Faith Over Fear

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I am always interested when I see contrasts in the Bible. Things like:

  • Live this way, not that way
  • These people are blessed, these people have trouble 
  • If you do this, you won’t have this 

So an interesting contrast caught my eye in the story where Jesus calms the storm (Matthew 8:23–27). Jesus is sleeping peacefully in the middle of a storm that is described as “furious [where] the waves swept over the boat.” The disciples were anything but peaceful—they thought they were going to drown—so they yelled for Jesus to wake up. 

Before Jesus calmed the storm, He says, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” 

That’s the phrase that caught my attention. Notice the contrast between “little faith” and “so afraid.” In other words, small faith means big fear! 

Strong’s Greek dictionary defines “little faith” as “dread (by implication) faithless.” So it appears there is an inverse proportion between faith and fear. 

The word that Jesus used for “afraid” is only used here and in the same story in Mark 4:40, and in Revelation 21:8 which lists people who will be excluded from entrance into heaven.

The phrase “so afraid” (or “O ye of little faith” in the King James Version) is just one word in Greek: olgiopistos. The root word pistos is faith, but I find the prefix oligos very descriptive. It means: 

  • small in quantity 
  • short in time 
  • slight in intensity 

In other words, it is faith that is immature, or hasn’t been used much, or hasn’t been applied to a particular circumstance. This word olgiopistos is used five times in the New Testament, and only used by Jesus. 

In addition to this story, it is used in Matthew 6:30 and Luke 12:28 when Jesus tells us not to worry about the things that God will provide for us—things like food, clothing, and shelter. Jesus uses this word for Peter when he began to sink in the water after walking a few steps toward Jesus. And Jesus uses it in Matthew 16:8 when He warns His disciples about the “yeast” of the Pharisees and Sadducees that can creep into their hearts and spoil their faith. (Check out all of these verses here.)

In mathematical circles, this relationship between faith and fear is one that would be called inversely proportional. When our faith is high, our fear is low; when our fear is high, our faith is low. I also think it is very eye-opening that the mathematical symbol for inverse proportionality (∝) is the same symbol called ichthus that the early church used to represent Jesus.

Faith and fear cannot coexist in the same heart. Sometimes our faith is small in quantity because we haven’t fed our faith with God’s promises. Sometimes our faith is short in time because we want things done on our time schedule. And sometimes our faith is slight in intensity because we are unsure if God can “come through” in this particular situation. 

Whatever the case, when we feel any fear, we need to ask for faith. We need to return to God’s Word and be assured that His promises are applicable regardless of the situation we are in. As our faith grows, our fear has to diminish! 

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Go Deep—The Gifts Of Wisdom, Knowledge, And Faith

According to 1 Corinthians 12-14, the Holy Spirit operates in nine different gifts to both evangelize the sinner and edify the saints. The apostle Paul says that these gifts are available to all Christians who will allow the Holy Spirit to operate through them.

You may download the participant’s notes for this lesson here → Go Deep – operational gifts of wisdom, knowledge, faith

If you have missed any of the lessons in this series, you can find the complete list by clicking here. You may also be interested in our Go Deep series on the motivational gifts listed in Romans 12, which you can check out here: Go Deep—An Introduction To The Motivational Gifts

If you would like to join us in person for this class, here is where you can find us.

Thursdays With Spurgeon—Three Keys To Effective Prayer

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Three Keys To Effective Prayer 

     Why is this extraordinary power of prayer given to those who abide in Christ? May what I have to say encourage you to make the glorious attempt to win this pearl of great price! Why is it, that by abiding in Christ and having His words abide in us, we get to this liberty and prevalence in prayer? … 

     I answer, first, because of the fullness of Christ. … I see clearly enough why the branch gets all it wants while it abides in the stem, since all it wants is already in the stem and is placed there for the sake of the branch. What does the branch want more than the stem can give it? If it did want more, it could not get it. For it has no other means of living but by sucking its life out of the stem. O my precious Lord, if I want anything that is not in You, I desire always to be without it. I desire to be denied a wish that wanders outside of You. But if the supply of my desire is already in You for me, why should I go elsewhere? You are my all, where else should I look? … 

     The next reason for this is the richness of the Word of God. … The best praying man is the man who is most believingly familiar with the promises of God. After all, prayer is nothing but taking God’s promises to Him and saying to Him, ‘Do as You have said.’ … If the Word of God abides in you, you are the man who can pray because you meet the great God with His own words…. 

     A man will succeed in prayer when his faith is strong. And this is the case with those who abide in Jesus. It is faith that prevails in prayer. The real eloquence of prayer is a believing desire. ‘All things are possible to him who believes’ (Mark 9:23). A man abiding in Christ, with Christ’s words abiding in him, is eminently a believer and consequently eminently successful in prayer.

 From The Secret Of Power In Prayer

God Himself has told us, “Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). Not “I might answer you,” but “I will answer you.” 

God also tells us how to receive what we ask in prayer:

  1. Abide in Jesus. Desire nothing else but to know His heart more intimately. 
  2. Know God’s Word. The Bible isn’t just a Book to be read through, but it’s a Book to be prayed through. 
  3. Stretch your faith. A desperate father said to Jesus, “If You can, please help us.” Jesus admonished that father—and all of us too—to believe that Jesus is able to accomplish what we ask of Him. And then comes this great exclamation from that same desperate father: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” The God that wants us to have faith in Him for answered prayers is the same God Who imparts that faith to us. How? By abiding in Jesus and taking God at His Word. 

Don’t give up, my friend. Keep praying. There is no other way to learn to pray more effectively than to keep on abiding in Jesus, keep on claiming the biblical promises, and keep on stretching your faith to present your prayer request to Him again.

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The Tactics Of Fear

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Then the king of Assyria sent his field commander with a large army… (Isaiah 36:2).

The enemies of God’s people always use the same tactics.

(1) Sending an intimidating force that seems overwhelming and invincible. 

King Sennacherib didn’t send a small detachment of soldiers, but he sent “a large army” to try to intimidate the people of Judah. 

(2) Asking doubt-inducing questions. 

The field commander asked questions like…

  • On what are you basing this confidence of yours? 
  • On whom are you depending? 
  • Do you think Jehovah can save you from this? 

(3) Fomenting distrust in God’s wisdom and ability. 

Once the seeds of doubt had been sown, the field commander attempted to water those seeds by making accusations like…

  • Do not let Hezekiah deceive you: God can’t help you with this one! 
  • The gods of other nations didn’t help them, so what makes you think your God will help you? 

(4) Offering a compromise. 

Then came the offer to give in…

  • Come now, make a bargain with my master and I’ll give you more riches than you can imagine! 
  • Make peace with me while you have the chance, and I promise you will have a trouble-free life! 

All of these tactics attempted to play on the fears of people who felt surrounded and overwhelmed. 

But I love to remember that the acrostic of the word F.E.A.R. is False Evidence Appearing Real. The field commander in King Hezekiah’s time, and satan today, use the tactics of fear to try to get us to compromise. 

King Hezekiah gave us a great example to follow. When he received the field commander’s letter with all of the threats listed, he “spread it out before the Lord” (Isaiah 37:14)! Isaiah reminded the people not to be afraid of the threats of the enemy, because those threats were actually blasphemy against God. And then God tells Hezekiah quite simply, “I will take care of this!” 

And God did indeed take care of it. 

Without the armies of Judah ever having to lift a sword or a spear or shield, God broke the power of the enemy and sent them away in shame! 

When the enemy seems to be surrounding you today, he will use these same tactics. He will try to overwhelm you, get you to doubt what God has said, try to induce you to distrust God, and then offer you a compromise. All the devil has on his side is false evidence that he attempts to make look real.

So do what King Hezekiah did: Spread out those threats before God. Go to His Word and read again what He has already promised you. Then stand firm in faith. God will take care of your adversary! 

Our God always gets the final word, the decisive word, and the best word.

Let me repeat it one more time: Don’t give into fear, but stand firm in your faith in God! 

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Standing Firm

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Standing Firm 

     Superficial brilliance is always afraid of fire, but gold is not. The paste gem dreads to be touched by the diamond, but the true diamond fears no test. People who have a kind of confectionery godliness will wish to be preserved from temptations, for they cannot endure them. But the Christian counts it all joy when he falls into different trials, knowing that ‘tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us’ (Romans 5:3-5). My dear friends, if your faith is only a sunshiny faith, get rid of it! … 

     So our gracious God, beloved, glorifies Himself by permitting His people to be subjected to trials and by enabling them to endure the strain. We would never know the music of the harp if the strings were left untouched. We would never enjoy the juice of the grape if it were never trod in the winepress. We would never discover the sweet perfume of cinnamon if it were not pressed and beaten. And we would never know the warmth of fire if the coals were not utterly consumed. The excellence of the Christian is brought out by the fire of trouble. The wisdom of the great Workman and the glory of His skill and power are discovered by the trials through which His vessels of mercy are permitted to pass. … 

     Depend upon it, beloved, those who suffer as I have described are the children of God, for they show it. They show it by the way in which they bear their trials. In the worst times there is always a clear distinction that marks them as separate from other men. If they cannot shout, ‘Victory!’ they bear patiently. If they cannot sing to God with their mouth, yet their hearts bless Him. There is a degree of light even in their worst darkness…. If they get into the mire, they do not perish there. They cry for help when their woes surround them, and in the very nick of time, when everything appears to be lost, their heavenly Father hastens to their aid.

From The Believer Sinking In The Mire

I shared a series of messages called Thankful In The Night. Another psalmist wrote, “Yet the Lord will command His loving-kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me” (Psalm 42:8). 

Notice that this psalmist was praising God IN the night, not praising Him FOR the night. Many people have gone through what has been called “the dark night of the soul.” I don’t think anyone has ever given thanks because of being in a dark time, but certainly they have given thanks afterward because of the lessons learned in that dark time. 

Quite simply put, there are some things God wants to teach us that we can learn in no other way than to go through a dark night. So we can learn to be thankful even IN those nights. IN those nights, we can learn to say, as Spurgeon did, “I believe in my Lord because He is a God who cannot lie. He is faithful and true to His every word and, therefore, let the whole creation go to rack and ruin, my faith will not waver or give up its confidence.” 

Amen! Let us stand firm in that confidence.

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Faith To Stand

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

“…If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all” (Isaiah 7:9). 

These words were spoken to King Ahaz and his people when they heard that enemies had allied themselves to attack. Their immediate response was, “And his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind” (v. 2). These are the people to whom God says, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” 

In Hebrew this phrase is really just the same Hebrew word repeated twice: aman aman. It amounts to this: if you don’t stand, you won’t stand. 

Stand on what? Your faith. 

Faith in what? Isaiah tells us, “This is what the Sovereign Lord says” (v. 7). Jehovah Adonai is the final word. He calls the two conspiring enemies “smoldering stubs of firewood,” and He states definitively of their plans, “It will not take place, it will not happen” (vv. 4, 7). Fittingly, several English translations of this verse say, “Their plans will not stand.” 

When God speaks his final and decisive word, my faith-filled response should be exactly what He commanded the Israelites: “Be careful, keep calm, and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart” (v. 4). 

I must deliberately and repeatedly silence the saber rattling of the enemy by standing in faith on God’s decisive word. My faith comes from hearing God’s word (Romans 10:17). 

This is why I am a huge proponent of not only reading God’s word, but turning His decisive word into prayer. Reminding myself—and repeatedly re-reminding myself—of what Jehovah Adonai has said is the only way to stand firm in faith. If I don’t stand firm in faith on His word, I will not be able to stand at all. 

I recently shared some faith-filled decisive promises from God’s word in another post. If I can help you find a word of God on which you can stand in faith, please reach out to me. 

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Faith Sees Better Than Sight Does

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

Faith Sees Better Than Sight Does  

For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7) 

     There is walking by faith, and there is walking by sight. The most of men, all men indeed, naturally walk by sight. They have a proverb that says, ‘Seeing is believing,’ and they are wise men, for they trust people as far as they can see them, and no further. … Self-reliance is the name of the principle, and according to the world, the best and grandest thing that a man can do is have faith in himself. … 

     I think the world must be pretty well ashamed of itself if it still considers this poor earth to be all that a soul has to live for. I feel as if I could not talk upon the matter. Solomon tried everything there was in this world—riches, power, pleasure—every sort of delicacy and delight he had, beyond the point of satisfaction. And what was his verdict upon at all? ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity’ (Ecclesiastes 1:2). … 

     If there is not another world to live for, I must say that this life is a most unutterably empty kind of thing! It is not worthy of a man! But oh, to believe what God tells me: that there is a God; that God became flesh to bear me up to Himself! To believe that I am God’s son, that I have an immortality within myself that will outlast the stars, that I will one day see His face and sing His praise forever with cherubim and seraphim! Why, there is something here! …

     If you walk only by sight and believe only what you see, what do you believe? You believe that while you are living here, it is a good thing to make the best you can of it. And then you will die and be buried, and that will be the end of you! What a poor, miserable, ignorant belief this is! … But when you believe in what God reveals and come to walk by faith, how your information expands! Now riddles are all solved, and the inexplicable is understood! … 

     The principle of faith does best in the dark. He who walks by faith can walk in the sunlight as well as you can, for he walks with God. He has enlightened eyes, but he can walk in the dark as you cannot, for his light is still shining upon him. He trusts in the unseen and in the invisible, and his soul rejoices when present things are passing away.

From Faith Versus Sight

One of the temptations of the devil has been to try to get us focused on the seen—the temporal. He did this successfully with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He tried to get Jesus to focus on the temporal in his wilderness temptations, but Jesus steadfastly kept His eyes on the unseen. 

The devil’s strategy hasn’t changed. He will try to get you to say, “Woe is me! Look at all of the bad things happening around me!” 

But we walk by faith, not by sight. “Faith is the assurance—the confirmation, the title deed—of the things we hope for, being the proof of things we do not see and the conviction of their reality—faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses” (Hebrews 11:1 AMP).   

Don’t give in to the temptation to believe only what you see. There is so much more waiting for you. It’s all yours by faith in Jesus Christ!

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Poetry Saturday—The Neglected Pattern

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible.

A weaver sat one day at his loom,
Among the colors bright,
With the pattern for his copying
Hung fair and plain in sight.

But the weaver’s thoughts were wandering
Away on a distant track,
As he threw the shuttle in his hand
Wearily forward and back.

And he turned his dim eyes to the ground,
And his tears fell on the woof,
For his thoughts, alas! were not with his home,
Nor the wife beneath its roof.

When her voice recalled him suddenly
To himself, as she sadly said:
“Ah! woe is me! for your work is spoiled,
And what will we do for bread?”

And then the weaver looked and saw
His work must be undone;
For the threads were wrong, and the colors dimmed
Where the bitter tears had run.

“Alack, alack!” said the weaver,
“And this had all been right
If I had not looked at my work, but kept
The pattern in my sight!”

Ah! sad it was for the weaver,
And sad for his luckless wife;
And sad it will be for us if we say,
At the end of our task in life,

The colors that we had to weave
Were bright in our early years;
But we wove the tissue wrong, and stained
The woof with bitter tears.

We wove a web of doubt and fear—
Not faith, and hope and love,
Because we looked at our work, and not
At our Pattern up above. —Phoebe Cary

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—An Assured Eternity

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

An Assured Eternity 

     The life of God in the soul is not transient but abiding. Not temporary but eternal. Some think that the life of God in the believer’s soul may die out. But how then could it be eternal? If it dies, it is not eternal life. If it is eternal life, it cannot die. … We are said to have been made ‘partakers of the divine nature’ (2 Peter 1:4). Surely this means, among other things, that we receive an undying life. …  

     If our life is Christ’s life, we will not die until Christ dies. … 

     This is John’s desire for you: that you would believe with all your heart and soul and strength. He would have you believe more constantly, so that you may say, ‘My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise’ (Psalm 57:7). It is not always so with us. We are at times chicken-hearted. We play the man today and the mouse tomorrow. Lord, have mercy upon us. We are an inconsistent people, fickle as the wind. The Lord would have us abide always in Him with strong and mighty confidence, being rooted and built up in Him. He would have us trust courageously.

From The Blessing Of Full Assurance 

John the Beloved wrapped up his Gospel with this statement: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). The word John uses for “life” is the Greek word zoe. This is how zoe is defined—

Life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ, but after the resurrection to be consummated by new accessions…and to last for ever. (Strong’s Greek dictionary) 

Do you believe Jesus died and rose again? Based on that faith, have you asked the Father to forgive you of your sins? If so, then listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit in your heart that is giving you full assurance of promises like these: 

  • Everyone who believes may have eternal life in [Jesus] (John 3:15) 
  • Whoever believes in [Jesus] shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16) 
  • Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent (John 17:3) 
  • Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life (John 3:36) 
  • Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life (John 4:14) 
  • Because I live, you also will live (John 14:9) 
  • Whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life (John 5:24) 
  • My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day (John 6:40) 
  • When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory (Colossians 3:4) 
  • Resting in the hope of eternal life, life which the ever truthful God Who cannot deceive promised before the world or the ages of time began (Titus 1:2) 
  • I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13) 

[Check out all of these verses by clicking here.]

Friend, this is why it’s so important for us to regularly read the Bible. We need to have our faith bolstered by hearing these rock-solid, unchanging, eternal words of God so that we can live each day in full assurance of our salvation and eternal life.

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Three Pieces Of Evidence

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

Three Pieces Of Evidence

     Many who believe in the name of Jesus are not sure that they have eternal life. They only hope so. … I speak affectionately to the weaker ones who cannot yet say that they know they have believed. I speak not to your condemnation but your consolation. Full assurance is not essential to salvation, but it is essential to satisfaction. May you get it at once. At any rate may you never be satisfied to live without it. You may have full assurance. …  

     Do you love God? Do you love His only begotten Son? You can answer those two questions surely. … If I love Him, I know it is because He first loved me [1 John 4:19]. Love to God in us is always the work of God’s love toward us. … Love to Jesus is an effect that proves the existence of its cause. …

     John goes on to give another evidence: ‘By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments’ (1 John 5:2). … The Holy Spirit tells us that if we love the brethren, we have passed from death to life. You can tell whether you love the brethren, as such, for their Master’s sake and for the truth’s sake that is in them. And if you can truly say that you thus love them, then you may know that you have eternal life [1 John 3:14]. … 

     Our apostle gives us this further evidence: ‘This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome’ (1 John 5:3). Obedience is the grand test of love. … Do you feel that you love the ways of God, that you desire holiness and follow after it joyfully? Then, dear friends, you have eternal life and these are the sure evidences of it. Obedience, holiness, delight in God, never came into a human heart except from a Heavenly Hand. …

     To me the fact that the mouth of God has spoken it stands in the place of all argument, either for or against. If Jehovah says so, so it is. … If your faith stands in the wisdom of men and is based upon the cleverness of a preacher, it will fail you. But if it stands on the sure Word of the Lord, it will stand forever.

From The Blessing Of Full Assurance 

These pieces of evidence are why I stressed last week that you make reading the Bible a regular practice: God tells us that faith comes through hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). One of the favorite tactics of the devil is to try to get people to doubt or misapply God’s Word—he asked Adam and Eve, “Did God really say…” and then he quoted the Psalms out of context to Jesus to try to get Him to doubt (Genesis 3:1; Luke 4:10-11). 

So when doubts about your secure standing in God’s sight creep in, you can return to the Scripture to say, “I have these three pieces of evidence that make me confident of God’s favor: I love Him because He first loved me, I love others because His love is in me, and I delight to obey all that my Father has told me.” 

Don’t passively listen to your doubts and the devil’s lies, but actively talk back to them! Get into God’s Word and let God’s Word get into you so that you can speak the truth to every doubt.

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