372. Paul’s Advice on Living Fearless

apostle-paul1 Timothy 4:11-16 NKJV  These things command and teach.  (12)  Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.  (13)  Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.  (14)  Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.  (15)  Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.  (16)  Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

I really enjoy Paul’s letters to Timothy.  They are filled with such fatherly instruction, encouragement, and of course pastoral wisdom.  Timothy faced a number of obstacles as pastor of the church of Ephesus.  He had strong opposition from those against Christianity in the community.  He had opposition from those within the church that didn’t respect his leadership.  And he had opposition from within himself where he dealt with thoughts of self-confidence and self-doubt.  Throughout his letters to Timothy, Paul touched on these areas and exhorted Timothy.  We can learn some things here too that will help us in the face of opposition or any other kind of obstacles that might begin to cause us to fear.

In the face of fear or any obstacle remember these 3 things.

1.  Identity – Who are you?  Paul encouraged Timothy to be strong in who he was and live it out in every facet of his life.  Like Timothy we are Believers and we can be encouraged by Paul’s letter to be examples to others in what we say, how we act, how we love, our disposition, our faithfulness & confidence in God, & holiness of our lifestyle.  We can continue to grow in these areas as we study the Word and apply what we learn (Rom 12:1-2)

2.  Calling – What is your call?  Not all of us are called to pastor, like Timothy, but we all have a call and have been given gifts to assist us in that call.  Some will be called to ministry, some will be called to sort mail, design buildings, work in the medical field, teach, build houses, etc… for the Glory of God.  Our identity tells us who we are.  Our calling tells us what we are to do.  Even if you are not walking in your calling yet, it gives you direction in where to head.

 3.  Purpose – Why are you here?  Purpose tells us why we are here.  Your purpose and mine may be vastly different, but we share at least one commonality together with Timothy.  We are called to bring others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and teach them to do likewise.  Our individual purposes can vastly differ as do our callings, but that thread is entwined in the fabric of the purpose of every Believer.

Knowing who you are, what you are supposed to do & why you are here will encourage you to stand and press forward when you are tempted to give in to fear.  Take some time to reflect on who you are in Christ, the gifts and callings on your life, and why you are here.  If you are unclear or not sure yet, talk to your pastor and help them fulfill the vision of your church, re-read Mark 16 a written purpose for the Body of Christ and get busy doing those things before you to do.

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353. Alethephobia – Fear of Hearing the Truth

truth

Acts 24:24-25 NKJV  And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.  (25)  Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.”

 “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”  In essence they found truth or heard truth, but quickly chose to ignore it instead of taking action because of it.  The main reason people do this is fear.  They are afraid of the responsibility that comes with the Truth they hear and how this truth impact their life.  They fear what the truth means for them.

Alethephobia is the fear of hearing the truth.  Not to be confused with veritaphobia, which is the fear of telling the truth.  Felix, the governor of Judea, had heard the reports about Jesus and the message that His followers shared and had a general understanding of what Christians believed.  But as Paul shared the In Him realities of how a relationship with Christ impacted ones righteousness, nature, and eternity, Felix became terrified.  He recognized that what Paul was saying was true and it scared him.  It frightened him because he knew that meant that for him to embrace this faith would be the end of his governorship and many would no longer respect him.

People often fear and hate the disclosure of truth, because it carries with it and self-perceived insult to their own narcissism (narcissistic insults).  Although they see a plain reality, it offends their ego.  So in effort to avoid the bruised ego and the fear of that it means, they hold onto their previous ideas for dear life, limiting the extent of both their intellect and their personal freedom.  They choose to be in bondage to a lie, instead of freed by the truth.

Some Christians do this too.  They selectively hear certain divine truths, while carefully avoiding others that challenge their personal comfort zone or compel them to take action.  The Lord wants to help you grow and walk in all the freedom he died to provide you.  John 1:1 calls Jesus the Word and John 17:17 tells us His Word is truth.  So the Lord will speak truth to you through His Spirit, His Word, and even His people that will challenge how you see Him, the world, or even (gulp) YOURSELF.

When you find yourself hearing things that makes you uncomfortable, search them out.  Examine it and make sure it says what you are hearing and that it isn’t being twisted in some way (Oh and make sure you don’t twist and try to rationalize the Scripture either), ask for clarification or further teaching instead of trying to ignore it, and then act on the truth.  The truth about ourselves is often hard to hear and can be scary, but it is necessary for us to live truly free. Don’t fear hearing the truth.

 

352. Know Him; Fear Not; Fulfill Your Purpose

0006873Acts 23:10-11 NKJV  Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks.  (11)  But the following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”

There are two instances of fear that we will look at in this passage.  The first is the fear of the Roman commander and the second is that of the Apostle Paul.  Both experienced fear, but their reasons were vastly different.

This commander had arrested Paul in Acts 22 after hearing an uproar by a number of Jews after Paul shared the testimony of his conversion.  He was going to have Paul scourged until he found out that he was a Roman citizen and had not been charged or found guilty of anything.  Fearing he would get in trouble he released Paul, but his curiosity lingered and he sent Paul to the chief priests.  After a brief dialogue Paul, being a Pharisee, managed to get the Sadducees and Pharisees arguing with one another. Their debate got so fierce that the commander feared there would be an uprising, that Paul would be killed, and that he’d be found responsible for the riot he was sure would ensue, so he had Paul placed in protective custody.

The commander feared he would be held responsible for whatever commotion took place.  If Paul had was not a Roman as well as a Jew, he would not have cared nor feared. He was afraid he would lose his status, his position and possibly face charges for not protecting Paul.

The next night Jesus appeared to Paul and told him to, “Be of good cheer….”  This phrase could also be translated, take courage or Fear Not.  Jesus told Paul not to fear.  Paul feared that the Sadducees, who were plotting against him, succeed in having him killed.  But Paul didn’t fear dying (he later wrote Philippians 1:21) so much as he was afraid he would die without fulfilling his purpose. His fear was certainly more “noble” than the commander but it was still fear.  Jesus not wanting Paul to fear, encouraged him that he still had work to do and that he had purpose.

Paul had Jesus come encourage him to Fear Not when he began to fear.  The commander had no one.  Relationship matters.

The commander feared for self-serving and selfish reasons; “What will happen to me?”  Paul’s fear was rooted in letting down His Lord.  Both fears need Jesus.  Hopefully the commander put his trust in Jesus and believed on him.  But we know what happened to Paul.  He was encouraged to stop fearing and keep focusing on what God had called him to do.  I want to encourage you to stop fearing what you will or won’t accomplish.  Instead know Him and just focus on what is before you and trust in the Lord, like Paul you too have destiny to do.

351. Membership has its Privileges

membershipActs 22:25-29 NKJV   And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?”  (26)  When the centurion heard that, he went and told the commander, saying, “Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman.”  (27)  Then the commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman?” He said, “Yes.”  (28)  The commander answered, “With a large sum I obtained this citizenship.” And Paul said, “But I was born a citizen.”  (29)  Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him; and the commander was also afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.

“Membership has its privileges” is a trademarked phrase by the American Express credit card company that was once frequently heard in all of their commercials.  Though I can’t speak of the benefits of being an American Express card member, the phrase is true when it comes to our relationship with the Lord and as members of the Kingdom of God.  It also benefited the Apostle Paul as a citizen (a member) of Rome.

Paul has just recently returned to Jerusalem for what he knows by both revelation and prophecy will end in his incarceration.  After properly following the purification ceremonies entered the temple.  It wasn’t long before a number of Jews from Asia, where Paul had spent a great deal of time ministering recognized him and after brazen allegations were made a mod grabbed Paul and dragged him out of the temple and began severely beating him and intended to kill him.  News got the Roman military commander who intervened before they could kill Paul.  Even though they bound him in chains to take him to the barracks, the mob persisted.  Paul convinced the commander to allow him to address the crowd and shared the testimony of his conversion and faith in Jesus as Messiah.  This did not go over well and the commander, fearing there would be a great riot had Paul taken to the barracks and ordered him scourged.

Here is where membership has its privileges.  Now back at the base, Paul reveals to the commander that although he is Jewish he is also a Roman citizen by birth.  As a citizen, to be punished without a trial was unlawful.  The commander was now terrified that he could have charges brought up against him and they backed off of Paul.  Paul’s citizenship of Rome had its privileges to relieve him from his present bondage, to now gain protection from the military who would keep him from being killed by the Sadducees the next day, and ultimately help him fulfill his calling to minister to the highest officials in the Roman government.  Membership has its privileges.

Membership has its privileges for you to.  Only instead of being a part of Rome, you have citizenship in Heaven (Php 3:20).  That means that Heaven is working on your behalf to protect you, to keep you, and to open doors for you to fulfill your divine destiny.  The road might look dark and scary sometimes, but Fear Not and walk on ahead.  Heaven is on your side.  Membership has its privileges.

349. Impulsive Decisions

fear-of-water-picActs 16:37-38 NKJV  But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have thrown us into prison. And now do they put us out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and get us out.”  (38)  And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans.

Impulsive actions and rash uninformed decisions have a habit of getting people into fearful circumstances.  Whether it is buying a used car from a guy on the street without having a mechanic look at it, signing a contract without reading the fine print, or making a big purchase without thoroughly looking at your finances, not taking the time to ask questions and get informed can lead you into some fearful situations.

Here in Philippi, after Paul and Silas had cast a fortune-telling demon out of a slave girl who apparently was very accurate, making her master a lot of money in the business world, they were arrested as trouble makers and accused of trying to stir up obstinacy among the Jews.  There was no trial and no questioning, only anger and spite against Paul and Silas, who they perceived to be just regular Jews, who were under the oppression of Rome.  They were severely beaten and thrown into jail.

We know the amazing story that happened that night as Paul and Silas worshiped the Lord even while locked in stocks and the flesh on their backs ripped open and wound exposed.  While they worshiped the ground began to shake, every door in the prison sprang open and all the chains loosened, freeing all the prisoners in the jail, yet none of them walked out.  The jailer was astonished, and he and his entire household became followers of Christ and were water baptized.

The next day those that commissioned the beating and imprisonment of Paul and Silas sent word to have them released as there were no charges that could stick against them, but they would not leave.  Paul demanded to face the men that had them beaten without trial because Paul and Silas were both citizens of Rome.  The magistrates never considered that Paul and Silas might have been Romans.  They never asked about them and only made assumptions about them and the situation.  This new revelation and detail sent fear through men as they knew they could now be charged with a serious crime.  These men who had condemned Paul and Silas to be brought to their knees being beaten with rods, were now at their feet begging them to please leave town so they wouldn’t be able to press charges against them.

Impulsive, emotional decisions can lead to big regrets accompanied with fear.  You can avoid this by asking questions, getting informed, taking time to weigh your options, and give the Lord an opportunity to chime in to.  Don’t make half-cocked decisions; it will reduce your regrets and help you Fear Not.

344. Get Out of the House!

John 20:19 NKJV  Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

On the evening of the day of His resurrection, Jesus who had already been seen by Mary Magdalene and proclaimed to be alive to a few other ladies by an angel is about to appear to His disciples.  These great men and women of God, who had been following Jesus for years now, were huddled together in a home with the windows drawn and the doors shut because they were afraid.  They were hiding.  They were afraid.

They had heard that Jesus body was gone.  They weren’t sure what they thought about Mary’s testimony that she had seen and spoken to Jesus, but they were sure that they were being considered as prime suspects in the disappearance of Jesus’ body.  They feared that they would be put to death as His disciples or apprehended as body snatchers so they hid.  Their fear kept them from living life, proclaiming God’s goodness, and certainly hindered them from hearing testimonies and remembering both God’s Word and what Jesus Himself had told them about how He must die and be resurrected.

Then Jesus walks in to the midst of their fearful situation and says, “Peace be with you.”  His presence and His Word bring us peace when we are overwhelmed.  When we realize that we have His peace and have been sent by God on a mission of mercy to the world we will leave the house.  Your house is whatever fears you allow to keep you bound up.  They prevent you from living life.  They keep you from embracing His Promises to you.  They also keep us from fulfilling our purpose and our call as His ambassadors in the Earth.

It is time to get out of the house.  It’s time to shed your fears.  And the Church is not exempt.  For LIGHT to truly be effective it must be in the darkness.  Fear keeps the church huddled up together and contained by the darkness all around us.  After Jesus walked into that home and said, “Peace be with you” everything changed for those men and women.  They knew it was time to get out of the house.  They knew they had destiny to do.

You have destiny to do too.  Jesus has come into your house and spoken peace to you in the midst of your fears just like He did those disciples that day.  It’s time to get out of the HOUSE.  The light in you is powerful; go shine it in the darkness.  You have His peace!  Fear Not!

342. “Fear Not, I Have Overcome the World.” – Jesus

John 16:33 NKJV  These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

At the conclusion of His farewell speech to His disciples, having told them yet again and very plainly that He is about to die and they will endure hardships, Jesus tells them to be of good cheer.  Literally He told them to be of good courage or to Fear Not.  Then He tells them why they needn’t fear, because He has overcome the world.  GLORY!

There is no longer any reason to fear anything in the world because Jesus has overcome it.  Sure there will be difficult times.  Sure there will be trials and trouble.  There will be less than ideal circumstances.  There will be opposition to your great ideas.  There will be obstacles to overcome.  There will be people that hurt you.  There will be betrayal.  There will be loved ones who die.  There will be loss.  There will be taxes.  There will be gray skies.  There will be pain.  There will be persecution.  BUT we needn’t fear any of it.  Jesus has overcome it all.  He has overcome ALL the troubles of life.

You and I can have peace in HIM even in the midst of the storms of life.  During the troubles that occur in life we can walk in peace knowing that Jesus has defeated them and that we walk in His victory.  Be of good courage.  Be of good cheer.  FEAR NOT.  Jesus has overcome the troubles of life.