Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Can I really?

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13


Lately, God has been teaching me a lot about trusting Him for strength. In June of this year I signed up for the National Bible Bee. Although I’ve competed for the past three years, I’ve never made it beyond the state level. This year I was hoping to make it to nationals – but I felt so out of focus. I lacked concentration when I studied, and I was soooo busy,
Then July came. Four of my siblings and I were supposed to volunteer at a summer camp. I was super excited about the trip when, the night before we were scheduled to leave, I got really sick. I had really, really wanted to go and I felt like God had let me down… I prayed and prayed that I would wake up the next morning and be well enough to go, but it just didn’t happen. Instead, I spent the next week in bed.
That morning as my siblings pulled out of the driveway without me, my sister leaned out the window and said, “Beth, maybe God is keeping you home from camp because you need the time to study; you’ll probably make it to Nationals!” I shook my head and thought, “No way am I going to make it… I’m only a few weeks away from my test and nowhere near ready.
Time flew and before I knew it, the test day was only a week away. I felt so unprepared, I almost gave up altogether; but a dear friend of mine talked to me into persevering. She told me I had committed to compete and I shouldn’t’ be a quitter. I knew she was right.
During the last seven days of study, I began to pray. I prayed really hard that God would show me exactly what to study in the little time I had left. When testing day arrived, I felt completely at peace. I wasn’t nervous at all, even though I had not completed all of the study I had wanted to get done.


I had a lot of people praying for me that day. As I took the test, God brought all the things He had been teaching me to mind. As I clicked the “finish” button on my test,  I somehow felt like it had gone really well. In fact, I even dared to hope that maybe I had a shot at getting to nationals after all.
A week later I went to the Bible Bee awards ceremony to receive my score. I had been praying all week that God would help me to be content with where he had placed me – whether I got to go to Nationals or not. As the host read off the scores I waited for my placing fully expecting that I either wouldn’t make it all, or that if I did I would be #120 (the lowest position which can qualify). Then they said my name, followed by “you placed #88 in the nation.”


Here I was, ready to give up altogether, discouraged because I had missed camp…shaking my head in disbelief when my sister had suggested that maybe God was keeping me home so I could study… and now I was on my way to nationals!
I wasn’t ready when testing day came along, but God showed me that He can take my weaknesses and use His strength to show himself strong. As Christians when we are facing an “impossible” task, we don’t need to fear because we serve a God who does the “impossible” all the time.
“For we know that with men this is impossible. But with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
A huge thank you to my dear friend, Bethany Stelzl, for sharing with us. :) I am so excited that we made it to Nationals together...I can't wait to compete with you in November! :D Bethany occasionally blogs over at 1 Love for Christ. 
Photo Credit: Flickr

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Fear of the Future

I was talking to a friend a few months ago, and I was surprised to discover that he was actually afraid of the future at times. I was only surprised because I suffered from that same fear (and still do, sometimes) not very long ago.

I meant to post this sooner, but I actually forgot all about it. Sorry! I don't know how many others out there are afraid of the future, but for those who are, I hope this is helpful in some small way.

My fear of the future consisted of being worried whenever I'd hear someone reading in the book of Revelation. I didn't like hearing about the antichrist, or verses where it talked about anything bad happening to the church. I got worried when I thought about what might happen in the future. Because I like to know what's going to happen. And I don't know what's going to happen in the future.

It got so bad that I'd purposefully try not to think about the future. If I heard someone talking about it, I'd purposefully try not to listen because I didn't want to hear about it and be scared. I didn't think of it as a 'fear' as such, just something I didn't like to think about.

Until I realized it was a full-blown fear. I'd blown it way out of proportion. Sure, some uncomfortable things may end up happening to me, and sure, I might not like them very much, but the truth of the matter is that God is in control, whatever happens. And I can trust Him. It sounds so easy and simple, and it's difficult to believe because we like to have our fingers in every pie, so to speak. We like to have our futures under our control.

And something we have to accept is that our future is not in our control. If we have a fear about the future, the only way we will be delivered from the fear is to speak the truth. And the truth in this situation is that God is in control. We have to accept that He's in charge. We have to give him the reigns and say, "Lord, I have a fear of my future. I'm struggling to trust you and I'm struggling to trust that you have a good plan for my future. I'm struggling to accept everything you have planned for me.  But I want to trust you. Help me to trust you and give me a peace that whatever happens comes from you. Replace all my wrong thoughts with the truth. I choose to believe in the truth of your word no matter what my mind tells me. I love you and know that you have a good plan for my life. Amen."

You might not feel very confident after praying that prayer. But you'll need to consciously pray something along those lines every time you experience fear or doubt about the future. Every time you face fear, pray, give the fear to God, and leave it with him. He can handle it. And then eventually, when you think of it, you'll feel peace, because you'll know he's in charge.

Something I did when I had fear of the future is to write up a whole lot of inspiring verses about not being afraid, and having peace through trusting Jesus. Then I'd go back through the list of verses (I have them sitting here in front of me, actually) and read them aloud, declaring the promises of Jesus. That helped me not feel so fearful. My list is like three whole pages long.

Maybe doing something like that will help for you. Here are five or six of my very favourite 'do not fear' verses, copied straight off the list in front of me.

Psalm 3:4
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.

Exodus 14:13-14
Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Deut 31:6
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Psalm 27:1-3
The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.

Daniel 10:19
"Do not be afraid, O man highly esteemed," he said. "Peace! Be strong now; be strong."

Isaiah 43:1-3
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Isaiah 26:3
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts you.

In summary, here's my list of things I recommend to do when you feel fear for the future (or any fear of anything at all, for that matter!)

  • Pray, give your fear to the Lord, and ask Him to fill you with His peace.
  • Go into Scripture. Read over your list of encouraging and inspiring verses for situations like this.
  • Believe the truth. Don't tell yourself that the future is scary, because it isn't. I heard somewhere that worry is fear of the future without God in it.
  • Know that others before you have struggled with this. I have, and still do, sometimes.
  • Remember that  no matter what happens, God's in charge, and he will never let you down.
  • Put a smile on your face and go to meet your fears with the confidence that God's sovereignty brings!

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