The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dealing with Fearfulness - Part 2

Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me. - Psalm 55:5

How should we deal with fear? When the enemy uses fear against us we need to respond with a steadfast faith in God (1 Peter 5:9). When we’re overtaken with fear we need to run to God in faith. David is the one who was inspired by God to pen Psalm 55. David was a man of war. Some mistakenly think courage in battle is the absence of fear. That is wrong. Courage in battle is the proper management of fear. Every soldier or warrior knows fear. A hero is a hero not because they don’t fear but because they manage their fear better than others. David felt fear and he was courageous. His courage to overcome his fears was rooted in His faith in God. In Psalm 55 he is inspired to write:

Psalm 55:16-17, 22 ­ - 16 As for me, I will call upon God, and the Lord shall save me. 17 Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice. . . . 22 Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.

David called on God in faith. He called on God with a confident trust that “the LORD shall save me.” He prayerfully called on God “evening and morning and at noon.” He cried out to God in faith believing, “He shall hear my voice.” And then in faith David cast his burden on the LORD. He gave his fears to God in faith. He believed and encouraged his readers that “He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” God doesn’t want us to react and run from our fears. God wants to help us be steadfast and true in our fearful situations. In the New Testament Paul was inspired to write something similar when he said, “therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).

Abraham is an example that faith is the God-ordained means to overcome fear. Faith is the righteous way to deal with fear (Genesis 15:1, 6). He feared when called by God to an unknown land. He had to risk his family. He and Sarai were getting old and there seemed to him to be a risk that God would not fulfill His promise of an heir. How did Abraham overcome His fear? Abraham accepted God’s word that nothing was impossible for Him (Genesis 18:14). Abraham’s faith was strengthened to overcome any fears he might have had by his growing in the knowledge of the God who had called him (Genesis 18:19). When Abram acted in his flesh it led to bondage (Genesis 17:18-19, 21; Galatians 4:21-25). But when he overcame his fears by faith in God’s ability it led to the fulfillment of God’s promises in his life (Genesis 15:6; Galatians 4:26-5:1). Don’t fear. Have faith in God.

Faith by nature involves risk. Faith requires we trust God for “things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). We naturally fear the unknown. We fear dark places. We fear the future because we don’t know what it holds. We fear when we don’t know the outcome of situations. All of that is overcome by faith in God. Faith in God is not irrational or a leap of faith into a complete unknown. We know God. And God has proven Himself faithful countless times in Biblical history and in the history of believers throughout the ages. Look at Hebrews 11’s record of those who trusted God. God got them through incredibly fearful situations. If we know God we need not fear the future unknowns because we know the One who holds the future. God makes the unknowns secondary. We erase the unknowns and fears they produce by trusting in God who has given us an entire Bible full of examples of His reliability in fearful situations. We overcome fears through trust in God whose promise is, “He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.”

Are you fearful? Are you overcome with fear? The answer to your fears is knowing God. God is knowable. Eternal life is all about knowing God; it’s all about knowing Jesus (John 17:3). The Bible says it’s possible to know God and even have a relationship with Him (1 John 1:3; 2:3-6; 3:6, 14; 5:13). If you are overcome with fear the only way to overcoming those fears is trusting in Jesus as your Savior and Lord.

How can we know the Lord? If you want to know God simply admit that you are a sinner (Rom. 3:23; 1 Jn. 1:8). All sin is against God (Ps. 51:4). Sin separates us from God (ps. 66:18; Isaiah 59:2; Habakkuk 1:13). Who is a sinner? We all are because God is so holy that breaking even one of His commands bars us from heaven (Gal. 3:10-13; Ja. 2:10). Test yourself by God’s Ten Commandments to see where you stand (Exodus 20). Sin is like cancer; even one cell if left unattended can spread fatal death. God won’t let sin or sinners into heaven. The wages of sin is therefore eternal death (Rom. 6:23). This is not annihilation or a ceasing to exist, this is a never ending place of God’s just punishment to those who persisted in sin (Mat. 25:46; Rev. 20:11-15). We cannot satisfy God’s just judgment on us as sinners by doing good works (Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:4). If a person murdered someone but for the rest of their lives they were good, they would still be a murderer. You can’t work your way to heaven. To God our efforts to work our way to heaven are like filthy rags! (Isaiah 64:6). Trying to work your way into Holy God’s holy heaven is actually a supreme insult to Him.

Once you’ve admitted your sin you need to believe Jesus Christ is the only One who can save you from your sins. Jesus is the only way of salvation (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). There is no alternative to the cross work of Jesus to be forgiven your sins and be granted access to heaven (Mat. 26:36-46). To seek an alternative to Jesus or try to add to His work is the greatest offense to God because it diminishes what God in Christ has done for us (2 Cor. 5:19). Jesus alone paid your sin debt which is a death penalty when He died on the cross (1 Pet. 3:18). When we trust Jesus as our Savior God forgives our sin and actually exchanges our sin for Jesus righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). How do we know Jesus death on the cross satisfies God’s just requirement to forgive sin? Jesus rose from the dead showing that He has the power to defeat death (the penalty of sin – cf. 1 Cor. 15). Believing this is the basis of God’s forgiveness (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

The faith or trust that saves is not a mere assent to the truth about Jesus. Demons believe the gospel and tremble at their dark destiny (James 2:19). What’s the difference? Saving faith is by nature repentant toward sin. To repent means to forsake our sin and seek God’s forgiveness. You may be sorry for your sins, but godly sorrow leads to repentance, a forsaking of your sin (2 Cor. 7:10). We need to confess our sins before God which means to feel about our sins the same as God does (1 John 1:9). The Bible says if we confess with our mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead we shall be saved (Rom. 10:9). All of this is by God’s grace. We merely have to trust God and receive His gift of salvation (John 1:12). Doing this gives us a fresh start on life (2 Cor. 5:17). Then we will begin to know Jesus and He says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). With Jesus by your side, you can overcome your fears. God bless you with a saving faith that overcomes your fears.

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