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What Are You Afraid Of?

2tim1.7For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. — 2 Timothy 1:7

A great hindrance that I see at work in the Church that prevents us from discovering and fulfilling our divine purpose is a spirit of fear.

A spirit of fear is not merely screaming because of a spider or other insect (this should come as a great relief to some folks that I know 🙂 ).  A spirit of fear has to do with being timid or fearful to a fault.  It is fear because of a lack of courage or moral strength.  For example, it is wisdom to maintain cleanliness, but someone without an immune system deficiency can become unreasonably fearful of germs and the possibility of getting sick, that their minds are dominated by such thoughts.  In other words, their thoughts and behavior are enslaved to a spirit of fear (Note: A spirit of control could also be at work in this situation because they can become addicted to trying to control circumstances and other people based on these fears).   I should also point out that having immune system deficiency (which I personally experienced for a season) means we may need to be more careful, but that does not mean we ought to succumb to a spirit of fear.

Unlike the example above, some are enslaved to fears that aren’t as immediately obvious.  Here are some examples of fears that many in the body of Christ are enslaved to but aren’t always immediately obvious to us:

  • The fear of failure or loss (this would include any kind of personal failure involving relationship(s), career, social or economic status).
  • The fear of getting hurt (the fear of being emotionally wounded, or reopening old emotional wounds).
  • The fear of exposure (hidden motives, desires, and attitudes, past or present sins)
  • The fear of man (fear of disapproval, rejection, abandonment or persecution by others).

There are at least three reasons why a spirit of fear is so detrimental and will keep us from maturing in terms of Christ-like character and discovering and fulfilling our divine purpose:

  • A spirit of fear robs of us of power. This is because the spirit of fear is a faith destroyer.  At Jesus’ command, Peter the Apostle was able to walk on water until he took his eyes off Jesus, looked at the wind and waves, and became afraid.  I’m not suggesting that Peter was enslaved to a spirit of fear, but if this was the result of a momentary lapse in Peter’s faith in Jesus, how detrimental is it for us to be enslaved to a spirit fear? God desires to demonstrate His power in us and through us.  This can only be accomplished as we walk in a healthy relationship with the Lord, fully trusting Him and being led by the Spirit of God day by day.  A spirit of fear severs that trust and prevents the flow of power.
  • A spirit of fear hinders our willingness and ability to love one another as Christ loved us. Loving one another the way Christ loved us involves laying down our lives for one another by serving each other. When a spirit of fear dominates our thought life, we will tend to remain isolated, self-focused and self-preserving.  A spirit of fear will keep us from moving out of our comfort zone because we don’t want to risk failing, losing something, getting hurt, exposed or rejected.  There are many in the body of Christ who are not moving and functioning in their gifting because they have allowed a spirit of fear to hold them back.
  • A spirit of fear causes us to remain undisciplined and undiscerning in our thinking. A spirit of fear inhibits our ability to think clearly and to see things as they truly are.  For example, it was a spirit of fear that kept the generation that God delivered out of Egypt from entering the land of promise.  Out of the twelve spies sent into Canaan to survey the land, only Joshua and Caleb came back with a good report.  All twelve spies had witnessed God’s miraculous deliverance from Pharaoh and slavery in Egypt.  All twelve were first-hand witnesses of the judgement of plagues on Egypt and their so called gods, God parting the waters of the Red Sea while the pillar of cloud and Angel of the Lord held the Egyptian army at bay, and then the utter defeat of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea as the waters closed in on them after the children of Israel had safely crossed (Exodus 14). Only Joshua and Caleb chose to not give in to a spirit of fear.  They remembered what they saw God do and they understood the truth of their situation: God was with them and therefore no enemy, no matter how formidable, and no city no matter how fortified, would be able to withstand them!

In order to overcome a spirit of fear, we need to get to the root of the problem.  After Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden by eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, the Scripture says that God called to the man asking, “Where are you?”  Adam’s reply was, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid.  I was afraid because I was naked.”  This all came about as a result of Eve looking at the forbidden tree and seeing that it was “a tree desirable to make one wise.” (Gen. 3:6).  This shows us that they both thought to themselves that they could gain wisdom without God.  They really thought to themselves that that God was not trustworthy and that they’d do just fine without Him, so they disobeyed.  In other words, it was human pride that led mankind to become afraid because they saw themselves as being naked.

Without a right view of God deep in our hearts, we will continue to be fearful because we see ourselves as naked, uncovered, exposed, or at risk in some way.  On the other hand, to fear the Lord, that is, to highly revere God who is both our life and our covering, requires daily walking in humility.  It is out of humility, reverence and dependence on the Lord that courage is produced.  It is from a heart rich in humility that fear is turned into great courage!   For example, Peter, the Apostle’s denial of Jesus (because of the fear of man) was rooted in pride, for he proudly proclaimed that, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.” (Matthew 36:33) (Peter character wasn’t as mature as he thought it was).  But in humility Peter he was restored and went on to do Kingdom exploits, fulfilling his divine call and purpose.  Historians tell us that he was martyred by being crucified upside down.

So, with all this in mind, what are you afraid of?  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

God bless you!

Pastor Neal

The Influence of a Faithful Father

couple-pray-ps103…God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply”. — Genesis 1:27-28

Before there were any religious or civil institutions, God created man and woman together, as equals, to reflect the image of God, who is Himself, the Author of life and Creator of all things.  After He created them, He blessed them, and commissioned them to “be fruitful and multiply”.  The implication is that God desired a blessed posterity to come forth from Adam and Eve’s union, filling the earth with His image bearers.  In other words, mankind’s first, and therefore most important commissioning, is father and mother.  It wasn’t a religious or political commissioning, it was a family commissioning.   For this reason, God alone gets to define fatherhood, motherhood, and family.  So it follows that our attitude toward these God ordained roles must completely align with the plumb line of His word, which is His will.  With that in mind, and as we celebrate Father’s day in 2015, I want to share with you what I believe are at least four qualities of a faithful father.

Now just to be clear, faithfulness is not about perfection (we all make mistakes).  It’s about making the effort in good faith.  Unfaithfulness on the other hand, means not caring enough to make a serious effort.   The writer of the book of Hebrews wrote, “For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness” – Hebrews 12:10.  This tells us that regardless of how we may view the faithfulness of our earthly fathers or ourselves, we should never project that on to our heavenly Father.  He is always good and He is always faithful because He loves us genuinely and perfectly.  It also reminds us that faithfulness is borne out of genuine love, and that is what motivates us to do our best to be and become faithful fathers.

That said, the first quality of a faithful father is that they love their children enough to discipline and correct them.  The writer of Proverbs wrote, “Discipline your children while there is hope. Otherwise you will ruin their lives.” — Proverbs 19:18.  Discipline isn’t just about spanking (which should only be done in a non-abusive and age appropriate manner), it’s about correction and requires real involvement in the life of your children.

The second quality of a faithful father is that they truly honor their wives.  Peter the Apostle, wrote, “…you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.”—1 Peter 3:7.  (The word weaker here simply means more sensitive).  Honoring our wives this way, as our equal partners, demonstrates to our sons and daughters how a godly man should treat his wife.  It also sets the bar of how our daughters should expect to be treated by future suitors and husbands.

The third quality of a faithful father is that they intentionally seek to know God and observe His ways.  They don’t just seek to know about God, but they seek to know Him through direct personal and continual experience.
Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  — John 8:31-32.  Jesus is saying that when you remain faithful to His teachings, you will know (have relationship/fellowship with) Him and He will set you free.

The fourth quality of a faithful father is that they tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord. Have you shared your testimony with your children?  Do they see you walking in vital union with the Lord?  Do they see reading and studying the Scriptures, and seeking God for everything?  Do they celebrate and praise God with you when He answers?

“We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders.  For he issued his laws to Jacob;  he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them— even the children not yet born— and they in turn will teach their own children. So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands. Then they will not be like their ancestors— stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God. “ – Psalm 78:4-8

As we read this passage, we can see that every father has a significant and multi-generational influence on their children.  The only question is what kind of influence will it be?  With so much at stake, shouldn’t we make every effort to do our best?   As we think about these things, let us come to the place where we say, “As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord.”

May God bless you and your families,

Pastor Neal

The New Wineskin

Wineskin-300“But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” – Luke 5:38

In the previous verse to the above noted scripture, it states the reason why a new wineskin is needed when pouring in new wine. Because of the fermentation process, it stretches out the skin. If the skin is old and already stretched out, it will burst and both will be lost.

God has been speaking to the church at large about a new wineskin He is creating. What is the “wineskin” that he is creating? Why do we need a new one? What’s wrong with the old wineskin?

What I believe God is creating is a new structure through which He will move in these last days to prepare the Bride, which is the church, for her Bridegroom—to be without spot, wrinkle—to be presented to Himself at the wedding feast of the Lamb.

He is “reforming” the church into the structure He created it to be. An example that we can glean from is the pile of dead, dry bones laying the valley in Ezekiel’s vision in Ezekiel 37.  The pile, at that point, was the only structure each bone in that pile knew. If it was dead, dry and disconnected, then it wasn’t functioning and moving in the way it was supposed to for too long. But it was all it knew. It wasn’t until the voice of the prophet, as commanded by the Lord, called to those bones to re-form back into the skeletons they were originally, did they begin to move, connect and line up in original design God had for the structure of the body. Once the skeleton’s were reformed, then the muscle, tendons, tissue and skin could cover it, then it was finally ready to hold the breath from the Living God that He released into it.

This is where we find ourselves right now as the corporate Body of Christ. God is calling the “bones” together to “re-form” back into His original design—which isn’t a pile! It is going to be different than what we are accustomed to, what we are comfortable with but if we don’t change, the whole thing will burst and there will be loss.

God’s purpose in this transition of reformation is to preserve both the wine and the wineskin. The wine is a fresh Holy Spirit outpouring. The wineskin is what holds it.  The current wineskin or structure is not able to hold the new outpouring that God wants to bring. It is not able to hold the Presence of God that He wants to bring and manifest in the midst of His Bride—His church—at this time in history. So we need to get ourselves ready for the change. Get ready to moved around to the place God has ordained we be in at this time and in this new structure.  The thing we need to be watchful of is that holding on to the old wine and wineskin. Like it says in verse 39, once the old wine has been tasted, no one wants the new. The old is familiar, it is comfortable, it is all we know. But we need to let it go, ask the Lord for the mindset of a pioneer and not let fear lock us up and away from the awesome things God has for the church, our families, our communities, our Island, our city and our nation at this time.  The new wineskin is a changed lifestyle to accommodate a new move of the Spirit in our personal lives. God wants us to change our schedules and routines in a way that shows Him that we are hungry & thirsty for Him! The new wineskin is also the means in which we worship together. You will, no doubt, see us do things a little differently as the Spirit leads us.

We may not know what it is going to look like or feel like, but that’s ok because God knows. This is going to be a great time to learn how to walk according to the Spirit of God in a greater way and break away from our self-reliance and leaning on what we are used to and comfortable with. It is going to be exciting and we are all going through it together!

God Bless you all abundantly!

Pastor  Nancy