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Friday, January 21, 2011

Becoming a Courageous Christian: Devotions for the Faith of Heart - Name That Fear!

Fear is a natural part of life. It is an emotion that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. As children, we are often afraid of people we don't know. We're afraid of classmates that taunt us. We are afraid of the neighbor's dog. We are afraid of our parents catching us doing something that was forbidden. We are afraid of unseen monsters under our beds. Quite frankly, we were afraid much of the time.

As we get older, it doesn't really change much. We're still afraid of meeting new people, we just label it differently. We still shy away from people who say bad things about us. Some of us are still afraid of the neighbor's dog. We still fear getting caught when we do things we know we shouldn't, we have just become more clever about hiding our transgressions, or justifying them. And unfortunately, there are still unseen monsters in our lives, though they have become bold enough to come out from under the bed, and we now know their names: Failure, Loneliness, Ridicule, Poverty. We still spend a lot of time being afraid, we have just given the word fear new names that others will accept: discomfort, worry, depression.

The point is, we are all afraid of something. There are parts of my life where I move forward boldly, and there are parts where I stand frozen, trembling in fear, unwilling to even tell someone that I'm afraid, because I am ashamed that I am afraid. We have hope though! In the midst of our fears, God comes calling, asking us to trust Him, to follow Him, and He will enable us to conquer all those fears.

Throughout history, God has called people to do His work. Some have followed willingly and boldly. Others have tried to reason with God why their not equipped for the job. Some asked God to give them sign after sign before they would believe in His providence and set out on their mission. Others simply fled, thinking they could out-run the omnipotent God. My question today, to YOU, is what is it that God has asked you to do, and because of fear, you have not done? We all have that ''thing'' in our lives, that one command that we have heard in our heart of hearts, that we have not acted upon yet. Some of us go years without even speaking it out loud, because we are afraid of what others will say. Will they laugh at me? Will they criticize me? Will they support me? And then there are the excuses: “I don't know how.” “I don't have the training.” “I'm not smart enough.”

Don't you think God already knows your limitations?? That is exactly why He has chosen YOU for that specific task! When you follow God in obedience to His call, He will enable you to achieve whatever task He has put in front of you, and when you succeed, everyone will know that it was because of God! Sure, people will look at you and think, “she doesn't know what she's doing, she's had no training, she's not smart enough to do that.” Some of them will even say it out loud, determined to keep you from following through on God's plan. But sister, this is your chance to give God some pretty serious glory!

Not convinced yet? Ok, let's look at some scripture: Matthew 14:23-29

Mat 14:23 And when He had sent the crowds away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray. And when evening had come, He was there alone.
Mat 14:24 But the boat was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves; for the wind was against them.
Mat 14:25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.
Mat 14:26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a phantom! And they cried out for fear.
Mat 14:27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, Be of good cheer, I AM! Do not fear.
Mat 14:28 And Peter answered Him and said, LORD, if it is You, tell me to come to You on the water.
Mat 14:29 And He said, Come. And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.

That is certainly not the end of the passage, nor the end of the lesson, but I will save that part for another day. The point in these few scriptures, is that anyone on that boat could have stepped out in faith, and gone to Jesus. Peter, however, was the only one who was brave enough to take that first step. Peter was then the only one to walk on water like Jesus.

I love what it says in verse 27: “Be of good cheer, I AM! Do not fear.” It's like the first time you rode a bike as a child, and your mom or dad says to you, “Don't worry, I'm right here. I won't let you fall.” You feel their steady hand on your back , running along beside you, keeping you upright as you learn how to ride. Isn't that what God is telling us? Just to take that step of faith, and move? He promises to be right there. He has called us to this task, and He will help us every step of the way.

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