Fearless!

fearless 6  Halloween is when we have little candy-seeking visitors knocking on our doors, dressed in their costumes, often with scary or creepy images designed to bring an element of the frightful. But the Halloween tradition is more about fictional fear than real fear. While many of the costumes the children wear to our door evoke images of ghosts, goblins, witches, skeletons, and other characters that can have roots in the spiritual realm, in the end, they are only pretend, and not likely to elicit much in the way of real fear.

However, many of us find ourselves facing real fearful things in our daily lives. Indeed, there are many fears in the world that are all too real for those who face them. And for people facing these fears, they can be debilitating to say the least. Let’s take a look at some very well-known, and very real, fears:

Arachnophobia – The fear of spiders. This affects women four times more (48% women and 12% men).

Acrophobia – The fear of heights. Five percent of the general population suffer from this phobia.

Agoraphobia – The fear of open or crowded spaces. People with this fear often won’t leave home.

Claustrophobia – The fear of small spaces like elevators, small rooms, and other enclosed spaces.

Mysophobia – The fear of germs. Sometimes also known as Germophobia or Bacterophobia.

Aerophobia – The fear of flying. Twenty-five million Americans share a fear of flying.

Glossophobia – The fear of public speaking. Many people say they would prefer death to public speaking.

Monophobia – The fear of being alone. Even while eating and/or sleeping.

Thanatophobia – The fear of death. Even talking about death can be hard.

Do you suffer from any of these? I do…I have a pronounced fear of heights, which I have not yet been able to completely overcome. I used to have a fear of flying but God helped me overcome that many years ago. Donna suffers from arachnophobia, as does her nephew. If you suffer from any of these fears, or any other anxiety or phobia, you are definitely not alone and the Bible has plenty to say to us.

The Apostle John tells us that “perfect love expels all fear” in 1 John 4:18. And despite the fears we often experience in our lives and circumstances, when we place our faith in Jesus we are guaranteed eternal life free from judgment, so we see that those fears really are unfounded. In Matthew 8:23-27, we read the story of Jesus calming the storm. In this story, the disciples are clearly terrified and in fear for their lives, but Jesus asks them, “Why are you afraid?” This is a great question, because by this time they had already seen Jesus perform several miracles and you’d think they would understand the breadth of his power. But they still were afraid.

And often times, so are we. But God does promise to be with us at all times and the Bible tells us we can count on him in all circumstances. We have every reason to be more than confident. Here are some of God’s promises regarding the fears we feel:

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.” Psalm 46:1-2

“Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood.” Isaiah 54:4

“Yes, you came when I called; you told me, “Do not fear.” Lamentations 3:57

“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28

“But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” Matthew 14:27

“We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.” Luke 1:74-75

“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:37-38

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

“But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.” 1 Peter 3:14

There are many, many more verses in the Bible that help us know we can trust God to help us overcome our fears. Those of us who have already repented and placed our faith in Jesus Christ are fortunate to have this life assistance right now. We simply need to read God’s Word, pray regularly, and trust God to keep his promises and we can find the courage to face anything that comes our way.

And if you haven’t yet come to Christ, why not make today the day? Then you, too, can have the assurance that comes from being a Christian. As humans, there is a great chasm that separates us from God, and subjects us to the penalty for our wrongs. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) But Jesus is the bridge that spans that expanse and allows us to enjoy fellowship with our Creator again.

“The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.” (Romans 8:3-4)

Once you have been restored to fellowship with God, you will know the assurance that comes from Jesus Christ and you, too, can be fearless!

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
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An Honest Man

scales-36417_960_720 Among the impressive sites we saw on our recent trip to Arkansas is a magnolia tree that was planted 178 years ago. Located in Historic Washington State Park in Arkansas, the magnolia tree is so large it now occupies an area almost as large as the entire yard upon which sits your average home. The branches arch down to the ground and back upwards, forming a large canopy under which you could easily park your car. After nearly two centuries, it’s a really big tree – the oldest known to exist in Arkansas.

But that is not all we found in Historic Washington State Park. The park encompasses the entire town of Washington, Arkansas; a town of specific significance in our country’s history. For one, it is blacksmith James Black who made the first Bowie Knife. While there is some controversy surrounding the accuracy of this claim, Black’s knives are prized by collectors and to this day the American Bladesmith Society maintains a knife making college at the site. Secondly, Historic Washington was the Confederate State Capital of Arkansas from 1863-1865.

With my brother-in-law, Steve, as our knowledgeable guide, we toured the town and the many well-preserved and reconstructed buildings found there. While space doesn’t allow me to recite the full list of buildings, I will say that they include a recreation of James Black’s blacksmith shop, the old courthouse, circa 1874, that contains some truly gorgeous wood work and a museum, the Royston log house, and the B.W. Edwards Weapons Museum. There is also the oldest Methodist church in Arkansas and Williams Tavern, which is now a restaurant offering excellent food at very reasonable prices (including genuine southern style cornbread).

Among the things we saw was Pioneer Cemetery, which contains graves dating back as far as the Revolutionary War, but mostly is the final home to many of Washington’s earliest settlers. Among them, we found Ephraim Mirick and his wife, Mary (Belcher) Mirick. Now that big old magnolia tree was just a sapling when Ephraim and Mary were in their prime. Through a little research I found that Ephraim was a respected trader and land speculator who helped establish some of the trade routes in the area, especially between Camden and Washington, a portion of this route still exists as Nevada County Road 10. What most caught my interest about Ephraim and Mary Mirick, however, wasn’t the historical facts about them that I found, but the sayings preserved for all time on their respective grave markers.

Ephraim’s stone has the scales of justice on top and the words “an honest man” engraved on the bottom while Mary’s has the Bible on the top and the words “a Christian” on the bottom. Both epitaphs convey a decidedly positive message about the individual, but while being an honest man is certainly a good thing, it tells us nothing about Ephraim’s eternal fate. Mary’s, on the other hand, tells us all we need to know. She was a Christian and “there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) Mary as a Christian and we know that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” So we know on October 7, 1877 at age 71 she entered the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Ephraim’s fate, on the other hand, remains a mystery to us. We simply do not know. For the truth is, while people thought well-enough of him to inscribe “an honest man” on his stone, the Bible tells us we simply cannot be good enough to get into heaven based on how we lived our lives. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23) The great prophet Isaiah said it this way, “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” (Isaiah 64:6) So old Ephraim may very well have been an honest man, he may have been generous and kind to many, but we know from Scripture that even the best of us have sinned, even Ephraim. And the penalty for sin is death. (Romans 6:23)

Now Ephraim may have been a Christian, and he may be in heaven right now with his wife, but based on his epitaph we just don’t know. But you can know what will happen to you when you die. It is very simple, we just have to believe the Bible and admit to God that we are sinners and we need him. As it says in Romans 10:9-10, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” So, if you haven’t already, won’t you take this step of faith today? Then you will know, with certainty, that you belong to Jesus and you will go to heaven when you die.

Want to know more about how to become a Christian? Please visit KnowGod.org

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

 

Feel The Love

Feel the Love At one time or another, most of us have had the often dreaded experience of a performance review from our employer. A typical review involves a job description or standard against which we are measured, and you know the drill; your boss describes in precise detail all of your accomplishments and shortcomings for the last year against. We always hope the good outweighs the bad and most of us wonder how our manager or supervisor can remember so many particulars about our performance when most days we’re not sure he or she even knows our name. But all we really care about is whether or not we’re getting a raise, that is, of course, until one of those negative points strikes a nerve, causing our ire to be raised and our egos to be bruised.

If you’re especially blessed, your review might even include feedback from your coworkers. This review technique goes by many names, but involves the process of your manager collecting positive and negative feedback from a select number of people with whom you regularly interface and then collating said information into a format that becomes a large dose of reality for you to digest. The positive comments are easy enough to swallow, but inevitably the negative ones come out and you’re pretty sure your coworkers just don’t see all the good you do or maybe they have formulated a plot to see you fail. Don’t you just feel the love now?!

I jest, of course, but the negative comments do tend to be more difficult to accept than the positive.

I have been fortunate to be through many more performance reviews than I can count in my nearly four decades of professional service. I can say with all honesty that most of my reviews have been more positive than negative, but I certainly have endured my fair share of negative commentary as well. I especially remember one particular boss, with whom my working relationship could only be described as tenuous, looking me right in the eye and telling me, “your problem is that you’re arrogant.” Nobody wants to hear that about themselves, but I am quite convinced that the negative feedback that I have received, while maybe outnumbered by the positive, is still the most useful. Is it not by facing the truth about oneself that one experiences the most rewarding growth?

In the spiritual realm, we also find that there is a standard against which we are measured. God’s Word serves as that standard; as the Apostle Paul wrote to his young protégé, Timothy: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16) Indeed, God’s Word is the standard by which we can measure our performance. But, unlike our work performance review, there is no regularly scheduled time where someone else will do the work for us. We have to examine ourselves. Paul instructed us in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves.”

For those of us who have already turned to Jesus in repentance and faith, we read the Bible and make every effort to put into practice what is says: “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” (James 1:22-25) It is through our daily Bible reading and study, interaction with other Christians, and church attendance that we grow and improve and we are blessed for our effort.

For those as yet spiritually uncommitted, please consider carefully these words: “the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.” (Romans 3:19-20) The fact of the matter is that while your good deeds may outweigh your bad, when you are measured against God’s law, the verdict is already in: we all fall short. But this is nothing to fret over, because God has already solved the problem for us. “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.” (Romans 3:22) And that is the good news: God loves you so much “He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) And now there is “no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

So if you have not yet given your faith to Jesus Christ, won’t you do so now? I guarantee you have never known love like this before. Come, feel the love!

To learn more, please visit: needGod.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

Real Love

Heart-cross  There can be little doubt that people are interested in love. We talk about it, we sing about it, we spend our lives looking for it. Studies have shown love to be one of our most basic and crucial needs. When we feel we have the love we desire, we are happy and content and full of smiles; but when love fails us, our entire countenance changes and some of us may slip into utter despair. So basic and essential is love that it is the subject of books, poems, plays, movies, songs, paintings, and many other forms of art and entertainment.

Our first tangible experiences with love often come from our parents, and research has shown how vital this parental love is to our development. Parents hold us, care for us, sing to us, talk to us, play with us, teach us, dress us, set rules and boundaries for us, and become our first role models. But even parental love often falls short of our needs and expectations, manifesting dysfunction in our lives that affects our ability to give and receive love as we mature.

Eventually we seek romantic love beyond our families of origin. It is here that we tend to experience our biggest hurts and frustrations. We extend ourselves toward others in hopeful expectation and often experience rejection and letdown. Many of us try multiple times before finding that one special person with whom we feel we can spend our lives. And then, in the midst of what we were sure was the perfect relationship, we find futility and heartache. Indeed, we often find, as the popular hit song declares: love hurts.

Maybe another popular love song has it right when it proclaims that we are looking for love in all the wrong places. The fact is, as vital as it is for us to have love in our human relationships, the starting point in our search for love must be with God. For it is only in God that we can find and experience perfect love. The Bible teaches that “God is love” (1 John 4:16) and it gives us the perfect description of love: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

The Bible is filled with examples of God’s love and assures us that “nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) When we seek His love we find all that we have been searching for; we find perfect, endless, limitless love. He will never forsake us despite our mistakes, our struggles, our bad habits, or our shortcomings.

And when we experience God’s perfect love it becomes our example of love: “We love each other because he loved us first” (1 John 4:19) and our definition of love: “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1 John 4:10) And it is because of God’s love for us that we can approach Him in confident expectation. For we know that Jesus has experienced all our human struggles and He has empathy for us. “This High Priest of ours (Jesus) understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)

So are you ready to lay aside your struggles and receive His love? It’s easy to get started, just get alone and talk to Him. Acknowledge He is Lord and that you need Him. “For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:8) It’s that simple and if you are humble and genuine, you will experience new life and new hope in a way that is real and tangible. And you will know real love at last!

Our hope for you, then, is summed up in this verse from Ephesians 3:19: “May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”

Want to know more about how to experience His love? Please visit KnowGod.org

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

There’s A God in Heaven Who Loves You!

heaven 3 According to an article published in Psychology Today1, all of us have an intense desire to be loved. The article was written by Raj Raghunathan, PhD, who wrote, “The need to be loved…could be considered one of our most basic and fundamental needs.” But, it seems, this basic desire is a need that tends to go unfulfilled in many people. The Guardian2 reported in 2014, that one in five people feel unloved and one in ten people reported they don’t have a close friend at all.

Further, CBS News3 reported last fall on a Harris Poll that reveals 72% of Americans have experienced loneliness, and about a third of those say they feel lonely at least once per week. Perhaps it’s a result of the digital age, but whatever it is, there is no denying that people are longing for love and a sense of belonging. And with all the busyness most of us contend with, it can be hard to find the time for pursuing our needs.

But there is good news! There is a God in Heaven who loves you! His love is real, demonstrated, tangible. The psalmist, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote: “But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 86:15) The Apostle John said it even more succinctly: “God is love.” (1 John 4:16) Yes, indeed, we find that love is God’s very character, the essence of who He is.

And he lavishes His love on each and every person. Just read through the following verses and see how God makes evident His love for us in real and sacrificial ways:

 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8)

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)

“Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” (Ephesians 5:2)

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)

“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

When God gave us the Ten Commandments, He did so not to limit us or restrict us. Quite the opposite, His commandments are given to guide us and protect us. They are the curbs alongside the road of life that keep us from harm and they are a mirror for self-examination. In Moses’ sermon recorded in Deuteronomy chapter five, we are taught that God promises us that if we “stay on the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to follow…you will live long and prosperous lives…” (Deuteronomy 5:33) And that is a promise from our Creator born out of the deepest love we can ever know. A love that wants to see us have long and satisfying lives.

As human beings we instinctively long for love, we long to know we are cared for, and in God we will find everything that we could ever ask or hope for. Yes, there is a God in heaven who loves you, and if you haven’t yet discovered “how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is,” (Ephesians 3:18) may today be the day you find His perfect love – the perfect love that casts out fear, that forgives absolutely, and that promises us eternal life.

Have questions about God? Want to know more about how to experience His love? Please visit KnowGod.org

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
1 The Need to Love, posted January 8, 2014, Psychology Today
2 One in 10 Do Not Have a Close Friend and Even More Feel Unloved, Survey Finds, published August 12, 2014, TheGuardian.com
3 Feeling lonely? So Are a Lot of Other People, Survey Finds, published October 12, 2016 by CBS News