"I am afraid."  "I am scared to death."  "(Insert obscenity often screamed out when someone scares you!)"

These are phrases I must admit I hear come out of my own mouth more often that I would like.  Fear or uncertainty is one thing that has been a constant struggle for me for a very long time.  Many things frighten me - severe weather, not falling in love, taking chances, falling in love, the words - "we need to talk," cancer, failure, and the unknown - only to name a few.  As you can see fear is a big part of my life.  I don't think I have ever really liked the fact that I am so easily frightened, but I never really grasped that this might be a big deal to how my life goes and the story of my life for God.

Not until recently that is...

For the past 13ish weeks I have been working on a Bible study named How to Overcome Fear and Discouragement by Kay Arthur - a title I must admit that I really just read and let sink in.  The only thing that really interested me was that it covered the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther.  The nerd in me adored the history involved in those books, but I never would have guessed that this study would penetrate to a level of a deep  stronghold in my life.

These books give a detailed account of the things the enemy will do to keep you afraid and discouraged.  Get this - the devil will go to some extreme lengths to keep you down and inactive.  Gossip, slander, physical threats - even spending money are all tactics.  Right along side of these accounts of the tactics are the detailed accounts of men and women standing confident in their God to do what He has "stirred in their heart" or "put in their heart" to do.  I have read 2 Timothy 1:7 many times, but after doing this study it has really come alive to me -
For God has not given us a  spirit of timidity but of power and love and discipline.

Isn't it amazing - God doesn't want us to be afraid.  He wants to have a spirit of power, love, and discipline.  Now I know that you are wondering where can this girl who has been so very fearful of everything under the sun find a spirit of power, love, and discipline.  Well, God gives us that spirit, and I must admit I am still processing how to receive that spirit on a day-to-day, minute-to-minute basis.  The past few days have been quite challenging for me on this end as things have not really went the way I want them to go.  In comes the second part of that title - discouragement.  If I am not afraid at the time, then chances are I am discouraged.  Discouragement is something I am so quite familiar with - we are practically family at this point.  That came to play the past few days as well.  I just love hearing that someone thinks I can't handle something, don't you?  But that is exactly how Satan wants us to feel - afraid to take that step of faith and that really we can't do what God expects us to do.    

Fear and discouragement can keep us sidelined - on the bench for too much of the game.  God has a plan and a purpose that He probably put into place decades before we were even thought of, and anytime spent on the bench is time that I and perhaps you are not bringing glory to God.  Now that just makes me angry - not sure if that is the case with you.  Anytime I feel like someone other than God is trying to control me and tell me I can't, I become much more determined to do exactly what it is that God has "put into my heart" and what the skeptics tell me I can't do.

So, I suppose this blog is a reminder for me of the things I have learned and a push to apply these truths in my life.  Each day I must claim the promise that God gives me a spirit of power and love and discipline.  I hope that you do the same, and that we bring glory to God with our lives.

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