144. The command to live by.

We are talking about the brain-bug: fear. How can we live boldly and fully? How will our lives epitomize the elements of the Christmas Advent: joy, peace, love and hope when we are crushed by the issues and dangers of modern living. All that Jesus came for, lived to exemplify and died for are rendered meaningless when fear floods our system.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with youwherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

The SECOND fear defeating principle is the command in the Word that rings throughout: Do not fear!

The writers of the Psalms are all struggling with fear.  They pour out their hearts before the Lord.  He is to be trusted. (Psalms 62:8)

Jesus repeats this principle with extended examples, repetition and warnings against the meaninglessness of worry.

Jesus forbids worry – not responsible future planning.  (Matthew 6:25-34) He does not ask for a reckless denial of the demands of life.  He is talking about that fear-filled, windmill of repetitive thoughts that robs all inner joy and peace.  The word he uses is merrimna– anxious worry.

Jesus emphasizes that God is the source of life and therefore the maintainer of life.  He creates the body and provide for the body.  He illustrates with the birds of heaven and the lilies of the fields, things that humankind does not maintain or make grow.  He cares from an inexhaustible source.  His examples are significant as they illustrate abundance and beauty.

He underscores again and again the worthlessness of worry.  He makes it ridiculous; that one might think you can grow taller by worrying. Then He makes it an insult and compares a worry-sick person with a heathen, someone who does not know God. A heathen has no God or he might have an angry God who does not love him or cares what happens to him.

He contrasts God the Father with an angry and distant god, and calls him DAD.  God is a close, loving dad who cares and provides everything necessary. It should be easy to obey this command and eradicate all worry and fear from our lives – but HOW?

Here is the THIRD fear-defeating principle.   In Matthew 6:33 is the principle of fearless living.

Jesus says:

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.

What will be given besides?  The abundance and beauty that Jesus mentioned in the previous verses will be yours because of God’s favour and not your own good works.

What is righteousness? It is the conformity to the revealed will of God in all respects; the surrendering of your life and desires to the One who died for you. The revealed will of God is the revelation of who Jesus is.  We find all this in the Word.

 It does not mean that every worry and experienced fearfulness are sins of disobedience.  Often worry prompts us to act and do something constructive. The worry that will make us sick and considered a sin is the whirlpool of anxiety about things we cannot change, things that can only be managed through prayer to the Almighty whose trademark is the supernatural.

God promises supernatural peace.  Here is the recipe for windmill and whirlpool thoughts.  Let us again enjoy the Amplified translation.

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.

 And God’s peace [shall be yours, thattranquil stateof a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothingfrom God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace], which transcends all understandingshall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

 I am blown away by the faith knowledge that God is guarding my heart from anxiety.  This is not only fear-defeating.  It is so much more. It is the experience of peace that cannot be explained; peace and joy within the storms of life.

 The story of Mary and Martha in Luke (10:38-42) worries me a bit.  Well, I can honestly say, if one “worries” about the principles in a Bible story and how to apply it to one’s own life, worry is a good thing!

I am a homemaker.  I sort of identify with Martha, keeping things in order and especially feeding Jesus when he comes to visit.  I would have probably cooked up a storm and served a feast for him.  I know Martha loved him and served him with her talents.  In common language the “insult” to say you are a Martha, cuts deep for me. I might even say it of myself.

However, the story has a deeper line.  It is not about the daily, the superficial and the fleshly. It is all about conviction of the deeper principles to live by.  It is about life priorities.  Tending to the everyday cares of life can distract from the search for the deeper kingdom principles that the words of Jesus brought into their house. Mary sensed that and sat at his feet, not sidetracked by the ordinary.

There is no freedom from fear in the ordinary.  There is victory in the “eating” of the Bread of Life, the words of Jesus.  In the prayerful digestion of the words of the Bible, freedom from fear is guaranteed.

Just as a reminder we are promised to know what is important according to Philippians 1:9 (discussed in the very first Pebbles).  The Amplified translation defines the gift of discernment as follows: keen insight, greater depth of acquaintance, and more comprehensive discernment. So that you may surely learn to sense what is vital and approve and prize what is excellent and of real value.

This is a life-goal worth pursuing.  It is wise living.

How do you perceive God in your most anxious moments?  Is He close and accessible? Do you feel He hears your cry?

 I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. (Psalms 32:8)

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s loving eye on you to your imagination.

Let us live boldly into our future with the word of the priestly blessing in Number 6.

The Lord bless and keep you

The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

Receive these words in the promise of Isaiah 26:3:

You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon You, because he trusts in You.

Lastly, remember what Jesus said at the end of Matthew 6:

 

So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.

 

 

[BK 23]

 

 

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143. A most luxurious life.

It is the bug in every brain – fear. Somehow, somewhere and in some or other circumstances it will paralyze you, give you that hollow feeling inside, even sweaty hands and palpitations with an added dread of rumination, visualizing the scenarios over and over in your mind.  Who can say they are not familiar with every symptom of fear?

The next two shorter pieces are focused on some Biblical teaching on fear, but they are by no means exhaustive.  Every circumstance, every state of alarm or constant anxiety should be directed to our loving Dad in prayer for His Spirit-guidance in the Word for those miraculous “life” -words of “peace that surpasses all understanding”. (John 6:63; Philippians 4:7)

Somewhere I have heard that the phrase: do not fear, is repeated 366 times in the Bible; one for each day and en extra.  I don’t know exactly how I can confirm this, but it makes so much sense. One of the most important strategies of our enemy is fear.  It will rob you of a meaningful, joyous life. It will overwhelm your thoughts and limit your potential in so many ways.  It is a trap set in hell to trip you up and make you suffer in the cruel, sharp, iron claws of your own thoughts.

When we talk about a strategy from hell, we have to remember that the devil is not creative and cannot do anything new. We have all his plans and actions recorded in the Bible for our knowledge and equipping.  The Bible is truly our textbook for life.

The stories of the Old and New Testaments are the examples of men and women living on this earth with the same life issues that we have to contend with so many centuries later.

  • Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden had to live the consequences of disobedience to the directive of God.Eve has not heard from God directly, only second hand through Adam.  Satan approaches her to plant doubt in her mind as to the exact words of the command from God.  He will always sow doubt about what God said and promised and whether God will do what He has said He will do.

 

  • Abraham gets impatient with God’s timing in giving him the son he so desires. He takes action himself and Ishmael, Hagar’s son is born with all the complications that action brings.

 

  • David is tempted and weakened when he should have been on the battlefield with his men.

 

  • The kings of Israel are a study in pride and arrogance, succumbing to sin in the pursing of greatness and standing.

 

  • All his sneaky tactics to tempt Jesus in Matthew 4 where he quotes Scripture out of context to make it a lie of motivation and purpose.

 

If we can dissect his strategy and prepare ourselves to withstand the temptations of evil, we might be able to live more boldly.

One of his most successful traps is fear. So much of our modern illness and physical symptoms of discomfort is related to fear and anxiety.  Our toxic thoughts make us sick.

We can give it many names, label it in any which way and prescribe the pills and therapy to fight it – all of which is good and necessary as we fight on all fronts against the destruction of life, but in the end we know we cannot fake inner peace.  We know what that tight grip of cold fear feels like.

Let’s go back far, back to Abraham.  God promises him:

 Do not be afraid, I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward. (Genesis 15:1)

This is a covenant promise.  God said that all the nations of the world would be blessed through Abraham.  In Romans  (4:13) Paul states that this promise is ours, not through our good works measured by the law, but through FAITH.

The promise covers our past and future. God’s shield is our protection for today; His reward is the guarantee for future success.  There is nothing that can happen in this life that God cannot turn around for good.  Nothing is too hard for Him.  This is the first principle for victory over fear.

You are safe in his hands.  In Exodus 34 God describes himself as abounding in goodness and truth.  Jeremiah 29 confirms his plans for our future.  The Psalms is full of promises of outcome and protection and so are the prophets and epistles.  Just think for a moment about the life of Jesus.  He healed and encouraged the lowliest of society.

However,our God turned the curse into a blessing. (Nehemiah 13:2)

And we know that all things work together for goodto those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.(Romans 8:28)

These are promises to remember and live by when things go “wrong”.  I deliberately write that in quotation marks, because things might look “wrong” in our eyes when God in his mysterious wisdom works them out for our benefit.

Could we live in the knowledge that when we have surrendered our ways to the Lord, our lives are governed by the principles of God and will never end in defeat. So many times I thought my life has taken a wild side road, when I realize that this is the way God has made as I recognize his loving guidance.

We have a guarantee:

Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present you unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation, with unspeakable, ecstatic delight —    (Jude 24)

The first fear defeating principle is: Rest in the arms of God and his plan for your life.

 

 

Next time: Do not fear – the command of God that should be the foundation of our life.

 

 

[BK 23]