Saturday, April 25, 2015

Fear Not in the Storms



A friend recently posted on Facebook that FEAR has two meanings: Forget Everything And Run, or Face Everything And Rise. To these I added my own anagram, Faith Endures All Resistance!

When the storms of life come pounding on our front door, we may be tempted to sneak out the back way and flee, not realizing that we are putting ourselves in even worse danger. But Jesus Christ allows us to confront and stand fast in the storms (1 Corinthians 16:13; Philippians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:7-8), sailing above the turmoil to heavenly places with Him (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6). He is our Rock and Tower in Whom we have refuge (2 Samuel 22:3; Psalm 18:20, for His strength is made perfect in our weakness; His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9); and His perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).

This is true only if we have placed our faith in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), turned away from our sins (Acts 3:19; 26:20; 2 Timothy 2:25), and asked Him into our heart (Acts 8:37; Romans 10:9-10). Then we are saved by His grace through our faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), which allows us to do all things and endure all trials through Christ Who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). Without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5), but with Him, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

The Bible has many excellent examples of faith overcoming fear in the storm. By faith, Peter left his ship in the storm and walked on the water to meet Jesus, sinking only when his gaze left his Lord and focused instead on the billowing waves below. Yet even in Peter's failure to keep the faith, Jesus rescued him (Matthew 14:24-32), and He will do the same for us when our faith falters (Matthew 17:20; Mark 9:24).

The disciples caught in the storm, with Jesus seemingly asleep at the helm, panicked as the sea was about to engulf them. They cried out to Jesus, not so much for salvation as to berate Him for not caring about them! Yet He rose above it all, calmly telling the winds to be still, bringing peace not only to the waves but to the hearts of His disciples who seemingly had lost faith (Mark 4:37-41).

Praise God that He knows all our weaknesses, fears and doubts, yet loves, saves and protects us anyway! (Psalm 8:4; 139) He allows us to go through such storms, brought on by Satan who is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2), because they strengthen our faith in and reliance on Him. Time after time God proves Himself faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13), yet our sin nature still questions, doubts, and fears.

The apostle Paul was no stranger to storms, both figuratively and literally, having been nearly drowned, as well as shipwrecked three times (2 Corinthians 11:25). Paul, like the rest of us, struggled with the weaknesses of his flesh and sin nature (Romans 7:14-24) to the point that he knew he had to die daily (1 Corinthians 15:31) to these if God were to use him for His glory.

Yet God faithfully worked all these disasters together for good (Romans 8:28)  to use Paul to spread the Gospel throughout Gentile nations (Romans 1:13-16). When Paul was arrested in Caesarea, he used his Roman citizenship to request an audience before Caesar himself in Rome, and Festus granted it (Acts 25).

God can use even pagans to accomplish his purpose, and here He used Festus to book Paul’s passage to Rome, the center of the empire and a key mission field where Paul would have a great opportunity to witness (Acts 27-1-2). True, he would have to travel as a prisoner, and endure storms, shipwreck, and other dangers along the way, but God was the unseen Captain charting the voyage.

Evidently through his good character, behavior, and Christian witness, Paul had sufficiently impressed Julius, his prison guard, that he could be trusted, so Julius let Paul visit his friends in Sidon when they landed there (Acts 27-3). What a welcome, yet unexpected, blessing from God, extended to Paul while he was a prisoner!

Contrary winds as they left Sidon changed their course to Myra in Lycia. Yet had it not been for this detour, they may not have immediately found a ship going to Italy once they landed (Acts 27-4-6). God allowed the storm to direct their path to work things out with His perfect timing, reminding us that sometimes the storms of life do the same for us by keeping us out of even deeper trouble.

Another storm led them to the pleasant harbor of Fair Havens. Despite Paul’s warning, they stayed there so long that another storm was brewing, and it would be dangerous sailing (Acts 27-7-9). We enjoy the peaceful times when all seems to be well, but sometimes these unchallenging circumstances allow us to get lazy and linger too long in leisure rather than pressing on with the journey God has set for us.

King David fell into that trap when he took some time off after battle to relax at home instead of training with the troops. His idleness led to lust as he allowed himself to gaze at beautiful Bathsheba while she was bathing, then his lust resulted in adultery, deception and ultimately murder (2 Samuel 11:1-17). Far better to undergo the hard times God has planned for our own good than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (Hebrews 11:25) and suffer the consequences (Romans 6:23; 7:5; James 1:15).

God Himself had told Paul that sailing so late from Fair Havens would damage the cargo and ship and even the risk the lives of the sailors and prisoners. But the guard of the prisoners did not believe Paul and instead believed the ship’s captain who said it was fine to sail, most likely ignoring the.financial motive of the captain who wanted to book passengers on his ship (Acts 27-10-11).

How often do we make a similar mistake, listening to advice from our worldly friends instead of Godly counsel inspired by the Holy Spirit? God graciously speaks to us through such advice from fellow believers (Proverbs 27:17; Psalm 37:30), as well as through prayer and His Word (Psalm 119:105), and we ignore His guidance at our own peril.

Following the world, like sin itself, can bring pleasure for a season before it turns deadly (Romans 12:2). As they embarked from Fair Havens, they had a gentle wind and good sailing at first, but a storm brewed and then raged so that they could not even steer the ship and had to go wherever the waves carried them (Acts 27-12-14). Sometimes God lets us go through storms that are so severe that we have to give up control and trust Him completely.

They washed ashore on the island of Clauda where they tried to repair the ship, but there was quicksand on the island and they had to set sail again in a hurry to avoid getting stuck (Acts 27-16-17). When we fail to heed God’s counsel, it seems that dangers attack us from all sides and force hasty retreat (Proverbs 22:3,12).

The next day the storm was so bad that the sailors had to toss out some of the cargo to make the ship lighter so it wouldn’t sink. On the third day the storm battered the ship so violently that they even had to start tearing down and throwing out some of the ship’s rigging (Acts 27-18-19). When God lets us go through storms, it makes us realize that we have to let go of some things we thought were important but are actually weighing us down, and focus only on Him (Matthew 6:19-21; Hebrews 12:1). Thank God that He is all we need!

Not only was the storm terrible, but they had not even seen the sun or stars for many days because of the clouds. The sky gets darkest just before dawn in our spiritual life as well as in the natural universe, and everyone in the ship, except for Paul, had lost hope (Acts 27-20). But Jesus is the bright Morning Star (Revelation 22:16), and He had a plan.

God used this storm to give Paul a chance to witness to the others on board. He had tried to warn them, because God had told him about the danger ahead, but they had not listened. Now they were so desperate that he definitely had their attention! As the saying goes, there are no atheists in foxholes, and God may allow the unsaved to reach the brink of death before they take Him seriously (Psalm 40:2).

An angel of God had told Paul that no one would die in the storm, and that God’s mission for Paul to witness to Caesar would be fulfilled. Paul told his fellow passengers of his faith and God’s faithfulness. It is not easy to witness, especially in a life-threatening situation with strangers and even enemies, but God gave Paul courage to do it, and He will do the same for us if we ask Him.

God had allowed the sailors to lose their cargo and suffer damage to the ship, but all their lives would be saved (Acts 27-21-24). If they believed the good news about Jesus that Paul shared with them, they would live forever, so they lost worldly possessions but gained the most precious treasure of eternal salvation! (Matthew 13:46; Mark 8:35)

If we look back on our own lives, we will see many times when storms strengthened our faith and gave us unexpected opportunities to witness, just as they did for Paul. God used these storms to enlarge Paul’s mission field where he could spread the Gospel of grace, as we shall see next week!

© 2015 Laurie Collett
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56 comments:

  1. Hi Laurie,
    I am so glad that your post is full of encouragement not to fear Satan and his lies. Ever since I have put my trust in my Lord Jesus the word FEAR has stood for me for False Evidence Appearing Real. How many times the enemy tries to bring fearsome thoughts into our carnal minds when we face hard trials, but we must remember that he was a liar from the beginning. Even in the trial I am going through, and have been going through for years, I do not go by what I see, but by what my Lord tells me, praise His lovely name. We are told to take every thought captive and bring it into obedience to Christ, (the word of God).. God's perfect love will cast out that fear when we allow the Holy Spirit to be the only Spirit that we believe and put our trust in as the truth is revealed to us through that word. Job said in Job ch. 3 v. 25 that what he feared had come upon him, so we must learn from that not to fear.
    God bless you Laurie

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    1. Hi Brenda,
      I love your anagram -- False Evidence Appearing Real! Satan is the master deceiver and father of all lies because he can appear as an angel of light, even though he brings only darkness from the pit. May we stand upon the precious promises of our Lord and Savior, for He cannot lie, and He alone is faithful and true! May we allow His perfect love to cast out all fear.
      Thank you as always for your encouragement and your insights, and may God bless you and your ministry.
      Love in Christ,
      Laurie

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  2. Laurie,
    Thank you for the reminder of how God can use storms to strengthen our faith if we let Him instead of letting fear get the upper hand. Blessings to you :-)

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    1. Amen, Dolly! Storms can bring us closer to Him as we come to the end of ourselves. Letting go to Him truly is a blessed release.
      God bless you,
      Laurie

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  3. Laurie, there is wisdom and encouragement here. Thank you for your scriptural reminders. Linking with you this weekend at Sunday Stillness.

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    1. Thank you so much, Michele, for your visit and kind words! May you have a blessed week in Him,
      Laurie

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  4. Dear Laurie,
    Once you engage in a bit of travel writing - wow! Anything to do with travel and my spirit stirs. But the kind of experiences Paul went through highlights the wonderful mercy God not only had on Paul, but to all the crew - the sort of hard-boiled, rough and tumble men whose language is peppered with coarse language and smut, like what I had to go through when I was a teenager.
    It was a vivid contrast to today's form of travel, in airlines and luxury cruise liners. I recall one church leader warning us not to go on any of the Christian tours on offer, such as "Following the footsteps of Paul" - as the customer might as well ask for his money back! Why? Because Paul did not fly in a comfortable airplane, nor stayed in 5-star hotels, nor did he sail in a cruise liner to cross the Mediterranean.
    Indeed, even with my own backpacking experience , the adventures Paul had experienced makes my own travels look tame, yet what faith the apostle had in the risen Christ.
    Again, it boils down to this, we all have a choice between a superhighway or a narrow, stony path. Not doubt, for me, to choose the superhighway may have been the easy option, but it wouldn't have been wise.
    Again, an inspiring post. God bless.

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    1. Dear Frank,
      Excellent point -- the road less traveled is often the wiser choice for our life path, even if it is inconvenient, uncomfortable, and even dangerous. Jesus said that the way to eternal life is narrow, but the way to destruction is broad and many enter there.
      Thank you so much for sharing your insights based on your travels and other life experiences. You are a blessing!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  5. Thanks Laurie! This is a beautiful, biblical lesson for me!

    http://understandwhatyouread.blogspot.nl/

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    1. Thanks so much, Ariella! I'm so glad you enjoyed the post!
      May you have a blessed week in Him,
      Laurie

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  6. Faith over fear...that's what we purpose towards and God's grace and multiple kindnesses are ever at the ready for those moments when we might falter.

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    1. Amen, Sheila! Praise God that His compassion and mercies are new every morning, and that He is faithful to forgive our sins when we confess them. Thanks for your comment and visit, and many blessings to you!
      Laurie

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  7. Laurie, great study here. God has been showing me in the last months just how much fear had been a motivator and presence in my life. Little by little I'm giving it up and watching Him work. Such a good Father! Thanks (and thank you for coming by my site as well). :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Jason! Praise God that His perfect love overcomes all fear. It is difficult for us to give up our fear, but He blesses us beyond measure when we have faith in His perfect plan. Praise Him for being such a loving, gracious, wise Father!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  8. This is a beautiful Faith Study. I appreciate the FEAR anagrams and the examples of victory over the storm of life.
    Have a great week Laurie.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Ifeoma! Praise God for His faithfulness even when we are fearful. May you have a blessed week in Him,
      Laurie

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  9. Thank you for such a lovely encouragement post, the storms may be strong, but our Faith in Him will guide us through it, and when things get even worst that is when he will carry us to safety.
    Have a very nice week!

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    1. Amen, Jay! We can have faith in His infinite love, perfect wisdom, mercy and grace. That faith allows us to have the peace that passes all understanding no matter how severe the storm.
      Thanks for your lovely comment and God bless!
      Laurie

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  10. This blog post was so rich in Scripture to learn from, to encourage us, to spur us on, and to rest in God's sovereignty.

    I appreciated your insights so much!

    Thank you so much for sharing!

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    1. Thanks so much, Karen! Praise God that you were blessed by the Scripture in this post! I am blessed to hear it was helpful to you. Thank God that He is still and always will be on His throne!
      May you have a blessed week in Him,
      Laurie

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  11. Laurie, thanks so much for stopping by my post and leaving a sweet comment! I love your post, especially this quote, "Praise God that He knows all our weaknesses, fears and doubts, yet loves, saves and protects us anyway!" I heard an acrostic for FEAR--False Evidence Appearing Real, so true ❤️

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    1. Thanks, Beth! Love the acrostic! Nothing we do takes God by surprise -- and He always has the perfect solution, if we trust Him!
      Many blessings to you and your ministry!
      Laurie

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  12. Wow--so many great verses here to help us with whatever phase of fear we're in. Thanks for putting this together and for sharing it at Do Not Depart! Lots of potential memory verses in this single post. Thanks, Laurie.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa, for hosting & for your lovely comment! Many of the verses about fear are great "power verses" to memorize so that we have them in our hearts to encourage us and strengthen our faith when most needed.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  13. This is so encouraging . . . I love the way that you weaved Scripture through your post--the word of God is truly powerful and sufficient! Loved this--"When the storms of life come pounding on our front door, we may be tempted to sneak out the back way and flee, not realizing that we are putting ourselves in even worse danger. But Jesus Christ allows us to confront and stand fast in the storms (1 Corinthians 16:13; Philippians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:7-8), sailing above the turmoil to heavenly places with Him (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6). He is our Rock and Tower in Whom we have refuge (2 Samuel 22:3; Psalm 18:20, for His strength is made perfect in our weakness; His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9); and His perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18)."

    Thank you for sharing these words; the Lord bless you, Laurie :-).

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    1. Dear Rebekah,
      I am so blessed to hear that you enjoyed the post! The Word of God truly is a powerful weapon in God's armor that protects us against Satan's attacks. Thank you so much for your encouraging words, and may God richly bless you and yours!
      Laurie

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  14. The fear of the unknown is often terror, especially because we like to know what is happening. I like all your examples of the word FEAR. The captain of the ship should have listened to Paul but in the captain's mind Paul was a no-body. It is often the no-bodies in Christ's Kingdom can boldly look fear in the face and march forward. Thank you for sharing your encouraging post with us here at Tell me a Story.

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    1. Great point, Hazel -- the unknown is often more terrifying than a fearsome yet known adversary. Yet His perfect love casts out all fear, when we have faith in His infinite love, wisdom and power. Thank you for your lovely comment and for hosting.
      Many blessings to you,
      Laurie

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  15. So thankful for an anchor that holds in Christ! I liked this post and so true how we need to keep our eyes on Jesus, especially in the hard times. He never leaves us nor forsakes us! Thanks for being a new follower of my blog recently! Take care and have a blessed week!

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    1. Amen, Becky! Christ is our anchor, and He will never leave us or forsake us! Thanks for your sweet comment and God bless,
      Laurie

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  16. Laurie, this is what helps me to press through the most difficult storms:
    "God faithfully worked all these disasters together for good (Romans 8:28)"

    Yes! Yes! and Amen! Thank you so much for linking at Motivate and Rejuvenate Mondays!

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    1. So true, Letetia -- Romans 28 is a precious promise of God that all believers in His Son can claim even in the most severe storms. Thank you for hosting and for your encouraging comment!
      Love in Christ,
      Laurie

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  17. While faith initially comes by hearing the Word of God as Romans 10;17 tells us, James 2:

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    1. sorry, James 2 tells us it is the actions based on that faith that results in the perfection, the growth and strengthening of our faith.

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    2. Great point, Donald. He saved each of us for a purpose, and we cannot discover and fulfill that purpose without works.
      Thanks as always for sharing your insights and God bless,
      Laurie

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  18. bLESSINGS AND LOVE MY FRIEND.

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    1. Dear Denise,
      So blessed to hear from you and so glad you are back to blogging. I tried to leave a comment on your blog but I kept getting diverted to a musical script. Sorry to hear about your health problems and playing for complete and fast healing, especially for your toe.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  19. I've been thinking and praying a lot about the shield of faith, so how appropriate for me to read about faith in storms! Thank you for your wisdom and insight.

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    1. Hi Jen,
      I'm blessed to hear that this post was helpful to you! God's timing is always perfect. Thank you for your lovely words of encouragement.
      May you have a blessed week in Him,
      Laurie

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  20. Laurie,

    Thank you for the reminder of how faith in God helps us to rise above our fear...I needed this :-) It looks like the comment I left before didn't take so I hope this one works.

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    1. Hi Dolly,
      Thank you so much for your second comment! Your first one is here too and both are a blessing! I'm thrilled to hear that the post was helpful to you. Praise God that His perfect love casts out all fear!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  21. Hi Dolly,
    Thank you so much for your second comment! Your first one is here too and both are a blessing! I'm thrilled to hear that the post was helpful to you. Praise God that His perfect love casts out all fear!
    God bless,
    Laurie

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  22. Thank you for sharing God's hope and inspiration with the Thursday Blog Hop!

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    1. Thanks, Pam, for your lovely and encouraging comment & for hosting! God bless,
      Laurie

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  23. Next to you at Live Free...When our sails are set to catch the wind of God, I am thankful He sees to it that we arrive at the destination He planned. He will fulfill His purposes and plans for us! Me? I want to be that friend who is full of godly wisdom and counsel and to be an encouragement to others.

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    1. Hi Jeannie,
      Thanks so much for your lovely comment! May we always set our sails to catch the mighty rushing wind of His Spirit Who will safely guide us! Surely you are an encourager, like Barnabas, and you have blessed my day!
      Love in Christ,
      Laurie

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  24. Hi Laurie - I found your blog through the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop at Katherine's Corner. I love your blog and your encouraging posts! We also have an online Christian women's magazine, Ruby for Women, that you might be interested in. We would like to invite you to submit some of your articles or blog posts for publication in our autumn issue of the Ruby magazine. You might also be interested in the Ruby Blogger Team, where we feature posts by our members on the Ruby for Women blog. Please let me know if you might be interested in participating in the ministry of Ruby for Women.

    And thank you for linking up this week for the Thursday Blog Hop at Katherine's Corner. Hope to see you again next week at the hop! Nina @ Ruby for Women and Vintage Mama's Cottage

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    1. Hi Nina,
      Thank you so much for your lovely comment and invitation! I would be honored to participate in Ruby for Women -- please let me know what would be involved -- length, deadline, topics, etc. , and I'm sure we can get together on this. You have a delightful magazine and blog.
      May you have a blessed weekend in Him,
      Laurie

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  25. What a great post and such an encouragement to those going through life's storms and how we can witness God's saving grace through these times. Thank you for sharing at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

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    1. Thanks so much, Terri, for your sweet comment and for hosting! Praise God for His saving grace!
      God bless you,
      Laurie

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  26. Dear Laurie, This was beautiful and encouraging! I like the analogy of needing to dump things off the ship to save our lives. How very true that is! Sometimes we want to hold on to things but it brings us down. Thank you for sharing on the Art of Home-Making Mondays. It is wonderful to have you! :)

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    1. Dear Jes,
      I'm so blessed to hear you enjoyed the post! May we give our burdens and weights to Jesus and lay them at the foot of His cross so we can run the race He has set before us.
      Thank you so much for hosting and for your encouraging comment!
      Love in Christ,
      Laurie

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  27. As I am engulfed by a season of fear currently, I have to remind myself daily, sometimes hourly, that God is using this time of hardship to teach me, refine me, and draw me closer to Him. Thank you for your beautiful words of encouragement.

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    1. Dear Michelle,
      Praying for you, for the peace that passes all understanding, thanks to His perfect love that casts out all fear. Praise God that He uses these times of testing and trials to strengthen our faith, draw us closer to Himself, and mold us more into the image of His Son.
      Thank you for your lovely comment, and God bless,
      Laurie

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  28. Those are fun anagrams for FEAR. Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday!
    Tina

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    1. Thanks, Tina, I'm glad you enjoyed the anagrams! Thanks for hosting and may you have a blessed weekend!
      Laurie

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