1 John 4:18

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  
What do you fear most? As a business owner, speaker and a human being, there are times when I’m tempted to let my fears, insecurities and weakness stop me from doing big things. I think to myself, What?! Are you crazy? You can’t do that!
Like the first time I chose to call myself an author and a speaker… Who would believe that?
Or the first time I stood in front of an audience, hoping I could keep their attention for the next 45 minutes. What could I possibly have to say that they’d want to hear?
Or when I took a huge leap of faith to follow God’s prompting, even though it seemed like a ridiculously huge step to take. What if I fall flat on my face?
Or the first time I allowed myself to be vulnerable with a new friend or ask for help when I’m stuck with something. What if they won’t like me afterward?
We can always find something to be afraid of, if we allow ourselves to. Our limiting beliefs don’t come from our Heavenly Father though. He assures us that through Christ, all things are possible because of the strength He gives us.

So, where do these fears and limiting beliefs come from? They come from the One who fears our being made perfect in love; the One who knows he truly has no power over us. He can only manipulate us.
Our Heavenly Father is love perfected. When we step out in faith, trusting in the words of Phil. 4:13, He will drive away our fears. But we have to let Him.
If we cling to our fears because they are familiar and comfortable, we shortchange ourselves, and we fall short of the plan that God has for our lives.
Take that first step, not around your fears, but through them. Let Christ pour through your words, your actions and your everyday life, driving out fear and replacing it with perfect love.
It’s a choice, pure and simple. But one that’s hard to make, and life-changing once made.
I once heard someone talk about having to embrace your fears in order to get through them. I wasn’t certain at the time if I believed it or not. But having recently walked through multiple fear-filled choices, I can see now that the only way around fear is through it. Embrace it, consume it, acknowledge it, and then let it go. It will lose its hold on you as you pass through it.
It is only in this way that we can be made perfect, and our words will have the value God intended them to all along. Remember, God loves words. After all, His Son is The Word.

The Armor of God Ephesians 6:19

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

We’ve often heard the Armor of God before. Paul is exhorting the church in Ephesus to stand strong. We struggle with the opposition of the powers of darkness, and with many enemies who would keep us from God and heaven. We have enemies to fight against, a captain to fight for, a banner to fight under, and certain rules of war by which we are to govern ourselves.

As Paul speaks, we learn that if Christians are truly soldiers of Christ, they must be stout-hearted and well-armed. He instructs his listeners in how to put on the armor of God, and why. Then, he finishes with an exhortation to pray, not just occasionally. But at all times, on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

Through this, we see that words, formed in prayer, have power, and become part of the armament of a Christian soldier.

More importantly, is Paul’s final request. “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.” Paul had a great command of language. According to Matthew Henry, the Greeks called Paul “Mercury,” because he was the chief speaker. Yet, Paul still requested that his friends pray for him and ask for the gift of utterance, and not just that he had any word, but he speak the words that he ought to speak.

Psalm 19:14

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

Psalm 19
For the choir director: A psalm of David.
1 The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.
2 Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
3 They speak without a sound or word;
their voice is never heard.
4 Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
and their words to all the world.
God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.
5 It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding.
It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race.
6 The sun rises at one end of the heavens
and follows its course to the other end.
Nothing can hide from its heat.
7 The instructions of the LORD are perfect,
reviving the soul.
The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The commandments of the LORD are right,
bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are clear,
giving insight for living.
9 Reverence for the LORD is pure,
lasting forever.
The laws of the LORD are true;
each one is fair.
10 They are more desirable than gold,
even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey,
even honey dripping from the comb.
11 They are a warning to your servant,
a great reward for those who obey them.
12 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart?
Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant from deliberate sins!
Don’t let them control me.
Then I will be free of guilt
and innocent of great sin.
14 May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

When I considered what devotional to begin our first session with, Psalm 19:14 sprung immediately to mind.

I found it interesting, as I read the Psalm in its entirety, to gain the context for this verse, that these lines, written by David, are contrasted to God’s creation, which declares his glory without words. Their very presence speaks of His power and might.

Without words, through the course of its daily actions, the sun bears witness to all that God has done.
The law, which we were created to honor and obey, is perfect. It refreshes the soul, bringing joy to the heart.
The decrees of God are precious because they instruct Man in His ways.

So, as Creation honors God without words, what brought David to pray to God about his words and meditations? He recognized his own inability to identify all the ways in which he sinned, the hidden faults within his heart. He knew that his heart did not follow all of God’s decrees because his heart was fallible.

In verses 13 and 14, he pled to God to keep him from deliberately sinning in any way, asking that He keep sin from controlling David. He knew, as fallen Man, that he could not avoid it altogether. But he still sought God’s protection from deliberate sin.

As we seek to share our thoughts through the written word, what better way for us to begin this journey together than in the words of David, who recognized that all Creation worshipped God much better than he ever could, and yet still sought to please his Lord?

1 Corinthians 14:1

Tara Alemany, Author and Speaker

1 Give yourselves to the gifts God gives you. Most of all, try to proclaim his truth. 
I recently attended a high school talent show. My daughter was in it, and I was eager to hear her sing in front of a live audience. Watching her, I knew she was in her element.
The neat thing was, so many of the other performers were too. Whether their acts were intended to entertain, inspire, mystify or move you, each of them were in their element, using their God-given talents to make a difference in the world.
The final performance was a teenage girl dancing with a friend to Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” a tired and worn-out song if ever there was one. Yet, what made this performance so exceptional, one worthy of the standing ovation it received, was that the girl who choreographed the dance was leading her friend in the movements. This friend has Down Syndrome. But in those moments on stage, she was free to embrace who she was and flaunt it for the world to see. The joy and excitement she felt shone on her face and was palpable to the audience.
How often do we find ourselves in the midst of our passion, abandoning ourselves to the joy of the gifts God has given us? No self-consciousness. No recrimination. Just living in the eye of God’s purpose for us?
I don’t know about you, but I hate to admit, it’s not as often as it could be or should be. I’m so busy living my life that I forget to spend time reveling in the gifts and talents God has given me, and using them to proclaim His truth and glorify His name.
Watching these kids share their various talents reminded me that I need to be more mindful about not just sharing mine, but enjoying mine.
How about you? What gifts or talents did God given you that are gathering dust on the shelf of your psyche?
God’s gifts aren’t intended to be received and then packed away for another day, put some place and long-forgotten. They’re intended to bring us joy, make us feel connected to Him, and through that to give us opportunities to share Him with others.
I know we’re all here because writing is one of the gifts we share. But if that were our only gift, we’d all be the same. We’re not. So, what makes you unique? What gift did God give you? And when will you make some time to spend with it, to enjoy it?
The gifts He’s given us don’t have to be front-and-center all the time. But the feeling they leave us with, feelings of fulfillment and contentment, carried into the world, set us apart from others in this hurried and discontented world, and give us opportunities to speak of His love for us.