Monday, February 23, 2009

Fear that removes fear

Heb 2:14-15 - Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

If we boil down our fears or polled the masses of what they fear most, the answer that is always in the top 5 is death. And rightfully so, that unknown stop of all life can be a terrifying and paralyzing slavery. If our goal in life is to not die, than life will be lived with caution and and absence of risk that is required to live to the glory of God. But, if the fear of death is eliminated, somehow, and the future life looks better than this life, if there is confidence that we were made for the next life and that God is very much in control of this one, than we can be delivered from this fear and live well. Jesus did just that when he became man so he might destroy the power of death and the power of the devil so that we could be delivered. And if death isn't worth fearing than there should be nothing else either than leads us to fear. God has taken care of the biggest fear-producer and so the rest should be easy.

Ps 139:14-16 - I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

When we consider the human body, with all its intricacies and complexities, it should lead us to awe. We fear God because we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We fear him because he saw before we were. He created us and knew us and every day of our lives are written in His book before one of them came to be. So, not only did he remove the power of death, he also knew us before we were alive and knows how many days we will be alive. Our God is worthy of fear because he took away our fear. He has given us confidence and peace because He is already there.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fear that changes everything

Heb 13:5-6 - Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

Wow. This is timely verse for this time and age. I have found myself becoming anxious in the past few weeks with all this talk of recession. I have found that I am never anxious when I think about God and how He promises that He will provide and care for me, but I do become anxious when I think about what could be, and how will I get what I need and what if things get worse. This I have always known. But, what surprised me in this passage was that the worry and fear is born out of a love for money and continual desire for more. Our fear is born not out of just surviving and making it, but losing money and losing stuff. God says, love me more than money, be content with little and like Philippians 4:11-13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Fear God and grow through this trial a fear and love for God that money can't touch. Use this time to dig deep the roots of trust and you will become rich in faith. Hebrews 11.6 says, "Without faith, it is impossible to please God..."

Ps 128:1-4 - A song of ascents. Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord.

The difference between blessing and lack of blessing is what and who you fear. Here the blessing is on the one who fears that Lord and walk in his ways. You will be blessed in the fruit of your labor, and prosperity and peace and joy will be yours, regardless of the amount of money you have. You will experience prosperity despite the amount of money you have. Your children will learn to trust God and experience a dynamic relationship of seeing God provide. You will grow rich in faith. It's who you fear that changes everything.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fear that encourages

Php 1:14 - And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Why would someone be more bold to speak about God as a result of imprisonment? You would think logically that it would be the opposite. You hear someone gets thrown in jail for speaking about their faith, and most people would be tempted to turn and run. But, I believe there is something that is both inspiring and confirming when someone suffers for Jesus like this. It inspires and confirms because you realize that, maybe, just maybe, that God and this Heaven thing is really real. If someone is willing to risk his life for it, than it must be worth living for with all your heart. And if it worth living for because it is worth dying, in that Heaven is our true home and our most beautiful reality, then there is really nothing to fear. It may not be prison for you, but it could be a loss of job that you trust God through. It may be a loss of a loved one or a difficult trial you are going through. Your courage in the face of fear brings encouragement to others.

Ps 40:3 - He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.

When there is a song in your mouth in hard circumstances and a hymn of praise to God when there should be fear and curses, it causes other to see and fear the same God. Fear of God leads others to put their trust in God. If God isn’t big enough to handle our circumstances, then God is not big enough to fear. But, if He is, and He is, than fearing God is sharing Christ in the most natural and beautiful way. Fearing God encourages fearlessness which leads to courageous risk taking and bold living.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Fear that makes God worth obeying

Ga 2:11-14 - But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

I don't think I would have like to be at the receiving end of rebuke by Paul, but I guess he deserved it. Peter, the great Peter, was fearing what people would think of him so that he would not eat with the gentiles for fear of what the Jews would say. Fear does that. It raises the value of someone or something over God. Simply put, he feared the Jews rebuke more than he feared God's rebuke. It is possible that Peter could have justified it as trying to reach more Jews for Christ or something like that, but in reality, his fear of man, at that moment, was greater than his fear of God.

Ps 33:8 - Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him.

The whole purpose of Paul's ministry was to bring the gentiles into the kingdom of God. He was a Jew who had been sent to minister to the gentiles that God was welcoming them into eternity through the death and resurrection of Jesus. And here was Peter, fearing what the Jews would think, when instead, he should have been fearing the Lord that the whole world should be revering. This is a great wake up call to all who fear man over God. Turn your eyes heavenward and let the greatness of God make the weight of your friends or co-workers or family seem small.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Fear that humbles you

1 Pe 5:6-9 - Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

This passage shares that their will be anxieties. Their will be things to fear from the world, things to fear from Satan and things to fear in your own flesh. Fear is real. But fear is not right. And in this passage, Peter gives us the way out of fear. He doesn't say, "Just don't fear!" but instead says, "Humble yourself under God's mighty Hand" and cast your anxieties on Him and Resist the Devil and he will flee. We will all suffer and go through things that can bring fear, but the proper response is to humble ourselves under God's mighty, powerful, sovereign, loving hand and fear Him only, and that will bring the peace you are looking, despite the circumstances.

Ps 118:6 - The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
The answer is nothing. Not man, not the Devil and not the world. No one can do anything to you when your fear is in the Lord. We need to apply this to our lives, and we need to meditate on this thought. This needs to be appropriated to our daily struggles so that our fear doesn't keep us from the will of God.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Fear that guards your heart

Php 4:5-7 - The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus.

Peace is from God and peace will guard your heart and mind so that it will stay in Christ Jesus. That is the end goal. That through all of life's struggles and difficulties, our heart and mind would remain settled and sure in Christ Jesus as we trust Him and allow Him to be Lord in all life's circumstances. Why in Christ Jesus? Because Christ is our strength to make it through the difficulties and fearful realities. He is our joy which can be to the full despite circumstances. He is our caretaker, who will be with us forever and will help us overcome the world. The worst thing we can do is left anxiety upset our intimate relationship with Jesus. Above all else, cling to Jesus.

Ps 103:17 - But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—
The love of the Lord is with us and our children and our children's children.. This is a given. But, it remains on those who fear God. Fear God and know His love. It seems like a contradiction, but these two in fact go hand in hand. Love and fear, peace and joy... In all your anxieties, fear God only. You will be at peace, you will know His love and you will live unshakable in very shaky times.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fear that ends in spirit-filled peace

Jn 14:27 - Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

In this comforting statement to his disciples, Jesus offers them peace instead of fear. It is as if he defines them as opposites, declares them as enemies and says this will be a sign of their trust in Jesus. If they ever experience trouble in their spirit or fear, they don't have the peace of Christ that he is offering them. In the verse before, Jesus tells them about the Holy Spirit and how he will not only bring to their minds all the teachings of Jesus but also teach them as well. That is a clue to how to have peace when you are fearful. We need the words of Jesus and the Words of scripture in our hearts, allowing the Spirit to replace fear with truth. But, it again is also a clue for us that if fear is first, that Jesus is not, because he promises to give us peace to replace our fear.

Is 11:1-3 - A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord— and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears;

I thought this was an amazing verse that describes how a Spirit-filled person will not only fear God, but will delight in the fear of the Lord. What a beautiful statement. When we are filled with the Spirit, we will delight in the fear of the Lord. It is a delightful thing because when you fear God, you will fear nothing else. It protects and purifies your soul and your mind from fearing anything else. It focuses us and centers us and frees us from the worries of the world. If we are to be like Jesus, we will, too, delight in the fear of the Lord, because His Spirit is in us.