Why You Don’t Tell Your Fear How Big Your God Is.

This morning I was spending some time reading in the book of Exodus. Some months back I heard Jesus whisper to my soul that I was a “Modern-Day Moses”. I continually argued and claimed I had no ability to do what I believed He was calling me to accomplish for Him.

Oh how He must have laughed at me and my incredibly short-sightedness. How much He has taught me, revealed in the hearing of His voice in my mind and through the pages of Scripture.

He has showed me the incredible impossibility of my doing any work for Him. He opened eyes and heart to see the reality and truth of Ephesians 2:10:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

new american standard bible

Everything I thought He had created me to do, everything you think He created you to do, has already been done. We are merely to walk in the good works He has prepared and accomplished. Remember His words on the cross. It is finished. We so often think He was simply referring to redemption and certainly that was finished. That means there is absolutely nothing more for us to do for our redemption. Not a thing. It is finished. In Him and by Him. The works our faith produces are completed by Him. We simply walk in them as we walk in Him.

If you’re wondering what that has to do with Exodus, you’re in good company. Hopefully by the end of this post we will both know.

This morning I read in Exodus 5 of Moses and Aaron’s first appearance before Pharaoh. They tell him exactly what God told them to say. Pharaoh’s reaction was not at all surprising.

But Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel god? I do not know the LORD, and besides, I will not let Israel go.’

exodus 5:2

What did surprise me and really make me pause to think, ponder, and pray was the next verse where Moses answers Pharaoh by completely ignoring the question. Check it out.

Then they said, ‘ The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please, let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God, lest He fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.’

exodus 5:3

Here Moses and Aaron were given a golden opportunity to talk about their Great God and they ignored it. They completely side-stepped the question and instead further asked their original question. Why? I kept thinking about Jonah. He did not want to go to Nineveh because he knew they would hear and repent. Maybe it is a real possibility that if they had answered Pharaoh could have repented. That is all conjecture and a moot point because we already know God was going to deliver them and Pharaoh’s heart would be hardened.

You don’t evangelize your strongholds; you get rid of them.

If we see ourselves as enslaved in Egypt and Pharaoh as our strongholds, we begin to see why they did not answer the question. To evangelize (telling others Who our God is) would be making friends with our strongholds. Making friends with our strongholds would be to keep them intact. We do not want to do this. Strongholds are sin and negatively affect our service.

We cannot make friends with our sin. We must ruthlessly eradicate it. Now, please understand here, I am not at all saying that we must do something to atone for our sin. That is impossible and a horrible affront to God and His grace that we have that mindset (and make no mistake, we do). We cannot walk in freedom with God and live in our strongholds. Jesus has already paid the price for our sin and set us free. Our eradication of strongholds is not done by us, it is done when we confess the sin, and invite Jesus to speak His truth into the stronghold.

We do not tell our fear how big our God is. We don’t tell our strongholds how big our God is. They already know. We get rid of them through our Big God. Just because they taunt us by asking Who God is, does not at all mean we must answer.

The strongholds, our own personal Pharaohs, want us to believe they are the most powerful god in the land. They want us to believe they are more powerful than anyone and anything, even God. They want us to shut up about being free and get back to work for them. They want us to believe there is no freedom for us because there is no God bigger than them.

They are wrong. And we are fools when we believe them.

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore. keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

galatians 5:1

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

romans 8:1-2

and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

john 8:12

Do not dialogue with your strongholds. Surrender them to Jesus.

Quiet Time

It was a hurried quiet time this morning. There was no lingering long over coffee and prayers, this was a fly out of bed and hit the deck running day after a very short night. Normally there is plenty of time to bask in the grace and wonder of Jesus, to linger long while sipping coffee, pondering the deep things of Jesus and praying His peace pervades all of everything.

But not this morning. This morning was an I have to get up and out the door by 6:45. Which means I need to be in and out of the shower by 5:30 so Mr. FullCup has plenty of time to get ready himself before leaving for work at the same time. It was also a I still have so much to read before 9am, I better begin as soon as I get out of the shower. And that is exactly what I did.

Life hit me like dominoes. One thing after another. Please, do not misunderstand here, I am not at all saying one must spend copious amounts of time with Jesus every morning or watch out, He’s going to get you! Not at all. Jesus isn’t like that. He doesn’t operate that way. My focus was two-pronged which is unusual and more or less impossible. I knew He was with me, I could sense His closeness, but my thoughts were on what needed to be done now. Right now. This minute. This very minute now. Not in a few minutes, not in a few days but now, right this second now.

You know because you’ve been there too. It’s the tyranny of the urgent and life’s demands stack up like unpaid and unpayable bills. Soon you find yourself running hither and yon, then back to hither in a mad, vain attempt to accomplish something. Anything. You can’t think straight enough to know what the next step is, the next thing is. You’re just so dang crazy busy.

You pray on the fly, “Jesus, help here!” “Oh Jesus, are they crazy? Do they think they are the only one who is making demands on my time? Do they really think now is the time for that? How on earth, Lord, is all of that going to be done?”

You feel the panic and stress rising. You want desperately to drown your stress in mochas but you haven’t the time to get one. You want to go anywhere but here. You’re desperate to run any where as long as it isn’t here. Quitting isn’t just a nice thought, it’s a mind obsession. Fight or flight and you’re picking flight. But your dang feet won’t move, won’t budge an inch.

You battle tears and find yourself losing, thinking, “What on earth good are tears at a time like this? Tears won’t get that job done. They won’t write that article. They won’t read that book. They’ll just make a mess of your makeup. That’s it.”

As you choke back the tears, wipe your nose and eyes for the millionth time in an hour, you suddenly realize, your focus is wrong. Your focus in on what you can do. All of your abilities and inabilities. You see the waves and feel the wind in your hair and you raise your hand as your heart cries out, Oh Jesus! My focus is the waves! I’m feeling the wind, and oh Jesus, I’m sinking fast. Please show me the next thing. Keep my focus on You.

Just as fast He reaches down, grabs your hand, lifts you out, and sets you on a rock. He covers you with His pinions, and under His wings you find refuge and strength. Not your own, His own. In His arms, we are safe and we rest in His life living in and through us. If you listen close, you can hear His sweet voice as He gently sings over your soul, calming your fears and your tears.

How to Say Good-Bye to the “What-Ifs” of Life

What if that happens?
What if she really doesn’t like me?
What if they had an accident and are dead on the side of the road and no one knows it?
What if no one talks to me?
What if no one believes me?
What if I ruin my children?
What if I …what if that…..?

We are all so familiar with the whole what if scenarios. We create them in our mind and call it nice things like concern and planning. We pride ourselves on being full of forethought and caring concern for others.

We plan for every little contingency; we stress and worry. We stress and worry when we think we have no “what-ifs” to stress and worry about. We like them. We are fond of them. They drive us up the wall, but without them we think and fear we are nothing. We have no place and no purpose.

Dear reader, this is not where our purpose and place is found. It is not found in our frantic grasps for control. Our purpose is found solely in Jesus Christ.

“…there is but one God,the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.”

1 Corinthians 8:6 nasb (emphasis mine)

Our purpose is His and to be His. He defines us and our place in this world. We live out our purpose when we surrender fully to His life in us and live from that place of complete surrender and obedience to Him. I’m sorry there is not other way, unless you like wallowing in worry and self-pity.

The other night I was struggling with something I knew for a fact that Jesus had told me. I knew He led and directed my steps, but still my thoughts went to the what if route. The thoughts took me by surprise, I thought my confidence and my obedience to Jesus would negate them and their ability to strike fear in the pit of my stomach. I was wrong.

I have walked with Jesus through a lot of yucky stuff, I have learned to trust His voice and His heart, so when I heard His whispered voice in my ear, I listened. 

What ifs come from fear, not trust.

What ifs speak of our fears, mostly our fear of a loss of control. One thing Jesus has really been opening my eyes to lately is how much we think we are in control. I am sure most of our sins could be eradicated if we only realized the idolatry of our control. Our push and grab for control tells Jesus, “I don’t need You for this. I’ve got it. I’ll just worry, fret, stew and control everything and every part of it so You can just go help the people in Sudan. They need You.”

Oh how wrong we are! Oh how that flies in the face of grace. If we could control our way to heaven there would have been no need for Jesus to ever come to earth. If we could worry and fret our way out of situations, we wouldn’t need Him. But we so desperately do! We need Him more than we need air.

He is our Breath and our Life. He gives and sustains life. Not worry, not fret, not control. Jesus.

Oh dear reader, I know you’re tired. You’re weary and worn. And you’re trying so hard to not be. Give up your unending drive for control, give up all your what ifs and fears, and cling to Jesus. Only in Him is there the peace and joy you so desperately need.

Slaves

We were slaves in the marketplace; we were full of fear. We wondered how and where we would end up, who would purchase us and what would they be like? Would they be means and vicious, or kind and tender? Would they care for our needs or expect us to care only for theirs?

Fear–thick and heavy–ruled us with an iron fist and our captors wanted it that way. Fearful slaves were easily controlled slaves. They led us, not in tenderness and love, but by hatred with beatings, both actual and threatened.

Hatred kept us in our place. Hate and fear were our two constant companions that dogged our footsteps and shared our bed.

We didn’t have names, that would have shown kindness, we were just a number to those who ruled us with an iron hand of control. One by one, they called our number, the number they had assigned us when they stripped us of our identity and our hope as one strips off yesterday’s clothes.

There we stood, wearing nothing except our fear, wondering, trying not to cry, nor look anyone in the eye because they could see our fear and they would feed on it.

“Just do what they say and never think about anything else. You have no choice, just do as they say.”

We were bought, shame, fear, and all. Brought with a price. The One who bought us clothed us. We were given a name.

But still we clung to our fear, believing we had no choice. A slave we were, a slave we will always be.

Then our new owner–stooped down, looked us in the eye and said, cutting straight to the heart, our heart,

“Do not fear. I have redeemed you. I have called you by name, you are Mine.”

The freeing part isn’t in our redemption, but in the One who redeemed us. The One who paid the price of our life on that slave block. Everyone not sold is sentenced to death.

And we were already dead.

Sometimes we strut around touting, “I have been redeemed!” and “I am FREE!” as if we had anything to do with it. It wasn’t because we were so strong or capable or great that He redeemed us, because He is far more than we. But He redeemed us.

That is the reason we can have no fear, He redeemed us. The words “Do not fear” is not saying, “Do not fear you are redeemed.” It is saying, “Do not fear I have redeemed you.” The emphasis is not on the one redeemed by on the One who does the redeeming.

In Jesus fear dies. In our pride, in our arrogance, we show who our real master is in that moment–fear.

Why when He has freed us from death, sin and fear, do we chose to live that way again? WHen we choose fear, we choose the old life. There is no life there. There is no freedom there.

He has redeemed our life from the pit! We must stop going back there. And how, how do we do this? By surrendering fully to Him. Admit the shame, the fear, the nakedness, and confess our wrong beliefs about ourselves and our God, our Redeemer.

Then we walk free…given a name and clothed in His robes.

He Is…I Am Bible Study Week 5

This is a little later than I normally post these but Jesus was speaking and I had to get His words to share with you.

I’ve been listening to this song the past few days and I really like it. Except for one line. Plumb sings, “Come and consume, All we are. We give You permission….” That line, about giving Jesus permission, just rubs me the wrong way.

We do not give Jesus permission. He is not beneath us, nor is He in our control. He does not stand outside, hat in hand waiting for us to deign to invite Him in. He always works. He draws our hearts to Him. Yes, He stands at the door and knocks, but He is not a gentleman. He goes where He is not wanted nor invited. He gets in our business all the time.

Anymore the very thought of our giving Him permission or allowing Him to do anything turns my stomach and makes me angry. Yes, angry. He does what He is going to do–no permission from His creation is needed nor sought. He is God and His plan marches on to completion. He is not a gentleman, but He is good and kind, loving in all He does.

Our only role–is not that of foreman, granting permission as we deem necessary–but that of surrender. We bow our knees before Him in surrender. He is in charge and is not a gentleman.

Oh Jesus, consume me like a forest fire out of control. Burn off the dead, bring fresh nutrients to the soil. Please set me aflame.

See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. And His voice shook the earth then, but not He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.’ And this expression, ‘Yet once more,’ denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude by which we may offer to God an acceptable service, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.

Hebrews 12:25-29

We all want a nice, safe God. One who plays nice with our lives and doesn’t rattle our cage or shake us up at all. We want one that allows our control and strongholds to remain and He sure doesn’t ask anything from us. We want to Him play sweet on Sunday, we want to feel His presence as we sit in church and then bless us as we live in our control and strongholds the rest of the week, calling on Him only when we face something we deem to big for us to handle.

This is not the Jesus–not the God–of Scripture. That God rattles and shakes things. Often the things He rattles and shakes is us, our things. He shakes things up and He shakes us up.

He shakes to remove those things which can be shaken–our sin, our control, our strongholds–in order that those things–His Life and gifts–that cannot be shaken remain.

One thing we desperately need is to be shaken. We must see all our control and strongholds for what they are–a farce and a sham. They are flimsy and no good at keeping anyone with any strength out. Until we surrender to Him and surrender our control and strongholds to the One in Control and our Greatest Stronghold of refuge, He will continue to shake us.

Even after we surrender things will be shaken up, because He must expose and remove all our self-made strongholds. This is why we should pray to be protected from everything except what would bring Him glory. When we pray this, we know in our times of shaking that everything that happens is bringing Him glory, painful though it may be. We can rest secure in Him and watch Him be glorified in us and through us.

So when things start to shake in your life, and they will, trust me on that, surrender. Don’t dig your heels in and staunchly try to maintain your control. Surrender. Lay down your weapons, ask Him to speak to the hurt, the stronghold and then be set free to live in Him.

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory, far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things  which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

He Is…I Am Bible Study Week 4

Can you believe we’re finishing up our first month of Bible study already? I pray Jesus is opening your eyes to see Him, to hear Him, and to experience Him in brand-new ways.

I’ve been struck over over the past couple of weeks with His very sameness. He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. He does not change. He cannot change. The way He was before the beginning of time is exactly how He will be after the end of time. There is no shifting of shadows in Him. There is no, “well, I don’t know if He’ll still do it….”.

Precious reader, if He did it before He is sure to do it again! It might not be the in the exact same way, but He will do it because He doesn’t change. If He met you yesterday, He’ll meet you today. Since He was faithful to you last week, He’ll be faithful to you this week as well.

Here is the thing that really strikes me about the very unchangeableness of our Jesus.

He’s not monotonous.

Monotony bores me to tears. If you want to see me run, put me in a place I will have to do the same thing, in the same way, every day. I’ll die. I will invent new ways of doing it. I will be so bored I’ll cause trouble for everyone. I’ll talk when I should be quiet, I’ll poke my neighbor, I’ll prattle on and on, long after you’ve shushed me a billion times.

When I leave my house I often try to take a new way to wherever I’m going. Since I’ve lived here for over 17 years, I’m quickly running out of ways to go, but still the thrill entices me.

My man is the opposite. Change is horrifying to him. He lives today as he lived yesterday. He takes the same way to work every single day. And what’s more, he sees no need, has no desire to change it at all. I’m going to admit it drives me absolutely up the wall.

It is comforting however, to know that Jesus never changes. It comforts because we can know that as He loves us today, He will love us tomorrow. He will never love us more, never love us less than He does right this moment. He will never know us more, never know us less than He does right this second. He will never stop loving us, or knowing us because He doesn’t change. As He is right now, He will always be.

He will reveal different facets of Himself and we plunge deeper into Him, His heart and His life. But He, His heart, His life, His character, His character remain the same forever. From forever past to forever present to forever future, He remains the same.

Man changes. But our God remains steadfastly faithful.

He will continue to grow us, to change us, to teach us, but He will always remain our Faithful God. Through the shifting sands of time He is steadfast.

Remember that! Never forget.

Here is the link to the next month of Bible study.

He Is…I Am Bible Study Week 3

Can you believe we’ve completed three weeks of our study into our identity already!?! I would love to hear what you have been learning, please consider leaving a comment so we can rejoice and celebrate with you.

Jesus will never love us more, He will not know us more than He does in this exact moment in time. It is also true that He will not love us or know us less than He does in this precise moment in time. There is nothing we can do to stop, thwart, or change His love for us. He will never stop loving because His heart never changes.

As Jesus is right now, He will always be. He will reveal different facets of Himself and His life; but He will remain the same. His heart, His character, His love does not shift or change. He remains the same forever, from forever past to forever future He is steadfastly faithful.

We are often so quick to think other people bring change and growth to our life. We think they make us flourish in ways we hadn’t before. We think, “Man, since this person has been in my life, I’ve acted differently.” Ergo, it’s the person.

But all growth and lasting, noticeable change comes only from Jesus. As He breaks–shatters–the strongholds, we are changed and that change lasts. He will continue to grow us, to change us, teach us but He will remain the same. He will never be surprised by anything, He will never know more or less than He does because through the shifting sands of time He remains steadfastly faithful.

When I look back over the last year I am amazed at the changes in my own heart. Most of them have been subtle, yet sublime, internal changes that are not readily noticeable. I haven’t experienced a sudden, remarkable change. One cannot point to a time and say, “One moment you were this and then BAM! You were like that!”

His truth has been cemented in the marrow of my soul. Things I had heard, things people had tried to teach me have been understood because of His love, His faithfulness. His truth has moved from an intellectual pursuit, staying all in the mind and never reaching a behavior-changing heart level, to being dropped and cemented in my heart and is now a truth lived out because Jesus’ Life lives in me.

He showed me the high price of surrender is not near as high as the cost of remaining in and with an illusion of control. Surrender to Him and His life is always worth the cost. Always.

So many times we fear a loss of who we are if we surrender to Him. We fear we will be a nobody, we will have no identity. We are afraid we will be an empty cup. We will have no life, we will be a nameless, faceless person in a crowd. We fear this because our identity is wrapped up in who we are not. We think we are the life, we think the cup makes the coffee great, not the coffee making the cup great.

Our identity is not in who we think we are. It is in who Jesus says we are! Our identity is not lost when we surrender who we are not to Who He is, it is realized! Only in this freely surrendering our identity to His truth are we changed and enabled to walk in our high places with Him.

In this surrender we see ourselves as we are–His–and that frees us to see others as they are, and allow them to be who Jesus created them to be. We let go of any illusion of control that says everyone must be just like us or they are wrong. It frees us of the trap of comparison. It frees us from so much self.

Shoot, it just dang frees us. From us. To Him. And that is true freedom.