorious triumph, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

Finally, we must continue to do the good works we were created for. Paul encourages us to “Live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:10)

04
Jan
11

the absence of health

As I was waiting in a line that was close to stretching out the door at the walk-in clinic the other day, I was reminded of something I once read: “It is the sick person who really knows what health is.”

The truth of that statement was vividly obvious to me as I stood there sneezing and coughing with the rest of my comrades in misery. How easily we take for granted the blessing of health when everything is in relatively good working order. However, the minute some part of our body, no matter how small, becomes injured or diseased in some way we feel the effects of it throughout our entire body.

I am coming to realize how true this is spiritually speaking as well. Oswald Chambers once commented, “A child of God is not aware of the will of God because he is the will of God. When we have deviated even slightly from the will of God, we begin to ask, ‘Lord, what is your will?’ A child of God never prays to be made aware of the fact that God answers prayer, because he is so restfully certain that God always answers prayer.”

Wow! What a significant, but very weighty, truth. I think that was exactly the attitude Jesus demonstrated when he stood before the grave of Lazarus and prayed, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” (John 11:41, 42)

The point of all this, for me at least, is the more in tune I become with God through the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit in my life, the more natural and less forced knowing and doing his will seems to become. Instead of demanding that God give attention to my priorities, I focus on and give attention to his priorities; it is then that all the details of my life seem to fall into place naturally. Just like the healthy person who cannot remember what it was like to be sick (come on Z-pack), the person who masters this principle becomes a natural expression of the will of God as the Spirit of God flows through them.