Friday, October 25, 2013


Margot Woelk was one of Adolph Hitler’s food tasters.  Her job was to sample the foods of the German Nazi leader before he ate them to ensure they were not poisoned.  For nearly three years,Margot ate the most delicious foods known to man.  In her later years, feeling convicted about her service to the Nazi leader, she decided to speak about her horrid experience.  She said, The food I ate was the most delicious I have ever eaten in my life.  It was only the best vegetables, asparagus, bell peppers, rice, pastas, and about everything you can imagine. The only problem was I could never enjoy it.  For nearly three years I lived in constant fear surrounded by the best the world had to offer.  My job was to eat the best foods that could have been poisoned.  Every day I ate and never enjoyed the food because I feared that meal was going to be my last.”

What do you fear?  People are paralyzed every day by constant fear.  Fear of death, sickness, people, rejection, intimacy, failure and many more rob from people every day.  2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  Fear is not from God but from Satan.  What are you afraid of?  Fear is a paralyzing spirit.  It will keep you from fulfilling God’s calling on your life.  Satan uses fear to terrorize you.  1 John 4:18 says, “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”  God is love and drives fear away.  The Amplified Bible says in 1 John 4:18, “full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror!”  If you are being tormented and are terrified of the fear that is robbing your life then you need to trust in the Lord to remove fear and replace it with His perfect love.

Fear comes to us all in various forms.  My kids were once, and are sometimes still, scared of the dark.  What helped them?  Light!  When Satan throws the dark fears of this world at you, counter it with the light of Christ.  His Word!  Do what David did in Psalm 56:3.  He said, “When I am afraid, I will have confidence in and put my trust and reliance in You.”  So when Satan berates you with the fear of loneliness you come back at him with, “God will never leave me or forsake me” (Hebrews 13:5).  When he tries to scare you with the fear of death, remind him, “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54).  When the fear of lack comes on you, just recall, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).  Whatever phobia you may have, Scripture has an antidote.  

There are many storms in life that are seemingly scary.  Sometimes God calms the storm.  Sometimes the storm rages on and God calms the person.  God can calm you in the roughest of storms.  Fear doesn’t have to captivate you any longer.  God has made you to have faith, not fear.  Worry, anxiety, and doubt are minions of fear.  Don’t bow down to them but have faith and confidence in the Lord.  Isaiah 41:10 reminds us to, “Fear not, for I am with you.  Be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, I will help you, and I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”  I encourage you today to face your fear and don’t run from it or hide in it.  Remember that Jesus is with you.  Don’t be paralyzed by fear but go forward in faith.  If God is for you, who (or what) can be against you (Romans 8:31)!  

Friday, October 11, 2013

Stressed Out?

Are you stressed out?  Here is some help – the word “stressed” is the word “desserts” spelled backwards.  You’re welcome!  Stress free now?  Me either.  There are a lot of great things found in Scripture to help you deal with stress.  One of my favorite verses is John16:33.  Jesus Himself said, “These things I have told you so that in me (Jesus) you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart.  I have overcome the world.”  Now that’s great news that meets every one of us right where we live.  While all of us are faced with varying troubles, Jesus overcomes them all and gives us peace.  I didn’t say He takes all of your troubles completely away.  You can have peace in the middle of your troubles.  Peace isn’t the absence of trouble but the presence of the Lord in the midst of them. 


Another verse in the Bible I remind myself of frequently is Philippians 4:4.  “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.”  When does this verse say to rejoice?  ALWAYS!  How do you rejoice in sickness, death, or pain? How do you rejoice when your mate leaves you (that’s assuming you want them to stay)?  I think this verse tells us rejoicing is a character trait of the Christian.  While trouble may present itself, true joy is found in the Lord, not circumstance.  He is joy.  Joy isn’t good and not bad.  It is Jesus!   I think this verse reminds us to focus on the joy of the Lord and not to worry.  Philippians 4:6 reminds us to also be anxious about nothing.  What does worry produce?  Usually more worry.  Someone once said worry pulls tomorrows clouds over today’s sunshine.  None of us can add a single hour to our life (Matthew 6:27).  Worrying about tomorrow’s problems today is bad medicine.  Matthew6:34 goes on to say, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.“


Another thing Scripture tells us to do is pray.  I didn’t finish Philippians 4:6 in the previous paragraph.  It says, “be anxious for nothing” but doesn’t stop there.  The key to not being anxious is prayer.  The verse continues to say, “but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  The next verse implies that prayer in the middle of anxiety brings peace.  “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Prayer puts your troubles into perspective and causes you to remember to “cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).  God cares about your struggles.  Take them to Him and throw all your troubles on Him.  He can bear our burdens where you and I cannot.  Sometimes we worry or are stressed out because we think the wrong thoughts.  Proverbs 23:7 says what we think in our hearts is what we are.  If you consume yourself with negative or “worst-case scenario” thoughts, you will drive yourself crazy.  When the Devil says, “what if…” to you, tell him, “so what!”  Philippians 4:8 says we should think about only what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.  Other thoughts should be taken captive and made to obey the truths of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). 


Paul knew how to be content in every circumstance (Philippians 4:11).  Whether he had little finances or was hungry, he was content.  He knew God was for him and not against him (Romans 8:31).  Stress free living really is this:  godliness with contentment which brings great gain (1 Timothy 6:6).  You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength (Philippians 4:13).  God will supply all your needs according to His righteousness (Philippians 4:19).  You can overcome stress in Christ!


Friday, October 4, 2013

Psalm 23

As a kid, I memorized Psalm 23 and it has been a blessing to my life ever since.  It is a very recognized portion of Scripture and almost as famous as verses like John 3:16.  These short six verses bring comfort as they describe God as our Shepherd.  David used the relationship of a shepherd and his sheep to relay the love and care between God and His people.  David was very qualified to write about this since he had tended sheep as a shepherd since his childhood.  So what does this classic chapter in the Bible say to us today?  LOTS!

First, verse 1 says “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”  This means, “Because the Lord is my Shepherd I won’t need a thing and will have all I need.”  While this doesn’t guarantee a life void of problems it does mean the answers are found in the Good Shepherd.  He will “make us lie down in green pastures and beside still waters” (v. 2).  “Green pastures” and “quiet waters” mean refreshment and rest for the sheep.  Are you in need of refreshment and rest?  God offers that to you.  Verse 3 says, “He restores my soul and leads me in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake.  His reputation (His Good Name) is on the line here and He provides restoration and rescuing to the weary.  A good shepherd leads his sheep down the right path past harm and through difficult terrain and hard territory. Are you surrounded by difficulties?  God can lead you out of it. 

Verse 4 says, “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for You are with me.  Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”  Have you ever felt like you were walking through the valley of death?  Me too!  Scripture tells us Jesus brings life (John 14:6).  Even in the worst of times God is for us – so who can be against us (Romans 8:31)!  A good shepherd carries tools to help his sheep.  The rod, although used for harm, brings comfort because it beats back the enemies that attack the sheep.  The staff wasn’t just an aid to help the shepherd walk.   The crooked top of the staff would pull the sheep back from harm.  While God will beat back the enemy from your life it’s not all our enemy’s fault at times.  God wants to pull us back with His staff (His Bible, Godly counsel, a pastor’s sermon, etc.) from sin and a destructive lifestyle.  A good shepherd and a good parent bring good protection as well as good discipline to those they are responsible for.  God’s protection and discipline are meant to shape you into the image of Christ – into the very person He has purposed you to be!

Verse 5 continues with, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil and my cup runs over.”  A shepherd could clear the feeding ground of the sheep and make it safe.  Dangerous creatures and poisonous plants were in the way of nourishment.  Sometimes these would attach themselves to the sheep and harm them.  The shepherd would use his ointment for healing for the weary flock.  God is getting a good table full of blessings ready for your life but you have to be willing to sit at it and feast on His bounty.  He desires to bring healing to your life and anoint your wounds.  This sustenance and healing is more than we deserve or can imagine – to the point of overflow in our lives.  This overflow is meant to give away to others.

The last verse says, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  God is the Good Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd, the Great Shepherd who can bless this temporary life and the eternal life to come.  Don’t be a dumb sheep but stay close to wise Shepherd who can bless your life!