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Fear’s Voice | Voices

Fear’s Voice | Voices

MondayJesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake…Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble… for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves.  Matthew 14:22, 24

When we look at these two verses together, we get a chilling picture. Twelve devoted men, spending their lives following Jesus, found themselves in a dangerous situation. But it wasn’t because they’d disobeyed or left on their own It was JESUS who sent them into the storm. JESUS knew a storm was coming and didn’t go with them. They were in trouble because of Him.

Fear sometimes begins that way. Jesus directed us to the job, the spouse, the relocation…and immediately a storm comes up. Our first reaction is, “Lord, I thought this was what you wanted me to do! Didn’t you know this was going to happen?” Yes, He did but He sent us into the storm anyway. Storms are not indications that we are out of the will of God. Instead, He uses them as opportunities to show Himself strong on our behalf (2 Chronicles 16:9). Fear is not a sin. Fear is a natural response to a direct threat. We use fear to solve problems, avoid danger, and make wise choices. Sometimes we’re in a storm because of poor decisions and rebellion. But other times we’re fighting storms because we’re obeying Jesus. When trapped in a storm, fear may be our first response, but it doesn’t have to be the end result. It might be an opportunity for God to show Himself strong.

Final Thought: Fear is the opportunity to trust a God who wants to show Himself strong on our behalf.

Prayer: Lord, I struggle with a lot of fear. It seems like the world is getting scarier. But as long as I am in the center of your will, there is nowhere safer. May I never let fear’s voice control me, but wait for you to show yourself strong. In Jesus’ name, amen.  

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Tuesday Jesus spoke: “Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.”  “Lord, if it is You,” Peter replied…  Matthew 14:28

-You’re headed to work when you feel prompted to pick up a hitchhiker.

-You’re between jobs, trying to make ends meet, when this idea pops into your head: “Go to Zambia as a missionary.”

-You see a ghost walking on the water and cry out in terror. The ghost speaks: “It’s all right. It is me, your friend Jesus.”

Fear is the first voice we hear when something rattles our cages, but God’s voice should be a close second. Then how do we know it’s God? While we’re never to doubt what His word clearly says, it IS okay to question every other voice. That’s what Peter did. Death by drowning looked to be a sure thing when he and the other disciples saw a ghost walking on the water. Then the ghost spoke: “Don’t be afraid. It is I.” Freeze-frame that moment. Peter thought he understood but needed to be sure he heard right before he got out of the boat. While God’s voice is never wrong, our perceptions of His voice often are. So we can ask, “Lord, if this is you, show me clearly.” And He does, using circumstances, godly counsel, and His word to confirm His voice. When He calls us out of our comfort zones, it’s okay to respond, “Lord, if this is you, confirm it for me and I’ll obey.”

Final Thought:  When God calls you outside your comfort zone, ask Him to confirm it and you will obey, despite the fear.

Prayer: Father, I have trouble distinguishing your voice and don’t want to make foolish decisions because I thought you told me to. Help me learn to confirm your voice through wise counsel and your word and I’ll obey it. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Wednesday He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them.  Mark 6:48

“He intended to pass them by.” REALLY? Mark’s gospel includes this fact when the other accounts don’t. The Greek word translated “intended” is the same word used other places in the New Testament to express God’s will and desire. So Jesus fully meant to pass right on by a boatload of disciples rowing frantically in a storm. If they hadn’t called out in fear, He would have kept walking. REALLY? Why would Jesus do that? Maybe for the same reason God seems to pass right by our problems too. If Jesus had acted too soon, the disciples would’ve missed the miracle. Unless they saw their situation as hopeless, they couldn’t appreciate the miracle that rescued them and taught them more about who Jesus is. And unless our situations are hopeless, we miss the miracle and we miss out on learning more about this Jesus who promises to save us for eternity.

BUT…payroll is coming and the funding isn’t…you’re on your way to getting out of debt when you lose your job…you and your spouse have tried for years to have a baby, but the doctor says, “No way.” We know Jesus sees our storm, but it seems He is walking on by. He’s not ignoring us but wants us to depend entirely on Him for the rescue. If the disciples had gotten angry and turned to each other instead of Jesus, they would have missed the miracle. Even when they called to Him in their fear, He didn’t give them what they wanted right away. It wasn’t until He got into the boat that He stilled the storm. And it’s often not until our situation is hopeless that He gets into the boat with us and does the unexpected—all so we won’t miss the miracle.

Final Thought: Fear says Jesus is passing right on by you. But Jesus is making sure you don’t miss the miracle.

Prayer: Jesus, if I’d been in that boat, I would’ve been scared too. I would have thought you were passing on by because you didn’t care. But I now see that you wait to be called into my situation so I won’t miss the miracle. Thank you. Amen.

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ThursdayHe said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water …toward Jesus.  Matthew 14:29

How do you respond when Jesus says “Come” to you? “Come worship at my house this Sunday!” “Come with me to feed the hungry.” “Come toward me and away from that porn site.” “Come up here with me and see your life from my perspective.” Peter had a lot of flaws, but when Jesus told him to “Come,” he immediately obeyed. He’d done that before, when Jesus called him the first time (Matt. 4:19-20). Instant obedience becomes a habit, as does disobedience. One reason we miss the plan of God for our lives is that we’re so busy justifying and excusing our disobedience that He finally stops asking us to come with Him.

Human beings are excuse factories. We hear a command of God and instantly our sinful flesh leaps into action. “You don’t wanna do that,” whispers the voice of fear. “What will people think? How will you afford it? What if God doesn’t realize why you need this?” Peter knew the voice of His Lord because He’d spent a lot of time in His presence. If we want to recognize the voice of God, we also need to spend a lot of time in His presence. Fear distracts us from that. Fear demands that we spend more time worrying than praying or obeying. When Jesus told Peter to come to Him, Peter could have mentioned how impossible it was, how high the waves were, and how he didn’t like getting wet. Instead, Peter got out of the boat. He would have never walked on water if excuses kept him in the boat. What might God want to do with you if you got out of the boat?

Final Thought:  What is your first response when you hear the voice of the Lord saying, “Come”?

Prayer: Jesus, I like to think I would have jumped out of the boat like Peter did. But when I look back on other things you’ve told me to do, I wonder if I would have made excuses. I want to be as responsive to you as he was. Help me change. Amen.

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Friday But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Matthew 14:30

It seemed like a good idea at the time. The storm was bad, but Jesus was here and it would be all right. Peter climbed eagerly out of the boat and with his eyes on Jesus, began doing the impossible. He was walking on top of the water! No way! That just didn’t happen. So he looked down to see how this could be possible and the reality was scarier than he thought. He stopped looking at Jesus and focused on the waves. His faith was enough to get him out of the boat, but not enough to keep him afloat.

The worship service got you charged up. The revival, conference, or Bible study revved your engines and you felt like you could call fire down from heaven. You were sure your faith was enough to move mountains—then the company downsized. Your spouse called it quits. Your child walked away from everything you taught them. And that sizzling faith cooled like yesterday’s campfire. Your reality became scarier than you’d thought and your faith suddenly was not enough to keep you afloat. Let’s look closely at what Peter did (He cried out). Then let’s look at what Jesus did (“Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and took hold of Peter” v. 3.) Peter’s faith wasn’t any stronger, but Jesus made up for it. Our faith may flounder while fear roars like a lion. But Jesus does not stand there frowning and taunting us. He reaches out His hand and takes hold of us

Final Thought:  When our faith is too weak to hold on to Him, Jesus reaches out and takes hold of us.

Prayer: Father, I’ve gone through seasons where my faith was too weak to believe anything. But I kept crying out to you and you took hold of me and placed my feet on solid ground. May that remembrance help grow my faith. In Jesus’ name, amen.