People are afraid of a lot of stuff… spiders, tornadoes, crime, losing a loved one, or a job, the economy, fear of commitment, fear of asking out the girl in your class, maybe getting the next Vepco bill, fear of heights or of pneumatic nail guns, maybe the ocean, or even witnessing for Jesus.
Today I want to address the issue of choosing faith over fear.
The Bible has a lot to say about NOT being afraid…
- The angel visits a young virgin and says do not be afraid.
- The angel tells Zacharias and says he should not be afraid.
- The angels tells the shepherds about the good news of great joy.
- Jesus as He approaches the disciples on the sea, walking on the water.
- After the resurrection, Jesus encourages the disciples.
- The Lord to Paul during the shipwreck; that he must stand before Caesar.
- The apostle John on Patmos, in his vision of the risen Christ, “do not be afraid, I am the first and the last”
The verse for today is 2 Timothy 1:7 – he has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind, (or discipline).
FEAR is basically False Evidence Appearing Real.
- False = because our enemy wants to use deception and lies to bring us down, to debilitate us from being useful and effective for Christ, he is even called the father of lies.
- Evidence = because we are a people that seek signs to validate our experiences, the enemy wants to convince us that what we fear is rational, rather than a phobia that many people term as irrational.
- Appearing = because we rely on our sight, so much that we tend to walk by sight rather than by faith.
- Real = because our actions are based on what we believe to be real. It’s not myth or legend that we trust in, because we follow principles of logic and science, and often these are convincing and appear real.
A spirit of fear is not something God gives to us. God wants us to walk in faith. According to 2 Timothy 1:7, He has given us:
- Power = because weak and timid are not synonymous with power, they just don’t go together. The same power that raised Jesus is available to us today. We say that we cannot help but be afraid. Sure, it’s fine to be afraid at times. Fear often keeps us form doing stupid things that can damage us or kill us or do us harm. But as believers, we do not have to live in fear.
- Love = because the essence of God is love, and we are to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves. You really cannot love someone that your fear. The fear of the Lord is more like respect and awe; but also knowing that He has the power of life and death over us, maybe we are just flat our suppose to fear Him. We can love God because of the great love He has shown to us, the sacrifice of His one and only Son on our behalf, even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
- Sound Mind = because once one comes to Christ, our theology begins to make sense. The natural man cannot accept or understand the things of the Spirit of God, and they are foolishness to him, because they are spiritually discerned. Other translations use the term discipline which perhaps gives us an understanding into spiritual disciplines like prayer, fasting, solitude, Bible study, fellowship with believers and witnessing to the world. God wants us to move from fear to faith.
I would call FAITH, Forsaking All I Trust Him.
- Forsaking = because when we move toward God, we must move away from other things, like sin, worldliness, vices, bad habits, unhealthy relationships, pleasure seeking, acquisition of stuff.
- All = because sometimes we tend to think that we can let Jesus into the living room or the parlor of our heart, but we don’t want Him to roam around the whole house. My heart Christ’s home. He wants all of us; to go into every room. We can’t clean up on our own, we need Him to sweep the place clean, eliminating that which is not allowing me to conform to the image of Christ.
- I = because choosing faith over fear is a personal decision, no one can choose to have faith for someone else. Each must decide to follow Christ and choose to live for Him on a daily basis. We wake each day with a choice to make… will I surrender to Christ or have my own way?
- Trust = because this is the essence of what we offer back to God. The same Greek word for faith is often translated as belief. When we truly trust, we believe what God says is trustworthy, and we act on our faith. John 3:36 (KJV) says “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” It is better translated in the NASB, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life,” Same word, belief, faith, obedience. The word carries a lot of weight…
- Him = because God is worthy of our total devotion to Him. He is the sovereign God of the universe, and we are nothing in His sight. What is man that God should be mindful of him? We cannot save ourselves. The relationship with God has been broken and the only way to mend that relationship is to follow the instructions of the offended one, just like in earthly relationship. “What can I do to make up for what I did?” We can never just do what we want to make up for a wrong we did to someone else. We come back into relationship on the terms of the offended one. God made a way, through Christ and His sacrifice, and we can never just come back to God on our own terms or in a self-styled religious ceremony.
On this weekend that celebrates our nation’s independence (message given on July 5, 2009), we can move from fear toward faith only be proclaiming our dependence. Dependence on God, and that He really does have our best interest at heart. That He desires to provide the best for us, and protect us from harm. Maybe you have not turned your life over to Christ. Make this day your declaration of dependence.