“You will not fear the terror of night.” Psalm 91:5a
“Fear not.” ~Jesus
By some counts the imperative, “Fear not,” occurs 365 times in the Bible: one for every day of the year. And for good reason. We all have cause to fear. Those causes hit us constantly. A sickness, a strained relationship, severe weather, economic hardship….The list is long.
Many fears are caused by mere happenstance. But some fear is actually instigated by wickedness with people acting as agents of evil. Such was the case last night in Manchester, England when suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, chose to end his own life and the lives of many young, innocent people.
Yes. There is evil in this world. And some human beings perpetrate it. And with that evil, great fear ensues. Evil’s stock and trade is instigating fear through terror.
The repercussions from the bombing last night are impacting the world. Grief, confusion, anger, and fear are natural human reactions to what threatens our very existence. But what do we do in the face of genuine threat and rational fear? God instructs us – even commands us – to fear not. It seems an impossible mandate. The natural human instinct to self-preservation triggers fear.
But we have something stronger and more enduring than human instinct and natural threat. We have the promise of God’s love and the encouragement that He works all things out for good. That doesn’t mean that all things are good. This incident is a case in point. Yet we defy fear with the confidence of God’s presence and His goodness and a life beyond this world so marked by the surge of human evil. We are not promised protection from persecution – evil pushing back against the existence of goodness and hope. Yet in the face of this, we choose to not fear. We make a conscious choice to not allow terror to shake us.
God is our refuge and strength,
always ready to help in times of trouble.
So we will not fear… (Psalm 46:1,2)
In the midst of fearful circumstances, God invites us, God commands us and then empowers us to rule over our natural instincts, including the instinct to fear. We are bigger than fear because God is bigger than the fear in us.
So, we pray plain and simple prayers in the face of complex and devastating circumstances…
The threats around us are real, not imagined. And the pull to allow circumstances to trigger fear is strong. Yet, I want to choose to draw myself closer to You and to respond to Your call to turn from the temptation to fear.
You have commanded me to not allow my heart to be troubled or afraid. So, Lord, with that instruction comes the grace to obey. I ask for Your grace in my life so that I can rise above the stormy, raging fears and face them head on with You.
You are my fearless Leader. Lead me on the path of fearless living.
Lord, please be with the victims and their loved ones. We ask for supernatural healing for those who are suffering today. Grant comfort and peace to those who are devastated by the death of their loved ones.
Give wisdom to the leaders of Great Britain as well as the leaders of all the world. Give them practical steps to stop these threats. Show us how to quell hatred.
Jesus, when the angel announced Your birth, he announced peace on earth and goodwill to all the earth. Let it be.
In Jesus’ Name
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You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. (Romans 14:10)
Contempt is now a fixture in the landscape of our culture, our politics, our families, sometimes even our churches. Somehow we have developed the notion that it is okay to have contempt for people. Our patience has come to an end for certain individuals; they have wronged us too many times, disappointed us over and over again. We have earned the right to shun them, ignore them, roll our eyeballs, slander them subtlety, and, in general, just write them off.
When is this okay?
If you’re living life by your own rules, then there isn’t a right or wrong answer. If, however, you are living your life by Jesus’s example and the principles He laid out, contempt isn’t optional.
It’s true that Jesus rebuked the religious leaders who were in it for themselves, but in the end He issued absolute forgiveness, saying, “They don’t know what they’re doing.” Besides, He’s God, and you are not. He is the Judge (even though He didn’t come to condemn us). You aren’t the judge.
Do you have people in your life that irritate you to the core? They haven’t learned the art of self-awareness, and they have rubbed you wrong time and again? Do you have a right to hold them in contempt?
Look at the dictionary definition of contempt:
the feeling that a person or a thing is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving scorn
Is there anyone in your life to whom this applies? Contempt is the result of your judgement call upon the value of another person, and God calls that wrong. He explicitly calls us on the carpet for such judgement.
Let’s get behind His Word, examine our hearts and motives, and ask ourselves the tough question: who am I holding in contempt? Then we are going to let it go with this plain and simple prayer…
Forgive me for judging and holding in contempt this person in my life. I have slandered them and used tones of subtle disgust when I talk about them. I have cherished and petted this hatred in my soul, thinking I am entitled to it. It’s true they have certainly not made my life better, but whatever the root cause, I give it to You.
After all, You have made my life better. What else do I ultimately need? Nothing! No one!
I receive Your forgiveness for my sin of judgement. Wash me clean. This is as disgusting as their sin against me!
And please give me Your heart for this soul. Help me understand why they act like they do and replace my contempt with compassion. Give me kind eyes towards them and a warm word when one is called for. You may not make them my new best friend, but You will change my heart to look more and more like Yours. I receive Your love now poured out through the Holy Spirit into my heart.
You’ve promised to make me triumphant in trials, and I am expecting Your constant help.
In Jesus’ Name
Why re-invent the wheel? Sometimes the Book of Psalms is the only prayer resource we need. Psalm 143 is one to turn to when you are feeling overwhelmed by a trial. Use it today as your template for prayer.
Start with acknowledging the flawless character of God.
Hear my prayer, O Lord;
listen to my plea!
Answer me because you are faithful and righteous.
Segue to an honest look at your own character.
Don’t put your servant on trial,
for no one is innocent before you.
Recount the wretched facts
My enemy has chased me.
He has knocked me to the ground
and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave.
Get real with God
I am losing all hope;
I am paralyzed with fear.
I remember the days of old.
I ponder all your great works
and think about what you have done.
Take a posture of faith and believe for a miracle
I lift my hands to you in prayer.
I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.
Interlude – Sing a song or wait quietly
Get desperate for His presence
Come quickly, Lord, and answer me,
for my depression deepens.
Don’t turn away from me,
or I will die.
Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning,
for I am trusting you.
Ask for direction and wisdom
Show me where to walk,
for I give myself to you.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord;
I run to you to hide me.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God.
May your gracious Spirit lead me forward
on a firm footing.
For the glory of your name, O Lord, preserve my life.
Wage war with the forces of darkness through faith in His authority
Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress.
In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies
and destroy all my foes [the devil and his cohorts],
for I am your servant.
The Lord hears every word we utter in prayer with faith in His character, love, and power. We rise from our time in prayer, continuing the conversation all day long, for His Spirit lives in us to walk with us, give us wisdom and guidance for every moment. Have confidence that you have done your part today in putting your concerns into His capable hands. Rest in the knowledge that He is for you, so who can be against you?
Keep the faith fire burning in your heart all day long. Nothing quenches that fire faster than strife or offense, so steer clear of that at all costs. This miracle is too dear to let squabbles and petty arguments hinder the outcome or the answer to your heart’s cry.
Stay in a tone of awe and worship all day. The fear of the Lord is to live in a constant state of wonder at His goodness and mercy towards you. He loves you. His love will never let you down. His love never fails. Get his love embedded deeply within you, and that love will never fail!
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Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. Matthew 7:12
And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? Matthew 7:3
I might have a full floweret of broccoli in my teeth, but all I can see is the tiny sesame seed in yours. Jesus taught self-awareness, so why are so many of us believers more aware of others than we are of ourselves when it comes to weaknesses and flaws?
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is another way of saying, “Be the kind of person you wish others were to you.”
Want a spouse that is compassionate, attentive, forgiving, joyful, and faithful?
Want a reliable, friend who is tuned-in?
Want co-workers that are responsible, truthful, kind, and considerate of you?
Want a parent that listens with empathy?
We need to stop noticing everyone else’s imperfections and start seeing our own. The only way to this level of self-reflection and awareness is through the transforming power of Jesus. It’s just too easy to be critical of others and too hard to be hard on ourselves!
The pathway to change is through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. How does that happen? By establishing Jesus as the leader of our lives day by day. You might say, “Well, I already made Jesus the Lord of my life when back in 1979.” Great! Well done! But have you made Him your Lord today? Today and everyday is a good day to submit to His loving kindness, to ask that His love be manifested in your heart every moment of every day.
First, we need to know we are loved and that our sins are not just forgiven, they are gone! That gives us something to be happy about! The Gospel is truly Good News! Armed with this Good News, we can speak the Good News to others, and tell them that there is no condemnation for those who are in Jesus. We can let the Word of God do it’s work in the lives of our loved ones, and we can take our critical thoughts and ideas, and get out of the way.
Sick of being a critical person, unhappy about the performance of everyone around you? Be the change you seek in others. Set your gaze above, and pray this plain and simple prayer.
If you are even the slightest bit as critical of me as I am of others, I am toast. But You are not! I made up my mind that I was going to be like You, but I haven’t followed through with that vow very well. Perfect, though you are, Jesus, you said that you didn’t come to condemn the world. So why should I, as imperfect as I am? Why should I notice other people’s mistakes and inadequacies when I’m loaded with them?
Would you please forgive my arrogance?
Would you please make me new? Like You?
I receive Your forgiveness as well as Your cleansing power to transform me from a foe to a follower, from puffed-up to loved-up. From self-important to other-centric. From vain to insanely kind. From a grumbler to one who is humbler. From uppity to one who is abundantly caring. From toxic to philanthropic!
Have at my heart to new levels. Make me joyously unaware of other’s inadequacies and ever aware of my own.
In Jesus’ Name,