Earthquakes and tsunamis in the Pacific, revolts and unrest in the Middle East, talk of economic collapse here in the U.S. Even as this is being written, we wait for a nuclear plume to make its way over Southern California. It seems as though every morning when we wake up, a new crisis awaits. Fear is gripping people everywhere and why not? Does anybody seem to have a good answer for solving these problems or are we destined to succumb to these events, living our lives in anxious desperation about what will happen next?
There is no doubt that we are living in precarious times. The problems we face in the world today are significant. There are no easy solutions to the issues before us. As believers, we have to ask ourselves a question. Will we face these days with fear or with faith? All right, all right. I know that you all immediately responded, "With faith of course!" I am always glad that I write to such super spiritual people out thereJ
The thing is, I can't help but remember a guy named Peter, who basically said the same thing, right before he bailed out on Jesus. I know we have good intentions, but will we be found faithful in the eye of the storm or will we be fearful when it hits.
The past few posts have been about putting our faith into practical situations. It is going to take a great deal of that faith to handle what is coming in our future. As we see society drift further and further away from the Lord, do you realize that we Christians will be tolerated less and less? Many people already think that we are the cause of most of their problems. Christians are being persecuted for their faith all over the world today. Here in America, we see our faith being attacked on multiple fronts. Our public education system, the media and many in our government attack Christianity relentlessly. As we face the future, how do we cope without being fearful and is that would God expects from us?
To be accurate, the people of God have faced hard times from the beginning. The children of Israel have been persecuted for a very long time. A great example of how God wants us to deal with persecution is found in Isaiah, chapter 8. Even though nations were rising up against Judah, the Lord spoke through the prophet Isaiah and said, "Do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, and he will be a sanctuary;" (Isa 8:12-14 NIV) Look at some of the other things the Lord spoke through Isaiah:
Isa 35:4 say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you."
Isa 41:10-13 "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. "All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you."
Isa 51:7-8 "Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have my law in your hearts: Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults. For the moth will eat them up like a garment; the worm will devour them like wool. But my righteousness will last forever, my salvation through all generations."
Jeremiah adds this: Jer 30:10 "so do not fear, O Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, O Israel,' declares the Lord.'I will surely save you out of a distant place, your descendants from the land of their exile. Jacob will again have peace and security, and no one will make him afraid. "
There is more:
Lam 3:55-57 "I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: "Do not close your ears to my cry for relief." You came near when I called you, and you said, "Do not fear."
Zeph 3:16-17 on that day they will say to Jerusalem, "Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."
Hag 2:5 'This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.'
Are you seeing a pattern here? "Wait a minute," you say. "These are Old Testament verses pertaining to the Jewish people. How do we know they apply to us as well?" Good question. Though these verses do apply specifically to the nation of Israel, I think that the New Testament shows us that God has His church in mind as well. The real idea here is that we should fear God, not man. Jesus said, "Matt 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell."
The Lord does not guarantee us that we won't suffer trials and tribulations, in fact He says we will. The recurring theme is that He will help us through the trials and ultimately save us so therefore, FEAR NOT! You see, if we are like Paul and consider our lives as already dead to the flesh and alive to the Spirit; we don't need to fear whatever comes our way. God is in control of our lives. Nothing happens to us that He does not allow. He knows the number of our days. The only thing we should fear is being out of relationship with Him, but if you have truly surrendered your life to Him, that cannot happen. Remember what Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand." (John 10:27-29 NKJV)
Paul reinforced this in Rom 8:38-39 "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (NIV)
On the night before Jesus was crucified, He told His disciples, who were often afraid, how they would be able to live life unafraid. 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."
So, brothers and sisters in the Lord, I say to you, FEAR NOT! Let the peace of God rule your heart and mind as you live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called.
May God bless you as you trust in Him and live in His marvelous peace, not fear,