Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

05/13/2020

Randall Caselman

 

Conquering

Our Handwringing Fears

 

Do not worry about tomorrow: For tomorrow will care for itself…

Be anxious for nothing. But in everything by prayer and supplication and thanksgiving

let your requests be made known to God… Casting all your anxiety upon Him because

He cares for you… For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons…For God has not given us a spirit of fear,

but of power and love and discipline.

 

  Fear has its place. It is a neurophysiological response to a real or perceived threat. Fear cultivates a response by our nervous and adrenal systems: The heart races, our palms sweat, a feeling of anxiousness, dread, panic, spreads over us; a feeling we can't explain, but know well. Now, this can be a good thing because it prepares us for danger. Fear and anxiety are a part of everyday life. However it must not consume us, rule over us. God doesn't want His people to live in handwringing fear.

 

  COVID-19 has brought fear and anxiousness to a new level. It's become, not a momentary thing, but with us every day. Do we give into fear, live in fear, or do we take steps to conquer it? If so how? Interestingly enough, God has given us some possibilities. Come, let's see what we can learn...

 

  Control our thoughts. Negative thoughts take root in our mind and distort the severity of the situation. Paul says don't let that happen, take control! "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things... And the God of peace will be with you" (Philippians 4.8-9). Don't allow the television networks or internet to form your thought patterns, allow God's control!

 

  Know that God is near. Did you notice the last part of the previous Scripture... "And the peace of God be with you?" For most of us, a heart without God is a heart filled with fear. With God in our life what power does fear have over us? God is sovereign. He is in control. If God is for us, who can be against us? Realization that God is with us displaces fear. This was the promise of Jesus, "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you; not the peace of this world, My peace. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." Acts 27.24 seems to say, why worry, God has our future: "Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you." Peace and fear are mutually exclusive. Fear is the absence of God. Indeed, we must fill our hearts with His presence.

 

  Focus on our love and appreciation of God and others. John wrote: "Perfect love casts out fear." Fear must find room in our heart to operate. A heart filled with love for God, family, neighbors, church, the lost, and yes even our enemies, has no room for fear – Right? Families filled with love have no fear of one another. Churches filled with love are not afraid of the world or Satan. Such perfect love is what allowed the Samaritan to forget his fear and serve his neighbor. Loving the lost enabled Paul and company to overcome their fears and travel the world preaching the word in some very fearful circumstances. Religion without love is a fearful thing. Paul puts it in these words: "If I have all faith, all knowledge, give my body in martyrdom, and have not love, I am nothing." Isaiah 43.1 has God saying: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine."

 

  Know that fear is the absence of forgiveness. Fear of not being forgiven does ugly things within us. It kept Jacob and Esau apart for twenty-one years. Lack of forgiveness kept Saul in pursuit of David for years while the kingdom of Israel stood still. David’s spirit of unforgiveness toward Absalom resulted in rebellion and death. I think we can say that this fear tormented both Judas and Pilate. I wonder just how much worry, fear, anxiety, dread, and restlessness we deal with daily because we don’t believe we have been truly forgiven by God. But you see, security of the believer is a Biblical doctrine. There is therefore no condemnation to those in Christ... If we walk in the light, as He is in the light we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, His Son, continues to cleanse us from all our sin… If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Read! Believe! Live! Fear not!

 

  Fear is diminished by truth. "You shall know the truth and truth shall set you free." How many times have we been afraid because we didn’t know the truth? Perhaps we’ve worried about our health, but the doctor gives us truth. Maybe we’ve been anxious about the safety of our children, only to find out they were okay. For instance, Jacob lived in sadness for years thinking his son, Joseph, was dead, but truth freed him. Search for truth, find truth, it sets us free from fear. Listen, there are so many COVID-19 lies out there. Find a trustworthy individual and listen to them! Lies perpetuate anxiety, dread, and fear.

 

  Remember this, faith overcomes fear. Fear and faith cannot rule and reign the same heart at the same time. Scripture affirms the fact that fear paralyzes, while faith empowers. By faith, Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice. By faith Noah built an ark. By faith Enoch walked with God. By faith Abraham responded to God’s call. Joshua was told: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go”(Joshua 1.9). Isn’t it time we replaced our fear with such empowering faith? Listen to Jesus: "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows... Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12.6-7 & 32).

 

  No, not one of us, by our own power, will overcome our dreads and fear, but with God’s help we can overcome by filling our hearts with His presence, truth, love, faith and forgiveness… Amen?

 

—Randall Caselman