Saturday, April 12, 2008

Walking in Faith, Not Fear

Following a study of Psalm 56 a few years ago, I wrote in my Bible for the theme, “Handling Fear”. Without a doubt, fear restricts us or renders us ineffective in our Christian walk more than anything else. Satan is cunning and he has studied human nature long enough to know our weaknesses, most of which stem from fear. May I be bold enough to say especially for women. He cannot know us intimately because he is not omniscient (all knowing) like God (Psalm 139:1-6). But he doesn’t have to be. He considers our patterns, he hears our words, sees our responses and plants the fear.

To be honest, my first response when I saw “handling fear” written in my hand was one of frustration. I don’t always handle it well at all, I battle it! I want it gone from my life. Fear is such a paralyzing emotion. Many times the basis for the fear is unfounded so how does one conquer that? It is one thing to be fearful of what is right in front of me, but what about when I am fearful of the unknown or what may be coming? I chastise myself for this weakness, but I cannot be victorious if I keep letting Satan win battles by allowing him to add spiritual defeat to the pile! Let’s look at that 56th Psalm starting with verse 3…

“When I am afraid…” Now that is not “if” but “when”. God knows that we will be fearful. It is not a sin to have fear. It’s what we do with the fear, how we respond to it that is most important to God…and to me, for that matter!

“I will put my trust in Thee…” I will believe that my God is loving enough, big enough, and faithful to His promises to never forsake me. I will trust Him to walk the path with me and know that nothing will come my way that is more than I can bear! “Trust in the LORD forever, for in God the LORD we have an everlasting Rock.” Isaiah 26:4

“In God whose word I praise…” How can I honestly praise and glorify God one minute and doubt His love and faithfulness for my good the very next? Is He who He says He is or isn’t He? Do I believe in my head only or deep enough in my being to “practice” that God is who the Bible says He is? Is my faith real and active? Look what I found just across the page in my Bible! “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!” Psalm 57:7. The word “steadfast” here is kuwn and is referring to “spiritual preparedness by being established, firm, fixed, certain, set in order, full of faith”.

In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid…” Here, the Psalmist moves from stating what he will do to actually doing it. I am reminded of who the Bible says God is. I believe Him to be able to keep me in all my circumstances. I trust Him to take care of me and/or the situation of which I am fearful. Therefore, I will not walk in fear, but faith!

Okay…now that that is solved, how does one actually walk unafraid and trusting when the fear is there in the back of the mind? Or in my case right now…welling up anxiously within my chest desiring to overtake me! My struggle is that I think of the worst that could come about in the situation and dwell on that coming to fruition. How do I not only wrap my mind around these truths, but internalize them as well! If I am to align my heart with His and seek Him always in my life, even when I have found the verses to help me, how do I get them to be real and functioning within me!

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations (considerations hostile to the Gospel) and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

So…first of all we have to keep in mind were the battle is. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12. So it is time to “Put on the full armor of God that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11.

Let’s review that armor available to us in Ephesians 6:14-18.

Stand firm…” The Greek verb tense makes this a command!
“…having girded your loins with truth…” God’s pure, unadulterated truth!
“…and having put on the breastplate of righteousness…” Live the way God says to live and be filled with the Spirit.
“…and having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace…” Jesus won our peace at Calvary. Stand in that assurance on a firm foundation and walk by the Spirit with firm footing.
“…taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one.” The more you know the whole counsel of God (the Bible) the greater your shield!
“And take the helmet of salvation…” Remember to whom I belong. I belong to Christ who is in me and is greater than he that is in the world.
“…and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Lift it high!
“With all prayer (general) and petition (specific) pray at all times in the Spirit…” Prayer is crucial in Spiritual warfare. You must communicate with your Commander in Chief.

Now that the armor is on, let’s start taking captive those fearful thoughts!

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35, 37-39. I must speak the truth inwardly and out loud of God’s love for me! He will NEVER leave me nor can ANYTHING separate me from Him! In fact, this verse says that I “overwhelmingly conquer” in “all these things”! Speaking what I believe (because it is in the Bible and therefore must be truth) even when I am struggling is so powerful in helping my unbelief become belief!

“Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the LORD God is my strength and song and He has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2. Singing songs of faith and trust in God is a way of taking those fearful thoughts captive. The songs going around in my head lately are “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and one from the children’s “Hide ‘Em In Your Heart” CD by Steve Green. I’d sing the tune for you if I could, :) but you’ll have to settle for the words and they are straight out of Psalm 56. It’s simple and it’s scripture—nothing stronger to speak or sing than scripture! That’s were the power is!

“When I am afraid I will trust in You, I will trust in You, I will trust in You…
When I am afraid I will trust in You, the God whose name I praise!”

“…those who have believed God may be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.” Titus 3:8. Keeping my mind busy with my work and focused on what is (not what could be) and is right now in front of me helps to keep the thoughts of fear at bay. This is definitely “profitable” in many ways!

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4. Rejoicing is walking in the truth of my faith by thanking God for who He is, what He has done in my life and what He will do. Anxiety is a waste of my day and contrary to faith. I am His concern. Even if my concern is legitimate, the situation of which I am fearful has been allowed to come to me in the permissive will of God. He is using it to accomplish His purpose in my life. He has it under control and in His care. That truth I can rejoice in!

Here are a couple more verses to let soak in if you are working to overcome fear. We’ll end with these, because nothing is more powerful or meaty than the word of God (Hebrews 4:12). Certainly nothing this learning heart can offer up!

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:6-8.

Therefore, since your heart and mind is guarded by the peace of God…

“When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden fear, nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes. For the LORD will be your confidence (at your side).” Proverbs 3:24-26