Archive for the ‘ Fear ’ Category

VerseD: Isaiah 29:13

And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,
Isaiah 29:13, ESV

Do not worry about what the majority says, and traditions can be good. But if anything contradicts His Word or leads people into temptation and sin, it is our fearing men and their teachings.

We must rely on the Word of God.

The Opposite of Love

I know (for most of you, at least) that you read ” the opposite of love” and think “is hate.”

I disagree. (And if you already know what I think about this, please hold your comments until the end. Thanks.)

Hatred comes from one of two places.

The first is loving something/someone so much that you want to protect that love. Anything that interferes with or threatens that bond or the well-being of the object of love is rightfully hated.

“do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the Lord.”
Zechariah 8:17, ESV

As a reminder, this does not mean we hate people. People are acting out from the real problem: sin, the evil within.

We hate the sin. (We can have another conversation at another time about the saying “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Also, another another conversation can be had about jealousy.)

The second source of hatred is also the true opposite of love.

What is this?

I will ask a few questions to get us there:

  1. What was Adam and Eve’s reaction to hearing God walking through the Garden after eating the fruit? (Genesis 3:10)
  2. What was the reaction of Peter when he saw the wind and the waves when walking on the water?
  3. What is the one reassuring command given throughout Scripture? (for example Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:9; Isaiah 8:12; Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:13, 30; Philippians 4:6)

Hopefully you see it now!

The opposite of love is fear.

Fear leads to all kinds of craziness, such as avoiding others, making mistakes, hurting others, and even hatred.

This is not to say that fear always leads to hatred. Hatred can come from misplaced love (loving self or something more than is good) or ignorance (both innocent and willful ignorance). This is a mixture of the first source of hatred and fear.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
1 John 4:18, ESV

Loving others frees us of hatred and the fear of what they may do to us.

Love also frees us of the fear of God’s punishment for our sin, but only when we see the truth that He loved us and showed it by coming as a man to sacrifice Himself for the forgiveness of our sin. This is also what empowers us to love others. (1 John 4:19)

It is also what reminds us that, while we are born into and perpetuate the sin of Adam and Eve, we are freed from that sin.

VerseD: Psalm 42:11

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
Psalm 42:11, ESV

Praising God is the best way to get out of a funk of depression, worry/anxiety, confusion, and fear.

Hope in God, your salvation.

VerseD: 1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
1 John 4:18, ESV

When found in Christ, we are no longer condemned. The fear of punishment is gone.

We should still tremble before a mighty God, but our fear should transform into not wanting to disappoint our loving God who first loved us.

VerseD: Matthew 6:25

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
Matthew 6:25, ESV

It is easy to worry about things in this life.

To fight this, we should be so focused on The Life (Jesus) that we cannot help but trust that He is taking care of us.

Reliving Responses to Christmas: God’s Parents

Back in the first year of this blog, I did a short Christmas series, beginning with this post.
Shall we relive the memories? Okay!


It is time for a special series … THIS WEEK ONLY!

Yeah, I kind of gave into some of the materialistic hype. This special is only available the week leading up to this Christmas.

I have a seen a few similar series going around, but mine is better because … uhhh … I am doing it this week? This series is about how people responded to the birth of Jesus.

God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
Luke 1:26-38

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Matthew 1:18-25

God clearly chose these two to raise the boy Jesus for a reason. Other than being descendants of David, they also were kinda righteous, as humans go.

Take Mary:

  1. She was presented with something impossible: pregnancy without … the fun part. Her reaction to hearing this: “Help me understand how this is possible!”
  2. With a response that would make most humans say “Yeah, okay. Whatever that means!” she replies “I do not really get it, but I will follow You and see what amazing things you can do!”

Now Joseph:

  1. His first response to the unknown was to protect the girl he loved yet bow out gracefully. He wanted to protect himself (not bad) and the girl who apparently had been unfaithful, someone who apparently had sinned rather egregiously. He was a pretty cool dude, man!
  2. He has a dream telling him that the baby will be God and save people from their sins, therefore he should still marry Mary. Based on that dream, he complies. This is really all we know about Joseph (other than he and Mary forgot Jesus at the age of 12, and he also looked for Him). Personally, I see there is more than enough information here to understand his character: awesome!

What can we learn from these two?

  1. It is okay to have doubts, provided you are willing to listen to God (or His messengers).
  2. It is okay to question God, provided you are honestly seeking answers and not trying to justify yourself or simply asking rhetorically from disbelief.
  3. Sometimes, perhaps many or most times, we will not fully understand (if at all) what God is doing, but that is okay provided we continue to follow His leading.
  4. Enduring something inconvenient can lead to amazing blessings!

What about you? When you have doubts do you listen for God’s leading? Do you ask God any of the who, what, when, where, why, or how questions expecting a reply and being open to the answer? Are you willing to move forward in your confusion and lack of understanding? Do you trust God? If you do, amazing blessings await. To be fair, the blessings may not appear until eternity, but a lifetime of worries and pain is worth an eternity of peace and joy. (Think of a road trip someplace, like Disneyland or to family you have not seen in a while. It may be uncomfortable getting there, but the joy and experience of getting there almost help you forget it or even make it worth it.)

When We Call, He Is Near

Find how close God is through His wisdom as discussed at Proverbial Thought.

This is a special reminder for all of us who are facing trials, confusion, and difficulties.

I will let God’s Word speak for itself:

“I called on your name, O Lord,
    from the depths of the pit;
you heard my plea, ‘Do not close
    your ear to my cry for help!’
You came near when I called on you;
    you said, ‘Do not fear!’

“You have taken up my cause, O Lord;
    you have redeemed my life.”
Lamentations 3:55-58, ESV

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
. . .
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:18-21, 27