Archive for the ‘Scripture’ Category

Thanks for What we Have in Christ

This Sunday Joel Spencer was our speaker for our special Thanksgiving message.  He brought us to Colossians 1:1-23 to highlight some things that we have to be thankful for as Christians.

Have you ever thought about how many times in a week you say, “thank you?”  We say it all the time, and it is polite to say “thank you.”  We thank the cashier in the check out line when they hand us our change or bags.  We thank strangers when they hold open a door for us.  We thank our spouses when they do something nice.  Thanksgiving is a part of our lives.  But, how many times do we thank God?  And, if we do what do we thank Him for?

In this message we will see several things that we can thank God for if we are Christians.  I hope you will be encouraged to think about all that God has done for us and be forever grateful.

Click below to listen to this uplifting message.

Thanks for What we Have in Christ – Joel Spencer

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Do you know that when we become Christians we are finally complete in Christ?  At least from God’s perspective.

Before we were born-again we were on our own.  The Bible teaches that we were dead in trespasses and sin.  We were in the realm of Satan’s kingdom, and were subject to sin, death and hell.  Isn’t that an awful picture of those who live in the world today without Christ?

So, how are we complete in Christ now?  What does that mean?

Let’s take a look at Colossians 2: 8-15 to find our answer:  These are marvelous scripture verses and loaded.  I can only skim them.

Col 2:8-15 NASB See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

First of all Paul tells us not to let the world take us captive through philosophy or man’s worldly ideas and deception, and not to follow the traditions of men.

(9) For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,

Wow!  In Christ, in His human body dwells all the fullness of Deity!  That is amazing.  He is complete!

(10) and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;

If you are a Christian you also have been made complete!  Let’s try to see what that means as we read more of this passage.  Christ is also the head over all rule and authority.  Keep that in mind.

When we were saved we were completely saved:

(11) and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; (12) having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

This is talking about our salvation.  We were made spiritually complete in Christ when we were saved.  When He died on the cross we somehow joined Him.  At the moment we were saved, we were baptized with the Holy Spirit, (not water baptism).  And, we died and were raised up with Christ by God.  God raised Jesus from the dead literally, and He raised us from our spiritual death.

When we were saved we were completely forgiven:

(13) When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, (14) having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

We were spiritually dead because of our sins and the uncircumcision of our flesh.  But God made us alive with Christ.  He forgave us all of our sins, past, present and future.  He nailed them to the cross and canceled out the debt that we owed because of them.  God the great judge declared us to be free from the penalty of sin.

Joh 19:30 NASB Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

When we were saved we were given complete victory:

2Co 5:17 NASB Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

(15) When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.

When Jesus died on the cross He also went and disarmed all the rulers and authorities.  He was victorious over them and took them all captive.  That is great news for us because they no longer have any hold on us.

Heb 2:14-15 NASB Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, (15) and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

Being complete in Christ means that we can live in this world without fear.  We are capable of being victorious over sin.  The sting of death has been removed so we don’t have to fear that anymore, and we do not have to worry that we will spend eternity in hell.  Satan has been defeated and he can not claim you as one of his.  I like that!

Eph 3:16 NASB that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,

When we get these things settled in our minds, it is much easier to face life.  Trials and temptations will come our way, but knowing we are complete in Him, gives us the courage to face them head on.  God is always in control and sovereign over what happens to us.  We can trust Him to make our path straight and to take care of us in every situation.  He loves us as a dear Heavenly Father and will take care of his children.

2Pe 1:3-4 NASB seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. (4) For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

Isn’t that an uplifting scripture?  We really don’t have to worry about things.  God has granted us everything we need that pertains to our life and to be a godly individual.  He gives us that through the true knowledge of Him.  As we study the Word we learn how to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to God and He also gives us the power to be successful in doing that. That power is in us because Christ is in us and it is the same power that raised Jesus from the grave.  Now that is power!  We can even escape the corruption that is in the world. I praise God for that. 

I pray we will all try to realize all that we have in our possession when we become Christians, and that we will know in our hearts that we can overcome anything that comes our way.

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Lessons Learned/Practical Application
by Kimberly Northrup-Vaughn

God has accomplished great deliverance in my life. I still have so far to go, but He has delivered me from the pits.  I praise God for what I have been through because it brought me to such desperation that I was willing to seek God with every ounce of my being in order to find my way out.

From my experiences and the WORD OF GOD I believe that we can all be free. By this I do not mean that we will never again struggle with fear or anxiety or panic attacks. However, I believe completely that this means we do not have to live with these things controlling us or being a controlling factor in lives. We don’t have to live with them hanging over our heads. Why am I so confident of this? Because in His Word God makes it clear that He wants to be the only One that has power over us.

“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” (Luke 16:13)

While this last passage in particular addresses the love of money, the principle remains the same – We can only have one master. If fear and anxiety rule and control us, then are we really allowing God to have control over us?

Jesus also promised that those who gave their lives to Him could have an abundant life.

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10)

In Jesus we are not meant to simply exist and survive, but we are meant to THRIVE – to be truly alive!

With all of that in mind, here are some practical things I have learned, and I believe these things can help you along on your journey too:

1.  If we go to the Word of God and our anxiety only gets worse (as I’ve heard some of you all say, and as I experienced.), this is not from God.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)

We have to remember that we have an enemy (Satan) that is looking to discredit the authority or power of God’s Word. He does not want us to be free. So it is only normal that we who are seeking to be free would encounter obstacles of anxiety when we go to God’s Word. After all, if we become free from the power of anxiety in our lives, Satan has a lot to lose and God has a lot of glory to receive.

So don’t let increased feelings of anxiety to stir you away from God’s Word. Instead, let it make you all the more determined – Look into God’s Word until you find peace!

2. The Word of God is SO important to us in our struggles.

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) “He sent forth His Word and healed them.” (Psalm 107:20) 

No matter the struggle or issue, all the answers and help we need are in there. We can be familiar with all the stories and verses, but we need to always go back with a heart and mind that are willing to learn something new. The Holy Spirit is always ready to bring us to new levels through the Word, even through verses we have heard a million times.

3. We can’t just be encouraged by the Word – we have to apply it. Not just with areas of anxiety, but also with other areas where we are struggling.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:22-25)

When we apply the truth, God shows us over time how He is faithful to accomplish His Word. As we take steps of faith in our lives and see that God remains faithful and true, it encourages us to take more steps.

4. We who are in so much bondage to anxiety and fear need to make the Word our lifeline. Carry Scriptures around with you. Make them always in front of you. Tape them on your cabinets and bathroom mirrors, in your car, or wherever else you will see them frequently.

5. Don’t just focus on Scriptures about anxiety and peace. Focus on Scriptures about God’s character. Like Psalm 145:8-9.  We need to let it sink into our hearts and minds how good and loving and powerful our God is!

6. Find ways to get in-person Christian fellowship. Maybe your first step of faith is inviting someone from your church over to your house to visit you, even if that means them coming to your bedroom, if you are stuck in your bedroom. Even if it’s just a pastor. One of the ways that God shows us His love is through His people. When we experience God’s love, that helps to cast out the fear.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” (1 John 4:18)

7. We need the body of Christ. Don’t allow pride to keep you from asking for prayers as much as you need it (not just in this group, but with other Christians you know too). Sometimes we’re tempted to think, “Oh they’re sick of hearing from me – they don’t want to hear this.” But that is from the enemy. The Bible makes it very clear that prayer plays a crucial part in certain trials and spiritual battles.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)

8. Be desperate and be honest with God.

 “He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; He will not despise their plea.” (Psalm 102:17) To be destitute is to be needy – We show we have great need of God when we go to Him for more than a quick prayer. These quick prayers make Him out to be more like our wish-granter rather than our soul-fulfiller.

9. Ask God for wisdom – in everything.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)

Stop analyzing things and trying to understand things on your own. Our own wisdom hasn’t exactly put us where we want – we might as well give it up and trust God’s wisdom. It is FAR BETTER than our own!

 “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'” (Isaiah 55:8&9)

10. “But when he asks (for wisdom), he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” (James 1:6&7) 

Keep on asking God to help your unbelief, as you encounter it. Jesus honored the man that cried out

“‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!'” (Mark 9:24)

Be the “persistent widow” (Luke 18:1-8) in asking for the Lord to help your unbelief.

JESUS is the ultimate healer and deliverer. Every single one of us can be FREE, as we allow the blood of Jesus to touch every crevice of who we are!

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My last post was titled “Perfect Love Casts Out Fear!”  In it we learned that God’s love perfected in Christians tosses fear  out of our lives.  What a marvelous thing that is!

Now, we need to take a good look at another scripture dealing with fear:

The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to his spiritual son Timothy from prison when he knew he was toward the end of his own ministry.  Timothy would have to carry on where Paul left off and Paul exhorted him not to be intimidated by the false teachers, the Romans, all the other hostile forces that would come against him.  He told Timothy to be of good courage and not fear those who came against him, because God had equipped Timothy with a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. 

“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)

Do you have a spirit of fear?  Are you a believer?  If you realize what God teaches us in the Bible you will know that you should not live in fear.  In fact, it is sinful.  It is not only sinful, but it is selfish.  You may not like that, they are strong words, but it makes complete sense.  If our thoughts are constantly about ourselves, the way we feel, and our symptoms, then we cannot think about others.  Those unhealthy thoughts crowd out everything else.  That is not how God wants us to live.  He wants us to think of other people as more important than ourselves. 

Php 2:3 NASB  Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

But, you might think, “That sounds good, but I just can’t help how I feel.  It’s just the way I am!  I can’t do anything about it!”  I’m here to tell you there is something you can do about it.  You can be free from fear!  You can think of others as more important than yourself!

However, if you are not a Christian, then, it is perfectly natural for you to live a life full of fear, anxiety, and worry.  You do have a spirit of fear, and I can’t help you.  That spirit of fear comes from our natural man. 

You see, fear, anxiety, and worry are a part of our old personalities that we had before we became Christians.  Remember, when we were saved we became a new creation and old ways became new. 

2Co 5:17 NASB  Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

I think many Christians still live in fear because they do not know what happened when they were saved.  No one told them.  Or, they haven’t studied the Bible enough yet to have discovered this wonderful truth. So, I will tell you right now.

When you were saved you did not receive a spirit of fear because you already had that in your old self.  Instead, God renewed you and gave you a spirit of power, a spirit of love, and a spirit of a sound mind.  What does this all mean in a practical sense?

The spirit of power

The spirit of power is the Holy Spirit.  When we are made new in Christ the Holy Spirit comes to indwell us.

2Ti 1:14 NASB  Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

Rom 8:9 KJV  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

What kind of power does the Holy Spirit have available to us?  The kind of power that raised Jesus from the grave. That’s dynamic power!

Rom 8:11 KJV  But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

You have that kind of power in you.  You do not have to live in fear any longer.  Be of good courage! 

The spirit of love

The opposite of fear is love.  God also gave you a spirit of love.  Now you can love in a whole new way.  People of the world know nothing of this kind of love.  The Bible calls it agape love.  It is a God kind of love.  It is the very highest love there is. God through the Holy Spirit in us gives us the power to love with agape love and we can reach out to others in a way we never could before. 

We are not to stay to ourselves.  We don’t have to any more.  We can reach out to others in love.  God gives us that ability. Step out in faith and try it.

I remember shortly after I was saved how I actually looked at people differently.  I saw everyone as one of God’s creations that needed to know Him.  My eyes were opened and I began to have urgings to tell others about Christ.  It was hard for me too at the time because I was so inundated with fear.  Slowly I reached out to others in love.  But, at first in very small ways.  I would send someone a card.  I would call and talk to an elderly shut-in on the phone.  After doing that a bit I began to visit people who were shut-ins, and another woman and I went to the hospital and visited sick people from church.  Little by little God grew the spirit of love in my life.

The spirit of a sound mind

God also gave us a spirit of a sound mind.  What does that mean for us?  Well, a sound mind is a rational mind.  We do not have to think all the “what if” thoughts, and worry about the future.  We do not have to fear man, and we do not have to fear God.  Fear has been broken.  Alleluia!

Once you discover these truths you will see how you need to change.  If you are still living in fear then you are still living in the old flesh.  You need to take advantage of the Holy Spirit living in you and walk in the Spirit.  You will have to work on changing your thought patterns as you renew your mind with the Word.  Old unhealthy thought habits can be replaced with new healthy godly thoughts. 

I suffered with panic attacks for many years and I did not know this teaching right away.  So, I continued on even after I became a  Christian thinking sinful fear filled thoughts.  I would blow things way out of proportion.  If it started to snow, I’d think we were going to get a blizzard.  If I had to drive somewhere that day I would obsess about the weather until I would have a panic attack.  If it was raining and the sky looked ominous I would be sure we were going to get a tornado, and I didn’t even live in a section of the country that gets tornados very often.

My panic attacks became so bad I became Agoraphobic.  I was afraid to leave my home.  I actually gave up driving for several years.  If I needed something from the store it was a major problem to get up the nerve to step out the door, get into the car, and go to the store.  Once there, it was a major effort to go into the store and get my groceries.  If I managed to get that far, then I still had to conquer the walk through the crowed isles, find my items, stand in the scary line as my legs shook, pay, and get back home.  It was exhausting!  Surely, that was no way to live, and certainly God didn’t want me to live like that.  I wasn’t much use to him at that point.

The only way I conquered my fears was when I discovered that I had God’s power within me.  I realized somewhere along the way that “I” could not do this in myself.  I needed help!  All the courage I tried to muster up in myself would not do it.  I had to rely on God.  I turned to God and I would pray. I’d ask God for the strength through the Holy Spirit, to go and do whatever it was I had to do.  I prayed before I went, I would go and pray all the way, and I would get back home and pray again to praise and thank God for how He got me through my fearful situation.  It did become easier.  I prayed a lot!

I don’t even have panic attacks any more.  I drive, I’m free to do whatever I want.  God gave me back my freedom as I grew in Him.  I discovered scripture promises and applied them to my own life.  I now have a spirit power, of love, and of a sound mind.  It is a disciplined mind.  I’m careful what I think about.  If I find myself going in the direction of worry, I check myself, and ask the Lord to help me think on godly things.  It does take practice and I urge you to start today.

Where are you today?  Are you bogged down with worry, fear, and anxiety?  My friend, if that is you and you are a Christian, you are living in sin.  You need to realize that and confess your sin to God, then repent of it and learn to fill you mind with godly things.  Keep in the Word, study it, memorize good scripture promises, pray for others, and yourself.

God has provided everything we need to live a godly, holy life.

2Pe 1:3 KJV  According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

He will help you.  Go to Him in prayer.  Pour out your heart.  Get right with God and then claim your benefits of the spirit of love, power, and a sound mind. 

Please stop fearing the future, step out in faith and find your freedom today.  You can be sure that you do not have a spirit of fear anymore.

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I was especially interested in hearing a sermon our pastor gave recently because he had to deal with I John 4:18  “There is no fear in love; but perfect love cast out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”

I’ve used this scripture before in some of my articles, but I only used part of it, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love cast out fear…,”  When I first found that scripture I was excited to learn there was no fear in love, but perfect love cast out fear.  It was encouraging!  Jesus Christ is perfect love, therefore, He can cast out fear.  It told me the Lord didn’t want me to live in fear, and the way to get rid of it was to allow Him to cast it out.  Wow!  That was a revelation to me at the time.

Now, my pastor took me to a deeper level.  He teaches the Bible verse by verse and deals with scripture in it’s context. 

John was talking to Christians here and he shows us another test of a true Christian, and that is love.  If we love one another, that is the test.  In 1 John 4:12 you will note, “God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us…”  When we are born again God does abide in us through the Holy Spirit, and His love is being perfected in us.  

Also, look at I John 4:17  “By this, love is perfected with us.”  Again he is talking about love being perfected.  It means that as we grow in Christ, His love is made more mature in us.

The “By this,” refers back to the verse above where he says “the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” Isn’t that a wonderful thought.  God and us abide in each other.  If you stop and meditate on that for awhile it really boggles the mind.    

Now, we get back to 1 John 4:18 where he says, “There is no fear in love.”  Here fear means being terrified, and full of dread.  That kind of fear.  

Have you ever thought about this?  Love and fear cannot exist at the same time.  There is no fear in love.  It is not possible.  They are opposites.  If we are full of love, we are not full of fear; and if we are full of fear, we cannot be full of love.  God is love, remember that. And, we are to abide in Him. 

Then, John says, “but perfect love casts out fear.”  What does he mean by perfect love.  Well, actually in the context of this passage, he means that mature love that is being perfected in us as we grow in Christ.  And that perfected love, what does it do?  It casts out fear!  Praise God!  That phrase “casts out,” means throw away like garbage.

Isn’t is so true with us?  We carry around all this garbage all the time.  Wouldn’t you like to simply throw it away?  We talk about excess baggage; well fear is just that.  But, the only way to throw it away and get rid of it for good is to perfect the agape love that God has placed in us.  

We can do that!  I realize some of you are doing that with your lives right now.  You are in the Word, you are in prayer, you are in fellowship with other believers, you are reaching out with love toward your fellow believers.  You  grow and are becoming mature in Christ.  Eventually, when the time is right in God’s eyes, you too will throw off the shackles of fear like it is rubbish and toss it out of your life.  

Also, in 1 John 4:18 he says, “fear involves punishment.”  I’ve thought about that too.  In the context it means the punishment that is awaiting all men at the final judgement day.  Those without Christ should be fearful as they have that to look forward too, but we who know Christ can rest assured that we will not face punishment.  We can be confident and know those fears were cast out when we were saved.

But, looking at us today as we struggle with fear and anxiety doesn’t our fears also involve punishment?  We are fearful that something awful is going to happen, and with those thoughts we actually punish ourselves with stress, anxiety, and more bad thoughts.  When we are fearful of other things in life such as getting a terrible disease, don’t we punish ourselves with thoughts of what might be?  Yes, fear does involve punishment.  We don’t need that!  We don’t need to beat ourselves up that way!

Then, John goes on to say in that same verse, “the one who fears is not perfected in love.”

From what we’ve gone over that would indicate that fearful people are not mature yet in God’s love.  Isn’t that interesting?  

When we finally reach a more mature state then we will not fear.  What can hurt us?  God is in control of everything in our lives.  What do we have to fear?  Why do we punish ourselves with worry?  Worry can’t stop anything or change anything.  It isn’t worth it.  All it can do is make us fearful and stop us from becoming mature in Christ.

I plead with you to take hold of these thoughts and realize you too can be free from fear.  Stay in the Word and renew your mind.  If you are a believer you do not have to live in a state of fear!

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What is the difference between peace with God and the peace of God?  Have you ever wondered about that? 

I want you to know right from the start if you are a Christian you already have both of these kinds of peace.  You may not actually know it, but you do.

Peace with God

Before a person is born again or saved they cannot know either one.  We are actually enemies of God.  We are born with a sin nature which is bent against God in every way.  We cannot please God.  We are not at peace with God, and we do not have the peace of God.  We are God’s enemy and we are hostile toward Him.

Jas 4:4 NASB You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

When we trust in Jesus Christ we become a new creation and things change. 

Col 1:21-22 NASB And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, (22) yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach–

We were alienated and hostile toward God, but once He redeemed us we become children of God instead of enemies of God.  Jesus can present us holy and blameless before a holy God.  What a difference!  We obtain peace with God, the moment we are saved.

Rom 5:1 NASB Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (italics mine.)

Remember, your friends who are not believers do not have peace with God.  It is impossible!  That may explain some of their actions and many of their worries and fears. There is a war waging inside them between themselves and God.  They are actually spiritually dead.

Peace of God

Now we get to the exciting part for Christians.  You, right now, this moment, no matter what’s going on in your life; no matter how you feel; you have the peace of God!  That is a bold statement for me to make.  But it’s true. We all have it. God has given us everything we need to live a peaceful life, but most of us don’t realize it.  Let’s go to scripture and see what God says.

First of all God tell us not to be anxious about anything.  If it were not possible He would not have told us that.  It is a command, and if we are to be obedient we have to learn how we can cease from anxiety and worry.  He gives us the antidote right here.  We go to God in prayer and ask Him to meet our needs, and we do it with an attitude of thanksgiving.  He says to make our requests to God.

Php 4:6 NASB Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

When we do that the peace of  God will guard our hearts and minds if we are believers.  And, we will be surprised at this peace because it goes beyond what we can comprehend.

Php 4:7 NASB And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Then, Paul says to do the things he taught them, and to look at his life as an example, and when you do the God of peace will be with you.  Isn’t that amazing?  It is all right here.  God is the God of peace.  He originated peace.  We have His peace in us and it is activated when we obey his commands.

Php 4:9 NASB The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Oh, why do we make it so hard?  There have been many books written on how we can have a peaceful life.  God doesn’t make things difficult.  We do!

When we were saved we received the Holy Spirit as He came to live in each and every one of us.  Having the Holy Spirit allows us to grow the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.  We already posses these fruit, but in many of us they lay dormant.  They need to be cultivated by renewing our minds with the Word and acting on it in obedience.  You will notice that peace  is one fruit of the Spirit.  See there it is!  We already have it!

Gal 5:22 NASB But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (Italics mine.)

It is important to realize that when we keep our minds fixed on God, He will keep us in perfect peace.  The reason this is true is because when we do this we indicate that we trust God.  He is trustworthy.

Isa 26:3-4 NASB “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You. (4) “Trust in the LORD forever, For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.

There is a big difference between believe and trust. You can believe the facts about Jesus. You can believe He is the Son of God, that He died on the cross for our sins, that he was buried and then rose again the third day.  You can believe all the facts about Jesus and yet not be saved.  Did you know that?  I can prove it because even the demons believed and knew who Jesus was, but they were not saved.  They even shuddered to think about Him.

Jas 2:19 LITV You believe that God is One. You do well; even the demons believe and shudder.

So, there is more to it than merely believing the facts about Jesus.  You must trust Him.  There are many people in churches today who call themselves Christians but who have only believed with a head knowledge.  They believed an idea, and never really trusted in a personal Savior. 

We must trust Him with our very lives.  We can believe something but it becomes trust when we put it in action.   For instance, say I’m looking at a chair to sit on.  I can know a lot about that chair.  I can know what color it is, what it is made of, and what shape it is.  But, that is not trusting the chair.  That is just head knowledge about the chair.  I trust the chair when I take the next step and actually sit down on it.  That is trust.  I trust the chair is going to hold me up. 

You see, we can believe all about Jesus Christ, and not really trust Him.  We trust Him when we give up ourselves and rely on Him completely. We surrender our whole selves to Him.  That is trust!  We trust Him to take care of us, to provide for us, to work out every detail of our lives.  That is trust!  We look to Him alone for salvation.  We trust and expect the peace of  God.  We depend on Him and not on ourselves or others.  He is Lord and Master of our lives.  That is trust! 

Do you trust Him my friend?  Is He the one who rules your heart?  Do you have peace with  God?  And, do you have the peace of  God?  He is the God of peace.  When we activate the peace of God in our lives, we will not worry and be filled with anxiety and fear.  They cannot live together.  Satan is the author of unhealthy fear and unhealthy thoughts.

Rom 16:20 NASB The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

2Th 3:16 NASB Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!

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Dear friends, I don’t know where you are on the road of sanctification, but I do know we are all at different places. 

For some of you it would be a huge victory just to leave your bedroom and spend time with your families.  For others it might be to get outside and enjoy the fresh air.  Some of you might need to get your muscle tone in your legs back in shape from laying around so much while you’ve been laid up with worry and anxiety.  Others might be able to leave their homes and shop, but with some difficulty.  Some may be able to work at a job outside of their home and actually do pretty good, but there is still that underlying feeling of ever present danger lurking just under the surface.  Still others may have conquered panic attacks and are now experiencing a more normal life, but every once in awhile a curve is thrown their way and they wind up yielding to the temptation to worry.

There is so much today that we could worry about besides our struggles with panic disorder.  Just look at the world around us, listen to the news, and it can fill us will all kinds of fears and concerns.  So, we not only have to learn how to conquer anxiety to overcome panic attacks but we must also learn how to conquer anxiety in general.

I can remember going to a  church service where the pastor preached on the subject of anxiety.  My ears almost flapped as they tried to take in everything he said so I could learn how to overcome panic attacks.  But, he never went that far. He only talked about anxiety in general as it effected their daily life.  I was disappointed!  I figured that message was not met for me!  The pastor had missed it!

As I look back, I realize that message was  for me!  What I didn’t realize then was if I could learn how to conquer anxiety and fear in normal daily living I could learn to conquer it over panic attacks.  You do it the same way! In fact, if I had learned to conquer daily anxiety before I began having true panic attacks I would never had developed them.  I believe they could have been avoided.  My dad used to say, “Too quick old, too late smart.”

But, you see, in my case I learned how to worry when I was a youngster and thought it was a normal way of life.  Then, when it got out of control in my twenties I had true panic attacks.  That all happened before I became a Christian.  That is important to note. Then, after I  became a Christian no one talked to me about these things.  It took me years to get better because I had to learn on my own through a daily Bible study and then apply the Word to my life by faith.  I finally got there with the Lord’s help.  I finally became free from panic attacks!  I finally got my life back!  I’m forever grateful to God, my precious Heavenly Father who in His infinite mercy looked down upon me with favor.  Thank you God!

Now, remember, believers, we are not of this world. Yes, we live in the world but we don’t belong here.

Php 3:20 NASB For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;

Therefore, we don’t have to live like the world, and we don’t have to think like the world.  I’d  like to ask you to do this little exercise:  The next time you are around people who aren’t believers, just listen to what they talk about.  Take note of the tone of their conversation.  Do they talk about things they worry about?  Do they worry?  Just listen and see.  I’ll bet most of the conversations are about things they are very concerned about, and how they are going to solve them.  They have to figure it all out.  They do not have God to do it for them.  So, they fuss and fume over everything.  Oh, you might hear some laughter mixed in, but what is really going on? A lot of people seem happy on the outside while they are miserable on the inside. Have you ever known someone like that?   Also, take note of how much they gossip.  What do they talk about?  

Those kinds of people can pull us down.  It is so easy to join in and not realize it.  I have to really watch this myself. 

Thank God we are not in that group of humanity any more.  We can rise above our problems because God is working them all out.  We have to realize who is in charge now.  God is and He will help us through anything that comes our way.  As John MacArthur has said, “Worry assumes that God doesn’t care, doesn’t know, or doesn’t have the resources to help us.”  That is like a slap in the face to God.  It’s as though we don’t trust Him and don’t believe His Word. 

1Pe 5:7 NASB casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

God really does care for us and will take care of us.  He is God our provider and our counselor.  We don’t have to worry!  Let’s stop living like the world.

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Worry is another word for anxiety.  Do you worry?  We can worry about the past, the present and the future.  What do you worry about?  All of them?  I did at one time, but I’ve come a long way in that department, and pray you will too. 

For a long time I blamed my mother for my worry.  You see she was a great worrier, and I figured it was in my genes.  My mother’s sister was also a great worrier, and you know what, she died an early death because of it.  She literally worried herself to death.  She had every disease you can imagine. (At least she thought she did.)  She went to doctor after doctor and I’m aware of at least a couple of doctors that refused to see her because she was such a worry wort.  She would not take their advice, and took all kinds of medication, which of course, she knew more than the doctors about how much and how to take it.  I feel bad she died relatively young, but she did it to herself.  She was very hard to be around, as she was always crying over her kids problems, and worrying about everything.  She was so very self-centered and was a nervous wreak most of the time. 

My mom worried a lot too, and I think for me it was a learned behavior.  When you live with someone like that for 20 years you just kind of pick it up.  So, I started out that way.  Most likely that is what lead me down the trail to panic attacks.  The actual attacks started in my early 20’s.  But, all my life I remember how nervous I felt all the time and how I would worry over everything. I had to take care of my little sister a lot growing up while my parents worked, and that was a lot of responsibility for a kid to carry. 

It’s sad to think that people have to live that way.  In fact, the older I get the sadder it becomes.  I see people everyday who are ruining their health just because they worry.  It is such a waste of the time that the Lord has given us. 

Here is something I learned that is very important and I hope you will take to heart.   People in the world (unbelievers) have to worry.  Why?  Because they have only themselves to rely on.  Everything is all up to them.  They have to fight their way through life, figure all the angles and make sure things are going their way.  They have to worry about their jobs, food, clothing, health, and everything else.  They are just “out there” on their own.  Have you ever thought of that?  I hadn’t until recently. 

Christians, on the other hand, DON’T HAVE TO WORRY!  We really don’t!  We are living in an entirely different spiritual realm than unbelievers.  We have been adopted into God’s family.  He is our Father!  He is our Provider!He is our Savior! He is our Comforter!  He is our Guide!  He is our Counselor!  He is our Healer!  He is in control over everything in our lives.  We do not have to figure out every detail in life, and fret and worry about them.

So, why then, do we worry?  We shouldn’t.  It is because we were raised in this world and worry has become a habit we have learned along the way.  We need to learn new habits and put off the old habit of worry and anxiety.  We think we have to be in control of everything that effects our lives.  But, is that true?  No!  Not when we are a Christian.  God has bought us with a price and He controls us.  He is our Lord and Master.  We are His children and need to look to Him for every need. 

When we become a Christian we do not realize that God will take care of us in every way.  We still hang on to the worldly way of thinking.  That is our mistake! We need to stop thinking like unbelievers!   They have to worry.  We don’t!  We have been set free from worry when we were saved because Christ died and rose again and in doing so enabled us to become new creations.  We are actually new persons inside.  

2Co 5:17 NASB Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

But, we still live in the old fleshly body and are constantly bombarded with it’s desires and feelings. Those old feelings lure us into the trap of worry.  We have a certain physical feeling, like rapid heartbeat, and right away our mind takes off on a worry trip.  We start with the “what if” thoughts.  “What if I’m having a heart attack?”  What if I’m going to have a panic attack?”  “What if I pass out?”  And, on and on it goes.  We are worrying and causing ourselves much anxiety.  Finally, if we don’t know how to stop this process we will end up having a full-blown panic attack.

Is there an answer to this?  A war rages as the old flesh fights our new spirit.  But, God says, He is greater. 

1Jn 4:4 NASB You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

God is more powerful.  He has given believers the Holy Spirit to live in us and gives us power to overcome. 

2Ti 1:14 NASB Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to

you.

 

Eph 3:16 NASB that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,

2Pe 1:3 NASB seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.

God has given us everything we need to live our Christian lives in a God honoring way. 

Gal 5:16 NASB But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

Rom 8:13 NASB for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

God calls us to stop living according to the world.  We are to die to that when we become Christians.  The Holy Spirit which indwells us gives us the power to put to death the deeds of the flesh.  In other words, He gives us the power to stop worrying.  We can do it!

Below is part of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians believers:

Eph 1:19-20 NASB and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might (20) which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,

Just what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe?   Paul is emphasizing that the extraordinary divine force by which Jesus Christ was raised from the dead is the same power at work in and through believers.  Isn’t that wonderful?  We have that same power in us!  We can overcome anything!  Believe it! 

to be continued….

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