Casey and fear

We have a dog, a puppy really, she’s almost 6 months old and she’s huge. When she gets up on her hind legs she puts her two front paws on the garden wall and looks over it. She still has all that puppy boisterousness and is extremely busy. She also wants us to think the she is the boss. Her name is Casey which means vigilant and she lives up to her name, in that very little eludes her watchful eye. At this stage I think she’s just afraid she might miss out on something. We have to be so careful when we open the front gate because she will discern it from wherever she is and come running out of nowhere. If we don’t close the gate very quickly she pushes her way past us and then the game begin, because she’s not coming back in on her own, and she’s certainly not intending getting caught. The devil and his demons are just like Casey. If there’s even a little crack in the door they will see it and try to go inside. The door is your life and it is our responsibility to keep those doors closed. If we do something like getting angry repeatedly, we are opening a door. If we keep being fearful we could end up being a nervous wreck because that door is wide open.

2 Timothy 1:7 says: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mind.” I know it’s easy to say it when you’re not living in fear. It’s easy to tell it to someone else when you’re not in that situation. I also do know what it feels like to fear. You will do anything and everything to avoid feeling that fear. You will lie in someone’s face if you have to. You will steal and cheat. You will do anything to avoid the fear. Then you will go on living in fear anyway. Fear of the fear, so to speak. Fearing the next situation when the fear will arise. Every time you fear, or lie or cheat or whatever it is you do, you open that door a little wider. Once the crack is big enough the enemy will slip in. Ephesians 4:27 says, “And do not give the devil a foothold.”

Just like Casey comes from out of nowhere to push her way through the gate, the devil will use force to get into that open door. He is not like the Holy Spirit, who is gentle. Ephesians 4;28 – 37 tell you what to do. If you’ve been stealing, stop, and get a job. Don’t let unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only speak upbuilding words. Get rid of bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander. And verse 32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as God forgave you.”

I know it didn’t mention fear but Paul is saying that we must stop doing the things which cause us trouble. When I see Casey coming towards the gate I react as fast as I can by slamming the gate closed. That’s what we should do in our lives too.

James 4:7, “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Shut that gate as firmly and as quickly as you can. Do not go on the path of fear anymore. I overcame my fears by facing up to myself. Yes, that’s right. Myself. I started to realize who I really am and what my true identity in Christ is. I turned away from the lies that the devil was telling me and started to embrace the truths and the promises the word gives me. I discovered that even Abraham was afraid and God said to him in Genesis 15:1, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” And that Genesis 18;14 asks, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” In Exodus 14:14 Moses tells the Israelites, “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” This is while the Egyptians were behind  them and the Red Sea was ahead of them.

I learned that I am the head and not the tail when I choose to serve the Lord, and that I shall be blessed going out and coming in.  As I went through the bible I found more and more promises. I know now that even if things get herd, I have nothing to fear. I know that God loves me and cares for me. Two of the most powerful verses I found are the following: Isaiah 5:12 -13, “I, even I, am He ho comforts you, who are you that you should be afraid of a man who will die, and of the son of a man who will be made like grass? And forget your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, because of the fury of the oppressor, when he was prepared to destroy. And where is the fury of the oppressor?”

I recognize when I am slipping and I close the door quickly. And as for Casey? Well, she just needs more training!

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Don’t give the devil airing time

The past 6 days have been a time of devastating sadness and grief in our community. Also criminal activities have escalated. There are very few people who haven’t been affected. In a small community one person’s trouble becomes everyone’s. I was really tempted to write about forgiveness and about God turning curses into blessings when the Holy Spirit stopped me and told me not to give the enemy any airtime. I don’t read newspapers because I don’t think I ought to focus on negative things. The same with watching TV, but here I was wanting to tell the whole world what was going on. I realized that what I was doing was no better than spreading sensation. And at the end of the day people are going to remember the description of the negative and not the lesson that was learned. Its easy to avoid speaking about negative things when its someone else’s news but when it touches you personally it’s a total different story. When its your trouble its like, ‘have you heard what happened?” or even worse, “Have you heard what happened to so-and-so?” Now there is a time and place to tell about things that have happened, but to broadcast them is not the way.

Isaiah 59:14 – Justice is turned back, And righteousness stands far away; For truth has stumbled in the street, And uprightness cannot enter.

I Thessalonians 5:22 – Reject every kind of evil.

Now you may say that telling your friend about what happened isn’t evil. You’re right, it isn’t, but dwelling on it and speculating about it and sharing it on social media can cause it to become evil. Instead of thinking and speaking about the bad things that have happened we should be doing what  Ephesians 5:15 – 21 – Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to god the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting one to another out of reverence for Christ.

We should be encouraging each other and focusing on positive things instead of focusing on the negative and on the past. Not one of us knows what the future holds, no matter how much we think we do, we don’t have a clue. It also says giving thanks always and for everything. ALWAYS , not just when things are going well, always. I love the bit that says, “making melody in your heart”. We have to stir up the joy in our hearts. Singing praise songs has that effect. The when we have sung the song and feel better we must make sure that praise melody is still in our hearts and travels with us all day long. You can’t think and speak about negative things when you have that praise playing in your head and your heart. I challenge you to try to.

Why do we as humans always want to focus on negative things, sensational things, things that cause our hearts to feint. Why don’t we get so passionate about a soul that’s been saved instead? Speaking about a soul that’s been saved – have you been around people when they speak about a bad boy that found Jesus? They never believe that it’s possible. They speculate about how it’s highly unlikely and probably won’t last. The newly converted is watched and every action is put under a microscope. But just tell something bad, negative or sensational and everyone believes it immediately. They don’t just believe it but spread the rumor. It is so sad that we humans are so under the influence of the prince of darkness instead of the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 5:1-2 – Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Jesus gave Himself up for us, and every time we walk in love and do what God wants us to do instead of doing what our flesh wants to do we become that fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. To follow our flesh is easy. To do what we instinctively do is no effort at all. To be aware of what God wants us to do and to actually do it, that is the hard part. That is the time when your mind is calling out one thing and your heart is calling out something else and it feels like you are literally torn apart. When you give in to the flesh you know immediately that you did the wrong thing but it’s too late. The deed is done, the words are out. You can’t change it. What’s done is done. What now? Are you a failure? Is God going to kick you out of his Kingdom and erase your name from the Book of Life? Micah 7:18 says, “Who is a god like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain His anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.”

So we all have to try to focus our minds on the positive. Focus on getting that melody in our hearts and being the fragrant offering our Father is longing for.

Turn your face

I know a lady who some years ago who was diagnosed with breast cancer. She took some time off work, went away on her own to a quiet place for a week and spent that time praying and fasting. She didn’t get any treatment and she’s still alive and cancer free today.  I knew another lady who was diagnosed with liver cancer. She hadn’t been particularly sick, just a niggling pain that she decided needed checking out.  Within two weeks she was hospitalized and less than three months later her family buried her. It was so sad. Both these ladies had been given a potential death sentence. One accepted it but the other one did not.  One saw the negative side and believed what the doctors told her. The other knew that there was a positive side and believed what God told her. How would you react to that kind of diagnosis? King Hezekiah was sick and near death. The prophet Isaiah went to him and told him to set his affairs in order because he was going to die. Now I don’t know about you but if a reliable and tested prophet of god tells me I’m going to die, I’ll believe it. Hearing something from Isaiah was like hearing from God Himself. If god tells me I’m going to die, I think I would definitely get my affairs in order. Do you know what Hezekiah did?

2 Kings 20:2-3 “Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the lord, saying, ‘Remember now, o lord, I pray, how I have walked before you in truth and with  a loyal hear, and have done what was good in Your sight.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly.”

Isaiah hadn’t even left the palace, when god told him to go back to Hezekiah to tell him that God had heard his prayer and that he would heal him. He would live another 15 years and the city would be saved from the onslaught of the Assyrians.  Isaiah told the physicians to put a lump of figs on the boil that was causing the inflammation and three days later Hezekiah had to go to the temple. But that wasn’t all. Hezekiah asked for a sign from God to prove that he would live and that the Assyrians wouldn’t prevail over them. I’m thinking, “seriously Hezekiah? It was like, Okay Lord you said you would heal me, now prove it.”  Verse 9 – then Isaiah said, “This is the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing which he has spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees or go back ten degrees?” And Hezekiah answered, “It is an easy thing for a shadow to go down ten degrees; no, but let the shadow go backward ten degrees.” So Isaiah the prophet cried out to the Lord, and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down on the sundial of Ahaz.

God told king Hezekiah he would die and he decided not to accept the diagnosis. As simple as that. It wasn’t a doctor who told him, it was the Creator of the universe!  Instead of running away from God and seeking a cure someplace else, he turned his face to the wall and spoke to God. That’s exactly what the lady with breast cancer did. She didn’t accept what the doctor told her. She turned to God and spoke to Him. You may ask but what if God hadn’t healed her? She would have gone to heaven, and is that such a punishment?

Psalm 103:2-3 : “Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:  Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies.”

But what if it’s god will that I must die? I would say that even then you should never give up. If you have the chance to raise a petition to God, then do it. If you have the chance to strengthen your faith then do it. I am not saying that doctors don’t know what they are doing by any means, I just know that we are far too credulous when it comes to the opinions of medical professionals. If the doctor says so it must be so. But what does God say? Hezekiah didn’t even take God’s word.

Proverbs 18:21 –“ Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.”  As difficult as it may be, don’t be tempted to speak negative things over yourself. Speak life. And don’t allow others to speak death over you. Not even a doctor. Stay positive. Stay close to God. If you are a child of God and you’re in the position where you have been diagnosed with a potential death sentence, and it doesn’t sit well in your spirit, then it’s time to turn your face towards the wall.