Thursday, March 31, 2011

April 1, 2011

"Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."  John 14:6

I remember my first funeral. Elmer Larson was a very gentle elderly man who loved God and loved his family and his faithful witness quietly shouted faith. When he crossed over from this life to the next and I was called on to comfort the widow and the rest of his tight-knit family I felt totally inadequate and unprepared. Since then I have been involved in hundreds of similar situations and find that experience doesn't make it any easier. I have no way of comforting them except pointing them to THE WAY. My words mean nothing but THE WORD does! My presence helps but it is HIS LIFE present through me that matters.

What better way to comfort people than with the very words Jesus used to comfort His closest followers. When death cruelly steals someone precious to you and rips the heart out of your chest, you wonder, "How will I make it? How can I go on?"

God knew that in the valley of the shadow of death you would need a way! So, when He sent Jesus to die for your sins He made a way! When Jesus arose from the dead three days later He provided a way! Because Jesus walked through that fearful valley by Himself, and because He walked out the other side, He can walked through the valley with you! Not only did He find a way HE IS THE WAY! When that stoned rolled away on the first Easter morning, God guaranteed that no one else would ever have to face death alone - your death or the death of a loved one.

Jesus is the WAY to be delivered from the guilt, the shame, the power and the penalty of your sins! Jesus is the WAY to a personal relationship with His Father. Jesus is the WAY through the pain and problems of life. And, not only is He the WAY into spiritual life, He is the out of physical life into eternal life. He is the WAY out of fear. He is WAY bigger than death! He beat it on the cross! He defeated it in the tomb!

After death has stolen a loved one and steamrolled those who lost him, these grieving people don't need poems, platitudes, philosophical statements or pat answers - they need truth! Real pain needs real perspective! I refuse to patronize those who have just had their hearts crushed. Death exposes empty speculations.

God sent Jesus to make sure that you would never have to settle for empty answers again. Jesus came to show truth so you can know truth! And this truth is not simple concepts or ideas it is A PERSON! When you are confronted with death you don't have to settle for perspective or principles you can have a POWERFUL PERSONAL PRESENCE! Jesus doesn't just know truth. He doesn't just teach truth. HE IS TRUTH - THE TRUTH!  

One reason you fear death is because you think it is the end of life. That is only true if you have not given your life to Jesus. If you are not in His way and if you are not committed to His truth, not only will you not be prepared for death, you will be overwhelmed by life! 
Jesus is not only the way to life - HE IS LIFE! He is life because He is God! You cannot have life if you do not have Him. As long as you have Him you have LIFE. His LIFE is more powerful than your death. His LIFE begins when you commit your way to Him and becomes the abundant life He promises! When the abundant life comes to an end and you body gives out, ETERNAL LIFE begins!

I am sharing with you how you can choose to not fear death!

Yesterday I shared that God is bigger than life - fear not!

Now you know that God, through Jesus, has beaten death! Fear not!

You may be thinking, "No way!"

Jesus says, "Way! Truth! Life!"

March 31, 2011

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me." John 14:1

The first thing I notice in this Scripture verse is the clear and simple statement that fear is a choice. "Do not let your hearts be troubled", He says. Why would Jesus make that statement if it were not possible for you to choose to not allow fear to dominate your emotions?

If you can choose not to fear, how does that happen?

You believe in God and you believe Jesus is the Son of God. You must believe that God is greater than what you fear! You must fear God more than you fear death. By believing that God is greater than what you fear and if what you fear most is death, then you must believe that God is bigger than death.

Doesn't that make sense?

Jesus admits as much when you understand the context of this portion of Scripture. He has just told his disciples that He is going to be dying on a cross to atone for the sins of the world, and THEN He will be going to Heaven to prepare a place for them to enjoy when they get there. Certainly, Jesus would not have promised His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them if He believed that He would not arise from the dead. Jesus knew that God was bigger than death. He was confident that after His death on the cross He would again be alive and returning to Heaven.

Choose faith in Life over the fear of death and your heart will not be troubled! Jesus was not afraid to go to the cross because He knew Who His Father was and how powerful His Father was! Jesus feared being separated from His Father, as would necessarily happen when He took the sins of the world upon Himself. Dying as a sinner would cause Jesus to be separated from the Father. That is something He had never experienced and greatly dreaded - as you can imagine.

You fear being separated from life and that is why death holds such fear for you. But what if you were to believe that being separated from this life means being united with God and with Jesus? What if you believed that the God you love and trust is bigger than death? What would it do for your level of fear if you dared to believe that God is bigger than life itself? And not only is He bigger than life - HE IS LIFE!  Death perishes in His presence!  It is in Him we "live and die and have our being" as Acts tells you.

Let not your heart be troubled! Choose to not be fearful over death! Believe in the God Who is bigger than death because He is bigger than life!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

March 30, 2011

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23

A couple of days ago I talked about the two reasons for fearing death, the certainty of death - you know it will happen - and the uncertainty of death - you don't know when or how it will happen. Either of those OR both of those can be cause for fear if you don't know how to confront them.

To remove the uncertainty of death make sure that you are prepared to die today. Make sure you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior for the forgiveness of your sins. Having your sins forgiven and knowing that your name is written in the Book of Life and His Spirit dwelling in you will give you the certainty that you are ready to be in the presence of God whenever that time comes.

Having established that, to be completely free from the fear of death, understood that death you should fear. Does that sound like a contradiction? Not if you understand God's perspective of death.

God looks at death from the vantage point of life. He IS life! There is no death in Him. Death is His enemy. Death cannot exist in His presence. Therefore, death happens because you are separated from life - aka - God. That death, of course, is spiritual death because it is "in Him we live, and move and have our being". And what is it that separates us from life (God) is sin. A holy God cannot dwell with or have fellowship with a sinner and when you willfully sin you break the fellowship and your soul dies. If your body dies while your spirit is separated from God, you will die the most fearful death - separated from God - FOREVER. Fear that!

Physical death, however, is an entirely different matter. As Jesus said to His dear friends Mary and Martha, Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

Jesus was making it clear to His Dear friends that they did not need to fear physical death. And, for a very good reason, you DON'T die. The moment your body flatlines and your physical life ceases you will immediately open your eyes in Heaven! The essential you NEVER dies! It never skips a beat or a breath and you leave one realm of living to eternally enjoy the new and eternal life. In the words of Jesus, if you are in Him, the essential you will never die! Can you get excited about that prospect? Can you feel your fear level begin to dec
rease? Can you feel you faith level rising?

If you want to fear death, fear spiritual death! Fear the prospect of dying without knowing the Lord as your Savior! You should fear being spiritually disconnected from God!

"The wages (what you have earned) of sin is death, but the GIFT (available lavish love and grace of God) is ETERNAL life!"  Romans 6:23

Get "FEARLESS" about death!

Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? Have you received His gift of eternal life?

Monday, March 28, 2011

March 29, 2011

"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles," I Corinthians 15:3-7

Death is a big enemy that creates some gigantic fear in us mortals. I think I was about 30 years of age when I first came to grips with my mortality. Before that time the idea of dying really didn't stick with me. Dying was something that happened to other people - older people. I had three young children that I wanted to see grow to adulthood and I couldn't bear the thought of my life ending before they were grown. As I recall, the idea of death and dying haunted me for several weeks until I worked my way through that fear.

Are you familiar with that fear?

One of the truths that helped me deal with this horrendous fear of dying was the knowledge that even though death is bigger than life, God is bigger than death!

How did God conquer death? Through a death! Yes, a death! The death of His Son, Jesus Christ. And even more, God defeated death by a resurrection from the dead! The Jewish religious leaders arrested Him on trumped up charges, made those stand, beat Him savagely, and then killed Him on a cruel cross. Jesus did die. But three days later he was back to life! Through His resurrection from the dead, Jesus proved that God is bigger than death! He died to take away the sin and shame so you can be free from from the fear of death! BUT THEN He rose on the third day - came back from the dead! When Jesus walked out of that garden tomb on that first Easter Sunday, He conquered death! Forever! Death could not hold Him and neither can it hold those of us who follow Him and are called by His name.

Is a death a big fear in your life? And if that fear is robbing you of your peace about dying, remember the resurrection! Remember the love that motivated Jesus' life, His brutal death, and His marvelous resurrection! In other words, remember that God is bigger than death or any of your fears about dying!

Knowing Who Jesus Is and what He did to conquer death should be enough to help you conquer your fears about death. That is the power of faith! Are you going to choose to believe your fears or will you believe in a God Who has proven He is bigger than death.

So, God destroyed the power of death by allowing His Son to be unfairly mobbed and murdered. He affirmed that He is the source of the life that dwells within you by raising His Son from the dead! And the Bible tells you that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to you through His Spirit!

His life in you through faith, is stronger than death that is working in you! And His life through you will raise you up to eternal life!

Do you have that life? Don't die with out it!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

March 28, 2011

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die"  Ecclesiastes 3:1-2a

When you think about death and dying there are two things that cause you to fear - the certainty of dying and the uncertainty of dying.

Even in a death-denying culture like ours, everyone knows that no one gets out alive. Every person has a date with death. You have been to enough funerals, driven past enough cemeteries, heard enough news reports and read enough obituaries to know death is inescapable.

You spend considerable time and thought preparing for the eventuality of your death while at the same time, doing everything in your power to preserve your life.

God hard-wired us to life forever. Dying was not a part of His perfect plan for your life. So, death frightens you and the certainty of death can haunt you.

And then there is the uncertainty about death that is a bit scary. You know you will die someday but have no idea how or when.

When you board a plane it may flash through your mind, "This could be the time." You get the cancer diagnosis and you wonder, "is this it? Will I survive this or is it my time?"

There is a website on the net that claims it can determine your date of death. That should remove some uncertainty and remove some fear. According to my date to die is: Wednesday, December 17, 2036. So, if you are planning to buy me a Christmas gift that year you can save your money.

Based on this prediction I have some 811, 733,020 seconds left to live. You are on the clock, too!

It is natural to fear death because, death was not meant to be natural. God created us and designed us to live forever but because of sin, death became a reality. BUT, to be terrorized by the thought of dying or obsessed with that fear is not a healthy or helpful thing.

Knowing you are going to die but not knowing how or when can be a fearful thing for you. Don't let the fear of death steal away your zest for living. There is a way to be free from the fear of death. That is what we will be studying this week as we continue our "FEARLESS" series.

In the meantime, let the certainty of death inspire your to prepare for life - now and or eternity. Today is the first day of the rest of your life! Make it count! Live until you die - and then live forever!

March 27, 2011

What do you think of when I mention the name, “King David?”

How about the Apostle Peter?

These two men, highly honored by God and revered by believers through the centuries, were both guilty of being major disappointments to God!

Have you ever disappointed God?

Have you ever feared that you have gone too far or crossed the line of forgiveness?

"Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!” Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man."  Matthew 9:1-8

FRIENDS, Vv. 1-2a

What is the best thing a friend ever did for you?

What is the best thing you ever did for a friend?

Here is a guy who had some GREAT friends! (READ VERSES 1-2)

Do you have friends like that?

Will you be a friend like that?

Jesus IS a Friend like that!

Having friends like these will certainly help you move beyond your fear of disappointing God……….

We need to be a church like that……


A story tells that two friends were walking through the desert. During some point of the journey they had an argument, and one friend slapped the other one in the face. The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand: "TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SLAPPED ME IN THE FACE."

They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him. After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone: "TODAY MY BEST FRIEND SAVED MY LIFE."

The friend who had slapped and saved his best friend asked him, "After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?"

The other friend replied: "When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it."


God has written His forgiveness in stone!

“Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.” Matthew 9:2

“He who believes in Him is not condemned.” John 3:18

“We are delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed into the kingdom of the Son He loves.” Colossians 1:13

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13-14

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” I John 5:13

“If our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.” I John 3:20

“If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” I John 1:9

Let me ask you this, “Did God give up on Peter when Peter denied Him?”

So, how many would say that Peter found forgiveness?

How many of you think that David found forgiveness for his despicable sins?

How Forgiveness Works – Psalm 51




Booker T Washington once told a story about his young life. Every morning, he and other slaves in a plantation were awakened by the crow of a rooster...this noise always reminded Washington and the others to get out of bed and leave for the cotton fields. Soon enough, the rooster became a symbol of their back-breaking labour in slavery.

Soon after, Abraham Lincoln pronounced freedom for slaves. The first morning after the Emancipation Proclamation, the rooster crowed as usual but this time, Booker T and his mother chased it around the yard with an axe and this loud alarm clock was ate for lunch. Their first act of freedom was to silence what reminded them of slavery.


FAITH, Vv. 7-8

After Jesus forgave his sins, He then told the man to get up and go. Why didn’t He just heal him in the first place?

1) To mess up the Jew’s theology?

2) To increase his faith?

3) Was the sin the cause of the sickness?

4) Which is most important – salvation or healing?

A pastor friend recently told the true story of one of his church members, an attorney, who after meditating on several scriptures, decided to cancel the debts of all his clients that had owed him money for more than 6 months. He drafted a letter explaining his decision and its biblical basis and sent 17 debt canceling letters via certified mail.

One by one, the letters began to return, unsigned and undelivered. Perhaps a couple people had moved away though not likely. 16 of the 17 letters came back to him because the clients refused to sign for and open the envelopes fearing that this attorney was suing them for their debts.

How profound! We owe a debt for our sin and God is willing to cancel it but too many people will not even open the letter that explains that.

David Yarborough tells the story from one of Max Lucado’s books of a lady who had a small house on the seashore of Ireland at the turn of the century was quite wealthy but also quite frugal. The people were surprised, then, when she decided to be among the first to have electricity in her home.

Several weeks after the installation, a meter reader appeared at her door. He asked if her electricity was working well, and she assured him it was. "I’m wondering if you can explain something to me," he said. "Your meter shows scarcely any usage. Are you using your power?"

"Certainly," she answered. "Each evening when the sun sets, I turn on my lights just long enough to light my candles; then I turn them off."

God’s forgiveness and grace is available for you – BUT YOU MUST USE IT! YOU MUST GET UP AND GO!


God has given you unlimited and unfailing grace to make sure you can always find forgiveness when you feel you have disappointed God.

If you have lost faith, He has given you have faithful friends!

If you are fearful, He has given you have fearless friends!

If you are faithless and friendless and fearful, you still have a forgiving God!

You are surrounded by friends and a forgiving God is here. Will you tear through your fear and come before Jesus this morning?

Friday, March 25, 2011

March 26, 2011

"So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home." Matthew 9:7-8

Not only is this a great story from the life and ministry of Jesus, it is very insightful as how to He wants you to deal with the fear of disappointing God.

I have shown you how He has blessed you with friends. Hopefully you have friends like this fellow's friends who carried him to Jesus. Not only did they bring him to the proximity of Jesus, they tore the roof open to get him into the PRESENCE of Jesus! Wow! Friends like that can help relieve your fears!

But, in addition to these fantastic friends, this man benefited from the grace of Jesus, Who forgave him of his sins! Forgiveness is a strong weapon against fear! It is especially powerful again this fear that you have sinned beyond God's willingness to forgive. I shared a number of verses assuring you of His promises to extend grace to cover your sins. His grace is greater than your sins!

So, friends and forgiveness are antidotes to your fears. BUT, that is not all!

This encounter in His home town of Nazareth also shows a third resource for overcoming fear - faith! Faith is the anti-fear! Jesus called faith out of this man! Having already forgiven him of his sins, which certainly should have boosted his faith, Jesus commanded the paralytic to get up and go! "Jump to your feet, take your bed, and go home!" At that moment, this guy have a decision to make. Would he obey Jesus in faith or would he hesitate for fear of looking foolish? Faith or fear, which would it be for this man?

We know he chose faith. When Jesus commanded, "Get up and go!" the man jumped to his feet! His faith allowed Jesus to heal him and he carried his mat home! For the first time in years - he was walking! No doubt he hurried home to show his family that he was a new man! Imagine that glad reunion!

Doubt and fear can paralyze you! Fear from past foul-ups can paralyze you with guilt and erode your faith so you feel you can't be as good as you should be, or as good as you want to be, OR as good as God expects you to be. Fear of future foul ups can also paralyze you from venturing too far into the realm of faith.

Friends, forgiveness and faith! What a powerful combo for conquering fears that may be plaguing you with guilt or paralyzing you from doing the good a gracious God is calling you to go!

Have you disappointed God recently? Did you do something you really regret? Are you agonizing over a past moral failure that you fear has pushed you beyond the boundaries of forgiveness?

“Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven!"

Enjoy your godly friends! Embrace His forgiveness! Escape your fear by exercising your faith!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

March 25, 2011

"Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”  Matthew 9:2

When Jesus says you are forgiven, you are forgiven! The fear of disappointing God resides in the fear that God hasn't or won't forgive you. Perhaps you have played fast and loose with sin and abused grace. That is not good. It is unwise. It will give the devil a field day for condemning you and accusing you.

Don't confuse your own guilt and feelings of condemnation with God's failure to forgive. Listen to Jesus' words to this fellow who apparently was so consumed with guilt that he was literally paralyzed. The Master looked at him and said with authority, "Take heart, son, your sins are forgiven." And then to demonstrate His power to forgive AND to prove that He had forgiven He then healed the man!

If you fear that you have disappointed God and He won't forgive you, consider this sampling of His promises throughout the Word of God:

“Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.” Matthew 9:2

“He who believes in Him is not condemned.” John 3:18
“We are delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed into the kingdom of the Son He loves.” Colossians 1:13

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13-14

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” I John 5:13

“If our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.” I John 3:20

“If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” I John 1:9
"as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:12
“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more."  Isaiah 43:12
"For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12
"Then he adds:  “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” Hebrews 10:17

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1-2

Never sell God's grace short nor the power of His forgiveness! He has given you faithful, fearless friends to help you deal with your fear of disappointing God. AND, He has assured you of His amazing grace that forgives you of your sins and lifts the weight of guilt from your conscience!

Could this be what John meant when he wrote, "Perfect love casts out fear"?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March 24, 2011

"Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”  Matthew 9:1-2

As with most things involving Jesus, they are amazing at several levels. So it is with this story. Not only does Matthew record it here, Luke also was inspired to write it down in chapter 5 of his gospel.

This morning I want to focus on a powerful weapon God has given us to overcome fear. It is on display in this story. What is it? Faithful, faith-filled, fearless friends!

Here is a man who badly needed an encounter with Jesus but because of his physical limitation was unable to get to the Master. We find out in the story that not only was he sick, he was a sinner. In fact, as you read this account it seems to imply that his sickness and his sin were related.

This poor man was blessed to have some friends who believed in him and believed in Jesus and made sure that their friend would get to Jesus. They had faith but they were also faithful and put feet to their faith.

We don't know how far they carried him but it really doesn't matter! The fact that they carried him to the place where Jesus was is impressive. Even more impressive is how they climbed up to the roof, tore a hole in the roof and lowered him down to where Jesus was! Wow! They were fearless!

Matthew and Luke both mention that it was THEIR faith that impressed Jesus, not necessarily the man's faith! He may have been faithless. He could have been fearful. We don't know - but it really didn't matter! He had friends who did!

Jesus forgave this man and then healed him, because of how faith-filled his friends were! Do you have friends like this? Are there people in your life who will make sure you get to Jesus when you can't get to Jesus? Do you have friends who are faithful to you when you have lost faith in yourself? Do you have friends who are faith-filled when you have lost faith in Him? Do you have fearless friends who encourage you when you are overcome with fear?

This man did! I hope you do, too. I hope your church is populated with people like that. I hope you have friends in your fellowship who are so committed to you and so committed to Jesus that they will carry you to Him and rip off a roof if they have to! I would like to think there are some people at FredWes who are like that.

Let me ask you a more important question, "Are you a friend like that?"

One of the inspiring truths that emerges from this amazing account is the power of friendship and what a strong weapon faithful friends can be for helping overcome fear!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March 23, 2011

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."   Psalm51:1-10

How many times can I disappoint God by my sins, especially the besetting sins or those who just keep commiting the same sin over and over? Will there be point and time when God will say, "That's it! You're done! No more mercy or grace for you!"?

Face it, with every other relationship there is a point where one more disappointment is the deal-breaker and that person will bail out on you. They either end the relationship or withdraw emotionally from you. That hurts so much that it can cause you to be guarded and cautious in all relationships. The fear of losing a relationship and being rejected should we disappoint them one more time can be almost paralyzing. It can put tremendous pressure on all of your relationships and create insecurity.

Perhaps David feared he had disappointed God so much that there would be no redemption for him. He obviously was plagued by guilt and remorse. In out to God, David asks for 3 things to happen?

Transgressions blotted out – "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions." THIS IS THE ACT ITSELF – “Please Lord, forget I ever did what I did, blot it out so it can never be seen again!”

Iniquity washed – "Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place."  THIS IS THE GUILT IT BRINGS – Guilt is the leftover stuff, the anger we have at our self, what we cannot forgive about what we did, the punishment that I am putting on myself, I cannot forgive me.

Sin cleansed – "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." THE ONE WHO DID IT – The stuff in me that causes me to do these things, I want this cleansed, I don’t want to be that person.

David sinned terribly and disappointed His God and himself. This prayer of three-fold contrition restored him to fellowship with God and helped him work through his guilt and disappointment with himself.

If you fear you have disappointed God and wonder if you can be forgiven and restored, read Psalm 51 several times humbly and prayerfully. Then pray that Psalm sincerely to God. See if God's grace will meet you as it did King David.

March 22, 2011

"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge." Psalm 51:4

If you asked one hundred Christians to name the greatest King of Israel, all one hundred would probably answer King David. They would be right.

God chose Him when he was still a child in the home of his father, Jesse. He was from the same lineage that would later produce Jesus. David's zeal for God and for God's people and His nation was unmatched by any other king. That zeal inspired great courage and that courage made him a giant-killer. His character caused him to honor King Saul at the very time that Saul was seeking to destroy him. His charismatic leadership drew mighty men to follow him and to become giant-killers themselves.

David was known as a mighty warrior. He was hailed as a conqueror. Millions have been blessed and inspired by his poetry celebrated in the Psalms. Few men have demonstrated such passion for worshipping God. God's people enjoyed peace and His nation prospered under King David's leadership. He was honored by God's reference to him as possessing a heart like His own!

Few kings of any era or any nation has been more honored or revered than King David. And few, if any, have disappointed God more than David disappointed God.

I doubt if anyone ever wants to disappoint God. Least of all, David. And yet, this godly man committed adultery and then had a loyal man killed to cover up his transgression. He suffered significant sorrows as a consequence of these sins.

The fear of disapponting God is real. David is an example why.

Perhaps you have disappointed God. You understand the deep sense of grief that he experienced and you struggle under the resulting consequences from your sin. While your heart longs for God you are afraid you would disappoint Him again if you try to follow Him again. What do you do?

I suggest you do like David, cry out to Him in repentence. Confess your sin and turn from it. Seek His forgiveness and then chase God harder than you ever have before!

King David did. And he never disappointed God again. History remembers him for his greatness not his great failure. So did God.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

March 21, 2011

"But there is a place where someone has testified: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet.” In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them."  Hebrews 2:6-8

The fear of insignifcance is very real. It drives some people and causes others to live constantly frustrated and unfulfilled lives. Everyone wants to matter. No one wants to think that his life has been wasted. Why is that so important? Why do you have that need?

Why does a former superstar athlete or actor always crave the spotlight? Why do they die dreaming of a comeback?

Once you have tasted of significance anything less seems insignificant.

According to Scripture, you were created for significance. Adam was handmade by God Who breathed the breath of life into Him and placed Him in paradise. That's significance!

God gave Adam authority over all the earth and blessed Him with a woman to be his helpmate. Every day the three of them walked and talked together through the perfect splendor of Eden. That's significance!

You and I were shaped for significance - greatness just short of angelic! We had it until Adam lost it! But we still desire it. The loss of it leads to a loss of significance.

Had we never had significance you or I would never would have missed it. But to have known perfection and lost it leaves a longing. To have known paradise and to have been banished from it leaves an awful void.

Significance was lost in disobedience and rebellion. It can only be regained through repentance and maintained through obedience. It was lost at the feet of  God and can only be regained by returning there with a broken and contrite heart.

The washed up actor will never win another leading role. And the athlete past His prime will never make another team. But you - you can recapture your lost significance when you allow yourself to be captured by the grace and goodness of God!

You were made a little lower than the angels, don't live like the devil........

Saturday, March 19, 2011

March 20, 2011

"Aren't two sparrows sold for only a penny? But not one of them falls to the ground without your Father knowing it. He even counts every hair on your head! So don't be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows."  Matthew 10:29-31

"Aren't five sparrows sold for two pennies? But God does not forget even one of them. In fact, he even counts every hair on your head! So don't be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows." Luke 12:6-7

Unless you are out for an early morning walk, you probably don't notice the birds very much. When you get engrossed in your daily routine you are preoccupied with far more important issues. Though you drive by scores of robins, cardinals, blue jays, and sparrows without a second thought. In the priorities of your daily agenda birds just don't matter much. Perhaps if you see an eagle soaring high above or a turkey vulture along the side of the roadway it might merit some momentary attention. But face it, birds are not a significant part of your day.

But, Someone DOES notice and Someone cares. Even the small and most insignificant of the birds, the sparrow, warrants the fill attention of God. When the wind blows a sparrows nest from the swaying tree branches carrying the hatchlings to their death, God notices and He cares. Hundreds of sparrows die every day unbeknownst  to you or me, but not to Him. Not a single bird perishes without the Father knowing and caring.

How do you know that? Because Jesus says so! Why should you care what God thinks about sparrows? They are not worth much to us. Way back in Jesus' time two sparrows could be purchased for a penny. So worthless are sparrows that if you laid down two pennies the merchant would throw in a free one - five sparrows for two cents.

If a sparrow had feelings imagine how insignificant it might feel knowing it is valued at half of a cent. Or, think about how that fifth sparrow would feel knowing he was thrown in for free! How insignificant is that?

But that's the point! God cares intimately about the welfare of a worthless little sparrow. Everyone matters to Him! During the course of a busy day when you don't notice He does! As you forget all of them, He notices everyone! They are significant to Him!

Again, why should that matter to you? Here's why - if God cares that much about a sparrow that was thrown into to sweeten the deal, now much more does He care about you? If a freebie sparrow matters to God, how significant are you?

Perhaps you have struggled with feelings of insignificance. Maybe you have been haunted with fears that you don't really matter and your life is a waste. Perhaps you have felt like that  fifth sparrow most of your life. Jesus wants you to know how much you matter to God. That is why He told the story! That is why He said you should not fear!

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,

Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,

When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,

And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;

Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,

When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,

I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Refrain: I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.


March 19, 2011

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."  I Peter 2:9

Long Summer days in Claypool, Indiana, were spent playing sandlot baseball. We had a vacant lot just west of town that had was surrounded on two sides by a fence. That became our ballpark and if it was a week day it was game day!
The fence surrounding the lot was our home run fence and we keep meticulous statistics over the entire Summer - the number of home runs we hit, the number of runs batted in, doubles, triples, and batting average. We were legends in our own minds!
After a few Summers when we grew big enough that the fence was too reachable, we all started batting left-handed to put some challenge back into hitting homers. By the time we mastered the left side of the plate, some inconsiderate person bought the lot and built a house on it! Sometimes progress stinks!
Game day began about mid-morning as we gathered with gloves and bats and baseballs in tow. The dramatic moment was when we would choose sides. It would be the two biggest, oldest and best players as captains charged with picking among the rest of us also rans to determine the teams. As other guys were picked and I wasn't, my sense of significance suffered. I was never the last guy picked but neither was I the first. Being wired the way I am, the lower I was chosen the more motivated I became to prove I mattered. But that simple childhood act of choosing up sides for sandlot ballgames was a raw and revealing way of exposing who really mattered and who didn't. Your significance in the "pack" was on display! There was no place to hide.
God built into you and me a strong need for significance. We want to matter. We need to know our lives make a difference. Therefore, who we chose to determine our sense of significance is a game-changer. In a perfect world, that is one the primary roles of parents to build significance and security into the psyche of their children. When you matter to mon and dad, you don't care as much where you get chosen in the line up.
Even more important than the significance given you by your parents is realizing how much you matter to God. Ultimately, your significance will rise or fall on understanding your value to Him. And, there is good news! The Bible says that He chose you first! You are a first-round draft choice in His opinion! You are so significant to Him that He traded His Son's life for yours!
Are you struggling with the fear of not mattering? Do you live with the insecurity of feeling insignificant? Have you allowed the wrong people to decide your worth?
Get your heart and mind around this - "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."  I Peter 2:9

You matter! He says so! Let His opinion matter most to you! Let Him matter more than anyone or anything else and feel the fear of insignificance melt away.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March 18, 2011

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."   I John 4:10

One way the need for significance manifests itself in 2011 is the phenomenon known as "social networking". Millions are texting or tweeting or posting on Facebook. Essentially, they are saying, "Notice me!" or "Let me know I matter!" or "Make me feel significant!"

The more friends you have or the more tweets you get the more accepted you feel. you want to be known and know you matter. I contend that the wild popularity of these social networks is fueled by the fear of not mattering.

I am sure God is beyond fear, BUT if He would have a fear I believe it would be the fear that He would not matter to us. He needs for you to recognize His significance. It is in your best interest as well as His.

So, God texted you! Yes, He did! He sent His Commandments through His servant, Moses! He made it clear what matters to Him. He showed you what should matter to you!

Next, God tweeted us! Through His Prophets and His Patriarchs He inspired the great Scriptures of the Old Testament to let us know what He was doing and what He was planning to do in the future. He did not want you to miss what He was doing in our behalf.

Finally, He posted on Facebook! Yes, He did! He sent His Son, Jesus - the God-man - to allow you to get a look at His profile. He wanted us to know what He looks like and what He loves. By posting His picture in the portrait of Jesus, God revealed His nature and His heart. He wanted to know you and to be known by you!

One way you can know you are significant to God is to understand through Scripture just how badly He wants to matter to you! He is the One Who created you and is the only One Who can recreate you into His image!

When you decide to let God know how much He matters to you, then you will begin to understand how much you matter to Him.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

March 17, 2011

"...made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:5-10

Despite your best efforts, salvation cannot be earned. Thank God, it doesn't have to be!

Likewise, neither can you earn a healthy sense of self-worth. Granted, doing things that matter is certainly better than doing bad things or doing nothing. But here is why it doesn't work. When you try to earn your salvation with good works you are never sure if you have done enough. Similarly, when you are trying to boost your sense of self-worth by doing good, how do you know if you have done enough? Do you depend on what others think of you? Do you compare yourself with someone who is doing less than you? Do you depend on titles earned or honors bestowed or educational level achieved or your financial status? How can you be sure that you matter enough?

The good news of salvation and of self-worth is the same - don't depend on what you can do, depend on what HE HAS DONE! It is His grace that saves you and it is His sacrifice that earned your forgiveness. Only His righteousness can make you right! Through His atoning death can you enter into a personal relationship with God and it is through your relationship with Him that you draw your value.

Grace means that you can enjoy what you haven't earned! Grace means you are elevated to right standing with God through what Christ did for you! You become a child of God and a joint heir with Christ! In other words, YOU MATTER!

Finding significance begins when you accept by faith what He has done for you! Once you have received His significance what you do matters! You are not saved BY good works but you are saved to DO good works.  In His grace you can begin extending that grace to others. You become more significant as you add significance to them.

It is what you do AFTER you accept what HE did that matters! It is what you do AFTER you receive His grace that makes you matter!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March 16, 2011

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."  John 3:16

We are heading into the yard sale season. If you haven't done a yard sale, you may not relate to this article but for the other 99.99% of us, you know that the hardest part is tagging all the items with a price. The first 1,000 items you tend to estimate a little high because you know the hard-core yard salers will haggle the price anyway. But, after several hours of assigning value to items you don't value enough to keep, you reach a point where you stop caring and just  start slapping price stickers on stuff.

Similarly, when the day of the sale comes you start the day with high hopes trying to hold the line against the bargain-hunters who show up seeking treasure among your trinkets. But as the day wears on and you still have piles of stuff, you come to the realization that your stuff is only worth what people are willing to pay for it. The thought of having to pick up all the remaining items and put them away somewhere causes you to begin throwing stuff into bags or boxes and selling them enmass for less than you sold stuff individually earlier in the day.

A day spent doing a yard sale may be the best education in economics that you could have. You learn that the ultimate value of something is determined by what someone is willing to pay for it.

As you struggle to find your own sense of significance and value, that same principle applies. You are worth what someone is willing to pay for you. So, be really careful who you allow to slap a price tag on you.

If you try to determine your own value or if you give that power to other people, you will spend your life bargaining and pleading and always feeling cheated or undervalued. You will find wild fluctuations in your value from day to day.

The way to know how much you are really worth is to understand the price that was paid for you! God bought you with the life blood of His own Son, Jesus. That means that He places equal value on you as He does His Son! That is the price tag He placed on you.

God thinks you matter! You are significant to Him! Why not accept His estimate? Why would you continue to under value yourself? Why sell yourself to the lowest bidder?

Monday, March 14, 2011

March 15, 2011

"Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself."  Matthew 22:37-39

Do you remember the first time you felt you really mattered?

If you want to feel like you matter, do something that matters. Jesus tells you what matters most to Him; loving God and loving others.

And, He tells you to love God in a significant way - with ALL your heart, and with your entire soul and with your whole mind. When you do that you will be able to experience His love and receiving His love makes you aware that you matter to Him.

Knowing that you matter to Him changes everything. It changes how you see God. You see Him as a Father and a friend. Having a Father like Him will make you feel like you matter. Knowing Him as a Friend adds significance to your life. Being valued by Him makes you feel valuable. He adds value to everything you do. His mercy and grace releases you from everything that devalued you in the past. The power of His presence dwelling with you gives strength to do things that matter each day. His promises give you hope for future that matters.

Once you find your significance in Him, you will see significance in others. You will treat them with significant kindness and goodness. His love will flow through you toward them. Adding significance to others reflects the love of God in you and adds value to your life.

You can have significance if you make God your Significant Other and love Him supremely.

You can have significance if you live in His love and love others with His significant love.

If you want to know how if feels to matter, do what matters to God.

March 14, 2011

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."  Ephesians 2:10

One of the fears that haunts you is the fear that you will live your life and no one will care. You and I have an inherent need to matter.

Do you matter? Does your life matter? Will anyone care that you showed up on planet earth? Will you leave a thumb print on time? How will eternity be different because you were here?

Have you ever wondered that? Are you struggling with it now?

I often quote my favorite philosopher, my mother, who used to say, "If you could buy him for what he is worth and sell him for what he thinks he's worth you could be a millionaire!"

What she is saying is that value is subjective. It is hard to determine. That contributes to the problem.

If you ask, "Do I matter?", the next question would be, "Matter to whom?"

Who will you allow to determine your value? How will you decide what your life is worth? Where can you go to get an accurate estimate of your worth?

That IS the question, "Isn't it?"

A primary way we determine value in our marketplace is who designed the product and who made it?

If you see labels like "Ford", "Kenmore", "Old Navy", or "Seiko" an item will have one value. But, if you see brands like "Ralph Lauren", "Mecedes", "BMW", or "Rolex" those items will increase in value significantly.

How do you begin your search for significance? Where do you begin to look to determine your value? Look to your label.

Who designed you? Who created you? The answer to that question matters if you want to matter!

Hint: check the Bible verse above.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

March 13, 2011

"The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!" Matthew 8:27

Fundamental life changes can happen in a moment, can't they?

It only takes a second to utter, "I do!", but it alters your life forever!

The second they hand you that newborn baby, there is an immediate transformation that happens within you!

In the moment it takes a announce, "I'm sorry, he's gone" your life radically changes.

Such was the dramatic change that happened in the hearts and minds of the disciples when they witnessed Jesus stop the storm and still the sea with a simple sentence. They suddenly  saw Him  in a whole new light. In  a moment they went from being fearful to fearing God.

"Wait a minute, Brad! That sounds like a contradiction!"

My answer to you is, "There is fear (being afraid for your life) and there is fearing God (having a deep reverent awareness of His holiness and power)." The disciples changed from one to the other in a matter of moments!

Mark and Luke give a better insight to that in their account of the incident- Mark says, "they feared exceedingly"; and Luke, "they being afraid, wondered": they were filled with astonishment and fear, or reverence: there was such a shine of majesty, such a lustre of divine power appeared in this affair.

Want to live fearlessly? Fear God!

Consider these verse verses:

Job 28:28 "And to man He said, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding.'"

Isaiah 11:2-3 "And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD."

Jeremiah 5:22 "Should you not fear me?" declares the Lord. "Should you not tremble in my presence?"

Hebrews 7:11 -"By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith."

As you walk with God today, will you ask Him for a fresh glimpse of His power and majesty so He can fill you with a holy fear of Him so you will fear nothing else!

Friday, March 11, 2011

March 12, 2011

"Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid?"  Matthew 8:26

Jesus doesn't ask bad questions does He? He has a knack for getting to the heart of an issue.

How would you answer? The disciples never really answered the question did they?

One of the many differences between Jesus and us is this, when He asks a question - He already knows the answer. He isn't looking for answers, He IS the answer! What He is looking for from you is confession. Confession means "agreeing with God". He wants you to recognize why you need Him and will ask questions to help you come to that recognition.

We DO need to face our fears so we can "faith" our fears. As I meditate on this story I see several causes for fear that you might relate to and may help you give definite answers to God's question, "Why are you afraid?"

Some fears are confidence issues, "Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples."

A lack of confidence can create fear. Misplaced confidence can cause fear.

When you walk out onto a frozen pond you will be fearful if you are not sure of the thickness of the ice. The thicker the ice the more confidence you will have.

The disciples, at least some of them, felt very confident in a boat. They trusted the boat and trusted their ability to sail the boat. AND, the fact that Jesus was in their boat showed He had confidence in their ability to handle a boat. That should have added to their confidence.

But when the storm under minded their confidence they began to fear.

If you are a person who struggles with confidence or if you have placed your confidence in the wrong place or wrong people you will find fear arising in you. However, when you anchor your confidence in God and find your own confidence in Him you will have less fear.

Some fears are caused by control issues, "Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat."

How do you feel when you sense your life is out of control? Fearful, right? Conversely, the feeling of being in control gives confidence and reduces the level of fear.

The disciples had spent much time in boats and were competent boatmen. They were fully in the control of the boat as they launched onto the lake. But the sudden and savage nature of the storm quickly under minded their confidence and the loss of control caused them to fear.

God allows storms in your life to show you how little control you actually have. There is very little in life that you actually control and those few things you can control - your attitude, your emotions, your decisions and your choices - sometimes get neglected. The more control you surrender to Christ the less fear you will face. He will give you power to control the things you  should control.

Confidence and control are two fear factors that need to be based firmly on a foundation of faith in Christ. The more confidence you place in Him and the more control you surrender to Him the less fear you will struggle with.

If you are overcome with fear, take an honest look at where you have placed your confidence. Also, let go of some control and allow God to be Lord of your life.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

March 11, 2011

"Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm."  Matthew 8:26
Jesus asked a very probing question, "Why are you afraid?"
He didn't wait for them to answer, He gave them a pointed answer, "You have so little faith."
That had to be hard to hear, but who's going to question Jesus? No one responded, "We have great faith!"

They knew He was right!
Have you ever heard Jesus whisper that to you? I'm sure you have questioned your own faith from time to time. And I guarantee that the devil has often accused you about your lack of faith.
They probably understood the point He was trying to make, but they were notoriously slow learners.

So, just in case - - what WAS He saying to them?

First of all, I believe He rebuked them because they called on Him out of fear rather than out of faith. You really could paraphrase this sentence, "Oh, you of great fear!" and not change the gist of the question. If you haven't noticed by now you soon will, this study is about faith as much as it is about fear.

Second, I think He confronted them for allowing the 18" gap between their heads and their hearts. We have that, too, don't we? The difference between faith and fear is the difference between what we know about Jesus and how we apply it to life situations. In the past 24 hours these guys had seen Jesus healing people and casting out demons. They knew He had power and authority from God, but when they were faced with this storm, they forgot Who He was. You could rephrase His statement like this, "Don't you remember Who I am, you fearful ones?"

And, I believe that He was disappointed that they had focused on the storm instead of the Son of God. They became fixated on the problem rather than His power. He was a second thought to them when He should have been a first response. In their boat lay the Creator of the universe and they got spooked by a storm. Their fearful focus relgated Jesus to an unused resource. 

It is a lot easier to recognize this "lack of faith" in the life of others, isn't it? Those disciples, what were they thinking?

But let me ask you, "If Jesus stood before you right now would He commend your faith or would He confront your fear?" 

Like the disciples, you can't have great fear and great faith at the same time. And like them, you may be just 18" away from having greater faith. What do you need to do today to move what you believe about Jesus in your head to how you respond with your heart?

Oh, by the way, Jesus calmed the storm anyway.