- JRM Sydney
FEEDING FAITH, KILLING FEAR
"The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
- David (1 Samuel 17:37)
On the second instalment of our monthly series, we revisited the greatest and most famous underdog story of David and Goliath. We continue to explore the extent of the FREEDOM that Christ has won for us on the cross and resurrection and one of them is freedom from the shackles of fear. We define FREEDOM as being released from illegitimate oppression or bondage so that one can experience what he/she was created and redeemed to be. Fear is one of those oppressions inflicted by the enemy and even though we are already saved and children of God, it can still have a foothold in our lives if we are not going to be vigilant and discerning of its presence and persuasions. There is nothing wrong with feeling afraid. In the face of threat, human instinct alerts our mind of danger and can save us from its harms. What is wrong though is "living afraid". Especially in these times of the global pandemic, we can justify living in fear. Cautiousness can be a front to being afraid. When fear becomes a stronghold or bondage and becomes normative to how we operate, it can hold us back to God's plan and destiny for our lives. Many are crippled by the spirit of fear; and yes! It is s spirit... a spirit that does not belong or come from God!
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
- 2 Timothy 1:7
We define FEAR here as the expectation of evil, the expectation of calamity, tragedy, disaster, trouble, and difficulties. It is the absence of the thoughts of God, His presence, or His help. In short, the dominance of fear indicates the lack of or the weakness of faith. You can operate your life out of faith or you can operate it out of fear; but YOU CANNOT OPERATE OUT OF BOTH. Many people are unaware that the motivation behind their actions or inactions is fear. But when we surrender our lives to JESUS as our LORD, we also declare that FEAR will no longer be our Master. CHRISTIANS OUGHT TO BE THE MOST FEARLESS PEOPLE ON EARTH. Why? Because:
"There is no fear in LOVE; but perfect LOVE casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love."
- 1 John 4:18
This is the same passage that declares GOD is LOVE and therefore rereading that, it should also say:
"There is no fear in GOD; but perfect GOD casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love."
- 1 John 4:18
When GOD is in the ROOM; FEAR cannot stay there; or; When you come in GOD’s PRESENCE, fear is cast out.
Our lives should be the living temple of GOD - God's dwelling place. And fear is an illegitimate settler in it. We should not give it a foothold.
It is famously said that there are about 365 Bible passages where God commands: "DO NOT FEAR!"; and that there is one Bible promise on faith over fear for every single day of the year. I counted it again, and to my discovery, there is actually more than 365 passages in the Scriptures about feeding faith and killing fear; if we are going to count fear's cousins such as worry, anxiety, distress, etc. More than 500 times, God forbids fear or anxiety or worry to remain among His children.
On top of that, the whole Biblical narrative is filled with layers upon layers of stories of how God inspired faith among His people and how the most unlikely characters found the courage and overcame fear by feeding their faith in GOD.
The space we have in this blog is limited to tell of the stories of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua and Caleb, King Josiah, Gideon, Joseph, Daniel, etc. But one we have revisited is David's famous story of defeating Goliath. Through every generation, it has become a by-word; an expression; a pattern of victory. The name Goliath has been made synonymous with the giants we face in our lives - those which we fear the most. And David became a symbol of how God can use a small, insignificant boy like this to make giants fall. Somehow, through the lens of this narrative, we also find our stories. So go on ahead and review it here: 1 Samuel 17
Here the three main points we have discussed in this week's message:
1. WE CAN BE IN CHRIST and STILL BE INFLUENCED BY FEAR. IT DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU SEE AND WHAT YOU HEAR AND WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO FOCUS ON.
David and the rest of the Israelites saw the same thing and heard the same words. What made David different from the rest of the cowering Israelites and King Saul is that He sees and hears God more and chose to focus on Him. David learned to spend a lot of alone time with God and he experienced first hand how the Lord has rescued him in dangerous situations and he held on to that. He looked beyond the giant and wasn't intimidated by it, because his "fear of the Lord" and His desire for His honour was greater than the giant's attempt of intimidation.
2. FEAR WILL PARALYZE YOU AND HOLD YOU BACK; FAITH WILL MOVE YOU FORWARD.
1 Samuel 17:16 says "for forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand"; and for forty days the armies of Israel were intimidated and did nothing. Quite similar to the story of the 12 spies in Numbers 13 and 14 who were intimidated to the "giants of the land" and forgot God's promise of victory to claim their promised land. What "promised land" are you not possessing just because you are afraid? Similarly, the story of Peter walking on water in Matthew 14 tells us Jesus calling Peter "of little faith" because he doubted. I'd rather have "little faith" (Peter) than no faith (11 disciples in the boat) at all. At least I'd get to experience to walk with JESUS on the water. FAITH requires a forward movement. I cannot count how many times God commanded His people to GO!
3. THE BONDAGE OF FEAR IS BROKEN BY KNOWING, NOT JUST WHO YOU ARE, BUT WHOSE YOU ARE and WHO YOU ARE WITH.
David knew exactly who he belongs to and was definite that God is with him. In the face of fear, this is the only potent weapon we can have confidence in. It is not so much who we are or what we can do, but what God can do through us.
In Exodus 3:11-12, when Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”; God answered:
“I will be with you..." The question was: "Who am I?" and God's answer is "I am with you."
The answer may sound wrong, but it is precisely what we need to hear. IT IS NOT ABOUT US. IT IS ABOUT HIM. WE ARE NOT THE HERO oF THE STORY. HE IS!
"If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?"
- Romans 8:31-32
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
- Psalm 16:7-8
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
- Psalm 34:4-7
So how are we to FEED our FAITH and KILL our FEARS? Let me suggest these three things from the Psalmists i.e. David as a starting point: 1. In the face of fear, PRAISE the LORD 2. In the face of fear, SEEK/SEE the LORD
3. In the face of fear, MOVE with the LORD
It is our prayer that as you continue in this lifestyle of feeding your faith, drawing closer to JESUS and immersing your life in His Presence, you will starve fear to death and eventually break its neck, that it will not have power over your life anymore!
The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid.
- Psalm 118:6
QUESTIONS for DISCUSSION:
1. What are the things or situations you remember you were afraid of while growing up? 2. What are the common fears you can be influenced in your life now? 3. What have you learned or new insights you had in this week's message? 4. What does the story of David and Goliath teach us as we face our giants? 5. Discuss the key points shared in this message. Which one can you relate to the most? 6. Why is living in fear contradictory to living in faith? 7. What action steps and solid resolutions will you take to break the chain of fear in your life?