Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

Theme: Fear Intersects Faith

Volume 3 No. 175 October 24, 2013

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Isaiah 41:10 - Fear Not, I am With You
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Apostolic Bull: Mandatory Fasting On Oct 24-26, 2013

Moran Mor Igantius Zakka I, Iwas, Patriarch of the Holy See of Antioch and All The East and The Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church has issued an apostolic Bull No: E213/13 asking all faithful for a Mandatory Fasting for the Freedom of the Two Abducted Bishops and Safety for the people of Sadad, Syria from Thursday, October 24, 2013 to Saturday, October 26, 2103 ending with Holy Eucharist on Sunday, October 27, 2013. ...

Bible Readings for This Sunday (October 27)

Bible Readings For the Seventh Sunday After Sleebo Feast
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_7th_sunday-after-sleebo.htm

Sermons for This Sunday (October 27)

Sermons for the Seventh Sunday After Sleebo
http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_7th-sunday-after-Sleebo-feast.htm

FEATURED ARTICLES

Foreword

We are nothing in front of the almighty God. It was God's grace that permits us to stand and partake on his life-giving body and blood that was shed for us in Calvary for the remission of our sins. It was His grace that earned us the son-ship of God. We love, worship, and fear God. Love of God and fear of God are interconnected. ...

Fear was an important companion before and during the time of Christ. The angel, when appeared to Mary, Shepherds, etc. prefaced it by saying, "Fear Not." Israelites were in fear of God's punishment for their sins. ...

Featured: Fear Not, I Am with You, I Am Your God

"Let not your hearts be troubled, BELIEVE IN GOD." Believe in God! Trust God! Let God be your God! Your help. Your strength. He will uphold you with his righteous right hand. ...

When Faith Meets Fear – A Savior You Can Trust

We are people who fear, and God knows it very well. We are afraid of failures. We have fear of the future, the unhealthy fear that takes our focus away from God's purpose for our life. Fear takes away our trust in God. That is why the Bible is filled with so many divine promises starting with the command, "Fear not". ..

Love and Fear and Love

That love and fear must be together is certainly paradoxical. It is not easy and it may not feel natural to some to experience both love and fear toward someone, toward God. Yet St. Isaac says fear is necessary lest we be poisoned by self confidence. Ten parts love to five parts fear. That's St. Isaac's formula. Fear need never overcome us. Our experience of God's love is twice as strong. Ten parts love. Nevertheless, for the sake of our salvation in this variable world, so that we do not become over confident or puffed up due to our occasional experiences of success or prosperity, five parts fear is also necessary. ...

Turning Fear Into Faith

That ugly and omnipresent thorn called worry! Since it's a chronic, recurrent condition, it's been called the "Worry Disease." I think worry must be Satan's best weapon against man. Our minds are incessantly preoccupied with our daily cares. During peace-filled, "quiet time" moments of prayer and reflection we confidently profess our faith to God and feel His peace. Yet, this is so often immediately forgotten, preempted by the next worrisome preoccupation. ...

When Fear Paralyzes Your Faith

Let's ask God to show us fears that paralyze our faith and keep us from living confidently in His peace and freedom. And then let's give God a chance to come though for us as we courageously walk through our fears, holding God's hand and trusting His heart to lead, protect, and preserve us each step of the way. ...

You Can Break the Stronghold of Fear

Unless you have experienced the chilling choke hold of fear, you cannot begin to imagine the terror of its presence or the horror of its possible return. No matter what you have been through - or are going through - Jesus wants to set you free (read Isaiah 61:1-3). The Lord has a specific plan for your freedom. He knows exactly what you need, when you need it, and where it should come from. And when Jesus does the work, He does it right (John 8:36). ...

"With Fear of God with Faith and Love… "

When we realize Christ is there in the Chalice waiting for us, there is only one response - Love. Love for God, a burning desire for Him to be the centre of our life. By the invitation of the Church, we are called to partake and become one with Him. Not only are we summoned to join with Christ, but also to become one with all who share in this Cup. This is true love, to become part of each other. ..

Why Are You So Afraid?

Simply knowing God is faithful and trustworthy is not enough. We must enact this belief in our daily lives. Faith is like a muscle-when it is neglected it atrophies, but when used consistently it builds up and becomes stronger. We continually need to exercise faith to conquer and overpower fear. The Lord told His children through Isaiah, "If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all" (Isaiah 7:9). ..

What Has Fear to Do With Faith?

It would appear we have a fear of looking weak and even a fear of our God looking weak. But does our Almighty God truly need us to defend his honor to the world? Jesus took on weakness in many ways. He came to shame the powerful by using the weak (1 Corinthians 1:27) - and he started with himself. Jesus was serious about reminding people that choices have consequences (Matthew 23:12).

Jesus Is All I Need

It is a paradox of our faith that we are most likely to meet Jesus when we least expect to see him. First the cross, then the resurrection. Is Jesus all you need? Yes, but you'll never know for sure until Jesus is all you have. And when Jesus is all you have, to your utter surprise you'll discover that everything you always heard is true. Jesus is all you need. ...

GENERAL INTEREST ARTICLES

Health: Physician Shares Tips for Surviving the 'Easy Life'

Multiple studies indicate the multidimensional nature of healthy habits, including one recently published by the Lund University Diabetes Centre in Sweden. The study tracked significant improvements in men who changed their lifestyle from inactive to active, and the results were impressive. ...

Recipe: Winter Squash Enchiladas with Tomatillo Salsa and Spicy Crema Perfect for Fall

These enchiladas may linger in your memory long after you have enjoyed them. Savory yet slightly sweet, these squash-stuffed tortillas are just unusual enough to brighten up any meal. ...

Family Special: How to Be a Refuge for Your Children

If Daddy is afraid, where can a little child turn? Daddies are supposed to be safe. They are supposed to know what to do and how to solve problems and fix things and, most of all, protect the children from harm. But what happens if a child sees fear in Daddy's face? What if Daddy is as scared as the child, and doesn't know what to do? Then the child is utterly distraught and feels panic. He feels that the one strong and good and reliable place of safety is no longer safe. ...

About Malankara World

Apostolic Bull: Mandatory Fasting On Oct 24-26, 2013
Apostolic Bull: Mandatory Fasting for the Freedom of the Two Abducted Bishops and Safety for People of Sadad - Oct 24-26, 2013

Dear Faithful:

Moran Mor Igantius Zakka I, Iwas, Patriarch of the Holy See of Antioch and All The East and The Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church has issued an apostolic Bull No: E213/13 asking all faithful for a Mandatory Fasting for the Freedom of the Two Abducted Bishops and Safety for the people of Sadad, Syria from Thursday, October 24, 2013 to Saturday, October 26, 2103 ending with Holy Eucharist on Sunday, October 27, 2013.

We request that all the faithful of the church comply with the mandatory prayers and fasting on these three days. The text of the Apostolic Bull (edited) is given below.

Thank you
Malankara World


23 Oct '13

IN THE NAME OF THE SELF - EXISTANT
SEMPITERNAL OF NECESSARY EXISTENCE THE ALMIGHTY
PATRIARCH OF THE HOLY SEE OF ANTIOCH AND ALL THE EAST
SUPREME HEAD OF THE UNIVERSAL SYRIAC ORTHODOX CHURCH
IGNATIUS ZAKKA I, IWAS

No.E213/13
23-October-2013

We offer our apostolic benediction and benevolent prayers to our brethren, His Beatitude Mor Baselius Thomas I, Catholicos of India, and Their Eminences the Metropolitans, our spiritual children the Patriarchal Vicars, monks, priests, nuns, deacons and virtuous deaconesses, and our blessed Syriac Orthodox People worldwide. May the divine providence embrace them through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and St. Peter the head of the Apostles, and the rest of the saints and martyrs. Amen.

Enquiring your welfare, we say:

With our steadfast hope in the love of God to His Holy Church and His work within it for the benefit of its children, we offered our prayers and supplications to God the Almighty on behalf of our beloved land Syria the first and last land for the Syrians and for all our sons and daughters in Syria beseeching the Lord to spread His peace in Syria and keep it safe from all kinds of wars.

We have also prayed for our dear brothers Mor Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim, Archbishop of Aleppo and environs, and Mor Boulos Yazigi, Metropolitan of Aleppo and Alexandretta for the Greek Orthodox Church who became victims of terrorism some six months and we have since been exerting all efforts to secure their release. We offer thanks giving to God the Almighty who allowed for the channels of communications to be opened with the responsible parties and due to the confidentiality of the situation we are in no position to elaborate further at this stage and can only thank those who have worked with us.

Today, our dearly beloved in Christ, we write to you with great sorrow within us regarding the great and beloved city of Sadad which came under attack from an unknown armed group and our people in Sadad have suffered great dangers as a consequence. We have called upon the international community to help ease the situation and help our Syrian people from the vicious attacks preserving and protecting this historical and great city.

To help us secure the release of the two Archbishops and to protect "the mother of the Syrians" Sadad and its residents, and for peace to prevail in Syria we declare a three day fasting beginning on Thursday 24th October to Saturday 26th October concluding with the Holy liturgy in all our churches worldwide on Sunday. May God the Almighty accept your fasting and prayers. Amen.

We extend our Apostolic Blessings to you. May the grace of God be with you all. ܐܒܘܢ ܕܒܫܡܝܐ ܘܫܪܟܐ

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (October 27)

Bible Readings For the Seventh Sunday After Sleebo Feast

Sermons for This Sunday (October 27)
This Week's Features

Foreword
This issue of Malankara World Journal has the theme, "Fear and Faith." There are two types of fear in our spiritual life. The first is the fear of God. The second is the fear of punishment that comes from our sin.

Whenever we have an encounter with God, we need to stand with awe and reverence. After the third benediction of the Holy Eucharist, just before the raising of the mysteries, signifying the ascension of Jesus Christ, the deacon exhorts:

Barekmor! Let us look on with awe (fear) and trembling. (English)
Barekmore! Bhayathodum virayalodum naam sookshikkanam (Malayalam)

Imagine back to the Old Testament era and the pictures of Mt. Sinai and the Ark of the Covenant. The presence of God was so fiery and loud around the mountain that God told Moses to warn the people to make sure that they did not come close to touch the mountain at all or they would die. In the same way, no one but the high priest could go behind the veil into the holiest of holies to the Ark where God was enthroned above the cherubim, and even he could do it only once a year, and that only with blood for the Mercy Seat. Yes, God walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. But, since the fall, no one has seen God.

John says, "No man has seen God at any time" (Jn. 1:17). Even looking upon God with sinful eyes is too much for our finite bodies to handle. So we need to approach him with awe and trembling. He is absolutely holy, and the unholy cannot come to him.

Christ made it so that we can approach God. He came to us in the incarnation to bring God down to man. We can go behind the veil to the mercy seat of God because of the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed on Calvary. One day, because of Christ, we will see God face-to-face like Adam and Eve.

We are nothing in front of the almighty God. It was God's grace that permits us to stand and partake on his life-giving body and blood that was shed for us in Calvary for the remission of our sins. It was His grace that earned us the son-ship of God. We love, worship, and fear God.

Love of God and fear of God are interconnected. St. Diadochos of Photiki stated:

No one can love God consciously in his heart unless he has first feared Him with all his heart. Through the action of fear the soul is purified and, as it were, made malleable and so it becomes awakened to the action of love.
- (St. Diadochos of Photiki On Spiritual Knowledge no. 16)

St Anthony the Great described how we can obtain the love of God:

If a man wishes to attain to love of God, he must have fear of God. Fear gives birth to mourning, and mourning to courage. When all this has ripened in the soul, it begins to bear fruit in all things. And, seeing these beautiful fruits in the soul, God draws it to Himself, like choice incense, takes joy in it with His Angels for all time, fills it with rejoicing, and protects it in all its ways, to let it reach its place of rest without harm.

Then, seeing the Most High Guardian encompassing it, the devil no longer attacks it; indeed he fears to come near it owing to this great power. Obtain this power that the demons may fear you, your labors be light and Divine things a sweet joy.
-
(St Anthony the Great, "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, [London: Faber and Faber, 1954], pp. 45-46)

St. Isaac of Syria observed that fear of God ushers in humility, a virtue most prized by God:

There is a humility that comes from the fear of God, and there is a humility that comes from the fervent love of God. One man is humbled because of his fear of God, another is humbled because of his joy. The man humbled from fear of God is possessed of modesty in his members, a right ordering of his senses, and a heart contrite at all times. But the man humbled because of joy is possessed of great exuberance and an open and insuppressible heart.
- (The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac of Syria.)

Fear of God brings us the citadel of protection from God. St. Symeon the New Theologian explained the protection offered by the fear of God (It takes away the fear from us!):

When a man walks in the fear of God he knows no fear, even if he were to be surrounded by wicked men. He has the fear of God within him and wears the invincible armor of faith. This makes him strong and able to take on anything, even things which seem difficult or impossible to most people. Such a man is like a giant surrounded by monkeys, or a roaring lion among dogs and foxes. He goes forward trusting in the Lord and the constancy of his will to strike and paralyze his foes. He wields the blazing club of the Word in wisdom.
- (St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Practical and Theological Chapters).

It is clear that the fear of God is connected to Love of God, Protection offered by God and our Humility toward God.

Fear was an important companion before and during the time of Christ. The angel, when appeared to Mary, Shepherds, etc. prefaced it by saying, "Fear Not." Israelites were in fear of God's punishment for their sins like He did to the world at the time of Noah and to Sodom and Gomorrah.

And the angel said to them, 'Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people' (Luke 2:10).

The angel told the shepherds that they did not have to fear. They bring them good news! Christ the Lord, their Savior, had been born in the city of his father, David. And this Savior would bring peace among those with whom God was pleased - peace with God (Romans 5:1) through the forgiveness of their sins (Luke 1:77).

God had sent his only begotten Son into the world not to condemn it, "but in order that the world might be saved through him" (John 3:17).

That wonderful night the angel proclaimed the beginning of the end of our terror of God's holiness. Moreover, it was the beginning of the end of all our fears. "God is love" (1 John 4:16), and "perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18).

So, our faith in Jesus Christ, our savior, slowly melts away our fear like sun's rays melt the dew in the morning.

I want to welcome Dr. Jolly Mathew, MD as a new contributor to Malankara World. Jolly is a family friend and a classmate of my wife Dr. Shila Mathew, MD at the Kottayam Medical College. Jolly and his wife Susan possess an incredible knowledge of bible. They practice what they preach. Jolly's patients travel hundreds of miles to consult him. They feel calmed and comforted in his presence. Although he has patients from all religions, he never discusses his faith with his patients. However, many of them ask him to pray with them and he complies. He had the privilege of leading some real unbelievers to the Lord.

For example, a few weeks ago, Jolly had an unusual encounter with a 60 year old atheist dying of lung cancer. He was Jolly's patient for more than 5 years. The staff at the dialysis unit "feared" him. He was very intimidating and patronizing. He knew Jolly was a Christian. But Jolly never shared gospel with him. One day when Jolly was making rounds in the hospital, the patient requested him to stay over a little longer, and Jolly obliged. Then the patient asked Jolly for forgiveness for all his bad behavior, and squeezed his hand to almost the point of breaking his fingers and said, "I want you to go and tell every one in the dialysis unit that I am sorry. Be an angel on my behalf, and deliver that message." Then he told Jolly, "Doc, I want you to pray for me." Jolly prayed. When he opened his eyes, he saw tears rolling down from the eyes of the patient. He said, "Doc, I need God. I do. I am dying. I need Him so badly". That night the patient died.

We talk of reflecting the love of God. Dr. Jolly Mathew is one such person. He has made the difference in people's lives. I had been asking him to write few articles for Malankara World. As you can imagine, he is extremely busy with his practice and with his church. Finally he complied. So, this issue is built around Jolly's article on Fear and Faith. Please read it a few times. It is that good. We hope to have more of Jolly's articles in the future issues of MWJ.

The featured article in this issue by John Piper is based on one of my favorite verses, viz., Isaiah 41:10.

Let us take a brief look at the context of this verse to get a better understanding of its meaning. God's people have been severely punished for their rebellion against the Lord. They are weak and need comfort. Isaiah speaks to comfort and encourage God's beaten down people in Isaiah chapter 40. The comfort comes in realizing how mighty their God actually is. Isaiah 40:10-31 is one of the greatest literary passages of all time, with figurative language and imagery that speak across the ages. (Please read and meditate on it at your leisure.)

Now comes the tender and comforting words the Lord speaks to his people in Isaiah chapter 41. These are words of personal love and election. The most noteworthy are verses 10-14.
 

Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

- (Isaiah 41:10)

This is the first of the "Servant Passages" in Isaiah. Israel has been severely humbled, but God has not forgotten his people. Here Israel is the Servant. Israel feels weak, but God will redeem them. But the prophecy extends to all of us.

'13 For I am the LORD, your God,
who takes hold of your right hand and says to you,
Do not fear; I will help you.
14 Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob,
O little Israel, for I myself will help you,'
declares the LORD, your Redeemer,
the Holy One of Israel.

- (Isaiah 41:13-14)

There is a popular devotional song based on Isaiah 41:10 in Malayalam. The first time it came to my attention was when Rev. Fr. Stephen, who was vicar of St. Basil's Church, presented me with a CD of songs he recorded with his daughter and a choir. One song in the collection was:

bhyappedenda, makane makale, njan ninte daivum alleh
Karayaruthe iniyum pon makale njan ninte koodeyille ...

(Do not fear son and daughter, I am your God
Do not cry, dear daughter, I am with you.)

John Piper's article talks about the power of Isaiah 41 and the fear of God and what happens to our fear when we have faith in God. This article provides a bridge to Jolly's article and others in this issue of MWJ. Hope you will enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed in producing it.

The persecution of Christians in Syria Continues. Our Holy Father has asked for a fasting prayer by all the faithful from October 24-26. Please observe the fast even if you missed it by a few hours or by a day. (The bull came very late.) It is really that important.

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World

Featured: Fear Not, I Am with You, I Am Your God

by John Piper

Scripture: Isaiah 41:1–13

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.' Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored; those who contend with you will be as nothing, and will perish. You will seek those who quarrel with you, but will not find them, those who war with you will be as nothing, and non-existent. For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, who says to you, 'Do not fear, I will help you.'
Isaiah 41:10-13

I bring the text that has served to relieve my fears more often than any other text in the Bible - namely, Isaiah 41:10.

Isaiah 41:10 was on my lips and in my heart during anxious times more than any other verse. In fact it became so instinctive to say it, that today when my mind is neutral, the spinning of the gears is in Isaiah 41:10.

"Fear not for I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Two Commands Supported by Five Reasons

Let's look at the verse, Isaiah 41:10, and then see how the preceding verses intensify the point of the verse.

There are two commands in the verse not to fear and five pillars of fearlessness. "Fear not" is the first command at the beginning of the verse. And then the second is "do not anxiously look about you" (RSV: "do not be dismayed").

As always in the Bible, there are reasons for the commands. Commands don't hang in the air with no basis in reality. If God commands us to do something, there are good reasons to do it. And power comes from understanding and believing those reasons.

Here there are the five reasons - call them.

The Five Pillars of Fearlessness

1. "For I am with you" - "Do not fear, for I am with you."

2. "I am your God" - "Do not look anxiously about you, for I am your God."

3. "I will strengthen you."

4. "Surely I will help you."

5. "Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."

Restated, the five pillars of fearlessness are:

1. God is with me;
2. God is my God;
3. God will strengthen me;
4. God will help me;
5. God will uphold me.

When God calls you to be free from fear as you do evangelism, as you take a test, as you face an interview, as you take a stand against an unjust business practice, as you confront someone with sin in their life, when you leave a secure position and take a risk in a new venture, when you face an operation or a treatment, when you lose a spouse or a friend - when God calls you to be free from fear (to overcome this natural emotion and have peace), he does not leave the command hanging in the air. He puts pillars under it. Five of them. That's the nature of all biblical commands. They come with divine support.

1. Fear not . . . God is with you;
2. Fear not . . . God is your God;
3. Fear not . . . God will strengthen you;
4. Fear not . . . God will help you;
5. Fear not . . . God will uphold you.

The Key to Overcoming Fear

The key to overcoming fear is resting on the pillars of the promises of God.

We'll come back to these pillars in a moment. Look with me for a minute at the verses leading up to verse 10 to see how they intensify these promises and strengthen these pillars.

If the key to fearlessness is believing that God is your God and is with you and will strengthen you and help you and uphold you, then knowing the greatness of this God will intensify your faith and your fearlessness.

Four Glimpses of God's Greatness

So look at the Glimpses of God's Greatness that Isaiah gives.

Glimpse #1: The Judge of All the Earth

In Isaiah 41:1 God says, "Coastlands, listen to Me in silence, and let the peoples gain new strength; let them come forward, then let them speak; let us come together for judgment."

Here is a picture of God calling all the coastlands and all the peoples to gird up their strength and come before him for judgment. The God of Isaiah 41:10 is the judge of all the earth. He calls all nations to give an account of their lives and their religions and their thoughts. He is not called to account. He is not on trial. They are. They come into his courtroom. He is the judge of all and will pass sentence on every person. That's the God who is with you to strengthen and help.

Glimpse #2: The Ruler of All Rulers

In Isaiah 41:2–3 Isaiah asks, "Who has aroused one from the east [probably Cyrus the Persian king that God stirred up to come against Babylon] whom He [God] calls in righteousness to His feet? He delivers up nations before him, and subdues kings. He makes them like dust with his sword, as the wind-driven chaff with his bow."

Here is a picture of God rousing a king and leading him in conquest and delivering up nations before him. So the God of Isaiah 41:10 is Ruler of the rulers of history. He controls the affairs of men and nations for his purposes. That's who gives the pillars for fearlessness in Isaiah 41:10.

Glimpse #3: The Uncreated First, Yahweh

In Isaiah 41:4 Isaiah asks, "Who has performed and accomplished it, calling forth the generations from the beginning? 'I, the Lord, am the first, and with the last. I am He.'"

Here is a picture of God not only judging the nations and ruling the rulers of the earth but calling all the nations of the earth into being - "calling forth the generations from the beginning." God is the first - he is the absolute reality before all other reality and on which all other reality depends. He is the uncreated first. And he will be there with the last when all is accomplished according to his eternal purpose.

When God answers, "I, the Lord, am the first . . . ," the word "Lord" is "Jehovah" or Yahweh. Franz Delitzsch comments on this verse: "It is the full meaning of the name Jehovah which is unfolded here; for God is called Jehovah as the absolute I, the absolutely free Being, pervading all history, and yet above all history, as He who is Lord of His own absolute being, in revealing which He is purely self-determined; in a word, as the unconditionally free and unchangeably eternal personality" (cited in E.J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, vol. 3, p 76). That's the God of Isaiah 41:10 who strengthens and helps and upholds.

Glimpse #4: The God Who Chose His Own People

In verses 5–7 Isaiah shows us the desperate attempts of the nations to persuade themselves that they and their gods are strong. Verse 5: they are afraid and they come together. Verse 6: they try to encourage each other not to be afraid, and say, "Be strong!" Verse 7: the idol makers who smooth the metal and nail up the idols with nails try to encourage each other and say, "It is good."

In other words, there is a picture of the unrepentant nations desperately trying to convince themselves that their self-wrought gods, made with soldering and nails, are really adequate for their needs.

Over against this desperation of self-reliance and idolatry God says to his people in verses 8–9, "But you [are] Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, descendant of Abraham My friend, you whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its remotest parts, and said to you, 'You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you.'"

In verses 1–9 there is a picture of the God who judges the nations, and rules the rulers of the nations, and calls the nations into being, choosing his people for himself, calling them from their hopeless distance from him, and taking them to be his servant.

That is what God has done for us in Christ. He chose us before the foundation of the world. He called us out of darkness and death. And he took us for himself to be his. To make himself our God.

These Glimpses Intensify the Five Pillars

Now all that, I say, intensifies the five pillars of fearlessness in Isaiah 41:10.

The God who judges all the earth and calls the coastlands to give account . . .
The God who rules the rulers of history . . .
The God who calls the nations of earth into being because he is first and last . . .
The God who calls his own people and makes himself their God freely and graciously . . .

That God says to us who believe,

I am your God.
I am with you.
I will strength you.
I will help you.
I will uphold you.

Then Comes the Command - On These Pillars

Therefore - because I am the judge of the nations . . .
Therefore - because I rule the rulers of history . . .
Therefore - because I call nations into being . . .
Therefore - because I choose freely my own . . .

Therefore - because I - this great and sovereign God -

am your God and
am with you and
will strengthen you and
will help you and
will uphold you . . .

Therefore, do not fear.

Or change the image for a moment. Not five pillars. But God in five relations to you expressed in five different prepositions.

I am your God - over you.
I am with you - by your side.
I will strengthen you - from inside of you.
I will help you - all around you from wherever the enemy comes.
I will uphold you - from underneath you.

Over you, by you, inside you, around you, underneath you.

Therefore do not fear.

Our Final Ground for Fearlessness

We come to the end with one great ground for fearlessness - GOD!

I am your God.
I am with you.
I will strengthen you.
I will help you.
I will uphold you.

I call you this morning to stop defining and limiting your future in terms of your past and start defining it in terms of your God.

I call you to recognize that God is greater than your personality. God is greater than your past experiences of timidity. God is greater than your "family of origin." And God calls you to joyful fearlessness.

The crucial factor in your fearless living is not your family but your God.

"Let not your hearts be troubled, BELIEVE IN GOD." Believe in God! Trust God! Let God be your God! Your help. Your strength. He will uphold you with his righteous right hand.

©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Used by Permission.

When Faith Meets Fear – A Savior You Can Trust

By Jolly Mathew, MD

"I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." - 2 Timothy 1: 12

Have you ever been curious to know the details of your future? There was a time when I thought a sneak preview of my future would be a nice thing to have. I thought knowing about tomorrow will make me excited and feel special in world of humans who have no idea of what will be. But, today I am convinced that it is God's grace that kept my future unknown from me.

If I had known all the struggles, the failures, the tragedies, the dark valleys and the pains I had had so far, the unsolicited knowledge of them would have been enough to sink me into a dungeon of deep depression. On the contrary, had I been given a foreknowledge of some of the achievements, the heights and some good times in life I would have been soaked up in so much arrogance that I would be the loneliest person on this planet. It is God's mercy that veils our eyes from seeing into our future.

It is only human to want to know the future. But a loving God wants us to face our future with absolute confidence that, while He is working out His purpose universally, He is also working out his program specifically for you and me! Knowing that our times are in His hands is one of the most satisfying experiences in life. "The eternal God is our refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." Deuteronomy 33:27.

We are people who fear, and God knows it very well. We are afraid of failures. We have fear of the future, the unhealthy fear that takes our focus away from God's purpose for our life. Fear takes away our trust in God. That is why the Bible is filled with so many divine promises starting with the command, "Fear not". (Isaiah 35:4, 41:10, 41:13,14, 43:1, 43:5, Luke 12:32, just to name a few). Most of us are marvelous at worrying. We are "worriers" where we are expected to be warriors. . The Bible says that worry is a sin because, at the moment of worrying, I am not trusting. At the moment of trusting, I am not worrying! God intends us to live a life free of worry and anxiety. Not a freedom from concern. Not a cold complacency, with an "I couldn't care any less" attitude. That's being irresponsible.

There is a world of difference between having a concern and being anxious. To have a concern is a good thing, but to be anxious about the outcome is totally unhealthy. When we are concerned we take positive steps to make changes. That is when we prepare, we plan, we design, we calculate, we budget, we collect, and we give. That is when we become transformers of situations in and around us!!!

Now, how can we live in a world of absolute uncertainty and yet be certain of our future? How can we be assured that our times are in God's hand? The problem occurs when we want to know the future. But if we know a God who is in charge of our future, then we don't have to know the way ahead. We can live one day at time and feel so happy. We just have to walk with God. He knows where He is leading us, and He will never lead us off track. Knowing that, we can face the unknown with confidence, not on our own, but trusting in Him. It is such a wonderful knowledge that the One who created and is sustaining the universe is the One that is holding your feeble hands and leading you into your tomorrow.

That's really what Paul is writing about to young Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:12. Paul knows he hasn't much longer to go. This is in fact his last letter. We are not quite sure how long after this letter he died. It might have been probably a year. In the fourth chapter of this second letter to Timothy, he writes, "I am now ready to be offered, because the time of my departure is at hand." 2 Timothy 4:6.

When we take a long trip, we make preparations. Paul is talking here about the longest journey a human will ever take…the journey from this world to the next. In 2 Timothy 4:6-8, he is in fact reflecting,

"As I look back now, I want you to know, Timothy, that I have fought a good fight and kept the faith. I have finished the course. I am not afraid of my tomorrow. I am ready for the big trip! Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the Righteous, shall give me in that day. And not only me, but all them that love His appearing."

The fear we are talking about is not a holy awe and reverence for God's presence. That is a fear we should all have. That is a fear that occurs when the ordinary meets the divine. But there is a fear that has terror in it, the fear that has panic in it, the fear that takes away faith, and the fear that chills the spine. God has not given us that spirit of fear. We may all feel afraid at times. But to live with a spirit of fear? That never comes from God.

As Paul is writing this letter he is not living it up in a Star hotel. He is in jail…for the sake of the name of Jesus. He had been there some time now and seemingly God is doing nothing! I have met people who say,

"When things happen in your life, all you have to do is pray. If you don't like your situation, just pray. And if your situation is not good, God will change it. If he doesn't, there is sin in your Life. Get rid of the sin, and life will be great again. Or, if it is not sin in your life, it is your lack of faith!!!"

It is so easy to be judgmental when we don't really know what is going on in the lives of others. It is so easy to brag about our faith right after a Sunday service. Do we feel the same about our faith by the end of a work week?

Do you know how much faith you have? You've no idea how much faith you have got until it gets tested. There will be times in our life when our faith will be put on the anvil.

It was a very special day for Simon Peter. He was with the Lord, and The Lord had been preaching and healing all day. Crowds had come and gone. Then the sun was setting, and everybody who came was healed. Peter must have felt so great. He was so excited. He was in the A-team with the Master!!! The Lord then says, "Now, let's go in your boat over to the other side." (Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25)

If we could have gone alongside Peter at that time and asked him, "Peter, how's your faith now?" he would have said, "Man never better! I feel absolutely at the top." I am sure that is the way he felt after the kind of day he had. They go over in the boat. Peter probably knew more about Lake Galilee than anybody else in the boat. He had been raised on Galilee. A true Galilean. He knew all the tides there. And they get over toward Decapolis.

And then it happened. The howling storm and the towering waves started to bombard the boat, and the boat was apparently drowning. It is Jesus who asked them to go to the other side. He even went with them. Can there be storms in life when Jesus is in your boat? It is a basic lesson in life that we will have storms of life even with Jesus on board. He will be sleeping in the stern. When the disciples were panicking Jesus was sleeping!!! They cried out, "Master, don't you care?''. The Master gets up and speaks to the wind and to the waves, and He hushes them. The disciples were more petrified with the calm than they were with the storm. They said, "What manner of man is this?"

Jesus then turns to them and says, "How is it that you have no faith? Why is it you were so filled with fear?" I think Peter could have retorted, "What do you mean, No faith? We've left home. We've given up everything. I left my job and even my family. What do you mean, No faith?" Of course they had faith. What Jesus is in fact telling them is not that they don't have faith, but that they failed to show their faith when it was put to test. You don't really know how much faith you have until it's tested.

Do you think the disciples would have ventured into the sea, had they known that a violent storm was awaiting them?

Nobody has a wonderful, amazing faith. It is God who's wonderful and amazing, not our faith. If I have mountain-size faith in an ant-size God, what good is it? I need faith in a great and wonderful God. My faith may be very small. But it is the God who I trust that makes the difference. The Lord said, "If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed...." (Matthew 17:20) Jesus never said about the faith as small as mustard seed….It is not in the size. Size has nothing to do with it. The thing about a grain of mustard seed is at the time you have it in your hand, it is only a grain of mustard seed, and it will never be anything else. Put it in the ground, and, before you know, you've got a plant. That's what the Lord is talking about. Faith is like that. You say, "Well, it is very small." Put it in the Lord. You'll be amazed at what your small faith will do. You've got a big God!

Paul was in prison many times. Do you know that God had Paul out in just twenty-four hours from the prison at Philippi, but left him for two and a half years in the prison in Rome? The same God, the same apostle, and the same people praying for him. What has it to do with faith? If it is about faith, then who on earth then had more faith than Paul? Then why was he in there for that long? For the simple reason that in the economy of God, He needed Paul out to continue the preaching, so he was let out in Philippi in a day. In Rome, God needed Paul to write half of the New Testament. God knew that Paul would need a quiet place for this. There was no better place than a jail, and so God kept him in jail for two and a half years to give us the epistles that we have today. Paul didn't know it at that time any more than anybody else knew it, but we know it now.

Remember we are not here to manipulate God. God is absolutely sovereign. God's purposes will prevail. He doesn't give us faith to change His will, but to accept it even when it seems contrary to our expectations. He doesn't give us faith to understand. Many a time we don't even understand. He gives us faith to accept what we don't understand. That's what faith is for. He is so absolutely faithful. He is reliable, dependable, and trustworthy.

"I know the one in whom I believe, and I am persuaded." …"I am convinced." "I know this God so well. I've trusted Him through the years. I've come to such an appreciation of Him that I know now without any doubt that He is able…." Not that He was able, or He will be able, or He might be able. He is able. A declaration of absolute confidence. God is not incapacitated by time. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

With us, once we were able; and now we're not. Many things we were able to do as youngsters, we are not able to today. "Able was I ere I saw Elba" (1), Napoleon lamented towards the eve of his life as a prisoner in Elba, knowing that he is not able to do the great things he used to do before. When we have all the ability, we forget that there will be days when we become feeble, sick and disabled. The marvelous thing with God is that down through the centuries He was able, He is able, and He will always be able. I may be disabled, but He is able. I may be incapable, but He is capable. "I am He, that I am", God told Moses when Moses asked Him what His name was.

Paul is in fact saying, "I know Him, and He is able." Now, what is He able to do?

My God is able "to keep what I have committed." Have you committed anything into the eternal arms of God? If your life safe in God?

What you hand over to Him to keep, He is able to keep. It will be safe.

But there is nothing in the Scripture that says that He is able to keep what you have not committed to Him.

What you give, God takes. And what God takes, He will cleanse. And what He cleanses, He will fill. And what He fills, He use for His purpose.

You will find that what you hand over to God never becomes an area of worry for you. Never. Whether it is your personal life, your family, your future, your aspirations, your children, your positions, your finances, your private life, anything else that is important to you. It will be safe if God has it in His hands. But what you hold on to and refuse to commit to God will always be an area of constant problem in your life. Those will be the things that end up haunting your sleepless nights. Whatever you hand over to God, He will use for His glory.

Paul doesn't urge a partial commitment. He talks about "that which I have committed. It is an act of complete surrender. Complete commitment. Paul committed everything: his life, his future, and the lot.

Then I see him (Paul) saying, "I rest happily. I don't know what the future holds. I don't have to know. I don't have answers to all my problems. I don't know what difficulties there may be. I don't even need to know. But I do know this: "

"Whatever the difficulty is, I'm not facing it alone. Whatever the problems are, I don't face them alone."

Whatever path I take, I don't travel alone. I know He will be with me to the very end.

I know the One in whom I believe. I am convinced. I am persuaded. He is able to keep that which I have committed unto him."

Do you know who is holding your tomorrow?

How much of your life have you committed into God's eternal arms?

Can you join Apostle Paul and proclaim," I know whom I have believed…and He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him". What a glorious declaration that comes from a life time of personal and intimate relationship with the Lord!!!

The familiar hymn goes like this:

"God sent His son, they called Him Jesus
He came to love, heal and forgive
He lived and died to buy my pardon
An empty grave is there to prove my savior lives

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living, just because He lives."

Footnote:

1. Editor's Note: "Able Was I, Ere I Saw Elba" is Napoleon's Shortest Speech. This type of sentence is called a Palindrome. If you read the sentence backwards, it says exactly the same thing. Most of the palindromes don't make any sense, but this one does. Napoleon was imprisoned on the Isle of Elba, when he wrote this sentence. This sentence could mean, "I was okay before I saw or came to Elba." In other words, "now I am helpless to do anything."

About The Author:

Jolly Mathew MD is a graduate of Kottayam Medical College, Kerala, India. He is a Nephrologist and practices medicine in Yonkers, New York. Jolly and his wife Susan lives in Long Island, NY.

Love and Fear and Love

by Fr. Michael, Holy Nativity Orthodox Church, Langley, BC, Canada

"For even true and genuine sons, ten parts of love should be mixed with five parts of fear."  - St. Isaac the Syrian

The world is an unequal place. Some are born, as they say, with a silver spoon in their mouths; some are born into a world of need and instability. Some are born slaves, St. Isaac says, and some are born free; some are born into circumstances conducive to the flourishing of life, some struggle with death from the beginning. The world is an unequal place.

Saints such as St. Basil the Great and St. John Chrysostom devote a great deal of their writing and sermonizing to this matter of inequity in the world and how Christians and Christian societies are to respond to it. St. John, in several homilies, argues that God allows inequity to continue even in the Church so that the faithful can acquire virtue (Christlikeness) by giving and receiving. The poor learn thankfulness and humility while the rich learn generosity and humility, thus the body of Christ lacks no virtue as all of the virtues are manifest in its care for itself.

St. Isaac the Syrian, on the other hand, reflects on this inequity from the perspective of theoria. That is, he reflects on what happens when human beings think deeply and spiritually about the inequity they experience in the world. Men and women see that this mortal life has so much random inequity, and they are led to contemplate the judgements of God and God Himself. Death is the only constant in this variable world, and death awakens in the hearts of men and women the awareness of judgement. However, how people think about judgement and God varies too, because of the dissimilar ways of thinking and different conditions of human hearts because of the inequity in the world.

Some are driven by despair to doubt the love of God. Others, out of the self confidence that has come over them due to their success or prosperity in some area, poison themselves with deadly sins not expecting any significant consequences, not thinking of death and thus not considering the judgement. Therefore, St. Isaac concludes, that love must be mixed with fear in our relationship with God. "For even true and genuine sons," St. Isaac says, "ten parts of love should be mixed with five parts of fear."

Archimandrite Sophrony, disciple of St. Silouan, says in one of his letters that one of the characteristics of Christian dogma is that it always involves a paradox. God is one and three. Christ is God and man. Death has been conquered, yet we must all pass through death. I guess if the Christian teaching about reality were self evident, we wouldn't need dogma.

That love and fear must be together is certainly paradoxical. It is not easy and it may not feel natural to some to experience both love and fear toward someone, toward God. Yet St. Isaac says fear is necessary lest we be poisoned by self confidence.

Ten parts love to five parts fear. That's St. Isaac's formula. Fear need never overcome us. Our experience of God's love is twice as strong. Ten parts love. Nevertheless, for the sake of our salvation in this variable world, so that we do not become over confident or puffed up due to our occasional experiences of success or prosperity, five parts fear is also necessary.

Love and fear and Love.
Love and fear and Love.
Love and fear and Love.

Like a heart beat.

And so we come to know God and reality as it really is. And so we are saved.

Turning Fear Into Faith

by Ken Stevens

That ugly and omnipresent thorn called worry! Since it's a chronic, recurrent condition, it's been called the "Worry Disease." I think worry must be Satan's best weapon against man. Our minds are incessantly preoccupied with our daily cares. During peace-filled, "quiet time" moments of prayer and reflection we confidently profess our faith to God and feel His peace. Yet, this is so often immediately forgotten, preempted by the next worrisome preoccupation. At time, it's maddening! Too often our "old nature" chooses to worry rather than to trust God. Worry is a sin because we aren't taking God at his Word.

Virtually everyone is stressed out today. We fear various problems and what they may do to us. For example, I have worked in pharmaceutical marketing and medical communications for 30+ years and have witnessed incredible changes in the healthcare landscape. I laugh out loud when I remember how in the past I used to complain about various working conditions. However, they were minimal compared to today's constant stream of pressures. Now there are insecurities about the marketplace, the unrelenting ferocity of managed care, stressed-out clients willing to change their ad agency "on a whim," and the constant barrage of economic and socio-political uncertainties. It seems every industry, both private and government, is beleaguered by economic crises today.

I guess crying in my beard (?) is both selfish and narrow-minded. Whether we live or have lived in affluence or in abject poverty, we will always have fears and anxieties. Let's face it; we live in a fallen world. We have to deal with it, and there's only one way do that: constantly pause and know that God is in control.

When I'm having dark days and am beset by challenges of all sorts, I put my distress in God's hands and really trust, really believe. He always delivers, and the more I trust, the less my discomfort, and the better the outcome.

Besides entreating the Lord, I must also thank Him. Since the human race is innately selfish, our conversation with God is often a big, one-sided "all about me." But when we balance our requests with heartfelt thanksgiving, i.e., when it becomes an integral part of our lives, giving thanks can only diminish our despair and contribute to inner peace and real joy. It's so easy to avow faith and to rationalize it. But faith in action, which means practicing our faith day by day, moment by moment, is the hard part.

Let's face it. Every day is a life challenge to varying degrees. The storms we face-personal, social, work-related, spiritual, or financial-will always be there. In order to put things into the proper perspective, there are several actions we can take:

1. Start every day with a thanksgiving prayer.

One of my favorites was written by Fr. Thomas Hopko:

We praise You, Lord Jesus for showing us how to live day by day without fear, serving obediently, always entrusting our lives into Your care. And we thank you Lord Jesus for showing us how to die, how to gain the victory, how to attain the crown of life by commending our souls into the Father's hands.

2. Repeat the Jesus Prayer ("Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner") for focus.

3. Recite short Bible verses.

These can also help to assuage the anxieties of life whenever those inevitable afflictions rear their ugly heads. Meaningful verses like the following can really lift the weight of our woes:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

Be still and know that I am God (Psalms 46:10).

Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not upon your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

There is no formula, no antibiotic, no magic elixir for eradicating worry and fear. It's a matter of developing childlike faith, a conscious effort to trust in God. If and when He is willing, that burden will become lighter as we grow in His wisdom and grace.

Bottom line:

There can be peace in our hearts only when we turn to the One, True Source of peace, Jesus Christ. As He affirmed,

"[My] peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).

Every day requires a reaffirmation of faith. If we seek God and His values, God will provide for us in wonderful ways we can never imagine. To know the pardon, joy, peace and power that come through Christ, we must personally receive Him by faith. And if our hearts are to change, our faith must be real.

Source: St. Luke Orthodox Church

When Fear Paralyzes Your Faith

by Renee Swope

"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." Isaiah 43:1-2 (NIV)

As I crawled in bed, fear came over me. My husband was out of town for work and I was afraid to go to sleep. Fear had become a constant companion during his nights away.

I needed to trust God, but I didn't. I went through the motions of what I knew I should do: pray, read scriptures, and tape verses to my bedside table and bathroom mirror. But there was also a phone on my pillow, and a neighborhood directory and Bible next to the bed.

One night I took it a step further. I put toys on the stairs to trip possible burglars, brought my children into my room to sleep with me, and moved the dresser in front of the bedroom door.

Still fear kept me awake. I thought I was controlling my circumstances, but instead fear had taken control of me. Frustrated I still couldn't sleep, I opened the Bible and read these familiar words:

"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze" (Isaiah 43:1-2).

That night God showed me something I'd never seen: my fears were like flames and my efforts to protect myself were like gasoline. Every feeble attempt to ease my fears was like pouring fuel on the fire, and now fear was consuming me. Gently, the Holy Spirit reminded me that God had not given me a spirit of fear but a spirit of power and love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

The only way I would overcome fear was by walking through it.

I had to put away the props in which I'd placed my faith and go to bed trusting God, realizing that even if my fears came true He would be with me. Crawling out of bed, I started putting everything away. The dresser went back in place. My kids went back to their rooms and I went to sleep without my phone on the pillow.

For me, it was like walking through the flames of fear, doing what God was calling me to do-to fear not. And you know what? I slept better than I had in weeks.

Fear lost its power when I actively put trust in God's promises.

To be free from fear so we can walk in faith, we have to hold on to God's truths, replacing our natural ways with the steps He offers to guide us.

Let's ask God to show us fears that paralyze our faith and keep us from living confidently in His peace and freedom. And then let's give God a chance to come though for us as we courageously walk through our fears, holding God's hand and trusting His heart to lead, protect, and preserve us each step of the way.

Dear Jesus, help me walk through my fears by facing them instead of being paralyzed by them. I want to take Your hand and trust Your heart with all that is within me. Give me courage today to take the first step.

In Jesus' Name.
Amen.

Reflect and Respond:

Are there fears that paralyze your faith or hinder your everyday life? Ask God to show you one step to take today to walk through a fear that keeps you from trusting God completely.

Power Verse:

Psalm 34:4, "I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears." (NIV)

© 2013 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.
Source: Encouragement for Today, Proverbs 31 Ministries

You Can Break the Stronghold of Fear

by Neil T. Anderson

For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.
(2 Tim. 1:7)

A man couldn't drive over bridges without feeling like he was going to lose control of the steering wheel and go over the side. He became almost paralyzed by fear, breaking into a sweat and almost unable to breathe. He would call for Jesus to get him over the bridge - and He always did - but the fear would come back the next time. He avoided using bridges and planned trips so he would never have the experience.

Unless you have experienced the chilling choke hold of fear, you cannot begin to imagine the terror of its presence or the horror of its possible return. No matter what you have been through - or are going through - Jesus wants to set you free (read Isaiah 61:1-3). The Lord has a specific plan for your freedom. He knows exactly what you need, when you need it, and where it should come from. And when Jesus does the work, He does it right (John 8:36).

How to overcome fear:

You can't do it.

Mere human reasoning isn't enough. In the heat of battle your own ideas can appear quite clever. The temptation is to lean on your own understanding rather than trusting in the Lord with all your heart. The Lord promises to direct your steps when you acknowledge Him in all your ways (Prov. 3:5-6).

Submit to God.

Submitting means letting go of the reins and putting them in the hands of someone superior in rank. If self-control has netted this fear in your life, does that not clearly reveal the futility of such a choice? God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:6-8).

Seek God first.

It's necessary to get right with God first. David said, I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears (Ps. 34:4-7). Decide to resist the devil and all his temptations to revert to your fearful behaviors. Remember, God is more powerful than all of the devil's tricks.

Analyze your fear.

First pray, asking God to reveal all the fears that have been controlling you. Ask for the Holy Spirit to help you confess, renounce, and overcome every fear by faith in Christ.

Identify all fear objects.

Consider this list of fears that plague many people and determine when you first experienced the fear. Determine the lies behind every phobia and how you have been living under the control of fear rather than living by faith in God.

  • Fear of Satan
  • Fear of divorce
  • Fear of death
  • Fear of not being loved by God
  • Fear of never being loved
  • Fear of marriage
  • Fear of rejection by people.
  • Fear of never getting married
  • Fear of never having children
  • Fear of disapproval
  • Fear of embarrassment
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of being/becoming homosexual
  • Fear of financial problems
  • Fear of going crazy
  • Fear of the death of a loved one
  • Fear of the future
  • Fear of confrontation
  • Fear of being victimized by crime
  • Fear of committing the unpardonable sin
  • Fear of specific people, animals, or objects
  • Other fears the Lord brings to mind

Analyze your lifestyle.

How has fear prevented you from living a reasonable and responsible life? Phobias affect how you live and think, and prevent you from living a life as a witness to the freedom in Christ.

Form a plan of action.

Start with baby steps, ever moving toward slightly larger steps than the one before. Example: A plan for someone afraid to take an elevator may include:

1. Look at elevators.
2. Stand in a stationary elevator with a trusted friend.
3. Stand in a stationary elevator alone.
4. Travel up or down one floor with your friend.
5. Travel one floor alone with your friend waiting for you.
6. Travel two or three floors with your friend.
7. Travel two or three floors alone, with your friend waiting for you.
8. Travel on an elevator alone without your friend being there.

Depending on the severity of the fear, these steps could take place in one day, or over a period of days, weeks, even months.

Source: From Freedom From Fear: Overcoming Worry & Anxiety by Neil T. Anderson and Rich Miller, copyright (c) 1999. Used by permission. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Ore.

About The Author:

Neil T. Anderson is president of Freedom in Christ Ministries and a much sought-after speaker on Christ-centered living. He is the author of The Bondage Breaker, The Common Made Holy, A Way of Escape, and Daily in Christ. Rich Miller is national director of Prayer and Spiritual Renewal with Freedom in Christ Ministries. He is the co-author of Reality Check, Awesome God, and Walking in Freedom.

"With Fear of God with Faith and Love… "

by Dn. George P. Bithos

During the Divine Liturgy we are called to partake of Christ with the "Fear of God, Faith and Love… "

The fear of God is not the type of fear that means we are petrified and so terrified of God that we quake and live in horror; instead this "fear" is awe, reverence and veneration. We know the holiness of God as Trinity and our separation from Him caused by our own sinfulness. This awe requires us to look at ourselves honestly and to understand the great gulf between us and Our Lord. But, there is more to the invitation to the Chalice than fear. There are two more phrases that we need to consider.

With faith! How can we approach God without faith? We understand the great gulf between us, but faith can overcome this separation. Faith in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, Our Lord becoming one of us; truly God and truly Man.

His love for His Creation is so great that He put on our humanity through the Theotokos by the Holy Spirit to allow us to relate to Him. He assumed our nature to decrease the separation between us. This mystery is beyond our understanding.

The result of His love for us is to lessen the "fear" we have for Him. How can we fear one of our own? Can we live in dread of someone who is there waiting for us to reach out so that His strength supports us in our weakness? With faith, we are certain that he is the gentle shepherd who will search us out when we're lost and carry us on His shoulders when we're too tired to walk to Him. This faith is a faith in God's love for us. This faith is an assurance of Christ's continued presence among us, His People.

When we realize Christ is there in the Chalice waiting for us, there is only one response - Love. Love for God, a burning desire for Him to be the centre of our life. By the invitation of the Church, we are called to partake and become one with Him. Not only are we summoned to join with Christ, but also to become one with all who share in this Cup. This is true love, to become part of each other.

Christ became one of us and shared our nature because of His love. By sharing Him, we share each other. It is a miracle of His love that we enter into an intimate relationship with each other as a community.

As we partake of Holy Communion "with the fear of God, Faith and Love," not only do we draw near to Christ; but equally to each other. The closeness of this bond is the unity that makes us the Body of Christ with one head - Our Lord God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Answer the invitation! Let us meet Christ and each other at His Cup of Love.

Source: orthodoxpraxis.org

Why Are You So Afraid?

by Dr. Michael Youssef

How do you respond to fear? Do you run and hide, withdrawing into yourself? Do you try to distract yourself from fear with activities? The correct response to fear is not to surrender to it or to ignore it, but to overcome it with faith in God and absolute obedience to His Word.

Scripture tells us, "But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit" (Jeremiah 17:7,8).

Many people trace their fears back to a loss of control. We experience fear when the stock market fluctuates. We experience fear when we cannot fix our relationships, health, or careers. So what do we do? We try to control the situation. We work long hours to accumulate wealth, in search of financial security. We develop unhealthy jealousy in our relationships. We try every new health fad in search of the fountain of youth. Yet none of these methods bring us contentment or peace.

When we realize that the God who created us, and who redeemed us, is still actively working in our lives today, we can find rest in Him, no matter what storm is raging. Jesus told us, "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).

When we comprehend that God is in control of our lives and surrender our circumstances to Him, we will find security. "So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed'" (Isaiah 28:16).

Simply knowing God is faithful and trustworthy is not enough. We must enact this belief in our daily lives. Faith is like a muscle-when it is neglected it atrophies, but when used consistently it builds up and becomes stronger. We continually need to exercise faith to conquer and overpower fear. The Lord told His children through Isaiah, "If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all" (Isaiah 7:9).

When Jesus rebuked His disciples during the storm, He asked, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" (Matthew 8:26). Notice: the disciples' faith was "little" and they were "so afraid." Their faith was in inverse proportion to their fear. When faith is at 100 percent, fear is at 0 percent. When faith is at 60 percent, fear is at 40 percent. Yet when faith dips to 20 percent, fear will soar to 80 percent.

However, no matter how we fail in our daily trust in God, fear can never damage or destroy our saving faith. No matter how we give into our fears, our salvation can never be taken away from us. Nothing can snatch us away from God's unending love: "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38,39).

God does not want His children to live a fearful, defeated life. No matter how terrifying our circumstances, God wants us to live victoriously in Him. "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.' The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children" (Romans 8:15, 16).

If you are experiencing fear today, acknowledge it to the God who cares for you. Cry out, "Abba, Father." Ask for His supernatural peace to fill your heart. Draw on the presence of the Holy Spirit. Seek confidence in His loving purpose. Commit today to trust and surrender completely only to God, and not your fears.

Source: Leading The Way

What Has Fear to Do With Faith?
The LORD is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life -- of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalms 27:1).

Fear is something that creeps under the carpet and into our minds quietly, often unnoticed. When's the last time your church did a sermon series on the topic of Fear? Admittedly, Christians do talk about fear… sometimes. Kind of. We talk about certain types of fear, or certain things to fear. But often with one voice we denounce tendencies to fear certain things, while with more subtle whispers we encourage different kinds of fear.

From pulpits, books, and speakers we hear homilies on the fear of loneliness, singleness, disease, failure, and death. We circle up in small groups and admit to one another that we have a fear of commitment, or a fear or failing our children. "God is bigger than your fear!" we say to each other. "Trust him!"

But over here in Western Christianity, we have such a strange juxtaposition in the way our culture talks about fear. We say those encouraging things about having "freedom from fear" through Christ - but it's always in such a fluffy, abstract way. Do we understand why we have that freedom? Better yet, do we know what that freedom looks like?

And then on the opposite hand we actually foster fear of certain things. We cringe at government edicts, and spread the fear losing our freedoms. We encourage fear of said government, especially if the political persuasion of the house majority is different from our own. All throughout the ages children have grown up with a fear of bodies and a fear of sex, due to vague or hands-off instruction from parents mostly consisting of "DON'T DO IT!" We fear it when people have differing opinions. We fear persecution.

We fear messing up and getting our doctrine wrong. We fear sin. We even fear other people's sin.

Perhaps most tragically of all, I think we have a fear of giving too much grace. Or of giving grace but not giving enough truth.

It would appear we have a fear of looking weak and even a fear of our God looking weak. But does our Almighty God truly need us to defend his honor to the world? Jesus took on weakness in many ways. He came to shame the powerful by using the weak (1 Corinthians 1:27) - and he started with himself. Jesus was serious about reminding people that choices have consequences (Matthew 23:12), but Jesus never picked up a sword and Jesus didn't fight back when he was beat upon (Luke 22:49). Jesus didn't invoke his God-given rights. Jesus died.

Shouldn't this biblical description speak loudly into how we fear? How we think about fear?

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "'Abba,' Father" (Romans 8:15).

Intersecting Faith and Life:

When you are tempted to let the evil of this world, the words of others, or the stirrings of your heart lead you into fear - remember that you have received the spirit of sonship through Christ! "What can mortal man do to me?" (Psalms 56:4)

Further Reading:

  • 1 Peter 3:13-14
  • 1 John 4:18
  • Mark 12:31
  • Isaiah 41:13

Source: Crosswalk the Devotional

Jesus Is All I Need

by Dr. Ray Pritchard

I first heard this from Steve Brown who heard Ron Dunn say it in a sermon:

"We often say, 'Jesus is all I need.' But you will never know if Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have. When Jesus is all you have, then you discover that Jesus is all you need."

The more I think about that, the more profound it seems to me. For most of us, "Jesus is all I need" is a little more than a Christian cliché - a bumper sticker slogan and nothing more. But then I visited someone who is dying of cancer. There is absolutely no hope for her recovery. That is completely clear in her mind. With a wry smile she said, "Jesus has been so good to me. If he wants to take me home now, I'm ready to go. Whatever the Lord wants is all right with me."

Where does that kind of faith come from?
Ask the single moms - they know all about it.
Ask the man who just lost his job - he knows about it.
Ask the woman who is struggling with the shattering pain of divorce - she has learned the truth over and over again.
Ask that young girl whose father died when she was 15 or
the man whose wife has Alzheimer's Disease or
the young couple who lost their first child.

Gordon MacDonald said, "I have discovered that your theology is only as deep as your pain."

Pity those who have an easy life. They never really know Jesus! If anything can be said for pain, it is this: When we hurt, we find out what if what we believe is really true. Many can testify through their tears - "when everything else was gone, I turned to Jesus and he was still there."

This is a good word for Easter Sunday. On Friday, the disciples watched their Lord die. On Saturday, he remained in the grave. On Sunday, when the women went to the tomb to anoint his body, he wasn't there. Later, he appeared to them in person, and the word spread like wildfire, "He's alive!"

Nothing was ever the same after that. Twenty centuries have passed since that first happy Easter morning. The followers of Jesus get sick and they still die. We are not spared any suffering simply because we know Jesus.

It is a paradox of our faith that we are most likely to meet Jesus when we least expect to see him. First the cross, then the resurrection.

Is Jesus all you need? Yes, but you'll never know for sure until Jesus is all you have. And when Jesus is all you have, to your utter surprise you'll discover that everything you always heard is true. Jesus is all you need.

© Keep Believing Ministries

Health Tip: Physician Shares Tips for Surviving the 'Easy Life'

Study Shows Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Trigger Improvements at the Cellular Level

Dr. James L. Hardeman has seen firsthand the consequences of unhealthy habits during his 30 years as a practicing physician, and he says they're just not worth it.

"There are very clear, biological reasons why we are compelled to eat sugary, fatty foods; but if there was ever a case of 'too much of a good thing,' it's a sedentary lifestyle coupled with delicious, readily available food," says Dr. Hardeman, author of "Appears Younger than Stated Age," (www.jameslhardeman.com), a pragmatic guide to looking younger.

As we evolved, sugar, salt and fat were rare yet necessary commodities, and that's why we enjoy them so much, he says. But there are devastating consequences associated with too much rest, sugar and fat – including heart disease, obesity, diabetes and sleep apnea, he says.

"The 'easy life' isn't so easy in the long term," he says.

Multiple studies indicate the multidimensional nature of healthy habits, including one recently published by the Lund University Diabetes Centre in Sweden. The study tracked significant improvements in men who changed their lifestyle from inactive to active, and the results were impressive.

Waist circumference and blood pressure drastically improved after six months. But the study also showed that health also improved at the microscopic level, such as the functioning of genes and how they express proteins. Other studies indicate that gene improvement can occur after just one workout.

"Our bodies want to be healthy, and it's just a matter of getting and staying motivated," says Dr. Hardeman, who offers tips:

Don't fall into the "I don't have time" trap.

Time is arguably the most precious commodity any individual has – and that means life span. Don't have time to chop veggies before dinner or work out after work? Then make time! You will almost certainly live longer by following a healthier lifestyle. Need more incentive than a vague sense of health? How about avoiding the lifestyle restrictions imposed by diabetes, or the medical interventions necessitated by a heart attack?

Keep in mind the intake/output principle.

Miracle diets don't exist. While some people can burn calories more easily than others, it ultimately comes down to what you put into your body and what you do with that energy. If you want to lose or maintain weight, think of a 360-calorie muffin as a loan you have to pay back with 35 to 40 minutes worth of jogging, or a 55-minute walk.

Keep doing fun things!

Remember what it was like to be a little kid? Back then, simply running around during a game of tag was a blast! It's never too late to turn exercise into play. Try snowboarding, dancing at a club, hiking a beautiful landscape or taking a bicycle ride with the family.

Find the motivator that works for you.

Many people find a partner helps them stay motivated to exercise. If you're not inclined to walk in the morning, but you don't want to let down your walking partner, then you're more likely to walk anyway. Same goes for a dog that needs to be walked. However, the most dependable person to keep you motivated is you. If your routine is getting a dull, mix it up with an mp3 player. Whether it's Metallica, Manilow or Mozart, you can program a personal adrenalin soundtrack to keep yourself fully amped.

About Dr. James L. Hardeman

Dr. James L. Hardeman has been a physician for 30 years. Triple board certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Diseases, and Critical Care Medicine, Dr. Hardeman works both in a hospital and at his own busy office practice. After graduating Summa Cum Laude from the University of California at Irvine, he attended Baylor College of Medicine where he graduated with honors. Postgraduate training in Internal Medicine and Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine took place at USC and UCI.

Recipe: Winter Squash Enchiladas with Tomatillo Salsa and Spicy Crema Perfect for Fall

By Diane Rossen Worthington

These enchiladas may linger in your memory long after you have enjoyed them. Savory yet slightly sweet, these squash-stuffed tortillas are just unusual enough to brighten up any meal. If you don't have time to make tomatillo salsa, buy ready-made from the store. You can now find peeled and precut butternut or other winter squash in supermarkets that will save you even more time. These shortcuts help cut out lots of steps.

You will have to do a few things in advance to put these amazing enchiladas together. To roast the garlic, wrap 15 peeled garlic cloves in foil and bake at 375 F (190 deg C) for about 45 minutes, or until soft. Cool the garlic cloves and mash them to a paste. The roasted garlic puree adds a complex flavor layer to the squash. Make up the spicy crema by adding a few dashes of chipotle Tabasco or other hot sauce to Mexican crema or pareve sour cream. You can also switch out the corn for cooked black beans for a different taste.

Once all of the preparation is done, you can have fun putting these together with friends, almost like an assembly line. I have doubled the recipe successfully for larger parties and have often doubled it so I can freeze a recipe for a future meal. You can prepare these a day ahead, cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before baking. If they are frozen, defrost and reheat.

Serve this as vegetarian main course along with a simple green salad with toasted pumpkin seeds. Or serve as a side dish. Chilled Mexican beer, Sauvignon Blanc or a spicy Zinfandel would be a nice accompaniment.

WINTER SQUASH ENCHILADAS WITH TOMATILLO SALSA AND SPICY CREMA

SERVES 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 winter squash, about 2 1/2 pounds, halved or 2 pounds precut, peeled and seeded squash
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks, light green and white part only, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon roasted garlic (see above)
  • 1 cup corn kernels (about 2 ears, shucked) or frozen and defrosted
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 3 cups shredded pareve cheese
  • 1 recipe Tomatillo Salsa (see below) or favorite store-bought
  • 1/2 cup spicy crema (see above)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro, for garnish

Directions:

1. Carefully cut the peel from the squash and cut the flesh into 1-inch slices, removing the seeds. (Or use the pre-cup and peeled squash.) In a large steamer put 2 inches of water on the bottom and bring to a boil. Using tongs, carefully place the squash slices in the steamer, cover and steam on medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until fork tender. OR Place the squash in a glass bowl. Cover loosely with plastic and microwave on high for 5 minutes or until fork tender. Reserve.

2. In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium-high heat. Add the leeks and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes or until very soft and lightly browned. Add the cooked squash and roasted garlic and continue sautéing for 2 to 3 more minutes or until the squash is soft and mashed. (Use a potato masher to mash it up.). Add the corn and cook another minute. Add the cumin, salt, pepper and cilantro, and mix to combine. Reserve.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 deg C). Grease a 9- by 13-inch baking pan.

4. Transfer the cheese into a bowl. Place the bowls of squash, cheese and salsa on a counter with individual serving spoons.

5. Using tongs, place each tortilla over the flame of the burner or in a non-stick skillet for about 10 seconds to soften it. Place each tortilla on the counter and fill with 1 big tablespoon of the squash filling down the middle of the tortilla. Sprinkle two tablespoons of the cheese on top and then roll it up. Place the enchilada seam side down in the baking pan. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

6. Pour over the salsa evenly. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the enchiladas. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the enchiladas are bubbling and the cheese has melted.

7. To serve, place 2 enchiladas on a plate and put a dollop of the spicy crema on top. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.

Advance Preparation:

The roasted garlic, salsa and spicy crema can be made 1 day ahead, covered and refrigerated. The squash can be made 1 day ahead through step 2, covered and refrigerated.

TOMATILLO SALSA

The tomatillo resembles a small green tomato. A relative of the Cape gooseberry, tomatillos have a slightly lemony, herbal flavor. If fresh tomatillos are unavailable, substitute a drained 12-ounce can of tomatillos.

Makes about 1 3/4 cups.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups chicken stock
  • 3/4 pound tomatillos, husked, rinsed and diced
  • 4 scallions, light green and white part, sliced thinly
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/ 4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 jalapeno chilies, finely chopped (or to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • Salt

Directions:

1. Combine the stock, tomatillos, scallions, garlic, cumin and 1 chopped chili in a pan on medium-high heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat, partially cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until slightly thickened. Cool slightly. With a hand blender puree the mixture leaving some texture. Add the remaining chili, lime juice, cilantro and salt. Taste for seasoning. Cover and refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator 1/2 hour before serving.

About The Author:

Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including "Seriously Simple Holidays," and also a James Beard award-winning radio show host.

© 2013, Diane Rossen Worthington. Source: Jewish World Review  

Family Special: How to Be a Refuge for Your Children

by John Piper

If Daddy is afraid, where can a little child turn? Daddies are supposed to be safe. They are supposed to know what to do and how to solve problems and fix things and, most of all, protect the children from harm. But what happens if a child sees fear in Daddy's face? What if Daddy is as scared as the child, and doesn't know what to do? Then the child is utterly distraught and feels panic. He feels that the one strong and good and reliable place of safety is no longer safe.

But if Daddy is confident, then the children have a refuge. If Daddy is not panicking, but calm and steady, all the walls can come tumbling down, and all the waves can break, and all the snakes can hiss and the lions roar and the wind blow, and there will still be a safe place in Daddy's arms. Daddy is a refuge, as long as Daddy is confident.

That's why Proverbs 14:26 says that "his children will have a refuge," if Daddy has a "strong confidence." Daddy's confidence is the refuge of his children. Dads, the battle to be confident is not just about us, it is about the security of our children. It is about their sense of security and happiness. It's about whether they grow up fretful or firm in faith. Until children can know God in a deep personal way, we are the image and the embodiment of God in their lives. If we are confident and reliable and safe for them, they will be much more likely to cleave to God as their refuge when the storms break over them later.

So how shall we have "strong confidence"? After all, we, too, are little children, clay pots, weak and broken and battling anxieties and doubts. Is the solution to put on the best show we can and hide our true selves? That will lead to ulcers at best, and God-dishonoring teenager-repelling duplicity at worst. That is not the answer.

Proverbs 14:26 gives another answer: "In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence." This is very strange. It says that the solution to fear is fear. The solution to timidity is fear. The solution to uncertainty is fear. The solution to doubt is fear.

How can this be?

Part of the answer is that the "fear of the Lord" means fearing to dishonor the Lord. Which means fearing to distrust the Lord. Which means fearing to fear anything that the Lord has promised to help you overcome. In other words the fear of the Lord is the great fear destroyer.

If the Lord says, "Fear not, I am with you, be not dismayed, I will help you," (Isaiah 41:10), then it is a fearful thing to worry about the problem he says he will help you with. Fearing that problem when he says, "Fear not, I will help you, is a vote of no confidence against God's word, and that is a great dishonor to God. And the fear of the Lord trembles at such dishonoring God.

If the Lord says, "I will never fail you nor forsake you," so you can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:5-6) - if the Lord says that to you, then not to be confident in the Lord's promised presence and help is a kind of pride. It puts our reckoning of the trouble above God's. That is why we read the amazing words of the Lord in Isaiah 51:12, "I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies And of the son of man who is made like grass?" Who are you to fear man, when God has promised to help you? So it is pride to fear man. And pride is the exact opposite of the fear of God.

So, yes, the Proverb is true and a great help to us. Fear God, dads. Fear God. Fear dishonoring him. Fear distrusting him. Fear putting your assessment of the problem above his. He says he can help. He is smarter. He is stronger. He is more generous. Trust him. Fear not to trust him.

Why? He works for those who wait for him (Isaiah 64:4). He will solve the problem. He will rescue the family. He will take care of the little ones. He will meet your needs. Fear not believing that. Then your children will have a refuge. They will have a Daddy who "has strong confidence" - not in himself, but in the promises of God, which he trembles not to trust.

©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org

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