Fear of the Faithful

3Have you ever faced a mountain in your life that seemed so immovable, unshakable, and full of impossibilities?  Many times, when we face mountains, our mustard seed faith takes a backseat to fear and we exchange His insurmountable ability with our feeble inability.

But, what if, like the faithful men and women of scripture, we were fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he has promised.  What if, like Nehemiah, we had bodacious faith.  A faith that was grounded in prayer, anchored in His ability, and walked out in complete surrender regardless of the opposing mountains.  We may never stand before a king or rebuild a major city wall in record time, but we can learn so much from his story of bold faith.

As with Nehemiah, the king’s cupbearer, there is purpose in your position.  God has strategically placed people in your path to influence. He has assigned specific tasks, in which, you have to surrender each step to Him.  And, with each step of faith, comes some level of risk we must sacrifice. In walks fear!  Having faith doesn’t mean you won’t experience some level of fear, but faith does determine what you do with that fear.  Nehemiah “was very much afraid” but he didn’t allow that fear to stop what God was doing through his life.  His fear, and the opposition he faced, catapulted him into prayer.

Imagine if Nehemiah’s fear kept him from taking that first step – talking to the king.  He wouldn’t have received the king’s permission, resources, and men.  The city walls wouldn’t have been rebuilt.  The Israelite people wouldn’t have seen God’s mighty hand at work through them.  All the surrounding cities wouldn’t have been “afraid and realized that the city walls were rebuilt with the hand of the Israelite God.”  And thousands of years later, his steps of faith wouldn’t bring us encouragement.

What if?  What if, Nehemiah had chosen not to embrace what was on the other side of that mountain?  What if you choose not to walk out your next step fully persuaded God has the power to do what He has said?  How many people will miss out on the benefit of seeing, experiencing, or reading your step of faith?

Daily Challenge:  Take a few prayerful minutes to write out the main obstacle you see is paralyzing you from conquering your mountain.  Now, cross it out and write out Jeremiah 32:27.  Consider the work of His mighty and faithful hand.  As Nehemiah did, commit to “building that wall” in faith and watch God’s gracious hand upon you!

Daily Reading: Nehemiah 2

 

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Alabaster Jars: Complete Devotion

She galloped into the room filled with men. All eyes watched as she melted to the floor in front of him. Her hands cradled a small jar filled with a year’s worth of wages in perfume. Completely devoted, she broke the alabaster jar and began pouring the expensive perfume onto his feet.  As the aroma filled the house, disgust filled the hearts and mouths of those questioning her wasteful decision. A loving but firm, serious but sincere, voice broke the awkward tension of the room. This one external act of selfless worship, revealed an inward deficiency in others.

Can you picture the scene? Here was a dinner, to honor Jesus, not long before His crucifixion. The disciples, and others, reclined at the table as Martha served. In true Martha fashion, of course! In walks Mary, Martha’s younger sister, who was often found at her Maker’s feet, holding a small jar. While the precious alabaster jar held a high price, someone of greater value held Mary’s heart. Mary knew, He alone, was worthy of her richest gains. Worthy of her highest devotion, regardless of the cost. As we draw close to Easter, a time in which He paid the highest price for us, what alabaster jars do we need to lay at His feet? Perhaps a hobby, job, dreams, relationship, desires, or maybe loved ones. Only when we take the most precious areas of our lives, worth so much to us, and lay them at the Master’s feet, do we have the divine opportunity to watch as His beautiful aroma fill our hearts.

Can you see the disgusted disciples? I find it ironic that such a sweet display of surrender would bring such indignation to those who walked the streets with Jesus. Those who witnessed Jesus give sight to the blind, voice to the mute, sound to the deaf, wholeness to the leaper, silenced the storms, cleansed the sick, rebuked the demons, multiplied food, and raised the dead to life “rebuked her harshly”. In a society where women held little authority and were considered inferior to men, her devotion had bitter outward consequences. Just like Mary, our acts of surrender require bravery. When we are willing to be viewed as crazy by the world, we are freed to display the kind of worship He desires and commends.

Can He be your defense? Of the three places her story is told, I love that she is not recorded as saying one word. Not once, did she spout off out of self preservation or defend her pure motives. Hold my tongue, O’ Lord, because I am surely not her! Often, probably more times than not, I am quick to defend my actions and motives. Not Mary. She relied on her only source of defense. “Let her alone. She has done a beautiful thing to me”, Jesus responded. He, who did not defend himself, stands to defend us. When we choose to release our “right” to defend, we find shelter under His wing, strength from the Rock, and comfort from our Friend.

Can He be your reward? Jesus not only defended her, but He also crowned her action of worship. “Wherever this gospel is preached through the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Her story of faithful devotion is still a testimony today. Albeit, our stories might not spread throughout the world, ages later, but they will be told in our families and circle of friends. What will our legacy be? Will it tell of His glory and speak of His faithfulness? Declare His goodness and reflect our complete yielding? This is the story I want to leave! Because, when we release our stories to Him, we pick up a lasting legacy!

Father, thank you for Mary’s story of worship and devotion. We pour out our lives at your feet in complete surrender. May your beautiful aroma fill our hearts, flow from our mouths and bless your lost and hurting world. Protect our hearts from becoming like the disciples, who scorned another believer’s form of worship. Jesus, you are our only Righteous Defender. Give us willing hearts to abandon this right and walk in complete humility to you and those you have called us to serve. Fixate our eyes on you, our Deliver, as we walk out every part of our lives so, we too, leave a lasting legacy of love. Invade our hearts with your matchless love.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen!

Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, John 12:1-11

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When God Asks You To Move In Faith: Genesis 12

“You want me to do what?”, I murmured to the Lord with a slight hint of sarcasm. He answered, “Write them a letter.” Write them a letter?!!”, this time more fearful than sarcastic. What if the letter is not received well? How will they view me after that? It’s so personal and I’ve only met them once, Lord? What if they show it to others? Are you sure this is what you want me to do, God???

Has the Lord ever asked you to do something so big, so bold, so beyond your comfort zone that you tremble at the thought? Tightened stomach muscles begin to twist. Racing heartbeat progressively noticeable, through your shirt. That was me at the thought of writing this letter. A letter to a couple I had only met once yet knew the Lord had brought into my life for a very specific reason. As I sat at my desk that day, throwing a temper tantrum unbecoming to a woman of my age, all fear and anxiety melted away the moment I felt Him assuring me, “It will be okay, Esther.”

Scripture doesn’t say it but, this is what I imagine Abram experienced in Genesis 12 when God called him from the comfort of his home. “You want me to leave my country?… My people?… My family?” Abram didn’t have a map, Google directions, or our trusty iPhone GPS and yet, he didn’t allow the comfort of the known keep him from heading to a promised land full of unknowns. A promise that, in time, would bless the entire world for all time. He moved out in faith and, in verse 7, we see the Lord met him there. How quickly his faith in the Deliverer turned to fear of man when famine fell upon the land though. “Tell them you are my sister,” he told his bride, Sarai, “then I will be treated well for your sake and my life spared.” Not only had he used his wife for his own gain but, he had placed his faith in Sarai for protection and deliverance. He trusted his life would be spared for Sarai’s sake rather than God’s goodness and ability; a false security!

Although it took me a few months to “move out in faith”, I did end up writing that letter. I even hand delivered it! One day, turned to two and a week, turned to two weeks. No response. No e-mail. No phone call. No letter. Nothing. What I perceived as famine in my promised land of unknowns, set in. Fear mounted as I began anxiously analyzing every possible thing that I just knew they were thinking. I can completely relate to Abram. How quickly my faith in God’s assurance that “It will be okay, Esther” turned to fear of man. My story ends a little different than Abram’s though. In my desperate fear of rejection, I sat crying out to God. It was a cold Thursday afternoon and, as I sat there with tears rolling down my face, I released my need for a response. Lord, if I NEVER hear back from them, I will trust you are working. I will trust that I walked in obedience to you, that you are working behind the scenes, and I will leave the results in your hands, your timing. The very next day, just a little over 24 hours later, I received the sweetest e-mail from the couple, an e-mail that still brings tears to my eyes! I cry, not because of the words they wrote or the perceived acceptance, but because of the heart of my Father. I journeyed through faith into my promised land of unknowns and the Lord met me there.

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Is Anything Too Difficult for Him?

The sky is the limit but God created the sky so, with Him, THERE ARE NO LIMITS. Remember that the next time you’re facing what seems like a mountain!!
I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too difficult for me? Jeremiah 32:27

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A Repentant Heart

God is more pleased with a repentant heart than he will ever be with the prideful righteous person. With a repentant heart, he can take your mistake and make it into a message. He can use it to restore you to a greater understanding of who He is and how much He loves you so he can use you in ways you never thought were possible. Ways that bring restoration to your soul and a story of redemption for others, which brings glory to Him.

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