There Is no Fear In Love

scrabble tiles on the white background

Many people struggle throughout life because they fear something. Fear can be crippling. Fear keeps us from taking risks. It keeps us in our comfort zone, never really striving to become better. We can fear many things, but fear of holding onto what is good and right keeps many people from seeking God. I’ve known many people who live in a constant state of fear and their fear takes over.

One of the most repeated commands throughout the Bible is, “fear not.” Fear leads to anxiety and will take our focus off of God and His kingdom. Can you imagine if the apostles feared losing their livelihood when Jesus called them to follow him? What would have happened if they gave up when John the Baptist was beheaded? Or if they quit preaching when they were threatened and put in prison? Not only did they refuse to give in to fear, but they conquered great things by placing their trust in God!

John says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18 ESV). Whoever fears has not been perfected in love. What a powerful statement! When we have been perfected in Christ’s love for us we no longer have anything to fear. Remember when Paul said, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” He stared danger in the eye because he was not afraid. He trusted in God and that is how he was able to keep straining toward the goal. When we allow God’s love for us to be perfected, we no longer fear man. We will accomplish great things for the kingdom every time!

Always Look for the Helpers

here to help lettering text on black background

Mr. Rogers famously said that his mom used to tell him to always look for the helpers. She went on to explain that if we focus on the evil going on in the world we will lose perspective. There are always helpers out there sacrificing their time and efforts to help those in need. People will always have hope when they know that there are helpers who are willing to step in and assist those in need. Proverbs 19:17 says, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.”

Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” And who can forget when Jesus made a distinction between sheep and wolves? What separated them was how they treated (or neglected) those in need.

Over and over again the scriptures command us to be helpers to those in need, pointing people to the generous heart of God. God cares for his people and expects his people to care for others. Always look for the helpers. There will be a time when we need helpers too. We have to live our lives in a way that brings honor to God. Our sacrifices for others do not go unnoticed by our Father.

The Faith of the Centurion

old couple holding hands in hospital

The word for faith comes from the root word peitho, which means to be persuaded. In all references, it is a divine persuasion and is therefore distinguished from belief. Where belief is something we do, faith is something we receive. We have faith because God has proved himself to be true, righteous, and just. A prime example is that demons can believe but they do not have faith: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder!” (James 2:19 ESV). There is an abundance of scriptures that show our faith is received from God. Colossians 2:6-7 says, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus as the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

Faith is vital to our spiritual wellbeing. In Luke 7, a centurion’s servant fell ill. The centurion sent Jewish elders to Jesus to plead with him to heal the servant. The centurion was friendly to Jews and even built a synagogue. Jesus went with the elders and when he got close to the house, “the centurion sent friends, saying to him, ‘Lord do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof'” (vs. 6). “When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith'” (vs. 9).

When the friends returned to the house, they found the servant well. We can either accept the faith or reject it. The centurion chose to accept God’s faith in abundance and Jesus was quite pleased. We often forget that faith comes from God and so we think we can “work on our faith.” A much better approach is to be like the centurion and fully accept the faith. Like the apostles, we should pray, “Lord increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5).

We Walk by Faith, Not by Sight

empty road leading towards high mountains with clouds above

Paul reminded the Corinthian church that our heavenly home is guaranteed. He said, “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:6-7 ESV). We all know that our faith walk to Heaven, if left to our own vices, is not a straight path. We have many ups and downs in life, including many successes and also life-shattering disappointments. However, Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

The only way to make the path straight is to trust God, acknowledge Him in all we do, and only then will he make our paths straight. James tells us how important it is to ask in faith in the context of meeting trials: “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6). In fact, he says the one who doubts is double-minded and is unstable in all his ways. That’s a very strong statement, and it shows the importance that faith has in our life.

As we strain toward the goal of Heaven, we need to keep all of our faith in God. Man will let us down, but God provides. His salvation is beautiful and we Christians have a hope that others don’t. Our faith guides us and will keep on on the straight path. If we attempt to live by what we see, we will fail every time. We choose to walk by faith, always!

If They Don’t Hear How Will they Know?

men wearing robe and scarf

Paul told the Roman church that everyone who confesses that Jesus is Lord and believes in his heart will be saved, whether Jew or Greek (Romans 10:9-13). The Roman church had an issue with Greek believing Christians taking over the synagogues when the Jews were expelled from Rome by Emperor Claudius. The Jews were rumored to have made disturbances at the instigation or “Chrestus” (a misspelling of the Greek word Chrestos, or Christ). When the Jewish Christians were allowed back into Rome, the Greeks sort of pulled rank. The Jewish Christians appealed to being Jewish and being the reason they believed in God in the first place. It created tension in the Roman church and Paul wrote a letter to put them all on equal ground.

Now that Paul establishes that the Gospel is for all people, he turns to the need for Christians to confess and to preach: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14 ESV). These are perfectly valid questions and they, of course, are rhetorical.

There is a dire need for people to preach. Millions of people are dying without ever having heard the Good News of Jesus. Our faith comes from hearing: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (vs. 17). If we are not investing in the sharing of the kingdom, God’s word will never be heard by people.

More Than Conquerors

the memorial of sultan mehmed ii the conqueror

It’s no secret that Paul went through many struggles when he became a Christian. In his letter to the churches in Rome, he spoke about their future glory and that the Holy Spirit was interceding on their behalf with groans that words cannot express. The Spirit does this to help us in our weakness. There are two truths that are in tension: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 ESV). The other truth is that all kinds of trouble will come our way (vs. 35).

But Paul is arguing that none of those things, whether good or bad, will be able to separate us from the love of Christ: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” (vs. 35). These things will come, but they won’t separate us from God. The reason? “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (vs. 37).

Paul is sure that “nether death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come. . . nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (vs. 38, 39). This is why Paul is able to strain toward the goal. There is no giving up in the kingdom of God!

My Lord and My God

human standing beside crucifix statue on mountain

We all know the resurrection story well. And we believe, otherwise we would not be Christians. Sometimes it’s easy to take our faith for granted because many of us have been taught from a young age. We live in a country where Bibles are readily available and it even follows us on our phone. But the first disciples of Jesus had a different vantage point than we do. They were with Jesus and witnessed his many miracles, including bringing people back from the dead.

It shouldn’t be that surprising, then, that they had a difficult time believing that Jesus had died in such a vulnerable way. The One who was able to raise people from the dead was now. . . dead. When he appeared alive at the tomb to Mary, John, and Peter, they believed and announced it to the other disciples. Then Jesus appeared to the disciples and “he showed them his hands and his side” (John 20:20 ESV). For whatever reason, Thomas was not with the other disciples when Jesus showed up.

The other disciples told Thomas that they saw Jesus but Thomas said, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into his side, I will never believe” (vs. 25). Jesus did not appear to Thomas until eight days later when he showed up to the whole group. He allowed Thomas to put his finger in his side and to look at his hands. Thomas answered, “My Lord and my God!” (vs. 28).

Jesus asked a rhetorical question, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (vs. 29). We truly are blessed. And we truly do believe in Jesus’ resurrection!