But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Can you even imagine what was going through Joseph’s mind and heart when he found out that Mary was expecting? What about when he realized that the baby she was carrying in her womb was the Son of God?
He had to be terrified, and that is confirmed by the angel coming to him to say “do not be afraid”.
Often, when God calls us to do something, we can become afraid as well. While what we are doing may never compare to marrying a woman who others believe to have done something she did not do and raising The Savior of the world from an infant into a man, it can still leave us feeling overwhelmed and scared. We forget what we know to be true: that God has it all under control. We stress over things like logistics, money, what others may think, and more.
But what we need to remember is what Joseph is proof of: If it is the will of God, and we stay on His course, everything will work out.
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The second that we let our flesh try to detour His plans, by negotiating our ideas in, that is the very moment that things start to go wrong. What if Joseph had said, “I will marry her, but we will not keep the child.” I doubt that any of our lives would be where they are today.
It is because Joseph did as he was instructed without fear that Jesus was able to thrive, grow, and eventually save the world. He trusted God and stuck to the plan. When God calls you, remember Joseph and do not be afraid.
But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Philippians 1:12-14 NKJV
It doesn’t take much looking around today to know that being a Christian is often frowned upon, no matter where you are in the world. In the United States, we are considered politically incorrect. In other countries, we are treated as criminals. The temptation to be silent and hide is strong. I know, because that is what I did for years until I became fed up. The fear of being looked down on and losing friends was a heavy burden to carry.
Heavy, until I realized what was happening to others on the other side of the world.
In fact, long story short, it was hearing a sermon on something along these lines that brought me to beginning this blog and “coming out of the closet as a Christian”.
Paul faced a ton of adversity when he made the decision to follow Christ. Yet he never let that stop him. He shared Christ with every person he came in contact with. Confidence in the Lord wiped out all fear and gave him boldness.
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This is not an easy place in time to live in. We fear the loss of jobs, friends, family, and freedom for following Christ. Sadly, many have had to give all of that and more up already. Terrorists and anti-Christian regimes strip our brothers and sisters of their rights, possessions, and loved ones daily in other parts of the world. Yet, they stand firm. They are BOLD and FEARLESS in their proclamation of following Christ.
So why aren’t we?
I want to challenge you. Be bold and fearless. Become confident in God, that no matter what happens, He is in control. Stand firm in your faith and never waver because you are afraid. No matter if the fear is of something small or large. Because in the end, God wins, evil loses, and our reward in Heaven will be worth every bit of grief we face on earth.
If Jesus, Paul, victims of ISIS, and countless others can do it, we can too.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
1 John 4:18 NKJV
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I don’t think there is a single part of my life where I haven’t dealt with fear.
I worry about my kids, my husband/marriage, my loved ones, money, health, the state of our world, life, the future, what everyone is thinking, how will I have enough time next week, and don’t you dare show me a picture of a snake unless you want me to slap you. Put one in front me? Well, you’re just mean. All of that at some point has deeply scared me… and some I deal with on a daily basis.
God doesn’t want us to fear. There a numerous times in the Bible that fear is mentioned, and over and over again it is stated that we have no reason for it. For our minds to comprehend that is impossible, though, right? With what we see on the news and happening to those around us?
When our faith is in God, when we know His love and let it envelop us, our focus on Him and making everything else fall behind it… That is when we are able to live without fear.
Why? Because we know that we are putting our love and trust into the creator of the universe, and He has our best interest in mind. His love forces every fear to leave us, but only once we put our full and complete trust in Him.
A servant cannot serve two masters. Love and fear cannot reside in the same house. Which one is living in your heart? Don’t allow yourself to be tormented. Choose love.
“When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.”
My oldest daughter, Naomi, came into my room in the middle of the night about a month ago, and she was hysterical. “Mommy! I had a bad dream!” She was crying and terrified. My heart was breaking. I listened as she explained, “We were eating at a restaurant. You were holding a snake and you kept trying to put it on me!”
Now, I realize this may seem small and petty to some, but she is four years old. As soon as she told me what the bad dream was about, I became livid. At her? Of course not. I began to comfort her, telling her everything was okay and that she knows Mommy would never do that to her. However, I was furious with the devil. As she was calming down, I started rebuking the devil in the name of Jesus and demanding him to leave my child alone. I told him he had no right whatsoever to try and come against my children. Let me be honest here, this momma will not tolerate someone messing with her babies. Especially when that someone is nothing but an insignificant being with no power over the name of Jesus Christ, and especially when through the name of Jesus Christ, I have complete authority over that someone. You better believe I was using it!
I prayed with Naomi and immediately started working on our new verse. Now her and Adah both say it every night after bedtime prayers, but they make it personal. “When I lie down, I will not be afraid; Yes, I will lie down and MY sleep will be sweet.” Any time there seems to be the tiniest ounce of fear, we begin to quote and it helps so much. Besides, God did not give us the spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7), no matter how often the enemy tries to put it on us.
This verse has me thanking God even more for His blessed word that brings peace.
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? –Psalm 27:1
Today I was watching a Red Riding Hood with my daughter. I was watching as the village was terrified of the Werewolf. For over 20 years this village would sacrifice their best animals to this beast so they would not be attacked. I kept thinking that is such a silly thing to be afraid of. Then I thought on my own fears.
In my last blog, I let you all know I was abused for 2 years. I know what fear can do to a person. I did not tell anyone about the abuse that I endured until we had moved completely out of Southern California ten years later. Only then did I feel safe enough to tell my parents about the abuse. Even then, I did not tell them everything. They kept an eye on me, but I was a pretty good actress (in my own eyes). Pretty soon I met my husband and we got married and lived happily ever after. NOT!!
There are times during our marriage that I fear my husband will think that my healing is not worth it and leave. I fear that he will have an affair and leave me for another woman. The fear paralyzes me and then my imagination runs wild with crazy thoughts and I blow up at him for no reason at all. Have we all been there?
Satan knows how to use our minds. He knows what will make us tick. He doesn’t want us to grow in Christ or be used by Him. He wants us defeated, robbed of joy, dead in Christ (John 10:10). He doesn’t want you to be victorious.
As a child of Christ, I don’t have to be paralyzed by fear anymore. Does that mean I’m never afraid? No way. So how did I get over this? This past August, Matt and I went to my 20th High School Reunion in Southern California. We took 3 days to ourselves and had a good time with my best friend from High School. The Sunday after my reunion, Matt and I went to visit my former church family. The worship was awesome and I really felt the presence of the Lord. Then Pastor preached upon daily remembering the promises God gave His children.
The first verse that came to mind that day was 2nd Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but, of power, of love, and a sound mind.” That was all it took for me. Every time that spirit of fear came upon me I would quote that verse. There were days I was quoting it all day.
I don’t say it as often anymore, but every once in awhile when life is overwhelming, I say it out loud for all to hear. Anymore when Satan tries to get my mind thinking that my husband is not happy with me, I say out loud that my husband loves me with his whole heart. Then I will go and put my arms around him, just to hear him say, “I love you.”
There are many other verses out there that speak about fear. One that I think about today is Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” I no longer need to fear the past, present, or future. All because Jesus paid the price so I could be His child. He is my light when my mind gets dark and goes into the shadows of doubt. He is my strength when life has me down.
So today, I challenge you to take a promise from God’s word and apply it to a situation in your life. I can guarantee that God’s word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11).
Some of you may be wondering:
How can I have a legacy that carries on when I have such an un-Godly past behind me? Doesn’t that leave me marred somehow?
We’ve all done things. Some of us more so than others. But then we came to know Jesus, and he washed all of those sins away.
Now that you’re on your new found path, you stress. But why?
Um, maybe because my past is troubling me…
I’ve struggled with this myself before. I used to always worried that I was unworthy or incapable of teaching my children the ways of the Lord because I was not always pure. But there are a few things I want to point out to you that helped me…
Nothing in your past has anything to do with the legacy you will pass down unless you allow it to. So stand tall, hold your head high, and teach your children the way they need to be taught. Never hold back or feel insecure. Tell them all about our Father and be confident.
After all, if you’re not confident, why would they want what you have? Be the example!
As I’m typing this, my 3 year old is jumping off of the love seat onto pillows that he has gathered into a pile on the floor. (My husband hates when he does this, but I let him. Shh… 😉 ) He has no worry, no fear, and is completely enthralled in pure giddiness. (If that’s not a word, I just made it up… Because it perfectly describes him right now!)
I feel as though I could use a lesson from my little guy. Lately, I feel like God is gearing me up for something. Some of it I know already, but I just feel like there is more. I’m amped up and very excited… but also scared. The unknown kind of freaks me out a little. Like when you’re expecting your first child and you have no idea what it would truly be like to be a mother, but you think you do. You feel all that wonder and adoration for someone you’ve never officially met and have only felt growing within you. You worry, “What if I mess this up? What if I fail?” but at the same time “Thank you Lord for this wonderful opportunity, I will be eternally grateful!”
That’s where I am now…
I just glanced over to my little boy again and he is laughing hysterically, jumping into the air, and falling semi-gracefully on his cushions. With each leap he takes I feel God speaking to me… “It’s your turn Angie. I’ll be here for you to land on. Trust me. Jump! Have faith!”
What about you? Is there anything you need to leap into with faith right now? Pray for me, and I’ll pray for you.
1, 2, 3…. JUMP!!!
So, here you are. You’ve gone through all of the steps to make your lemonade & construct your lemonade stand by grieving, forgiving, accepting, and moving on. Now you have reached the point where you set up shop, practice good customer service, and make those sales.
“Huh? What are you even talking about? Stop with the metaphors or at least explain them!”
(If achieving this step is just too much work, consider seeking counseling. There is no shame in asking someone for a little help. Also, depression is a very serious illness that can happen to anyone. It is not something that you can “just snap out of”. Seek help if you need it, please.)
So, what do you do now? Sit back, relax, and drink some lemonade!!!
Every time I go to a particular store, there is always this one woman whom I desperately try to avoid. She never has anything good to say and everything is so depressing. It is Eeyore in the flesh!
There are so many people in today’s society, that are like this. Raw. Hurt. Their share of fairness went to someone else. These are the ones who need to be shown love the most. Those who have been so hurt that the walls are built so high and tight around their hearts, that no one is allowed in, under any circumstance! I know. I’ve been there.
She doesn’t need me to shun her. She needs to see the love of Jesus in me. To know that she matters to the Kingdom. Sometimes it takes love and understanding from someone else, before others can start to see that there is love in others and a reason to be.
The New Testament states over and over again, to love one another and to treat others as you would treat yourself.
We will always have that one person, or 2 or 6, that is going to be difficult to show love to. Just keep in mind that you have never walked a mile in their shoes and you don’t know for sure why they are the way they are. Ask God to teach you how to love them.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spiritis in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:
“ Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”
Ephesians 5:8-14 NKJV
Okay, so you’ve done all that you can in the kitchen for now. It is time to grab a hammer, some nails, a couple planks of wood and head outside.
Moving on can be one of the most difficult tasks. Leaving behind something that has been consuming you for some time can be a lot of work. So, why must we move on? Why can’t we just stay where we are? Because if you sit and dwell on what has happened, you will never be happy. It is not God’s will for us to be sad or angry. There is a season for that, yes, but it does come to an end. That is why it is a season, it changes.
Now is the season where things become warm, metaphorically. You began this struggle in the late Autumn. During the Winter you grieved. Late Winter and Spring you forgave and accepted. Now, it is Summer… and people are thirsty and in need of your lemonade. Soon they may be in the late Autumn and will need to remember how wonderful Summertime was and what that Lemonade you made them tasted like.
Will you ever go back to the kitchen? Oh yes. You’re going to have to go back to get sweetener, supplies, and once in awhile you’re going to have to take in more lemons to squeeze them out. But for now, you’re building your stand and preparing for the next step which I’ll be talking about next week when we conclude this series: Setting up shop and customer service.
As tempting as it is to go back inside because the sun is so bright and the air too warm, remember God got you this far… He’ll take you even farther! And if you want to go farther, you can’t live in the past… Put on a smile and a pair of work gloves (Read your Bible and have faith), because it’s time for you to construct (pray for) your shop front (attitude)!