Friday, January 22, 2010

#56 Spirit of Fear

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

At some point in our lives we all experience fear in approaching certain people. Perhaps it is someone who we think wants to hurt us. Maybe it is someone for whom we had a romantic desire. Sometimes we simply want to avoid confrontational people because we frankly do not need additional stress in our lives, and sometimes we simply think so little of ourselves that we fear rejection from others.

I can recall taking the flight from Gulf Port, MS to Kuwait International Airport. When we left Mississippi everyone was pretty “gung-ho” about our mission to support Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Our airplane hopped from Mississippi to Wisconsin, from Wisconsin to Newfoundland, from there to Hungary, and from there to Kuwait. On our approach to land in Kuwait about thirty minutes prior to landing an announcement was made by the flight crew that we would be landing soon. It was around 2:00 a.m. Kuwaiti time so we could not really see the landscape, but that did not stop our curiosity. Most of us got quieter and began to look out over the Kuwaiti desert to see whatever was there to see.

The atmosphere of the group changed in those few minutes. The aircraft went from being slightly noisy and jovial to a calm solemnity. Why; because it was starting to settle into our minds that we had arrived at the point where training met reality. All the long months and possibly years of training were about to be tested over the next twelve months. Although no one would have admitted it, I think we were all afraid of the uncertainties on one level or another.

Yes, I was a Christian at the time and I too had some fears. I wondered if I would ever see my children or wife again. I can recall looking around the aircraft and wondering if anyone from our unit would be killed in action. It was part of my job to facilitate memorial services for fallen Soldiers along with my chaplain. I prayed that we would not have to do any memorial services for our unit, and I praise the Lord no one from our unit was lost during that deployment.

In Ecclesiastes 1:9 Solomon wrote, “…there is nothing new under the sun.” When sin entered into the heart of men fear came along with it. Adam and Eve hid themselves from the Lord because they were ashamed of their sinfulness (Genesis 3:10). Fear is the emotion that characterizes those who have sinned against God, and all have sinned (Romans 3:23). So while we are separated from God we have a need to be afraid because we will be guilty of our sins in the judgment. When Christ comes the second time the wicked will cry out in fear for the mountains and rocks to fall on them (Revelation 6:16).
I can understand why those that have not accepted Christ live in fear, but why do some Christians live in fear.

Is it because:

1. They have not fully surrendered their hearts to Christ?

2. They are hiding sin in their lives from the world around them and they remain fearful because they realize God knows their sin?

3. They don’t understand just how much God loves them?
4. They have not forgiven themselves for past sins committed?
5. They simply have not spent enough time with God that they might learn to trust Him?

The reasons why Christians remain fearful of the Lord can be multi-faceted. If you find yourself fearful of God today have you asked yourself, “Why?” It may be for some of the reasons I just mentioned or it could be for one or two of a thousand other reasons. Whatever the reason you feel fearful in approaching God today, I want you to have hope. Hope in knowing that fear is not part of the good gifts that God wants His children to possess, and He is the ultimate giver of good gifts. According to our theme text God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.

Do you want that power today? Do you want to have a heart filled with love? Would you like to feel confident in making decisions because the Lord has granted you sound judgment? It is all yours for the taking right now. It is as simple as having faith to believe that Christ will do a good work in you (Philippians 1:6). It all comes down to trust. Trust is synonymous with faith. When we have faith in someone or something we essentially trust it or them to do what they are supposed to do. When we allow Christ to be both Lord and Savior of our life then we begin to build that trust or faith relationship. Too many of us only call on the Lord when the going gets tough. Reality is that God wants us to trust in Him for everything: both great and small.

One of the best ways to build that type of surrendered relationship with the Lord is to spend time in prayer. We need to spend time before the throne of grace. We have need to confess to Christ our sins, lift our voices in praise to Him, bear our burdens to Him, and to listen for the prompting of the Holy Spirit. As we communicate more and more with our God through prayer the fears that we harbor can diminish as He takes total control of our life.

I recognize that some fears are due to heavy psychological trauma and may require professional therapy, but I think for most of us fear comes because we lack a deep spiritual experience with the Lord; because we do not understand His immense love for us. In 1 John 4:18 we are told that there is no fear in love because perfect love casts out fear. Perfect in the Biblical sense means "complete". I want each one who reads this to realize that Christ's love is just that: complete. He has done everything necessary to save us. We must simply believe in Him with our whole heart and live surrendered to His will for our lives. When we take that step of faith fear must flee in light of His perfect love.

How is it with you today friend? Are you fearful of the future? Do you worry about finances? Do you have uncertainty about your spirituality? Please know that any spirit of fear you may have is not of God. I promise you that if you have given your heart to the Lord, Jesus Christ, then you have nothing to fear in this world or the one to come because you are a child of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Why not let today be the day that you cast off fear and embrace a spirit of victory? Let God be glorified by your life that is lived with power and love.

Dear father God,
We thank You for Your awesome love. We thank You that we can live without fear as long as we live for Jesus. Teach us just now to accept your perfect love and give us the power to live victorious Christian lives in order that You might be glorified through us. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.

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