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Your Blind Faith – Help Us Spread the Word

Hi Everyone,

First, please stay tuned to the Dave Ramsey radio show this Friday, February 13 at 2 PM Central (3 PM Eastern). My wife, Erin, and I will be doing our debt free scream live from Nashville! We have paid off everything except our house!!! Please help us spread the word as we want our story to reach millions.

Also, we would ask that you please help us spread the word about YourBlindFaith.com, so that we can help build the Kingdom of Christ. We encourage you to tell your friends and family about our site, so that they can receive our daily devo to help encourage and inspire fellow Christians, as well as bring more people to Christ. Anyone can sign up to receive the short daily devo at www.yourblindfaith.com. You can also like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/yourblindfaith, and follow us on Twitter @yourblindfaith.

God Bless and Love in Christ,

Jeremy

Rights of the Accused: The Grace Amendment

A View of the Guiding Light in a World of Darkness is a weekly devotional that seeks to apply Biblical principles to our everyday lives, written by inspirational speaker and writer, Jeremy Curry.

Job 1:6-7

6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. 7 The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” (NIV)

Revelation 12:7-11

7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. (ESV)

Matthew 11:28-30

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (ESV)

We have all done things in our lives we wish we had not done. Whether you stole candy out of the local store when you were a child or if you have done much worse things in your life, we have all sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). It doesn’t matter who you are; if you are human, you will fail, and you will fall. Unless you are God, the curse of sin ensures that this always happens to every man, woman, and child.

The more severe sins in our lives are the ones that eat away at us, the ones that we are constantly reminded of. They may be sins of the flesh, sins that involve stealing, sins that involve hurting the ones we love, or even sins that involve murder. Whatever the biggest sin is in your life, you will feel guilty about it. But, if we are forgiven through the blood of Christ, then why do we continue to feel the guilt? Why do we continue to feel the pain? Why do we not forgive ourselves as God forgave us? Why does grace sometimes not feel sufficient?

These questions often plague the mind of those who suffer most from their past sins. As Satan prepares to torture Job, we find him before the throne of God. God questions him and we hear Satan say that he has been roaming around on the Earth. This tells us that Satan is among us. He is a real and present evil. The last thing that he wants is for us to have a relationship with the one and only true God. He finds those things, those sins you are guilty of and accuses you. The evil one reminds you of your past. He makes you think of the things that would lead you to believe no one, not even our God, is capable of forgiving you. He will do everything he can to keep you from reconciliation from our Savior. The evil one roams throughout the earth looking to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). He is always near, waiting to strike, prowling like a “roaring lion” and ready “to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Not only does Satan look to harm us, but he continually accuses us. We see that he “accuses our brothers” literally “day and night before our God.” We are accused by Satan 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year. Satan wants so bad to separate us from God (via his accusations) that he does what he hates; he enters the presence of God. Without the strength from our Lord, we could never sustain ourselves against such evil. If you wonder why you don’t feel that grace is sufficient, why you can’t forget your past, or why you still feel guilty, it is because the enemy is constantly knocking at our door to remind us . . .to accuse us.

Have you ever thought to yourself that there is no way that God can understand my past because He cannot possibly have the amount of guilt I endure? Think of this for a second . . .Satan goes before our God day and night. Not just for a month or two, but for thousands and thousands of years. He accuses all of us, indicting us before our Father with accusations that may or may not even be true. If it were me, I cannot imagine the guilt I would feel as trillions upon trillions of sins were thrust upon me stemming from my very own creation. Yet, Jesus tells us in Matthew 11 that His “burden is light.” Imagine how big and powerful our God must be to handle these accusations day and night for millennia, and yet have a light burden. Our God is definitely an awesome God.

Fortunately, I have good news. In the end, Satan, the accuser, is thrown down and conquered by the blood of the lamb! Jesus has overcome! Imagine how it will feel to sit at the throne of God without anyone or anything accusing you. All of your sin and guilt will be completely cleansed. The hurt we feel will be no more. Today is a day of celebration. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, has defeated the enemy!

If you want to take part in this celebration, if you want to live with our Savior forever, John 3:16 tells us “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” If you believe that Jesus died for your sins and will cleanse you, that He will give you rest, that He will take away your guilt and shame, then pray this prayer, “Father, I know I am a sinner. I believe Jesus is my Savior. I believe He died on the cross for me. I want to live with you forever, and have rest. Jesus, please come into my heart and forgive my sins. I ask that the Holy Spirit live in me. Make me clean. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” You don’t have to feel the guilt any more. You’ve been set free!

Perhaps you have already accepted Jesus into your heart and you still feel guilt from your past sins. Remember as you are accused that Jesus has forgiven all of our sins. His grace is more than sufficient. The right of the accused is to accept that grace and forgiveness, apply it to our lives, and reach out to others who have the same issues you once had. My friend, Jesus has forgiven you. Don’t let Satan, the accuser, overcome you. It’s time to let the grace of our Lord and Savior fill your heart, fill your soul, and fill your spirit.

Father, fill us with your grace. Fill us with your Holy Spirit. Keep the Accuser from making us feel the guilt of sins that have been forgiven. Keep us on the righteous path, O God. Give our souls rest and give us peace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you have been touched by this devotional, Your Blind Faith would like to hear from you. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving a public comment, send a note to jeremy@yourblindfaith.com to let us know how God has touched your life with this devotional. We will not publish or share your information.

The Transition Continues

As part of our continued transition to YourBlindFaith.com, all email subscribers have been transferred. This is our first post from our new home. If you received this email, you are all set and you do not need to do anything to continue to receive great content from YourBlindFaith.com. Thank you for being a valued subscriber and thank you for your patience as we continue the transition.

Your Blind Faith is moving!!!

You may see some test posts over the next few days as we prepare to move to our new home, YourBlindFaith.com.  The weekly devotional, A View of the Guiding Light in a World of Darkness will continue at its new location.  We will be moving over our email subscribers, so hopefully you will have no issues.  If you are an email subscriber, you should not have to do anything to continue to receiving email updates.

However, if you subscribe to this blog as a WordPress.com user, you will only see new posts, but will no longer get an email notification.  You will need to re-subscribe at www.yourblindfaith.com to get email notifications.  We plan to officially launch the site soon, so please bear with us as we make the transition.

Thanks, everyone!

Jeremy

Patience! Patience! Patience!

A View of the Guiding Light in a World of Darkness is a weekly devotional that seeks to apply Biblical principles to our everyday lives, written by inspirational speaker, Jeremy Curry.

Isaiah 40:31

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (KJV)

Isaiah 40:31

but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint. (NIV)

Psalm 37:7-9

Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
    but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. (NIV)

Psalm 40:1

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry. (NIV)

Romans 12:12

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (NIV)

1 Thesalonians 5:14

And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. (NIV)

As fall approaches, the new season of many TV shows begin.  We get to learn about what happened on our favorite shows from cliff-hangers that we were left with before summer break.  Some of us have been patient for several months to find out what is going to happen.  And finally, some of the shows are starting to air new episodes this week.

Just like waiting for your favorite TV show to start, it’s easy to be patient when we know something is going to happen, even if we wait a very long time for it.  But, it is so much more difficult to be patient when we don’t know when or IF something will transpire.  We don’t spend all summer thinking about our favorite TV show and what might occur in the first episode of the next season.  Well, if that does consume your mind all summer long, then you may want to work on that. 🙂 But, what about those issues that do plague our minds?  Those things that we ask for, but we don’t even know if they will happen.  Maybe you pray for God’s direction and you don’t get it right away or you ask God for something and He says, “wait.”

As Rick Warren says, One of life’s frustrations is that God’s timetable is rarely the same as ours. We are often in a hurry when God isn’t. You may feel frustrated with the seemingly slow progress you’re making in life. Remember that God is never in a hurry, but he is always on time. He will use your entire lifetime to prepare you for your role in eternity.”

Whatever you are waiting on, you can be certain that He is preparing something for you.  We are called to be patient more than once.  In fact, we are called to emulate God’s patience.  Hold on to your hats to follow some quick logic:  As Christians, we are called to imitate (i.e. to be like) God (Ephesians 5:1-2).  We know that love is patient (1 Corinthians 13:4) and we know God is love (1 John 4:8).  So, if God is love and love is patient and we are called to imitate God; then, therefore, one of the things we must be is patient just like our Heavenly Father.

Since we are called to be patient, how should we act while we are waiting?  Should we be sorrowful and weary as we are patient?  You’ll notice in this week’s passages I gave two translations of the same verse, Isaiah 40:31. One of the verses says “hope” and the other says “patient.”  The English phrase, “Those who wait upon” is translated from the Hebrew word, וְקֹויֵ֤, which is translated as “vekovye” in English.  It comes from the Hebrew root word “qavah” (pronounced kaw-vah).  Qavah is defined as “twist, stretch, thin the tension of enduring, or to look eagerly for.”  Thus, as we see in the NIV translation, it is defined as “hope” instead of “wait,” as it is translated in the King James Version.  Isn’t it interesting that “wait,” meaning patience has such a close tie with “hope” in the original Hebrew text?  I believe that the author is trying to communicate that we must be hopeful while being patient.

Besides being hopeful, what else should we do while being patient?  David tells us to be still before the Lord and do not fret.  I often want to worry when I don’t know what will happen.  How about you?  We are specifically told not to fret when others succeed in their wicked ways.  When David wrote this, I wonder if he is reminding himself not to worry as he mentions it not once, but twice.  When God asks us to wait, we should not worry.  We should not fret.  When we do, we demonstrate a lack of patience.

When we get into these situations of worrying because of our lack of patience, we often wonder if God is listening to us.  We wait and wait with no answer, but as David notes, God hears our cry.  And, as we read in Romans, we are told to be “patient in affliction.”  Since “affliction” is specifically noted here, this presupposes that there will be trials and tribulations in our life, but that we should also be joyful in these times.  Patience will be required as we move through both good and difficult circumstances in our lives.

What about if you have been asking for something for years and God hasn’t given it to you?  God’s plan for our lives is not always the same as our own.  Beth Moore writes, “Often when God does not readily give us what we want, it is because He knows what our desire would cost us. Faith sometimes means foregoing our desires because we trust Christ to have a better plan for our lives.”  Patience increases our trust, and our trust increases our faith.  When we trust in Him, we will “not grow weary.”  We know full well that God works for the good that love Him (Romans 8:28).  If you are being patient for something you are asking for, maybe it’s time to change your question and instead, ask God to reveal His plan for you?

What about those who are waiting?  Those who have yet to hear God’s answer, His direction, or His plan; what must we do for them?  We are called to “encourage the disheartened” and “help the weak.”  Do you know someone who has been waiting patiently?  Have you taken the time to encourage them lately?  Take time this week to encourage your loved ones who are being patient on God’s timing.

Whatever you are going through at this moment, we are called to be patient. Cast your worries and your concerns on the Lord, and He will remove them from you.  Wait (with hope) for His answer to reveal itself to you.  Continue to ask Him to show His plan for your life and give you guidance.  Never stop waiting on the Lord.  Do not grow weary.  As you are patient, your strength will be renewed, He will hear your cry, and you “will soar on wings like eagles.”

Father, help us to be patient.  Whether we are going through trials and waiting on You to rescue us or whether we are being patient on Your answer, remind us that You hear our cries.  Give direction and guidance to those who ask for it.  Reveal Your plans who call upon Your name, O Lord.  Keep us from fretting, help us to be joyful, give us peace, and give us patience. We love You, Father. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Is There a Limit to Forgiveness?

A View of the Guiding Light in a World of Darkness is a weekly devotional that seeks to apply Biblical principles to our everyday lives, written by inspirational speaker, Jeremy Curry.

Ephesians 4:31-32

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Matthew 18:21-35

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

1 John 3:19-24

19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

Twelve years ago today, I woke up late, threw on my clothes as quickly as possible, and rushed to my car to try to make it on time to one of my college classes.  I tuned the radio to my favorite country music radio station only to hear a highly unusual voice.  Instead of my favorite tunes blaring from the radio, national anchorman Dan Rather was reporting and I remember instantly hearing that the Pentagon and the World Trade Center had been attacked and possibly destroyed.  I thought it was a joke played by the morning DJs until I turned to every other preset station on my radio only to hear the exact same news report.  I looked around and saw no one in my neighborhood.  My small piece of the world stood still.  My immediate thought became, “I have missed the rapture.”  My new wife of just over a month had already left for work, but I was certain she had been taken up.  I began driving frantically through various streets to see if anyone else was left.  God gave me a well-deserved dose of, “Don’t forget my commandments” as I thought about all the reasons I must not have been called up with the others.  Who did I not forgive?  Did God forgive me for all of the sins I had committed? Eventually, I realized the rapture had not occurred, but in some of the darkest hours that America has ever experienced, I thought long and hard about my walk with Christ.

It was just the beginning of a dreadful day that America would never forget.  We watched helplessly as the two tallest buildings in the world fell to the ground in smoke and flames.  We saw the look of horror as thousands of people ran for their lives from the falling buildings.  We heard the cries for help and the screams of those who could not be saved as they fell from the towers.  We saw the Pentagon, our biggest symbol of American defense, go up in flames.  We saw the giant crater in the ground created by heroes who brought down United Flight 93. These are memories, images, and sounds that are etched in our minds.  The feelings of sorrow were overwhelming.  In the next few days, America would come together like she never had before to bring the “faceless cowards” to justice.  In the coming months, the sorrow would pass and Americans would show their anger over what had taken place.  It was a natural course of events and emotion over such a devastating loss. We will never forget.  It was a defining moment for our country.

Image

Each September 11, we relive those moments through the images on our televisions and listen to the frantic calls for help.  Those emotions of sorrow and anger tend to re-emerge.  When you think about those days, how do you feel today?  Do you forgive those who took so many lives?  Do you forgive the enemy who would continue to do their best to destroy our troops?  This is where we see the power of God.  It is where we can see His grace superseding our imagination.  If Osama Bin Laden had asked for forgiveness and for Christ to come into his heart as his personal Savior before he died, God would have forgiven him.  It’s at times like these when I am reminded why I am not God.  As Beth Moore says, “God doesn’t work on sense. He works on grace.”

Fortunately, the things we typically must forgive each other do not cost thousands of lives.  Sometimes they are big things, sometimes they are small things, but God never calls us not to forgive one another.  His grace is a model for everyone we should and must forgive.  When I think about God’s grace for us, I am humbled beyond belief.  When I really and truly stop to think deeply about it, I am brought to my knees.  Chuck Swindoll says it best:

“Grace has to be the loveliest word in the English language. It embodies almost every attractive quality we hope to find in others. Grace is a gift of the humble to the humiliated. Grace acknowledges the ugliness of sin by choosing to see beyond it. Grace accepts a person as someone worthy of kindness despite whatever grime or hard-shell casing keeps him or her separated from the rest of the world. Grace is a gift of tender mercy when it makes the least sense.”

We have all made mistakes that we wish we hadn’t made.  The blood of Jesus washes those away.  Those closest to us can choose to accept or reject us because of our sinful actions.  Our passages this week call for bitterness to be gone, for kindness to shine, and love with forgiveness to prevail “just as in Christ God forgave you.”  If you find those closest to you distance themselves from you after you ask for forgiveness, ask yourself if they are following what Christ asked them to do.  If not, it may be time to cut those relationships.  Attempting to stay close to those who can’t even forgive their closest friends will ultimately lead you to be like them: unforgiving.  Jesus doesn’t call us to forgive others when we feel like it or at a distance.  He asks us to forgive people like God forgave us through Christ.  That is, we are completely reconciled with Him and we will live with Him for eternity. 

If those closest to you exhibit the grace of God, forgiving with “tender mercy when it makes the least sense,” don’t lose those people in your life.  They will remain close to you forever as they emulate God, His commandments, and His love.

How are you forgiving others?  Are you the one forgiving from your heart?  Do you only speak the words “I forgive,” but don’t truly forgive?  Or, perhaps your heart has become cold and bitterness has set in, so that forgiveness seems impossible?  God has no limit on forgiveness.  He forgives when we think it is impossible.  As we read in the parable, when we owe Him far more than we have (including the value of our family), God still forgives.  Are you forgiving like Him?  If not, take this moment, get on your knees and ask God to heal your heart so that you can forgive others as He forgives us.

Maybe it is not others who you need to forgive.  Instead, maybe you need to forgive yourself?  You have something awful in your past you wish you hadn’t done, you find yourself losing relationships with others because of your own sinful actions, or maybe you have deeply hurt those closest to you?  When these things happen, we are often filled with overwhelming guilt.  While others may not exhibit Christ’s grace toward us in these situations as we discussed previously, it is not typically the people in our lives that lack grace that affect us the most. It is our conscious and the Accuser (Revelation 12:10), who accuses us “day and night” before God.  Thankfully, just as God is greater than Satan, He is also “greater than our hearts.”  It will take time and it is a process, but He can take away the pain.

It is time to forgive those who have hurt us.  It is time to forgive ourselves.  God is greater than all we are.  And, if He forgives us, then how can we (as lowly sinners), be conceited enough to think we should not forgive others or ourselves? 

Father, restore us.  Forgive us.  Help us to forgive others as well as ourselves.  Restore broken relationships.  Restore in us a clean heart.  Renew our spirit.  Remind us of Your ways.  Make forgiveness a part of our lives as we remember that You, Father, are greater than us and greater than our hearts.  Bring reconciliation to our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Working Hard or Hardly Working?

A View of the Guiding Light in a World of Darkness is a weekly devotional that seeks to apply Biblical principles to our everyday lives, written by inspirational speaker, Jeremy Curry.

Proverbs 14:23

All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

Genesis 2:1-3

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Many of us in the U.S. celebrated Labor Day this week.  It’s the unofficial close to summer as we swarm to the lakes and other 3-day weekend vacations for one last hurrah as kids head back to school and we prepare for the cool weather that will soon be arriving as autumn approaches.  It’s a picturesque time in our lives when we spend time with our family and friends away from the workplace.  We remember what life is like away from our jobs. We stop everything and focus on the people in our lives that we love and enjoy being around.

When we think about work, there are two sides of the spectrum: those that don’t work at all and those that work too much.  It’s important for us to remember that work is a gift.  It may sound ironic to say that, but what would happen if we couldn’t work?  Among other things, there would be no one to provide electricity to our homes, no actors for the TV shows we watch, no software developers to make our computers work, and no hardware engineers to make our mobile devices.  It doesn’t sound like a very fun world, does it?  It’s important to remember that hard work brings a profit and doing nothing will certainly bring you to poverty as King Solomon stated.  If you dreaded heading back to work Tuesday morning after Labor Day, remember that hard work will enable you to profit.  Be thankful to God that you have a job.  Not everyone is so lucky.  Remembering work is a gift will help you to remember to do it joyfully for the love of our Father (see Colossians 3:23-24).  Your hard work will certainly be rewarded.

On one side of the spectrum, we find the lazy; those who could find and get a job, but choose not to do so.  Note that none of the verses in today’s passages praise laziness nor will you find a Bible verse that does so.  If you select this path, you are taking the path to poverty.  What was true during the reign of King Solomon still stands true today.  Doing nothing will result in nothing.  That is, if you do not work, do not expect to receive anything in return.  Remember that your decisions are your own, and others that do work hard are never required to meet your needs if you have a clear ability and opportunity to work.

But, what about the other end of the spectrum?  What about those who work too hard?  Starting out at the beginning of the Bible, we read about the great things that can be accomplished when we work.  However, we are also reminded that we need to rest.  Recent studies suggest that Americans work harder than any other country.  Statistics from the Bureau of Labor in those same reports indicate that over 20% of the workforce is spending 49 hours per week or more at their jobs.  This seems interesting and counter-intuitive as studies that show resting rather than working longer hours can actually increase productivity.  For those of us who are working more, why are we doing it?  It could be everything that we have to pay for.  I remember a time when my family had one car, and that was all we could afford, so we didn’t buy another.  It was an era before credit cards and large mountains of debt became part of the cultural norm.  Today, it is not uncommon for families to have more TVs than people in the house, smartphones that cost us several hundred dollars per month, high-speed Internet that has become a necessity, and, of course, we “need” cable TV and the ability to stream Netflix.  Just one of those “needs” is typically an expensive car, which comes with an average car payment of $475 per month.  In addition, the American Bankers’ Association reports that the average American household has $8,000 in credit card debt to pay off.  Is it any wonder that the trend appears to be that Americans are working more hours? 

If you find yourself on this side of the fence, where you seem to work far more than you should, it’s time to see how you can start cutting back.  Start getting yourself out of debt, so you don’t have to work as much. As Dave Ramsey would say, “Don’t let your money control you.  Start controlling your money.”  All of those things that you “need” are making you tired and spend time away from those you love the most.  Remember that when God was done with His work by creating the entire universe, He rested.  This is an example we should all be following.  Isn’t it interesting that God sets the schedule of the workweek thousands of years before anyone even thought of electricity; or, even the wheel, for that matter?  You may not be able to work 5 days on and 2 days off, but it is important to stop and rest just as our Father set the example.  After all, if we are made in His image, then what is good for Him is good for us.  Rearrange to make your life complete by working the way our Father does.  If our Almighty God needed rest from His hard work, then there is no doubt that rest is also essential for our health, heart, mind, and soul.

Father, remind us that when we serve others, we are serving you.  May we work hard for our employers as we would work hard for you.  Enable us to make the changes in our lives who need to make rest essential. For those that need employment, may you open doors that will lead them in the direction You want them.  For those who are not working, but could easily find a job, remind them that what they do will affect their lives and is representative of how others view You as they set the example for how others view You.  Open their hearts and minds to remind them that work is a gift from You. We love You, Father. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

For further study, read Proverbs 22:7 and think about how debt can continue to make you a slave to your job.

Taking the Fear out of Fear Itself

A View of the Guiding Light in a World of Darkness is a weekly devotional that seeks to apply Biblical principles to our everyday lives, written by inspirational speaker, Jeremy Curry.

Jeremiah 17:5-8

This is what the Lord says:

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”

If Jeremiah had written this passage today, I am certain he would have written it after watching an awesome episode of Doomsday Preppers.  If you haven’t seen the television show, it is about people preparing for anything from economic collapse to earthquakes to meteors hitting the Earth.  They put together a bunch of preparations, including food storage, water storage, weapons, advanced security plans, and even travel plans to “bug out” in case something happens.  I’m not saying there is anything wrong with being prepared for emergencies, but what I am saying is that while each show is different, all of the people who are prepping have one thing in common:  fear.  They are all afraid of something, and that fear has them preparing to deal with it.  Many times, it consumes each dollar they have and every second of their lives.  On their death bed, if the fear never materialized, I wonder if they would spend their life doing the same thing if they were able to have a “do-over?”  Or, would they feel they wasted their life with fear?  I think if Jeremiah were alive today, he’d probably give them the exact same advice he does in our passage: Trust the Lord and have confidence in Him because you will then have no fear or worry.

Remember Y2K?  Yeah, I didn’t either until I got to thinking about what we do when we are fearful, just like some of the preppers on the show are working to take action against their biggest fear.  For several years before the turn of the century, everyone was stocking up on everything from toilet paper to gasoline and when the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Day, guess what? Nothing happened.  When we do things out of fear, we often make wrong decisions, including wasting both time and money.  Remembering that God is in control (and that we are not) can reduce our fears, and ultimately, eliminate them altogether.

While you may not be someone hoarding goods for the next zombie apocalypse, what is your fear?  Are you afraid that something will happen to your children?  Afraid you will fail?  Afraid you will make others angry?  Afraid someone will hurt you?  Maybe your fear is that no one cares about you?  Or, are you afraid your health will fail?  Perhaps you are not in a persistent paralyzed state of fear, but you are always worrying about something.  Notice how Jeremiah deals with that aspect, too.  That is, he not only deals with fear, but he deals with worry.  If you have nothing to fear, then you have nothing to worry about.  In logical, consecutive order, he handles the fear first and then the worry, because overcoming the fear will cause the worry to cease.

If overcoming our fear is the main issue, how do we defeat the fear that plagues our minds?  Jeremiah tells us that we can prevail over fear if we trust in the Lord and have confidence in Him.  I wonder how much fear little David had when he went up against the giant, Goliath?  Beth Moore says it best when she said, “We should remember to measure the size of our obstacles against the size of our God.  We tend to measure our obstacles with our own strength.  No giant will ever be a match for a big God with a little rock.”  When you stop and think about how big our God is who created the entire universe, what is there to fear?  And, if there is nothing to fear, what is there to worry about?  Whatever your fear, God will see you through it.  He is and always will be bigger than any fear that you can fathom.

A good friend of mine contends that “fear” really stands for False Evidence Appearing Real.  Sometimes the size of our obstacle makes it falsely appear that our fears are justified.  Consider this:

1 Samuel 17:23-24

23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. 24 Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear.

An entire army fled from just seeing one man. He didn’t even have to do anything.  They literally bolted in fear when they saw him.  If we act like the Israelites did and we continue to fear, we will never move forward.  David, probably only about 15 years old at the time, takes off his armor because he wasn’t used to it, picked up his 5 smooth stones and slays the giant that had scared off an entire army.  What would have happened if he let fear overtake him?  Rather than let fear persuade him to run away, David, the man after God’s own heart, knew that he had a big God . . .bigger than any giant.  Let me ask you; how big is your God?

Years ago, after I was diagnosed with a genetic eye condition and told that I was going to lose all of my sight, I remember going through a long stage of fear.  Questions filled my mind like, “Who would marry a blind man?  How will I ever find a job?  How could people love someone who can’t see?  Will my friends still want to be around me?”  I’ve been happily married for over 12 years now, I’ve never been without a job, and I have some of the best friends one could ever possibly hope for.  They would do anything for me, and I would do anything for them.  I didn’t need to fear and I didn’t need to worry.  Just like you, I’m not perfect.  We all have fears at times.

Remember being afraid of the dark when you were a child?  It wasn’t the blackness that you were afraid of, it was what could lie within the things you couldn’t see . . . the unknown.  These same fears may still haunt us today.  Maybe you’re afraid of what is in the dark, or maybe you are simply afraid of what you cannot see in your future?  Think back on your life.  Of all of the fears you have had, which ones were truly worth worrying about?  Typically, none of those fears were worth the time spent worrying about them because our fears are defeated as the Lord enables us to persevere.  As Jeremiah notes, we need to grow deep roots so during the hard times in life or in the presence of our biggest fears, we remain steadfast in the strength of our God.  Have you been able to grow those roots and develop an undeniable trust and confidence in Him?  Or, have we made our God so small in our minds that we constantly worry and are fearful of many things?  I love how Jon Acuff takes on the topic of fear in his book, Start, specifically talking about “punching fear in the face.”  Realizing that our God is bigger than any of our fears is the starting point of becoming a stronghold, fearful of nothing, knowing that God always works for the good in every situation (Romans 8:28), and is constantly molding us to be more like Him.  But, in order for us to become like Him, we first need full and complete trust in Him.

What are some practical ways we can beat fear and begin to trust God with our entire being?  The first answer is to pray and spend time with God as noted in last week’s devotional, “Do You Have the Time?  The second part is to admit your fear.  Admit it to God.  Admit it to those you trust the most.  Most of us never talk about our fears. Obviously, because we are afraid of them.  When you talk with your closest friends and family, you are likely to find that they have many of the same fears you do.  You’ll feel less alone, because they can help alleviate your fears by supporting you.  Take the time right now to call, text, Facebook, IM, Skype, DM on Twitter, or somehow contact your best friend at this moment to take your first step in overcoming your fear.  The voices of fear in your mind constantly tell you that you should continue to worry about your fears.  It’s time to silence those voices.  It’s time to remember that our God is a big God.  “No giant will ever be a match for a big God with a little rock.”

Father, help us to place all of our trust in You.  Remind us that you are a big God; bigger than anything we can possibly fathom.  Eliminate our fears and rid our mind of worry.  Fill our hearts and minds with the promises that You have given us, and remind us that You will always be there for us even in the midst of our biggest fears. No matter the circumstances, may we feel Your presence in every situation we face. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

For further study, read Psalm 1:1-3. Think about how this passage suggests that trust is similar to obedience as obedience and spending time with the Lord creates trust in Him.

Do You Have the Time?

A View of the Guiding Light in a World of Darkness is a weekly devotional that seeks to apply Biblical principles to our everyday lives, written by inspirational speaker, Jeremy Curry.

Feeling lonely? Need hope and encouragement? Then, don’t miss this week’s devotional. The message could change your life.

Matthew 6:33

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Romans 15:4

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

Luke 5:16

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Gone are the days of the wrist watch.  Often beautifully banded in silver or gold watches have been replaced by the durable, everyday worn plastic and metal used in our smartphones.  Before all of us had a digital clock at the ready in our pocket, there would be times that we would have to stop and ask a stranger, “Do you have the time?”  In today’s busy world, we don’t even have the time to stop to ask what the time is.  The smartphones that have replaced our wristwatches have made it so convenient to stay connected to everyone that we often don’t even talk to each other anymore.  Instead of picking up the phone to call a friend, we send them a text.  If we want to congratulate someone or wish them happy birthday, we put it on Facebook.  It seems so odd that we have started to communicate this way when studies suggest that over 90% of our communication is nonverbal.  This new way of communicating to one another has made us so connected to the world that we have, in fact, become detached from one another.

With the limited amount of time we have available, what are we doing with it? On average, Facebook users spent an average of 6 hours 44 minutes on the site last March. What about other social media sites like Twitter, Pinterest, or LinkedIn?  A news report from CNBC late last year shows that Americans spent a combined total of 121 billion minutes on social media sites in July 2012.  In case you don’t want to do the math in your head; that is about 230,060 years of time consumed in just one month!  And, we can only assume that the number has increased as social media continues to become a greater part of our lives.  What if you are less of a social media buff and still interested in good, old-fashioned TV?  Statistics tell us that the average American watches about 4 hours of TV per day.  Taking those numbers into account, you will have watched TV for a total of 9 years by the time you reach 65.  Surprised? I know I was. 

Why all of the statistics about what we are doing with our time?  They’re just numbers anyway, right?  Wrong. The first verse we study this week tells us that we should seek first His kingdom.  For some reason, God didn’t tell me that I should check Him out on Facebook first by doing some type of awesome sleuth work via Facebook-stalking.  Or, that I should lurk in the background and watch his tweets, and even more odd, He didn’t ask me to check out his cool ideas on Pinterest.  Maybe He will join Instagram soon and I’ll only need to look at pictures and videos He posts? <smile> God doesn’t ask us to do any of those things.  Instead, we often read about seeking God first via reading His Word, including David teaching Solomon (the wisest man ever) to seek Him (see 1 Chronicles 28:9).  While you and I may not be exactly the same as “average” as the statistics suggest, we should be asking what we are doing with our time.  Are we spending it working, are we spending it on Facebook, or are we spending time truly seeking God?

Obviously, most of us are spending time doing other things.  Maybe we need to take a better look at why we should be seeking God?  I think if we are honest with ourselves, spending time with God is one of the most difficult challenges we face.  Why?  Perhaps because we can’t see Him? Or, perhaps because we can’t audibly hear Him?  But, let me ask you:  How good is your relationship with your friends that you never spend time with?  How close are you to the people you never invite over to your house?  Relationships are about time.  We must invest time with each other if we want to become close to someone.  The same is true for God.  I don’t know about you, but I would love to feel closer to God every single day of my life.  Do you need encouragement in your life? Do you need hope?  Our passage from Romans this week specifically tells us spending time in God’s Word gives us those things.  Hope and encouragement are something I can sure use more of.  How about you?  This is exactly why we should be spending more time with our Father.  God loves us so much that His command as simple as to seek Him brings us to an emotional state that we all want.

Not only does seeking Him via reading His Word and praying bring us hope and encouragement, but it helps subdue our fears.  After all, hope and fear have an extremely difficult time co-existing as hope wipes out the fear from our minds.  It keeps us on a righteous path God wants us to follow. 

Have you ever had a specific point in your life when you veered from the path?  I know I have.  I explicitly remember one time I went off the path and when I came back, I found that the time I took a wrong turn was when I had ceased doing my daily devotional.  The lack of spending time with God sent me spiraling in the way of the wicked.  Have you been there?  Christian speaker, David Edwards, said it best this way, “All rebellion begins in isolation.”  When we don’t spend time with God, we are isolating ourselves from Him, opening ourselves up to enemy attack.  As we read in Luke chapter 5, even Jesus, who is closest to the Father, often “withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”  Wow.  If the Savior of the world needed to be with our Father and pray, how much time should we, as sinners, be spending in prayer with God? 

Let’s take a challenge together this week.  The next time we want to turn on the TV or grab our smartphone or tablet; let’s instead open God’s Word.  Or, take that time and pray.  I’m certain our Facebook and TV can wait while we do what our Father in Heaven asks us to do and seek Him.  When we do the will of our Almighty God, who immeasurably loves us more than anything else, we will be blessed.  Our fears will subside.  We will be given hope.  We will have encouragement.  Are these things you want?  Then, let me ask you, “Do you have the time?”

Father, we ask that you bless us this week as we work to seek You as You have asked us to do.  Please bless us by making our fears subside, by giving us hope and encouragement.  Grow our friendships closer with others, strengthen our families, and renew our relationship with you and others who need our time as we make You a priority in our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.