"For God will bring every deed into judgement, with every secret thing, whether good or evil"... Ecclesiastes 12:14
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Take God's Antidote for Fear
The rise of ISIS and their ominous black flag creeping up around the world is unnerving people everywhere. Is all hell breaking loose? How concerned should we be? The Bible famously tells us “Do not be afraid!” 365 times, that’s once for every day of the year. So how do we look these unspeakable horrors of death in the eye without buckling to fear?
God wants us to be fearless. And we could be. It is not necessarily easy to dispose of fear in our lives, but it is possible with God. The Bible commands us not to be afraid 365 times in the Bible - once for every day of the year! And if God can command it, we can obey. In the current climate of terrorism and disaster, it is very easy to get drawn in by alarmist articles and reports that whip us up into an outraged frenzy, subversively motivated by fear. This is absolutely not what God wants for us, and it is no way to be the light to the world that we should be. The Yeshua way is a higher way, and the only way up onto that path and into that rarified air is by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The terrorists that struck in Paris, those who hit Beirut, Baghdad, the attackers in Israel and terrorists in general, aim to inspire fear. The goal is to create an atmosphere of chaos and horror and thus gain power and control. Clearly, we do not wish to fall into that trap, and become another victim of their evil acts - and indeed as believers, we must not give way to fear. But these days are full of some seriously frightening realities - how do we keep a grip on fear? How can we “laugh at the days to come”, as the woman of Proverbs 31 can with such dignity and courage when we don’t know what’s coming? As the days get darker, we must learn how to win this battle of our own hearts and minds in order to truly be a light that shines brightly in the darkest night.
Understand that you are indestructible
Psalm 68:20 is an interesting verse about death. The Amplified Version has it like this: “God is to us a God of deliverances and salvation; and to God the Lord belongs escape from death [setting us free].” Our God is the God of Salvations - or the God of deliverances is the "owner of exits from death", or the issues of death, or deliverances from death. He’s in charge of death - the "issues of death" belong to him, as the King James puts it. Although he can prevent it or provide escape, clearly, God doesn’t always rescue us from physical death. We all die sometime. But even then, he’s holding the whole matter of death in his hand. He can even save us from the power of death itself, so that death is not the end for us.
Here’s another one:
2 Samuel 14:14: “We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. And God does not take away life, but devises means so that he who is banished may not be an utter outcast from Him.”
This 'means' that God has devised is the greatest gift that we could ever receive; a powerful antidote to the fear of death. We need to appropriate this gift, and offer it to others. Our savior, Yeshua the Messiah, has beaten death itself, and taken away its sting. We will live with God forever! Now more than ever, the world needs to know that those who terrorise with the threat of death cannot overcome those who know that they cannot die.
On one hand most of us who believe are so familiar with the fact that we have eternal life that we are almost blasé about it, but on the other hand, we tend to live our lives as if this life is all that there is! We get overwhelmed with panic, fear, envy, despair… the hope of glory has seeped away and we shuffle along with the rest of the crowd obsessing about matters of this world. This should not be!
We must understand that we are eternal. If we are saved by Yeshua, we are indestructible, and we will live forever with him in glory. Nothing and no one can alter that fact - no one can ultimately destroy the real, eternal, created and beloved you. In Matthew 10:28 Jesus tells us, “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.”
Whatever may happen to our temporary bodies (which Paul describes as a mere tent to camp out in while we are on earth for this relatively short time), our soul is safe in the hands of God, if we have given our lives to him. The same cannot be said for the perpetrators of evil, unless they repent. This is a powerful message for a frightened world, and we need to be ready to share it both in our words and the way that we live.
Whatever is in your future, God is there too, and he is in charge
We cannot know our future, and we are warned against all witchcraft style attempts to peer into it, but we can be pretty sure about a few things: We will die the first death at some point (unless Yeshua returns first), we will suffer, and God will always be an ever present help in times of trouble. He is waiting for us in our future too. We must understand that Yeshua PROMISED that there would be suffering. King David wrote in Psalm 34, “The righteous man has many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all”. David knew a thing or two about troubles, and frankly, so does anyone who follows hard after the Messiah. But the reason that the Proverbs 31 woman (Ishat Hayil, as we call her in Hebrew - the woman of valour) can laugh at the future is because she knows that whatever it holds, God is there too. Our Saviour is aware of every day that we will encounter in the future and he is also there, ready to meet us and help us - whatever we have to face. This should give us great courage, because he’s pretty powerful.
“Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
Yeshua understands our tendency, encouraged by the enemy of our souls, to gaze into the future and worry about it. But this is a waste of time and energy - these things may very well not even happen to us! Fear tends to be related to future events that have not yet occurred, or imagining someone else's trouble might come upon us. But even when we look at believers who really are facing death, we see God's extraordinary grace undertaking for them in the most amazing ways. God gives them courage and capacity to stay faithful to the end. Remember the story of the four Christian boys who refused to deny Yeshua? "We love Yesua [the Iraqi name for Jesus], we have always loved Yesua, Yesua has always been with us", they insisted. After one last attempt to terrify the boys into submission, the ISIS terrorists realised that they were never going to change their minds, and all four were killed. Similarly, other believers have called out even in praise at their final moments. These heroes will be greatly honoured in glory. If he can do it for these saints, God can help us in such circumstances too, if they ever fall upon us. Which they might well not.
Yeshua wisely commanded us not to emote about things that haven’t happened yet - save your energy for dealing with what you’re facing today. As he rightly said, there are troubles for each day and we are far better off concentrating on those, rather than projecting into the future. This requires faith, but with the same kind of discipline with which we jettison inappropriate thoughts from our mind, we can reject temptations to spend time and energy thinking and worrying about what might or might not happen. God has given us new mercies every day, and enough grace to cope with what is in front of us. Faith leaves tomorrow in God’s hands, and believes in God’s power to help us with whatever we are facing today. "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:34)
Perfect love drives out fear
God is utterly powerful, and his plans never fail. All of earth’s history is seen and known by the Alpha and Omega, the Author of Time, and all our days are written before one of them came to be. And Our Father, who loves us passionately, is in charge. We know from Scripture that things will get increasingly hairy, but also that God knows every hair on our heads. His love for us is immense! He sees the whole picture, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Love and fear do not mix. With our lives surrendered to our all-loving God, we know we are in safe hands. We can be certain that we are ultimately and eternally secure in his care. We can know that whatever trials come our way, they have been permitted by our sovereign God, and he will not waste any of our pain or suffering. This can release us to rest as we trust God to take care of us, and in his plans for our future.
Because love and fear do not mix, we similarly need to choose whether to relate to others with love or fear. When Yeshua commanded us to pray for our enemies, he knew that we would have to adjust our outlook, and see them more from God’s point of view as we bring them to his throne. Fear can be replaced with compassion, since we know that God is just, and those who are committed to the path of evil have a horrific eternity ahead of them.Love and fear do not mix. So what will we choose to let our hearts be full of?