by Laura Kestly Tags: Believe, Christmas, creator, divine gift, eternal, God in flesh, Jesus Christ, life, light, Truth and Grace 1 Comment
FAITH and FEAR can’t Coexist
We’re living in a time where fear is running rampant. Unseen viruses and their variants are everywhere we turn. Corruption, chaos, and fighting surround us. Fires, floods, and storms are wreaking havoc. All of these and more create an environment rife with fear— but fear does not come from God.
There’s much truth in the phrase “Fear is a Liar” as fear comes from the Deceiver (John 8:44, Rev. 12:9, 20:3, 8, 10). God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7). This is where the battle of faith over fear lies—in the mind. What you focus on is what you’ll see, what you think is what you’ll say or do, and what you say and do is what you’ll feel. BUILD FAITH, NOT FEAR. Fear builds up when the mind is set on earthly things and worldly thinking. On the other hand, faith builds up when the mind is turned to and tuned in to God’s Word (Rom. 10:17). That’s why the steps to building faith require hearing and understanding what God has provided for us in His Word:
· Cast down and take captive deceitful thinking
Imaginations, false messages, and arguments that are contrary to the knowledge of God must be cast down. When the focus is put more on the world and its way of thinking, the mind becomes conformed to wrong conclusions. These errors in thought need to be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).
· Put off the old nature
Faith and fear can’t coexist — one or the other must be ‘put off‘ (Gal. 5:17). Ephesians 4:22 tells us where wrong thoughts grow fertile and directs the believer to, “…put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts…” The key word deceitful again emanates from the deceiver, not God. The flesh is the area of darkness that Satan desires to work in and is corrupt in nature (Rom. 6:6, 13:12-14). The flesh is the handicap of the believer until resurrection and so one shouldn’t place any confidence in it (Phil. 3:3). It needs to be ‘put off’, as worry and anxiety thrive in this realm. “Cast all your anxiety upon Him; for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Any (and all) anxious thoughts need to be given to God so His peace can reign and guard one’s heart and mind through Christ Jesus (Phil 4:6-7).
· Put on the new nature and renew the mind
After the old is put off and the deceitful thinking is taken captive, it can be replaced with something new. The new nature (or new man) that’s created after God in righteousness and true holiness is the perfect replacement. This spiritual attire is needed for the mind to be equipped for continual renewal with the knowledge of God’s truth (Eph. 4:23-24, Col. 3:10, Rom. 12:2, 2 Cor. 4:16). God’s Word is the living and powerful antidote to the false and the only weapon to counteract fearful thoughts (Heb. 4:12, Eph. 6:17, Rom. 12:2).
· Increase Faith
Proverbs 1:7 says that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” This fear (or reverence) toward the Lord is the only type of fear a believer should exhibit. As holy fear or reverence is given to God (acknowledging Who He is), everything is placed in its proper perspective. The only way to truly know who God is comes from reading His Word, the Bible (Rom. 10:17). So it’s no surprise that fear, not faith, will grow if one isn’t in God’s Word daily. 1 John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear. God is love and His love was manifested toward us in sending His only begotten Son into the world to be the propitiation for our sins so that we might live through Him (1 John 4:8-10, 18). We can trust a loving, almighty, and infallible God rather than the alternative of fallible men and women. Put on the Armor of Light (which is the Lord Jesus Christ) and there’ll be no vacancy for the flesh to fulfill its lusts (Rom. 13:12-14, Gal. 5:19-21). When there’s no room for the flesh, fear will decrease and faith will have plenty of room to grow as the Spirit reigns and produces its fruit (Gal. 5:22-23).
· Set your mind on things above
To keep one’s mind in faith over fear mode the focus needs to be kept upward where Christ is (sitting at the right hand of God). The mind should be set on things above (that are eternal), not on earthly things (which are temporary) (Col. 3:1-3, 2 Cor. 4:18). Stop focusing on all the bad news of the world and instead meditate on the things that are: true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8).
Sounds simple? Well it’s not. Keeping the faith is a fight. One doesn’t truly realize where they stand in faith until it’s tested. It’s only in the midst of trials that the believer’s dependence on the Invisible becomes apparent. It was by faith alone that those listed in Hebrews chapter 11 could endure all the physical things they did. The apostle Paul used military terms when he wrote his second letter to Timothy, “…you therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Tim. 2:3-4). As a soldier who wrestles against evil spiritual entities (rather than the flesh), the fight of faith requires God’s spiritual armor (2 Cor. 10:3-4, Eph. 6:12-13). This is the only effective attire that will equip one to stand against the wiles of the devil and quench all the fiery darts he throws (Eph. 6:11, 17). As the apostle Paul could rightly say in his last days, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
Before freaking out when all hell seems to be breaking lose and fear tries to slip in—stop and BE STILL (desist; cease your efforts, knowing God is Almighty) (Ps. 46:10). BE PRESENT to God’s presence. He’s a present God that IS with us. Listen for His direction through His Word and prayer (Prov. 3:5-6, Phil. 2:13). BELIEVE (even when you cannot see) that God is working (in diverse ways that we cannot always understand) (Isaiah 55:8-11, 2 Cor. 5:7, Heb. 11:1, 3, Phil. 4:19-20). Memorize and repeat this truth, “God IS our refuge and strength, A very PRESENT help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear” (Ps. 46:1-3).
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).
O Come Let Us Adore Him!
For most, it’s far easier to grasp God as the Creator of the majestic mountains, the delicate flowers and the patterned butterfly than as a baby in a lowly manger.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).
A few years back when my husband & I took a trip to Arizona for our 25th wedding anniversary we road-tripped to the Grand Canyon. As we stood on the rim of the canyon and gazed first-hand at its majesty, it was awe-inspiring & breath-taking.
All creation bears God’s handiwork and the imprint of His touch as His eternal power & divine nature are revealed (Rom. 1:19-20). Pattern and purpose are visible everywhere–from the intricate design of a flower and butterfly to the genetic instructions used in the growth, development, functioning & reproduction of the human body, as well as the reliable & orchestrated rising & setting of the sun.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:1-3)
Purposefully God revealed Himself in the likeness of man (Hebrews 1:1-4).
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).
–The same Word that is the invisible God.
–The same Word that is before all things & in Him, all things hold together (Col. 1:15-17).
–The same Word that upholds the universe by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3).
–The same Word, who being in the form of God, made Himself of no reputation, taking on the form of a bondservant and came in the likeness of men (Phil. 2:6-7), being born in a lowly manger (Luke 2:7).
God chose to take on the likeness of man and suffer to pay the penalty (wages) of sin for man, which was death (on the cross), so that man could be redeemed through His blood (saved/released from the power & fear of death) and be reconciled to enjoy eternal life with Him (Rom. 3:23, 6:23, Col. 1:19-22, Eph. 1:7, 2:13-19, Col. 2:13-15, Heb. 2:9).
God revealed this great LOVE for man (even while man was dead in trespasses) because He so LOVED the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (Eph. 2:4, John 3:16). It’s by grace man has been saved through faith (not of man’s doing)—it’s the gift of God (Eph. 2:8). But to enjoy a gift, one must first receive it–and this one through faith. Faith receives the gift that is undeserved.
When God came as a baby thousands of years ago, He wasn’t well received (except for some angels, shepherds and wise men)–But after Christ died & was raised from the dead, God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Col. 2:12, Phil. 2:9-11).
O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant–
O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord!
It’s the time of the year that we celebrate the anniversary of the 1st coming of our Savior’s birth. All names and titles used of the One we celebrate reflect the different relationships that are sustained by Him. Here are some of them:
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a SAVIOR, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
- SAVIOR: A savior is for the lost. Due to man’s failure back in the garden, “none is righteous”…“all have sinned & fall short of the glory of God”…”all have gone astray” (Rom. 3:10, 23; Isaiah 53:6). What’s even more wonderful is the title attached to “Savior” in the above verse—“Christ the Lord”, “Christ”, which in Hebrew means Mashiah Jehovah (Jehovah’s Anointed) and the name “LORD” with it denotes “all power and might”—therefore able to save.
- MESSIAH: This is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew: Mashiah, meaning “Anointed”, it means “the Christ” (John 1:41).
““Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us” (Matt. 1:23; Isaiah 7:14, 8:8).
- IMMANUEL: In Hebrew “Immanuel” means God (El) with us. Used of Christ reveals proof of His Deity.
- KING: In the book of Matthew, the Lord is presented as Jehovah’s KING.
The lineage in the 1st chapter of Matthew is unique in the order that it’s given, linking Jesus Christ with the Son of David, heir to the throne (2 Sam. 7:12, 16). It will be more than apparent at His 2nd coming that He will be seen as the “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16).
“She (Mary) will bear a son, and you shall call his name JESUS, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21–See also Luke 1:31). All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet in Isaiah 7:13-16.
- JESUS: is the same as the Hebrew Jehoshua, or Joshua, and means Salvation of Jehovah, or Jehovah (the) Savior. The name “Jesus” expresses the relation of Jehovah to Him in Incarnation, by which He “Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:6-8).
- Christmas is the wonderful season that reminds the Christian why he/she believes and what a precious gift God has given us in the form of His only begotten Son.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever BELIEVES in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift (2 Cor. 9:15)!