Fear has a Voice, but We don’t have to Listen to it!

Fear has a Voice, but We don’t have to Listen to it!

You may have heard “Fear not!” is said 365 times in the Bible–one for every day of the year.

Fear is a stronghold. A stronghold is like an iceberg–the sea of our thoughts and emotions hide the majority of it. The ten percent we show to those around us is no indication of its depth and size.

Fear talks to us and for us, too! I hear fear in people when they say things like, “I’m not doing that!”, “I can’t do it!”, or “I won’t go there!”

God does not want us to live our life in fear. He wants us to be free!

For God did not give us a spirit of fear,

but of power and of love and a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7

Why does this verse mention a sound mind? Because fear causes us to imagine everything bad that can happen to us. It messes with our thoughts and can make us irrational.

God gave us the power over fear through the Holy Spirit and the saving power of His blood. Jesus’ blood releases us from the bondage strongholds keep us in.

I admit, I have my share of strongholds. I am learning to be free by the truth of God’s Word and His Holy Spirit, reminding me of the lies of the deceiver.

Satan desires to keep us captive. But we need to come out of our cell.

Satan desires to keep us captive. But we need to come out of our cell. #ThisSideofHeaven #Fear #Getoutofthatcell

[Jesus will] deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

Hebrews 2:15 ESV

Did you know Fear has friends? Their names are Control and Untrust. All three usually go together. Fear loves to control everyone and everything around it.

Fear does not trust.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

1 John 4:18 ESV

In order for us to truly love, we must not fear. Fear equals distrust. Love is trusting.

Trusting God for answers, for wisdom, for healing. for light in our darkness and confusion. When we trust God, we show how much we love Him.

Of course, I am not saying we have to trust everyone and if we don’t we have fear. That’s not what I mean.

In order for us to truly love, we must not fear. #ThisSideofHeaven #Fear #Love

Fear says, “Don’t trust anyone.”

Fear says, “I can only depend upon myself.”

When we think we are the only ones we can depend on or the only ones who have the answers, we are not trusting God. Our Father puts people into our lives to teach us.

We must be teachable. God lets nothing go to waste. If He can’t use it for our good, then it won’t happen.

Trust God with your day to day life–with your fears–your desire to control–and untrust.

He wants to free you.

The Gift of Gab

The Gift of Gab

A few years ago, I had some genetic testing done through 23 and Me, a branch of ancestry.com. 

In addition to finding out I have a few enzymes missing, I found out I am 87% Irish/English. My great-grandfather came from Ireland to the United States, but I had no idea I had that much Irish in me. 

Throughout my adulthood, I have been told by complete strangers how “Irish” I look. I have even been asked where I’m from because of my “accent.” When I said Ohio, they laughed and said, “No, it’s not an Ohio accent I hear.” 

I have never been to Ireland, but I am dying to go! 

I read more about Ireland and things to do there. One interesting article I read had to do with the Blarney Stone found near the top of an old castle. You must hang upside down and kiss it to receive the gift of gab. 

The gift of gab is defined as the ability to speak with eloquence and wit. 

I need to kiss that rock! 

 The Irish American Mom, whose website you can visit here, quotes John O’Connor Power, an Irish politician. 

“Blarney is something more than mere flattery. 

It is flattery sweetened by humor and flavored by wit. 

Those who mix with Irish folk have many 

examples of it in their everyday experience” 

~ John O’Connor Power (1846 – 1919) 

I really love to talk but write, uh, not so much. 

I want to speak with eloquence and wit. But, I’m not sure that is me. 

Sometimes I write like I talk, too. Ugh! 

So, when God called me to write I felt obligated to explain to Him that I was NOT a writer. He seemed unconvinced. 

I wrote and taught a Bible study twelve years ago on Revelation. It was okay and my class liked it. Soon after that I felt led to write a Bible study on the book of Ephesians. I included Spiritual warfare since it is covered in Ephesians 6 and I titled it The Few, the Humble, the Church; A Study in the Book of Ephesians and Spiritual Warfare. (You can purchase yours at the bottom of my web site.) 

I self-published it eleven years ago. Since I was inexperienced in marketing, I did my best to get it into churches and bookstores. I got very discouraged when it proved to be difficult. 

I knew I was to keep writing, but I really had no interest in it. I avoided it for many years until 2017. 

The Lord led me through the book of Hebrews during my quiet time. When I wanted to move past it, I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to write a Bible study on it. 

didn’t want to! 

“Who will read it?” I asked. “What’s the purpose?” 

He replied, “I can’t do anything with it if you don’t write it.” 

“Okay, fine!”  

It has been quite a ride writing this study. I have learned so much from Him and His Word. I began small Bible studies as well as attending writers conferences, and I have recently become a chapter president for a critique group called Word Weavers, International. My sister was an immense help reading and working through it as I wrote each chapter. 

Its title is: The Jewels of Hebrews 

Each chapter is named after a beautiful gemstone, like amethyst, ruby, sapphire, emerald, plus many more. #JewelsOfHebrews #ThisSideOfHeaven #StephaniePavlantos

Each chapter is named after a beautiful gemstone like, like amethyst, ruby, emerald, oe sapphire, plus many more.

You will also STUDY the Bible! 

I take you through the Torah, or Law, the Prophets, and the New Testament as we study Hebrews. It is a mixture of reflection, teaching, and fill-in. I pray God will use it to set people free and reveal His Son to everyone who reads it.  

Here is the “back cover” for the book: 

You are a treasure hunter on a mission to find hidden jewels. Your guide Stephanie Pavlantos has gone before you and now joins you on an expedition to unearth a hidden gem from each chapter of Hebrews. When you open your beloved Bible and dive deep into the book, you will find a rare diamond, ruby, sapphire, and other gems. You will explore the rich history of the early church and the connections the book of Hebrews has to the Old Testament. The supremacy of Yeshua and his royalty will be revealed as the Jewels of Hebrews are discovered one chapter at a time. Learn about these jewels and the meaning of their color as you find relatable and practical applications for modern times. Get ready for a life-changing journey! Yeshua is eager to reveal the Jewels of Hebrews to you and crown you his prince or princess. 

Jewels of Hebrews

It is not published, yetThat’s my next step. 

But someday, Lord willing, I will be able to gab with you through my book while you read and study God’s Word. 

I may not be the most eloquent or witty, but my desire is to teach you about Yeshua through my studies. 

Be on the lookout for it! 

Breathe

Breathe

As I was driving home this weekend from my sister’s house, I saw a sign on the overpass with the words, “Are you breathing?”

Obviously this sign referred to the senseless death of George Floyd.

But, as I thought about it, I also realized that Covid-19 took away the breath of many people. As we all know this virus attacks the lungs, leaving its victims unable to perform the most basic of needs–breathing.

The verse that immediately came to me was:

Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

Genesis 2:7 ESV

What sets us apart from every other created animal? God Himself breathed into us.

EVERY human being gets their life from God.

But what do we do with that breath? Scripture tells us…

Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
    for false witnesses have risen against me,
    and they 
breathe out violence.

Psalm 27:12 ESV

Our country has seen so much violence over the last few weeks. Unfortunately, there are those who “breath out violence.” Anger and bitterness can breed this kind of aggression.

Forgiveness can put an end to it…even undeserved forgiveness.

Satan wishes to divide us….that is not God’s will. Yet, here we are living in a divided world in many ways, a divided country with divided families.

In John 20, Jesus met with his disciples after He rose from the grave. After He showed them His hands and feet, He said, “Peace be with you…”

…He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

John 20:22 ESV

As Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on them, He spoke of forgiveness. We need filled with the Holy Spirit in order to live the life God wants us to and be able to give forgiveness as well.

\What are we to do with this breath the LORD gave to us?

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!

Psalm 150:6 ESV

I saw many videos of people praising God instead of the hateful, hurtful speech and actions of some. Where there is praise, the Spirit of God resides. God is the answer for this world.

We are broken.

Only Jesus can fix what is broken…

He gave us His Word that we may know Him and know His ways. It says in 2 Timothy:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

2 Timothy 3:16 ESV

God breathed out His Word as Jesus breathed out His Spirit on those He breathed life into. His Word with the power of the Holy Spirit can change the hardest or most wounded heart. HIs Word will teach us His ways and His will, it shows us our faults and sin, it corrects us and judges our intentions, and it trains us to be righteous and mature.

God breathed out His Word as Jesus breathed out His Spirit on those He breathed life into. #Breathe #ThisSideOfHeaven #Forgiveness

Without God’s Word, we will not grow and mature. How can we understand His Word?

But it is the spirit in a man and the breath of the All-powerful that gives him understanding.

Job 32:8 New Life Version

Take a deep breath…because you can.

Let the Spirit of God heal our wounds as we forgive. Let us love our neighbors as ourselves.

A Sign and Seal

A Sign and Seal

This past weekend was Pentecost or the Feast of Shavuot. It is celebrated fifty days after Passover and the death of Jesus/Yeshua.

In the Christian church we think of it as the day the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples waiting in the upper room. But the first Pentecost occurred for a different reason.

Exodus 19:17-20 tells us the first Pentecost was when God came to Mt. Sinai to meet with the people. God called Moses to the top of the mountain so He could give him the Law as we know it. It is also thought Moses received the Oral Law or Talmud at this time as well.

Exodus 20:18 says, “Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid[a and trembled, and they stood far off.”

Can you imagine walking towards a smoking, trembling mountain with thunder, lightning, and fire coming from it as the God of the Universe descends upon it because He wants you to hear His conversation with Moses?

“Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder…” Exodus 19:19

Moses apparently understood thunder.

Exodus 20:18 is describing the same scene, and according to what I have learned, the original Hebrew states this verse as “The people saw the voices and fires…” It’s an interesting way to think of this, but as God spoke they saw His voice as fire and the people were afraid. 

How does that compare to Acts 2?

In the New Testament Pentecost, we read Yeshua gave the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire to His disciples. The people who had gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Weeks heard  the disciples speaking to them in their own languages and were puzzled, amazed, or amused.

It may not have been thunder or fire coming from their mouths, but it was still impressive.

The very first Pentecost, God spoke to everyone through Moses.

After Yeshua ascended, God spoke through His Holy Spirit through fishermen, tax collectors, shepherds, and other people.

God still speaks through His Holy Spirit! #ThisSideofHeaven #ASignandaSeal

In Exodus 32, Moses came down the mountain to find the people worshipping a golden calf. In verses 25-29, Moses instructed the Levites to strike down those who built and worshipped this idol. Three-thousand people died on that [Pentecost]…

Fast forward to Acts 2:41 and we read on that Pentecost, three-thousand people were added to the numbers of those who believed in Yeshua.

God does not work on a linear timeline, but a circular one. Everything comes back to redemption.

I miscarried my first baby in late September 1995. The following year on September 23, 1996, I brought my twins home from the hospital. That date was not lost on me. I knew God was redeeming the loss we experienced.

He is so kind. He loves us like He loves His Son.

Nearly everything God did in the Old Testament reflected Yeshua.

As the Israelites wandered in the wilderness, God had Moses number each tribe and gave them a specific order when they camped and traveled according to Numbers 1 and 2. As they camped, all twelve tribes sat around the tabernacle, in four groups of three, while the Levites circled the tabernacle in the center of all the other tribes.

Most drawings I have seen of this looked like a mess of tents and camps around the tabernacle.

biblical-tabernacle-reproducti

But, using the numbered group of tribes as “legs” you see a pattern in the orderly arrangement of this camp. 

They were arranged with the tribes of Dan, Asher, and Naphtali grouped together with 157, 600 north of the tabernacle.

The tribes of Reuben, Simeon, and Gad were south of the tabernacle numbering 151, 450. These two groups are close in size giving them equal “legs.”

Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun were east of the tabernacle with 186, 400 – the longest leg.

And finally, west of the tabernacle numbering 108,100 were Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamín, with the shortest leg. When you lay the tribes out as they would have looked from the top of a mountain, you get a shape like this:

 

https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Tabernacle-Typology-Part-3

In the Hebrew alphabet, the last letter is a tav, which at the time of Moses was shaped like a cross or a lowercase “t.” Their alphabet letters have meanings unlike ours. According to the Talmud, the tav means truth. It is also the first letter in the word Torah. https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/137287/jewish/Tav.htm

Along with truth, the tav means a sign, seal, or mark.

Deuteronomy 6:4-8 is called the Shema. God told us His commands (Torah) should be on our hearts. It should be taught to our children and spoken about in our homes and wherever we go.

“You shall bind [my commands] as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.”

Deuteronomy 6:8

The Torah was a sign or mark of following the Lord.

In the New Testament, we read that we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a sign of our faith in Yeshua as born again believers.

Ephesians 1:13 tells us, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit

From the beginning of time as we know it, God has orchestrated signs, wonders, and miracles to show Himself to us, lastly sending His Son as a sign of His love for us and desire for relationship.

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,  but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.  He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.

Hebrews 1:1-3

When Yeshua said, “I am the Alpha and Omega,” in Hebrew it would have been, “I am the Aleph and the Tav. Aleph being the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet meaning Leader or First. This letter is used to represent God. Essentially what Yeshua was saying is, “I am God, and I am the sign of the covenant.”

This week’s blog post was written by my friend, Diane Virginia who is a wonderful story-teller. Her blog address and information will follow her post. Please take the time to visit her blog. 

Recently, while I was eating at a local burger restaurant, I felt an inner nudge to visit a clothing store after I was done eating. I did so. As I arrived there, I saw a homeless man I recognized named Mike.

I got caught up between two car mirrors. That sure did catch Mike’s attention. He laughed, and we struck up a conversation and he asked for money.

“I can’t give you money, but I’ll be glad to buy you a meal. Do you like hamburgers?” I pointed toward the restaurant.

“Can I get a hot dog? Or two?”

“Sure. Let’s go get you two hot dogs. And we’ll get you fries, a drink, and ice cream.”

“I don’t want no ice cream. It’s too cold fer that.”

“I understand,” I said, but then I wondered if I really understood the bone-chilling cold this gentle soul faced every winter.

We started walking.

As I stepped inside the burger joint, Mike hovered at the door.

“It’s okay. Please… come inside.”

“Okay, but I’s gonna eat outside.”

As is often the case, a homeless person is so used to being shamed he/she often will not enter a building.

Mike entered and cautiously looked around. He was probably wondering if he would get kicked out.

The server looked at me, puzzled, “Back so soon? Did you decide to get ice cream?”

“My friend is hungry. Mike, tell the lady what you want.”

“I wants a hot dog.”

“Make that two please…”

Mike was modest with his order. To drink, he asked for a cup of water without ice. He didn’t order fries because he had chips in his backpack that were “not too old to eat.” The entire order cost less than five dollars.

While we were waiting, Mike talked. I knew for sure this was God’s heavenly assignment so I listened to the still small voice within, knowing my Lord would guide our conversation. Mike shared his former employment as a painter. But that had been fifteen years prior. He had been unable to get disability even though he’d applied several times.

“Mike,” I said, “perhaps you haven’t been able to get disability because you can do something.”

“That’s what they says, too.”

“And?”

“I can’t climb ladders no more.”

“So, what’s stopping you from trying something new?”

“I drinks.”

“I care about you so tell it to me straight. Do you want help to overcome that?”

By this time, Mike’s hot dogs had arrived. He could have fled, but instead, he bowed his head like he was determining whether I was a safe sounding board. Mike rested his hands open on to the bar top. I gently touched his wrist. Mike grasped my hand, and with sincerity that melted my heart, and bore his soul.

“Alls I got is my drinking. Some days it’s lonely, an’ a good drink takes the edge off. Lotsa days, it’s cold ‘specially when the winds a knockin’ at ye collar like it was last night. If I takes to the bottle, I don’t feel it as bad. So, I don’t want to give up my booze. We’s friends, that bottle an’ I. We’s old friends.”

“Would you believe me if I said you can have a new beginning?”

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature;

old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

II Corinthians 5:17 KJV

“Is ye talkin’ bout Him? I likes Him, see?” Mike rolled up his sleeve and revealed a cross tattoo.

“Yes. Jesus has a good plan for you. And He is just the man to help you get unstuck. When was the last time you visited Him at church?”

“I walk past a church from where I sleep in the woods. I wants to go in. I think ‘bouts that a lot! Purty much always… But I don’t think they wants the likes of me.” Mike glanced at his attire and frowned.

I could sense Mike’s quandary. He could go to the house of God in worn clothes while he watched church members show up in their Sunday best. He knew he’d be the oddball.

“Blessed be thou, O LORD; teach me thy statutes!”

Psalm 119:12 RSV

There it was again rearing its ugly head—a creature named, “Shame” had browbeaten this gentleman once too often. I was ready to act.

I knew exactly why I was there. The same Spirit who had nudged me to drop by the store Mike was sitting at was also prompting Mike to attend a certain church, and my guess was there was a preacher who was being prompted to deliver a sermon that would be just what Mike needed to hear. I was pretty certain congregants would be sensing urges to welcome this gentle soul into their fold.

God was converging forces, in an attempt to rescue a soul who had wandered for over fifteen years.

“Listen to me, okay? You go to that church and you hold your head high. God loves you just as much as He loves the preacher at the pulpit and the people who attend. You are welcome there. They are most likely waiting for you to visit. So, this Sunday, go up to the church steps and go inside. Even if you’ve been drinking, go in anyway, okay? When you go inside, listen to the message, because I’m sure the pastor has written it just for you.”

“Is ye sure?”

“Yes. Do you believe me?”

“I hope so….”

“Hold onto that hope.”

I knew Mike would answer my next question as candidly as he answered the others.

“Mike, will you go to that church this Sunday?”

Mike put his hand to his chin.

“Yes. Imna go…”

“Can I pray with you? Because I’m pretty sure your new beginning will start when you walk through those church doors.”

“And ye shall seek me, and ye shall find me,

when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

And I will be found of you, saith the LORD.”

Isaiah 29:13 KJV

Mike removed his cap and grasped my hands before I asked him to. I felt the cold of his skin and the slenderness of his fingers clinging to my hands as if holding mine tightly would make his world straighten. I prayed and thanked Mike for allowing me to share part of his day. I hoped that because he relied on the generosity of others to provide meals, this also afforded him numerous opportunities to hear about how deep and wide the love of God truly is… I knew Mike’s new beginning would start when he chose to hold tightly to his Savior’s nail-scarred hands.

Father God, help me to hear Your inner voice. Fill me with love for those You send my way. Help me to help those who have lost their way, to discover the good plan You have for them. Help me to not be too busy to respond to Your Spirit-nudges, and to accept Your heavenly assignments.

Diane Virginia Cunio is the author of The Kiss of Peace: An Intimate Exploration into Song of Solomon (awaiting publication). She is passionate about sharing Beloved Jesus’ divine love for you, His bride, as allegorically portrayed in the vignette, Song of Solomon.

She has developed the model for motion-activated musical prayer-stations for use in the garden retreat, themed to the places you as Beloved’s bride travel to in Song of Solomon.

Diane is a regular contributor for Christian Broadcasting Network. She has written for Faith Beyond Fear, Pentecostal Publishing House, The Secret Place, and other ministries.

To schedule Diane as a speaker, please contact her via her website: Stories and Devotions Inspired by the Vine. You may find her on Facebook or contact her via email at email@vinewords.net.