Fear is a great motivator. It can actually save your life. If you are standing on the side of the road and all of a sudden hear a loud horn and screeching brakes, you immediately jump out of the way and avoid being hit by a car. You can be walking on a trail in the mountains, and when you hear a certain swift noise, you know there is a rattlesnake nearby. Fear is not bad. In a perfect world, fear would be strange. But on planet earth, it is a great motivator.
But there is a motivator that is more powerful and productive than fear. It is faith. Faith is greater than fear for several reasons. Fear and faith are both about belief. But fear is a negative belief, while faith comes from a positive place. Here are some ways to understand the differences between fear and faith...
Fear is a belief that something bad is about to happen. Faith is a belief that something good is already happening and will at some point come to full fruition.
Fear can cause you to get out of the way of something bad. But faith will cause you to get in the way of something good.
Fear is reactive. Faith is proactive.
Fear is the harvest. Faith is a seed.
Fear paralyzes. Faith produces.
Fear looks at reality assuming the worst. Faith looks at reality affirming the best.
Fear replaces hope. Faith reinforces confidence.
Fear is discouraged by God. Faith is honored by God.
Fear destroys people and families. Faith secures people and is a great heritage to pass down through families.
The Bible talks a lot about fear and faith. Depending on your translation, a form of the word fear is found around 340 times. A form of the word faith is found 540 times. Sometimes the word fear is used in the context of fearing the Lord... which is the only acceptable form of fear... actually more of an awe and ultimate respect.
Here are some things God has to say about those who live by faith...
My righteous one will live by faith; and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him.
But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life.
Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. For our ancestors won God’s approval by it. (Hebrews 10:36-11:1)
Fear and faith are both powerful. They are both beliefs in things that are not seen. Every time you come to a dark place, you can fear it, or you can faith it. You have the choice to move forward in either one. God never approves of fear. He always approves of solid faith. There is absolutely no benefit in believing that horrible things are going to happen, but great blessing in believing that God is up to something in your life.
I'm not saying we should live without concern. But our concern should result in a life of believing God for the best, and not instantly thinking the worst is going to happen. If you are a Christian, faith comes in your package. Just use it. Exercise it. Recognize the result. Then build on that the next time you come to that scary place. You cannot live in fear. You can only die in fear. You can die in faith... or rather for your faith. Many have. But on the other side of dying in faith is living forever... which is what our faith is for anyway.
Today, choose to believe the promises of God. Do not fear. God is with you, and He is not afraid.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.
I was recently blessed to be able to go on a cruise. A cruise ship is a very interesting environment. Many people want to take a cruise. They may save up for years to be able to take a week and sail to some exotic destination. Most of the time all the food you can eat is included in the price. Entertainment is included. Breathtaking views are included. So it is a really special experience.
But none of that just happens. There are hundreds of people making it a special experience. This is the crew. From kitchen staff, to housekeeping, to sales associates, and many others, it takes a small village to provide 24 hour service that wows the traveler. Most of these workers are from countries other than the United States. They leave their homeland to work on a cruise ship. That may sound a little more luxurious than it is.
It is an intense work environment where they deal with some very difficult people who are only there to be pleased. They live in a cubicle smaller than the kitchen in most of the travelers houses. They always have to be on. They have to smile after receiving an insult. Sure, they get to see some pretty cool places, but many of them have to stay on the ship when in port, because the travelers expect things to be phenomenal on board when they are finished with their island excursion.
On the last night of the cruise I was talking to some of the crew friends I had made. One lady from Mexico had been working on the ship for a couple of years. Another from Russia had been on board for 20 days. I know it was 20 days because in the course of our conversation about the trials and triumphs of crew life she corrected my mistake about her being on board for two months by saying, "I have been on board for 20 days."
At this point, her friend, and on-board mentor quickly said, "When you are on the ship, you know how many days you have been on it because it is such a difficult experience." Turning to her Russian friend she said, "Don't measure your time on the ship by the number of days you've been on board. Measure your time by cruises. Count the cruises... not the days."
I immediately thought... man... how many times do I measure my life by the difficult minutes, when I should be measuring it by the wonderful moments? We can so easily get bogged down in the daily living that we miss the big picture of a grand life. This is how burnout happens. Frankly, we do have to press on through the trials of living in a broken world. Sometimes life is difficult because others make it so. Other times it is difficult because we make it so. Regardless, there are some beautiful and powerful things happening in your life. And these are the things that should mark our days.
The apostle Paul went through many difficult experiences. He was beaten, left for dead, ship-wrecked, abandoned by his friends, arrested on false charges, etc. So he knew a little bit about the hard life. But he also realized he was on a great adventure and mission. He was able to put it into perspective...
"Since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Romans 5:1-5)
Jesus is our example. But even He had to focus on what was most important to get through some great difficulties...
"Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won’t grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:1-3)
I'm not suggesting we forget our struggles. They are real. They help form us. They will likely be some of the most powerful memories we carry. But they do not have to be the heavy clock around our neck. Crew members on a cruise ship are not working simply to have a difficult life anymore than they are working just to be able to play at every beach. Most have a goal... a plan... a dream. They must be willing to endure the difficult things, which most of us don't see, in order to enjoy the blessings of a life they only see in their mind.
We should measure our lives by the glorious cruises, and not the difficult days. Living by the hope in us, we can endure the hardships that come to us. Today you will have some difficult minutes. Do not let them steal the joy of the moments. Let your focus be on the big picture and not the small problem. God has not brought you here to leave you here. He has brought you here to take you to where you need to be.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.
We have a tendency to wake up thinking about what the day holds. There's not anything wrong with that, but I'd say it sometimes gets us off on the wrong foot. Our days are busy, and filled with things that are difficult... including the undesirable.
Today you may have to do something you don't really want to do. You may have to be around people you don't like. You may have to have a conversation you would rather not. You may have an idea that something rough is coming your way but don't know what it is or when it will arrive. It is easy to awaken with dread or fear. If this is how we wake up, it can set the mood for the whole day.
Some people seem to be naturally cheery. They wake up with a smile and a "Good Morning", even if their pillow was stolen in the middle of the night. It isn't that they are immune to, or oblivious to difficulties. They have just determined that they will choose to face the day with confident joy and anchoring peace.
If you struggle with a positive waking attitude, let me remind you that the Psalmist said, "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24)
Days are not just random occurrences, or simply a cosmic pattern. God makes each day, and He gives it to you. Today is a true gift from God to you. What you do with it is your gift to Him. Wake up knowing that you have been given a great opportunity. And as a child of God, this day will not just happen to you, but you have great promises that God is empowering you to be victorious in this short span of time that you will never have again. David, the writer of so many wonderful passages put it this way...
"My heart is confident, God; I will sing; I will sing praises with the whole of my being.
Wake up, harp and lyre!
I will wake up the dawn.
I will praise You, Lord, among the peoples;I will sing praises to You among the nations.
For Your faithful love is higher than the heavens, and Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
God, be exalted above the heavens, and let Your glory be over the whole earth.
Save with Your right hand and answer me so that those You love may be rescued."
Look at how he says, "I will wake up the dawn." I usually feel like the dawn wakes me up. But my praise of God should be so vibrant that I wake up the dawn. Regardless of what you have to face today, it will not be as bad as God is good. Instead of waking up worrying about what the day holds for you, wake up worshiping the One who holds the day for you.
Right now, thank God for 3 things He has done in your life, and then thank Him for what He will add to that list today. Praise Him for going before you, with you, and behind you in this day.
We all have an appetite. We all have a taste. We usually end up feeding whatever it is we have a taste for. Sometimes that makes us feel good. Other times perhaps we are not so happy with our choices. I can complain about not being in great shape, but if all I eat is sweets and hot dogs, I can't blame anyone when I do not qualify for the olympic swimming team.
I was recently on a flight, and once I got situated I noticed the man sitting next to me was reading his Bible. He was mainly reading in the books of Matthew and John, but also turned over to the book of Acts. I didn't bother him. I figured he was doing a personal study of some sort. He was diligent about reading the notes at the bottom of each page. After a while he closed the Bible and took a nap. I supposed he could have been praying, but I think he was napping.
In the row ahead of us, and the seat directly in front of my Bible-reading guy was another man who appeared to be on a business trip. As people were boarding I happened to notice that he was on his phone checking some stuff on the internet. Some of what he was checking out was pornography. When the plane was about to take off, he put his phone away. He stared out the window for a little while and then also took a nap. I didn't bother this man either.
During the flight I thought about these men, separated only by about 12 inches, but living lives that were worlds apart. In fact, even though they were both on the same plane, going to the same city, each was making a choice on that day that would take them in two different directions and would land them in different locations.
I don't know what the man on the phone does for a living. The man on the Bible works for the FAA. I would imagine if the man next to me told the man on his phone that the plane we were on had a very good chance of crashing, he would have grabbed his bags and exited the plane. But if the man who was in his Bible told the man trapped by pornography that his viewing choices would cause his life to crash, I doubt he would be taken seriously. And yet... that is the only real truth out there. We don't know what will happen to a certain plane. We do know what happens when we substitute lust for love.
The first Psalm speaks to the two ways...
How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path of sinners or join a group of mockers!
Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.
He is like a tree planted beside streams of water that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
The wicked are not like this; instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not survive the judgment, and sinners will not be in the community of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin. (Psalm 1)
The apostle Paul talked about how to manage our thought life in a letter to some Christians...
"Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just,whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things." (Philippians 4:8)
Both of these men consumed something that morning to feed a taste. Both of them had expectations while taking in their prospective 'meals'. We know that pornography, like any bad choice, does not satisfy, or meet expectations. The Bible is the truth of God, and while it sometimes challenges us, it always rings true. It actually exceeds expectations because it is a living and loving application of God's word.
I prayed for both of these men as they slept. For the man in his Bible, I asked God to come alive in his study so that his faith would be strengthened and his walk would be victorious. For the man who had been viewing the pornography, I asked that God would speak softly and convincingly into his heart and once again offer him a pure love.
We are all on the same plane today. It is the plane of life, if you will. But many are going in different directions even though we are sitting right next to each other. What will you consume today? That will in many ways determine the direction you go.
My name is David, and I want to know God more, and help other people find Him.