Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Take Courage!

Once again, I just have to post about what I learned at Bible study...

In tonight's video, Beth Moore discussed Esther's transformation from fearful self-preservation to brave determination. When Mordecai asked her to go before the king and plead for her people, Esther initially replied that the penalty for approaching the king without being summoned was death. But when he suggested that she had come to her position for such a time as this, she realized that she had to fulfill her destiny. "If I perish, I perish," she said.

Here is how Esther came to that point of courage, and what this means to us:
  1. She made a choice. Esther had to overcome herself and her fears before she could take part in God's plan.

    -We can protect ourselves right out of our calling.
    -We are the biggest obstacle to fulfilling our purpose.
    -We may be one brave decision away from the most important turn in our path.
    -We have to look at our lives and ask, "Am I headed in the direction I want to end up?"

  2. Esther faced the fear. She did this by acknowledging the worst possible outcome ("if I perish") and deciding there was something else much more important at stake than her own life.

    -The enemy figures out what we fear most, and he threatens us over and over with our worst fears. If he can keep us paralyzed with fear, he'll succeed in making us suffer from something THAT WILL PROBABLY NEVER HAPPEN! He doesn't even have to bring calamity, just the fear of it.
    -The most frequent command in the Bible is, "Don't be afraid!"
    -We must stop trusting God to not let bad things happen to us! Instead, we must learn to simply trust God.
    -We cherish fear so closely that we can't shed it. And until we can learn to live without fear, we are hindered from following Jesus.
    -There is no denial in courage. We don't need to deny that we have cancer or have lost our job or ____. We just need to deny that these situations have authority over us.

  3. Esther took the courage she was offered. She asked the Jews in the city of Susa to fast and pray for her, and she trusted that God would take care of her.

    -God will always offer us the courage of his presence. He will never leave us or forsake us.
    -"Courage" comes from the Latin word "cor," which means "heart." A heart that knows it is loved does not fear, for "perfect love casts out fear." (1 John 4:18).
    -When Jesus came to the disciples on the water, he said, "Take courage. It is I." (Matthew 14:27) He wants us to take courage, also. The courage is there, because Jesus is there, but we have to take it.

The Fear of Death
As I have shared previously, God delivered me from my intense fear of death last year, but I was still thrilled by the truths that Beth shared about death. She told us that:
  • When Jesus embraced death and destroyed the Devil's power over death, he freed all of us who were in slavery to our fear of death (Hebrews 2:14).
  • Jesus has come to give us life, more abundantly (John 10:10). We can't really live if we're constantly in fear of death (or fear of anything).
  • We don't need to fear death because we've already been dead! We were dead in our sins, but now we are alive in Christ, and we have eternal life. (Colossians 2:13, Ephesians 2:6, Galatians 2:20)

The Revelation
The theme of tonight's session was: "It's tough being a woman in the tight fist of fear." For the third time, I felt the study could have been written specifically for me. I've been that woman! But as Beth said, I'm sick of being afraid. I'm tired of worrying that I might lose my job, lose the house, lose a child, lose my husband, lose my health. I'm tired of being afraid to take risks or even make new friends.

Tonight I have hope that I can be free of those fears, and I'm ecstatic about that. Here's the most important thing I learned tonight, something so simple and so profound...

Beth told us how she had been set free from a fear that her husband would fall in love with someone else. She said God told her to go ahead and think about the worst case scenario. What would happen? She invited us to think about the same thing:

If _________________ , then __________________ .

What came to Beth's mind when she thought through this was that she'd be devastated, crushed. She would lie on the floor with a Bible over her face. God kept asking, "Then what?" When she got to the end of all the terrible possibilities, she finally said, "I would go back into ministry. I would be mad, but I would go on." That's when she realized that no matter what might happen to her, God would be with her, and she would survive.

She told us to fill in that if/then sentence like this:

If __(your fear here)__________ , then God will take care of me.

If I can learn to believe that, I don't have to fear anything!

The Virtuous Woman
Just when I thought I knew everything there was to know about the "virtuous woman," or "the wife of noble character" as she is called in the NIV translation, Beth taught me something I didn't know about this beloved memory passage.

In Proverbs 31:10, the word translated "virtuous" or "noble" is the same word used in Judges 6:12 to describe Gideon as a mighty man of valor. This means the virtuous woman is also the courageous woman! From now on, when I meditate on that passage, I am going to believe that that description applies to me. I don't have to be Sarah The Fearful any longer.

I'll conclude by repeating a question that Beth asked of us tonight:

CAN YOU IMAGINE LIVING WITHOUT FEAR?

I intend to find out what that's like.

1 comment:

Jara said...

Sarah, also from the words of Beth..."Lets live like we're never gonna die!" I think I'll start today!:)

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