The Fear Factor

In the old show, Fear Factor, contestants would come face to face with extreme and bizarre challenges. In the end the contestant that successfully faced their fears and overcame the challenges emerged as the winner and the host would say, “fear is not a factor for you!” Exciting stuff!

But, truthfully, fear is a factor for us all. It is one of the enemy’s most used tactics. It keeps us from truly walking in the things of God. It can stop us cold in our tracks and keep us right where we are with no hope of moving forward. We’ve heard all of these things before. But what HOPE can we give someone who is truly afraid? David shares His heart in Psalm 56. This beautiful song, filled with transparency, can bring hope to anyone who feels fearful.

Psalm 56 was written during a time when David was running from Saul. He ran to the Philistines. He fled from one enemy to escape another! David found himself in an overwhelming crisis! This account is found in 1 Samuel 21:10-15.

David fled from Saul because he was afraid. David acted like a madman to escape the Philistine king because he was afraid.

David was afraid.

And sometimes, so are we.

In the Bible study Trustworthy, author Lysa Terkeusrt makes this profound statement, “I can sometimes feel afraid, but I don’t have to live afraid.” Yes! Fear is something we all feel at times. We can’t, however, allow fear to consume us. Before we allow fear to paralyze us, we can reach to Our Father.

Psalm 56:3-4 shows two coexisting realities for David, fear and trust. Yes, coexisting. David says, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” David couples two thoughts to combat the fear he felt.

The two thoughts could read like this:
When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.
Because I trust in You I will not be afraid.

David doesn’t deny that fear exists. Instead he tells us what to do when we feel fear—trust. That trust in the middle of a storm leads a courageous life—because I trust You, I will not be afraid.

Let’s read Psalms 56:3-4 again, in The Voice Translation
When struck by fear, I let go, depending securely upon You alone.
In God I place my trust, I shall not let fear come in.

Courageous living is not the result of the absence of fear, but it is the result of confident trust in God even when we ARE afraid. Leaning and depending on the only One who calms my fears blocks out the fears that attempt to destroy my security.

Is fear a factor for you? If so trust God!
Pour out your heart to God! Tell Him what you are feeling. Run to Him, trust Him and then fear will no longer be a factor for you.

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I WILL Wednesday 3/18/2020

It’s I WILL Wednesday!

For I will not trust in my bow, nor shall my sword save me.” Psalm 44:6

Today’s I WILL passage is more of an I WILL NOT.  Like many other Psalms, this one was written by David. David was a highly skilled warrior and experienced many victories in battle even as a teenager. In fact, his big introduction to the world was on a battlefield when he defeated Goliath with a slingshot and five smooth stones ( 1 Samuel 17).  Here we see David speaking opposite of what a warrior would say when he says “I will not trust my bow, neither shall my sword save me”.

Wait a minute, David was a highly trained and skilled warrior! When opposing kings heard that David and his army were on the hill or in the valley waiting to come in and wage war, knees trembled, fear rose, and people fled for their lives. Just the thought of David’s anger being turned in their direction caused people to retreat and rethink their actions.

You would think this would produce an arrogance in David, but instead, this great warrior humbly admits that his many victories are not gained through physical warfare. David could boldly say this was because he knew his victory was not in the sword or the bow. His victories did not come from having the best strategic plan in the battle.  People greatly admired David and would wonder “how was he so successful in battle?” David gives this answer in Psalm 121:2 “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Even though David was a warrior among warriors, he knew that he could do nothing without God. It didn’t matter the size of the enemy, the victory would only come from God.  It didn’t matter how much planning he did, the victory would only come from God.  It didn’t even matter if it looked like the win was “guaranteed” the victory would only come from God.

We should say the same thing in our lives today.  No, we don’t go around with a bow and sword (except for the Word of God). However, we are tempted to place our trust in the things we have or the things we’ve obtained. Nothing we have, be it education, skills, knowledge, or financial prosperity—NOTHING can secure our victory apart from Christ. Therefore we should not place our trust in these things. I’m not saying don’t use these things, because we should. David would never go out into battle without his sword or bow, but he didn’t put his trust into those things, he put his trust in God alone. The only one who can save us and secure our victory.

1 Corinthians 15:57 says “But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

So, as you face situations in your life, especially amid this COVID-19 pandemic or any other thing that may be plaguing your lives, confess like David, I WILL NOT put my trust in my bow.  I WILL NOT put my trust in my sword!  But I WILL trust God!

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I WILL Wednesday 2/19/20

It’s I WILL Wednesday!

I WILL Wednesday is all about speaking the Words of God to change your life, but this week is a little different. This week is about knowing when to keep quiet and declaring that you will do just that!

“I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.” Psalm 39:1

There are times to speak and there are times when our words fail us. Then there are times when we are full of emotions and the words we speak have the potential to betray us. We misspeak or are misunderstood because we speak impulsively from a place of despondency. David knew this feeling well. That’s why he vowed to keep watch over his ways—be careful and cautious—not to sin with his mouth.

This is so important. 2 Corinthians 10:5 admonishes us to demolish every argument and pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and to take every wayward, negative, ungodly thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. Sometimes, however, we let those thoughts become words and those words have the power to reek havoc in our lives. Instead of speaking the wrong things, be like David and say, “I WILL put a muzzle over my mouth!” Ok, I’m not saying that you should use a device designed for animals. But I am saying you should take it that seriously. Do all you can to prevent your lips from causing destruction, in your life and in the lives of others. When your heart is overwhelmed and your emotions are in overdrive, learn to muzzle your words, and instead, speak the Word of God.

David was especially cautious “in the presence of the wicked.” There are those who seek to cause trouble for you. We also have a very real enemy who seeks to devour, and he will use your words to do it.  Proverbs 18:21 says “Words have power in matters of life and death” (The Voice). Your words can build, influence, inspire, and encourage. Likewise, your words can tear down, defame, impair, and destroy.

Which will you choose? In the heat of the moment, don’t allow complaining, cynicism, gossip, anger, or bitterness to flow from your lips! Choose to speak words of life, or say nothing at all! Put a proverbial muzzle over your mouth and declare like David, “I WILL watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin.”

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I WILL Wednesday 2/5/2020

I will give You thanks in the great assembly; I will praise You among many people.  Psalm 35:18       

Psalm 35 was written during a difficult time in David’s life. It speaks about an enemy who desires to kill him.  However, this wasn’t an ordinary enemy. This enemy was close to David and was able to hit him harder than any of the other enemies he’d faced before.

Why do I say that? Well, looking at the life of David, he was normally quick about confronting an enemy.  For example, Goliath was a problem for David for less than a day (1 Samuel 17).  Nabal scoffed at David and as soon as David heard the news of how Nabal disrespected him, he immediately jumped into action.  I believe Nabal would have fallen to the sword of David that day if it were not for God moving through Abagail (1 Samuel 25).  This happened to almost all of David’s enemies, with the exception of King Saul and David’s own son Absalom.

Unlike his other enemies, these two were able to cause David serious amounts of pain on all levels; mentally, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually, to the point where he cried out to God for help.  They wanted to see him dead (v.4); they mocked him and plotted evil against him (V. 12, 15-16); they lied on him and desired to discredit him (V. 20-21).

This attack came out of nowhere.  Nothing David did can be attributed to the reason for the attack (V. 7, 12-14, 19).  David finds himself looking over his shoulders constantly trying to protect himself, but this enemy is slowly breaking David down and he needed help that only God could give.

Sometimes we find ourselves in this type of situation where we are attacked on all levels, and sometimes, like David, we don’t know why.  No matter what we do, no matter how hard we try, the attack just doesn’t seem to stop.  Just like David, we find ourselves broken mentally, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually.  But it’s in these situations when we should do as David did and cry out to God, for He is the only one who can help.

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5b

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10a

It is so important that we trust and rest completely in God and believe that He truly cares about us even during our most dire situations. David could rest in the knowledge that God would deliver him from his enemies, He would fight his battles, He would give him victory.  We can trust these promises too!  God loves us and protects us.

Where David praised is also important here.  In public, he praised God.  In front of haters, naysayers, enemies, and even friends.  He put the attention on God and not on his problems. His praise became a testimony of the awesomeness of God!  Hallelujah!

We, like David, may find ourselves facing a vicious enemy, a dire situation, or a problem that seems insurmountable.  That is when we should turn our attention from our pain to God’s praise while repeating the words David said, “I WILL give You thanks in the great assembly! I WILL praise You among many people. Psalm 35:18      

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I WILL Wednesday 1/22/2020

I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.  Psalm 34:1

One of the most well known “I WILLs” in scripture is Psalm 34:1. It was written from a cave when David was hiding from King Saul. Ironically, while he was hiding, many others found David and began to follow him. They joined David on the run. Saul sought to take his life. All that he knew had changed. And now others had come under his care. Not ideal circumstances, but from what should have been a dismal situation, came a beautiful song of praise.

The entire Psalm is filled with admonishments, as David gives encouragement when he himself could have used it.
“oh magnify the Lord with me, let us exalt his name together” (v. 3)
“Taste and see that the Lord Is good” (v.8)
“Fear the Lord you holy people” (v.9)
Here David only uttered what would be an encouragement to others and to himself. Praise continually.

It is difficult to praise and complain at the same time. Near impossible! Complaining keeps you in self pity. Praise lifts you out of that pit! Choose praise! Praise continually.

It is interesting to note that this Psalm was written like an acrostic poem in Hebrew. Each line starts with a letter in the Hebrew alphabet. This was a feature used to help the people remember and rehearse these truths over and over. David wanted them (and us) to remember this situation changing strategy. Praise the Lord at all times. Don’t let your circumstances change you, keep a praise on your lips and watch God move.

Can a beautiful song of praise rise from your dismal situation? Will you raise a hallelujah in the presence of enemies? Will you lift every praise to God when you are pressed on every side? Can you let praises rise from the inside so that you can be lifted up? Choose praise, and praise continually! Make this powerful declaration, “I WILL bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

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Do Not Despise Small Beginnings

Well, we are three weeks into 2020! The New Year’s excitement is waning and many are settling into their “normal.” Some are still grinding away at their goals, but, for some, discouragement and even disappointment is starting to set in. It’s not for lack of effort, or lack of motivation, but lack of results. Three weeks of advertising and promoting and only a few sales. Three weeks of praying, fasting, and dedication to a reading plan and no apparent breakthrough. Three weeks of diet and exercise and only a few pounds lost. Or worse, only three short weeks and already messed up, or, even worse, given up!

Last week we saw, in Zechariah 4, that Zerubbabel received encouragement to continue the work of rebuilding the temple.  (The Limits of Your Best) Discouragement had set in, and the Lord’s messenger reminded him, that it’s not by his power or might, but only by the Spirit of the Lord would the work be completed  (Zechariah 4:6 ).

A second part of this message speaks volumes to us. The Messenger goes on to pose the question, “Who dares despise the day of small things . . . ?” (Zechariah 4:10). Sadly, I’m guilty. I sometimes look at my meager results and wish things would move along a little—no a lot faster. And because it is not, I feel defeated and deflated. This is a hard one for me. I know that starting small is par for the course, but slow growth can be discouraging and frustrating. It is at these times, that I need this reminder not to despise small beginnings. The passage goes on to tell us why. “. . . for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10 NLT). He lovingly looks on to see us start the work He’s assigned to us. Our faithful Father’s eyes watch over the work and sees to it’s completion. Philippians 1:6 admonishes us to be “confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Don’t resent small beginnings! If God has given you the vision, resist discouragement. It may start out small but hold on.  He may give you a glimpse of the end result.  You may feel ready for that end right now, but you have to walk through each season of growth, preparation, and refining.  Starting small allows you to GROW through the process.

If your heart has been stirred with expectancy, don’t let your expectation dwindle. Don’t let small beginnings hinder you.  If God gave it to you, trust Him to bless it, grow it, and cause it to prosper and bear fruit.

Blessing,

EB

**read the other posts in this series Write the Vision (2020)  and The Limits of Your Best.

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I WILL Wednesday 1/15/2020

It’s I WILL Wednesday!

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in His dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of His sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at His sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.  Psalm 27:4-6

Sometimes we just feel generally happy. Needs are met, family is well, doggy is wagging his tail. All seems right in your world. We just feel good. This was not the case for David. Yes this Psalm begins with David confessing faith over fear, but he still had enemies! Vicious enemies who desired to utterly destroy him. Wickedness came against him, armies surrounded him, threats of war rose against him. Everything was not good!

In this period in David’s life, he could have asked for anything. Protection, peace, an end to all this turmoil. Instead, the one thing David desired was the presence of God. He names several blessings that he found in God’s presence.

1. In the Lord’s dwelling, David was safe. (Vs. 5). This was not just a position, but also a posture—the presence of the Lord is a safe place. Though danger looms, my heart can rest in the safety of my Savior.

2. In the shelter of the Lord, David was hidden. Concealed from all the noise around him. He was very conscious to the reality of his situation. However, David’s security, as our security, is found in the Lord.

3. David was set high upon a rock. Jesus Christ is the Rock, our foundation that we should build upon. If I am on the Rock, the storms may come but I will not be moved.

4. David was able to lift his head above his enemies. Yes his enemies were still present, but David did not set his focus on them. He set his eyes on the Lord so that he might gaze in His beauty.

With all these blessings that stem from God’s presence, it’s no wonder why David responded, I WILL sing! We should respond that way too! Singing praises to our Lord, for He is worthy, He is faithful, He is constant, and He loves us. It is in Him where we can truly rest in the midst of danger, in the midst of the rain, in it the midst of our enemies. We can rest in Him. He is my safe place. He is my hiding place. He is my rock. So I will shout and offer sacrifices of joy, and I WILL sing a song of praise to My God.

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