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Monday again. Let’s kick off this wonderful week with an important reminder…Jesus is interceding for you, God is for you, and Holy Spirit is with you, ready to empower you. So stop dreading the day! Stop working!
In other words, Hakuna Matata!!
If you were a kid in the 1990’s or had a kid in the 1990’s, you’ve probably heard this song before. Hakuna matata is a Swahili phrase that when translated means “No worries.”
Now where besides the Disney cartoon have I heard that before? Hmmm. Oh yeah! The Word of God! Do not fear is in the Bible 365 times. And yes, worrying, like dread and stress and anxiety, is a type of fear.
Hakuna Matata, God’s People! Hakuna Matata!!
Point to ponder while you wander…”Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need & thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6
I painted this about a year ago. It now hangs at the end of my bed. But it used to hang in the kitchen of my old house. The house I lost due to long stretches of unemployment.
After a two year suckfest, my life was rebooted last fall. I moved into a new place, got a new and better job, a newer car, and started going to a new church.
I’ve had my life uprooted and rebooted before, but this time is different. This time I cannot seem to find the rhythm of the new normal. It just doesn’t look like I expected…so I’ve been in a funk.
But it has dawned on me this week that I’m trying to be the old me in the new place, and I’m not the same person I was before the last two years of lean life.
Two years of alternating unemployment and part time work. Two years of leaning completely on God to provide. Two years of learning that God really doesn’t leave nor forsake you. Two years of my reality being one of my worst cast scenarios, and finding that God really is enough. I could go on, but basically it was two years of living Romans 5:3-5.
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” Romans 5:3-4 NLT
Jill translation: When everything falls apart…and continues to fall apart…no matter what you do. And you keep asking what did I do wrong and how do I fix it? But you can’t fix it, and you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just life. And sometimes life is hard. You just gotta put one foot in front of the other. Every. Single. Day. Until you get to the other side. And in that suckfest you begin to find joy in the little things again. Things you forgot about. And you understand there really is strength in joy. What is important becomes clearer. Who is important becomes obvious. You realize God is with you in it and He’s loving you. He’s loving you the same as when your tithe was more in a month than you’re now making a month. And He teaches you that He is and always was your provision. And He proves to you that you can face fear because fear is merely a liar and a bully. You weren’t given a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind. So fear doesn’t actually belong to you like it said it did. So you stop calling it “my fear.” And you begin to realize you really are more than a conqueror, you just didn’t have to conquer anything like this before. And you now know that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
I am different now, and stronger, but the best part about this whole deal, or ordeal if you prefer, is that I have a real understanding of hope.
“And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!” Romans 5:5 TPT
Hope isn’t a weak or wimpy wish. Hope is not a frail whisper. Hope is a battle cry because your hope means that you trust in and rely on and wait for the Lord. For real. You don’t just say it because you think you should. And it’s awesome. And worth it.
God didn’t send me the two year suckfest. But He used it to draw me closer and He turned it around for my good. And the good is still being revealed a little bit every day.
Bonus point to ponder while you wander…God takes delight in those who hope in and wait on Him.
“No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalm 147:11 NLT
So I say…
“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.” Psalm 64:5-6 NLT
It’s supposed to be the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year and yet all I am hearing is:
“I’m so stressed out.”
“I cannot wait until this season is over.”
“I don’t know how I’m going to afford Christmas this year.”
“I meant to only have a glass of wine, but then x, y & z happened, so I just drank the whole bottle.”
“I need a drink or a xanex or both.”
“I’m freaking out. I don’t have enough time to get everything done.”
Probably sounds familiar to you, right? You hear it at work, in the stores, and from family and friends.
I’ll be honest, hearing this breaks my heart and pisses me off. I’m angry because anxiety/stress is basically fear. And I loathe and detest fear!!! And it breaks my heart because this season should be about the joy of the greatest gift anyone has ever given, Jesus.
Jesus came to give us peace & rest. He came to set people free and heal their bodies and broken hearts. A celebration of His birth should not drive you to wino-hood or prescription meds!
Here’s what the Word says about anxiety:
1. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 NASB
Don’t let stress win! Change your perspective! Give God the things your stressing about & focus your energies on the things your thankful for!!
2. “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 NLT
Give your anxious thoughts to God and THEN His peace comes & guards your heart & mind.
3. “And now, dear brothers & sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 NLT
A mind fixed on lack of money or creating perfect holiday will find stress. And stress is fear! Fear is a bully! And bullying is unacceptable!
You do not HAVE to spend a fortune on presents and decor! You don’t HAVE to cook a 7 course meal! If that stuff is stressing you out, scale back! I don’t care if it’s been done that way since forever! It’s not worth it.
Jesus came to give life and life abundant! He came to free you. He came to heal you. He loves you! He doesn’t want you to be full of anxiety!
You have the right to say no. No day, meal or gift is worth the loss of your health or sanity!
Point to ponder while you wander… Ask yourself what is important to you. What do you enjoy about the holidays? Now focus on those lovely and excellent things.
Point #2…Fix your mind & focus your energy on loving your family and friends well this year instead of big expensive gifts and perfect dinners.
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
There’s a difference between knowing in your head that God’s able to be your rock, salvation, defense, provision, refuge, strength, and etc. . . and standing firm in that knowledge no matter what your circumstances look like. I turn to the Psalms a majority of the time when I am stressed out or my circumstances are not so hot. David went through a lot of trials and he is a good example on how to vent your emotions and then declare what the Lord says over your circumstances. David also shows us how not to be swayed in the wind by every single thing that happens to us and around us. Even when the thing happening to us originated with someone close to us.
Here is the first two verses of Psalm 62:
“Truly my soul silently waits for God;
From Him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be greatly moved.” (NKJV)
The I shall not be “greatly” moved, to me, is like saying I am really bothered by this but I will not let it wreck me. It’s the knowing in your head that God is for you. Biblical scholars believe that King David wrote Psalm 62 during the time of his son Absalom’s rebellion (Beginning in II Samuel 15). I can see how the first few verses could be written during the events of II Samuel 15:13-14:
“Now a messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.” So David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, and let us flee, or we shall not escape from Absalom. Make haste to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly and bring disaster upon us, and strike the city with the edge of the sword.” (NKJV)
This beginning of this Psalm is David’s way of convincing himself that God is still for him and not against him. It’s David remembering what God had done and in his head asking, “God’s still for me, right?”
Later in II Samuel 15:25-29, David tests that theory by sending the Ark of Covenant back to Jerusalem.
“Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the Lord, He will bring me back and show me both it and His dwelling place. But if He says thus: ‘I have no delight in you,’ here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him.” The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Are you not a seer? Return to the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar. See, I will wait in the plains of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.” Therefore Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem. And they remained there.” (NKJV)
It is then, I believe that David chose to stand and declare “I WILL WAIT RIGHT HERE FOR THE LORD AND I WILL NOT BE MOVED BY THIS!” It’s when his head knowledge became practical and he decided to stand no matter what. Believing that God would defend him. Then David wrote verses 5-7:
“My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.” (NKJV)
David continued on with verse 8, reminding all of us that we can fully trust God at all times. No matter the circumstances.
“Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.” (NKJV)
God did deliver David from Absalom’s rebellion and he continued to rule the people for the rest of his life.
Worry. Stress. Anxiety. All 3 are a type of fear. The Word tells us do not worry, do not fear, and to be anxious for nothing. God desires you to have a life filled with joy! Not fear. So instead of freaking out, remember He loves you and “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess 5:16-18
I got a text earlier today from a friend asking for prayer. Anxiety had attacked her in the middle of the night. I have to tell you I get riled when people I love are struggling with or have been taken down by fear. That stupid punk has taken so much from people I love. It prevents fantastic and talented people from doing amazing things. It stops people from living a full life. I’ve had it with fear! I would punch it in it’s face if it weren’t just air!
My friends, fear is nothing but a punk! That’s right fear (AKA anxiety, dread, panic, confusion, concern, worry, etc) is all talk. It has nothing to back up the lies it has been whispering in your ear.
Fear uses intimidation (like a school yard bully) to steal your peace, joy, sleep, rest, and your time. How much wasted time and rest have you given to worry? Where did it get you? It got you nowhere. All worry did was steal from you and make you less effective. Are you hearing me? FEAR IS NOTHING BUT A PUNK! FEAR IS JUST AIR! That’s it!
But Jill…what if this and what if that? Um…what if you laughed in fear’s face and called it a punk? What if you reminded fear who your God is? How big your God is? Bullies always back down in the presence of fathers, right? Right! Well, introduce your fears, worries, concerns and anxieties to Daddy God.
I want you to laugh. Seriously. I’m not kidding. Laugh. Or giggle if you prefer. Then I want you to repeat after me OUTLOUD:
Fear is a punk. It is nothing but air. It has no power over me, except the power that I give to it. The spirit of fear is NOT of God or from God. God tells me to be anxious for nothing and not to worry about a thing, because the peace of God guards my heart and mind through Christ. God’s perfect love casts out all fear. I am safe in Daddy’s love. I am the accepted and beloved. I am the head and not the tail. Above only and not beneath. God never leaves me or forsakes me. He is so close to me that He knows the number of hairs on my head. I am not confused because God has given me a sound mind. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I am a child of the Most High God. I have a good future in front of me. I am achieving the purpose for which I was sent to this Earth. I am victorious. Therefore, I laugh at fear because it is a punk. Whenever I lay down to go to sleep, I will sleep in peace and my sleep will be sweet. Thank You for making me dwell in safety, Father. Thank You for dealing with the enemy for me, that I have rest, peace and joy.
This was the first of 4 messages from Life Christian Church’s series called “Feardom”
Or if you’re needing a song:
NKJV Scriptures from which the above is drawn:
“I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8
“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31
“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.” I John 4:18
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” II Timothy 1:7
“And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.” Deuteronomy 28:13
“When you lie down, you will not be afraid; Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.” Proverbs 3:24
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:3-6
“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
“We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” II Corinthians 4:8-10