Fear and Faith

I’m packed and ready, but for the last-minute items.  The trip to Israel I’ve been getting ready for the last six months is finally here.  Or is it?  The eye problem that has plagued me off and on for years has attacked with a vengeance this time, and seems to have a vise-like grip that the steroid drops aren’t eliminating.  I managed to see the eye doctor one more time this week, but am considering trying for one more visit before leaving for the airport.

 

Along with the pain and discomfort this thing causes in my body, these thoughts bombarded my mind this evening.  All along, I’ve tried to remain positive about this trip, because I know the Lord called me to go on this specific trip at this specific time.  This night, however, the tears of doubt flowed.  I couldn’t hold some very possible thoughts at bay any longer.  Finally, I told my husband I was afraid I won’t be going on this trip after all.

 

My husband prayed for me with authority in Christ, and I was then able to hear the voice of Holy Spirit in my spirit as He gently said, “You’re not afraid that you’re not going.  You’re afraid that you are going.”  I knew immediately what He meant.  It wasn’t a matter of fearing the travel or the tour itself.  The real issue, the one I couldn’t see clearly until He opened my eyes to it, is that I feared leaving the doctor.  Maybe that seems like a legitimate concern, but there was a greater concern.

 

My faith was no longer in my Healer, Jesus Christ.  My faith was in my doctors.  When my faith is totally in Jesus, there is peace and rest and clear direction.  When I let my faith move to my doctors instead, fear came in bringing with it confusion, doubt, and probably even stronger symptoms in my physical body!

 

I’m no longer wavering.  I’m going on my trip in the grace of God in Christ, while continuing to use the prescribed eye drops.  Good doctors abound in Israel, but I don’t plan to have a need for them.  I thank God for again fixing my spiritual eyes on Jesus, the Great Physician, Who is also the Author and Perfecter of my faith.  Faith in Christ leaves no room for fear; so, Israel, here I come!

Lessons on the Way to China (Part 2)

There were so many time-sensitive details, especially early on, in the preparations for this China trip.  Finances were the biggest part at one time, as you know from my last post.  There was another time, though, that it was finances plus getting the passports off to Washington, D.C., to get the Chinese visas.  One particular afternoon, when the mailman had again not delivered the passport long-since sent from our team member in Germany, I was so far out of the place of God’s peace, despite all my loud praying against demonic spirits, that I knew I could do nothing else until I had returned.

As I opened my journal and began to cry out on paper and verbally, the Holy Spirit quickly helped me see my part (again) in the whole delayed process.  It was fear.  Fear that the passport was lost.  Fear that it would arrive so late that I couldn’t get it to the visa place and back before I left town on another trip.  Fear that no one would be here to sign for it when it was delivered, and what if those arrangements fell through?  Fear that I’d not be able to get it in the mail back to Germany until after I returned, which made it much less likely to get there on time.  Then there was the fear that not all the team members would have their money for the trip.  Fear that, even though we’d sent the first half of the money toward our trip to the missionaries, the other half wouldn’t be in on time, and we’d be delinquent.  Fear that we’d not get all the money at all!  Do you feel yourself getting uptight just reading my list of fears?  These fears, that I’d not seen, were growing like a cancer out of control – until the Lord opened my eyes.  Even as I wrote down what the Holy Spirit was showing me, I felt the peace returning.  Fear was exposed and losing its power over me because it was out in the open, glory to God.  God loves me so much that He delivered me even before I repented for not trusting Him and yielding to fear!

1 John 4:18  “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”  NIV

It was because of His love for me, not because of my repenting, that He drove out the fear.  The simple fact is, God loves me!  If He didn’t love the other members of my team (which, of course, He does), He loves me!  He called me to lead this team.  He called me, as leader of this team, to submit to the missionaries in China.  He called me, as leader of this team, to get all the paperwork handled efficiently and in a timely manner, so that there would be no rushing around – even where the team member in Germany was concerned!  Because He loves me and has called me, He has provided for all of it – mailing and finances.  I either believe it, or I don’t, and I choose to believe it and act upon that belief!  I’m getting back into the place of grace.  From that place of grace, which is so full of the peace of God, I stand in faith and declare:  “That envelope has been discovered and is being rushed to me even now.  Blinders have been removed and all other hindrances released.  In addition, I declare again, from the place of faith, that all finances are even now being brought forth with much eagerness to sow to this work of God in China – without further delay – and all for the glory of God!  Mine is to stand and watch!”  I can declare all this because God loves me!

As I write this on March 17, from a February 9 journal entry, I wish I had immersed myself in the above entry, especially during the last 1 ½ weeks.  The finances have all come in, glory to God, but the passport with the visa stamp seemed to be lost somewhere between the states and Germany.  With less than 2 weeks until our departure date, all pertinent parties have been scrambling around to make a way for our team member to have a valid passport and visa on time.  We have prayed.  We have commanded.  We have declared in what we thought was faith.  Every now and then, I’d remember that God loves me, but I never re-read my journal entry.  What a difference it would have made.

I came to the place of knowing we had done everything in the natural we possibly could, seemingly without success, and that if God didn’t get this passport there, it wasn’t going to happen.  I had actually come to a certain level of peace, though I wasn’t in faith for it to work out.  But God . . . !  There it was in my inbox this morning, the subject being “we’ve got mail.”  Needless to say, I knew what that message contained, even before opening it.  After one month in transit, the passport had arrived.  I did some whooping and hollering, with shouts of praise to the Lord!  What relief!  But, what stress could have been avoided if I had only let that deep-down revelation of the Lord’s love for me continue to fill me and drive out the fear?  My Father had so much more peace for me in the waiting, that it must have been hard for Him to see me not choosing to rest in His love.   I’m not condemned – only thankful that I’m walking in His glorious freedom once again!

1 John 3:1  “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! . . .”  NIV

Psalm 91:1  “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].”  AMP

God loves me!  God loves me with perfect love!  If I will dwell in this secret place of His love, there is no fear that can attach itself to me, no matter what goes on around me.  In this place of His love, I remain stable and fixed under His shadow, Whose power no foe can withstand!  I will need to be reminded of this over and over through my life, I know, but my desire is to keep growing in the knowledge of His love for me, recognizing fear quickly, and running back to the absolute safety of the secret place of His amazing, unlimited and immeasurable love for me.  God loves me!  P.S.  God loves you the same way!

God is Working in My Heart

When I wrote the last post, I had no idea there would be a part 2, but here it is, only a few days later.  The fear that I was so relieved to step away from last week, when the Lord made it so clear that He is working in the midst of this economic crisis, had returned.  With every news announcement and so many personal conversations, I was becoming increasingly more anxious about what is happening.  This time, it seemed like it was much more personal, while before the fear was more for the nation as a whole.  Much as I tried to remind myself of what He had shown me last week, I wasn’t staying above the fears.  Enter the wonderful Holy Spirit!

As I sat down to read the Bible, I was led to Hebrews 12, and continued through chapter 13, as well.  When I came to 13:5, I knew why He had me in this passage.  ”Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support.  [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)!  [Assuredly not!]”  My first response was, “Wow!”  Obviously, the Lord didn’t think we would get it with just a single statement of His promise of provision, so He declared it repeatedly and in various ways so that we might actually believe Him.  My faith needed more than just reading it silently would do, so I declared this Word out loud for myself and my family.  (Romans 10:17)

Then the real work began.  The Lord pointed out the beginning of the verse, highlighting in my heart the part about being free from the love of money and being satisfied with what I have now.  This tied right in to the verse from Matthew 6 where Jesus said we cannot serve God and mammon.  I have been so quick to declare the Lord is my Provider, and the Lord is my Source – and He is.  But I’ve done that with such assurance, not because of His Word of promise, but because we had some money saved.  I was deceived into thinking that my trust was in the Lord, when it was really in the bank and the investment firms, and wall street, etc.  Somehow, once the provision from God has come into our possession, my trust moved over to the provision, rather than remaining with the Provider.  It was easy to stay in this deception, declaring that everything was going to be provided by God, as long as there were no problems with our mammon.  Once it began rapidly to drop in value, the deception was exposed, and it was so ugly!

Now that you’ve seen the ugliness that the devil was using to try to bring destruction in my life, I want to share a couple of things that the Lord is revealing that prove He is turning it for good.  The first one is that my husband said he was convicted that very day, as well.  Believe it or not, that really excites me, because it shows God is doing a similar work in each of us at the same time.  I also have a sense that God is going to show Himself strong to us in ways we couldn’t imagine before, when we had our eyes on the mammon.

I also see that this was a trap so very easy to step into.  While we have been thankful for the finances the Lord has brought to us, somehow we forgot it was from Him once we had it in hand.  We also forgot about the times we had so much less, and how He brought what was needed every time.  In planning for the future, we forgot to be satisfied with His daily provision and His promise never to leave us helpless or forsake us or let us down or relax His hold on us.  Our eyes moved from Him to His blessings, instead.  It is so clear in Matthew 6:33 that we are to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, because all the things we really need He will provide.  Our eyes are to be so fixed on Him and on seeking Him that none of the things He has provided hold sway over us, whether much or little, growing or shrinking.

I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit loves me enough to remind me of this.  I don’t want anything else to have His rightful place in my heart, or to trust in what I have physically, because I know that it won’t last.  With everything in me, I want to trust my awesome God so totally that I stay in the peace that passes all understanding, rejoicing from the very depths of my heart, regardless of what goes on around me.  I know He is faithful to His Word – even to working it in me by His Spirit.  I can trust Him, even when I don’t understand.  All praise and glory to His name!

Is This Crisis About His Kingdom?

Does the current economic crisis have you on edge, to put it mildly?  It’s something I’ve been battling for a few weeks now, this sort of edge of fear and anxiety, though I know the perfect love of God casts out all fear.  Yesterday morning, I had a little glimpse of God’s perspective that set me free from that fear – even the edge of it, and I want to pass it along to you.  I want to make clear that I do not have all the answers, all the what-abouts and how does that fit this theology, etc.  I’m just giving you what I was given to understand by the Holy Spirit, and trust that He will help you see it and even more.

I had turned to Matthew 6 in the Amplified Bible to read what we refer to as the Lord’s Prayer, particularly verse 10, where Jesus says, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  How often that has come out of my mouth in prayer and declaration when praying for this nation, and when praying for the body of Christ.  I continued reading in Matthew 6 until I got to verse 24, where I felt like part of the verse practically screamed at me.  Jesus begins this verse by saying, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions, or whatever is trusted in).”  The word cannot was so big to me in that moment, and I saw this as the root problem in our economy.

Jesus spoke very definitely that we cannot serve Him and money, too, yet that is exactly what we have been trying to do.  In His mercy, it has been allowed for a time; but now in His mercy, He is exposing it so we will return to serving only Him – and all as a result of praying and declaring “Your kingdom come, and Your will be done right here in Your church and in this nation!”  He led us to pray it because He wants to move in mighty ways here, but He didn’t show us just how He was going to work it out.  (Sometimes, it is just better that we don’t know all the steps ahead of time!)

In that moment of revelation, any power of fear over me in these times was ended, praise the Lord!  Though I still don’t know how He’s going to complete it, I know the Greater One lives in me, and He is fully trustworthy, even when things are in upheaval and seemingly turned topsy-turvy for a time.  I couldn’t help but exclaim Romans 11:33 & 34 Amplified, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unfathomable (inscrutable, unsearchable) are His judgments (His decisions)!  And how untraceable (mysterious, undiscoverable) are His ways (His methods, His paths)!  For who has known the mind of the Lord and who has understood His thoughts, or who has [ever] been His counselor?”  In God’s infinite wisdom, He knows what is needed to return His people to Him.  When we do as 2 Chronicles 7:14 says – humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways (serving mammon), then He will fulfill His part of that promise – hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land.

No, I don’t know the specifics of how God will heal our economy, but I know He has promised to do so when we turn away from serving money to serving the One True God.  He will forgive us, helping us change so that His kingdom will be made known on earth (through us, glory to God!) as it is in heaven!