Some people fear change. They love the normalcy of life. They look at life and hope that everything will always stay the same. They do not embrace the many changes in life. After all, if things are good, why would you want things to change?
I heard a wise person say once that the only certain thing in life is uncertainty. Or another way of looking at that is that the only thing in life that stays the same is change. Change always happens around us. We grow older, we get married, we have children, our children grow up, we retire — things change.
Change is a healthy part of life. We enjoy the benefits of new seasons in our life because of change. For example, when my wife and I first got married, I wasn’t sure it could get any better than those first few years! We lived in a condo on the water and we spent our evenings taking walks down by the water with our little dog. It was very picturesque. And even though we both worked a lot, when I was home, it felt like we were on vacation together.
But change is inevitable. We knew we couldn’t stay in the place forever. We wanted to own a house and have children. So we moved and had four wonderful children and they brought us even more joy than we could have imagined. So things changed around us, but God was good to us in the change.
Now external change is one thing, but internal change is another. Internal change, or change in the heart, is much harder to come by. I’ve known people will a lot of self-inflicted problems get fed up and decide to move to a different city. What they soon find is that their problems have followed them to their new destination! They never addressed the internal issues, so the change in external situations didn’t result in the happiness they were seeking.
Now in church, we are no different. Many people hop from church to church and are full of complaints. They leave one church because of some minor issue that they have blown out of proportion when in reality, the real problem is not in the church, it’s inside themselves.
Fear is a powerful motivator. Corrupt governmental regimes have seen this for years. Kings and Presidents have used fear to motivate people to do what they wanted. Motivation from fear is much easier to accomplish than motivation from inspiration. The United States just recently went through an election of our political leaders in 2020. This election was marked by fear on both sides of the aisle – people being motivated to vote for or against a particular candidate because of fear.
And while 2020 was the most recent example, this tactic has been used before. As the Bible says, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecc 1:9). The enemy of our souls uses this same tactic to create servants through fear. We become enslaved to the flesh and to the enemy over many years by being bombarded by fear. This is a life principle: You will serve whatever it is that you fear.
The Bible connects service and fear on several different occasions. It’s not a coincidence. God knows that what you fear, you will also serve. Now it is important to reiterate that the spirit of fear and the fear of the Lord are two different types of fear – the former being profane and the latter is holy reverence. The spirit of fear seeks servants through control, the fear of the Lord creates servants through love.
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,” Deuteronomy 10:12
The fear of the Lord in Deuteronomy is connected with walking in his ways or holy living, with loving God and with serving him fully. God isn’t asking us to fear Him in order to control us, He is reminding us here of who He is. When we see God seated in his proper place, when we get a revelation of who He is, then we will experience a healthy amount of holy fear or reverence toward Him.
Many times in the Bible, when a prophet or someone gets a vision of the Lord, what is the first thing that happens? They fall to the ground like a dead man. When we truly see the Lord for who He is, when we get a small taste of His glory, the fear of the Lord swells up within us and we fall down before Him.
Sadly, too often in churches today, we don’t see a fear of the Lord. What we see is prideful arrogance. We won’t even bow our knee in church because we are more concerned about what others may think about us, rather than what God thinks. We certainly wouldn’t want to lie prostrate on the ground for the entire church to see. In our arrogance, we stand in pride and as a result, the glory of the Lord doesn’t fill our houses of worship like it did in the Bible. God doesn’t reveal his glory to a prideful people, but to a reverent one.
If we truly want to live as free men and women, we must pray to the Lord and ask Him to rid us of that spirit of fear that is seeking to keep us in slavery. God is more than willing to break us out of that bondage. Jesus was anointed to set the captives free. Don’t let another day pass without letting God set you free. Pray today, “Lord, I am in bondage to the spirit of fear. I have been a slave to the fear of man and I need you to set me free. I cannot do this myself. I need you to set me free. Thank you Lord Jesus for saving me and setting me free today, in Jesus name I pray, amen.”
After writing on the spirit of fear for the past few posts, I wanted to spend some time discussing a holy fear – The Fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is mentioned throughout the Bible and many people get confused about it.
We live in an age when it’s popular to tell others that “you have a friend in Jesus.” And while, this is absolutely correct, its still incomplete. We do have a friend in Jesus, but we should also have a deep holy respect for who He is – the Lord of all creation.
It’s an easy pitfall to become too casual with God. While we are his friend and through prayer we can talk to him as Moses did – like a man talks to his friend (Exodus 33:11), we are also supposed to fear Him. The Bible is quite clear about how important this is, yet we typically ignore these passages.
“The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.” Proverbs 19:23
In Church, we hear pastors preach on the fact that Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly, but most of the time, we don’t hear them connect it to this verse. In order to find that life that they are speaking of, we must embrace a holy fear. The fear of the Lord leads to life. That means in order to get to that abundant life, we must first walk down a path of fear, but this isn’t your ordinary fear.
“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” – Proverbs 29:25
There are many fears, but the fear of man, is one in which everyone has to do battle with on some level. Fear is a spirit and one of its key elements is distrust. Fear seeks to sow seeds of distrust into your heart. These seeds, when they are allowed to grow, form into a fruit known as the fear of man.
When we read the Book of Acts, one of the things that strikes me the most is that the disciples prayed for boldness constantly. They even prayed for boldness immediately after showing great amounts of boldness by preaching in a certain place and getting arrested. In Acts 4, we read about the arrest of Peter and John after preaching with boldness in Solomon’s Portico. The inspiring part of this story is that while they showed great amounts of boldness in front of the Sadducees, the first thing they did when they got released was to pray for more boldness.
“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” – Acts 4:29. The disciples knew that boldness was something that ebbed and flowed. It is a constant battle to fight against fear. The fear of man seeks to silence you. We know this to be incredibly dangerous because this is one area in which the gospel is spread. We spread the gospel by speaking it, by preaching it, by teaching it and by singing it.
As we look across our culture today, the fear of man permeates everything. We have cancel culture, we have people who are being deplatformed and we have people who are simply ostracized for speaking an opposing point of view. And while most of this in the US is centered around politics, it has certainly affected the mindset of all people and kept them from sharing their opinions openly.
It should come as no surprise to us that fear, which is a spirit, would partner with other spirits when attacking us. The spirit of fear loves to partner with a lying spirit when trying to attack the children of God.
Fear’s power comes from it’s ability to control you. What better way to control someone than to lie to them? Fear wants to control you. And it does that through deception.
There are a couple of interesting things about lying. The first is that lies typically have some element of truth in them. In order for a lie to be believable, they must at least appear real. If someone says the sky is green, you simply dismiss whoever said it. The lie must have an appearance of truth.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” 2nd Timothy 1:7
We are certainly living in interesting times. All around we are faced with new things to worry and fret over. Whether it be viruses or economic difficulties or even the future. There are plenty of thoughts that can capture us in fear.
For the longest time, I thought the way to overcome fear was to just be bolder. You know, the old pull yourself up by the bootstraps mentality. I can be like that from time to time. Just man up and face those fears!
But as I was reading through 2nd Timothy recently, I was struck by this verse in a way that it hadn’t struck me before. Fear is a spirit. And the answer to spiritual attacks is never just “stop being scared” or “be bolder.”
When you find yourself in a spiritual attack, the first thing you should do is pray. As Christians, we need to be people of prayer. When we pray, we are reminded as to who is in charge and it most certainly isn’t the spirit of fear. God is in charge! And our first response should always be to turn to Him.
I know this isn’t always easy to do. When you find yourself surrounded by fear, typically the first thing we do is retreat. We look to run and hide. I know people who are “doing church at home” because they are full of fear. Most of them do not even see it. These same people go to work and visit stores and even go out to eat, but they won’t attend church. Many Christians do not really believe that to live is Christ and to die is gain!
We need to be reminded that it is God who is in control. He holds our lives in His hands. We don’t control life or death, He does! When we pray, we gain perspective. We humble ourselves and lift Him up. It’s a two-part process. We realize that we are low and that He is mighty!
The next thing we should realize is that we are commanded by Paul in his treatise on spiritual warfare in 2nd Corinthians 10:5 to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” This isn’t an option! It’s a command. Paul is trying to help us fight spiritual battles. There are two things I want you to notice in this:
1. We need to take our thoughts captive. This means we capture our thoughts. We don’t let them run free. They aren’t free to just run us over. They are put into bondage. We bind them.
2. Paul says every thought. That means that not one thought should be rebelling against Christ’s authority. Your thoughts…your mind…your very being are all subject to God and his sovereignty. He owns them. Every one of them.
Paul is right. It’s easy to let our thoughts run away with us. Our thoughts typically take us captive! Isn’t that how you feel when you are facing a fearful situation? Like you are being held prisoner by your fears? That’s because you aren’t seeing this as a spiritual battle! Take your thoughts captive man or woman of God!
The last thought I want to leave you with is probably the most important — The Bible is not silent on how we are to deal with the spirit of fear. The Bible tells us exactly how to get rid of it! The Apostle John in his first letter tells us that we are not to “believe every spirit, but test the spirits…” (1st John 4:1). John is telling us that spirits will lie to us. And most of the time, that is exactly how the spirit of fear attacks us…with lies! The second thing it tells is that we are to test the spirits to see if it is from God or not. Not everything spiritual is from God and that’s John’s point. John goes on though and addresses fear head on and he tells exactly how to get rid of fear. It’s driven away by perfect love!
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1st John 4:18
Perfect love is what drives out fear. What is perfect love? It’s the love of God. You loving God and God loving you is what drives out fear. Why? Because inside of God’s love is the fullness of peace. Inside of His grace there is no room for fear. God’s love for you is perfect and in it is freedom from judgment and death.
So the question I have for you is this…are you abiding in His perfect love today?
You have found yourself in the midst of a story. Your story. Your life is a story and even now, as you sit here reading this, your story is being written. Here are some things to know about this story.
1. You don’t know where you are in the story: You know it’s not the beginning of your story, that was years ago, when you were born. But you aren’t really sure what chapter you are on. Some books are short, like brochures, and others are long winding novels. You may be close to the end of your story, but you really don’t know. Like many books, sometimes the chapters end abruptly and a character arc is cut short. The interesting thing about this story is you can’t see how many pages are left, so you have to just keep reading.
2. You don’t know the synopsis or the cliff notes of this story. As much as I love to read, I also like to look at the back cover to see what the story is about before I start a book. But this book is unlike others, you can’t read a summary of the book. You have no idea what is going to happen and unlike some books that have predictable endings, this book never seems to go the way you think it should.
3. You might not be the main character. This is your story, but you are not the main character in this book. You might actually be the supporting character in someone else’s story. Maybe you are the villian. Or perhaps you are the comic relief. Either way, you should probably not read this book as to being about you. Your significance in the story isn’t found in you, it’s found in how you support the other characters in the story.
4. This story is dangerous. Unlike superhero novels, in this story, you get hurt. You experience heartache, pain and suffering. And through it all, you always seem to push through. You’ve made it this far, as you say. But you realize that at some point, this story is a tragedy, because you will die. The pages are littered with foreshadowing of your demise. Perhaps you will go peacefully in the night, or maybe you won’t. Only time will tell.
5. Your story has an author. All books are written by someone, but the unique thing about your story is that you can know your author. You can speak to him. You can interact with him. You can love Him. And what’s even more unique is that the author of your story actually wrote himself into the book, even though the pages he is mentioned on are now stained red. The Author has promised that if you trust Him to finish writing your story, he will include you in another book: The Book of Life.
In the midst of all the madness of this world. The reality is that no matter how many people die from a virus or a flu or car accidents, no one is promised tomorrow. Your story will end and most of us will receive very little if any notice at all. It will simply end. But if you have put your trust in the Author of Life, then you really have nothing to fear because you will be written into the sequel. You will be in the next book and that book is the true neverending story.
Marriage books can be a dime a dozen, so I was somewhat skeptical when I was approached by email asking if I would review a book on marriage. The title of the book is Love Lock: Creating Lasting Connections with the One You Love written by Rich Rollins and Marty Trammell.
“In our socially networked but disconnected age, we all find ourselves longing for a stronger, deeper connection!” Says the tagline on the back of the book.
I’m no expert in marriage, but I have read a few marriage books over the years and took a class in bible college on Marriage and Family. I typically divide marriage books into one of two styles: thought-provoking or practical. This book tries to bridge that divide without breaking much new ground, though depending on your experience this may be totally new ground for you. And while this book leans toward the practical, which I do like, it doesn’t overdo it. It’s a good mix between the two.
Each chapter of Love Lock typically starts with a short story to illustrate the greater point of the chapter. I really enjoyed that approach. It gave me a real life example to relate to before tackling the greater subject at hand. Rollins and Trammell do a great job in selecting the right stories to give readers a better understanding of the topic at hand.
The book is broken down by six of our basic needs in relationships: I need to feel understood, I need to feel valued, I need to feel a part of you, I need to feel appreciated and cherished, I need to trust you and I need more resolution, less conflict.
“This book is our studied response to the needs we’ve observed in our combined sixty years of counseling, and it is our humble attempt to point out the Bible’s answers to the growing loneliness and lack of connection documented in research journals,” says Rollins and Trammell.
Overall I found this book to be a worthy read with a few disclaimers. I do feel it would be a little more timely for couples who find themselves in the midst of conflict. And secondly, I do feel it’s more geared towards couples who are younger.
Personal update: For those that do not know, starting December 1, I was named pastor of a local church here in North Carolina. And it’s been a bit of a whirlwind. I’ve not had time to devote to the blog or podcast because of this process. I am currently serving as pastor and working full time and that leaves very little time for everything else. I’m going to continue to update this as much as possible and may just be posting mainly portions of my sermon notes for the foreseeable future. I appreciate your prayers and understanding. Much love – Brian.
The city of Ephesus is located in Modern day Turkey. It was the capital of the Roman province of Asia and it was home to one of the seven wonders of the world – the Temple of Artemis. Rather than looking in Ephesians, we are going to start our study in the book of Acts, chapter 18.
a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an
eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. 25 He
had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in
spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew
only the baptism of John. 26 He began to speak
boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they
took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. 27 And
when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him
and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he
greatly helped those who through grace had believed, 28 for
he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that
the Christ was Jesus.
it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through
the inland[a] country
and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. 2 And
he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And
they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And
he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s
baptism.” 4 And Paul said, “John baptized with
the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who
was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” 5 On
hearing this, they were baptized in[b] the
name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had
laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began
speaking in tongues and prophesying. 7 There
were about twelve men in all.
8 And he
entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and
persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9 But
when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil
of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the
disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.[c]10 This
continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the
word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.
Here we see what happens in Ephesians…Apollos starts preaching there and winning converts. Aquilla and Priscilla explain things to him a little more. Later he takes off to Corinth and the Apostle Paul shows up and starts baptizing people in the Holy Spirt. The Apostle Paul stays there for two more years preaching the word to Jews and Greeks.
In this episode I’m look at whether family can become an idol? Can something that God has ordained as the building block for society really become idolatrous. We spend some time discussing that on today’s show. I’m also experimenting with a new format to the show, so drop me a comment and let me know what you think of the new shorter format.