Category Archives: faith and unbelief

Overcoming Being Overwhelmed

 

– Joe Fornear

I recently got a note from a sweet woman with young kids whose husband was just told, “There is nothing we can do for you.” mountain- mission possible- 2-6-14She asked if I had any thoughts. No one ever wants to hear those words, still we have to boldly face bad news to keep it from overwhelming us. As Job said, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10). So in this post I thought I’d share my response to her.

“Well first I know and remember this sense of desperation well, as they gave me days to live in May 2003. They used the h-word – recommending I go on hospice. Tumors were invading both sides of my pancreas, causing excrucitating pain. I had lesions in a lung and a kidney and a big patch in my groin that grew through and fractured one of my sitting bones – ischium bone. I felt so out of control, but I kept telling myself three things:

1) Though I was totally out of control, God never is. So try to rest in His complete sovereignty over everything – God is way bigger than cancer. It’s never over until HE says it’s over, and He can heal at any old stage of cancer. So have hope that He CAN heal and also believe that healing is His default position.

But He (Jesus) said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” – Luke 18:27

2) Soak up HIS supernatural peace, the peace which He says “surpasses all understanding.” In other words, His peace doesn’t make human sense because it can make us relax even when earthly circumstances stink. God is at rest all of the time. He never panics – nor should we – even during impossible times.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:7

3) Face the possibility that He may choose not to heal – on this side. Do not fear this possibility. He will walk us through whatever He allows. In fact, even if we get healed a hundred times in life, we will all eventually face our mortality of both ourselves and loved ones. Yet let this sink deep into your heart and mind – His children will absolutely never be alone or abandoned to fend for ourselves (How to know if you’re His child? – click here). His Presence always goes with us and there is absolutely nothing to fear. So be bold and courageous about your future. Don’t let the enemies of doubt and fear chip away at your sense of well-being in the Lord. He holds your future and even if it is very hard – it is very bright!

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. – Psalm 23:4-6

I found that fighting cancer is a supernatural endeavor – not a do-it-yourself project. Lean on Him and ask Him to teach you how to fight with His supernatural resources. Thus, we end with Paul’s advice:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. – Ephesians 6:10

Find out more on what Joe found in God’s Word to fight bad news. His book, My Stronghold – A Pastor’s Battle with Cancer and Doubts, is part of our Free gift basket to cancer patients.

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-If you’re fighting cancer, please write and let us know how we can pray for you. We want to be “in your corner” and send you some free resources. -In His Grip is also sent as an email newsletter, a ministry of Stronghold Ministry – sign up here. All materials in this blog copyright (c) Joe & Terri Fornear. Scripture quotations from the NASB.

Are We There Yet?

 

– Joe Fornear

Exhaustion… terrible inconvenience… unsanitary conditions… a nightmare scenario. Maybe God is manger Dec 2014trying to tell us something about life by the circumstances in which our King Jesus entered into our world.

Our journeys can be difficult and lengthy, like Mary’s. On that famous 80 mile trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem – who said she rode on a donkey? The Bible makes no mention of that. It’s likely Mary walked the entire four to six day trip while nine months pregnant, accounting for why they were such late arrivals in Bethlehem.

Along the way, Mary & Joseph’s nightly visits at “inns” probably entailed staying with animals. By the time Jesus was born in a Bethlehem stable, she may have grown accustomed to living with animals. Still, to the shepherds, a baby lying in a manger was truly a “sign.” In other words, even in that day, this was a “nightmare” delivery for any mom to have to lay her newborn in an animal’s feeding trough. And c’mon, there was room for them at the inn! There was just no room in anyone’s heart to give up their room for this baby to born.

So why did God allow such a distressing entry into the world for His Only Begotten? Sometimes faith is not about securing the removal of trouble, but being secure in the face of trouble.

A familiar Bible verse in 2 Timothy 4:7 uses a verb and noun for the “fight” of faith with a similar Greek root word – agonizo.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.

This word means “to contend earnestly; struggle; labor fervently.” We get our word “agony” from this word! Paul uses it several times to describe his prayer life. Certainly this contending applies to our physical, emotional and spiritual battles against cancer. I put everything I had into my fight and it took it all.

Joe’s full story in book form, My Stronghold, is part of our free gift basket to cancer patients.

Yet folks, until Jesus comes back, this life will have its share of agonizing battles! In Matthew 24, Jesus prophesies a series of cataclysmic tribulations – earthquakes, wars, famines. He calls them “birth pangs” – the “labor” of God’s universe to bring Him forth once for all in glorious fashion. So with bookends of tribulation marking both Jesus’ first and second coming, is it any wonder that “in the meantime” we have troubles? Some day these troubles will go away forever – no more tears or pain – but we’re not there yet.

(More here on how to get to heaven).

Yet rest well in this, my fighting friend, He who suffered much knows how to help those who suffer much. This Christmas lean into Him, earnestly agonize with Him – He gets it.

How to Master Your Human Race

-Joe Fornear

In the human “race” we all have a course marked out for us – a path God allows for His highest purposes. Sometimes the course is a pleasant power walk around a soft, oval track. At times it’s a crawl over vast stretches of unforgiving wilderness.runner - 8-7-14

The imagery of life as a race was used by the author of Hebrews when writing to a group of Christ followers. They were reeling from the violent reaction to their new found faith in Jesus. Some had been imprisoned and others had their possessions confiscated (Hebrews 10:34). Many were wondering if the fight was even worth it. Did you ever feel like your race may not be worth it? I have. During my battle with Stage IV metastatic melanoma, I felt imprisoned by bed rails while cancer carted off huge chunks of my valuables – time, health, finances and well-being.

Yet for perspective, spending time in the literal wilderness was a common leg in the journey of many of God’s favorites. Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Joshua, Caleb, Elijah, David, Paul, even Jesus, did some laps in the desert. John the Baptist knew his course would eventually lead there, so early on in his ministry he just picked out a desert cave!

So considering the ways of The Great Charter of Courses, I wonder if we spend too much time trying to change our journey and not enough time mastering its challenges. Don’t get me wrong, I think we should diligently and boldly seek course change – be it physical healing or deliverance from a rough situation. Even Jesus sought a Plan B route before His crucifixion in the Garden of Gethsemane! Yet there is a stumbling block in forgetting to move forward while we wait for circumstantial change. Hebrews describes this tendency to get off track as being “encumbered” or “entangled” – neither are good when we’re trying to run.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2

So what are these encumbrances and entanglements? To name a few:

  • Self-pity – Giving our troubles way too much power.
  • Resentment – A grudge against another – Giving another person way too much power.
  • Shame – A grudge against ourselves – Giving our own righteousness way too much power.
  • Discontentment – A grudge against God – Giving Him too little power to satisfy our souls.

So listen up; hear the cheers from “the great cloud of witnesses” that are rooting you on each step of the way! Run your course with endurance – it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Above all, “fix your eyes on Jesus.” He not only models focus for us in the midst of trials, but as “author and perfecter of our faith,” He works that same supernatural focus into us!

Are We There Yet?

– Joe Fornear

As we settle into the heat of summer, it’s easy to forget the snow and cold of another season. It seemed this past winter would never end. flower in snow - 6-16-14In the same way, trials seem like they too may never end, but they do. And they will:

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” -Revelation 21:4-5

Like little children in the back seat of our Heavenly Father’s car, we call out, “Are we there yet?” Sometimes endurance is our only choice – while God is up to something.

One thing encouraged me in the midst of the trial of my life – the concept of “seasons.” As the Lord promised in Isaiah, His Word will come to pass – perhaps not right away, but in time. For now, there may be rain, snow, even drought, but He is always sowing His seed and a harvest of blooms will come forth to prove His steadfast love toward us.

For just as rain and snow fall from heaven, and do not return there without saturating the earth, and making it germinate and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat, so My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please, and will prosper in what I send it to do. – Isaiah 55:10-11

Wait for it… we’re not there yet, but it won’t be long. At Stronghold Ministry, we’re praying for all of you who are suffering and grieving, or in any difficult season, to find His Word faithful and true for you today.

Believe, Know, Laugh

– Joe Fornear

I’m not the only one who loves to watch babies laughing – one video has 30 million hits on YouTube. baby laughing - 5-9-14No doubt God teaches us a lot about ourselves through children. After all, we’ll always be children to Him. In the first couple years of life, little ones develop what’s called Object Permanence, when they realize an object exists even though out of sight. We can tell when a child first “gets it” by watching their reactions while playing peekaboo or hide-and-seek. When their parent’s face appears suddenly, some kids express relief through unrestrained joy and laughter. All is definitely well – the absence was only temporary.

In numerous promises throughout the Bible, the Lord insists He will never hide, leave, or forsake (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5; Joshua 1:5; Isaiah 41:10; Isaiah 41:17). Talk about “Object Permanence” – we couldn’t get rid of Him if we tried (our post on Psalm 139).

But still, we cannot yet see His face, and the stress and isolation of intense pain can certainly cause us to question His Presence, if not His existence. I admit during my knock-down-drugged-out battle with cancer, He sometimes felt a million miles away.

Even John the Baptist questioned Jesus’ Messianic credentials… and disappearing act. What Messiah allows His wingman to rot in jail? Jesus responded, “Blessed is he who does not stumble over Me” (Matthew 11:6). God allows our lives to get hard – real hard. Yet faith can keep us from stumbling and falling. Our faith can grow very strong when tested, but only if we understand and embrace the role of trials. Purified faith brings the full assurance of His Presence – object permanence. Then as Peter says, we will know Him, and have great joy both now on earth and later forever in heaven – the ultimate in permanence:

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. – 1 Peter 1:6-9

One last thing about children – when things are difficult they think the difficulty is permanent. Parents are forever trying to convince their youngsters that pain and uncomfortableness is only temporary. “We’re almost there.” “The pain will go away soon.” The Lord is forever trying to convince us as well – and He absolutely loves to watch us laugh.

Standing Firm on Those Shaky Days

– By Terri Fornear

The evil “day” in Ephesians 6:13 can feel more like an evil eternity! How do I “stand” as Paul says when things are really tough?armor - 2-28-14

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm, therefore… – Ephesians 6:10-14.

It’s funny, he uses the word stand, when I feel like I’m slipping, dodging, tripping, falling all over the place.

Standing means:

1) I have to stop! Stop battling, stop trying to figure everything out.

2) Admit my ways are not working.

3) Realize this thing is bigger than me and my abilities.

4) Put on the invisible armor, God’s armor… HIS righteousness, truth, peace, grace, and faith. Stand in HIS work and strength.

Now, as the darts are coming, the confusion rising, the battle raging… NOW, as I stand in all of Him the war is being won. Don’t look around, feel His Life now! Then, He promises:

After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. – 1 Peter 5:10

Find Courage from Total Acceptance

– By Terri Fornear

Step 4 – Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.Rock climbing - courage - 1-30-14

Step 4 is the step that brings “fear” to my heart. How can I face my weaknesses, sins and defects with courage, when I am “trying” so hard to be perfect and desiring to keep my reputation under control? I work so hard to be lovable to God, others, and myself, and now I am going to look at things that seem to make me unlovable?

It’s the step of real faith in action. If I can’t be real with God, then my god is made in my own image, and is really powerless. Oh, this is the step that tells me if I really believe that Jesus’ work on the cross means something. Did He truly accomplish something for my time on this side of heaven, or am I to wait for heaven to enjoy righteousness?

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. – Romans 5:17

In order for me to do a fearless moral inventory, I must embrace the gift of righteousness and face my lack of goodness. I am covered in His “rightness.” He is my guilt offering. There is no other way to be right with God. Even if I clean up today’s messes, I still need His gift tomorrow and yesterday.

Humility must be the air I breathe. If there is defensiveness, excuses or shame, then I am blind to the truth about myself apart from God. I would still be trying to prove to myself, God and others. My worth has been declared on the Cross and has nothing to do with my performance — whether good or bad.

Go ahead — make your moral inventory, without fear. Jesus is your cloak of righteousness. You’re okay. You’re complete in His work. Step 4 offers a chance to let go of your way of doing life to be somebody who is complete in Him. You’re letting go of false ways to make life work. You’ll have more space to receive His love and live out of a well of a river of Life in you.

If I’m an Emotional and Spiritual Mess, Will God Answer My Prayers?

– By Joe Fornear

Elijah’s emotions were all over the map, and so was his body. Because of his tendency to hide in fear, sometimes only the Lord knew Elijah’s location. Once when running from Jezebel, he walked an entire day into the wilderness to distance himself from his own trusted servant.out of tunnel - 1-17-14

Later, after God dusted him off and sent him back to civilization and his calling, Elijah chickened out again and hid in a cave. When questioned by the Lord, Elijah revealed himself to be the poster boy of spiritual messiness:

I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. – 1 Kings 19:10

Elijah’s response was self-righteous; prideful; judgmental; full of self-pity & victim and martyr status; and paranoid.

I can certainly relate to Elijah. Can you? James says we all can. “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours” (James 5:17). The Greek here means Elijah’s emotional and spiritual makeup was similar to ours. Still, the Lord answered his bold prayers before and after his “episodes” because “the effective prayers of a righteous man accomplish much” (James 5:16). Evidently the Lord allows for weakness and failure on the part of those He considers righteous. Now there’s a good thing. Right?

So don’t beat yourself up when you fail the Lord or yourself. Burst out of those hiding places, put on the forgiveness of Jesus Christ (more on how here), and get back into the fight with passion and perseverance in His power.

Lord, deliver us from limiting You because of our failures and weaknesses.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

– By Terri Fornear

Step 3 – We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

As a Christian, my first thought about this step is to “give my life to Jesus as Savior.” A one-time event! I did that and now I’m good. (More on how to know if you’re going to heaven). The second part of this step is to look at the God of our understanding! Wow! Take a peek at the “Jesus” of whom I’m letting go:to do list

  • He needs me to serve Him.
  • He needs me to be holy and perfect.
  • He needs me to save the world.
  • He needs me to be devoted.
  • He needs ME…

Religion is all over this Jesus! I am so important in “doing” whatever is needed to get His approval! I have His acceptance because of the cross, but gaining His approval is now my job if I’m to be totally right with Him. Yuk!!! Wait a minute – who is God in this scenario?

As I grow in knowing the real Jesus, I detach from religion and attach to the God who speaks His love into my understanding! He promises I will reign in this life if I decide to be a “receiver.”

Much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. – Romans 5:17

So I must daily decide to “receive” two gifts– “the gift of righteousness,” and, “His abundance of grace!”

Sounds easy! It’s a surrender that let’s go of my own righteousness, my own looking good, my own ways of pleasing Him — and man! This step is the cornerstone that makes the rest of the steps of life possible.

I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. – Philippians 3:7

Paul had to let go of “the God of his understanding” too. He let go of religion and trying to make himself righteous. Only then did He begin to know the real Jesus. I’m deciding to give my will and life over to Him, to His “gift of righteousness” and “His abundance of grace.” Don’t let religion steal Jesus from you!

 

Unfreezing the Sheep

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. – Psalm 23:4

I always heard that sheep weren’t very bright, but I never knew they could be so fearful.

Recently I traveled to Romania to connect with cancer patients with an amazing non-profit that specializes in free dental work – ServingHim. They also give goats to villagers to provide milk. When our team went to pick up the goats, the shepherds began herding the goats and sheep toward a pen.

At one point, our group walked into the path of the some of the sheep. I snapped this photo, and you’ll have to trust me on this, but the sheep only appear to be moving. While the goats simply walked around us, the sheep froze right in their tracks. For them, there was an impossible obstacle in their journey.

Most people are familiar with Psalm 23, in which the former shepherd, King David, compared the Lord to a shepherd and us to sheep. Yet not everyone is familiar with following the Shepherd “through the valley of the shadow of death.” When you have cancer or a life-threatening illness or crisis, you tend to pay closer attention to Bible verses which once may have read like a nursery rhyme.

The Lord certainly had my attention during my intense battle with Stage IV metastatic melanoma. I had moments of confusion, worry, and yes, even emotional paralysis. I felt beaten down by the disease and the treatments. My own resources had been completely drained. I could not see a way forward, so I was ready to give up.

Yet my Good Shepherd was there to prod me out of my frozen status. I could then say with David, “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” The Shepherd said to me,

Take the next step. I am with you every step of this journey.
I know where I am going. You can trust Me. Follow Me.

Lord, at some point along our journey with You, we may even need You to carry us.

Healing Deserved?

“He is worthy for You to grant this (healing) to him; for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue.”
… “Lord, do not trouble Yourself further, for I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; for this reason I did not even consider myself worthy to come to You, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed.
… “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.” – Luke 7:4-9

Patrick Swayze’s wife was on TV recently saying some pancreatic cancer sufferers “deserve” a cure. More than once someone told me I “deserved” to get healed from Stage IV metastatic melanoma because I was in a position to help people. Does anyone deserve God’s healing touch?

Though the leaders of the Jews vouched for his good works, the centurion insisted he was unworthy for his servant to be healed. But wait, He loved Israel and had built a synagogue and he wasn’t even Jewish! Yet he refused to approach Jesus in person and would not even allow Him to enter his home. Wow – now that is humility. No wonder Jesus said He had not seen such faith in all of Israel.

If we grasp both the heights of God’s holiness and the depths of our own sin, we will not approach God with a sense of entitlement. Instead we will humbly approach Him on the basis of grace – His unmerited favor.

Yet ironically, there is a boldness that comes from knowing how to properly approach Him:

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:16.

The word confidence in this verse means “outspoken fearlessness.” You might call it a “sanctified pushiness.”

We can boldly pray for healing with all of our hearts, yet our prayers must be tempered by the sincerity of humility. Amen?

Lord, we want to boldly approach You with our needs because of Your abundant grace and mercy, not our goodness.

Storm-Proofing Secret

“Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.”   –Matthew 8:26.

And He (Jesus) said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” -Mark 14:29-31

When we wake up each day, we don’t know if the Lord will calm the stormy seas in our lives, or somehow enable us to  walk above it all.

One thing we know – He’ll be there – either providing a miraculous removal or giving us supernatural “weathering” abilities.

In one passage above, Jesus was sleeping during a storm and in the other Peter began to sink after walking on the water. In both cases, there was needless anxiety and fear on the part of His followers. Though we may realize how truly out of control we are, we must remember – He never is.

Peter’s mistake was he focused on the wind and waves and took his eyes off of Jesus. The secret is to keep our eyes fixed on Him! Lock on Him, like a guided missile, refusing to be detoured by any doubt.

Lord, You’re our Rock and our Stronghold whether You deliver us or simply enable us to overcome. Grant us “big faith” to trust You either way.

Through a Glass Dimly

When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
– 1 Corinthians 13:11-12

During some spring cleaning, I stumbled upon a principle that is true for both cleaning windows and navigating a crisis. While cleaning one side of the glass, it appeared I was removing all of the spots, until I viewed the pane from the other side and saw several spots I had missed. In the same way, when viewing our crises from this side of heaven, we miss much about the Lord and our trials.

In 1 Corinthians 13:12, Paul likens our understanding – and reactions – to children who don’t fully understand the adult world. When confused or frustrated, I admit I’ve thrown a childish tantrum or two (thousand). Paul’s statement is humbling – our grasp of God’s superior ways is partial and limited.

Now I’m not one who believes we should never ask why. Questioning is healthy and leads to much revelation of the Lord. During my battle with Stage IV metastatic melanoma, I often asked Him why. Still, satisfying answers were sometimes lacking.

Yet one super fine day in heaven, we’ll know God just like He knows us. Our eyes will be opened to unseen realities that we can only imagine on this side.

Until then, we can still love the One we don’t fully understand. We can still praise Him through pain and confusion. There is a strange sense of rest in trusting Him with our unanswered questions. And that’s an answer in itself – He will tell us everything soon enough.

So don’t fret if you “miss a spot.”

Lord, grant us the grace and poise to trust You even when we’re confused and hurting.

Pure Love on Valentine’s Day

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. –1 Peter 1:6-8

I once read about a man who found two cocoons on his windowsill. Both were wiggling – the caterpillars had begun the struggle to break out. He decided to help. He cut the fibers of one cocoon to free the larvae, and left it there. He later returned to find the larvae lying lifeless. The other cocoon was empty – that butterfly launched into the world. He concluded that a larvae’s struggle and stress was a critical step in their transformation into an amazing butterfly.

If you could magically remove all struggles from the earth, would you? Then why doesn’t the One who is able to remove all struggles do so? The reason is because He knows how to deliver life’s best – He uses trials to steer us into a deep love relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. In Him, the love and joy we seek is to be found.

The Lord knows trials hurt – a lot, but if we stick to Him during our trials, we are purified from the earthly distractions that rob us of true joy. Keep meditating on the verses in 1 Peter above. Let Him build your faith to trust in Him and love Him in the midst of your trials.

Lord, show us how You use trials to transform us to new levels in life!

Fear Is a Choice

Fear’s greatest deception may be that it carries an air of inevitability – as if fear is the only appropriate response to a very troubling circumstance. Yet the phrase, “Do not fear,” appears 57 times in the Bible. The Lord is not only encouraging us not to fear, but clearly indicating we don’t have to fear. Fear is, after all, a choice. Does the Lord make it too easy? Perhaps we just make it too hard.

The Bible and history provide a long list of those who scoffed at fear in the midst of the most daunting dilemmas. You can join this list. Still have some doubts? Honestly, I still struggle with fears and insecurities. I’ve been thinking recently about root beliefs that bring me freedom from fear. The Lord wants to be our Stronghold, not fear.

1) God is on your side.

The God and King of the universe adopts those who receive Jesus’ free gift of righteousness into His royal family. (more on how here). To make this possible, He gave us His very best – Jesus. All other needs are minor and He willingly meets those needs FOR FREE. Freedom from fear is one of the “all things” that He freely guarantees in Romans 8.

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? – Romans 8:31b-32

 2) God guarantees victory over any fear.

Think about it – can anything be stronger or more powerful than God or His love? No possible way! So we can be totally victorious over fear in any situation – including sickness.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. – Romans 8:35 & 37

 Please note: the ability and power to overcome fear does not come from you – it comes from Him!

 3) God is not punishing you.

Sometimes we believe that we deserve something bad to happen to us. So the Lord will certainly not deliver us or even help us – we are on our own. This would certainly be cause to fear – if it were true. We must shake all guilt and shame through the work and shed blood of Christ on the cross. If you have trusted in Him and Him alone as your personal Savior, realize He has taken away all of your sins at the cross, even sins for which you’re struggling to forgive yourself.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. – Romans 8:1

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. – 1 John 4:18 

Don’t ask for freedom from fear. Based on these passages, you already have it! So just claim your freedom now. Just thank Him now for granting it to you freely!

For a related devotional – check out “Panic Is A Choice.”

Lord, we fear NOTHING with You on our side!