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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Courage to Conquer Your Fears

What is your greatest fear, the giant in your life that robs you of peace and joy? Is it some physical ailment or mental turmoil?  Is it something that makes you feel ineffective in life? Does it cause depression, anxiety or even addiction. If so, the Bible offers us a great illustration of how we can overcome our fears in the story of David and Goliath.

Goliath was a behemoth of a man, standing 9 feet tall. He was a giant in his day. Clothed with brass mail armor, a shield of bronze, and a helmet that covered a good portion of his head and face, he would daily taunt the Israelis of the Old Testament. Everyone shook in fear when he appeared with his javelin strapped to his back, a huge sword hung from his hips and a thundering voice that defied anyone in the Israeli army to fight him (1 Samuel 7: 8-9). No one would, until a young shepherd boy, sent on an errand by his father, appeared. He heard Goliath's challenge “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other" (1 Samuel 17: 10).   

Courage whelmed up inside David. Why? Because he saw Goliath for who he really was, an unbelieving Philistine. Goliath was small in David's eyes compared to the God he knew, the living God (1 Samuel 17:21)  Nothing that Goliath could hurl his way--no doubts, lies, fears and anxieties could surpass the power of the living God to deliver David. He told Goliath, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied"  (1Samuel 17: 45-46).

So he faced the giant, not with the armor, sword and shield that Saul tried to put on him, but with 5 smooth stones that he was accustomed to using when defending his sheep from a bear and a lion. If we are to have success against our greatest fears, it's important to use tools we are comfortable with using. It needs to be a daily practice, not just a pot shot here and there, but part of who we are, such as praying, utilizing promises from the Word of God, positive affirmations or talking with a trusted friend. These are our tools and weapons, but we cannot stop there.

David then advanced on Goliath, ran to his problem, instead of running away. He stopped, picked up the smooth  stone, aimed carefully and flung it at the head of the giant. It struck him right in the head and Goliath fell over. So we must know our weapons, whether spiritual or earthly, yet we also need to advance on our enemy, our problems and fears. If we do not, they will linger and attack us when we least expect. We need to size them up for what they are, see God as able to help us and able to conquer. Use what God has given us (the tools as stated above) then take careful aim. Train our eye to see the enemies' weakness (which may be our own self doubt and fears) and aim our weapons straight at the problem. Hit the proverbial nail on the head.

While David had perfect aim because he was aided by God and had previous practice killing a bear and a lion, we might need to do this a number of times. We might be required to stand in faith for certain issues and fears to be resolved, but never give up hope. The Bible encourages us to hope in the living God. Though the story doesn't end here. Not only did David topple the giant, he ran up to him and cut off his head.

While this might appear gruesome to many of us, if we look at it figuratively we'll understand the importance. Once the enemy, the problem is stunned, weakened, cut it off completely. Don't let the enemy, such as anger, bitterness or fear, get back on its feet. Take the sword out of its sheath and kill it completely. Know the Word of God and use it like a sword to cut away the fleshly habit, practice or sin. Then like David, let others know the great work God has done for you! Display it for others to see the glory of God. To summarize, here are the key points:

·        See the enemy (problems, fears etc) as small and powerless in comparison to God's great power
·        Arm yourself daily with weapons you can wield-prayer, study, affirmations etc.
·        Practice with them: Use them to destroy lesser issues
·        Run to greet your enemy (problems)
·        Don't turn your back on them, but meet them
·        Take careful aim: know your enemy and its weakness
·        Once weakened, cut it off completely
·        Let your life declare the work of God, show off what He has done for you!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day Freedom

Today we remember those who were willing to give their lives for the United States of America in order to protect our freedom. We are thankful to them and appreciate their sacrifice and willingness to lay their life on the line so that we could enjoy freedom. In light of this political freedom, we would do well to remember another who willingly laid down the life of His Son for our spiritual freedom. For freedom is never free, but paid with a high price.

Yet because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross, we can enjoy freedom from the tyranny of sin and its demands. It is as much as a captor as any flesh and blood enemy. It keeps us tied to deception, into thinking we have to do something to earn our freedom, though we are helpless to set ourselves free.

We are born into sin. Just watch any t
wo year old for a few hours and fireworks will soon erupt over something they want to go their way. Why re they like that? Because of their inheritance of the sin nature. As surely as we inherit brown or blue eyes, we inherit this nature of sin, whether you believe this or not. It exists.

We struggle to be set free from it. We do things that we think make us good or acceptable to God. Yet really all we need to do is accept the sacrifice of His Son. If we place our lives in His hands and believe in Him, all our sins will be washed away. We might think ourselves as sinners, but any selfishly motivated action is sin. Anything that lifts ourselves above God or replaces God in our lives, and idol, is sin. Not a popular notion in today's culture, but nevertheless, true.

However, the remedy is really quite simple, but at the same time profound. We hand over this huge debt we inherited, the sin nature, and Jesus, who paid the price for us,  takes it from us. This is the Good News of the Gospel. We exchange our sin for freedom! That's a freedom that will last not only in our earthly lifetime, but into eternity!

How does this divine exchange occur? The Word of God tells us to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and we shall be saved, saved from our sin nature and from condemnation. Yet our belief must be married to faith because belief in itself is not enough. The Bible tells us that even the demons believe and tremble. They know Jesus Christ exists but they don't act on this belief. 

Faith requires action. The action of getting the belief from your mind to your heart. This is true in many instances. I can believe I can lose weight, but until I act on it, start making good food choices, I won't lose weight. So what must we do to enjoy spiritual freedom? Accept the sacrifice of God's Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross.  We don't need to do anything in the physical realm, but accept, believe and have faith. That will start us on our spiritual journey to find true freedom.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Moment in Eternity

When I first started writing, I expressed myself through poetry. Every now and then,  I am inspired to write another one. This was based on an actual experience pictured here. Let me know what you think.

A Moment in Eternity
by Anita Estes

I walked on silvery clouds today,
past emerald fields waving in the wind,
spinning gold threads for
Creations' unfolding tapestry.

I strolled on silvery clouds today,
while winds whispered celestial tunes,
and angels parted tall, glistening grasses,
to make way for The King of Kings,
Who sits upon
a carved throne of Thornwood
smoothed soft as cotton.

I flew upon silvery clouds today,
past high hills floating in the sky,
to a crowning castle perched atop  the apex of  dreams,
carved of  wood and cross beams,
intertwining vines and vistas of
The King dancing with His Glorious Bride.

I swam on silvery clouds today,
opening their treasures in the sky,
dancing with the glistening sun
of diamonds on the waves of the water.
The River of life flowing from the mountains
down the valley, spilling
shiny coins along its banks.

I knelt on silvery clouds today,
collecting precious coinage;
as God whispered from
His golden throne,
all creation joined in a
heavenly dance.
The tree branches waved and raised
their boughs to the
King of The Universe.
And even one, such as I was not out of step.

I sang on silvery clouds today,
as my heart's voice chimed in
with the chorus of the birds and beasts.
As angels spread their wide wings,
across the indigo sky singing.
While the warp and weft of the Master's shuttle,
wove, His feet tread on blood red timber.

I floated on silvery clouds today
as time stood still.
the sun did not set,
suspended in a moment;
caught in an eternity of shining, silver strands.
 A  glistening river of love,
spilled from the heavens
to one such as I.
To one, even such as I.
As I beheld the eye of eternity,
for a future moment.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Prayer: An Everyday Communicaton

While I'm always encouraged that May 4th has been set aside as a National Day of Prayer for the United States, I hope that those who showed up to pray are making this a daily part of their lives. I know it's been very beneficial for me and has helped my relationship with God bloom.

Everyday before I leave for work I try to have time for Bible reading, devotion and prayer. I consider important enough that I drag myself out of bed before I really want to get up. I don't do this for a long time like some of the great saints,but I try to fit in twenty minutes to half an hour. I pray about issues at school, relationships, my family, marriages, peoples' health, for our pastor and church congregation, for the nation, for our youth, for Christian ministries and schools, for  prayer requests and more.I always end with a prayer for the persecuted church which I receive from Open Doors in a small monthly brochure.

I don't pray about everything in one day, but set up a prayer journal and target about five things a day to pray about. In the car on the ride to work, I use the Our Father as an outline to pray for other daily prayer needs. I also use it as a time to quietly worship with my hands on the wheel! I also put on my spiritual armor: the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of the truth, and the helmet of salvation. I put on the shoes of peace, and take up the shield of faith and the Sword of the Spirit (the Word of God.( For a through study of this see Priscilla Shire's The Armor of God).

During the day, I try to focus on some of these issues, but I'm often so busy that I don't think about them until I have a free moment on the ride home. I also invite God into the mix while I'm in school and teaching. I'm working on doing more of both. Right now, my challenge is to pray more either when I get home or before I go to bed. I'm usually so tired that I read a novel for five or ten minutes until my eyelids are drooping. The next day I start afresh and wake up saying "Thank you for strength for another day, Lord." Though sometimes I have to force my legs to slide out from under the cozy covers and hit the cold floor.  Then I really need His grace! How about you? I'd love to hear about your prayer life.Also, here's an inspiration from the daily devotional I AM Calling:

And  whatever things  you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive. (Matt. 21:22)

Though many works need to be done, first bring everything to Me in prayer. Move when I tell you to move. Stop when I tell you to stop. Then you will be able to pray according to My will and not yours. In this way, everything you bring to Me in prayer will be answered. Your prayers will rise to heaven because you are asking according to My will. Once you have prayed, believe and have faith that I AM a loving God. I will supply your needs. I will answer the prayers offered up in faith. Yet do not try to make Me a genie that grants your every wish. Humble yourself and pray as I have directed you.