Fear and Faith

I am tired… of endless conflict, of one-sided conversations, of simplistic thinking that fails to wrestle with the real complexity of life, of hatred.  We are subjected to those who stir our deepest fears with the aim of gaining control over us. Politicians do it. Preachers do it, too.  I think you know this but it’s worth saying again – Fear brings out the worst in us!  The worst human behaviors are stoked by fears that grow out of creation of impending doom.

Few things move people to action like pointing to the ‘end of the world as we know it.’ Frightening tales about ‘those people’ or that ‘religion’ so some other imagined or exaggerated threat turns into powerful motivation for action – often not thoughtful but reactionary! Leaders use propaganda to stoke fear that causes us to allow war, concentration camps, destructive religious fanaticism, and/or persecuting of some ‘undesirable’ group.

Christian, we must not be dupes of evil people who will use fear to manipulate us nor can we allow our minds to be controlled by our own fears, real or imagined.  Paul reminded a younger leader that God gives us the ability to think, not just to react. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7, NLT)  We are, by the Spirit of the Lord, able to make moral excellence our pursuit, to make self-sacrificial love our daily ethic, and to take charge of our emotions.

The experience of God’s people in the wilderness wandering on the way to the Promised Land is an example for us. As they approached the land Moses sent 12 men to gain intelligence for the invasion. What they saw was amazing! “A land flowing with milk and honey,” they reported. They also saw some challenges – strong people and fortified cities.  Note what happened next! 

Only 2 of the spies remembered the Lord and His past demonstrations of care.  The other ten were possessed by fear. They “spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size.” (Numbers 13:32, NIV)

That report went viral! Overnight, these people who were led by the Lord, who were fed daily by miraculous manna, who had the promise of His ongoing Presence, became irrationally fearful. From that fear grew a demand to return to slavery in Egypt. Fear so blinded them that they preferred the familiar past to God’s promised future! In days, they were plotting a rebellion, even attempting to kill Moses at one point!

Then, God drew the line and pronounced His judgment – “You will not enter and occupy the land I swore to give you. The only exceptions will be Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. ” ‘You said your children would be carried off as plunder. Well, I will bring them safely into the land, and they will enjoy what you have despised. But as for you, you will drop dead in this wilderness.” (Numbers 14:30-32, NLT) 

For the next 40 years, the Israelites remained a refugee nation as the entire generation died off, one by one. Such is the ripple effect of fearful words that create panic and rebellion!  All of those spies saw the real difficulties that were part of the process of owning the Promised Land, but only two had faith. Ten failed to set God’s faithfulness against Canaan’s difficulties. Fear owned them. Their negative report destroyed an entire generation.

In our world where there is much for which we can be concerned, do you choose to live with faith or fear in control of your mind and heart?

Faith doesn’t ask us to ignore reality. Some mistakenly think that acknowledging that life is hard, or that circumstances are not favorable, or that the future is unclear are evidences of a lack of faith. Not at all! The mission of the men sent into Canaan was to gain a truthful, reality-based view of what was ahead. Moses told them to “See what the land is like, and find out whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many. See what kind of land they live in. Is it good or bad? Do their towns have walls, or are they unprotected like open camps?” (Numbers 13:18-19, NLT)  

Knowing the challenges could have given reason to exercise faith in God and His promise. “Go up and take the land!” Their mission was to prepare a strategic plan to implement the will of God.

When we really know what we are up against, but choose to be obedient to God’s direction – we show the most authentic faith!  Fantasy has nothing to do with real faith. Dreams are often just the product of our wishes unfettered by reality. Vision is faith-based, seeing the world as it could be as the Spirit leads us to become catalysts for change.

So, how will you meet the challenges of life today? How will you hear the news? 

You can complain, react in fear, and hand your life over to those who would manipulate you for their own ends.  Or, you can pray for a sound mind filled with wisdom and faith. Giving in to fear can create terrible consequences for your family, your church, and your community.  Faith will take the opportunities for love, for service, for peace-making.  

Paul went on to write to Timothy that despite being imprisoned and hardship, he was confident – not self-confident, but God- confident.  Join him in saying  even as “I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (2 Timothy 1:12, NKJV)

Our word from the Word is a familiar one. As you read it, pray that the Spirit will still voices of fear and speak peace.
“What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.
God gave his approval to people in days of old because of their faith.”
(Hebrews 11:1-2, NLT) 
“So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith.
Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God
and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”
(Hebrews 11:6, NLT)

(Video of this blog at this link)

_______________

Lord I Need You

Lord I come I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
And without You I fall apart
You’re the one that guides my heart

Lord I need You oh I need You
Ev’ry hour I need You
My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me
Where You are Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

So teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus You’re my hope and stay
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus You’re my hope and stay

Lord I need You oh I need You
Ev’ry hour I need You
My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You
My one defense my righteousness
Oh God how I need You

Christy Nockels | Daniel Carson | Jesse Reeves | Kristian Stanfill | Matt Maher

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