Fear - Tackling this Joy Stealer part 2|
Once again, we're learning to tackle the joy-stealers in life and this week we're addressing to joy-stealer of fear. Fear and faith, although they're opposite of one another, share something in common - the future, the unknown. Often times, we fear what is ahead.
I found a rather funny, interesting article that deals with some statistics regarding the fear and the unknown:
"How to stay safe in the world today:
1. Avoid riding in automobiles because they are responsible for 20 percent of all fatal accidents.
2. Do not stay home because 17 percent of all accidents occur in the home.
3. Avoid walking on streets or sidewalks because 14 percent of all accidents occur to pedestrians.
4. Avoid traveling by air, rail, or water because 16 percent of all accidents involve these forms of transportation.
5. Of the remaining 33 percent, 32 percent of all deaths occur in hospitals. Above all else, avoid hospitals
You will be pleased to learn that only .001 percent of all deaths occur in worship services in church, and these are usually related to previous physical disorders. Therefore, logic tells us that the safest place for you to be at any given point in time is at church! Bible study is safe, too. The percentage of deaths during Bible study is even less. For safety sake, attend church and read your Bible…it could save your life."
All kidding aside, fear is a real problem today. Some people are afraid to go to the doctor because they fear that he will discover a serious problem. Other people do not read the newspaper or watch TV because they fear what is happening in the world.
Many people are shackled and paralyzed by their fear of the past, present, and future. They worry that the past will catch up with them, that they will not be able to cope with their present life, and that their future will hold even more problems for them. Yet over and over again God tells us in His Word, "Fear not for I am with you."
That's why we're learning to tackle the joy-stealer of fear. Our main scripture passage is Deuteronomy 1:19-40. Let's all turn there and read that passage as we get into the message.
So far we've looked at…
I. What Fear Can Influence Us to Do
Last week we saw that fear can influence us…
A. To Disregard God's Plan,
B. To Distort God's Purposes,
C. To Discourage God's People,
D. To Disbelieve God's Promises, and
E. To Disobey God's Principles.
We ended last week's message by asking the questions,
"How do we keep it from taking control?" And…
"What do we do when fear is invading our hearts and minds?"
Today let's discover…
II. How God Wants Us to Respond to Fear
I want to show you five principles that'll protect you from being controlled and dominated by fear.
A. Confront It
I don't claim to be an expert on overcoming fear but I've found that fear doesn't just decide to act nice and leave you alone. If you want to tackle fear you have to confront it to get rid of it.
Try to determine what it is that is giving that fear an opportunity to take root in your life and face it honestly. If you don't know what it is, ask God in prayer. Get counsel from someone who's spiritually mature, trusted friend or mentor. You can't tackle and get rid of what you can't identify.
Ten years ago to this month, I read fascinating story in Moody Monthly magazine (Sep/Oct, 1996) about a family who was growing more and more afraid about the likelihood of another world war. In 1982 they wanted to move to a location in the world where they were certain that peace would be guaranteed. So they moved to this set of British-controlled islands off the coast of Argentina - the Falkland Islands. Five days later, the Argentine army invaded the Falkland Island, and they found themselves in the middle of a war.
That's how fear is. If God wants you to overcome it you may run from it now but you'll run head on into it somewhere down the line. It will follow you wherever you go unless you confront it.
B. Confess It
I have touched on this already but it bears repeating. If God says "fear not" and you and I still fear, we are disobeying God. And disobeying God is wrong - it's sin.
You may think it's impossible to be able to command your feelings, to tell your feelings to "Fear not." You may not be able to command your feelings, but you can command your will to obey the voice of the Lord and fill your life with His truth.
Here's a great passage of Scripture for you: Psalm 34:4 says, "I sought the Lord, and He answered me, He delivered me from all my fears."
Where our will goes, our feelings follow. If we try to seek the Lord with all our heart, obey the Lord with all our will, dwell in the Lord with our whole mind by meditating on the His Word, we'll find our feelings - including our feelings of fear - gradually following behind.
Too many people try to get rid of fear without recognizing it and confessing it as sin. What God has forgiven and removed will not have dominion over you.
Therefore, learn to confess fear for what it is.
C. Claim God's Protection
If I found myself overcome by fear of some particular thing, here is what I would do: I would take a stack of index cards and fill them with verses that deal with that specific fear or fear in general. Put one verse on each card; then put the cards in places where you will see them all day long: on your car visor or dashboard, on the bathroom mirror, on the kitchen counter, on your desk at work, in your purse or wallet, in a coat pocket.
Every where you go, take the Word of God with you to remind you of the truth about fear. Many times it's a matter of allowing God to renew your mind on a matter before he can transform how you think about it.
Look at Romans 12:2: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
You and I have to learn to see things through God's perspective and power.
Wherever you are, when the spirit of fear begins to intimidate you, you will have the truth of God near at hand. Instead of allowing your mind to be filled with fearful lies, fill it with the Word of God. Tell the Enemy when he begins whispering to you about fear, "Forget it. I have a word from God that says, 'Fear not!'"
Learn to claim God's protection.
D. Cultivate Your Walk
The biggest factor in your being able to tackle your fear(s) is probably the most obvious but also the most neglected. You and I need to cultivate our walk with God.
Before dismissing this as too basic or simplistic, think about it. What was it about the two of those twelve spies who weren't fearful; the two who believed God would help them take the land? We get a clear picture of them from three passages of Scripture; Deuteronomy 1:36; Numbers 14:24; 32:12.
To sum up all three of those passages, all three of them say that Joshua and Caleb "followed the Lord wholeheartedly." This was the difference between the two who were courageous and the ten who were fearful. They had a relationship with God that was the driving force in their lives. As a result, there very little room for fear. When they saw giants and walled cities, they said, "God can handle this. What's there to be afraid of?" Where the others saw obstacles, Joshua and Caleb saw God.
God's perfect love casts out fear (1st John 4:18). When little kids are afraid, they run to their parents who are bigger and stronger than what they fear. When they do so they find protection and strength. I don't know of anyone or anything bigger or stronger than God. Do you? God enfolds us in His loving, powerful arms and casts out our fear.
E. Commit Your Life
The greatest fear anyone could ever have is the fear of death (Heb. 2:14-15). It only stands to reason that if the biggest fear is conquered, all smaller fears can be conquered as well. There is only one sure way to conquer the fear of death, and that is by accepting the gift of eternal life offered by Jesus Christ.
If you are a Christian, certain of your eternal life, you've already conquered the greatest fear. No other fear should concern you. If you are not a Christian, and live not only in fear of death but of other things as well, I invite you to accept God's gift of love for you, Jesus Christ. Remember: His perfect love casts out all fear.
Kurt Krowel is the former pastor of Applegate Community Church in the beautiful Rogue Valley area of southern Oregon. He attended Multnomah Bible College and is a gifted speaker and theology teacher.