Four Ways to Battle Fear and Worry

Every Christian has to decide: Am I trusting that Jesus is for me always, or am I believing His care for me diminishes based on my performance? Is Jesus my king, provider, and comforter? Or, is He a distant authority figure watching me weather storms alone?

In Matthew 14:22-33, the disciples found themselves at this crossroads. They were in the middle of a storm, frightened and hopeless. Jesus approaches them and says, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

Apprehensive and uncertain, Peter calls out to Jesus, “Lord, if it’s you tell me to come to you on the water.”

Full of faith and full of trust, Peter walks on water with Jesus. But the moment is broken as soon as the wind kicks up and Peter lets fear creep back in.

Like Peter, when we trust that Jesus really does want the best for us, everything changes. We can stop worrying. We can embrace change. But inevitably, the wind will kick up again.

The alarm doesn’t go off.

You get news from your boss you weren’t expecting.

A friend betrays you.

In those moments when the worry creeps back in, we can look to Jesus or start looking for ways to keep ourselves afloat.

4 Ways To Focus on Jesus Today

1. Spend time in the Bible.

When I’m not looking for Jesus daily, my perception of Him goes from good King to enemy. His plans look terrifying and my way looks better.

Keeping our perspective in check starts with us knowing who we’re putting our trust in. Reading the Bible shows us more about Jesus and builds trust in our hearts.

2. Serve someone else for a change.

When I focus more on myself than the people around me, I give more of my attention to my own doubt and fear. Serving others allows me to remember that life is not all about me.

Serving also allows me to come face to face with situations I can’t fix or control. So as I reach out to serve others I find myself reaching up to Jesus more and more.

3. Pray.

Prayer doesn’t have to be super religious, lengthy, and eloquent. God also loves raw, honest prayers. When Peter was afraid and sinking he didn’t say, “Jesus, Holy Messiah, save me if it is your will.” He said, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30)

Most of us avoid prayer because we think we have to impress someone. Prayer isn’t for me to impress Jesus. He knows my heart. Prayer allows me to grow by being open and honest with Jesus and myself.

4.  Hang out with other people who are trying to follow Jesus.

There’s power in numbers. We’re more likely to have faith and be less fearful when we’re surrounded by people who point us back to Jesus (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Jesus’ love, provision, and sovereignty are always present. But I can see those things more clearly through the love and support of Christian friends. Celebrating God’s miracles in each others’ lives helps to make those moments real and gives us touchstones to go back to when fear creeps in.

Peter was only able to walk on water when he kept his eyes on Jesus. The miracle of change, the ability to do the impossible, comes when we do the same — putting our eyes on Jesus rather than storms that surround us.

Day 8: A Mother of Faith

Have you ever wanted something so bad that it was all you thought about, talked about, and prayed for? Hannah knew that feeling, and she chose to respond with an attitude of humility and a heart full of faith. Hannah was a homemaker, wife, and believer in the Lord. But most of all, Hannah wanted to be a mother.

For years Hannah was not able to have children while her husband’s second wife, Peninnah, was able to have many. To make matters worse, Peninnah knew how badly Hannah wanted to have a child. She would taunt Hannah cruelly, rubbing it in, and never letting her forget that God had not given her what she wanted. Instead of lashing out or giving up, Hannah would pray fervently for the Lord to give her a son. She continued to worship God and pour out her heart to Him year after year as her family visited the house of the Lord at Shiloh.

One day, as Hannah was weeping and praying, she told God that if He would allow her to conceive a son, she would give him fully back to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:11). As she prayed and wept, Eli, the priest at the temple, noticed how distraught she was. After speaking with Hannah, Eli asked the Lord to grant her the desire of her heart.

This encouragement fueled Hannah’s faith, and soon after she and her husband returned home, she conceived and gave birth to a baby boy named Samuel. Hannah knew that this child was a gift from the Lord, and in faith, she kept her promise to Him. She took Samuel to the house of the Lord at Shiloh and gave him to Eli so that he could serve the Lord for the rest of his days. There, he grew up in the temple, learning to serve God, hear His voice, and eventually become Israel’s greatest judge. Samuel was the very one that God had prepared from the beginning to lead His people at this time in history.

What can we learn from Hannah as a mother?

God cares about your feelings, too.

Hannah knew that while she was infertile, her lack of self-worth could get the best of her, so she always made sure to confess her feelings to God. No matter what you’re waiting for, you can do the same. God loves you and wants you to know that you can come to Him with any need or desire. Like Hannah, we can pour our hearts out to God and have faith that He will give us His best at just the right time.

Your kids are on “loan.”

Hannah knew from the very beginning, even before Samuel was conceived, that he belonged to God. She understood that her bearing a son meant that she was being “loaned” a child from God to love. This is a game changer as a mom. If we could look at our children through the lens of this truth, it would help us see them for who they truly are: God’s child first, on loan for us to love and train to serve the Lord.

We can see that Samuel’s faith grew to reflect Hannah’s when we read his words in 1 Samuel 12:24, “Be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.” (1 Samuel 12:24)

Reflect:

  • What great things has God done for you that you can thank Him for while you wait?
  • Part of God’s plan for Hannah was waiting for child-bearing years. It is easy to look at our outward circumstances, not realizing God needs it to happen this way.
  • What are you struggling to wait for? Pour your heart out to God and tell Him.
  • When Hannah faced opposition in her waiting, she chose a humble response. How will you respond as you wait?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 1: Don’t Give the Enemy a Seat at Your Table

When we’re panicked and ready to run, God is perfectly calm. When we’re ready to retreat, He prepares a table for us. Why? Because no matter how out of control we feel, God is still in control.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…”
(Psalm 23:5)

When we spend time with the King in the presence of our enemies, we realize we have everything we need to face the situation at hand. We start reflecting His peace to the people around us — including our enemies. Instead of seeing us squirm, our enemy sees us getting stronger.

But if we’re not careful, the enemy will pull up a chair at our table, and we’ll start reflecting his attitude to everyone instead of the Lord’s. Instead of feeling more secure, we’ll grow more paranoid. Instead of increasing in confidence, we’ll become crippled by fear.

The goal of this week is to identify our enemy, so we can banish him from our table. Take a few minutes today to learn more about who the enemy is, and tomorrow we’ll start looking at how to know if he’s been speaking to you.


Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 2: What Are You Looking for?

“… for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 14-15

Satan doesn’t need to scare us into submission. He simply manipulates the fears and desires we already have.

One of the easiest ways to get us to question God’s goodness is to convince us that He’s holding out. “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out) has been destroying human beings since Genesis 3. The enemy is the one telling us, “It’s better over there,” or “You’d be better off if you just…”

Whatever we think we need, we better believe the enemy will call attention to it. Whatever words we’ve been waiting for God to say, we’re going to hear them spoken over someone else. Comparison steals our joy by taking our eyes off the feast before us and putting them on what God is feeding someone else instead.

We don’t have to live this way. Grow in contentment instead of being controlled through comparison.


Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 4: You Are Not Worthless

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).

Not all, but much of the anxiety we experience comes from feeling like we’ll never be enough. Smart enough to accomplish the dream in our hearts. Charismatic enough for other people to listen to us. Holy enough for God to like us.

Those thoughts are not from the Lord. We may feel unworthy at times, but we were never worthless. God loved us so much He sent His Son to pay for our sin so we could have a relationship with Him. Jesus gave His life to be at the table with us. That’s how valuable we are.

When we lose sight of God’s love for us, we begin to live like we are responsible for everything. We forget that God is waiting for us at the table, ready to provide for our physical and emotional needs. Instead of settling our hearts in His presence, we strive to be better and achieve more.

If we’re living each day full of worry and apprehension, it’s time to slow down and ask, “Why?” Follow up the answer to “Why?” with “Who told us that?”

The enemy is crafty, and he will feed anxiety every chance he gets. Instead, allow Jesus to calm your anxious heart.


Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 5: Who’s really out to get you?

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32).

Does it ever feel like the whole world is out to get you? 

While that feeling is real, it’s probably not true. Not everyone is out to get us. It’s more likely that one person is out to get us, and his name is Satan.

Satan is our real enemy, and he will exploit any hostility he finds to shift our focus away from God. If we get in a dispute with a neighbor, his is the voice telling us that everyone knows and they’re all on the neighbor’s side. Soon, we’re convinced the whole neighborhood is against us.

Bitterness builds resentment and makes it harder and harder to hear from God. This is why forgiveness is such a powerful weapon against our enemy. Where the enemy tells us to watch our backs and defend ourselves, God says, “That’s my job. You get to forgive. Leave everything else to me.”

Imagine that for a second. No more looking over our shoulders or plotting how we’ll get back at everyone. Instead of waking up exhausted, we can finally rest our mind and enjoy the day.

Bitterness never hurts the person we’re mad at. In fact, the person most affected by our bitterness is probably us. Allow forgiveness to set you free.


Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 1: What is love?

Read: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Spending time with family.
Sleeping in late.
Reading a good book.
A pint of cookie dough ice cream.

We could all make lists of people and things we love. It’s a word most people frequently use, but do we really mean it when we say it? Certainly, a person doesn’t mean the same thing when she says, “I love my husband,” as when she says,“I love college football.”

So, what is love? What does it do? Why does it matter?

1 John 4:8 says, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” God doesn’t just show us love. God is love. Without Him, there is no love. With Him, it is impossible to not have it.

God’s love in us changes us. Love is the difference between caring for someone and using someone. Love makes our actions and spiritual gifts useful. Great faith, acts of service, and miracle-working power produce very little without love. Love involves unselfish service to others.

In Mark 12:30-31, Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…[and] love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

As Christians, our love for others is a reflection of who God is. We are called to love God and love others. When we do this, our loving behaviors and attitudes point back to God and who He is.

Reflect:

  • What’s one way God’s love has changed you?
  • How is His love moving you to show love to others?
  • What is one way your love for others can point them back to Jesus?

Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 2: Where you get the ability to love

Read: 1 John 4:7-21

What if I get hurt?

What if they take advantage of me?

I’ve tried helping before, and it didn’t do any good.

For all of the reasons we avoid letting people into our lives or getting involved in theirs, John gives us one good reason we should. It’s what God did for each of us.

When we were uninterested in God, He pursued us. God sent His only Son into the world so our sin could be removed and our relationship could be restored (1 John 4:10-12).

When we realize the depth of God’s love, it changes us. We want to spend time with Him, to know Him. We find joy in bringing Him joy. And after a while, we become so familiar with His character that we know what He would say or have us do. Like a couple that’s been together for decades, we begin to move in sync with one another (1 John 4:13-15).

That’s why the real test of our love for God is how we treat the people right in front of us. God is love. When we are living in step with God, love is what comes out of us. When we love one another, the invisible God reveals Himself to others through us, and His love is made complete.

God knows better than anyone that love can be costly. We might get hurt, and people might take advantage of us. But the way to quiet those fears is not by retreating. We get past the fear of putting ourselves out there by remembering God’s love and choosing to treat others the way He treated us.

Reflect:

  • Who were you when you asked Jesus into your life? How has your life changed since then?
  • How would you describe the way God has loved you?
  • When it comes to loving others that way, are you retreating in fear or reaching out in faith?

Article courtesy of NewSpring

Day 3: You Will Get through This

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil …” Psalm 23:4

Part of what makes roller coasters scary is not knowing what’s coming. We can’t see the drops,  twists, or reverses until we’re in them.

Often, life feels the same way. Everything is fine until someone gets sick or the company announces it’s closing. “You’re not going to make it through this,” we hear in our head.

Fear overwhelms us until we remember who we’re facing the situation with. God, our Good Shepherd, brings us through the valley of the shadow of death. Not to the valley, but through the valley.

Our security is not based on what happens to us or what God gives us, but on His presence with us. When the enemy tries to fill our hearts with fear, we should remember who we’re with, and put our eyes on the Good Shepherd instead.


Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 4: Love will always lead you to be more generous

No one likes being told what to do, especially when it comes to giving away money. 

In 2 Corinthians 8:1-15, Paul tells the Corinthian church to give, not because they feel obligated to, but as a reflection of their love for others. As an example, he points to the church in Macedonia.

Believers there were facing extreme poverty and trials. Yet in the midst of their suffering, the people had overflowing joy because they were generous in giving and sharing with others rather than holding tightly the little bit they had to offer. That’s the kind of love Christians are to show to one another — real, tangible, practical, and sacrificial generosity.

Being generous doesn’t happen without intentional effort on our part (2 Corinthians 8:7). Every married couple knows the words “I love you” don’t carry much weight unless they are supported by actions. The same is true with our love for others. Saying “I love you” is not nearly as impactful as showing someone you love them.

The beauty of learning to excel in the grace of giving is that generosity is a natural response to love. Generosity isn’t something that has to be forced. When we love someone, we want to provide for their needs with our time and attention.

God gave us the perfect example of sacrificial generosity in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). As followers of Christ, let’s put action behind our declaration and be generous in our time, finances and love.

Reflect:

  • When was the last time you did something crazy generous for someone else?
  • What’s one way that you can show love by being generous today?

Article courtesy of NewSpring 

Day 11: You Are Not A Number

Read: Nehemiah 11

Why do you suppose Nehemiah records so many names in his account of those returning to settle in Jerusalem? The names serve to focus our attention on the promises God made to His people. They remind the workers they are part of one special family of purpose. Perhaps most importantly, the names remind us that these were real people with real stories who made a real difference.

If we were to list all the difference makers who helped build 12Stone, the list would be long. Hundreds and thousands of people have served and sacrificed in order to reach people far from God.

We believe every number has a name, every name has a story, and every story matters to God. God really does care about the people we are trying to reach. But, God also cares about the people already here.

The mission to reach the world with the gospel is a huge undertaking. We can never forget that the church’s mission is fulfilled by individuals. Individuals who matter to God come together to fight and build and make a difference. God hasn’t forgotten you. God is with us in the late nights and early mornings, the long phone calls, and the prayers spoken through tears. He knows and cares about our personal circumstances. Jesus knows us by name.

Consider This:

Who in your life needs to hear about Jesus?

Pray:

Jesus, give me the courage to share my faith.


Article courtesy of NewSpring

Christians Still Have Problems, But We Pray

Sometimes as Jesus followers we wonder why we have so many pressures and problems. We believe God should remove them from our lives — simply because we are Christians.

The truth is sometimes we will have even more problems due to persecution. But we have a different peace and a different power than non-Christians. That’s what gives us the hope to persevere in prayer.

Why Does God Allow Trials and Storms?

Many people experience trial after trial and don’t understand why. The first question we must ask ourselves is whether we’re participating in creating the trials. Are we reaping what we’ve sown? If not, consider the alternative — He’s training us for bigger things.

We endure the hardships that God allowed to pass through His hand so that we may grow in holiness. When we endure trial after trial, God just might be training us for a big assignment. Remember: God works all things together for good.

Your Heart and Strength for God

Spiritual highs and lows are completely normal. It’s part of the journey of walking with God. But it’s important to understand the difference between your heart for God and your strength for God.

Our heart for God is rooted in our emotions, and it comes and goes. Our strength for God is rooted in our will. We can’t build a life on a heart for God, but we can absolutely build a life on a strength for God.

Whether we feel like praising God, it doesn’t matter. We must remind ourselves to praise and to remember God’s blessings and favor. Through praise, remembrance, and study of the Bible, we grow our strength for God.

What Perspective Should We Have on Fear?

Some people allow the voice of fear to be so loud in their lives that it becomes louder and more powerful than the voice of the Holy Spirit. Fear becomes the influencer and driver of our behavior and keeps us distant from God. Make no mistake: fear is a sin that ruins lives as much any other sin.

All fear is a lie except for the fear of the Lord.

Truth Be Told – Townhall

This week is our town hall (Q&A) format. Pastor Miles Welch digs deeper into the lies we believe and how the enemy uses those lies to take us out. He takes questions from the small groups in the room ranging on:

  • The Anatomy of a Lie
  • Your Heart & Strength For God
  • Trials & Storms
  • Sin & Consequences
  • Fear & Anxiety
  • Forgiveness
  • Confidence in Our Faith

 

Lie: Forgiveness Has to be Earned

The Bible is very clear about forgiveness. We didn’t earn our forgiveness (and salvation) on our own — we never could. Forgiveness came only through the sacrifice of God’s only son, Jesus Christ, and it was freely given. In the same way, our spouse, our coworker, our family, or our friend do not need to earn our forgiveness.

We are called to freely forgive others. And in doing so, we free up ourselves from carrying bitterness and anger that only causes strife in our lives. Trust can be earned (or re-earned), but not forgiveness.

In All Things, Love

Pastor Kevin uses three buckets to illustrate the difference between the essentials of our faith, in which we must have unity; the non-essentials of our faith, in which we should have liberty; and that all things — yes all things — are covered by the love of God.

To have great relationships with other Christians, it’s important to understand how the buckets work and how to let people be different from us in the area of non-essentials.

It Matters Where You Start

Pastor Kevin explains that when we start at the wrong place, we arrive at the wrong conclusion. By this he means, if we begin the search for our origin with a preoccupation of self, we will spend our lives making it all about us. Evolution begins to make sense. Living according to our feelings makes sense. We will eventually remove God from everything.

But when we begin with God, as our Creator, our mindset begins with God’s truth. We know we were created on purpose to live on mission for God. We don’t live according to our feelings — but according to God’s truth in the Bible.

Truth Be Told, About Relationships

Lies We Believe (About Relationships):

  1. Other people should be more like me.
  2. Forgiveness has to be earned in relationships.
  3. If our marriage takes hard work, we must not be right for each other.

 

Now what? Repair your foundation (flawed by the lies we believe)

Put in practice: “God, help me repair my foundation. I need to _______________.”

Lie: True Christ Followers Have Storm Free Lives

Just because we follow Jesus doesn’t mean we will have trouble-free, storm-free lives. The Bible tells us that, “in this world, we will have trouble.” (John 16:33) But Jesus also tells us He will strengthen us for the storms of life.

We need to build our foundation on God and His truth in the Bible. That will make us strong enough to withstand the storms.

Trust God, Not Your Feelings

Pastor Kevin asks us where we find our answers to the big questions of life. Do we look inward and use our own thoughts and feelings to decide whether something is right or wrong? Or, do we look to God to determine how to live?

Our culture tells us to think for ourselves and act according to how we feel. But Jesus tells us to look to God — to get outside ourselves — and ask God to teach us what to believe and how to act. These answers can be found in the Bible.

Decoration vs Foundation

Pastor Kevin uses a house as a metaphor for our lives. We want to have a great house (life) so we put great energy – and money – into securing and decorating the best possible house. And so we think, if we can improve appearances and make life beautiful, we can improve our lives.

But soon enough a storm comes along in our health, our marriage, our family, our faith, our career, etc. And it’s in the storm, that we figure out, it’s not the decoration that determines if our house (life) stands strong – it’s what we have in our foundation.

Truth Be Told, About God

Words To Build A Life On:

  1. It’s the foundation, not the decoration that gives you as stronger life.
  2. Trust God, not your feelings.
  3. Repair your foundation.

Repair your foundation: (flawed by the lies we believe about God)

  1. God’s love  must (can) be earned.
  2. True Christ followers have storm-free lives.

How God Can Actually Guide Us

We want God to help us with big decisions and guide us, but we have to tend to the convicting voice of God first.

In John 16, it says the Holy Spirit will “guide you into all the truth.”

By truly believing this principle, that God wants to guide us, we can lean into that and invite him into our daily decisions.

In this clip, Jason discusses how God guides and directs him with peace or lack of peace.He prays for guidance on a topic. He asks God to give him a peace if he should move forward, or unrest/uneasiness if he should not.

The act of handing something over to God is often overlooked. God can only guide the things we give him. We can’t get on God’s agenda with closed hands.

How Do I Hear The Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit wants to do more than just change your behavior, He wants to change your heart.

If you close your eyes and pray, “God what is something that I am doing that is making you sad and that I need to confess and turn from?”

Typically the first thing that He brings to mind is what you should deal with first.

The more we practice this, the more we learn how The Holy Spirit speaks and the stronger it becomes. On the other side, if we don’t listen, it becomes difficult to recognize and hear.

The Holy Spirit Convicts

The Holy Spirit wants to convict from Unholy to Holy.

Whenever you’re about to say something you shouldn’t or do something you know is wrong, the first voice you will hear from the Holy Spirit is conviction.

Another word for conviction is convince. He is not convicting you to make you feel bad about yourself. He convicts you of your need for a savior. The Holy Spirit wants to convince you that you need Jesus, and that if you stay in your sin, it will lead to death.

Hearing God’s Voice

How do you hear from God? – The Holy Spirit

Who is The Holy Spirit? 

  1. He is a person.
  2. He is God.
  3. He is in you.

What Does The Holy Spirit do?

  1. Unholy — Convicts –> Holy
  2. Convicts — Guides –> Empowers
  3. Live Self — Empowers –> Live Sent