Posts Tagged ‘panic’

Courage and Fear

January 2nd, 2017

Courage and fear are mutually exclusive

 “Jesus came to them, walking on the water.” Mark 6:48 NLT

My thoughts and comments today are about “courage and fear.”

Life involves some frightening moments. A new year may include new uncertainties, challenges you must navigate with faith rather than fear. Or you may carry concerns with you from the year just concluded. A change of calendar does not exempt you from the same or similar concerns. And a new year may introduce problems you do not anticipate. There is good news for either possibility.

Mark records an instance of miracles on either shore of the Sea of Galilee, as well as a harrowing night of panic, fear, and despair of survival between those miracles. Read Mark 6:45-56 NLT. In the first miraculous event, at the end of a day of teaching and ministry Jesus fed a crowd of thousands with just a boy’s small lunch. In the second, Jesus healed many of the sick and suffering who were brought to Him. Between these two exhilarating experiences was a perilous, night time journey across about four miles of the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus had sent His disciples ahead of Him while He remained to pray. In the dark of night in the middle of Galilee, the disciples encountered a life-threatening storm – too far to return to where they were safe, yet too far to journey on to where they would be safe. Men, well acquainted with the sea, despaired of survival. Mark described them as, “in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves.” I love the description of Jesus’ arrival, “Jesus came to them walking on the water . . then He climbed into the boat and the wind stopped.” Who walks on water except God? Who commands the wind and sea and they obey?

I observe two things. The wind and waves that threatened and frightened them were exactly the elements that carried Jesus to them. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV. When Jesus comes, the frightening elements are calmed and profound peace displaces fear. You can face any storm with Jesus alongside.

The Psalmist knew the only Source of true peace, “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me . . Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me.” Psalm 61:2-3/23:4 NKJV. In His presence, you are always safe.

In whatever circumstance, now or in the unforeseen days ahead, you will discover Jesus alongside you. What frightens you today? World events? Health issues? Marriage challenges? Family concerns? Job insecurity? Inadequate finances? Uncertain future? God will come to you, even in the turbulent waters that threaten. Courage and fear are mutually exclusive. Fear will overwhelm you unless faith displaces fear with courage.

Today, I pray for you to discover a new courage in whatever you encounter on your journey.

Christian Communications 2016

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Bad News

January 24th, 2012

“Hezekiah received the letter . . and spread it before the Lord.” 2 Kings 19:14 NKJV

“Your crisis can become God’s opportunity.”

My thoughts today are about “bad news.”

Bad news can come at anytime to anybody – to rich and poor, young and old, and “the just and unjust, righteous and unrighteous.” Matthew 5:45 NIV. And bad news comes in many forms – unexpected expenses, a lost job, a dreaded diagnosis, or screeching tires. Bad news is not the best thing that happens in your day, but neither does it mean the worst thing is going to happen. Bad news is not the problem; your panic will be. What do you do when you do not know what to do? You can’t choose or control the circumstances that come your way; you must choose what your response will be. God doesn’t react to need; He responds to faith.

Hezekiah, King of Judah, received really bad news. Read 2 Kings 19:1-13 NKJV. The most powerful, notorious Assyrian king, Sennacherib, had ravaged surrounding nations and now approached Judah with 185,000 warriors. The Assyrian king sent his emissary with threatening letters to King Hezekiah. Judah was defenseless against such an army; make no mistake about that. When bad news comes, you will either be tempted to panic while projecting the worst case scenario, or will foolishly try to face and fix the problem yourself. Either would be a serious mistake.

Hezekiah didn’t know what to do about his problem, but he knew where to bring it. He brought it before the Lord. “Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, read it, and went up to the House of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. Then Hezekiah prayed . .” 2 Kings 19:14 NKJV. That’s what you do with bad news. You take it seriously; you face it squarely, but you do not panic or immediately take matters into your own hands. Hezekiah’s strategy was spiritual, not military. 2 Kings 18:1-8 NKJV. I think you can learn three practical strategies for success in a crisis.

(1) Bring your bad news to the Lord first. Where better to turn than to the Lord? It is liberating to bring every care to God. “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 NKJV. I think God wants to hear what you think and feel. Feel free to speak your heart in honesty and humility. Be real with God, not religious. God is not impressed with your religion. He is, however, relational. What matters to you, matters to Him.

(2) Don’t waste God’s attention; pray! Prayer is not to provide God information; He already knows “the end from the beginning.” Prayer is your opportunity to give God your personal invitation to intervene in the situation. Doing so puts your problem in God’s hand and your dilemma into proper perspective. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much . . don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything . . if you do this you will experience God’s peace . . guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” James 5:16-18/Philippians 4:6-7 NLT.

(3) Listen until you hear a true word from God. Read 2 Kings 19:20-35 NKJV. Hezekiah sought the counsel of the prophet, Isaiah, who had the word directly from God. Isaiah 37:21-35. Hezekiah and Judah would not be left to their merciless adversary; the ruthless king who troubled them was now at the mercy of their God. 2 Kings 19:36-38. Bad news can be viewed as a crisis; the good news is that in God’s hands, your crisis becomes God’s opportunity. And no one should waste an opportunity like that.

My prayer for you today is that your first thought is to turn God’s direction first.

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Picking Up The Pieces

January 10th, 2012

“Then David got up from the ground.” 2 Samuel 12:20 NIV

“Pick up the shattered pieces of life and offer those pieces to God in worship and trust.”

My thoughts today are about “picking up the pieces.”

As a boy, I remember a sporting incident when the “wind was knocked out” of me. It felt like I would never get another breath. My body went into full panic mode! I wanted to breathe, urgently! But it felt like the next breath would not come. As well as physical trauma, there are times and experiences in life that can leave you fighting for your next breath. The word “disheartened” describes the emotions of such moments, like the word ”distraught” describes times of mental anguish. You can feel bewildered mentally and overwhelmed emotionally.

Life comes at you hard sometimes – moments when something so unexpectedly sudden or severe incapacitates you without warning, momentarily or longer. Trauma rattles your confidence. Questions bombard your mind. What’s happening? Why is this happening? Why now? Why to me? Your mind races, trying to make sense of things that don’t immediately make sense. You struggle to regather yourself, to regain equilibrium, and to recover a grasp on events.

Living right does not provide a holy exemption from trouble, though you can wish it did. You think you’ve had problems? Listen to Paul’s journey, “As servants of God . . in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger . . through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; (we are) genuine, yet regarded as imposters; dying and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.” 2 Corinthians 6:4-10 NIV. Notice the contrasts.

Paul certainly was not delighted with his circumstances, but neither was he devastated. He placed his heart in the hands of the One who was “anointed . . to heal the broken hearted . . to comfort all who mourn . . to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” Isaiah 61:1-3 NKJV.

King David knew anguish, the worst kind of physical and emotional pain. A baby was gravely ill. He fasted; he wept; he pleaded with God for healing, but the child died. A part of his world was painfully crumbling in pieces at his feet. Would your reaction be anger at God? Blame? Self-pity? Self recrimination? Inconsolable grief? “Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed . . and changed his clothes, he went into the House of the Lord and worshipped.” 2 Samuel 12:20 NIV. David simply picked up the shattered pieces of his life and offered those pieces to God in worship. Worship, acceptance, and trust are always appropriate responses.

Here’s the Godly conclusion. “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down but not abandoned. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NLT. Knocked down by circumstances? Get up again and keep going! God will help you get up and get going again when you are ready. Read Psalm 34:17-19 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you let God make sense of all that happens.

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