Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Victory over the Spirit of FEAR

I am troubled in my spirit this morning. As I sit here attempting to pray, God keeps stirring my heart to blog on FEAR, not that I am battling fear at this time, but I feel someone that reads this blog today is in a major struggle with FEAR. I want to speak to you today. First of all, let's look at 2 Timothy 1:6-7:

2 Timothy 1:6-7 wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

Our translation of "stir up the gift of God" loses the vivid metaphor of the word that Paul used, anazōpureō. This word is used only here in the New Testament. The main part of the word, zōpureō, refers to embers in which the flame has subsided. Putting the ana on the front of the word literally means "to kindle anew the flames of the fire." I love Clarence Jordon's translation, "I'm reminding you to shake the ashes off the God-given fire that's in you".

There's no reason to believe that Timothy's fire had gone out completely—you can't rekindle that. But every fire needs repeated stirring and rearranging to keep it burning brightly. Here is a powerful insight into a reason why so many Christians are more like smoldering ashes than dancing fires.

How do you rekindle the fire? Make some changes. Do some rearranging. If your devotional life is dull, try some different approaches. If your joy in Christ has cooled, try getting closer to someone else to renew the flame. I believe small groups that meet regularly are the most helpful in shaking off the ashes of lethargy and self-pity. Don't be surprised or alarmed when the flames go down—just shake off some ashes and get some new kindling!

(7) For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Timothy was experiencing great opposition to his message and to himself as a leader. His youth, his association with Paul, and his leadership had come under fire from believers and nonbelievers alike. Paul urged him to be bold. When we allow people to intimidate us, we neutralize our effectiveness for God. The power of the Holy Spirit can help us overcome our fear of what some might say or do to us so that we can continue to do God's work. However, the enemy will fight daily to bring fear back into our life. We must stand against him.

The Discovery Channel recently did a story on the Top Ten Phobias that people have. Phobia comes from the Greek word for fear, but refers to a panic that is completely out of proportion to the perceived threat behind it. Here are six of the top fear factors.

#10: Necrophobia. The fear of death causes some people to worry so much about dying that they have little quality of life.

#9: Brontophobia is not the fear of brontosauruses; it's the terror of thunderstorms.

#5: Claustrophobia is the fear of being trapped in a small confined space.

#4: Agoraphobia is the fear of open places.

#3: Aerophobia is the fear of flying.

#1: Arachnophobia, or the fear of spiders, is the number #1 fear of people, affecting half of all women (it's actually 100% in my household), and one out of 10 men.

Here are two other phobias.

Ecclesiophobia Fear of church

Homilophobia Fear of sermons

God's answer for FEAR is His PEACE. The New Testament describes at least three spheres of peace:

  • Peace with God – that's the vertical dimension.
    5:1: "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." The word PEACE in this verse can also mean, "to set at one again."

  • Peace of God – this takes place internally. Philippians 4:6-7:
    "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

  • Peace with others – when we have peace with God and we experience the peace of God, we can then extend peace horizontally. Matthew 5:9: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God." We've learned before that Jesus didn't tell us to be "peacekeepers," but instead "peacemakers." This could be translated as "peace workers." It takes effort to bring conflict to an end. When we work at giving grace and solving strife we are doing what God does.

Isaiah 9:6 states that Christ would be the "prince of peace." When Jesus was born, the angels proclaimed words of praise in Luke 2:14: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

Jesus offers you peace today but it's different than the peace the world offers. Our culture communicates that peace is the absence of something. That's probably what the disciples were thinking as they tried to lock out their worries and concerns. Jesus provides peace as the presence of someone, even when we're in the middle of a mess: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world"
(John 16:33).
And this peace extends into three dimensions.

  • I can be at peace with my past. Some of us really need to hear this truth because getting past the past is easier said than done. Friend, whatever is lurking in your past is forgiven if you've asked for forgiveness. Allow His peace to bring wholeness as you claim the promise of Psalm 103:12: "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us."

  • I can be at peace with my present. What are you worried about right now? Your marriage? Your finances? A health issue? Jesus came to "bind up the wounds of the broken" (Isaiah 61:1).

  • I can be at peace with my future. Some of you are fretting about the future and you don't have to. Ask Jesus to give you His peace so you can stop worrying. Someone shared this verse with me recently from Psalm 30:5: "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning."

What are you afraid of right now? What causes your heart to race and keeps you awake at night? I'd like to share some verses with you. After you read each one, would you please close your eyes and allow God's Word to minister His peace in the midst of your fears. Meditate on His Word, it will drive FEAR from your spirit, and deposit His PEACE in its place:

Genesis 15:1: "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward."

Exodus 14:13: "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today."

Exodus 20:20: "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning."

Deuteronomy 1:21: "Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."

Psalm 3:6: "I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side."

Psalm 55:5-7, 16-17, 22: "Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, 'Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest — I would flee far away and stay in the desert…But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice…Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall."

Psalm 56:3-4: "When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?"

Psalm 91:4-5: "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day."

John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

I would like to pray for you now:

"Lord Jesus, I don't know who all will come across this blog today, but you do. I know that You stirred my spirit this morning to pray for those who are battling the "spirit of fear". I am asking you to minister Your peace to those who are consumed with fear today. I thank you that Your Word is anointed, and I plead the Blood of Jesus over each person reading this prayer right now, and believe that the fearful, timid spirit that is tormenting will be driven from them and in its place will be YOUR peace, the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. Your Word will speak peace into their marriage, their minds, their relationships, their financial situations, the turmoil of their family crisis', and their situations at work. I ask this in the precious, and powerful name of Jesus! Amen"

I believe that you are going to experience God's peace…even right now! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Today's "THROUGH THE BIBLE IN A YEAR" reading: Wednesday (May 7, 2008): Psalm 42:1 – Psalm 46:11


LAURIE said...

Good post this morning Pastor. I have to go back to what you said on Sunday...that it begins in our mind. If we could grasp that in Jesus we have the power to OVERCOME the fear and the strongholds in our life, I believe that we would have more peace, and more freedom, not to mention a huge amount of spiritual growth as we put our tomorrows in Gods hands.

-appreciate you and your words of encouragement, Laurie

Pastor Rusty said...

Thank you Laurie. I am so thankful for the peace that Jesus gives. I have battled fear at times in my life, but when I do as you said, "put my tomorrow's in God's Hands" I feel His peace overtaking me. Thanks for your comment!


Courtney W said...

What a great blog, Pastor Rusty! It is very interesting that you felt led toward this topic today. I had a dream about fear last night. I wasn't afraid in my dream, but it was as if I was telling the enemy that he can't bring fear into my life anymore.(for I have been struggling with it for a while b/c of my family's health, etc.) But I was reminded that as born again, spirit-filled believers we can not let fear control our lives. God has given us the power to overcome it. It is just like you said...we must stir that fire within us.

Thank you so much for being sensitive to the Spirit!


Danielle said...

You do not know what this blog has done for me! We are in the process of a move and I know the leading was from God and I had peace about it for a while, but as the days come closer to moving I have been up all night and am fearful, and actually trembling with fear. I felt God asking me to look up "spirit of fear" because that kept coming to mind. When I looked it up after reading a couple of other articles, I came across yours. I noticed it was written in May and I am now stumbling upon it in August! God knew that I needed this encouragement and as soon as I read the first line that stated that you felt God needed you to write this blog, I knew that this was God's way of telling me not to fear this move. Thank you so much and you do not know how much this has helped me!!!! I am so thankful to God for how he brings amazing people into our lives to help us. God knows what we need and he givees certain gifts to his believers and you were anointed for this one!! Thank you again. Danielle

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jesus, for this blog about overcoming fear. I, too, like the person, Danielle who posted on 22 Aug 08, I am moving into another house and need to overcome the unexplainable fear rising up inside my mind. (My wife passed away two years ago.) Please God help me get through this event!! In the Name of Jesus! -Mark

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Still to this day your spirit filled wisdom and prpophetic vision to God's people. My mind was racing last night and woke up highly sensitive and basically strung out. Lif is grand and I am truly thanful for everything and everyone in my life. I couldn't determine why I kept sensing the word 'fear'. After I started reading your article, the Lord was able to silence my thoughts and penetrate my heart and to begin to liften my load that I was tring to carry. I kept asking Him to take my load but I never felt a release. As soon as I started reading every scripture with afraid or peace. A waterfall of peace started to flow through my spirit and felt the heavenly fire begin to stir up again and was truly inspired, motivated again to keep seeking him and to trust in Him and give him my cares, my burdens, my worries. Christ is so faithful in the midst of the calamities and confusion and through your article I know the Lord will bring me peace on my decision process. God is Great and thankyou for being obedient and serving Christ lovingly! Fear is not from God but peace passes all understanding!

God Bless All of God's Chilren,
Patty Mama