Archive for December, 2016

Don’t Be Afraid

“Don’t be afraid” seems like a silly command. Does anyone want to be scared except for good reason, like getting off the tracks when a train is approaching? Yet, we seem to be afraid of so many things without good reasons.

God often told people not to fear. He told Joshua to be courageous attempting the daunting task of conquering the Promised Land. An angel told the shepherds not to be fearful of strange things that were happening as he announced Jesus’ birth. And Jesus told his disciples not to be afraid when they saw him walking on the water. Why were these people scared? Why are we so easily frightened?

Why Not be Afraid?

One big reason is we are not alone as we face what scares us. Though it seems we are alone since we don’t see, feel, taste, smell, or hear God, we can be assured he is always there protecting and guiding us.

Recently, I faced elevated blood pressure readings from my home kit. This scared me. By faith I pictured Jesus’ presence in the moment and I was assured I was safe because he was protecting and guiding me. I relaxed and my reading fell to normal.

To resist the temptation to be afraid trains us to rely on God’s help instead of our own. It often takes a lot of crushing before we release our grip on trying to control the outcome. God wants to change us into stronger people through the circumstances that scare us.

God loves us. We are his children and he is crazy about us. He is in complete control of our circumstances. Why would we believe he would allow bad things to happen to us if they did not result in an ultimate good, which is to make us more like Jesus? Sometimes, we may need to see the good from God’s perspective by relying on the truth that he will work our circumstances for our spiritual growth.

How Not to be Afraid

One thing we can do to avoid being afraid is to pray. God says, “Don’t be scared, but pray and you won’t be afraid” (Philippians 4:5-6, paraphrased). My experience is that this works sometimes, but not all the time. Sometimes I give up when this happens, but other times I keep pressing God until I find peace from him.

Also, we can ask others to pray for us. Even Paul was afraid. He asked for prayer for boldness, that he may be successful in the ministry.

Another way to not be afraid is to listen to God through his Word and not to Satan. God says we are safe. Satan says we are in danger. God says he loves us. Satan insists we are alone. God says we can. Satan says we can’t. Who we listen to will make a big difference in escaping our dysfunctional pasts and walking in the Spirit.

A final way to not be afraid is to be transformed. We need to be changed from being self-centered, leaving God out of our lives, and earning whatever we get. God will enable us to live for doing his will. Experience an intimate love relationship with him, and learn to receive his many blessings through growing in dependence on his grace. We will then experience greater peace and not be so afraid.




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Many of us know we need to praise God often and yet we don’t. What is there about God that isn’t worthy of praise?

This week I have observed God’s praiseworthiness working in the lives of three friends. For my first friend, God protected her from becoming a paraplegic when she was pitched off a horse and landed on her head. She broke her back but is expected to fully recover.

For the second friend, God provided the love of his life after waiting for God’s choice for ten years. And for the third friend, God provided wisdom and support to reach out for help in a stressful situation that enabled him to avoid slipping back into alcoholism.

God deserves to be praised from these examples because of his protection, goodness, and support and for the many other demonstrations of his greatness and blessings that we see.

Then why is it so hard for us to praise him? Perhaps we need to review why praising God is the right thing to do and then how to grow in it.

Why Praise Him?

One big reason to praise God often is that he commands it. “From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised” (Psalm 113:3). He deserves it, and he wants us to acknowledge this reality.

Another reason to praise him is to increase our faith. By praising him for our blessings, we give God credit for them. Otherwise, we tend to give ourselves or someone else the adoration.

By praising him for such things as making everything, reigning over the nations, and his loving nature, our reliance on him grows. For example, by praising him for giving us a new identity, we more easily cease striving after the importance, acceptance and love that he has already given us.

Praising him also can keep us humble. When we praise him for making the heavens, the moon and all the stars and at the same time realize that he deeply respects and loves us, we are humbled because we know we didn’t earn it.

How to Grow in Praising God

 We can grow in praising God as we grow in understanding what he has given to us. These blessings include:

  • A guarantee we will be one day be in heaven with him forever
  • We will one day have a pain-free, pleasurable, and joyous daily experience
  • We will one day be in the physical presence of the most loving Person imaginable
  • God’s promise to work all our problems for our good.
  • His guarantee never to reject us and to always love us no matter how bad we are

This understanding of what God has given us comes from prayer as he reveals our blessings to us. Paul didn’t leave it to his teaching that people would understand. He prayed earnestly that “they would understand how wide, how long, and how deep God’s love is. That they would experience this love that is beyond their ability to understand it intellectually” (Ephesians 3:18, paraphrased).

One final thought about how to praise God in a deeper way is to focus on him more and less on the multitude of distractions in this life. God says to us in Philippians 4 that we need to meditate on all the positive things of life. Things that are true, honorable, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise. God is these things and infinitely more. Let’s praise him for it by focusing on his greatness.


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