John T. Willis

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fear: This is a Heart Issue [Part 2]

Fear is a powerful motivation in personal, church, and national life. Sometimes this is positive, sometimes this is negative. Here are some motivations which affect our lives. 1. Enemies. Throughtout human history, enemies have brought fear into our lives. In our own lifetimes, we have experienced the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the German gestapo who killed millions of people, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and this type of threats continue, and will continue as along as life exists on earth. In these types of situations, God has always encouraged us "DO NOT FEAR." God is "WITH" us, and in one way or another God will sustain us. a. The Philistines threatened the Israelites when Saul was the first king of Israel. For forty days, Goliath challenged one Israelite to fight him in battle. Saul and the Israelite soldiers "were dismayed and greatly afraid" (1 Samuel 17:11, 24). But David trusted in God. He cried out: "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of THE LIVING GOD?" (1 Samuel 17:26, 36). He completely believed that what God has done God can do. God had delivered David from lions and bears as David protected his sheep. So, he reasoned that the same God can deliver David from the Philistines. (1 Samuel 17:34-37). And God did just that. b. One of the psalmist declared: "The Lord is my light and my salvation; WHOM SHALL I FEAR? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; OF WHOM SHALL I BE AFRAID? When EVILDOERS assail me to devour my flesh-- my ADVERSARIES and FOES-- they shall stumble and fall. Though an ARMY encamp against me, MY HEART SHALL NOT FEAR; though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident" (Psalm 27:1-3). 2. Superiors, Leaders, Executives, Presidents, etc. Many people gain a "position" and then oppress their employees and workers. This often leads the employees feel fear. Superiors regularly threaten the jobs and families and lives of their employees. a. While the Israelites were in Egyptian bondage, they were afraid of Pharaoh and the taskmaster, who constantly threatened and even killed Israelite workers. The only reason that the Israelites escaped from Egyptian bondage is that Moses and others encouraged them not to be afraid, but to trust in Yahweh. Hebrews 11:23, 27 emphasize this point. "By faith Moses left Egypt, UNAFRAID of the king's anger." b. Throughout Jesus' public ministry, Jewish leaders regularly tried to find ways to kill Jesus. The crowds knew this, and thus "no one would speak openly about Jesus for FEAR of the Jews [meaning, the Jewish leaders]" (John 7:13). Even Jesus' own parents were afraid of the Jews (John 9:22). Joseph of Arimathea was a follower of Jesus, but he tried to hide his true commitment "because of his fear of the Jews" (John 19:38). Many people constantly refrain from expressing their true ideas and beliefs and commitment because they fear their bosses, their superiors, their leaders. 3. Failure. A great motivation in the life of individuals, families, churches, and nations is the fear of failure. The feeling is this: If I attempt to do this, I will not succeed, or I will not do as well as other people, or I will start and not complete my dream. a. One great example of this is the parable of the talents. Jesus says that a man entrusted his property to three of his slaves. He gave one servant five talents, one servant two talents, and one servant one talent. The first servant traded his talents and made five more. The second servant traded his talents and two more. The third servant dug a hole in the ground and buried his master's money. When the master returned, he evaluated each servant. He praised the first two because they made a risk and doubled their talents. When the third servant appeared, he said to his master: "Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping what you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I WAS AFRAID, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours." (Matthew 25:24-25). The master rebuked this servant for being a "wicked and lazy slave." He should have taken a risk to increase his talent. (Matthew 25:14-30). b. The theme of the entire story of Gideon was fear. Six events in this story emphasize Gideon's fear. On one occasion, the angel of the Lord said to Gideon, "The Lord is with you, you mighty warrior." Gideon replied, "But sir, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? The angel responded: "Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian." Gideon replied: "But sir, how can I deliver Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family" (Judges 6:12-16). Gideon was afraid that if he tried to co-ordinate his people to fight against Midiah, he would fail. c. All of us suffer from the feeling that if we attempt to do this or that, we will fail. We are all afraid of failure. God encourages us to take a risk, and see what God might do in spite of us. [To be continued] Share YOUR insights and fears and holdbacks and resolutions and relationships with others. Let me hear from YOU. John Willis


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