1. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
2. “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3
3. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
4. “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” John 14:27
5. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
A Good Scare
From: CBN, and John P. King, author
Let’s face it, whether you “celebrate” Halloween or not, this time of year everyone’s attention tends towards the spooky, creepy, and downright scary. I’ve heard some people say they like a good scare every now and then. Not so with me. I can do just fine without having the stuffing scared out of me, thank you very much.
I love the fact that the Bible tells us that the “joy of the Lord is our strength.” Nehemiah 8:10(NASB) Jesus is called the “Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 (NASB) 1 John 4:8 says, “… for God is love.” In fact, John went on to write, “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.” If we have given our lives to God, if we have found reconciliation with Him through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then we have nothing to fear from God. We have no fear of punishment, but the great expectation of living in the love of God which will drive fear from us.
Yet, with this in mind, I see an interesting story in Genesis 15. This is a powerful chapter telling a key part of the story of Abram/Abraham. The chapter begins with the Lord telling Abram “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.” Again, we see the Lord’s encouragement to not fear. In his heartbreak, Abram pours out his soul reminding the Lord of the promise to give Abram an heir. A promise as yet unfulfilled as Abram and his wife, Sarah, continue to grow old.
God renews His promise to Abram, telling him that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky. Genesis 15:6 says, “Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” Abram’s simple faith and belief in the Lord is the kind of thing John was talking about: the wonderful loving relationship with the Lord that drives out fear.
The Lord goes on to instruct Abram to prepare a sacrifice. The offering on Abram’s part and acceptance of the offering on God’s part would be the ratifying moment of a great covenant between Abram and God. The Lord would forever be the God of Abram and his descendants, and Abram and his descendants would forever be God’s people. In this powerful moment, this ratifying and recognizing of this great covenant of friendship, grace, and love, an interesting thing happens; “Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him.” Gen 15:12 (NASB)
God Himself showed up to validate the covenant, and with Him came … terror? It reminds me of the scene where Isaiah received his call (Isaiah 6). The wonderful, glorious, loving, living God shows up and the first thing out of Isaiah’s mouth is, “Woe is me, for I am ruined.” Isaiah 6:5 (NASB) When John, yes the “There is no fear in love …” John, sees Jesus in Revelation 1, he confesses, as he writes, that he fell at Jesus’ feet “like a dead man.” Revelation 1:17 (NASB). What does Jesus do? He reaches out to the one who was known as the “one who Jesus loved,” touches him on the shoulder and says, “Do not be afraid.” Revelation 1:17 (NASB)
So what can we make of all this? Certainly, God does not want us to be “afraid” of Him. He does not want us to cower as if any moment He could squash us into jelly. However, we should never take for granted His Godhood. He is powerful. He is mighty. Stars fall from His fingertips. He creates worlds with the words from His mouth. He alone holds all of life in His hands. Should we not respect that? Should we not expect that if He shows up, we will react the same way these three wonderful men of God did? It makes me reflect on the phrase “a good scare.” I think I would like to have one after all. A Good Scare, and all that it implies.
From: Our Daily Journey
It’s estimated that Howard Schultz, until recently the executive chairman of Starbucks, is worth three billion dollars. One might assume that such a successful businessman had been born into wealth and privilege, but nothing could be further from the truth. Schultz was born and raised in Bayview, a notoriously dangerous housing project in New York City. But far from resenting his childhood neighborhood, he credits his upbringing with keeping him grounded and connected to those around him.
We can see a similar dynamic at work in John 1. Philip tells his friend Nathanael that he has met the Messiah, and that His name is Jesus (John 1:45). This news must have been shocking enough, but then Philip divulges an even more surprising fact: Jesus is from Nazareth! To which Nathanael replies disdainfully, “Nazareth? . . . Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46). Nathanael couldn’t imagine that the Messiah would come from such an insignificant and despised village.
As strange as that might seem, Matthew 2:23 reveals that this was no accident but a fulfillment of God’s plan. Jesus grew up in Nazareth as a declaration of the central role that humility would play in His life, a kind of geographic reflection of the fact that He was a humble servant who had come to serve. And so, Jesus’ ministry didn’t take place in spite of His humble circumstances, but really as a continuation and celebration of them (Matthew 21:5).
What an important reminder for us to not disdain the humble circumstances and seasons of our lives—as if they’re best forgotten and left behind. The humble circumstances of our past can remind us that humility is what Jesus desires to grow within us.
From: Get More Strength
“Who do you say I am?” Matthew 16:15
When Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say I am?”—He wasn’t having an identity crisis nor was He feeling insecure about His reputation. He passed out the quiz to see whether or not the disciples had come to grips with who He really was, or, if they too, like the rest of the crowds, had misperceived His true identity.
It’s a good quiz to take, because if you and I don’t perceive Jesus as He really is, we just may get our Christianity twisted and headed in the wrong direction. So ask yourself, “Who do I think Jesus is?”
There are lots of ways to look at the question: theologically, historically, culturally, redemptively, spiritually, or experientially. But for starters, let’s ask in terms of how you perceive Him as a person when He comes to mind. This is not a throwaway issue! How you envision Him has a lot to do with whether or not you’ll want to follow Him. And following Him is at the very heart of a fulfilling relationship with Him.
If you grew up in Sunday school world, you saw a lot of Sunday school papers with pictures of Jesus in a neatly pressed white robe, nice sandals, and a well-trimmed beard. It was easy to draw the conclusion that Jesus is a kind, softhearted, merciful, and deferring kind of guy. And, thankfully, He is all those things. But if that’s all He is to you, He won’t seem very compelling. You might think, “Nice guy, but I’m not sure I’d want to go on a fishing trip with Him!”
Yet a brief look at who found Him to be compelling will correct our often distorted view of Jesus. Rough fishermen like James, John, Peter, and Andrew dropped their nets to follow Him. These were guys who would have had fading tattoos on their bulging biceps, and rugged, sea-worn faces. Simon the Zealot, a member of the underground resistance force, was committed to give his life if necessary to overthrow the oppressive regime of Rome. He traded in his Uzis and fatigues to join the Jesus revolution. And Matthew, the ruthless tax collector, found Jesus a far more compelling option for life than continuing to get rich at other peoples’ expense. Women felt safe with Him and adoringly followed and supported Him.
So, take it from those who knew Him best. They gave up everything and followed Him to a whole new way of life. A life where the power of love is courageous enough to forgive; where the joy of generosity trumps the withering grip of greed; where others’ needs and interests capture the attention of our hearts; where cross-bearing is an honor; where the poor, marginalized, and oppressed find refuge and significance.
So, what do you think of Jesus?
Seeing Him as He really is will make you ready to drop “whatever” in order to follow Him. And, come to think of it, I’d love to go fishing with Him! I might just end up being quite different in a lot of good ways if I spent more time with Him!