387. End Times Phobia?

endtimesRevelation 11:11-13 NKJV  Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them.  (12)  And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them.  (13)  In the same hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. In the earthquake seven thousand people were killed, and the rest were afraid and gave glory to the God of heaven.

Many sincere Believers regardless of their pre, mid, or post tribulation rapture beliefs fear their future days on the Earth.  While mid or post tribulation rapture adhering Believers fear the devastation and horrid trials through war, pestilence and ruthless men as such as the world has never seen in its history, pre-tribulation rapture believing saints fear the world wide calamities leading up to their rescue, selfishly not fulfilling their dreams, or that somehow they might miss the rapture and be “left behind”.  But Revelation 11 once again shows the awesomeness of the Lord God and that we never have to fear.

Revelation 11 tells us that for 3 ½ years two witnesses prophesy, bear witness, and provide evidence of the Lord.  Once they finish, the Beast will rise from the Abyss and kill them.  But God always gets the last laugh.  For 3 ½ days lovers of evil will party and rejoice over their death until the Lord God raises them up from the dead.  Then great fear will overtake them as they yet again see the overcoming power of our Heavenly Father.

Regardless of whether you are pre, mid, post tribulation rapture or even amillennialists this kind of terror is not meant for you.  The Lord God is AMAZING and we should not fear ANY days to come nor the signs, wonders, miracles, or events that we are seeing or hearing around us today.  Jesus has the keys of Hades and of death (Revelation 1:18) and is LORD over all.  He is alive and forever on the throne.  Best of all He loves you.  Fear Not!

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366. Enosiophobia – The Fear of Criticism

fear-of-criticism-1050x600Galatians 2:12 NLT  When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile Christians, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision.

Although you’ve probably never heard of enosiophobia before, you’ve most likely experience it to some degree multiple times in life.  Enosiophobia is the fear of criticism.  It is also a term used to define the fear of having committed the unpardonable sin, but we’re not going to touch one at least not today.

Here in Galatians chapter 2, Paul wrote that Peter fell prey to the fear of being criticized by Jewish Christians for eating with Gentile Christians.  This also means that he wasn’t enjoying any carnitas or BLT sandwiched either.  Paul wrote that even Barnabas gave way to the pressure and succumbed to this fear.  Paul was probably shocked that Peter, the Apostle who was convinced that the wall of separation between the Jew & Gentile had been torn down saying, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” after the Lord gave spoke to him in a vision 3 times and then he witnessed Cornelius and his household be baptized in the Holy Spirit speaking in tongues and magnifying God (Acts 10:1-23, 46-47).  He was undoubtedly further shocked that Barnabas, who he had previously traveled with to many Gentile nations proclaiming the Gospel of Christ and seeing thousands of gentiles saved and filled with the Holy Spirit.  This is what fear will do.  Fear will drive you act in ways you wouldn’t normally and do things you don’t believe is right.

The fear of criticism has a horrible effect on the lives of believers.  It causes us to not be “straightforward about the truth of the Gospel” (Galatians 2:14).  We must guard against it.

Nobody enjoys being criticized.  It’s not fun.  But the fear of criticism will try to keep you from speaking up regarding the truth & pressure you to avoid taking action and do the right thing in the face of opposition at work, at home, or in the supermarket.  Like Peter, Barnabas and those with them, it will cause you to violate your conscience and be carried away with hypocrisy.  So what can we do?

Paul gave us some good things to remember that will insulate us against enosiophobia and empower us to be courageous in the face of this fear.  He told us to remember, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  In essence he told us instead of fearing what others will say about you; Remember who you are, remember whose you are, & remember the price that was paid.

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!

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.

348. Pistanthrophobia – Fear of Trusting People

left-outActs 9:26-27 NKJV  And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.  (27)  But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.

Pistanthrophobia is the fear of trusting people or the fear of putting any faith in people.  For some this is a debilitating phobia that not only isolates them from loved ones, it also makes it difficult for them to receive any of the kind of help that they need.  Though I’m sure most of you don’t suffer from this on that level, we’ve all experienced not trusting someone before.

*Disclaimer* I have had circumstances where the Spirit of God was warning me not to trust certain people I’ve met and I just knew in my spirit to be nice, but not to trust them.  I’m not talking about that… always follow the leading of the Spirit.  Is what I’m talking about are those people who many instinctively recoil from; those with a past.

We have all met people that have a not so great past and past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior… unless there is a REAL change.  But sometimes we meet people, find out about their past and immediately write them off as totally untrustworthy and though we know Theologically they are redeemable we’re reticent to believe they have changed.  This is what Saul experienced after his conversion.

Many of the disciples were afraid of him because of his past (he was arresting Christians after all) and though he didn’t cast any stones personally, he did hold the coats for those that stoned Stephen.  We have the hindsight to see that a real and genuine change had taken place in Saul/Paul, but these people didn’t….  Many churches push new converts or attenders away when they begin to get to know them, because of something in their past.  We all have a past that would raise somebody’s eyebrows and make them nervous if they don’t know us today, so how do we overcome this fear so we can begin to trust others and connect with them.

First, recognize that your suspicions may be unfounded.  Are you just negatively recoiling about how they look, speak, or their past?  A relationship with Jesus can change people.  It changed you.

Second, take them to leadership. Barnabas took Saul to the apostles who met with him and heard his story. These men were all very close with Jesus and were experienced with the leading of the Holy Spirit. It was also part of their responsibility to protect the people.  They should have a good sense about someone’s intentions and trustworthiness. NOTE: not all church leaders are as sensitive as these ones were either.  They might be wrong.

Third, spend time with them. Saul was invited to spend time with the Early Church Leaders (Acts 9:28).  They were able to watch him. NOTE: If you have a speckled past, submit yourself to the elders of your church. Somethings you have to live down and show over time through your actions that the change in you is genuine.  The apostles didn’t just immediately sign off on Saul and promote him to a leadership position.  Saul had to live down his past and prove himself.

Lastly, provide opportunities for people to earn your trust. Give them non-critical places where they can prove themselves and let them grow to greater responsibility as they do (Acts 9:28-30).

Following these steps will help you grow and strengthen new relationships while fostering trust within them.  The person you are afraid to trust because of their past, might just be the next Apostle Paul.

347. Pray For Boldness to Stand Against Your Fear

Acts 4:29-31 NKJV  Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,  (30)  by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”  (31)  And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

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Peter and John had gone to the temple to pray where they encountered a man unable to walk from his birth sitting by the temple gate called Beautiful asking alms of all those that entered.  Instead of giving him money, which they did not have, the Lord used them to heal this man.  This made quite a scene as people as people who knew this man saw the miracle and began to rejoice and praise God along with him.  Then Peter and John took full advantage of the situation and preached Christ to the multitude letting them know it was Jesus, the risen savior, who healed this man and 5,000 people believed in Christ that day.

 

The priests and Sadducees were greatly angered and had them thrown in jail for telling people that Jesus was alive and how believing in Him brought salvation.  The next day they were brought up on charges, questioned, and threatened.  However, the priests could not deny that a miracle had truly been done so they couldn’t punish Peter & John, so they continued to threaten them and then finally let them go.

Peter and John went to some of their faithful friends and reported all that happened and then they began to pray.  Notably they prayed for boldness.  Reading Acts 3 & 4 one would think that they wouldn’t need any more boldness, but they needed boldness because the threats had sown some timidity and fear in their hearts.  You don’t need boldness unless there is some timidity to overcome.

Acts 4:31 tells us that they received a refreshing encounter with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God with BOLDNESS.  They received the boldness they prayed for.  Let’s look at a few elements that bolstered their faith and destroyed any timidity the threats produced.

  1. They were not alone. When they were threatened and needed encouraged they went to their friends.
  2. They were open and honest with their trusted confidants. You need people you can be real with about situations in life. NOTE: Their friends encouraged them.  Don’t go to people that encourage your fears, go to people that speak life into you.
  3. They prayed for the solution and not against the problem. They didn’t pray that the mean and overbearing religious leaders would leave them alone… NOPE they didn’t pray against the problem.  But they prayed for the solution of BOLDNESS to proclaim the truth regardless of the threats.

Peter, John and some of the other disciples that saw what happened to them experienced some timidity and fear after the threats they received.  But they came together, encouraged one another, prayed for one another and left with BOLDNESS that destroyed their fears.  Who do you have that is praying for you about the fears in your life?

345. Macrophobia – A fear of long waits.

how-long-would-you-wait-the-high-cost-of-wasting-customers-timeActs 1:7-11 NKJV  And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.  (8)  But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  (9)  Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.  (10)  And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel,  (11)  who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

I don’t know anyone that just loves to wait, but some don’t just hate it; they fear it.  Like any fear there are higher, more debilitating levels and lower levels.  If you spend some time thinking you will probably think of a number of people that have exhibited macrophobia.  It’s not that they are necessarily in a hurry but they are just anxious about waiting for the answer, the movie, the phone call, the amusement park ride, the doctor’s office, etc….  Some Christians even get anxious as we WAIT for His return.  I believe some of the people that saw the Lord ascend into Heaven experienced macrophobia.

Jesus just told them that it was none of their business when the Father would have Him return to set up His earthly kingdom.  Instead, He told them they should be walking in the power of the Spirit and providing evidence that Jesus is Alive.  Yet as He ascended, they just stood there staring up into the sky.  We don’t know how long they stood there looking, but apparently it was long enough that the Lord had to send some angels to them to tell them to get back to the important business at hand.

Sometimes I think He wants to send angels to us to tell us the same thing.  Many times under the stresses and trials of life I’ve told the Lord, “You can come back anytime now.”  Or said, “You know this would be a whole lot easier if you just came back already.”  And I don’t think I’m alone.  I look forward to the glorious day that our Savior returns for His Church, but sometimes I just want it now because I don’t want to deal with something or am under some other pressure and want relief.  Sometimes though, I just yearn to be with Him so bad that I no longer want to wait to see Him face to face.  You know what the Lord’s response to people that don’t want to wait is?  Stop waiting and go do something.

That’s it.  He said do something.  If you hate waiting for things, do something else.  Take a book with you to the doctor’s office, do some push-ups or crunches during commercials, or find something else use full to do while you wait.  For those waiting for His return or getting over anxious for it, reading and re-reading every eschatological book they can get their hands on; or for those just wishing He’d come back so we could avoid a difficult conversation or circumstance… Stop it!  Go do something productive for the Kingdom.  Jesus is coming back.  We’ve been commissioned to tell others about His return.  Get busy!