Over the years, I’ve had people ask me questions about discouragement in ministry, burnout, and hearing God’s voice. I have compiled a few of those questions and answered them below. I hope that you will find the answers informative and that they will encourage you in your walk with the Lord.
Q: I am struggling trying to keep the vision of my ministry. Have you ever been discouraged about serving God?
A: My heart has been deeply touched as I’ve traveled and have met many individuals in the five-fold ministry asking similar questions. I do know how it feels to be discouraged, and at times I wondered whether I was really in God’s will for my life and my ministry. I want to encourage you not to give up hope. Please continue to press on to victory—it will come eventually as you trust in God’s ability to deliver you from your circumstances. God promises us in Matthew 28:20 that “[He is] with you always, even to the end of the age.” Hebrews 10:35-36 says, “Do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised” (NASB).
Q: I’m resting from near burnout from church duties, outside women’s organizations, my family responsibilities, etc. During that season, my quiet times were not what they should be. Now I find myself having regular, quality quiet time but feeling a lack of fulfillment. I don’t seem to have any vision, and the Lord seems to be silent. Do you have any suggestions or Scriptures?
A: The answer to your burnout problem and present lack of fulfillment is found in John 15:1-2: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” In life, there are seasons of bearing fruit, pruning, growing, and bearing more fruit. Certainly, in the times of “fruit bearing,” where there is evidence of what our life is producing, we have a sense of fulfillment because we can “see” what we have done. However, there are necessary times when God puts us in a “dormant” state so that we can abide in Him and He in us. John 15 goes on to say, “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (v. 4). I believe you may be experiencing a time of “abiding” in your life. God is giving you a season of rest, consolidation, and a chance to re-energize. Enjoy it! Receive this time as God’s wisdom for this season in your life. If the Lord is silent, then you can be certain that you are in His will! The Holy Spirit gets “noisy” within us when we begin to walk outside of God’s will.
Q: I’m not sure if I’m hearing God’s voice or someone else’s voice. What does God’s voice sound like?
A: We all struggle with the question, “Is this the voice of God?” As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, John 10:3-5 offers us a wonderful promise: “…the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” The voice of God can come to us in different ways. In the Old Testament, the voice of God is described as a still, small voice (1Kings 19:11-2). Most often, God’s voice sounds very much like our own thoughts. But these thoughts do not originate from the mind, they come from deep within our own spirit. Believers have been promised that as we continue to walk with God, He will guide us with His eye upon us and lead us in the way we should go (Psalm 32:8). According to Galatians 5:16, we can know that we are being led by the Holy Spirit if we are walking in the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit means to act on God’s Word no matter what our senses (or “sense-knowledge”) tells us. I believe our flesh seeks after signs—something we can see or feel. Check out the leading you have by asking yourself, “Is this my flesh wanting a sign, or is this God’s Word directing my spirit?” If you follow the Word, you will never be disappointed.
Q. Several people have told me that God has a special call on my life. How do I find out what God’s will is for my life?
A. I want to share with you three steps that have helped me discern the will of God for my life:
the desire must line up with the Word;
you should have an inner witness of your leading—the Holy Spirit bears witness with God’s Word in your spirit which brings you peace; and
circumstances should line up accordingly. At times there may be a waiting period. The desire may be scriptural; you may have an inner witness; but circumstances may take some time before coming together. When this happens, it’s important to be patient. It is never wise to try to make things come together on your own. God will bring to completion what He’s begun (Proverbs 3:5-6).
You can trust God for your future. As you learn to rely more on Him and less on your own “feelings,” you will find a peace that truly passes all understanding. Be very careful about accepting any “Word from the Lord” from others. Remember, all “words” must line up with the Word, your own inner witness, and the circumstances. Anytime we depend on someone else’s understanding of God’s will for our lives, we are putting ourselves in a place of danger.
Success is a mind game. If you’re not in the right frame of mind, your chances of success are diminished. What you think and believe will play an important role in your success. The devil will do what he can to make your best efforts fail by playing mind games with you.
The devil wants you to live in fear. All of us have attacks of fear. You may be afraid to try because you are afraid to fail. I believe that not trying is the biggest failure of all. If God told you to do something, you’re better off trying to do it and failing than not trying at all! You will never succeed if you give in to the fear of trying. Successful people overcome the fear of trying.
When you’re tired, you can make some wrong decisions. Elijah became exhausted and made the wrong decision. He had just experienced the power of God like never before: He called down fire on Mt. Carmel, had the prophets of Baal killed, prayed for rain, and then ran 20 miles in the mud from Mt. Carmel to Jezreel (1 Kings 18). But when Jezebel threatened to take his life, he ran off scared; he left the revival that had started on Mt. Carmel. Why? I believe it was because he was physically tired. He wasn’t thinking straight, or he wouldn’t have feared Jezebel’s threat. So, God put him to sleep. You will be up to the Lord’s work if you are physically sound and mentally alert; don’t sacrifice good judgment to fatigue. Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is sleep!
We are living in the “Information Age,” and with all this information comes what I call the “frenzies.” It’s easy to get into a state of panic if we look at all the negative things going on around us. But, Paul told us not to walk as the gentiles walk “in the futility of their mind” (Ephesians 4:17), but to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Ephesians 4:23). When Paul was dragged outside the city of Lystra, stoned, and left for dead (see Acts 14), the disciples could have gotten into a frenzy of anguish; instead, they said, “Paul, in Jesus’s name, get up!” Their faith brought Paul back to life. Don’t surrender to frenzy; surrender to faith!
Our minds won’t let us forget the past—past failures, past hurts, past sins. But God has no trouble forgetting those things as long as we have confessed them and forsaken them. The Bible says that “He will . . . subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). Your past failures are no excuse for your present inaction because God has put a “No Fishing” sign beside the sea of forgetfulness! What He’s forgotten, you need to forget. Don’t let past hurts keep you from present joys—don’t surrender to past experiences of failure!
I believe that this is the beginning of a whole new wave of success for you. Get out there and do what the Lord has told you to do! Don’t let others or the devil lead you down the path to failure. In areas where you have had constant defeat, you are going to see real victory; so rejoice in your newly found freedom.
Fear is the Christian’s most dangerous enemy. Hebrews 2:15 says that Jesus delivered us from a lifetime of bondage to fear, but as a Christian you probably know that fear still creeps in at times. Fear attacks us today as it attacked Jesus’s disciples when they walked with Him on this earth. Jesus continually said, “Fear not, fear not, fear not.” He acknowledged that fear was indeed a very real threat to faith; and that is why He wants to set us free from it.
Following chronologically through Peter’s life, I found a pattern of fear that is too often very real for Christians. His life is an example of how fear does not always disappear overnight; but it shows the restorative process that Christ wants to create in all of us. By maturing in His divine restoration, you discover how to not only get free from fear, but to stay free from it.
Not long after making the greatest statement that a man could make, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15–16), Peter made the worst statement: he denied knowing Jesus at all. How could a man be so extreme? He did the best — and he did the worst.
How did Peter get himself into this position of denial?
I know what is behind it: fear. Jesus had been his intimate friend, guide, and counselor for three years. Now He had been taken away for trial and judgment, and Peter was afraid that he also would be taken and tried. When the Lord’s enemies recognized Peter they said, “You’ve been with that Galilean; you’re one of His disciples” (Matthew 29:69, author’s paraphrase).
Peter abhorred the thought of crucifixion. He was filled with fear, and he began cursing and swearing. Out of terror for his own life, Peter denied knowing his Lord. Peter didn’t just suddenly come into this fear, however. I have seen that fear is very subtle, and it is a very gradual process. Just as when you begin reading God’s Word and grow in revelation knowledge, you can also regress in a process of fear. Faith will take you from strength to strength and glory to glory; fear will take you into growing weakness until it manifests itself in sin.
I want you to look at Peter’s life to see how he started with one statement of fear, and eventually found himself in its control. His first real mistake with fear — strangely enough — happened immediately after he made the tremendous statement, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).
After Peter confessed Christ’s lordship, Jesus began explaining to His disciples that he would have to die on the cross and be resurrected. Peter could not imagine losing his Lord, and he reacted violently:
Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:22–23)
Peter’s first step towards really blowing it was by denying the cross of Jesus Christ. Why did he do it? Was it out of compassion for Jesus? No, it stemmed from fear. He’d been thinking, We’ve found the Son of God, the Messiah. He’s ours. He’s going to deliver us from Roman rule, and we’re going to rule and reign with Him.
But he could not see this simple truth: before the crown must come the cross. As far as Peter was concerned, anything having to do with the cross would put the crown away. How could the Messiah establish His rule if He died? No way. Peter’s first fear was a fear of the cross.
That fear still exists today, because inherent in the human personality is also a struggle with the fear of the cross. We are fearful about having to die to our own desires. We so often fall short of willingness to say, “Jesus, I am willing to surrender all to your cross.” That unwillingness to surrender our old nature is fear. Paul had a revelation that we must “die” at the cross by faith:
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
Whether you like it or not, you must be willing to crucify the hidden corners of your life. You have to allow the Holy Spirit to shine His searchlight through your soul and show you how to crucify those dark areas. The fear of allowing our old nature to die is a deceiver, for before the crown must come the cross.
The cross is a place of victory, not a place of fear.
But Peter was blind to the truth about Jesus’s crucifixion. He could not see that Jesus had to die before He could bring life. Fear had entered in, and it began popping up all over the place. He made one negative statement, and soon he found himself making more of them. Matthew 26:33-35 shows that Peter was still not seeing God’s Word because he began boasting in himself.: “Oh Jesus, the rest of the disciples may be offended because of you. But I would never do that. I would die with you first” (author’s paraphrase).
Have you ever heard other believers exalt their own strength in this way? They’ll tell you, “Have you heard about so-and-so? They really blew it, but I would never dream of doing what they did.”
That is nothing more than confidence in the flesh. Instead, you can say, “Jesus in me is greater than he that is in the world.” You can say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Confidence in God’s Word will always keep you and bring you through during a trial. But Peter’s misplaced assurance in his own ability is what failed him. You see, fear brings you to a point where you rely on your own courage and bravery: “I’ll be brave! I’ll be brave!” But the characteristics of true bravery and courage aren’t found in the flesh; they are only found in the Spirit.
In John 18, we see Peter getting into a really zealous spirit; but it is not Word-inspired. Again, I see it tying into his inner fear of the cross; he just cannot bear thinking about Jesus going to the cross because that spoils all of his plans. So, when the Jews came to take Jesus away, Peter was overtaken with a spirit of fear, and it drove him into a wrong zeal in his own motives: “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear” (John 18:10).
He’s trying to help Jesus avoid the cross! Oh, that fear was just chewing on Peter, and it was starting to show up in his conduct. Jesus was led away, and Peter followed Him. But in what way did he follow? The Bible says that Peter “followed Him at a distance” (Matthew 26:58). Fear puts a distance between you and your Lord because it deteriorates your trust. Oh, you’re following Him, but there becomes a distance because you are relying on personal works, not on faith.
How did Peter get so far away from Jesus? It started with his first statement, “I’ll never let you go to the cross.” It ended up with, “I’ll die before you go to the cross; I’ll cut off people’s ears before you go to the cross.” Then in Mark 14:66–67, Peter’s fear reached its peak:
Now as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came. And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.”
Peter denied it. He denied it again. And finally, when they said, “We can tell you’re one of His by the way you speak,” what did Peter do? He began to curse and swear. He said, “I do not know the Man!” (Matthew 26:72).
As he spoke those words, a cock crowed in the distance and the Words of his Lord came rushing back, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times” (Matthew 26:34). Peter was now flooded with guilt and sorrow.
Fear never justifies wrong deeds; it only creates them. It begins as a seedling, and soon it brings its close companions of condemnation and sorrow. All of this denial began with a seed of fear: the fear of the cross implanting itself into Peter’s soul. Now it had saturated all of his actions.
Fear of losing Jesus, fear of having to die for his faith, fear of losing his security blinded Peter to the victory of the cross. Fear never respects the things of God because it is a deceiver.
But in the midst of this dark picture, I also found the steps of restoration that Jesus planted. Jesus always wants to help you overcome fear and you overcome fear by applying the same process to your life that Jesus applied to Peter.
#1: Jesus Prays for You
And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31–32)
Jesus is focusing Peter’s attention on God’s Word: “Although you will know Satan’s attempts to sift your faith, listen I’ve prayed for you. Remember: I’ve prayed for you.”
You may say, “His faith did fail.”
No, it did not fail. It was Peter’s courage that failed him, and that is why we must be cautious about where we place our reliance. Our own courage will never be enough. Peter’s courage may have failed him; but his faith did not fail. After he denied Jesus, he wept bitterly because he still believed.
Sometimes you may feel as though you really failed, and the devil will lie to you, “Why bother trying again? You can’t do it.” But although you may have blown it, you may have said wrong things, done wrong things, and faltered in courage, hold on to Him. Your faith will not fail you, and it will hold you up if your bravery lets you down.
Your first step out of fear is to know and believe that Jesus has prayed for you, and that He still prays for you. In John 17:20, before His death, Jesus prayed to His Father and in that prayer He said, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word.”
Then in Hebrews 7:25 it says that Jesus “always lives to make intercession for [us].” He prayed for you then. He’s praying for you now. When you come against fear you can say, “Satan’s trying to sift me; but my faith won’t fail because Jesus is making intercession for me to come through.”
#2: Jesus Sees You
In Luke 22:61, at the same time Peter says, “I don’t know Him,” Jesus turns and looks at him. What do you suppose that look said? “Peter, you are letting me down when I need you the most. You said you would die for me, but now you are cursing me.”
No, I don’t believe Jesus’s look said that at all. I believe that He was looking to Peter’s soul and saying, “Oh, Peter, don’t do this to yourself.”
So, the second part of knowing what to do when fear strikes is to remember that Jesus sees you. He isn’t condemning you; He wants to help. He sees you right where you are, and He still loves you.
#3: Jesus Sends You a Message
Jesus also has a third step of restoration from fear, and it is shown after Jesus’s resurrection. Remember, the last look Peter had from Jesus right before His death on the cross was the one after Peter denied Him. Then after Jesus’s resurrection from death, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome visited the tomb with the intent of anointing Jesus’s body for burial. The stone had been rolled away, and as they entered, they saw a man sitting on the right side. He spoke to them:
“Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples — and Peter — that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” (Mark 16:6–7)
Why didn’t he just say, “Tell His disciples that He is going before you to Galilee?” Why “and Peter?”
I believe it was because Jesus wanted Peter to have a personal message of His love. Have you ever noticed that in a heavy attack of fear, Jesus will give you a personal message through His Word? Once, during a trial where the natural circumstances were almost impossible to bear, I called out to God for a personal message: “God, I must have something fresh from you. I know that I claim these daily Scriptures, but I need something straight from you.”
He gave me the most precious Scripture from the book of Haggai, and I still use it against fear today: “According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!” (Haggai 2:5). Jesus has a personal message for you in His Word. It’s not just “God’s Word for Christians.” It is for you today.
In 1 Corinthians, I saw that not only did Jesus send Peter a personal message, but He also had a personal meeting with him directly after His resurrection: “He was seen by Cephas [Peter], then by the twelve” (1 Corinthians 15:5).
I always imagined Jesus’s appearance to the disciples in the locked room as His first. But Jesus went to Peter before He talked to the rest of His disciples. He wanted to say, “Peter, I still love you. I prayed for you, I saw you, I sent you a message—and you’re coming through.”
Have you ever awakened in the night with fear flooding in through every fiber of your soul and the warmth of Jesus’s presence comes to drive it away? Those personal moments with Jesus will dissipate any fear surrounding you; He wants to calm the storm within, and that is why He promised, “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you.” These quiet times alone with Jesus are carved from God’s love, especially for your reassurance.
#4: Jesus Will Deliver You
Now that these steps toward pulling Peter out of fear had taken place, Jesus still had to deal directly with what happened, and the way He totally delivered Peter from fear is dynamite!
After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”
They said to him, “We are going with you also. They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?”
They answered Him, “No.”
And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.
Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.” Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish . . . (John 21:1-6, 9–11)
One man, Simon Peter, managed to drag the entire net of fish to the shore all by himself. Why is it that seven of them couldn’t muster the strength to draw in the net — but one man did it alone? It is because after Peter had received a vision and a touch from Jesus, he received strength. Once you get a vision of Jesus, nothing is the same again; you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (see Philippians 4:13).
Now Jesus was going to deal with him. Notice that when the disciples came to the land, Jesus had a fire burning. Peter might’ve thought, I remember the last fire I warmed myself near; it was when I denied you. Jesus had that fire ready on purpose. He wanted to heal those memories of the enemy’s fire by allowing Peter to warm himself over the fire of a friend who is closer than a brother.
Jesus said, “Simon Peter, do you love me more than these?”
“Oh, yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus replied, “Feed my lambs.” Meaning, “Give my young disciples (lambs) nourishment from the Word.”
Jesus asked him again, “Simon, do you love me?”
Simon said, “Lord, you know that I love you. You know what kind of love I have for you—because you know me.”
Jesus replied, “Tend my sheep.” Meaning to shepherd or pastor. Notice that Jesus is not speaking of lambs, but sheep. Given the best of nourishment, the disciples mature into the ability to receive training and direction.
But now Jesus looked at Simon and asked him, “Simon, son of Jonah. Do you love me? Do you even love me as a friend?”
And Peter’s heart wrenched; he was grieved. “Oh, Jesus, do you even doubt my reciprocal love for you?” Then, “Lord, you know all things, including my love for you.”
Now came the calling, “Feed my sheep.” The Lord called Simon Peter from being a fisher of men to a teacher of sheep. “Nourish and love them; nourish and love them.”
I found it interesting that Peter professed his love for Jesus three times—exactly as many times as he had denied Him. Within those confessions came the warmth of healing and restoration. From the restoration came the call: feed my sheep.
Jesus then probed into the exact place from where Peter’s fear originated:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.” (John 21:18–19)
Jesus was saying, “I know your fear; I know that you have been fearing the cross all along.”
Peter was martyred on a cross, and Jesus told him about it before it ever happened. Historians say that when Peter was crucified, he refused to die in the same manner as his Lord; he cried, “I am not worthy.” He was crucified upside-down.
Talk about somebody moving right in and taking the fear. If someone came and told me that I would be crucified, my first thought would be, I’ll never go to another foreign country.
But Jesus brought Peter to such complete deliverance that he was willing to go anyway. It didn’t matter to him, because suddenly he saw that the cross was a place of victory: first the cross, then the crown. I believe Jesus was saying, “Peter, you won’t be fearful, because I’ll be there to take you right out of it.”
Not only did Jesus completely restore Peter from his fear of the cross, not only did He forgive all of his faults, but He brought him back into the ministry he was called to fulfill.
In Acts 2:14, he was a changed man: “Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, ‘Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.’ ”
He preached a sermon that wouldn’t stop! They could have killed him, but he didn’t care; instead, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” was the message that he preached, and 3,000 men were converted that day! Is that the Peter of fear? No, that is the Peter who was restored by the hand of the Lord Himself.
Be a Simon and dismiss fear when it comes your way. Be a hearing one. Jesus did not come to give you fear; He came to deliver you from it. Psalm 112:7 speaks of the fearless man: “He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”
Be bold! Let your flesh and your fear die at the cross and start living in the resurrection life of Jesus Christ. Jesus took Peter right to the cross and delivered him from fear; He wants you to receive your deliverance at the cross also. First the cross, then the crown.
This post has been excerpted and adapted from Freedom from Bondages (Marilyn Hickey Ministries, 2021).
Tomorrow, all across the United States, we will be celebrating freedom. Today, I want to talk about freedom, but not freedom from a tyrannical government. Rather, I want to discuss freedom from fear—a tyrannical weapon of Satan.
Sixty-three times in the Bible, it says “Fear not.” God told Joshua five times to be strong and courageous. Why? Because he must have needed to hear it! And to Joshua’s credit, he believed it, and he took the promised land in less than seven years! I don’t believe it’s a sin to become afraid, but I do think it is a sin to stay afraid. Joshua 1:9 states: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go.”
One key way to overcome fear can be found in the verse preceding this:
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (v. 8)
When I first began studying Joshua 1:8, I was troubled and thought, Lord, how can I possibly meditate on your Word day and night? You must not understand my schedule.
The Lord began dealing with me and said, “Did you know that Joshua was responsible for the food, water, clothing, and spiritual and military guidance for over a million people?”
Think about that.
While God provided everything while the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, after they crossed the Jordan River and entered the promised land, this became Joshua’s responsibility.
I’ve discovered that God has a lot to say about meditating, and it is exciting what meditating on His Word can accomplish. Meditation on the Word changes lives—in fact, it is life. If you meditate on the Word day and night, you’ll implement the key element of being blessed, prosperous, and successful in every area of your life!
Since this month’s theme is hope with an emphasis on optimism, and our key verse is Joshua 1:9, I’ve provided one meditation below for each day this week, including today. It’s time to overcome unhealthy fears and become strong and courageous!
Day #1: In Him
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
We can conquer because He has conquered. The footprints of Jesus are on everything, including you. Everything you meet; He has already met.
The greatest outpouring of God’s miracle-working power was unleashed at the moment Jesus was raised from the dead—when life conquered death. Jesus gives that same resurrection power to believers when they are baptized with the Holy Spirit (see Acts 1:8).
The Christian life is not a struggle but a surrender. It is receiving and appropriating what He has purchased for us with His death and resurrection and being aware that we are in Him. Knowledge and formula are not enough; we must be in Him.
Each day, look to Him and say, “I’m wholly yours, Lord: my spirit, my soul, and my body are yours.” If one day brings a defeat or a disappointment, use it as an opportunity to gain another victory that will glorify the Lord. After a while, this way of life becomes a habit. It’s not a struggle; instead, it’s spontaneous living! Then you will realize you are every bit whole in Him—spirit, soul, and body. You are no longer living life under the sun. Now, you are living life under the Son! This is God’s victorious lifestyle for those who are wholly committed to Him.
Day #2: Dead-end Fears
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:12-13
The first words Jesus spoke after the resurrection were, “Do not be afraid” (Matthew 28:10). The road that leads to fear is a dead-end road. Sometimes, fear can be constructive and beneficial. When I was growing up, my parents set rules for us in our home. If we broke them, there were consequences. I had a healthy fear of disobeying them. Likewise, we can have a healthy fear of God. But when fear becomes our master, it produces dead-end results.
Fear comes into your life when you focus more on your circumstances than on Jesus. It will torment your soul and your body. The spirit of fear will move into all areas of your life, hindering you and hurting you, and when you give in to them, they will grow until they become bondages. When a fear is not surrendered to God, it will become a phobia that will envelop your mind and make you paranoid. Many diseases are rooted in fear.
Jesus fashioned us for faith and confidence. When you are afraid, be honest with the Lord. Tell Him that you’re afraid, that you don’t want to be afraid, because you know it’s the opposite of faith, and that you’re sorry for it. Then repent, saying, “Lord, I’m going to trust you to take care of me in this matter.” Saturate yourself in God’s love. He cares for you and wants to take away your fears. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
Day #3: Sweet Surrender
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27
When we know Jesus as “the way,” we find truth and life (see John 14:6). Jesus fulfills our total being. He is the way for our will, the truth for our intellect, and the life for our emotions. Life surrendered to Him is abundant life.
Surrender helps us overcome fear. Jesus struggled in great agony when faced with the cross. He knew He could walk away from it all, leave you and me behind. However, He conquered His fear and surrendered to His Father, saying, “Not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). How was Jesus able to face the cross? He surrendered to God because the Father’s will was best.
Surrendering our fears, bitterness, and grief to God is the only way to overcome them. When we are bitter, we must examine the reasons why we feel that way so we can get rid of it by laying it at Jesus’s feet. If we don’t allow grief to follow its natural course—taking our pain to the Lord and allowing ourselves to feel it—we will become angry and discontented. We must turn to God so that He can move in our situations and heal our attitudes and emotions.
Finally, surrendering to God can help us defeat depression in our lives. Depression causes us to feel burdened, gloomy, and sad. We can fight sadness and depression with the joy of the Lord. Cast your burdens on Him and begin to worship Him. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Rejoicing in the Lord will elevate you above the situation and enable you to maintain a childlike faith.
Sometimes, surrender is needed hour by hour or minute by minute. But I have found that surrendering to Him brings great peace in the midst of difficult situations.
Day #4: Dealing with Reality
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” John 15:16
There are three ways we can approach life: 1) we do all we can to escape reality; 2) we constantly rebel against reality; 3) we hand over our realities to Jesus let Him develop us.
Too often, people turn to alcohol, narcotics, food, or other addictions to escape the weights of life. As they keep facing the same harsh realities, they soon discover that they can’t escape them. Christ came to set us free in our realities, not from our realities.
In real life, I am a woman. In our culture, there are certain negative stereotypes associated with my gender: lack of intelligence, lack of leadership abilities, lack of toughness, and many other falsehoods, which can limit me if I let them. But I have found the exact opposite to be true in Christ. God did not make a mistake when He made woman. I have experienced abundant favor. I have lived in His ability to develop daily miracles; and He can do the same for you!
Day #5: Kingdom Reality
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9
Did Jesus ignore reality? The raising of Jairus’s daughter is told in three of the four Gospels (see Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43; and Luke 8:40-56). Jairus asked Jesus to heal his dying daughter. In Matthew’s account, as Jesus and His disciples traveled to Jairus’s house, a sick woman in the crowd reach out and touched Jesus’s cloak, and she received healing for an issue of blood. While Jesus was talking to the woman, Jairus’s servants arrived with news that his daughter had died. Was Jesus unable to juggle the two realities? If so, why was He sidetracked with the case of this woman?
Jesus knew that there was a higher set of facts at play—kingdom facts. There is always a higher level of reality than what we see before us. Jesus lived in two worlds—earth and heaven. This story demonstrates how choosing the higher way of heaven can affect the lower way of earth.
When Jesus came into the ruler’s (Jairus’s) house, and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd wailing, He said to them, “Make room, for the girl is not dead, but sleeping.” And they ridiculed Him. But when the crowd was put outside, He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. Matthew 9:23-25
Jairus’s daughter lived, showing us that the kingdom of God runs on faith. Is anything impossible with God?
Day #6: Living for Today
Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. (1 Peter 5:7 AMPC)
When we try to live for yesterday, today, and tomorrow all at the same time, we get confused. If you try to go in three directions, you will get nothing but dizzy. Be a today person. If you carry all the worries of the past, present, and future, they will weigh you down and overwhelm you. Jesus says in Matthew 6:34:
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Jesus wants you to live in the present. When you try to live in the past and future, you cut off the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
Often, I have wasted hours worrying about some event in the future, and, when that time came, the things I feared never occurred. What a waste of time that was! Cast your cares on Him and enjoy every good thing today!
Day #7: The Ongoing Work of Christ
Which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all [for in that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete, and Who fills everything everywhere with Himself]. (Ephesians 1:23 AMPC)
In the opening chapter of Acts, Luke gives an account “of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen” (Acts 1:1-2). But Jesus was not finished with His apostles. He was sending them the Holy Spirit who would empower them to do all that they were called to do (see John 14:26).
To me, this suggests that as long as I have breath, Jesus is still working in me. Christ in us is a constant hope of glory (see Colossians 1:27). Jesus came to give us abundant life (see John 10:10). As I have gotten older, I have found new abundances.
Revelation 21:5 says, “Behold, I make all things new.” Jesus makes new beginnings. What He begins in your life, He wants to continue. Keep your eyes open for daily miracle. He is “the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 22:13).
This post has been excerpted and adapted from 30 Meditations on Jesus (Whitaker House, 2014).