Fear Not Devotional 7-day Download

FEAR NOTOn Saturday afternoon, Jeff Goins, author of The Art of Work and creator of a Facebook community by the same name, issued a 48-hour challenge: Can You Master a New Skill and Get Paid for It in 48 Hours?

I took his challenge. And though I am not yet getting paid for my efforts, I did manage to launch a Facebook launch page for my 28-day Devotional book, Fear Not: Your 28-day dose of courage, generate 60+ fans on the page and generate a 7-day Devotional sample for free download as a pre-launch to the full book.

Before getting to the free download, let me say that I am amazed at what I was able to create and launch in the span of 48 hours. I owe Jeff and The Art of Work community a huge debt of appreciation for their inspiration and encouragement because it’s been awesome to see what people were able to do in the last two days.

And now, without further ado, here is Fear Not 7-days and your shot of courage for the next seven days. Simply click on the Fear Not link and you’ll be reading Day 1 in seconds.

I’d love to hear what you think, so come back by and leave a comment when you can. Thanks.

Update May 11, 2015: The free download is no longer available. But the full 28-day Fear Not devotional will launch shortly. You can sign up to receive updates by visiting the Fear Not Facebook page.

Did You Hear Something?

Are you guarding something that matters to you?

Are you protecting something? A dream? An idea? A passion or God-given purpose?

Are you guarding something so fiercely that you might miss the invitation of God to join Him in the creating, the building, the revealing of something He intended for you to share with others?

Fear Not

(48/365 Days of Fear Not)

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! (Luke 2:8-11)

Sometimes, when God shows up and calls us to join Him, we are terrified, aren’t we?

Not terrified so much of God’s appearing, but of His bidding:You want me to do what? You want me to write that, say that, share that, create that, proclaim that?

Suddenly, the very thing that defines us in the depth of our being frightens us beyond measure. Even in the presence of God. Perhaps especially in the presence of God. Because we know what He wants. We know what He is about to ask of us.

And it scares us.

Because it’s one thing to birth and grow an idea; it’s another thing altogether to invite the world in to see our creation, our art, our soul, our heart – our baby.

But the message is clear: Don’t be afraid! I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.

No, our dream is not the Savior come to earth, but it may be the reflection of Him that someone needs to see, to hear, to experience. The reflection of His truth or His grace or His goodness or His love or His hope or His presence.

For us, the good news is that it’s time to release our gift, our creation, our baby into the world.

Because it won’t be any of those things – truth, grace, goodness, love, joy, hope – unless like the shepherds we faithfully follow Him and share with everyone what we alone were designed to create.

For if we refuse. If we choose to guard our dream, our idea, our calling, our purpose. If we choose to perfect it rather than release it.

What joy will others be deprived of?

What beauty will others miss?

What goodness will others not witness?

What hope will others not receive?

What opportunities will we forfeit?

When God shows up we don’t need to be afraid.

When God calls us to the good works He prepared for us to do, He will provide us the means and the strength to do them. He has created each of us for such a time as this: a time when He shows up and whispers that our time is here. Our time is now.

Walk boldly and confidently with Him and bring forth the good works, the Good News, that a desperate world longs to know.

So, what is God asking you to release into the world? What’s holding you back from letting it go?

Enough for Right Now

By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.”  Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading. (John 6:17-21)

Fear Not(47/365 Days of Fear Not)

Change is a lot like darkness sometimes.

It’s difficult to see where I’m going.

I can’t see what comes next.

I know it won’t last; that I won’t be in this place of transition for an extended time. But it can feel like that, you know?

Facing change can be like being in a boat in the middle of the night when the winds pick up and the seas grow rough. I can feel out of control. And I can feel deeply, sorely afraid.

And sometimes, the presence of Jesus causes me even greater fear.

Have you ever been there?

Have you ever been in a place where the presence of Jesus in the midst of your life rocks your boat even more than the storm itself?

You’re afraid that He’s going to ask you to do something you don’t want to do.

You’re afraid that He’s going to send you somewhere you don’t want to go.

You’re afraid that He’s going to take away something you love: a dream, the vision you have for your life, a job, a passion, the status quo, the comfort of being stuck, your excuses.

You’re afraid that He’s going to step into your boat, into your life, into your right now, and take away all of the reasons you’ve created for what you’re doing or for what you’re not doing.

And you’re right to think so.

Because that’s exactly what He wants to do. But only if we’ll let Him. Only if I let Him.

I look up in the darkness and I see Him approaching me as I am tossed around by the storm of change and I’m frightened. Because He’s walking on the surface of the storm and though it swirls around Him, it affects Him not. Who is this Jesus? And what does He want?

I want to know, but He doesn’t say.

All He tells me when He comes near is: It is I; don’t be afraid.

Is that enough for me?

It was enough for the disciples: they were willing to take Him into the boat.

But what about me? Is it enough for me?

The disciples were willing because they knew Him. They’d lived with Him and traveled with Him and broken bread with Him and seen Him in action doing miracles and loving the outcasts.

They knew Him and so they trusted Him. And because they trusted Him they were willing to take Him into their boat. And immediately their boat reached the shore where they were headed.

The idealist dreamer in me would like to think that that’s all there was to it. That they reached their goal and now they could kick back and take it easy.

But that’s not how it works, is it?

Once they hit the shore, they still had many miles to travel and much more work to do and even a whole lot more to learn from Jesus.

That’s where I am right now.

Things in my life are changing direction and I don’t know where they’re going. My dreams are shifting and changing shape and even priority in my life right now. And the details of my day-to-day that have been so familiar to me for so long need tweaking at the very least and, in some instances, complete overhauling.

I have a strong sneaking suspicion that Jesus wants to take my excuses and my doubts and that He wants to stretch the comfortable places inside my passion and purpose and God-given dreamscape so that I can create them anew with Him.

And I want to know what that’s going to look like. But all He’ll say right now is: It is I; don’t be afraid.

Is that enough for me?

For today, it is.

In this moment I’m willing to take Jesus into my boat and let Him get me to the shore.

And as hard as it is, I’m willing to say that that’s enough for right now.

 

 

There’s Comfort in the Unknown

He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day (Psalm 91:4-5)

Fear Not

Without the challenges and trials of this life, I’m pretty sure that I would become far more self-reliant than I already tend to be. It’s in my nature and it’s the part of my nature that I have to die to every day.

I’m a Yankee from New England. Add to that the fact I have a strong streak of Irish sass and stubbornness and at least a pinch or more of my parents’ blue-collar work ethic and I’m pretty much prone to be self-sufficient. Unfortunately, this leaves little room for God to be my refuge, my strength or my dream builder.

Obviously, God knows this about me.

And so I’m thankful that He keeps me in check. I’m thankful that He reminds me how much I need Him.

He can do this with the God-given dreams and purpose that He plants in my heart.

He can do this with the unknowns of my circumstances.

He can do this with the upheaval of my marriage from its rut of ordinary.

And, He can do this with the recent diagnosis that my seven-year-old daughter has Level One Autism Spectrum Disorder (pretty much a diagnosis of Aspergers before they reframed the system of diagnosing Autism).

The learning curve of how to equip and empower my sweet girl is steep. And because of that, it can feel overwhelming.

For example, tonight I sat down to create a schedule of our day for tomorrow that includes only two main focus points that she needs related to this ASD as well as the Sensory Processing issues that she faces each day. As I looked at the notes on the page I found myself thinking, I have no idea how this is supposed to work.

But that isn’t a new thought for me and, honestly, I like the comfort of it, the comfort of not know how things are going to come together.

Really, I like the comfort of knowing that I don’t have to know how everything is supposed to work or how it’s going to work — dream building, my marriage, parenting, ASD diagnosis. Because this, this is where God steps in. This unknown is where God does more than I can possible ask or imagine or predict.

He knit her together in my womb. He created her. He designed her. He knows her gifts and talents and how amazing she is and will be.

And He knows the challenges she will face.

Right now, I know little of any of that.

But, I know Him. He is my refuge and my strength. He is my dream builder and my miracle doer.

I know that I live in a broken and hurting world and that I am blessed with a purpose and a dream that can bring hope and healing to my small part of it. And I know that I am blessed to be the mama to two amazing little girls who will shine a light in this world in ways I have yet to even begin to realize.

But God knows.

He’s calling them just like He’s calling me.

I have the privilege of guiding them in discovering their gifts and their purpose.

And the most amazing part is that as I fulfill that part of my life and my calling as their mama and their dream shaper, I discover and uncover more of who God is calling me to be in this world.

Mostly, that involves being dependent on Him. Completely dependent on Him. Not self-reliant. Not self-sufficient.

Dependent. Because it is there, in my dependence on Him, that I am not afraid.

I sense His hand.

I trust His voice.

I lean on His understanding.

And I rejoice in the challenges and trials set before me because they draw me closer to Him.

Because His grace is sufficient for me, I will not be afraid.

Rather, I will strive to remain dependent.

Faith Doesn’t Make Sense

While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.”

Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” (Luke 8:49-50)

 

(44/365 days of Fear Not)

Fear Not

It’s one thing to say that God’s ways are not our ways and that God’s timing is perfect, but it’s another thing altogether to believe those ideas.

Not only to believe them, but to trust them. To hold on to them when life throws its worst at you.

Because more often than not that’s exactly what faiths asks us to do. Especially in the moments that cause us to tremble with genuine fear and uncertainty.

This is what Jesus asks of us, actually demands of us, if we are going to follow Him and trust Him instead of the world.

Faith and fear cannot exist simultaneously in our conscious mind. We will either be afraid or we will trust God and take Him at His word. And, always, despite what reality tells us or what circumstances indicate or what others seem to know, faith is always the better option.

That doesn’t mean it’s always the easiest option. Even so, trusting Jesus is always the best option. That’s what Jairus did, isn’t it?

Even though someone came from his house with the news that his daughter had died.

Even though someone had more information than Jairus did.

Even though someone told him to give up, that it was too late.

Jairus trusted.

Jairus believed.

And Jesus responded. He responded in the face of laughter and unbelief from those who thought they knew the truth. Those who thought they knew more than He did. How easy would it have been for Jairus to give up and give in to his fear and his pain?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve responded that way. Responded toward Jesus as if He weren’t God and as if He didn’t know the future, my future.

I’ve questioned. I’ve doubted. I’ve been afraid.

But I’ve also been like Jairus. And Jesus responded similarly because He has always been faithful.

His ways are almost never what I would do; they’re better. Isn’t that good news?

His timing is perfect. Though I usually don’t see that until much farther down the path, He is never late or delayed. Not according to His plans for me.

Jairus believed.

He trusted even though everything said it didn’t make sense.

And, then, Jairus stood beside Jesus as He took the girl’s hand and told her to get up from the bed. Jairus received his daughter back. He received a miracle.

We don’t all get the kind of miracle that Jairus got, but God still offers us His faithfulness and His presence. He still invites us to trust Him and to stand beside Him as He works all the things in our life together for good if we love Him and are called according to His purposes.

God sees you in your struggle. He sees the world telling you its version of reality and truth. He knows your doubt and your fear.

And He’s inviting you to trust Him.

God Overshadows Life’s What Ifs

And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. (Luke 12:29-31)

Fear Not

(43/365 days of Fear Not)

Worry is something that can quickly develop into fear. We can translate the what ifs of our worry into paralyzing circumstances. Eventually fear grows where we planted seeds of worry.

But Jesus is as clear about worry as He is about fear: it’s unnecessary.

And it gets in the way of our relationship with Him.

But we can choose not to worry. We can choose not to be afraid. We can choose instead to seek Jesus.

So far through 2015, I have clung to my One Word: abide. And I have discovered that as I abide in Christ, as I seek God’s face and His kingdom, I live differently. I live without the same degree of worry and fear as I have in the past. No, it’s not that I don’t ever worry or fear, but I am learning to take those thoughts captive and I am choosing to focus on Jesus and not the storm. What follows is what has happened in my life as a result of abiding in Christ and seeking Him over my worry and accompanying what ifs.

It is a reflection of the story of The Widow’s Olive Oil:

The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”

Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”

“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”

Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”

She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”

But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.

She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.” (2 Kings 4:1-7)

And today, I am praising and thanking God for a miracle in our life that mirrors the widow’s. For us, this miracle has been part of an on-going provision from God during what can only be deemed extremely lean times for us.

We have scraped the bottom of the financial barrel more than once in the past six months and worry and fear have teamed up and knocked loudly on the door to my heart. But as we approached the end of 2014 and I began considering One Word on which to focus, God drew me to Himself, inviting me to abide in Him.

And so I began the year focused on abiding in Christ.

I also began working through a series of posts tracing God’s words to Fear Not.

As I have focused on these things, focused on Jesus and not on the storms of our circumstances, I have experienced God’s presence and provision in ways previously unknown to me. It’s not that God was not faithful before, but that I was not tuned into what He was doing.

But, as we have had to lean on Him and trust Him more, as we have had to rely on Him to provide, I’ve become acutely aware of His movements in my life. Of His whispers in my heart.

None of these has been more obvious to me than the extremely low heating oil level that has lasted us far longer than it should have.

We have not had the four hundred dollars needed to add the 100 gallons we usually eek by with. In fact, we have not added oil to the tank since we added 100 gallons on March 17, 2014. Typically, we had at least another 100 gallons in the fall.

Every time the heat has come on, I have been reminded of the Widow’s Olive Oil and how she filled jar after jar after jar from a single small jar that she had. It was all she had and when she obediently took what she had and sought Elisha, the man of God, what little she had became an overflowing abundance.

We have since received our tax refunds and my husband received one of his twice monthly paychecks on Friday and we have been playing catch up on bills.

And this morning, the heating oil tank finally ran dry. I woke up to a chilly house and called Burrells. They have delivered our 100 gallons and the heat is running and we are cozy.

And I am not overlooking that God has been our provision and continues to be.

He continues to provide in ways that I am realizing I never noticed before.

Courage: an Unlikely Result of Humility

because I will remove from you
    your arrogant boasters.
Never again will you be haughty
    on my holy hill.
But I will leave within you
    the meek and humble.
The remnant of Israel
    will trust in the name of the Lord.
They will do no wrong;
    they will tell no lies.
A deceitful tongue
    will not be found in their mouths.
They will eat and lie down
    and no one will make them afraid.” (Zephaniah 3:11-13)

Fear Not

(42/365 days of Fear Not)

What an interesting juxtaposition: being meek and humble and not being afraid.

By the world’s standards this doesn’t seem possible, does it?

It’s usually the other way around. The strong, the boastful, the self-centrics tend to be the ones we think of as courageous, unafraid, unbothered by life.

But, God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not like ours. So, it makes sense that in God’s view, there is no room for the boastful, the arrogant, the haughty, the self-centrics. God’s world view is focused on the meek and the humble. On those who will trust Him, not themselves. On those who recognize and acknowledge their weakness and their need of Him.

When we are able to do that, when we are able to acknowledge our need of God, we will eat and lie down and no one will make us afraid.

I don’t know about you, but that’s a promise I need to hear.

Because I was raised a strong, independent New England Yankee girl who does things for herself. And for a long while, that worked pretty well and I was fairly successful. At least according to the standards that the world sets and by which it measures us and our abilities and our achievements.

But, this way of life is also exhausting.

Perhaps it’s because it is like a game of make believe that never ends. I have to carry my mask everywhere I go and it becomes too heavy to carry let alone hold to my face and hide behind.

But this life as a redeemed New England girl who depends on God and who abides with Christ?

It’s refreshing.

It’s life-giving.

It’s invigorating, even when it’s a difficult struggle according to what the world sees.

These first 40 days of 2015 have been amazing.

My husband and I have struggled well beyond what we have ever experienced in our 14 years together.

Our finances have scraped the bottom of the change barrel more often than I care to recount.

Our circumstances have challenged us beyond what we are able to handle or fix.

But God has been faithful and He has met our every need.

He has not done this at our demand or according to our expectations, but in His perfect timing.

He has met every need and His provision and His grace have sustained us.

And I have been learning, one day, one moment at a time, one abiding moment at a time, that when I trust God, I have nothing to fear.

It is not rational.

It makes no sense.

But it is absolutely true.

And each moment of provision and met need has shown me that I can indeed eat and lie down and nothing and no one, no one, will make me afraid.

And I’ll take that every single time over my own self-centric efforts that lead to nothing but exhaustion.