Lets talk about fear

Fear and love are mutual enemies. We cannot love God with all of our heart when we live in fear.

Can I talk about fear? You know, the kind of fear that surrounds us when we are up against the unknown. When I hear folks say they live in fear I just want to get out my magic wand and make it all better. Ahhhh. If only life were so simple!

As you and I read the Scriptures, we hear God pleading, we hear God admonishing, we hear God commanding us and hear God calling us to trust Him. I have noticed that if I am not too willing to trust God for the circumstance then I feel as if God is nagging me. God is really good at getting our attention. If we engage in His Word every day, we are sure to hear every single day in some form, to not be afraid. God’s deepest desire is for us to simply trust Him in everything. He stands at the door of our heart gently knocking and whispering: “It is I! Be not afraid!” [John 6:20]

You and I both know from experience that the Christian life is a constant battle between fear and trust. And God is not shy about telling us that we are going to experience two extremes fighting a war for dominance: anxiety vs. trust, and doubt vs. confidence.

Here is the challenge for you and I. We must learn [and continue to learn our whole lives] to not be shaken with fear. We must learn to not allow fear to seize our hearts and minds. If we do, it causes us to not believe God, or His Word. Luke 1:74 says that God wants us “to serve Him without fear all of our days.” Fear and love are mutual enemies. We cannot love God with all of our heart when we live in fear. God talks much about fear. He knows that it is an issue in our hearts. The word “fear” is used 385 times in the Bible [depending on the translation]. God expects us to understand the ramifications of fear left unchecked in our lives.

When you and I allow fear to be dominate in our lives, we cannot have faith. Faith will never grow in our lives. But what will grow in our lives is a trend downward. It begins with doubt, progresses to worry and then develops into fear. Think of it this way: Fear is faith in reverse. It is believing the words of Satan over the Word of God. That is the definition of spiritual fear: Believing Satan over God. Fear destroys the promises of God in our lives. Matthew 13: 58 (ESV): “And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.” There are no mighty works of great deliverance when unbelief dominates our thoughts and attitudes. Satan gets the de facto glory and the Lord Jesus Christ is relegated to the side lines of our life.

You and I can pray and search for discernment but until we are willing to relinquish our fear, we in effect binding God in chains. Fear always leads us to the altar of unbelief. Fear always builds unbelief. Unbelief is the root and essence of all sin. Unbelief always causes the heart to fall away from the living God.

For a more in-depth discussion of fear and its effect on you and I, check out this excellent article by Timothy A. Rowe titled:

Conquering Fear, Worry and Anxiety With Unshakeable Faith found at his blog site:

https://goodnessofgodministries.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/conquering-fear-worry-and-anxiety-with-unshakable-faith/

Insanity

Christians, if you have not noticed, we are at war. The bombing at the Boston Marathon is just one skirmish in a war. All of this barbarism we are seeing in the world is not about religion, economics, politics or mental instability. We live in a world that has learned that the blame game is easier and avoids responsibility rather that looking at the source. We have a choice. We can believe what the world believes, that if we just fixed [add what you think] the world would become a friendly place. Or you can believe what God inspired a man to write about two thousand years ago. Consider: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. [Eph 6:12 NASB] The murderous actions we have on our doorstep are the result of living in a world that is hell-bent in an insane rebellion against our Creator God. Since the Garden Plot instigated by Satan at the beginning of our history, we have shifted the blame. What is the underlying force behind every hate-filled action? It is nothing less than treason against the One who made us for love and flourishing. We live in a world that has run amuck due to insanity. Sin is insanity. Sin destroys everything good, right and true. Sin is not rational. An insane person cannot be reasoned with. Our rebellion has allowed sin to thrive in darkness, hating anything that opposes the darkness. We insanely allow abortion, lying, greed, idolatry and the twisting of marriage, to name just a few, within the ranks of Christianity. Sin opposes everything God loves.

We as a society have aggressively worked to find answers to the flare up of violence through pathology. We turn everything into a study of disease, attempting to map out the ‘social diseases’ nature, processes, development and consequences. We divorce God from the study, and are successful in laying out a disease’s functional manifestation but rarely its prevention. We spend huge amounts of resources looking for answers to horrific events such as the Boston Bombing or Sandy Hook but forget to go to the source of all social pathology, the soul. Second generation man introduced brother murdering brother over jealousy. Jealously leads to resentment which leads to anger. Anger looks for a way to express itself physically in a rage, and as God told Cain, ‘sin is crouching at the door, looking to own you.’ Violence, in other words, is often the tipping point after resentment turns to rage, inciting us to do violent things.

In all of man’s history, we still have not figured out how to ‘cure’ or prevent jealousy. Or greed. Or hate. Violence does not begin with saber-rattling armies, generational ethnic hatred, and longstanding social inequities. That is a mask for the real issue that we avoid like the plague. Violence is as close to us as our own hearts. We insist that the solution lies somewhere outside ourselves. God makes it clear that our hearts are the issues. Shifting the blame to something or someone started in the Garden. Evidence of the fall, is our willingness to we lie to ourselves by saying our act of adultery caused externally by someone else’s good looks. We lie to ourselves if we say that our greed is caused by our lack of money. We lie to ourselves if we say that envy is caused by our neighbor’s new car, and violence is not caused externally by video games or movies. It is and has been there all along, since our birth.

How do we tip the scales toward non-violence in practical terms? What does that looks like from God’s perspective? There must be a change in the heart. There must be a ‘God intervention.’ What can we do about violence in our hearts? Consider what James wrote: “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness…. What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.” Sounds very much like what God told Cain: “Sin is crouching at your doorstep” so be care what you decide to do. What are you going to choose to do? Cain chose to be a vigilante. Jesus came so that we could choose vigilance. Jesus does not want us to be doormats and wait for violence to erupt. As followers of Jesus he commands us to close the gap. He wants us to do as He did and engage with those who have been rejected by others. We are to reach out and connect with the wounded of our community before they snap and lash out in rage. We cannot end violence. But we can do much to bring down the level of insanity seen in tension and stress around us by living at peace with our brothers and sisters within and without the family of God.

Out Came This Calf

Date:  Friday, October 12, 2012             Subject:  Out Came This Calf

 

Chapter: Exodus 32

To understand this chapter we must clearly understand the concept of delay. It is a simple word and we use it fairly often in our normal conversation. But it also is a Kingdom Principle used effectively by God to make us more like Christ. Check out this key word.

 

Key word[s]                         Delay

definitions:    To cause to be later or lower than expected or desired; to act or move slowly.

synonyms:   postponement, wait, on hold, interruption, detain, linger

antonyms:   hurry, rush, urge, hasten, expedite, accelerate

 

We have all heard the old axiom “Seeing is believing.” This is a myth. No. Actually for the man or woman redeemed by God, it is more than that; it is a bold-faced lie. It is a deception promoted by Satan. He wants us to buy into the false thinking that if we just see God do something, some miracle or sign, we will have all of our doubts removed. Then we will be able to trust God better and we will improve our serving Him. But the evidence demands a verdict! Will we really trust God better after seeing Him do something up close and personal. The whole story of a people hand-picked by God to escape the clutches of Egypt reveals the truth.

 

Ponder:

How could a people, rescued by God’s personal intervention, utilizing awesome, previously unseen and unheard of signs and wonders, still not believe? Ask yourself: Have I fallen into the trap of consciously or subconsciously thinking that if I just see some evidence that God is near then I will trust God more?

 

Disadvantage[s]

One of the Israelites’ biggest mistakes was their lack of spiritual vision. We have just read about this exodus but let me recap for you. God heard the cries of the Israelites and sent Moses to lead them out of bondage. Not wanting to lose all of this free labor, Pharaoh resisted and God convinced him otherwise with the 10 Plagues. A cloud by daylight and a pillar of fire by night guided and guarded them on this journey out of Egypt and into the desert. God leads them to the Red Sea and they find themselves trapped. Fear accompanied by grumbling and suddenly an escape route of dry land appears across the Red Sea opens up. Now the “believers” are safely on the other side and over the horizon comes the army of Egyptians madder than hornets. Again fear and complaining by the people who have seen God at work. They watch as the Egyptians try to use God crossing but they perish as the sea closes over them.

 

For three months they travel through the desert. There is much complaining. God patiently supplies them with manna, quail for meat, water from a rock, victory over an aggressive army of Amelekites and finally they arrive at Mt. Sinai. All of the miracles that God provided for them they could either see, hear, taste, smell or feel. You would think that the story would take a turn for good. Here the people of God have seen and experienced first-hand God’s care and protection. Then we read: “Moses entered the midst of the cloud as he went up to the mountain; and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.” [Ex 24:18] What follows is an amazing teaching about our hearts. God has lots to tell Moses and this delays Moses return. The people of God get restless this throws a monkey wrench into their sight-based faith [actually this is an oxy-moron].  

 

Advantage / Benefit:

It was electrifying news circulating amongst the disheartened disciples. Jesus Christ has come out of the tomb. He is risen from the dead! He told us that He would and He has done it. Just as he had said he would. They were excited. “We have seen the Lord!” [John 20:25] all of the disciples excitedly confirmed … all that is but one. Thomas hear them but could not bring himself to believe it. “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side,” he exclaimed, “I will not believe it” (John 20:25). “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side” he explained to the others, “I will not believe.” A few day later, saw by sight what he refused to believe by faith, when Jesus provided the opportunity for him to see in person and examine His wounds. Then “Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.

 

We are all on a journey of faith. Want to learn how not to make the journey? Learn from the people of God on that long ago journey. They lacked faith. Because they lacked faith, doubt caused disobedience which kept an entire generation of God’s people from their inheritance — “So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. [Hebrews 3:19] Pastor Ralph has been carefully laying the frame work in these last few Sunday sermons so we can avoid the outcome that the people of the Exodus experienced. They perished in the wilderness. God wants us to be warned today. Living by faith is essential to living as pleasing to God. [Hebrews 4:1-3] “So we fix our eyes,” Paul wrote, “not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal…. We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 4:18; 5:7).

 

THREE Applications:

A1:     “Now when Moses saw that the people were out of control…” [v.25]Don’t let yourself get out of control in the dark by rejecting what God has shown you in the light.

 

A2:      Rebellion makes us do crazy things. Rejecting God, no matter how small the matter, causes us to believe our own lies even when we know someone will not believe what we are saying.  “… and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.” [v.24] Really? Surely Aaron did not think Moses would believe such a story?

 

A3:      “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” [Heb 12:3]