Devotional

Fear or Faith?

When Storm Clouds Gather series, devotional # 5

By Kathryn Hughes

“Come, let us tell of the LORD’s greatness; let us exalt his name together. I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:3,4 NLT)

There is so much to fuel our fears right now. COVID-19 threatens our health and life. Loneliness can overwhelm us as friends and family are distanced. Jobs are threatened or eliminated, adding another level of fear for personal finances and our economy. Riots, looting, and social injustice amp up the fear level too.

A friend once told me that fear is an acronym for:

False

Evidence

Appearing

Real.

Yet there is so much that is real in our fears right now. How can we avoid drowning in the fear?

FAITH

Remember that the Lord is still in control. Sure, the winds are whipping around and the waves are high. But is our Heavenly Father throwing up His hands in despair? No. The LORD reigns…surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved. (Psalm 93:1) He isn’t surprised by racial injustice nor by a medical diagnosis. He’s not surprised by any moment in our lives.

When I received a diagnosis of cancer, my Heavenly Father already knew it. In fact, I believe that God allowed me to have a minor unrelated health issue so the mass on my kidney would be discovered in the ultrasound. Was I afraid? You bet.

I read a limited number of articles about kidney cancer and talked with my surgeon. But I couldn’t allow myself to read everything there was on the subject nor focus on my family history of other cancers or other unknown fears. It distracted me too much and made me fearful.

Instead, I clung to what I did know. The Lord allowed the disease. He will accomplish his purpose for my life. I will not die one minute earlier than the day He already planned.

Thankfully, the surgeon was able to remove all of the cancer.

Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com

When fears surface and try to pull us under their wave, focusing on God’s greatness and character helps us remember who He is. The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. He will not always strive [with us,] Nor will He keep [His anger] forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. (Psalm 103:8-10 NASB) Like King David, we can say, I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.”

Let’s be ready to confront fear with faith. Write down some Scripture that helps bring the focus back onto the God who loves us. Use those verses in prayer, personalizing them as I’ve done with a few verses of Psalm 103 in the prayer below. Here are a couple Scripture passages that mean a lot to me, I hope they encourage you too. Psalms 139:16-18; Psalm 103.

Heavenly Father, I bless Your holy name. May I forget none of Your benefits. You pardon all my iniquities. You crown me with lovingkindness and compassion. You satisfy me with good things. Please forgive me for focusing on fear instead of on You. Please help me to praise You and to trust You to remove the fear.  In Jesus’ powerful name. Amen.  

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Devotional

“Put on God’s Protective Equipment”

When Storm Clouds Gather Series, Devotional # 4

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  (Ephesians 6: 10-11 NIV)

Of the storms we face, one I fear most is the fire storm, having evacuated in two fires in 2003 and 2007. It’s currently the peak of fire storm season and fires rage throughout California. The air hangs heavy with smoke in San Diego County from fires.

A firefighter wears a special firefighter uniform, often known as bunker gear. The jacket and trousers are fire proof. The rubber boots include steel toe coverings and a steel shank to protect the feet from sharp objects. Fire resistant gloves protect hands from broken glass and other objects. A self-contained breathing apparatus allows the firefighter to breath fresh air instead of toxic gases and smoke. The helmet is made of a hard plastic to protect the head from falling debris. This personal protective gear allows the firefighter to stand against the flames and fight the fires.

A firefighter wouldn’t think of going into a fire storm without protective gear. We need to put on the full armor of God to stand against the devil’s flaming arrows.

The Apostle Paul warned Christ’s followers to put on protective gear so we can stand against the devil’s schemes and the enemy’s flaming arrows. That difficult ex-spouse or co-worker or may seem like the enemy, and our child who has forsaken our values and beliefs certainly causes us pain, but behind all of our struggles there is a far more sinister force. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. The devil would like nothing better than for us to fight against one another. (Ephesians 6:10-20)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.  How can we do that? Put on the full armor of God. To put on something is a conscious decision and an action.

Paul likened the full armor of God to the Roman guard’s armor. Put on the belt of truth. Put on the breastplate of righteousness. Have your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

The helmet of salvation is another vital piece of armor. Without a helmet, warriors and firefighters alike can have a fatal blow to the head. It is fatal if we do not have salvation. I pray you do have that saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18 NIV)

How can we know we have salvation? Romans 10:9-10 tells us,

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

Paul tells us to take the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Doubt, fear, anger, and bitterness have all been part of the enemy’s arsenal against me. Like flaming arrows, they don’t just injure, but burn long after they hit. You can probably think of arrows that have hit you. Oh, that we would be faster to counter them with the shield of faith!

Two offensive weapons are part of the protective equipment we need: the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and prayer on all occasions for all of the Lord’s people.

Let’s put on the full armor of God.

Dear Lord Jesus, Thank you for dying on the cross to pay the penalty for my sin. Thank you for the victory over sin and death through Your resurrection. I pray for each of us, that we may have that saving relationship with You. Please help me to put on my spiritual armor, and to stand against the enemy in Your mighty power and not on our own. Amen.