Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Best Is Yet To Come

by Jon Essen

"Have not I commanded you? Be strong, vigorous, and
very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for
the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)

Fear is a powerful emotion. We all face it at some time in our lives. The fear of financial ruin, failure in a relationship or job, fear of sickness or death, or just fear of not being accepted can lead our emotions down a path that makes us believe that certain doom is near.
But we don’t have to accept this as our destiny if we understand how to combat and rise above it. One of the greatest spiritual battlegrounds is the ongoing tension between faith and fear. Here’s a simple working definition of each of these words:
FAITH: Trusting God as our source of life.
FEAR: Trusting man as our source of life.
Since the garden of Eden, the enemy has used fear, tied to lack of provision, to make us strive for self-sufficiency. The devil convinced Adam and Eve that God wasn’t really going to come through and that they should take matters into their own hands.
When I think about how many times I have done that in the past, I am extremely grateful for God's mercy in giving us second chances. I realize we can’t simply ignore circumstances. We live in intense times. But make no mistake, just like Adam and Eve, if we spend any length of time right now camping around our undesirable circumstances, we will lose heart and put ourselves in a position where we can’t trust God.
Despite the negative headlines and reports of financial ruin, we can be confident that God is in control and that He is our ultimate provider. There is hope!
“Thanks be to God, who ALWAYS leads us in triumph.” (2 Corinthians 2:14)
This incredible promise from God assures us that He will lead us into great victory when we follow Jesus wherever He goes! So right now we have two basic choices: Allow the fear of our future to ruin us or jump out of the boat and run after the Lord -- even when things don’t seem logical.
It is a natural reaction to shrink back during times of intensity, lack or storms. But in order to achieve victory God’s way, we must go in the opposite direction, which ultimately will lead us to face our fears head on. The bible is filled God's commands to “fear not.” In order to mature in the Lord and become a powerful vessel that God can fill up again and again, then pour out into the world, we have to discover how to face fear and not shrink back.
Practically speaking, we live in intense days, especially with all that is taking place in the world economy. But during difficultly or “famine,” we can’t allow fear, greed and selfishness to reign. Instead, through faith, we should look for opportunities to be overwhelmingly generous to others.
God doesn’t call us to be careless, but He does call us to be radical. If we are going to demonstrate His love in radical ways to the world, then we should realize that this is a time to plant radically, sow radically and give everything we have to the Lord radically.
Proverbs 11:25 tells us, “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” As we reach out to others through giving and investing in their lives, God will always be faithful to meet our own needs as well. And to the measure that we do it to others, God will do in return for us. (Luke 6)
The crux of fear is that the enemy uses a poker face, smoke and mirrors to make us think that God isn’t who He says He is. The crux of faith in God is that sometimes we can’t see around the next corner where He calls us to be with Him; we just know He’s there and that He wants us to follow. But as the heroes of faith throughout the bible and beyond have proven, following Jesus is ALWAYS worth it.
There is an increasingly popular phrase that illustrates this so well: “Live in such a way that your life would not make sense if God did not exist.” If we will do this, then it will be easy to prove God’s existence. People will just have to look at our lives!

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