Overcoming Fear

For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
(Rom 10:11-13)

And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.
(Act 15:8-9)

The people of the New Testament churches had a very difficult time grasping the concept that Jesus was Lord of all. He was the Lord of the Jews but He was the same Lord to the Gentiles. They all were saved the same way, by faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. There is no distinction. Jesus cleansed my heart through faith and He cleansed your heart through faith.

I want to take this and apply it to how I see my kids. Is there a distinction between my kids and me when it comes to salvation? No. We are saved the same way. Because I believed in Jesus and obeyed the gospel, I am a Christian. The same is true for my kids.

This also implies that we are all in need of salvation. Our kids will need the saving grace of Jesus Christ. They will sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), because that is the direction of all mankind. I don’t mean to say that we take all hands off as parents because we know they are going to fail anyway. But you can’t keep them from sinning. You are not strong enough nor smart enough. What our kids need from us is the wisdom to give them instruction, the freedom to make their own choices, and the grace to accept and receive them during those times when they fall.

My Lord is their Lord. Jesus loves me and works in my life, and He loves them and He works in their life, too! He has begun a good work in them and He will keep working on them until the final day (Philippians 1:6). What Jesus has done, is doing, and will do for our kids far exceeds anything we could ever do for them. Jesus’ love for our kids is beyond our comprehension. He is no less committed to their salvation as He is committed to mine.

Pray for Jesus to give us as parents the power of faith to overcome our fears. May we always remember the presence and power of Jesus in their lives. We still teach, correct and even at times rebuke, but our faith is not in our power as parents. Nor should our comfort lie in how perfectly our kids turn out. Grace is amazing, because we all are wretched sinners who need the blood of a risen Savior.

Such Were Some of You

Here is an article called Such Were Some of You by Andy Harrison. Our theme for Tuesdays is normally the marriage relationship, but I wanted to go ahead and share this today. Great articles yesterday and today, Andy!

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of god.  Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” I Corinthians 5:9-11

If you have come to Christ, if you’ve been washed in His blood and cleansed from your sins then I’m guessing you’ve done some things in your past which are now a source of shame.  We all have them.  Dark things, embarrassing things that we find hard to even speak about, things we may have never confessed to anyone except God alone.   On occasion I’ll be in a situation that triggers the memory of some long forgotten event and the disgrace and humiliation will come flooding back as if no time has passed at all.  When that happens there is not a shower hot enough to make me feel clean and the only remedy is to fill my mind with the mercy, grace and forgiveness of Jesus.

In Romans 6, Paul is dealing with the idea of continuing in sin after having been baptized into Christ and he says in verses 20-22, “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.  Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed?  For the outcome of those things is death.  But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.”  I look back at my life of filth and sin and I try to determine what benefit I thought I was deriving from those things.  The pursuit of pleasure in its many forms almost always ended in pain and suffering for me and those I care about the most.  But having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, I can now see that there is benefit I can derive from my former life…if I have the courage.  Let me explain.

I was recently asked to help a young Christian man who is struggling with alcoholism.  He comes from a good Christian home; he has been active in the church and, after college, began a very successful and profitable career in the pharmaceutical industry.  From the outside, he appeared to have the world by its tail.  However, internally he was battling his “demons” and they have gotten the best of him.  So the question is; why was I asked to help?

The answer; “such were some of you”.  Based on my past, I am fairly well equipped to help in this situation.  Those very things I am ashamed of are the experiences that help me relate to this young man.  I can relate to his powerful desires and yearnings.  I have experienced that hollow and empty feeling inside that, at least for an instance, can be filled with emotion-numbing substances like drugs and alcohol.  I have felt the hopelessness of trying and trying and trying to get myself “clean” only to end up in a more desperate and dark situation.  I know what it is like to be filled with so much self-hatred and loathing that I just want to give up.   I have experienced the power of God’s mercy and grace as He pulled me from the pit and washed me clean.  And most importantly, I know what it is like to live one day at a time seeking to please my Father.

Such Were Some of You

My encouragement to you is to share your experiences with others.  Be courageous and let others know what you have been through, not in boastful longing for the past, but as a testimony to the love and power of our amazing Father.  And if you are in a dark place, struggling with sin, realize that God has placed His people all around you to help lift you up.  We were not designed to walk this world alone.

God is amazing!  He can take the most broken life, mend it, and put it into service to help others.

It is the coward that hides their past and pretends that it never happened.  It is the coward that tries to “man up” and deal with their problems on their own.  True courage is revealing the real you to others so that we can experience the true strength that comes from God and His people.

And please pray for me as I endeavor to help a young man find his way out of darkness and into the Light.

What is Your Giant?

Men, what is your giant? I’ve had several people respond to that question over the years with, “What do you mean “giant” singular, I have giants plural!”

Yesterday, I preached about David and Goliath, and I used a visual to illustrate the height difference between David and Goliath. I used my son, Jonathan, and my great friend, Shane. Shane stands about 6’3″ and Jonathan is around 3’10”. As you can see in the picture, Shane just looks massive in comparison to Jonathan. Imagine how a roughly 9’6″ beast of a man in full battle armor looked in comparison to the average Jewish male.

Intimidating! For 40 days and 40 nights, Israel was dismayed and greatly afraid because of the taunting of Goliath. No one, not even King Saul, would dare face him.

Yet, here comes this young shepherd from Bethlehem with a sling and 5 smooth stones. “Whack!” the Giant goes down in defeat. So, who was the real giant in this account? Was it not David? I’ve always heard that dynamite comes in small packages, and when it comes to faith, David nor God cared how big and intimidating Goliath was.

Look at the words of David:

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:45-47).

We also sang the song, “The battle belongs to the Lord,” which ties in beautifully to this passage. I encourage you to listen to the words of the song today.

What is your Giant (or Giants)?

Whether it is lust, envy, pride, anger, materialism, bitterness, dishonesty, fear, or anxiety, with God’s power we can overcome! That doesn’t mean that in one mighty blow we will forever defeat the giants in our life. This battle of ours is not against flesh and blood, but against Satan himself (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). It is a constant battle, day by day, sometimes minute by minute. But do not focus on the Giant, focus on the Lord who defeated all “giants” at the cross. Remember that Satan is already defeated…read the end of the book, Jesus is going to cast him into the lake of fire.

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death (Revelation 12:11).

Greater is He who is in you

You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4-6).

It may seem like evil is winning. We may groan, cry and sigh like Lot did over Sodom (2 Peter 2:8). Tears may flow down our eyes as they did for David and Jeremiah because people do not keep God’s law (Psalm 119:136; Jeremiah 9:1). Just as Elijah was tempted to despair, thinking he was all alone, we might begin to feel the same way (1 Kings 19).

Greater is He who is in you

In all of this, however, we must call our minds back to 1 John 4:4. Satan is not winning…Christ is victorious. The wickedness and evil people around you will not overwhelm and conquer you because God is in you. He is greater. God is greater than Satan. Do not despair. Please do not throw your hands up and ask, “What’s the use?”

If Jesus Christ lives within you, then you are overcoming the world. You can overcome the temptations of this world through Christ. With His strength you can withstand the blast of Satan’s blows. “No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper…” (Isaiah 54:17). The Devil has thrown everything he has at God’s people and yet we still stand, because Jesus promised it (Matthew 16:18). Christ’s power, not our own, is working.

As I have heard many preachers say over the years about the book of Revelation, “I have read the end of the book and Jesus wins!”

“These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful” (Revelation 17:14).