386. Fearless and Faithful

il_340x270-1301284640_ix7bRevelation 2:10 NKJV  Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Faithfulness is the quality of being true and utterly constant in our lives.  It is more than commitment; it is the allowing ones commitment to permeate into every aspect of their daily life.  The faithfulness of God is one reason we never have to fear in life.  Faithfulness is also to be our response in the midst of a fearful circumstance.

In Jesus’ discourse to the church in Smyrna as recorded by the Apostle John, He warns them that suffering will be coming their way and admonishes them not to be afraid but to instead be faithful in the midst of their tribulation.  He tells them that suffering is coming their way and does not promise them exemption from it, but instead commands them not to be afraid of it and to simply remain faithful during it.

Despite what most of us would desire, the Gospel does not promise that life with Christ will be free from problems, difficulties, persecution or even suffering.  Jesus actually tells us, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 NLT)”  In a world still, itself, suffering from the results of sin, it’s inhabitants even those who follow Jesus also find themselves impacted by the effects of a world infected by it.  But don’t despair, both of these verse give us direction and hope.

It is first important to note that the Lord is was not the author of the church in Smyrna’s suffering.  Nor is He the source of yours.  Suffering in the world is a result of any number of things: the fallen world, the devil, decisions of others, our own decisions, etc… but it is not because of God.  Instead He gives us hope.  A hope that tells us to remain encouraged, because He has overcome the world and though we are here in a messed up world, we are part of Glorious Kingdom and have been crowned with His everlasting life.  Therefore, no matter the circumstance or trial we can and should take heart, not fear, and faithfully live out His Word.

Allow your commitment to Christ to permeate every area of your life.  You can remain faithful and constant even in the midst of a horrifying situation.  Jesus is with you and He has given you the crown of life.  So fear not and faithfully live for Him now because no matter what you face you have already triumphed and been crowned victorious.  Let’s live fearless & faithful.

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384. The Wrong Way

wrong-way-sign-1477308368hguJude 1:23 NKJV  but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

Jude 1:23 NLT  Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.

As Believers we have been commissioned to share the glorious good news that Jesus is alive and has provided a way to have an abundant and eternal life with Him.  Certainly not everyone will embrace the hope that is in Him, but we are to as the Message paraphrase says, “Go after those who take the wrong way.”

In doing so we find ourselves talking to people both believers and certainly non-believers that have ideas, habits, and practices that may be very foreign to us.  These can often cause one to feel unsure about how to react, anxious, or even fearful.  Many times I’ve sat and had conversations with people whose lifestyles, beliefs and practices were outrageously abhorrent to me.  Some people’s sin really seem to bother other, but just because their sin is unthinkable to you remember that your sin was unthinkable to God too.  Our goal is to be tender to sinners.  To do so we certainly don’t embrace sin or are soft on sin, but we don’t fear the sin that people engage in.  Our job is to reverence God and watch out for spiritual pride.  If we don’t we’ll fall head first into our own mess.

Elisabeth Elliot, an author and Christian speaker, said, “Fear arises when we imagine that everything depends on us.”  Part of the fear in these situations stems from the idea that somehow we must change a person’s behavior, feeling incompetent to talk to them, or even believing that somehow we’ll be contaminated if we interact with the “wrong” people.  This is selfish and only focused on our comfort.  I certainly don’t advocate living every moment of your life around non-believers, but Jesus said, “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.”  Our mission is to try to reach them and this means you’ll have to put yourself out there sometimes.  However, that also doesn’t mean that everything depends on us.

Jesus is present and it is the Holy Spirit that brings conviction to the hearts of men (John 16:8).  Our job is to share the letter that He has written on our hearts (2 Corinthians 3:3).  So don’t fear the fire of sin that someone is in and watch out for spiritual pride which is just as bad.  Instead, reverence God and love people.  If you must fear; instead of fearing someone or their sin, fear for them and work all the more to share His glorious grace and love to those who take the wrong way.

383. There is No Fear in Love

216a9-god27slovehasnolimits1 John 4:16 NKJV  And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

1 John 4:18 NKJV  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

“We have known & believed the love that God has for us.”  God loves us. That is such glorious news we should be telling people about it.  Oh wait, that is what we are called to do.  God’s reason for loving us, although It’s been expressed in a number of different ways, stems from the reality of who He is.  God is love.

This is important in the discussion of fear, because, “There is no fear in love…” (1 John 4:18).  God is love.  There is no fear in love.  Therefor there is no fear in God.  God is utterly and completely fearless.  That’s good news, because at the New Birth we were made in His image.  2 Peter 1:4 tells us we have become partakers of His divine nature.  We now share in the love of God.  It is His perfect love in us that drives fear away as His love is perfected in us.

This means that, Your fear is 100% dependent on you for its survival.” – Dr Steve Maraboli.  God hasn’t given us the Holy Spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).  How could He?  There is no fear in Him.  Instead we have been given the Holy Spirit of God and remade in His loving and fearless image.

If we have fear, that doesn’t mean we aren’t saved or we don’t have God.  It just means that there is an area of our lives that we have not yet allowed to be made perfect by His love.  We all have areas that we have not allowed the Truth of God’s Word (His Love Story) to become the final authority in our lives.  But as we search out His Word, allow it to become real to us and live out of that reality applying it and continuing in it, His love is perfected in that area of our life and fear is diminished and banished from us.  Then we are able to walk in a new freedom partaking more of the loving nature of our God who is love and fears not.

382. The Law of Displacement

FrontCoverOnly1 John 4:18 KJV  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.

Galatians 5:6 tells us that faith works by love.  In 1 John 4 we read that love casts out fear and there is no fear in love.  This always makes me think of the law of displacement. 

I remember this law being demonstrated in one of my classes when I was a boy.  My teacher had a large pitcher of water and added food coloring to it so it all turned a certain color, blue I believe.  This pitcher sat in a large basin so that the floor didn’t get wet during the demonstration.  Then he began to pour clean water into the pitcher.  As he did the overflow of water began to spill out into the basin.  The water in the pitcher slowly began to dilute and become less blue until finally he lifted the pitcher full of water out of the basin and it was completely clear again just like the water he was pouring in.  You see the water he poured in pushed out the water already in the pitcher until the blue colored water was completely replaced by the fresh clear water.

This idea is conveyed to us here in 1 John concerning love and fear.  Verse 18 says love casts out fear.  The more love that gets poured into ones heart, the more fear is displaced and is purged from it.

Unfortunately the converse is also true.  Remember, fear is self-centered and when one begins to get in fear their thoughts are turned solely toward themselves.  The fear focuses one on them self because of its selfish and self-centered nature and begins to push out the love of God for others in their heart.  Then fear begins to consume even more of their focus which leads to their fear increasing.  While one is thinking about them self they can’t be thinking about others.  This is detrimental and devastating to the life and walk of faith, because faith works by love (Galatians 5:6).

Faith works by love, so when you’re in fear it hinders your faith to believe and receive the promises of God and your deliverance in that situation.  Fear also keeps you from doing the things He’s called you to do.  This applies to all of us.  God wants us to be fearless so we can walk in faith and accomplish His purposes doing the things He’s called us to do.

381. Stay Alert and Stay Strong

90d837a6e3da89b1d38c67d71a5260011 Peter 5:8-9 NLT  Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  (9)  Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.

Some people don’t believe in the devil, but the Scripture is clear that he exists and he is our enemy.  Peter wrote that he, “prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”  Yet we don’t have to fear him when he roars and you really don’t want to either.  You see that’s how he locates those he can devour.  He prowls around and then lets out a ferocious roar to see how you react.  At that moment when that horrifying and deafening roar occurs, even the strongest in faith might startle, but how you respond makes all the difference.

“But wait,” you might say, “I’ve only heard a lion roar at that zoo.”  However his roar doesn’t sound how you might expect.  The devil’s roar rarely ever sounds like an actual lion and it really doesn’t matter what it actually sounds like at all (sometimes he even sounds like you).  Instead it matters more what the roar says.  While on the prowl he roars words.  He roars things that cause fear to rise in people.  Things like, “LOSS” “DEBT” “ALONE” “LOSER” “PAIN” or he’ll even roar, “CANCER!”  Then he’ll just crouch down to see how you react.  Will we start to sweat, panic, run, say, yell, or stand in faith and speak the Word.

Though I’ve never seen a Harry Potter movie (I’m not getting in the argument of whether or not it’s ok to watch or read the books. You decide for your family. I just don’t have any interest), I did read a great quote taken from one.  “Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  The enemy is counting on us to reveal our fears in what we say and how we react when we hear his roars.  But what he roars are really just names.  Names of things people fear.  People hear cancer and shudder, but as nasty as the disease is, it is still just a name associated with a disease.  A name that does not compare to the name we are associated with.

We have a name that is associated with Creator, Savior, Provider, Comforter, Victory, & Healer.  We have the name of JESUS!  When the devil begins to roar, you can stand strong in your faith, smile and say, “Jesus.”  Your struggle is not unique.  The devil prowls about looking someone, anyone to devour and though his specific roar might be different to all people the grace of God and the Name of Jesus empowers us to stand fearless and strong in faith no matter how loud he roars.  The devil is on the prowl and he roars the things nightmares are made of, but we have the Lion of Judah, the Name above all names, Jesus, living on the inside of us.  No matter what name the devil roars, stand firm, smile, strongly roar back, “JESUS!” and Fear Not!

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.

350. 4 Keys to Fearless Living

FrontCoverOnlyActs 18:9-10 NASB  And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent;  (10)  for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.”

We all need encouraged from time to time and the Apostle Paul was no exception.  Entering Corinth, Paul immediately experienced some pretty stout rejection to the Gospel of Christ.  Heading to the gentiles he gained some traction, then the ruler of the synagogue believed and was baptized.  Still, the rejection Paul faced initially had caused him to experience some fear.

Then one evening the Lord appeared to Paul in a vision and told him to Fear Not.  He actually told Paul 4 key things that we can glean from to help us live free from fear.  He told Paul:

  1. Don’t be afraid. Fear Not! (This is a command from the Lord.)
  2. Do not be silent, but confront your fear. (For Paul that meant preach the Word)
  3. I am with you.
  4. You are not alone. “I have many people in this city.”

Jesus told Paul to stop fearing.  This is a pretty common message from Him (Mt 10:26,28,31; Mt 14:27; Mt 17:7; Mt 28:10; Mk 5:36; etc…).  Thankfully He also gives us some instruction on how to stop.

He told Paul to preach the Word and not to be silent.  Paul’s fear stemmed from the many painful rejections and the opposition he had face as a minister of God’s grace.  It was triggered by the hostile interaction he had shortly after arriving in Corinth.  Jesus encouraged Paul not to quit but to face his fear.  When fear grips us we must face it, we cannot remain silent and let it run rough shod over us.  Stand up.  Declare your freedom.  Then take a deep breath and confront your fear.

Next Jesus reminded Paul, the very one given the revelation of the mystery of Christ in us, that He was with him.  If you’ve been born again, then you are never alone.  Jesus is always with you by His Spirit.  But He didn’t stop there.  He went on to say that there were other people who loved God and would be a support and strength to Paul.  You have these people too.  They are found in your local church.

Jesus is always with you and is ready to walk with you as you confront your fears.  There are also many people in your city church that will support you, encourage you, and stand with you.  Don’t be afraid.  Don’t be silent.  Jesus is with you.  You don’t have to be alone.  There is a whole church waiting for you.  Fear Not!