Tag Archive | Fear

The Great Distraction

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content

in whatever circumstances I am.  Philippians 4:11godliness-with-Contentment

 It was a beautiful day!  I had just finished my quiet time and was feeling so blessed…with a wonderful husband, awesome kids and grandkids, a comfortable home, great friends and a loving church family.

Then it happened…I was surrounded.  As I sat down to check recent Facebook posts, the attacks came at me from all directions…a Facebook post about someone’s new home, a story about a friend’s promotion, ads for things that I couldn’t live without, and a picture of a friend’s perfect family!  The Great Distraction –discontentment – had struck again!

We’ve all been there.

  • If we’re young, we want to be older. If we’re old, we wish we were younger.
  • If it’s old, we want something new.
  • If it’s small, we want something bigger.
  • If we have a hundred dollars, we want two hundred.
  • If we have an apartment, we want a condo. If we have a house, we want a bigger house. Or a newer house. Or a nicer house. Or maybe we want to scale down and live in an apartment again.
  • If we have a job, we dream of a better job, a bigger job, a closer job, a bigger office, a better boss.
  • If we’re single, we dream of being married. If we’re married … (you can finish that sentence yourself.)
  • If we have kids we dream of…

A certain amount of discontentment can be good for our souls.  The hope of something better drives us forward and keeps us working, inventing, striving, creating and innovating. But there is another type of discontentment that propels us in the wrong direction.

Identifying the causes of discontentment is one of the first steps in overcoming it.

  • Unrealistic expectations – In our minds we have thoughts and ideas about how things should be, how people should behave, and how our life should be. These are just ideas…they are not truth. When there is a gap between our expectations and our reality, discontentment sets in.
  • Comparing ourselves to others – When we compare ourselves to others we are comparing our inside to their outside. We may never know the issues another person is dealing with on the inside…all we see is their perfect outside.
  • Attempting to live up to the expectations of others – Accepting others’ expectations or standards for our success never works out well. It leaves us feeling like no matter what we do it will never be good enough.

In reality, discontentment is a spiritual problem.

  • Discontentment is a mistrusting of God – We don’t really believe that we are who He says we are, what He says He has done for us or will do for us, or that He will work all things for our good. (Romans 8:28)
  • Discontentment exhibits a desire to be sovereign…or in control. Like Adam and Eve, (who lived in paradise and had it all) we desire to be like God and control our own destiny.
  • Discontentment covets something God has not been pleased to give us. He gave us His Son – can we not trust Him for the trivial things? (Romans 8:32)

God wants us to be victorious over our discontentment. So, let’s consider some steps we can take to become overcomers.

  1. Acknowledge that we are where we are by God’s assignment. 1 Corinthians 7:17 says, “Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him”. God has given each of us a job to do. He has gifted each of us in a certain way and has assigned us a particular place in life. The issue is not circumstances.  We should serve God where we are until He clearly calls us elsewhere.
  1. Focus on Gratitude. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. Thankfulness is a state of mind, not an accumulation of assets.  We will never achieve contentment until we are truly thankful for God’s provision…in all circumstances.
  1. Reject a fearful spirit. 2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us, “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of self-control”. One of the most effective tools used by Satan against Christians is the question, “What if?”  Christians get trapped into hoarding because they fear the “What if?” of retirement, disability, unemployment, economic collapse, and so on.
  1. Remember that we are visitors on earth…not permanent residents. Hebrews 13:14 says, For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come “. We should not be preoccupied with things that don’t matter… trying to hang on to things of the world. Corrie Tin Boone said, “Don’t hold on too tightly to the things God has given you or it may hurt when He has to pry them out of your hands”.
  • Our bank books are His,
  • Our investments are His,
  • Our calendar is His,
  • Our home is His,
  • Our family is His,
  • Our marriage is His,
  • Our children are His,
  • Our future is His.

Contentment seems illusive to many of us.  We feel as if we will never be able to find peace.  However, contentment is not something that we must search for until we find it.  Contentment is an attitude of the heart.  Once we alter our attitude and give it to God, contentment will flood our souls and we will no longer be distracted by the things of this world.

 Truth to Claim:  God wants us to find contentment in Him.

 Practical Application:  Ask God to show you those things that rob you of contentment and commit to giving them to Him.

Solo Deo Gloria

 

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Things That Go Bump In The Night

                                                                “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.scared-girl-running-clipart-august145vv5  I will strengthen you and help you;I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” 

                                                                   Isaiah 41:10

Well, it is the season for “things that go bump in the night”.  Whether you like Halloween or not it is difficult to avoid it.  All the stores are full of Halloween decorations and scary movies are the norm in movie theaters and on TV during the month of October.

Two of my grandsons told me they wanted to dress as zombies for Halloween…what happened to super heroes?  My 3 year old grandson on the other hand said he wanted to be a “little boy” for Halloween  – or in other words… just who he is.  I think he has the right idea!

All of the Halloween hoopla got me to thinking about what kinds of “things go bump in the night” in a spiritual sense.

Sometimes the things that “go bump in the night” are things of our own making .We make rebellious choices and then act surprised when we find ourselves in a mess…scared to death not knowing what to do or where to turn.

But we aren’t alone in our disobedience are we? – remember Adam & Eve?  They weren’t hiding under the covers but they were hiding in the garden.

“And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.  And the Lord God called Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?  And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”            Genesis 3:8-10

Being rebellious or disobedient results in broken fellowship with God and breaking fellowship with the Lord is a scary place to be.  But, like the monster under the bed, once we face it, confess it and give it the Lord we can move from fear to victory.

Other things that often “go bump in the night” are the things that are bigger than we are…a financial crisis, a job loss, a wayward child or a health crisis…things over which we have no control.

These burdens are so heavy that we often feel that we cannot bear them. They look like a monster in the dark with fangs looming over us and as a result we feel tiny & helpless.

David was familiar with things bigger that he was – namely a giant named Goliath who sent shivers through the big strong men of the Israelite army. But, David knew the key to standing against the giant.

“David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, who you have defied….All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s and he will give all of you into our hands.”  1 Sam. 17:45, 47

Like David let’s remember whatever our challenge the battle is the Lord’s and He is faithful.

Or, our “bump in the night” may be things we don’t understand. In a way these are the scariest because it is hard to deal with those things we don’t know how to process or to see in a tangible way…a betrayal, a divorce, the death of a child.

We could learn from Mary, the mother of Jesus, in Luke 1.  The angel came to her and told her that she was chosen to carry the Christ-child.  Certainly Mary had reason to be afraid.  She didn’t understand what was happening – a virgin, not married, facing the possibility of becoming a social outcast?

“And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.  And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found favor with God.”           Luke 1:29,30

How did Mary respond to her fear? – “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered.   “May it be to me as you have said.”     Luke 1:38

When we don’t understand, we must trust who God is…loving, merciful, and full of grace.

There are always going to be “things that go bump in the night” – things that are going to frighten us and make us afraid…even as Christians.  Fear is an emotion that we have built in us as humans but we need not let fear overtake us.

Psalm 56:3 says, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.”

It’s not that we have fear but what do we do with that fear that is important. We can tremble with the sheets over our head or face our fears and trust God to see us through it.

We might still feel afraid, but we can choose to claim God’s promise that He is with us. We may not be in control, but we can trust the One who is. We may not know the future, but we can know the God who does.

Truth to Claim:  God is with us when we feel afraid and we can trust Him to help us overcome our fear.

Practical Application:  When feeling fearful remember that God is with you, He is in control and He will work all things for your good.

Solo Deo Gloria