Posts Tagged fear

The Good Shepherd

Psalm 23: 4

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

This is many people’s favorite psalm. What is it that folks like about it? Is it knowing we have a shepherd who cares for us? Verse 1 from the Passion Translation reads, “The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd. I always have more than enough.” If this is your favorite psalm, do yourself a favor and read it from the Passion Translation. You are really going to love it. If you don’t own a Passion Translation just go to Biblegateway.com.

It wasn’t easy choosing one verse from this psalm but this one seemed louder than the others and thinking about it I realized you and I walk through the valley of the shadow of death almost daily. One of the points which has resonated with me over the years about this passage is that David was walking through the valley. He didn’t set up his tent and camp there. He kept moving forward, out of danger, through the challenge to glory and victory.

We recognize there are times when we must go through a troubling situation. There is no way around it, you just have to go through. We generally encourage one another that Jesus is with us even through those tremulous times. David takes it up a notch though. He says that even though he must walk through this foreboding valley, he shall not fear. David knew God was with him and being a shepherd boy himself, he recognized the devotion and care of the good shepherd. David killed both lions and bears to protect his flock (1 Samuel 17: 36). He knew God to be an even better shepherd than he. He trusted God to proactively deliver him from any evil that threatened him.

David said he was comforted by the Great Shepherd’s rod and staff. Here is where our image of God may depart from David’s. David saw the rod as comfort whereas some teachings cause people to fear God. Yahweh does not wield a rod to beat the sheep into submission. That is the image some people carry of God. We must put in the forefront of our thinking that our God is the good shepherd. He cares for the sheep as did David. If David was willing to face a lion and a bear to protect those in his care, won’t our Father do the same for us? Could David be a better shepherd than the Lord?

The rod and staff were for protecting and guiding the sheep. With the staff the shepherd could gently lead the sheep. When they went the wrong way, he could redirect their path. It could also be used to defend the sheep. David understood this and because of his understanding and his trust in the Lord, he could walk through the valley where death’s shadow looms without harm and without fear.

Fear is a crippling disease. In its grip we don’t walk through the valley. We don’t valiantly and confidently march through. The message of this psalm is that the good shepherd is with us and taking care of us. Therefore, we can lift our heads, throw back our shoulders and march through whatever peril appears on the horizon. There is no occasion for fear because the Lord God is your guide and your guard, and you couldn’t have better. You know that, but fear is an tricky thing. Our challenge is to live our life fearless and we can when we know our Father is with us. When we have true awareness of His presence with us and His guiding hand on us, then we, too, will walk through the valley and have no fear of evil befalling us.

Anger, Worry Flee from Me

Psalm 37: 8

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret, it leads only to evildoing.

Here is the word of the Lord on worry and anger. It is pretty clear. It says don’t do it; don’t worry, don’t give in to anger. Now what part of that is difficult? Well, sometimes the hard part is in the execution of what God has directed us to do, rather than in the understanding. There is help in that though. First, God will never tell you to do something that He has not already empowered you to do. So, take some comfort there. Secondly, if He has told you to do it, then He will also help you. He never tells you something to do without making His resources available to you. You do not have to use will power to control your anger, you use His will power. Pray for His help and then let Him help you.

And as for worry, nothing good comes of it. Put worry away and don’t let it control your life any longer. Don’t waste your time and energy. Ask for help daily if need be and determine that you are not going to be a worrier. Anytime you feel yourself slipping, call on God to rescue you.

Lastly, God tells us that abiding in worry or anger leads to evil deeds. Worry and anger are ungodly thoughts and ungodly thoughts lead to ungodly acts. It is that simple. That is not to say that you will never feel anger nor be plagued by worry. It means that you must take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ Jesus. When those thoughts assail you counter them with the Word of God. You can hang them on this verse from today. You say, “Worry, I declare Psalm 37: 8 to you and command you to be gone in the name of Jesus.” The worry, anxiety, fear or anger must, and will, flee. Beware, though, for it can come back within moments. When it does, you just speak these words again. Say, “Worry, I told you to be gone. Psalm 37 tells me that I am not the prisoner of you. Now leave.” Just keep at it until the worry, fear or anger is convinced that you mean what you say. Those negative feelings and thoughts have to obey the Word of God. Be free of those chains of fear, anger and worry. Be free in Jesus’ name.

Love & Fear

2 Timothy 1: 7

For God, has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

If God has not given us a spirit of fear, then from where do you suppose it came? Who did give it to us? Bingo! Fear is a weapon from the enemy’s camp. God gave you a spirit of power. He gave you His love and He gave you a sound mind. A mind that is consumed with fear is not from God. Jesus came so that you could be free from such torment.

God’s love inside of you produces power and soundness of mind. It is a shield and protection. That is not to say that you will not be attacked with the weapon of fear. Satan knows well that he can really sidetrack us with fear. Fear causes you to take your mind off of Yahweh and Jesus. It causes you to meditate on the bad things that “could” happen when you should be meditating on the promises of God. You can choose God’s Word over Satan’s lies. It is not always easy but we need to grow. When you are attacked, do just what Jesus did. Confess God’s Word right out loud. If it is a Dr.’s report that is worrisome, then attack that fear with God’s Word that He, God, sent His Word and healed you (Psalm 107: 20). Or that the stripes that Jesus bore for us were for our healing and that by those stripes you are healed (1 Peter 2: 5).

Know that God is not the author of fear but rather that He has sent to you His spirit. There is power, love and a sound mind plus all the wisdom you need for every situation in God’s spirit.

Redirect

Mark 5: 36

Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.

We are given many opportunities to be afraid. For some people those opportunities present themselves daily. But Jesus has an answer for that fear. The answer is his love (1 John 4: 18). There is no fear in love and his perfect love casts out fear. So, we are to abide in his love so that we may overcome fear rather than be overcome by it.

There are times you fear for your children and fear for your health. Sometimes situations look desperate and fear arises. But once you have lived this life long enough, you begin to realize that fear attracts negative things to itself while positive attitudes reject fear. As you gain a little experience you find that no matter how hopeless a situation appears, there is always a way out of it. There is always a glorious answer.

This is not to minimize the problems people face. There are huge challenges out there; otherwise there would really be no need for this teaching. Jesus knew that each and every one of us was going to face frightening circumstances. That is why he taught us to redirect our focus onto him. When we think about his miracle working power and the things he has pulled off for us in the past, we are able to face new challenges with much more faith. So, when you feel fear creeping into your heart, quickly redirect your mind to thinking about the miracles of Jesus. Think about things he has worked out in your life in the past and move your emotions over to faith in him rather than belief in that which you fear.

Shut Up Legs

Romans 5: 3 – 4            GW

But that’s not all. We also brag when we are suffering. We know that suffering creates endurance, endurance creates character, and character creates confidence.

It’s July 19th and we are deep into the running of the Tour de France. I love biking so I love to watch the race, but there is more to the Tour de France that I enjoy than just a bike race. There are beautiful views of France and its architecture, gorgeous churches, history lessons and their impacts, insights into the people of the various regions, and more, much more, in fact. One of the most captivating elements of the Tour de France though, is the human drama. The racing that goes on is fabulous and exciting but following the riders’ personal stories and triumphs is riveting. These professional bike riders turn themselves inside out with massive efforts. Mile after mile they continue to ride after their legs have begun to loudly complain.

One recently retired but still popular rider is Jens Voigt. Among other things, Voigt is known for his saying, “Shut up legs.” In fact, he had it on his top tube where he would see it when he looked down. Instead of letting his legs dictate his outcome, he made up his mind what he wanted to do and then expected his body to obey. He didn’t let the pain and discomfort dictate his race. I love this so much. In fact, I need to get his T-shirt with “shut up legs” emblazoned across it because like “Jensie,” this is my philosophy on life.

If you want to see suffering, watch one of the mountain stages of the Tour de France. Despite their suffering, though, they persist. That persistence produces endurance in their minds and bodies. Endurance absolutely does produce character. The top riders know how to suffer but their perseverance has produced confidence. They know they can push themselves and triumph. It is tried and tested.

You don’t know what you can do until you push yourself. We have to learn to stand on faith even when everything in us is yelling to quit. We’ve gotta yell back, “Shut Up!” We are the masters of our destiny and if God has given us something to do then we have to go all in like these professional bike riders.

Ask yourself, who is in charge? Is it fear, or is it you. What forces are keeping you from reaching the finish line? Let your faith speak louder than your fear. Don’t let the circumstances dictate your race. As I say often, “The facts don’t count.” What counts is your belief, tenacity and your ability to persevere in the grace of the Lord. If God has called you to climb a mountain then you can, no matter what the facts say. Speak to your mountain. Let it know that it must obey you. The mountain does not determine the finish, the character of the person determines the outcome.

Don’t be a quitter. Don’t give up when the going gets hard. Don’t stop believing just because you cannot see the finish line. Go on You Tube and watch this video of Jens Voight
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zreFKnBLDjg) and take inspiration from a champion. See determination in action and let it encourage you to persevere through challenges and seeming impossibilities. Get a big dream in front of you and chase it down. When it gets tough speak to those circumstances like Jens Voigt. Tell them to shut up!

Beyond Expression

Psalm 112: 1, 7 – 8                Living Bible

Praise the Lord! For all who fear God and trust in him are blessed beyond expression. Yes, happy is the man who delights in doing his commands. He does not fear bad news, nor live in dread of what may happen. For he is settled in his mind that Jehovah will take care of him. That is why he is not afraid but can calmly face his foes.

Allow me to rephrase this, “All who revere or respect the Lord our God and trust in Him are blessed beyond words.” Surely, praise is in the house. Those who delight in following God’s words and His leading, and the title “God” here would include Father, Son and Spirit, are happy. They live in the joy that comes with unity with God.

There really is joy in following Jesus and delighting in his words. This verse goes on to say that these people do not fear bad news or live in dread of what may happen. Doesn’t that sound good? It is horrible and stressful living in fear. Jesus certainly wants you free of that. People who really trust God, believe He will take care of them. They even expect Him to look after them and to meet their needs.

These verses are joyous and they are not very complicated. To love God, to live according to His purposes, following His leading is to live a blessed life, a life free of worry and fear. We work ourselves into a deeper place of trust as we go. Each day you can enjoy more freedom than the day before. All of the keys are in today’s verses to help you go deeper. There is no reason for you to live in fear and dread when God has paved a way out for you. Delight yourself in His ways. Increasingly trust Him. Revere and honor Him. All of these lead to comfort and ease.

You may want to ponder these verses. There is great assurance in them and bold promises. Wrap your will, heart and mind around them and claim them, and their meaning, as your inheritance. Be blessed beyond words!

Heavenly Shelter

Psalm 91: 1

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 91 is one of the Bible passages that it really pays to meditate on. It is such a comfort. It is, however, a bit poetic. Let’s overlay New Testament ideology with it and see if it becomes more understandable.

Since Jesus’ victory, which overcame all things on our behalf, our language has turned to expressions of being “in Christ” or “in him.” This idea is a cornerstone of New Testament theology. No longer do we strive in our own might. The key now is to rest in him. In Christ we have righteousness, salvation, redemption, victory, etc. It’s all about being in him. Jesus said he is the vine and that we must, therefore, abide in him (John 15: 4). When we abide in him, then all things are possible, and we are safe. That is what this verse in Psalm means. Those who dwell, or abide, in Jesus will be safely covered by the shadow of the Almighty. Since we are in him, then we are close enough that his shadow covers us. We are hidden from the powers of evil and chaos. The Passion Translation says it better than I can, “When you sit enthroned under the shadow of Shaddai, you are hidden in the strength of God Most High.”

Yesterday, when God brought this verse out to me, the message that came with it was, “When you abide in me, you have no reason to fear.” Trusting God and dwelling in His shelter gives us the ability to stand in confidence. God is with us and watching over us. Does that give you comfort?

The other way to apply this is to ask yourself what you are frightened over or what is holding you back. Then, purposefully, abide in the shelter of God. Pray and see yourself moving into His home. See that wherever you go, wherever He goes, His shadow is over you. You are always as close as His own shadow. Meditate and pray about being in Christ and think about God in you. This is our resting place; our safe and sturdy refuge.

The world can be a scary place, but you have a friend. You are never alone. He is with you always. Acknowledge Him and His presence. Make it point to live in Him and everything will be okay.