FAITH OR FEAR: WHICH WILL YOU CHOOSE?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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by

Voyle A. Glover

God hath not given us the spirit of fear,
but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
-II Timothy 1:7

Dr. Lark's Harmony Today fear lays across the land like a giant fog, shrouding our homes and lives, showing us outlines and shadows instead of reality. Fear has settled upon our land, indeed, our world, as the fog used to lay perpetual upon the cobblestones of London where it blotted out the sun and moon and darkened the nights with an eerie paleness that cloaked the wickedness of many and heightened the fears of all who lived there.

Today, we see new horrors daily on television. We sit in astonishment as the scenes of violence and anarchy etch themselves into our minds and our history. And then we cringe at the foolishness of our politicians and leaders as they pontificate. We realize they have no answers because they don't understand the real problem. They have failed to comprehend the nature of sin and the nature of our God.

Many sit fearful because they've come to understand what many of us have known for many years now: there is a moral and spiritual failure in our nation and world, the likes of which we've never seen. And it's scary.

Perhaps worse, that failure is mirrored in our leaders who, beset by a nefarious media who've prostituted themselves in their incesteous quest for "ratings," have bowed themselves to the gods of anarchists and fools.

Is it any wonder then that fear sits beside every rocker on every front porch, lies beside grey haired saints, rides to school on buses with children with troubled eyes and fearful souls? Can we wonder at the confusion that reigns in the hearts and minds of these children as they see their world crumbling, hear the adults lamenting and watch the leaders stumbling as blind men in the dark, mumbling cliched platitudes, pictures of ineptitude and helpless even as to themselves, let alone the rest of us? And why are we surprised when so many of them decide they want out, and they take whatever escape presents itself: drugs, alcohol, sex, or even suicide?

Old men and women wake every day, fearful that this will be their last day alive, or one of the few left to them. Some fear old age, fearing the lack of freedom, or the nearness of death; or perhaps for some, it is the fear of the wrinkles, a man or woman's horror of losing the looks they carried so proudly through life. Men fear old age for no more can they slay dragons, nor make new adventures in life, nor conquer, nor ever again feel the vigor of youth's blood coursing through their veins.

In the "civilized" world, crime is the great fear. Men go to work fearful of being held up or attacked on the subway. Women fear violent sexual attacks while men fear for their wives and daughters. The "uncivilized" simple people of our world fear starvation or conquest by a neighboring people. Christian young people face the same fears as the worldly, unchurched kids face. They also fear loss of face, or the loss of the respect of their peers. They fear the unknown and fear their mom and dad's Christianity might one day go the way of a friend's parents: to the divorce courts. According to some studies, the thing children in America fear most is the divorce of their mom and dad. 

Teens fear losing face or being considered different or not one of the crowd. Young men fear not being able to find a beautiful wife (and a few years later fear not being able to find a wife, period). Young girls fear not being able to find "Mr. Right" and the parents fear their daughters will find what appears to be "Mr. Right" and that he will turn out to be "Mr. Wrong."

Politicians fear losing elections and having to work for a living, wondering how they will be able to earn enough to make ends meet. Governments fear losing control of the masses and fear other nation's who appear to be powerful. Governments fear being conquered by a nation with a war-like mindset or they fear the economic power of a nation. Businesses fear losing business or losing a contract or a market.

In every facet of life we find fear. It stalks the best of us.

Christians are not immune to it.

The pastor mounts his pulpit with a confident air but inside is frightened because of certain factions within the congregation which threaten to split his church. Or a pastor is fearful of not being able to grow his tiny congregation to a point to where the church can survive, or perhaps is fearful that his large, abundant congregation will shrink and create a financial hemorrhaging of the church with a consequential economic chaos and ruin. (How many pastors out there right now reading this are fearful of failure, fearing that others will pronounce "has been" or not up to handling your church?)

A Christian man is fearful about losing his job or about being able to earn enough money to provide adequately for his family. The Christian wife is fearful that her husband will betray her with another woman, as seems to be so common today. And across the land, Christian husbands try and quell the fear that lurks deep down inside that his wife will one day chuck it all and leave him for another man or another life.

There isn't a person reading this but who has not been fearful in some way in their life. I suspect many older persons, indeed, older Christians, are fearful about being cared for in their old age, or fearful because a mate is about to leave them for heaven, or has perhaps just passed on. You fear the unknown. You worry about being a burden, fearful that you will become a "problem" to your children. Or perhaps you fear that no one will want you, will want to care for you and that you'll be abandoned to a nursing home to waste away.

Fear stalks every one of us at different times in our lives. Jonah feared doing the will of God. David feared King Saul and at one time despaired so badly that he actually joined forces with the terrible enemies of Israel who were about to war with Israel. The servant of Elijah feared the great army encamped against the city.

Peter, after he had, in faith, walked on the water a short distance, suddenly became afraid. Reality sunk in. He was doing something that his fleshly mind said he could not do. He was doing something that his flesh said was impossible. His mind became fearful and unbelieving. And he sank into the waters and would have drowned but for Jesus.

The Bible record is replete with examples of men and women who were fearful. But again and again, God tells His people, "fear not." Indeed, the phrase "fear not" occurs in various contexts over 60 times in the Bible, the first time being when God told Abram: "Fear not, Abram: I [am] thy shield, [and] thy exceeding great reward." - Gen. 15:1. The last time that phrase appears is in Revelation 1:17: "And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last;"

God told His people to possess the land and not to fear (Duet. 1:21); to approach battle without fear (Duet. 20:3); to be strong and not to fear because God was with His people and would not forsake them nor fail them and would go before them (Duet. 31:6, 8; Joshua 8:1; 10:25), and told His people not to fear the gods of the enemy (Judges 6:10).

Prophets and men of God have carried that little phrase to the people of God in the Bible as well. Elijah, for example, comforted the widow of Zarephath who grew fearful when the man of God descended upon her household and demanded food when there was scarcely enough for herself and her son. Elijah, after hearing her words of fear of starvation, said: "Fear not; go [and] do as thou has said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring [it] unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son."

And David, as he lay dying, comforted Solomon, his son, that God would be with Solomon and wouldn't fail him nor forsake him as he worked to complete the work for the house of God (I Chron. 28:20). The angel of the Lord told Joseph not to fear taking Mary to wife (Matt. 1:20), spoke to Mary telling her to "fear not" because she'd found favor with God (Luke 1:30, and later an angel spoke to the women seeking Jesus after his death: "Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified."

And Jesus told his disciples not to fear because God places greater value upon them (and us) than "many sparrows," even knowing the number of the hairs on our head (Luke 12:7).

Fear is akin to the HIV virus which attacks the human immune system. We read of the scores who die from AIDS, but what we don't realize is that most of them died from heart failure, or pnuemonia, or some other disease brought on by the onslaught of the HIV virus on the immune system.

Fear is like that. It produces things that are more deadly than the feeling of fright or the physical feelings which cause the heart to race or cause the stomach to go hollow suddenly.

What would you say is the worst thing fear can produce?

Depression? No. The worst consequence is not depression, though that is often a consequence of fear. Well, perhaps a rash action is the worse thing. Is that it? Is it a terribly rash action that is taken without thought, prompted suddenly by fear, an action which brings about chaos or terrible consequences? Is that the worse result of fear?

Nay. There is worse. Far worse.

Some would want to argue that the worst thing that can be brought by fear is conformity, that is, the conforming of one's behavior or attitude such that the thing they fear is greatly lessened or disappears. Thus, a prisoner will, from fear, conform his or her behavior such that there is a reduction in the level of fear. This, of course, is what the captor desires. A Christian may conform his or her behavior to that of the world's level of tolerance or acceptance. A pastor may conform his messages to reduce the backlash he may get if he preaches on certain subjects or issues. A missionary may conform his or her activity to avoid confrontation with local or governmental authorities.

But conformity may often be mistaken for being wise and being "harmless as doves." Sometimes conformity is a wise course and a choice made not from fear but from experience and guidance from the Lord. It would depend, of course, upon the primary motivation of the conformity: is it fear, or otherwise?

And even if a conformity is produced by fear, it depends also on what you conform to and the results of the conformity. If the conformity causes a diminishment of one's moral behavior or values, then of course the fear has produced an evil action, a compromise of godliness, and of couse that is not good.

Another kind of conformity fear produces is inaction, a freezing of one's ability to act. A moral person may suddenly be unable to say a word in protest against an evil confronting him on the job or in his life. A politician may confront a situation where he is fearful of getting bad press by being too moral and thus is silent when he could and should have spoken against a thing. But conformity is not the worst product, either.

I'm convinced that the greatest of the evils produced by fear is the loss of faith in God. Suddenly, we doubt. We wonder at our God's ability to sustain us or deliver us or protect us or use us or prepare us or strengthen us or weaken us or enlighten us. We doubt. Satan's great delight is in making us fearful for he knows that when we fear, we are not walking in faith. If we fear, we have rejected the Holy Spirit, the Comforter Jesus promised us. We have rejected comfort. We have rejected the promises of God to provide for our needs. We have rejected the promises of God to give us strength. We have rejected the promises of God that greater is He that is in us that he that is in the world. We have rejected the notion that God is greater that Satan, yea, even greater than our sin and our propensity to sin.

When we fear, we have rejected our belief that God is the God of circumstances and have rejected the belief that even when we are in the midst of the valley, even the valley of death, our God is with us. When we fear, we have rejected the belief that Jesus is with us, that He promised He'd never leave nor forsake us. When we fear, we reject the notion that God can take back the years the locusts have eaten. Fear paralyzes our faith and causes us to doubt God and doubt His abilities and to doubt our ability to rely upon Him. Fear causes us to see our world suddenly through the eyes of man, constrained within the rules and laws therein and bounded by them.

Fear is the HIV of our faith.

Does the Scriptures say in vain that without faith it is impossible to please Him? And did not Jesus chastise with his words, the disciples, about their faith being small? "O' ye of little faith" was a phrase he reserved for his disciples but certainly fits us as well. The 11th chapter of Hebrews reminds us of the importance of faith. Read it. We learn how women received their dead back to life, how the jaws of lion's were shut, how fires were quenched, and a host of mighty things were done, all by faith.

There is no faith in fear. Where there is fear, there is little or no faith. Where there is faith, there is no room for fear. The two cannot occupy the same space and God has made us such that we cannot have both fear and faith in the same place. We cannot say to God we have faith in Him and His power to keep us and to deliver us and to be good to us and to be merciful to us, and yet be fearful. We cannot begin a walk in faith and dare to let fear creep in even for a moment. The moment fear enters, faith leaves and we begin to sink. We begin to doubt God can enable us to do His great work. We begin to see the waves instead of Jesus. We see the storm instead of The One Who Calms The Storm. We see the deep instead of the God to Whom the deep is no mystery nor barrier. And we see our fallibility instead of His infallibility. We see ourselves with all our limitations. In short, we no longer see God.

How many preachers have begun a good work for God and then, when the stormy waters lapped over their shoes and they moved their eyes from the face of Jesus to the vast ocean of troubles beneath them, began to fear?

And when the fear came, they began to doubt. They doubted their calling. They doubted God could use them. They doubted they were equipted. They doubted they were anointed. They doubted they were up to the task. They doubted God could overcome the problems. Worse, they doubted they had the faith necessary to do the work. Like Peter, they began to see the natural and miss the spiritual. As did Peter, they began to see the complete impossibility of man, of any man, to do what they were doing. They forgot that with God, all things are possible. They forgot that Paul (and they) can do "all things" through Christ. And their fear replaced their faith in God.

Moreover, their fear became reality, as did Peter's fear turn to reality. He feared the roar of the waters and the blackness of their depth and suddenly, his worst fears came true. He began to sink.

Christian, will you believe that God only is able to sustain you in the murky, turbulent waters of life? Don't you know that you are not capable of handling life's turmoils and that you cannot walk on the stormy waters except that ye have faith and except that God empowers you to do so? You can read all the theology books and acquire all the knowledge of the world, but it will not help diminish your fears when the you're stalked by the beast called Satan.

You see, if boils down to this: Either God is Who and What He says He is, or He is not. Either He can and will and does provide for our needs, or not. Either He is greater than all our enemies put together and multiplied a thousand times, or He is not. Either God can break the power of the wicked or He cannot.

It comes down to faith, my friend.

When the three Hebrew children, named in ancient Babylon as Shadrak, Mishek and Abednigo, went to the incredibly heated furnace, they expected to die. However, in a remarkable demonstration of courage and faith, they stood fearless before the king, reckoning that their God was well able to save them if He chose, and if not, then as God is good and can do no evil, if it were His desire they die, then they wanted what God wanted.

Clearly, to them, they were not in the hand of the king: they were in the hand of The King of Kings, the Lord God of the Universe. They knew who had the real power. The recognized that they had no power to divert the king's intent and did not try. They did not even have to give the problem to God. Nay, they never accepted the problem. They lived for God and had given their lives to Him. If this great God Who owned them wanted their lives, then who were they to deny Him? They understood that forces greater than themselves were at work and that their destiny was not something they controlled.

How sad we Christians do not understand our great God. We moan and complain of our circumstances, forgetful of the three Hebrew children who stood unflinching before a great furnace. Those three young men were facing an apparent fate which meant the end of their earthly existence. We face things of far less consequence with the equivalent fear of someone facing death. The things we fear are like matches burning in the hand of the enemy compared to what those young men faced. Ah, but to look into our hearts, you'd think we faced a furnace heated fifty times over.

What about you? Are you fearful of something that has yet to happen? Is it a thing too great for God to prevent? Is your furnace too hot for God to get in there with you? Or perhaps you fear something that is beyond God's abilities to understand. Or is it a thing which God is not capable of being able to intervene and prevent? Is that it?

Or do you have the view that says that God is not interested in you? Is your sin the thing that keeps your fear fueled? Do you think your sin is greater than God's love and power? Or do you feel that you're not worthy of God's attention? If so, you make God a liar. He said He was attentive to even the sparrows and that your life was worth far more than they. God said He would never forsake you. Do you make God a liar?

What is your fear?

Do you understand that when your fear becomes, in your mind, too big for God to handle, you have committed idolatry? Do you understand that when a fear becomes that great you have made that fear greater than God? Don't you know that God loves you? If you are a child of God, don't you understand that if you have been stricken with cancer, that God knows that and is aware of your circumstances? Is there a disease God cannot cure? Is there a disease God does not understand?

Oh, you tell me that when a Christian gets sick with a disease, then it is not God's policy to cure such an illness? What about King Hezekiah who sought the Lord in his illness and was given 15 more years? And what about the verse that tells us that the prayer of faith shall cure the sick? What about all the sickness that Jesus cured when He walked the earth? Did He do that for show and now the show is over? What of the woman who merely touched the hem of Jesus' garment? What did He say of her? Didn't Jesus say that it was her faith that had made her whole?

We fear men, yet God has said we are not to trust in man, but God. Why? Isn't God greater than man? We fear great men, but God is greater than the greatest. We fear powerful men but God is more powerful than the most powerful man on earth. We fear men with "connections" but God is the only "connection" we ever need. We've got the most powerful "connection" of anyone on the face of the earth. Our connection with a holy and mighty God gives us access to more power than all the heads of all the nations on the face of the earth.

 

I wonder sometimes how it is that we can say we have faith in God. I suspect we have faith in a God, but not THE GOD. I suspect our faith is in a puny, ordinary little god that is unable to perform miracles, unable to defeat foes, and unable to love. I say unable to love because if we really believed God loves us, our fears would diminish proportionately. You see, if we accept the notion that God loves us, then we must accept the proposition that God's love is pure and perfect. And if we accept it's perfection, then we must accept the notion that God's love is good and He, because of His nature and His love for us, could never do anything nor permit anything to happen to us that was not for our good.

This is a hard thing to understand, but we must fix this notion in our hearts for within this is the essence of our faith and therein lies our ability to defeat fear. But even if we understand it, we must grasp it fully and make it a part of ourselves, locked in forever, unmovable, unshakable, so solid that standing before a furnace that slays men who approach, we can refuse deliverance on the tray of compromise and leave ourselves to our God, trusting in His deliverance, if He chooses, or death, or disease, or whatever, content with the knowledge that we are precious in His sight and that we have been given only what God has allowed.

Ah, if we could ever get to that position, we can truly say we have faith in God. Until then, we can only say, at best, that we waver between idolatry, worshiping at the feet of the gods of fear and men, and occasional lapses into faith in THE GOD, the ONLY true God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Until then, we can but lay claim to the husk of the mustard seed.

May your fears diminish, my friend, as you learn more of the greatness of the God Whom we serve. He truly is a great God. My prayer is that you and I will come to know Him as those three Hebrew children came to know Him.

May our children see our faith radiant like a beacon in the fog of unbelief surrounding them.

God is great. God is good.

And this same God, even the Lord of hosts, the Creator of the Universe, the Great I AM, loves you.

Believe it. Can God lie? He said it.

Believe it, then.

Without faith, it is impossible to please Him.

Without faith, all you have is fear.

Choose ye this day...


see also: Walking in the Spirit (ever wonder how it's done?

 


SELECTED VERSES FOR YOUR HELP

Mat 10:28-31 "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows."

1 John 4:18 "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."

Deu 20:3.& 4. "And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; 4. For the LORD your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you."

Psa 34:15 "The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry."

Psa 34:4 "I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears."

Psa 34:6 "This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles."

Prov 16:7 "When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him."

Deu 31:6 "Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."

Deu 31:8 "And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed."

2 Ki 17:39 "But the LORD your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies."

Psa 23:4 "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."

Psa 27:1-3 "A Psalm of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. 3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident."

Psa 31:13-14 "For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life. 14 But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God."

Psa 33:18-21 "Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; 19 To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. 20 Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield. 21 For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name."

Psa 34:7-9 "The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. 8 O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. 9 O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him."

Psa 37:23-24 "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. 24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand."

Psa 37:32-33 "The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him. 33 The LORD will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged."

Prov 29:25 "The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe."

Prov 16:6 "By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil."

Heb 13:5-6 "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me."

*******


Copyright 1993 Voyle A. Glover

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