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Forgiveness Frees

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Forgiveness Frees

She wasn’t asked to come.

Her known past.  Her present identity.
Both were stamped on her like a scarlet “A”:  “Sinner . . .  from the city.”

But she wanted to see Jesus.
So she came.
Welcome by no one . . . but Him.

Sometime in the past, she’d been broken.  And she received His forgiveness.
Now, in His presence, she couldn’t hold back the tears, or continue to stand behind Him.

She fell at His feet and wept.   Enough tears to wash His feet.
But she didn’t just wash His feet.   She wiped them with her hair.
And, with overwhelming emotion, she began kissing His feet.  And didn’t stop.
Then, she brought out her alabaster box and anointed His feet with a costly ointment.

This is what it looks like to be forgiven.

But her actions weren’t welcome by the host – a Pharisee.
Known for distancing himself from sin.  Known as the religious elite.
He thought he was on equal footing with Christ.

But he didn’t love Christ.
He didn’t treat Him as a guest of honor in his own home. Or show the most common courtesies.
And he accused Him of ignorance.  Surely He didn’t know who was touching Him!

But Jesus knew all about the woman.  He knew all about Simon, the Pharisee.
And He spoke a parable Simon wouldn’t forget.

Two debtors owed two different amounts.

One was ten times the amount of the other.
But neither could pay their debt.

One debt was great and the other was small.
But neither had enough resources to pay.

So the creditor forgave them both.
They were both forgiven.
Freed from their debt.

Still having to be paid, their debt became His.

And he paid it all.

The main lesson of the parable came from Simon’s own lips.  He who has been forgiven the most will love the most.

Suddenly, Jesus looked at the woman.
Still speaking to Simon, He pointed to the love this forgiven sinner had been showing Him, in contrast to what Simon had failed to do.

Simon gave Him no water to wash His feet.  This woman had used her tears.
Simon gave Him no towel.  But she used her hair.
Simon hadn’t given Him a kiss out of common courtesy.  But she was still kissing His feet.
Simon hadn’t anointed His head with common oil.  But she had anointed His feet with a costly ointment.

This is what it looks like to be forgiven.

It frees.
It freed this woman from a debt that couldn’t be paid.
It could have freed Simon from hardness toward God and others.

And forgiveness gives freedom to love MUCH.

Simon had said it.  Those who are forgiven much will love much.

And all of us have enough need for forgiveness to make us individuals who can love Christ in a big way.

Do we love Him much. . . or just a little?

The measure of our love will be determined by the way we view our sin.

Whether our sin is great or small . . .
NONE of us have enough resources to pay the debt we owe.
ALL of us needed Someone Else to pay it for us.

And He did.

Our sins are just the huge, great reason to love Him in a big way.

by Bethany Hayes
Used by Permission


Would you like to know Jesus? Would you like to accept Jesus into your life today?  You can do so right now  by sincerely praying the following prayer.

Lord Jesus, I want to know You personally. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to You and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be. Amen.

If you prayed this prayer we would love to hear from you . If you would like to know God deeper we can connect you with an email mentor and/or send you some great links.

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Obstacles or Pathways

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Have you ever asked the Lord to draw you closer to Himself — then, found an overwhelming trial lying between you and that closeness?

The apostle Peter found himself in this position.  Caught in a storm, he saw Jesus in the distance, walking on the waves.  He wanted to be close to the Lord, but the storm lay between him and that closeness.

Suddenly Jesus spoke, telling Peter and the others not to be afraid.  The Lord was standing on the waves — they were no longer an obstacle.  Granting his request to come closer, the Lord allowed Peter to walk on those same waves.

Not until Peter glanced at the storm did the pathway to Christ become an obstacle again.  The waves began to consume Peter instead of lead him to the closeness he initially desired.  Looking at the waves made walking on them impossible.

Crying out to the Lord, Peter instantly learned how close the Lord already was.  What at first seemed like an obstacle was in reality a pathway.  The waves simply revealed his overwhelming need for the strong arms that were already near.

Are you looking at the waves of life and finding them impossible to cross?

Look up.  And see Him standing on those same waves.

He is not far from every one of us;
For in him we live, and move, and have our being.”
~ Acts 17:27,28

Father, Thank You for Your constant presence.  Thank You for the trials that show us our need for You.  Help us to acknowledge our need by looking to You daily and moment by moment.  In Jesus  Name. Amen.

You can read the entire account of this storm in Matthew 14:22-33.

by Bethany Hayes
Used by Permission

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A Simple Promise for a Hurried Life

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I just spent an unhurried weekend in an unhurried town with a good friend who’s never in a hurry.

Coming from a hurried town and a hurried life, slowing down didn’t come easy.
Until slowing down was required—slower than I realized.

The preacher in the old country church on Sunday spoke of Christ, the Bread of Life.

Our only sustenance.
Our life.
The best provision.

Christ, the reason no one needs a hurried life.

We hurry for numerous reasons. More often than not, we hurry because we’re planning to do it all.

We have bills to pay, a life to live, dreams to reach for, and hopes to pursue.
We have to do it.
And we have to hurry about it.

He has already provided,” the country preacher said. “And He has promised to provide.”

Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask . . . I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Matthew 6:8; Hebrews 13:5)

A simple promise for a hurried life.
God will provide.

Be still and know that I am God.”(Psalm 46:10)

By Bethany Hayes
Used by Permission

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Set in Stone

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The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations.” Psalm 33:11 (NKJV)

Have you ever used this reply when asked about your future plans, “Well, nothing’s set in stone.”  This is the equivalent of saying, “Not yet. But I have some ideas.”  Or “I’ve started to make arrangements, but there’s still a lot to do.”  This statement could even mean, “I’ve made some plans, but we’ll see what happens.” We can formulate our intentions and have a strategy, but to “set them in stone” is another story.

Often, plans being formulated by those in authority are troublesome. Some proposals aren’t set in stone. But they are being devised, and it seems they are headed for stone.  Our thoughts can be overwhelmed by the upsetting news reports.  But turned to the rightful Ruler of the universe, we can find this comfort: “The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.” (Psalm 33:10)

For centuries, man has laid down counsels. He has mapped out intentions.  Some propositions he would have called, “set in stone.” But history confirms that, though plans are devised and carried out, eventually they are brought to nothing. New counsels form. But they also come and go, are worked out and defeated. In fact, every nation that has ever existed has been involved in this same cycle: plans devised, carried out, eventually foiled.

If the Lord thwarts the plans of nations, defeats counsels, sets up new governments, and puts down others, what about His own intentions? “The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations.” (Psalm 33:11)  When God made His plans, He set them in stone. And that is where they have been for centuries.

Maybe that’s why Jesus said, “See that you are not troubled.” (Matthew 24:6)

by Bethany Hayes
Used by Permission

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When God Asks ‘Why’

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A few months ago, I found myself pouring my heart out before the Lord in a way I hadn’t done in a very long time. A long list of trying circumstances and the question “Why?” characterized that prayer.

But as I prayed, I sensed God asking me the same thing.

Why?

Lord, I’ve been working so hard!”

His answer thundered in a quiet rebuke: Why? I clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven. Will I not much more clothe you?
(Matthew 6:29)

Lord, I’m exhausted.”

Again, Why? Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

Lord, I want to fix him/her.”

Why? And like His words to Peter, “What is that to you? You follow me.” (John 21:22)

Lord, I can’t do this task You’ve given me.”

Why? Your help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8)

That day I learned a valuable lesson about prayer and faith.

For every complaint we pour out before the Lord, His Word holds a promise, laced with God’s character that beckons us to trust.

When your prayers become filled with “me” and unbelief, let His answer be, “Why?”

And trust a promise.

Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” (Psalm 62:8)

By Bethany Hayes
Used by Permission

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Distracted by Stillness

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Psalm 46:10a Be Still and Know that I am God

Be still, and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10a

With summer here, the stormy winter and chilly evenings of recent months have quickly been forgotten.  One morning, however, my heart felt like a lingering storm.  Numerous needs “my own and others” were crashing in on me like an unexpected whirlwind.

Casting these burdens on the Lord, I was suddenly awakened to a scene quietly unfolding outside my window.  Like a fitting backdrop, tall fir trees lining our neighbor’s fence stood motionless, being what they were created to be.  Without a word, early summer flowers were telling of their Creator’s faithfulness and love for beauty.  Soon, a sparrow entered to complete the picture, not planting seeds or gathering food into a barn, but happily discovering and enjoying what our heavenly Father had provided for him. This hushed scene struck me with its peacefulness – a sharp contrast to my stormy heart.

Distracted by this stillness, my thoughts turned to a particular storm in the lives of the disciples – one in which their Maker slept on a pillow.  The disciples weren’t sleeping.  With an unexpected storm crashing in on them, their lives were in turmoil. But when they woke Jesus, He commanded the stormy winds and waves to be still.  And they obeyed.

Creation busies itself by resting in its Creator’s authority and by obeying the same command given to us: “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10a)

He is God.  And that’s all we need to know to be still.

Father, Thank you for rest promised to those who remember that You are God. Knowing who You are, we seek Your strength to be still.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

by Bethany Hayes
Used by Permission

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The Hands that Never Make Mistakes

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Hand holding sparrow

If a Christian carves for himself,
he’ll cut his own fingers.” – a Puritan proverb

Our God has hands better than our own to trust.

Hands that are . . .
· Holding us up.
Your right hand upholds me.” (Psalm 63:7)

· Powerful.
“. . . nor did their own arm save them; but it was Your right hand.” (Psalm 44:3)

· Open and Good.
You open Your hand, they are filled with good.” (Psalm 104:28)

· Guiding and Protecting.
We are . . . the sheep of His hand.” (Psalm 95:7)

· Victorious.
His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.” (Psalm 98:1)

· Trustworthy.
My times are in Your hand.” (Psalm 31:15)

· Compassionate and Healing.
Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him . . . immediately the leprosy left him.” (Mark 1:41)

· Pierced for us.
They pierced My hands and My feet.” (Psalm 22:16)

· and Sovereign.
The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.” (John 3:35)

These are the Hands that never make mistakes.

By Bethany Hayes
Used by Permission

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When We Dare to Let God be For Us

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daily devotional online

Ever found yourself up against a Red Sea—hemmed in, with nowhere to turn?

Ever faced a wall too high and too strong, with no way over or through?

Have your circumstances caused you to long for previous, even loathsome days—like the Israelites who said it would have been better to be back in Egypt, serving the Egyptians?
“It would have been better to still be ‘back there’ than swallowed up with THESE circumstances.”

It’s at times like these when the Lord says:
Stand still . . .See. . . ” (Exodus 14:13)
Watch what I will do.
You have nothing to do but be silent.

Oswald Chambers once said: “Dare I really let God be to me all that He says He will be?” “My Utmost for His Highest,

When the Israelites had nowhere to turn and God said He would act, they dared to let Him be for them all He said He would be.

They stopped, stood still—marched silently around an impossible wall—and watched God work.

Because He said He would.

The sea split open.
The walls fell down.
They crossed through their frightening circumstances.
They marched around their greatest fear.
Because God said He would work.
They had nothing to do but be silent.
Someone has defined “rest” as to “cease striving.”

When the children of Israel let their faith rest, they watched God work.
God stepped in, because He was capable of doing what they couldn’t.
They rested in who their God is. They watched silently.

They passed through (Hebrews 11:29); they took the city (Joshua 6)—only after God had worked.

They did what God said, because He said He would do it.
Ever found yourself against a Red Sea, a wall like Jericho’s, a circumstance, a need, a dream, an ache that only God could conquer?

He is able.
Rest.

Dare to let God be for you all He has said He will be.
Faith that rests will watch God work.
Every time.

Trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. . .
Rest in the Lord.Psalm 37:5,7

By Bethany Hayes

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Father Forgive Them

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Easter devotional cross crucifixion

Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.Luke 23:24 (KJV)

I often wonder what it was like to cross through the Red Sea on dry ground, to watch Jericho’s walls collapse, or to walk with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee. But imagine being present at the most astonishing event of world history, “the scourging of Christ, the Promised Savior”.

Someone should have protested.  Instead, the loudest voices were those in favor of the scourging.  Jesus Himself did not even raise a voice in His own defense.  In fact, Peter described the scene this way. “When He was reviled, [He] did not revile in return. When He suffered, He did not threaten.1 Peter 2:23a (NKJV).

While being scourged for our sins, the Maker of heaven and earth ‘and of those who accused Him’ said nothing.

Yet, after He was placed on a cross, Jesus spoke these words. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

He had committed Himself and the result was available forgiveness.

Equal in significance to the words, “Father, forgive them,” were another three words “it is finished.”  Complete and final forgiveness is ours only through our Lord Jesus Christ. “For there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
(Acts 4:12).

Father, Thank You for providing the only Savior qualified to save us from our sin, for looking on His finished work and forgiving us completely.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

by Bethany Hayes
Used by Permission

If you prayed this prayer we would love to hear from you . If you would like to know God deeper we can connect you with an email mentor and/or send you some great links.

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Why Are We Celebrating Christmas?

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Why Celebrate Christmas?

Jesus was born.” – Matthew 2:1

We’ve approached a time of bustle.  Shopping, baking, holiday greetings, home for Christmas.  Why?  Why are we celebrating Christmas?

How would the average person answer that question?  Tradition?  Family?  Love for hearth and home?

Let’s go back to the first Christmas. A baby in a stall.  And the most incredible statement ever spoken:  “Jesus was born.”   The “image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature” who is “before all things, and by him all things consist” (see Colossians 1:15-19).  HE was born.    GOD was “made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

He was made flesh.  All the blood of bulls and goats could not fully atone for man’s sin.  The blood of Christ was the only blood sufficient.  So a body was prepared for Him (Hebrews 10:5).  Suddenly, God could bleed.  And 33 years later, He bled on the cross, and God’s perfect justice was satisfied.

He dwelt among us. But why was He born?  Why didn’t He arrive as a full-grown man the hour of the crucifixion, pay for sins, and then leave?  So He could also dwell “among us.”  He associated Himself with us and was tempted “in all points. . .like as we are” (Hebrews 4:15).  He went through the things we go through.  He was touched by every grief, every disappointment, every painful trial, and every overwhelming temptation.   And yet, He never sinned.

He bled as a perfect sacrifice.  He lived a perfect life.

Horatius Bonar once said:

Upon a life I did not live,
Upon a death I did not die;
Another’s life, Another’s death,
I stake my whole eternity.

You and I can say that, too, because “Jesus was born.

THAT’s why we’re celebrating Christmas.

by Bethany Hayes

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Lessons from a One-Legged Sandpiper

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Hebrews 12:1a-2b Devotional on a Sandpiper and Running the Race

While sitting by the gulf in Northwest Florida, I watched as three sandpipers scurried by. There was something special about one of them. He had one leg and one little stump.

One leg or two, he could still soar. But to walk through the everyday ins and outs of life, to live with an unchangeable circumstance day after day, to survive one-legged in a two-legged world, took courage and determination.  For him, living life was an effort foreign to the others.

None of these things stopped this little sandpiper. He hopped alongside the others, determined to survive in this two-legged world. His was a one-legged life, but he made it work.

When he hopped by, I almost missed him. I almost missed his silent courage and seemingly effortless determination. I almost missed this tiny reminder that obstacles can be overcome and hurdles produce courage.

Sometimes, life seems like a one-legged journey in a two-legged world: off-balance, too much effort, a hindered hop from one hurdle to another.

But life doesn’t have to stop just because it’s hard.

This one-legged sandpiper kept going.

Is there anything stopping us?

Hebrews 12:1b-2a–“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” (NKJV)

Lord, Thank You for the hurdles of life; the hard things day by day that keep us turned Your direction.  Help us not to cave into our circumstances, but to see them as opportunities to run the race with an endurance that only comes from keeping our eyes fixed on You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

by Bethany Hayes

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100%

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difficult lessonsSometimes life’s most valuable lessons begin with failure.  Recently, I embarked on one of these lessons by allowing thoughtless words to fly unchecked.  Too late to retrieve them, I found myself in an acute state of unrest and basically dysfunctional.  I was the only one to blame for those words, and I needed a stern reproof.  After asking God’s forgiveness, I knew what else had to be done.  A phone call to the offended individual.  And the request, “Will you forgive me?”  The response was unforgettable:  ‘Yes.  100%.’

Struck with the finality of my accepted apology, I considered the forgiveness I had asked from the Lord.  God’s Word says forgiveness through Christ is guaranteed.  But how forgiven does “forgiven” mean?  Do we need to ask 70 x 7 times for every offense?  Is faultless action required from now on in order for His forgiveness to take affect?

Opening my Bible to the book of Colossians, these words leaped from the pages of chapter 1: “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.” Colossians 1:21-22 (NKJV)

Our holy God Who is wronged numerous times by our actions and the state of our hearts knows we are often to blame and need reproof.  But Christ presents us to God with no stain on our record and no accusation against us.  We are far from being worthy of this standing, but it is ours through our union with Christ in His blameless life and perfect death in our place.

Is forgiveness through Christ final?

Yes. 100%!

Father, Thank You for this amazing truth.  May we never dishonor You by accepting our standing cheaply.  Cause our lives to grow into the likeness of our position in Your Son.  In His Name we ask. Amen.

By Bethany Hayes

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Enough

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devotional

Perhaps the deepest longing of every human heart is to find adequacy in everything that defines life for us.

We want an adequate car, an adequate house, an adequate paycheck.

And we want the people in our lives to be enough.

The word “adequate” means “sufficient for a specific requirement.”

The problem is. . . we often choose what that “requirement” is.
One we have laid out for ourselves.  What we think will be “just enough.”

When nothing seems to be sufficient, we often listen to the cries around us that say, “I am enough.  You don’t have to put up with less than sufficient.  Try me.”

So we try what these voices offer.

But they eventually come up short.  Less than require.
Never enough.

Why?  Why are we tempted to feel short-changed in life?
Do we have contentment issues?
Is it simply living in an imperfect world?

Or could it be we’re looking in the wrong places?

Are we looking at the wrong things to be our “Enough”?

If there was one person who had enough, it was King David.
Not because he was a king, won wars, and was given amazing promises.
He had enough, because of Who his Shepherd was.

He said, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1)

He never suggested that his possessions or his accomplishments were enough.

His Shepherd was Enough.
His God was Adequate.

So nothing was missing in his life.

When we take a look at what we claim as ours and cry, “I want you to be enough!” let’s take a deeper look and say, “You are special enough to me, because I have all I need in my Adequate God.”

By Bethany Hayes

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Would you like to know God and allow him to be your Shepherd?  You can! It all starts with knowing Jesus and letting him transform you from the inside out. His love is amazing. You can start by praying this prayer:

Lord Jesus, I want to know You personally. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to You and ask You to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.

If you prayed this prayer, we would love to hear from you. If you want to learn more about the Christian life, we can connect you with a mentor (by email) and send you some helpful reading materials.

If you prayed this prayer we would love to hear from you . If you would like to know God deeper we can connect you with an email mentor and/or send you some great links.

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How to Turn Tangled Thoughts into Trust – Thoughts about God

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Psalm 18:2 Devotional

I was planning to read Psalm 18 before falling asleep last night. A busy day, a weighty decision, concern for a loved one, and questions about the future. Sometimes we just need to come up for air.

But as I read, I couldn’t get past verse 2.

It took multiple readings to let its nine-fold truth about God sink in—a concept that left Him looming larger than my tangled thoughts.

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” (Psalm 18:2)

This verse begged to be read over and over again. God’s might is articulated in beautiful imagery and powerful repetition.

Then I noticed how many “my’s” are included in this array of God-attribute reminders.

My rock.
My fortress.
My deliverer.
My God.
My strength.
My shield.
The horn of my salvation.
My high tower.

It’s almost as if he doesn’t want us to miss the fact that this powerful God is OUR God.

Our tangled thoughts in weakness never overwhelm our strong God. He wants us to lean them all against His strength.

One “attribute” in this list is different. Worded differently, as if the tables turn for a brief moment, it sits up from its middle position and makes an announcement.

Our rock, fortress, deliverer, God, strength, shield, horn of salvation, and high tower is also the One “in whom I will trust.

I finished reading Psalm 18 today. As the Psalm continues, David beautifully describes how God came to His rescue when David depended on Him.

How should every tangled thought respond to such a powerful God?

Trust.

He is a shield to all those who trust in him.” (Psalm 18:30b)

By Bethany Hayes

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Why We’re Told Not to Fear

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A Devotional on why you shouldn't have fear

There is much in the world that tempts us to fear.

Fear is typical in a world like ours.

Fear is a response that comes naturally.

But we’re told 365 times in Scripture to “Fear Not!”

Why are we told not to fear?

Because of who our God is.

  • Jesus told us we’d have tribulation in this world. But we’re to be of good cheer. He has overcome the world (John 16:33).
  • Nations are like a drop in a bucket and dust on a scale (Isaiah 40:15). He is mightier than all the world’s nations combined.
  • He spoke and everything was created. Everything. All He did was speak a word. Is there anything too hard for Him? (Jeremiah 32:17)
  • The “kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). We are on the winning side.
  • The Lord our God in the midst of us is mighty (Zephaniah 3:17).  In our midst. Not sitting on the sidelines, cheering us on or hoping we’ll make it. His might works in our midst.
  • He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). The most repeated promise in Scripture. We have never been abandoned by our God and never will.

We serve a God who has a mighty hand on an outstretched arm that is not too short that it cannot. . .

No wonder He tells us 365 times to “Fear not!”

By Bethany Hayes

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