Sunday, August 25, 2019

Fear on the Run - Part 1

Hello everyone,

In this world we are faced with so many fears.  Fear of rejection, fear of being alone, fear of lack, fear of losing a loved one, fear of never being enough, fear of missing God’s best for our lives, the list goes on and on.  Fear is not uncommon to anyone, and yet it is the greatest enemy of our souls, and until we recognize it for what it truly is, and how to deal with it head on, we will never be free.

Most of us have read, or heard 1 John 4:18 that says, “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection].”

Whichever way you look at this verse, the truth that cannot be argued is that perfect love is the conquering enemy of fear.  In this series we are going to look at fear from God’s perspective and discover how His perfect love can expel every trace of it out of our lives.

Perhaps the first truth to settle in our hearts and minds is that we are explicitly, and continuously commanded in the Word of God to not fear.  No matter what form, shape, or measure it comes in, fear is sin.

In Revelation 21:8, God makes it clear that the fearful, the cowards, those cravenly lacking in courage, the unbelieving and faithless will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. No mincing Words here, right? 

Out of curiosity, I wanted to understand just who this scripture was referring to as the “fearful”.  I found it wasn’t necessarily only written for those who don’t believe in God, or have never committed their lives to Him.  According to the Adam Clark commentary, the fearful here are those who, “...for fear of losing life or their property, either refused to receive the Christian religion, though convinced of its truth and importance; or, having received it, in times of persecution fell away, not being willing to risk their lives.”

Another commentary by Albert Barnes, suggests The “fearful”, “...denote those who had not firmness boldly to maintain their professed principles, or who were afraid to avow themselves as the friends of God in a wicked world. They stand in contrast with those who “overcome,” in Revelation 21:7.”

Then, John Gill’s commentary describes the “fearful” in this verse to be, “... those who are of cowardly spirits, and are not valiant for the truth, but who, through fear of men, either make no profession of Christ and his Gospel, or having made it, drop it, lest they should be exposed to tribulation and persecution; these are they that are afraid of the beast, and live in servile bondage to him.”
Both these commentaries show us the effect of fear in our lives.  Unless God’s perfect love is alive and dominating our hearts and minds, fear can cause us to become cowards, and ashamed to stand up for the very Gospel that saved us, when the heat of persecution comes.

We can conclude that the “fearful” in this verse include those who at some time professed to be Christians, but when they were faced with persecution, fear overtook their faith in God, and they renounced their belonging to Him, or being counted as His own.

Quite a sobering thought isn’t it. It makes us wonder if the faith we profess to have in God, and our commitment to Him is as deep and sincere as we believe it to be.  Do we really know God and His perfect love for us to the point where it means more to us than our own lives, or our greatest fears?

Is this the level of commitment Christ has called us to have?  If it is, then truly knowing Him, and His perfect love for us must be something far greater and more powerful than any fear imaginable, including losing our own lives.

This is the kind of love I want to fill my life with.  It certainly is the kind of love I want to learn more about, and in the letters to come, we are going to spend time understanding it, and how it will set fear on the run in our lives.

All my love,


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Overcome Part 6 - Rest

Hello everyone,

I’m not sure if any of you enjoy camping?  One year, when our children were quite young, we decided to go camping.  Now if you know anything about my husband, you’ll know he lives by the slogan, “Go big, or go home!”.   There is never any small measure in his scope for anything in life.  I’ve come to realise over the years that one of the reasons God paired us together was to keep me right out of my comfort zone, and stretch me beyond my own limitations.  And what an adventure it has proven to be!  

Having said that, the camping trip we were about to embark on was no ordinary one.  We were going to load up and go up Africa!  Let me tell you the planning and plotting and preparation for this trip was extensive to say the least. Road maps, border crossing requirements, survival paraphernalia, medical supplies, malaria medication, shots against yellow fever and other strange diseases, the list of necessary preparation goes on...

We’ve been taking a close look at the advice James gives us concerning the correct  preparation needed for facing any trial or difficulty we may face in life.  Now just like preparing for our trip up Africa, there are always things we must be sure to do that will help us and prove invaluable during our spiritual journey in this life.  

Things like spending time in the Word and continuously fellowshipping with the Lord.  Things like learning how to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit more clearly, so we can follow His lead, and walk in His ways.  When we gear ourselves up in these foundational principles of faith, we really do become equipped to face every day life victoriously.

This way, when unforeseen circumstances and challenges come our way, we already have something solid and substantial at to draw from to receive the extra strength we need to overcome.

On our journey through some pretty remote places in Africa, we faced having to navigate through very difficult terrain.  At times it was late at night and the road was almost non existent.  Because we had good spotlights and the correct off-road tyres, we were able to move slowly but safely along dangerous rock faces, and giant, gaping holes where the road used to be.

And when we found there was no fuel available on route, we could draw from the reserves we had brought along with us, to keep us going to our destination. Fresh water was often scarce, but our spare containers of clean, drinking water kept us hydrated and healthy, until we could find a suitable source to replenish them.

In James 1:4 it says we are to, “...let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”  In the previous letter we learnt that patience is one of the many qualities of the Holy Spirit that goes to work inside us, as we fill ourselves with the truth of God’s Word.  When these qualities work in our lives they bring us to a place where we are spiritually strong, and our faith in God and His Word is unconquerable - so we are able to push forward into victory, no matter the circumstance.

Now, when we encountered those dangerous challenges up Africa, no matter how well we were prepared for each challenge, if we didn’t have the quiet confidence, knowing we would get through each ordeal if we trusted our equipment and acted wisely, and calmly, it would end up disastrously, in spite of our efforts to prepare.

Just the same, no matter how much Word you have stored up in your heart, or how much time you’ve spent praying, unless you know how to enter the place of quiet confidence, faith will not work. 

You can learn how to calmly and peacefully trust the Lord and His Word in your heart, so that all your spiritual preparation will be effective and help you in the time of crisis.

That place of quiet confidence is called rest.  And it’s here that patience and all the other powerful qualities of the Holy Spirit go to work for you, and carry you through whatever storm you are facing.  But while your mind is overwhelmed with panic, or worry and fear, the Word, and these qualities are powerless to go to work for you.

So how do we enter this place of rest, where God’s Word and powerful qualities are able to actively go to work for us?

Look at what Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]
Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.
For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.”

Jesus tells us the first requirement to enter into the place of rest, is to come to Him.  In the book of Hebrews we are told to approach the throne room of God confidently, with boldness, knowing that we are welcome and cherished and will not be disappointed for doing so. (Hebrews 4:16).

That’s because this place of rest is where we make an exchange - we cast all our cares and concerns at His feet and receive Him!  Jesus says that He will cause us to rest.  The person of Jesus, through His Holy Spirit is the One Who becomes our rest.  He eases, relieves, and refreshes our souls!

Now the definition for the word rest here, is to be fortified with peace, having soul harmony with God, being fully confident to trust Him and His love for you, knowing full well that He will do exactly what He has promised you.

If you remember, we’ve already learnt that our soul is the area of the mind.  It’s our intellect, the place we reason from.  It’s also our emotions and our free will.  When our souls - our thoughts, emotions and will, are in harmony with God’s thoughts, emotions, and will - peace reigns, and the result will always be life! (Romans 8:6).

Another way to understand rest is to understand what it’s not. Any anxious, fearful, or dread filled thoughts are the exact opposite of rest.  As a born-again child of God, these kind of thoughts are to have no place in our minds, because they will always produce death.

So how do we enter this place of rest?

Well, in Matthew 11:29 Jesus said, Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls….”

In Rick Renner’s study on this particular scripture, we find the word yoke describes the wooden yoke that joined two animals together so they could combine their strength to pull a load that generally would have been too difficult for one animal to pull by itself. This yoke made the team inseparable.  As a result, they were stronger, and their combined strength made their task easier.

When Jesus says we must take His yoke upon us, He is telling us that to enter this place of rest, is something we do deliberately.  We choose to enter into a living partnership with Him, where we choose to keep our thoughts, and perspectives in sink with His.  We refuse to be swayed and distracted by worry or fear, or unbelief, by keeping Him and His thoughts in the forefront of our souls - continuously.

Hebrews 4:11 says, “Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves],...”

Labouring to enter our rest doesn’t involve our struggling to earn our way into it through our own human efforts.  Jesus has already earned you the right by the finished work of the cross.  Our part is easy, it involves us putting effort into our relationship with God, and keeping our thoughts in line with His Own.

When Jesus says “Take my yoke upon you...”, He is implying that we must deliberately step into the harness with Him, so He can help us pull the plow. 

Becoming “yoked” to Jesus is a determined choice to know Him more and include Him in every area of our lives, it’s not something that occurs accidentally.  

Which brings us back to our chief portion of scripture for our series on Overcome, in the book of James.  

The moment you find yourself in a tight spot, where you know the only way to overcome is through Devine intervention, it’s time to make a conscious decision to get right along side the Lord and draw from Him.  James 1:5 says, “If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him.”

The key word in this scripture is ask. In the original Greek translation, this word means to come close and alongside someone, expecting to receive.  More than anything, we serve a God Who earnestly desires to be the One we choose to come close to, and draw alongside, to receive His wisdom, protection, comfort and help.  He doesn’t want a mechanical relationship where we just learn to recite a bunch of scriptures and throw them around.  

He wants us to find our trust and peace in drawing close to Him first, and then the investment we made by meditating on His Word becomes active and powerful.  That’s because as we draw near to Him, His Holy Spirit reminds us of the exact scripture we need for our comfort and peace.  He also reminds us of the scriptures we can use as a weapon against the devil and his attempt to hurt us.  And all of this is done in the safety of us being in the shadow of His wings.  

James says when we approach God like this, we will find He is openhanded - giving His wisdom liberally, without finding reproach.  That’s what it is to be in this place of rest!

But if we don’t first enter in, our minds will be distracted and become double-minded.  Struggling between trust and fear.  James warns us that this kind of mindset will never do us any good.  

Look at what he says in James 1:6-8, “Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind.
For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asks for] from the Lord,
[For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides].”

So, to summarise this powerful series on how to overcome, we must understand that our inner strength, peace, and victory comes from our decision to deliberately enter our place of rest.  This is where we surrender all our concerns to the Lord and confidently draw from His wisdom and power through drawing close and remaining vitally connected to Him.  This is where our thoughts come into harmony with His, and instead of our emotions being influenced by worry, fear and dread - they are filled with an undeniable peace and unsinkable joy!  

I want to end this series with a promise from Exodus 14:14, “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest.”  This is how we overcome!

All my love,


Sunday, August 11, 2019

Overcome Part 5 - Let Patience do its Work

Hello everyone,

In our series, Overcome, we’ve discovered how the spiritual force of joy is released in our lives when we make a deliberate decision to keep our minds focused on what the Word says our outcome will be.

According to James 1:3, facing trials this way will produce the excellent qualities of endurance, steadfastness, and patience.  Today, I want to show you just how powerful the spiritual force of patience is!  

Apparently, in the early church times, patience was known as the “Queen of all virtues” amongst believers.  That’s because they were often faced with the most horrific persecution for their faith.  Being burned alive, hunted down, badly beaten, and thrown to the lions for public entertainment is far more than any human can think to endure.  

Yet, these believers, when faced with this kind of stress and pressure, had come to understand how to shift their minds onto the truth of Who their God was, and His promises concerning them.  Their faith, even in the face of death, proved to be so strong, that the peace and joy of the Lord was more real to them than any horror they had to endure.  

We may never have to face the dangers and trials they had to face, but the principle rings true for us, just as much as it did for them.  When we keep our eyes focused on the Lord and His promise to never leave us, but instead, produce extremely powerful qualities in us, while our faith is being tested - the spiritual force of patience goes to work.

Patience is a force that undergirds our faith and holds us strong under the heaviest of loads.  It resolves to never lose hope or sight of God’s Word and it refuses to be moved on what it believes to be true.

James 1:4 says we are to, “...let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

Patience goes to work to undergird our faith when we choose to keep our focus on God’s Word no matter what. It’s rock solid and anchors us securely in our faith.  

So let’s recap, and summaries what we’ve learnt about James’s strategy to overcome:

Even before trouble comes, we must choose to have an attitude of joy.  What are we joyful about?  We are joyful because we understand and are completely convinced that whatever we go through is never going to be greater than our God (Who is on us), or our faith in His Word.  We are also joyful because we are convinced that our faith will be tested, and proven; and we are going to come through as those who powerfully overcome!  

With this predetermined resolve, patience is released to do her work in us.  Patience rises from our spirits and begins its work from the top - in our thoughts, and works it’s way right down throughout our beings.  It pulls on that spiritual force of joy, and together they divinely energise us - spirit, soul, and body, infusing us with powerful, inner strength.  

This is where God joins Himself with us, working His supernatural power in us.  A power that produces exactly what James 1:4 says, “...that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

Now, with this kind of power going on inside us, we are finally able to enter that place of peace and rest.  Where we are in soul harmony with God, and are ready to hear His voice, and see His perspective on whatever we are facing.

Paul knew all about this place of rest in the toughest of circumstances, Jesus did too, and both men, by the power of the Spirit working in them, were able to victoriously overcome all they were faced with.

When James said that patience would make us perfect, he was saying that at the end of the trial, we would not be found broken, or unhinged, but rather, our character would be fully intact.  Because we had refused to give up believing in the goodness and faithfulness of God, and the dependency of His Word, we would finally attain what we were promised.

The word complete speaks about a stage of spiritual maturity and muscle, or staying power.  Where we are able to endure anything because we we posses every part of our inheritance in Christ.  What is that inheritance?  It’s the kingdom of God in us. Where we have a personal revelation of what it is to be the righteousness of God, to stand for what is right, pure and true without compromise, when it’s extremely unpopular to do so.  It’s when we personally experience His peace that passes all understanding, when there is chaos and turmoil all around us.  And it’s where we have learnt how to experience His unsinkable, unquenchable joy, that infuses us with powerful inner strength to endure until the end.

Lastly, Paul says that patience will cause us to lack, or want nothing.  We will know no deficiency of any kind, because we have learnt how to enter that place of rest, where the Lord is our portion.  Where we are not moved because His Word has the final say, and our faith is mature and strong enough to believe Him for every need.

In the next letter, we’re going to learn how we can practically enter that place of rest to be in soul harmony with God.  Where patience does its best work in us, so we can be perfect, complete, and lacking nothing.  

Until then, determine to keep your eyes focused on the Lord and His promise to never leave you. You can trust Him to produce extremely powerful qualities in you, while your faith is being tested.  So hold on, keep your head up and let patience go to work.

All my love,


Sunday, August 4, 2019

Overcome Part 4 - See Your Outcome

Hello everyone,

From the previous letters, we’ve come to understand the powerful spiritual force of joy, and its ability to cause us to overcome the difficulties we face in life.  Today we’re going to look at how our attitude to God’s Word activates this spiritual force and releases it to go to work in our lives.

In the book of James, we are told to consider it joy when going through our trials.  In other words, we are supposed to have a predetermined resolve to have an attitude of joy even before trouble comes.  Then, we are to maintain that choice of attitude through the storm, until we are carried on to victory !

Thankfully, James tells us how we can actually do this in the very next verse.  Let’s see what he says in James 1:3, “Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith brings out endurance and steadfastness and patience.”

James explains that if we find ourselves fallen, head first into trouble that has us surrounded on every side with trials too difficult to bear alone, there is a sure hope!  In spite of how difficult or hopeless it may seem, if you are a child of God - there is more than just light at the end of the tunnel - there’s a glorious victory waiting for you!  

If you just do things God’s way, you will find this trial will test and prove your faith to be more than equal to the opposition piled up against you, and this journey will produce qualities in you that you never even dreamed possible. Qualities that cause you to stand strong and true and undefeated no matter what comes against you. James calls those qualities endurance, steadfastness, and patience.

Now, James begins verse 3 by telling us to be assured and understand that if you don’t give in to fear, but hold onto your trust in the Lord and His Word, these qualities will most certainly be established inside you. In other words, the truth that your trial will not defeat you, but rather improve you, is what you have to keep in the forefront of your mind at all times!  

This means we must make a deliberate decision to shift our thoughts off the reality of our troubles and to a place where we know, understand and are completely assured that we will come through on top!

No matter how bad things seem, if we hold on to what God’s Word says, we will walk right out of the trial far stronger, wiser, and taller than we were before we entered into it.

Keeping our minds focused on that truth alone, will cause that joy to begin to rise up inside our spirits.  James is telling us that we can either see what we are going through as an opportunity to have our faith proven, and our lives improved with His excellent qualities developed in us; or we can see it as a time to become fearful, to give up, and to fail.  It just depends on what outcome we decide to keep our minds fixed on.

Next week, I’m going to talk about those excellent qualities being formed in us, and how they work together to see us overcome victoriously.

Until then, practice keeping your mind focused on what the Word of God says your outcome will be, instead of what those worrisome, fearful thoughts are shouting.  

You’ll be amazed at how you can train your mind to become fixed on the truth.  It will release that strong, inner joy from your spirit, and infuse you with great inner strength.  

All my love,