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Experiencing Peace: With God You Can Live Beyond Fearby Women of Faith
Find the peace and hope that awaits you once you overcome your fears. During times of uncertainty, people are looking for answers to their fears as they see things like finances, relationships, and hope crumble around them. But God doesn’t intend for His people to live in fear. He wants us to overcoSee more details below
Find the peace and hope that awaits you once you overcome your fears. During times of uncertainty, people are looking for answers to their fears as they see things like finances, relationships, and hope crumble around them. But God doesn’t intend for His people to live in fear. He wants us to overco
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EXPERIENCING PEACEWith God, You Can Live Beyond Fear
By Margaret Feinberg
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2010 Margaret Feinberg
All right reserved.
Chapter OneLove Always Wins
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." John 13:34
In Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, Kenneth Bailey tells the story of the late Hussein bin Talal, who served as the king of Jordan. Bailey first heard the following story while visiting Lebanon. Later, a high-ranking American intelligence officer who was working in Jordan at the time of the incident confirmed it.
King Hussein was informed about a potential uprising of his army officers. More than a hundred officers were planning to overthrow his leadership and take over the nation. The king's faithful informant said the officers were meeting in a nearby area, conspiring against him. The king decided to confront the group. Assuming he would want to bomb the area instantaneously, his loyal army began preparations. Instead, the king decided to attend the meeting. After refusing military assistance, the king asked for a small helicopter; he stepped onboard, accompanied by only his pilot.
As they approached the area where the meeting was taking place, the king instructed his pilot to fly away immediately if he should hear gunfire upon the king's exiting the helicopter. No matter what, under that condition, he was to leave the king and not look back. The pilot tried to refuse the order, arguing that he would never leave without his king; but bin Talal was insistent. The king disembarked and, to everyone's complete surprise, he walked straight into the room where the rebels were gathered. No one could believe it! They wondered why he hadn't sent his officers to attack and arrest those in the secret gathering.
The king began to plead with those who had gathered against him. He explained that he didn't want a division caused that would lead to civil war and ultimately tear the nation apart. He didn't want to see thousands of innocent people die. Instead, bin Talal pleaded that they kill him and quickly end the turmoil. That way, only one man would die. After several long minutes of silence, the plotters ran to the king, kissed his hands and feet, and pledged their everlasting allegiance to him. The entire nation and all of its citizens were saved through an act of courageous leadership, love, and compassion. The king cared for his people so much that he was willing to give up his own life to save them.
On that fateful day, the king had a choice. He could have destroyed his enemies from the safety of his own palace by sending a few hundred men to stamp out the rebellion. Instead, the king chose to go himself. He chose to confront his enemies and the fear that accompanied the loss of his life and kingdom. He chose to show them grace because he loved the people he ruled, guarded, and protected. In the process, he proved his worthiness to the rebels and changed their hearts, lives, and futures. The courage the king displayed was not only remarkable; it was motivated by love.
This kind of love has the potential to transform our lives and the lives of those we know forever.
1. How do you think you would have responded to the situation if you were the king? How do you think you would have responded to the situation if you were one of the rebels? 2. What similarities do you see between the king in this story and 2. God?
The king in this story wasn't afraid to confront his enemies. Rather than use military force, he desired a peaceful relationship with the group planning the uprising. He proved his love for his people by not allowing the innocent to be killed. Instead, the king was willing to sacrifice himself.
3. Read 1 John 4:16-18 below. Underline or circle the word "love" in the following passage. In what ways is love foundational to your faith? "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."
This passage makes it clear that fear and love cannot coexist. By having an unhealthy fear of God, we lessen our ability to love Him and experience His love. This directly affects our ability to love others.
4. Does unhealthy fear affect the relationships in your life? Fill in the 4. chart below accordingly. Explain your response:
Relationship Effect of Fear on Your Relationship
God Spouse or Significant Other Family Members Friends Coworkers Enemies
5. Now consider the same chart. How does love affect the relationships 5. in your life? Fill in the chart below accordingly. Explain your responses.
Relationship Effect of Love on Your Relationship
God Spouse or Significant Other Family Members Friends Coworkers Enemies
The Greek word for love, as used in 1 John 4:16-18, is agape. Its origin lies in the love of God, not in human motivation. This same word is translated as love in John 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 13.
6. Reflecting on the relationships in the charts above, how can you more fully show a fearless, agape-type love to others? Fear can stand in the way of many things. In one of his letters to Timothy, Paul reminded this young leader to not be fearful. Some Bible scholars believe that Paul's words of encouragement to Timothy indicate that Timothy was probably allowing his timidity to overpower his ministry gifts.
7. Read 2 Timothy 1:7. According to this verse, what three things has God given us? 8. How can you use each of these to overcome any remaining fear in your life?
Fear can intimidate us, pin us into a corner, and keep us from being all God created us to be. The good news is, love always conquers fear!
The Spirit we receive by accepting Christ as our Savior is not one of fear. Read Romans 8:15. In what ways have you been a slave to fear? How does knowing God as Father set you free from any fear that hinders you? Are there any fears that you've been hanging on to or that have been hanging on to you? If so, prayerfully consider how God wants to set you free.
Ponder and Pray
The opening Scripture for this lesson is John 13:34: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." Do you find it difficult to love everyone as God has loved us? What are some hindrances that keep you from loving others?
Choose to love. Think of someone you know who intimidates you or with whom you don't naturally connect. Try to show over-the-top kindness to that person this week. Demonstrate God's love in a practical and generous way. In what ways did your actions affect your attitude toward this person? Share your journey with your community.
Chapter TwoSaying Good-bye to Unhealthy Fear
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God ..." Ephesians 2:8
Sometimes, it's easy to think of living beyond fear as living with no fear at all! But all of us should have a healthy amount of fear. A good dose of fear will help ensure you don't get too close to the edge of a cliff or speed along a windy road too fast. Without a little bit of fear, we may be tempted to do some pretty silly things. So how do you know if you have a healthy dose of fear? Take the following Quick! What's Your Reaction? quiz to find out.
Quick! What's Your Reaction?
1. You're taking a walk along a bike path in your neighborhood. You look down and suddenly see a snake right in front of you. Your reaction is to: A. Stop dead in your tracks and let out a small scream. B. Take a step back and decide if the snake is poisonous before continuing your walk. C. Scoop the snake up, throw it in your bag, and take it home as a new pet for your three-year-old.
2. You're in bed sleeping. Suddenly, in the middle of the night, you wake up to an unfamiliar sound in your house. Then you hear it again. You're not sure what it is. Your reaction is to: A. Say a prayer for God's protection and reach for the light switch. B. Place your hand on the phone in case you need to quickly call 911. C. Roll over and go back to sleep, not giving it a second thought. 3. You're walking back to your car alone after a late-night movie. Suddenly, you notice someone behind you in the distance who seems to be walking in your direction, or possibly following you. Your reaction is to: A. Run to your car as fast as you can, lock all the doors, and drive away as quickly as possible. B. Look for an open store nearby so you can pop in and enjoy the safety of being around others. C. Walk leisurely to your car and not bother looking back.
If you answered mostly As and Bs, then you have a healthy dose of fear in your life that is meant to protect and guard you. Your response to potentially threatening situations will help you make wise decisions when confronted with danger.
If you answered mostly Cs, then you are a brave one! But don't let all that bravado go to your head. You need a healthy dose of fear in order to make wise decisions and protect yourself.
1. Did you answer mostly As and Bs or Cs to the Quick! What's Your Reaction? quiz? Are there any areas in your life where you need an extra dose of healthy fear? 2. At what point do you think fear can become unhealthy? 3. Have you ever experienced unhealthy or paralyzing fear in your life? If so, describe.
No matter what challenges we may face in life, God invites us to place our trust in Him. Hebrews 11 (fondly referred to as the "Hall of Faith" chapter of the Bible) describes how men and women from the Old Testament lived out their faith despite great hardships and challenges. The author of Hebrews began this chapter with a very unique definition of "faith."
4. Read Hebrews 11:1-2. What are some things in your life that you hope for but don't see?
Hebrews 11 contains extensive descriptions of those who remained faithful to God as they struggled through hardships. As you read this chapter in Hebrews, notice the number of times the phrase "by faith" is repeated.
5. In the chart below, connect each Hebrews verse to the correct Old Testament Scripture. Be sure to read both Scriptures.
Scripture found in Hebrews 11
3 4 5 7 11 17 23 31
Genesis 5:24 Genesis 1:1 Joshua 2:3-4 Genesis 22:2 Genesis 6:9 Exodus 2:1-2 Genesis 4:4 Genesis 18:10
The number of times "by faith" is mentioned in Hebrews 11 is ________. Why do you think faith was so important to each of these individuals' journeys?
These men and women of faith went through numerous troubles and trials yet remained faithful.
6. Fill in each box with the name of the person who is being described in each of the following verses from Hebrews 11.
Scripture found in Who is being described? Hebrews 11
4 5 7 11 17 23 31
7. Which of these people is most encouraging to your own faith journey? Why? 8. After reflecting on some of the people listed in the "Hall of Faith," read Hebrews 11:39-40. How do these verses challenge you to increase your trust and faith in God?
Every day, we are given opportunities to live in fear or move forward in faith. Sometimes those occur at work, or church, or even in our own homes. When we choose to love others and walk by faith, we can begin moving forward into the adventure God has for us.
Read Matthew 17:14-20. Why was Jesus concerned with the disciples' lack of faith? Do you think God can do great things with small portions of faith? Why or why not? Have you seen God do great things with small portions of faith in your own life? Explain.
Ponder and Pray
This chapter's opening Scripture is Ephesians 2:8: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God ..." What is the relationship between grace and faith in this verse? In what ways have you experienced the grace of God in a tangible way?
Dedicate this week to an in-depth study of one of the stories described in Hebrews 11. Choose one of the people-maybe the one with whom you are least familiar-and read his or her story in the Old Testament. Where do you see this person's faithfulness toward God? How does the story of their faith journey challenge your own spiritual journey?
Chapter ThreeEmbracing God's Peace
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27
If you had to think about your anxiety level right now, on a scale of 1 to 100, how would you rate yourself ? Would you give yourself a low score (1 to 10)? A middle score (somewhere in the 50s)? A high score (90 to 100)? Or would you tip the scale and give yourself a 100plus score?
Isn't it amazing how many different ways we can become distracted and distanced from the peace of God in our lives? Sometimes we feel fear. Other times we're affected by worry. Sometimes we experience a low level of anxiety. Other times it's more of a panic. And sometimes there's just this unmistakable sense of dread.
The number of things that can make us squeamish, fearful, and hesitant can seem overwhelming. Need proof? A Gallup survey asked Americans what scares them the most. The top answers just might surprise you!
Top Fears of Americans:
1. Snakes 2. Public speaking 3. Heights 4. Being closed in a small space 5. Spiders and insects 6. Needles and getting shots 7. Mice 8. Flying on an airplane 9. Dogs 10. Thunder and lightning 11. Crowds 12. Going to the doctor 13. The dark
The irony is, while snakes, public speaking, and heights ranked as top fears, most of us don't find ourselves on top of a cliff giving a speech to a snake. Rather, we find ourselves in more everyday situations that challenge, stretch, and test our resolve to embrace God's peace. We may experience loss-the loss of a job, a friend, a loved one. We may experience change-a change in location, outlook, or life stage. Or we may experience an unexpected storm in life that challenges our faith, our hope, and our ability to trust God.
Yet, no matter what fear, anxiety, or worry we may be facing, God invites us to embrace His peace. God is the source of certainty in every uncertain moment, and God is the one who provides calm in every storm of life.
1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you usually respond when threatened with a storm in your life? Calm 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 Stress 2. What is the strongest storm you've ever weathered? Did you. experience the peace of God in the midst of that storm? If so, explain in the space below.
We aren't the only ones to pass through rough storms. One day, a group of disciples (most of whom were professional fishermen) sailed across the Sea of Galilee with Jesus. When they stepped aboard the boat that day, they never expected to witness a miracle that would change their lives and understanding of Jesus' power.
Matthew 8:23-27 reads: "Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, 'Lord, save us! We're going to drown!' He replied, 'You of little faith, why are you so afraid?' Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, 'What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!'"
3. What important lesson did Jesus' disciples learn that day?
In Matthew 8:23-27, a subtle but significant shift takes place in the passage. In verse 23, Matthew described Jesus' followers as disciples, but in verse 27, he referred to them as men.
4. What do you think caused Matthew to change his reference to Jesus' followers from "disciples" to "men"?
Jesus is far more than the disciples imagined. Jesus is able to calm storms with just a word. By placing our trust in Him, we can weather any storm; but He must be our foundation.
In Matthew 5-7, Jesus delivered what is famously known as the Sermon on the Mount, in which He explained what it means to be a follower of God. He touched on issues ranging from finances and personal relationships to handling stress and caring for those in need. His teachings are not only revolutionary; they're also life-giving. At the conclusion of His sermon, He compared each of those who heard His teaching to a wise or foolish man.
5. Read Matthew 7:24-27. When you think about your everyday life and the teachings of Jesus, do you think you're living more like a wise man or a foolish man? Explain.
Excerpted from EXPERIENCING PEACE by Margaret Feinberg Copyright © 2010 by Margaret Feinberg. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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