Are you entering this new year with any fear? Self-doubt? What is it for you today that you are giving way too much landscape too between your two ears that is robbing you from experiencing the power of God’s peace and presence in your life and leadership?
What gift do you want to bring to the manger? Jesus wants it all: your fears, desires, concerns, joys, sorrows, ambitions, and attention. What are you gripping onto today, thinking that as long as you have control over it you are safe and secure?
We have linked our sense of safety to our need for control. Our freedom in Christ comes from our ability to let go, surrender and trust. Counterfeit control is a term coined by Pastor Mike Todd. Transformation Church in OK, Counterfeit means something made in the exact imitation of something valuable or important with the intention to deceive or defraud. Satan has been using this trickery since the garden: “Go ahead, take a bite. That will give you control, make you like God.” Satan makes cheap imitations of safety and control. Taking what is good, creating a counterfeit and using it to deceive people.
Remember Jesus words in John 10:10: The Devil comes to kill, steal and destroy. What is good in your life that Satan has used or perhaps is using for evil? Your faith in Jesus is good. Fear is the ramification of a faith crises. What in your life is a cheap imitation of safety? Your bank account? Your job title? A certain relationship that gives you a sense of power? How you look in the mirror? We all have the innate desire to be in control, because when we feel we are in control of a situation we feel safe when in reality, our only place of safety lies in our relationship with God the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. We were never meant to be in control.
Our purpose is clear: “For we are the handiwork of God created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God has prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). We are invited in Luke 10:27 to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. Why? So that God can fill us with His love which results in faith and love for those around us. “Therefore, we are ambassadors of Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20). As we refocus our attention on Jesus and His control in our life, faith arises within which of us and casts out fear.
As we enter the new year, what do you want to release your grip on for control in order to make more time to sit at Jesus’ feet and hear His still small voice within you saying: “This is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21).
Let’s take a look at two different responses to the calling of God from the first chapter of Luke. Zechariah encountered Gabriel and his first response was fear followed by doubt. He did not let God lead him into the plan, he needed more assurance in order to have faith in God’s promise. He wanted assurance and safety. He placed his focus on earthly limitations rather than on God’s power. Gabriel’s response: “I am Gabriel, I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and tell you this good news. And now you will be silent until the day this comes to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time” (Luke1:19). Notice Gabriel responded by declaring first and foremost His identity in God followed by the consequence for Zachariah’s lack of faith – he would be mute until the promise is fulfilled. God will often use silence to strengthen our faith.
Gabriel then visits Mary in Luke 1:26-38 and says, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Mary’s response was one of curiosity, acceptance, and faith: “How can this be, since I am a virgin…I am the Lord’s servant may your word to me be fulfilled.” Mary models for us a powerful invitation to remain curious and accepting of God’s promises in our life. When God’s Word declares a promise, believe that it will be fulfilled. Choose faith over fear and the need for assurance. Mary allowed God to be God, surrendering her future into His hands knowing that “The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
As you reflect on Zechariah’s and Mary’s response to God’s calling on their life which story do you relate to the most? How do you want to respond to God’s call on your life as you enter the new year? Fear and the wanting assurance are linked to our need for control. Remember the One who calls you is faithful. Whatever He calls you to He will give you the grace to do it. Again, we were never meant to be in control. God has us here to fulfill His good works through us.
Action Step: Write down 5 things that are most important to you. Those things that on your death bed you might say you wished you did more of: time with God, attention to my family, trusting God? Check in weekly and ask: “Are my behaviors aligning with what I value most?”