Taking Fear Personally

Someone lied to you and you found out. Someone rejected you flat out. Someone ignored you, someone hurt you, someone who was supposed to care for you didn’t.

We all have our someones.

If we’re honest, everyone we know is a someone; everyone gives us cause for suspicion.

I’m not paranoid- many of our fears boil down to a well-founded fact: people aren’t perfect. We have good reason to be afraid as long as people aren’t perfect. Reality reminds us every day.

People misjudge us. People have motives in conflict with our own. People make mistakes. People live outside of our control. People have choices. People are insufficient for us.

This world, likewise, is full of uncertainty and imperfection. Beautiful as it is, the world never works in exactly the way we’d like. It isn’t safe. Predictability is an illusion. Sinkholes open up under safe streets. Lightning strikes people in mild, safe regions.

Fear makes sense.

In Kelly Balarie’s book Fear Fighting, we see this firsthand.

Kelly doesn’t run from fear. She doesn’t ask us to scare ourselves out of feeling it or to grow numb to it.

This is personal for me.

Once upon a time, the unofficial topic of my studies was scaring myself silly about whether or not it was worth it to try to do any good in this world since everything’s broken anyway. I was new to faith and wanted to serve the Lord, but feared failing to honor Him.

An advisor asked me- “Do you believe the Lord can handle anything?” The question stuck.

Through clumsily embarking on a different career path than intended to grouchily moving away from everything I knew to painfully setting boundaries in unhealthy relationships, I found out the Lord could handle imperfect plans, circumstances, and relationships.

He could use the things that hurt me and disappointed me to His glory because His ways are higher (and much better!) than my ways.

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But fear fighting got more personal when I picked up the aptly titled book.

I began to read in words what the Lord has been piecing together in my heart: The Lord can also handle working through and in me.

God can display His power in my obvious weakness.

God can redeem for His good use my meager offerings, insecurities, and insufficiency.

God can rework my fear that imperfection is failure into an awed fear of His perfect work.

Yours’ too.

Fighting fear as God’s own children isn’t a matter of learning to lock our knocking knees or bite our quivering lips. There is no 5-step plan for us to fear failing at. We don’t have to undertake an intimidating process of becoming someone we’re not. Fear isn’t squelched when we muster up the guts to stare it down…but it loses its power over us when we fix our eyes on Him.

We let go of all we are not and see all that God is,” Kelly says. Her proposal is simple: “The Spirit says start. Start fearing God rather than fearing everyone is going to take you down.”*

Kelly knows fear, and she knows we can’t beat it by pretending we can. Instead, she reminds us who can and who has.

Our Savior.

Bravery is fearing God.

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Bravery is believing Him about all of the implications of who He is. It’s humbling ourselves before Him because we know Him and we want to know Him more. It’s bringing what’s inside of and outside of our control to His throne, imperfection laid bare because His grace is enough.

Choosing to fear the Lord is choosing confidence because of Jesus. Trust because of Jesus. Awe because of Jesus. Hope because of Jesus.

All because the One who is over all is in us, with us, and working through us fearlessly.**

We can take our fears personally to the personal God. Right up close to Him we can fix our eyes on Him. When our fears come into perspective before His greatness, they end up looking much smaller.

Thank you, Lord, for welcoming us to your fearless faithfulness, thank you for being the only way, the truth, and the life for fear fighting, faithful living, and eternal hope. Help us not to seek or fear anything other than your “only.” You are sufficient, amazing, and perfect. What good news for us imperfect people.

*Pg49, Fear Fighting by Kelly Balarie
**Ephesians 4:6; Galatians 2:20
Kelly shares regular encouragement on her blog, Purposeful Faith. Her first book, Fear Fighting, is available beginning January 3rd, 2017. She’s been an example to me and a kind friend for a couple of years now, and I’m so grateful to share her book with you. The Lord has strengthened me through it and I hope He will you too!

{Please note this post is entered into Kelly’s contest. You can vote here for this or another post entered. You can also enter the contest yourself! This post is number 15 if you’d like to vote for it!}

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.
This book was provided by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group,  in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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Fear Fighting: By Knowing Who IS

So grateful for Kelly! I'm loving her book Fear Fighting. She's been a sweet friend to me, introducing and encouraging me in the blogging-for-the-Lord-world. Hope you enjoy her guest post- God With Us is a message I especially love at this time of year!
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Kelly is both a Cheerleader of Faith and a Fighter of Fear. She leans on the power of God, rests on the shoulder of Christ, and discovers how to glow in the dark places of life. Get all Kelly’s blog posts by email or visit her on her blog, Purposeful Faith. You can also find a variety of resources for your fight against fear here. 

My son and I drove over a bridge we’d driven over a hundred and one times. It happened to be dark. Very dark.

Son, let me ask you a question, “How do you know that water is still there?”

He said, “Well Mommy, I know it is there because it’s just how it is. Water goes there.”

I wonder if we approach God the same way? We know God is there, because he just IS.

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.  (Ex. 3:14)
God IS who he IS.

He IS with us.
He IS for us.
He IS fighting on our behalf.
He IS liberator.
He IS hope.

He IS light.
He IS creator.
He IS Savior.

The truth IS: God has you. God so has you. More than your mind can conceive.

That issue before you? God already walked ahead of it.
The idea you’ll fail? He knows your way.
The fear your children will get hurt? He is their hope.

The past that haunts you? By his stripes you are healed. (Is. 53:5)
The inadequacies that berate you? In your weakness, his power is perfected. (2 Cor. 12:9)

When trepidation surrounds, know this: God has you tighter than the clothes you wear. He has you more strongly than the house that surrounds you. He will not let fall what he has built. He will not crumble what He is behind.

He IS before all things, and in him all things hold together. Col. 1:17

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I learned to find rest for my fears, for my worries and for my anxiety as I wrote the book, Fear Fighting: Awakening the Courage to Overcome Your Fears. Perhaps, today is the day you find rest in who he IS and what he IS leading you. You see, great are his promises for us.

And, great IS the King. A King who takes care of his children. He brings them within his house and places a banqueting table before them. He does not set their seat a distance of ten feet from the table and mock them. He doesn’t lay out succulent dishes before them and make the salivate. He doesn’t place them just out of arms reach from his glorious goodness. He sits them down at his table of spiritual blessings and says – eat!

Eat! My love for you is great! Enjoy! For what I want you to be full! Celebrate! You need not feel guilty in doing that! I want you to have all I have. I want you to know my life. I welcome you as a chosen one. Come and partake. Come and, not only sit with me, but be full with me and then stay with me – forever.

“Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 14:15)

Blessed is she who knows God IS good.
At peace is she who believes God’s love IS what casts out fear.

Full is one who sits where God IS.

Prayer: 

God, may I sit at your table all the days of my life. May I welcome in the bounty that is you. You are enough. Let me not walk away from you for a vision of lesser things. Let me not get distracted with the disorienting ways of the world. Let me not see the faults of others and therefore, miss the fantastic nature of you. Let me not get caught up with progress and miss the process of laying my head on you. Let me not hear the fans and the fanfare so I am unable to get fantastically fanatical about staying in your love. Let me not get so comfortable with sin unapparent, I fool myself into thinking I am religious. Let me not waste away days thinking I knew you, when I chose not to. Don't let me delude myself; it is easy to do. Amen.

Interested in fighting fear? Join the 4 Days to Fearless Challenge!

About the book, Fear Fighting, Awakening the Courage to Overcome Your Fears:

Author and Speaker, Kelly Balarie didn’t always fight fear – for a large part of her life, she was controlled by it. Yet, in her book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, with God, Kelly charts a new course. Join Kelly, on the journey to go and grow with Christ’s bravery, the Spirit’s counsel and God’s unending love that squelches fear. This book reads like a love letter from God, while offering practical heart-calming prayers, anxiety-reducing tips, and courage-building decrees that will transform your day. www.fearfightingbook.com

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Word of the Week: Works

Solomon declared that all of his works brought only vanity and vexation. He drew for us the conclusion that none of our works are meaningful under the sun. Later, He encourages us to enjoy what we do for God approves of those who fear Him and keep His commandments.

But in all this, Solomon wasn’t just talking about occupation.

“Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.” –Ecclesiastes 2:11

In other translations, this verse is rendered without the word “works.” Some simply say “all that my hands had done.” Other translate “All of my activities.”

As Ashlee suggested in her guest post about trusting in a job, “works” can be defined as many things.

The definition of “works” in this context is a long list, including descriptors like:

  • Accomplishments
  • Achievements
  • Business
  • Arts
  • Activities
  • Actions
  • Labors
  • Practices
  • Yields
  • Things

Things is actually on there.

Our “works” are our “things.” They are what we do throughout our days.

Your “thing” of cleaning house?

Your “thing” of making others smile?

Your “thing” of mastering a lesson?

They all count.

Remember the famous, freeing words?

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” –Ephesians 2:8-9

The definition of works here is very similar.

None of the things we carry out on earth earn us meaning, worth, or eternal profit under the sun. Can’t earn those. That’s all the free gift of God in Jesus Christ.

I’m thankful for that. Because if I’m honest, it gets tiresome trying to build myself up creating some great profit or meaning out of the cleaning, the smiling, and the learning. These all have their role under the sun and they all have a place in my life.

But all the “more” I seek is found in Him. All the gain comes in Christ alone. Fearing Him and enjoying what he provides is enough.

So my works can just be things. They don’t have to be more than that. I don’t have to work on my works being more meaningful. What a relief!

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Word of the Week: Cast

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”1 Peter 5:7

Earlier this week, Liz shared about stepping away from anxiety to trust more fully in the Lord. Take a closer look at that word “cast” in this beloved verse.

Here’s what it does not mean:

  • Gently set
  • Hand over carefully
  • Share between us
  • Pass off in turn

What “cast” is defined as:

Giving our anxieties to God doesn’t need to be a process of careful deliberation and slow surrender. Rather, as Scripture instructs, we do well to simply throw our anxieties upon Him. No agonizing required.

What happens when we throw things?

They are instantly out of our reach (assuming we have any aim at all!)

Thrown things are removed, they have no bearing.

When something is thrown to a catcher, we give up our hold on that thing completely. And, in the case of anxiety, its hold on us.

Heave your anxieties at God. Hurl them into His perfect grasp. It doesn’t matter where or when. You don’t need to be cautious about protecting your pride or keeping some part of control. God is not in danger not ashamed of your worries.

He’s got a place for anxiety. In His hands. Which is way better than in yours, weighing you down and keeping you from keeping up with His will.

Cast that anxiety, friends, as quickly as you can. Relief will come.

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

In Avoidance We Trust

{The eighth installment in the In ____We Trust Series}

Honored to welcome writer Elizabeth Giertz to the blog. A veteran turned army wife, Liz is a strong and courageous proclaimer of the Lord's goodness and truth. This post was originally featured on Liz’s blog and is shared in this series with her permission. Please join me in welcoming Liz and praying with her for those who serve to protect us and our freedom (and those who love them!)

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I laced up my boots and straightened my starched uniform every morning as I left for work before the sun rose above the horizon. I was a Soldier and a combat veteran.

Strong. Confident. Competent.

But I packed a MESSY secret deep in my cargo pockets.

I couldn’t shake the thought of a black sedan with government tags pulling up in front of my town house and dress uniform wearing Soldiers knocking on my door. My heart pounded and my stomach was tied in knots. For months on end, I did everything within my power to be anywhere but home during official notification hours.

If your spouse has been deployed in a combat zone, this scenario might sound familiar.

But for me, common fear crossed the line into unhealthy anxiety.

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By the grace of God, my husband came home from that deployment unscathed, but my experience uncovered an uncomfortable truth in my heart.

My faith had been tested and found insufficient. I lacked confidence that God would take care of me if something should happen to my husband. I was consumed by fear because my the roots of my faith were shallow.

Have you found yourself in a similar situation?

A lack of trust often presents itself as worry, fear, anxiety, discouragement, or a constant desire to fix things our own way.

I believed in God and knew that His son was sacrificed for my salvation, but I didn’t have a relationship with Him. Believing in God and trusting Him are not necessarily synonymous. To trust Him, we must know Him – like a Friend, Father, Protector, Sovereign Lord, and Redeemer. To establish a strong relationship with Him we must read His love letters and communicate with Him in prayer.

My faith had to be more than an entry on my dog tags.

To find peace in troubling times trust God.

Instead of being consumed by my earthly needs, I learned to seek God’s Kingdom and then trust Him to provide all that I require for righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

In place of fretting I began to pray and give thanks (Philippians 4:6-7) even for the smallest of blessings, acknowledging that all goodness comes from above.

Rather than agonizing over the possibility that I would suffer unspeakable pain, I trusted God would never leave nor forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6) no matter what happened, because He is near the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).

In lieu of allowing worry to consume me, I began to cast my cares on the Lord, knowing that He cares for me more than I can imagine (1 Peter 5:7).

Friends, it works.

Since instituting these practices into my life, I have not experienced a single moment of all-consuming anxiety during any of my husband’s more recent deployments. In fact, I have learned to look forward to deployments as periods of significant spiritual growth, but that is another post altogether.

I replaced worry with trust.

This I know, that God is for me.

In God, whose word I praise,

In the Lord, whose Word I praise,

In God I trust, I shall not be afraid.

Psalm 56:9-11

Will you join me? Together, let’s commit to trusting God so that the enemy cannot steal one more second of the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

For the next few weeks, guests will be writing each Monday on something (or someone) we tend to trust in besides God. 

What about you? How do you fill in the blank: In ______ I Trust?

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Book Review: Unashamed by Heather Davis Nelson

“Fear sets in, and you relationally freeze up, locked in shame.

What now?

You need to be rescued. How about a perfect love that drives out fear (1 John 4:18)?”

–pg52

Many of us are familiar with social fears, along with fear of failure, rejection, and unworthiness. We often read about relationship challenges and there are tons of books focused on better communication or finding contentment with ourselves. But these issues and solutions highlight evidences of a deeper issue.

Shame.

As Heather Davis Nelson shares in her new book Unashamed, shame is “not a topic of conversation at a party, although it is an unwelcome guest in every gathering” (pg18.)

Shame has been around since the garden of Eden. A result of sin, shame isn’t something we can avoid altogether.

With that truth in mind, Nelson pointedly walks readers through several aspects of life in this world to expose how shame is at the heart of so many of human struggles.

Meanwhile, she offers a practical guide for recognizing, facing, and living Biblically with shame. As a Biblical counselor, it’s no surprise that Nelson’s thorough workup of shame is absolutely loaded with Scriptural references and examples.

Nelson explains the different types of shame people experience. Next, she offers guidance for responding to shame in a healthy way. Several chapters then focus on specific areas of shame, such as shame in marriage or in the church.

For me, Nelson’s chapter on performance-shame hit close to home. In it, she addresses one of my favorite excuses for….everything. Perfectionism. Nelson relates perfectionism to shame in such a way that my excuses can’t stand.

But, as in the whole of this book, she didn’t leave me reeling from the recognition of shame as is. Instead, she offered practical advice for changing my audience and, consequently, my need for perfection. Then, she went on to make this freeing point:

“So what are we waiting for? Permission? Approval? Recognition?

We already have it in Christ…” (pg96.)

Amen, Heather Davis Nelson!

Though helpful as a whole, each chapter could stand on its own for counseling or study purposes. Other conveniences of Nelson’s Unashamed are the very practical, down to earth tips for addressing shame and reducing the influence shame has on one’s life. The book can at times feel bulky and heavy. However, this topic is so relevant and Nelson’s writing is encouraging.

Through Unashamed, I think many will find themselves freer and more able to walk in confidence just as God made them.

If you would like to learn more about this book, click here.

To enter the drawing to win a free copy, just comment below on or before July 6th! I will randomly pick the winner on the evening of the 6th.

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

In Outcomes We Trust

{The seventh installment in the In ____We Trust Series}

Glad to welcome Lois from Waxing Gibbous back to the blog today. A former journalist, Lois has a gift for telling stories while gathering facts- all leading up to the truth of Jesus Christ. So blessed to know her and share her words!

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Here’s the blunt truth. When Bethany introduced her “In ____ We Trust” series several weeks ago, I was intrigued and curious to see where she was going to go with the topic, but I wasn’t sure how it was going to apply to my daily life. I definitely have areas of spiritual struggle and plenty of room for improvement in many spots, but at the time, I was doing OK in the trust department.

Or so I thought.

In my world, one of the marks of a good blog post is when I finish reading and say to myself, “I never thought of it like that before.” With this series, that’s happened more than once.

Trusting in Google? Who would have thought? But yes, I do that. Trusting in medicine? For me, it’s more like trusting in health insurance, but yeah, check that box too. Acceptance? Let’s just skip that one, shall we? As I told Bethany in an email a few weeks back, with that post, she’s quit preaching and gone to meddling.

All kidding aside, even as I was finding much to relate to every week, I kept trying to articulate this one other thing that I often trust in besides God. Several weeks into the series, I still don’t have a catchy little title for it, but it has to do with happy endings and closure and desperately needing to know how things are going to turn out.

This is OK when it comes to reading the ends of books first (which I do, all the time) or checking the internet for spoilers when I’m taking a bathroom break during a movie (which I also do, sometimes).

In real life, though, it can be a serious problem.

There’s a certain way I feel—physically and emotionally—when I am waiting, in limbo or uncertain of an outcome. I’m more prone to irritability during those times. I’m readily anxious. My stomach sours and my sleep grows even more fitful than it normally is.

Then, when the question is answered, the wait ends or the outcome becomes evident—good or bad—calming waves of peace sweep over me. I don’t know how to explain it other than that. I just feel better.

Some of this is just part of being human, and some might be due to my personality.

But I think the lion’s share of this progression of feelings has to do with trusting in the outcome instead of the God of the outcome.

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Thankfully, I’m not powerless to stop it, and neither are you if you recognize this tendency in yourself.

There is a divine antidote that never fails to change my perspective and calm my anxious heart when I’m waiting for closure, and it is as familiar as it is life-changing.

Simply put, it involves praying the way Jesus prayed in the Garden the night before He was crucified. As you may recall, He asked God three times for another way, but He followed each request with that amazing statement of submission, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42)

My husband and I learned the power of this prayer a couple of decades ago when we were struggling with infertility. We regularly told God of our desire for a child, but we always followed it with Jesus’ words, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

I’m not going to lie—this is a difficult way to pray. But back then, it was the only concrete way I found to relinquish my dreams and desires to God. It helped me loosen my grip on my desire to have a biological child AND vocalize my trust that my sovereign heavenly Father truly did know what was best for me.

As it turned out, God’s will in this situation was NOT what I desired originally. We never did conceive; instead, we adopted our two daughters from China.

And that entire experience—including the wonderful eventual outcome—paved the way for an increasing reliance on this prayer in many other areas of my life. From unexpected job losses and homes that took way too long to sell to concerns about aging parents and difficult medical issues, it’s been the only sure way I know to replace my anxiety about an uncertain outcome with quiet trust in God.

Not my will, but yours be done.

I don’t always think to do this right off the bat. Sometimes it takes me days—even weeks—to get there. But when I finally remember and start meditating on this prayer, something amazing happens.

My heart relaxes. The sourness leaves my stomach. Honestly, I’m just nicer to be around.

I still hate waiting. I still read the ends of books first. But, more and more, I’m learning to place my hope and trust in the Author of the ending instead of the ending itself.

God is sovereign. He is good. He loves me and knows what I need. Praying this prayer helps me remember that.

Not my will, but yours be done.

For the next few weeks, guests will be writing each Monday on something (or someone) we tend to trust in besides God. 

What about you? How do you fill in the blank: In ______ I Trust?

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

WordoftheWeek: Strengthen

“Be strong and of good courage… do not cower.

Do not heed your fears. Take the land I have given you to possess.”

Joshua 1:6, 7

Joshua is one of my favorite books of the Bible. The third chapter in particular grips me every time. So thankful Christine shared about the Lord using Joshua to encourage her to worship Him during battles of all kinds.

Genuinely praising God amidst the crazy and chaotic takes strength.

That’s the word this week, pulled from Joshua 1: Be Strong.

4 Facts:

  1. “Be Strong” is a Verb

I’m referring to the word strengthen because in this verse, in context, “be strong” means “grow strong” or, simply “strengthen.” It’s an action word.

Strength is not something we just possess. To be strong is to exert power.  It’s to use what you have been given with might.

  1. Strengthening is Multi-Faceted

Sometimes being strong means grasping something tightly. That might involve seizing hold of it…or it may mean clinging with force to what is already in your grip.

When you exert strength, it takes effort and sustenance. You must firm up your muscles- even your Spiritual muscles.

  1. Strength Derives from Something Given

“Adopt” and “apply” are some of the first words listed in the definition of strengthen. The potential of the power and might have been given. The Lord’s promises have been made and His call has been issued.

To be strong is to apply what has been given. Flex the faith-muscle God has been growing.

  1. Being Strong Means Relying on the Lord

Another aspect of “be strong” is “be encouraged,” or, “fasten.” What is it that the Israelites were called to be strong in? What is it we’re to fasten ourselves to, take hold of, and grip with all our strength?

God’s promises. Be strong in taking hold of God’s promises.

Securely and resolutely take hold of the one who is growing you.

That’s what it is to be strong: to flex our God-given muscles in the battles we face.

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We take hold and flex in praise, in faithful following, and, as the verses that follow state, in obedience.

Will you stretch and flex from the soul with me today?

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.

18. BEHOLD: The Re-arranger

There are certain things required, in many people’s minds, to build the perfect Christmas. From the tree to the gifts to the food to the company, every piece fits just so to create beloved traditions and memories.

To make it all fit, couches get pushed back. Coat racks get cleared off the rack. Space is made on crowded counters for jars of cookies. Some people give up their beds for a night or two. Some people travel by donkey to far off towns while pregnant and end up giving birth in a stable.

From the very first Christmas, re-arranging was a part of welcoming Christ in the world.

“God, who is enthroned from of old, who does not change— he will hear them and humble them, because they have no fear of God.”

–Psalm 55:19

Christ’s coming to the world brought to us salvation, hope, and eternal joy. For those in the Bible, and for us today, Christ also brings humility as He does not change, but our plans and ideas must. When the Spirit comes to live is us, we ought to:

“Pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”

Ephesians 3:16-17

As is the case any one settling into a dwelling place, Christ dwelling in our hearts rearranges. He humbles us, as mentioned. There’s also a strengthening, and an empowering. He creates in us purer hearts and sets up a battle station against our flesh.

Sometimes, His rearranging extends to our circumstances and our plans. Like Scripture says, we plot our own way, but He establishes our steps. To live well through all this sort of re-arranging, we need to be flexible.

Being flexible is a Godly trait when flexibility means being open to anything God gives, regardless of what it requires from us.

If the Lord has to re-arrange our priorities, take it as a good gift. If making room for Him to settle deeper into our hearts means tossing out some of those secret, sneaky, “less-bad” sins, we can have the flexibility of faith and respond with “thank you.”

Behold, the deep-cleaning of the Lord through re-arranging.

Behold, the re-ordering to restore order to the world and to each of our hearts.

Behold, the gift of godly flexibility, given through faith in Christ.

11. BEHOLD: The Brave

Isn’t it silly which things require bravery? Saying “no” to a friend’s Christmas invitation seems scary because they might be offended. Choosing that particular gift can be frightening because it may not be what they wanted and it will hurt to see it rejected. Telling a co-worker about the Christmas Eve service carries risks.

These things aren’t even really threatening. Yet, we act in fear. Saying yes to everything, apologizing for gifts before we give them, and avoiding the most essential topic in the world.

Thank God Jesus was brave. More than brave- thank God Jesus was fearless.

His fearlessness made Him man, born a dependent baby to sinful people. His courage led through a life of persecution. Finally, His bravery brought Him to die on a cross and be separated from God Himself. And then…to rise again. It’s because of that that we truly live!

“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”
1 Cor 15:14
“Because I live, you also will live.”
John 14:19

And in all that, Jesus never shook. He never wavered. There was never a compromise to take a step back when threats arose –the very kind of threats we rarely hear but always fear: abandonment, rejection, and betrayal.

Why?

Jesus had no cause for fear. He was (and is!) so aligned with God and so fully accepting of God’s perfect sovereignty in all things that He has no cause for fear. For us to live that same way is brave.

Christ was beholding the truth. So fixed on it was He that nothing could stir up doubt or fear in Him. He was so complete and fulfilled in God that there was no room for fear.

We can follow that example. We can be bold like Christ is bold by beholding Him too.

“The LORD is my light and my salvation–so why should I be afraid? The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?”Psalm 27:1

Behold, the one whose path is straight leaving us no cause to stray.

Behold, the one whose way is perfect, leaving us no need to be afraid of anything.

Behold, the one whose loving-kindness replaces all our fears with the bravery of Christ.