Last week we looked at how faith and patience are needed to help us inherit those promises of God that have become personalized to us individually. The writer of Hebrews identified six elementary teachings for Christians to understand, found in Hebrews 6:1-2.
I am sure that we all have questions related to these points just as I do in my own walk with Jesus. What about sin that I struggle with? When I sin does God still love me? What happens when I repent over and over? Can I lose my faith in God? Why was I born with sickness? Can I get baptized again and again in the Holy Spirit? (yes please). What is heaven going to be like?
The exhortation from the Scriptures last week was not to become lazy in putting these foundational truths into practice, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherited their promises (Hebrews 6:12).
As a young believer, I was full of questions just like a young child growing up in life. I began to realize that one of the main struggles that I grew up with was fear. I was afraid of getting sick and dying. I was afraid of what people thought of me. I was afraid of conflict. I was afraid of losing my salvation. Maybe you can relate to some of these or even have a few of your own fears that you identify with. Here are some common fears; spiders, snakes, heights, dogs, speaking in public, fear of germs, flying, clowns, death, fear of the unknown… The world we live in is full of fears and phobias and with all the instant access we have to world events – fear is on the rise. This morning I want to share with you some key Scriptures and promises that God has used in my life to help me overcome fear.
One of the most comforting thoughts of Scripture is that God loves us. I was captured by this love when I first became a Christian in 1980. I found myself in a brand-new world where I saw everything filled with the Presence of God. His love, mercy and forgiveness burst into my spirit and soul with such power that I was forever changed. I was a spiritual babe, wrapped and covered in the grace of God, and for several years found myself overjoyed with my new-found faith in Jesus. As I grew in my faith, I began to realize that I had areas of my life that I needed answers to, struggles in my life that I needed victory over. Let me begin by saying “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 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” (1 John 4:16-18). The primary way of overcoming fear is to know and experience God’s love daily. I still have fears in my life that I wrestle with, however, this is simply an opportunity to be made perfect in love.
When I think about the root cause of so many mistakes or spiritual pitfalls in our lives, fear is lurking in the shadows. Fear can cause us to collapse and settle for less than God’s best. It can rob us of our trust in God. It can damage relationships. We can lose sleep and even our health. Here are some Promises of Scriptures that God has used in helping me overcome fear.
Overcoming Common Fears of Life
One of the first promises of Scripture that God used in my life is found in Isaiah 43:1-7. This passage helped me to overcome the identity of fear that had become common to me. All too often we let fears and anxieties shape the way we think and feel and act. I found great strength in knowing that God had created and formed me as his son (verse 1). I was truly fearfully and wonderfully made by God. I needed to hear “fear not” for I have redeemed you (verse 1), my salvation was and is secure, even “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” (verse 2).
Knowing that God was and is with me helped me to, by faith and patience, overcome. God goes onto say that that you are precious and honoured in my sight because I love you (verse 4).
Whatever you are fearing - a health crisis, family problem, financial struggle - focus on the power of a God who calls you by name, and commands fear to flee from you heart. This was the beginning of my journey to freedom from fear.
Three points to overcoming fear
More than any other command in Scripture, God tells us not to fear. God never promises us a trouble-free life, but He does promise us His presence and the strength (spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional) we require to get through our troubles. Some have said they are 364 passages of Scripture about “do not fear” in the Bible. One for each day of the year...
2 Timothy 1:7 states, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (self-control, sound mind).” Another lesson to learn is this, there are times that fear has a negative, demonic nature to it, a spirit of fear. We need to learn to discern between our own fears and anxieties and what is an actual attack of the enemy. When the enemy rises us with fear, the Spirit of God rises up with power, love and self-discipline. I like to order of these words that Paul uses, power then love, not the love of power. We can truly experience the soundness of mind, the freedom from fear, when the Power and Love of God touches our lives.
Let’s ask God for the Holy Spirit to empower of lives with these three truths: Power, Love and the ability to control our thoughts.
Overcoming the fear of conflict
Psalm 18 is the song King David sang when he was delivered from the conflict of all his enemies including Saul. There are many situations in life, hopefully not as serious as King David, where relational conflicts abound. This can be in the home and family life, at work and even in the church. Sometimes these conflicts paralyze people with fear. This was and is one of my struggles in life. Psalm 18 is one of my favourite passages of Scripture because I see so many promises of God take pray and inherit.
· I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies (verse 3).
· In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears (verse 6). Then God acted…
· He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. 18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. 19 He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me (verses 17-19).
Speak these words over the source of your fear. God is our hiding place. For David, this meant sitting in a cave praying trained warriors did not discover him. For us, it’s identifying the root cause of our fear and inviting God into our distressing thoughts and feelings. Practically, this involves taking time in the Scriptures, sitting in your car on lunch break with worship music playing, or going for a walk praying and praising God and resisting fear. We weren’t saved by Jesus only to be scared out of our wits. God is the Rock of our Salvation only if we let him. We need to learn to trust him to deliver us from every fear coming against us!
Psalm 18 ends with these very encouraging words. “The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Saviour! 47 He is the God who avenges me, who subdues nations under me, 48 who saves me from my enemies. You exalted me above my foes; from violent men you rescued me. 49 Therefore I will praise you among the nations, O Lord; I will sing praises to your name. 50 He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed, to David and his descendants forever.”
Life is full of challenges and sometimes fear can get the best of us. There are times when fear has led me into sin. It is in those moments that I find the mercy of God to help me in my time of need. He is so gracious to forgive. We need to remind ourselves that God is in control of every struggle whether we pass through water and rivers or the fire. He so loves us that his Holy Spirit makes power and love and right thinking available to us when confronted by a spirt of fear. It is never too late for God to help us overcome the mess fear makes in our lives. He is our Rock and Fortress and comforter who brings his peace into our troubled situations.
CAN YOU SLEEP WHILE THE WIND BLOWS?
During a recent hurricane storm, the following story circulated on the Internet:
A farmer on the Atlantic seacoast constantly advertised for hired hands. Most people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic because of the awful storms that wreaked havoc on the buildings and crops. One applicant for the job was a short, thin man, well past middle age.
“Are you a good farm hand?” the farmer asked him.
“Well, I can sleep when the wind blows,” answered the little man.
Although puzzled by this answer, the farmer, desperate for help, hired him. The little man worked well and kept busy from dawn to dusk. The farmer felt satisfied with the man’s work.
Then one night the wind howled loudly from offshore. Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed to the hired hand’s sleeping quarters. He shook the little man and yelled, “Get up! A storm is coming! Tie things down before they blow away!”
The little man rolled over in bed and said firmly, “No sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows.”
Enraged by the response, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot. He hurried outside to prepare for the storm. To his amazement, he discovered that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarpaulins. The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in the coops, and the doors were barred. The shutters were tightly secured. Everything was tied down. Nothing could blow away. The farmer then understood what his hired hand meant, so he returned to his bed to also sleep while the wind blew.
When you’re prepared for storms, spiritually, mentally, and practically, you have nothing to fear. Can you sleep when the wind blows through your life? The hired hand in the story was able to sleep because he had secured the farm against the storm.
We secure ourselves against the storms of life by soaking ourselves with the Word of God, being obedient to it and then placing our faith and trust in God’s goodness. We don’t need to understand, we just need to hold His hand to have peace in the midst of our storms.
Today I will prepare myself practically, mentally and spiritually so that I can sleep and not fear when the storms blow in my life.
Let’s make sure there are no loose ends in our lives. No hidden sin or fears.
Let’s make sure we have done all that we can to secure our life can survive the storms.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Phil 4:6-8).