Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Looking Death in the Eyes - April 14th, 2009

Rom.8:36 - “As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’” How can so many Christians, like Paul, fearlessly look death in the eyes yet daily live lives that further God’s Kingdom in the context of imminent persecution? In Jeremiah 46:28, God tells His people, “Fear Not…For I am with you.” That is a command and He always empowers us for what He commands us to. So much of what I fear will never come to pass. French Philosopher Montaigne said, “My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.”
Fears are usually monsters in my mind that will never materialize in actuality. Pr.22:13 says, “The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion outside!’ or, ‘I will be murdered in the streets!’” Remember FDR’s wise words, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Fear keeps us in bondage.
Fear keeps us from growing.
Fear destroys confidence.
Fear keeps us from winning. Fear keeps me from being who God made me to be.
In Is.57:11, God asks, “whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have been false to me…?”
Who would you be if you had total victory over fear?
What is fear robbing you of?
We have to learn to look fear in the eyes and walk through it, in His power.
Pr.28:1 says, “The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.”
He has set us free to be free (Gal.5:1). Ps.23:4 tells me, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” He is my stronghold, refuge and security (Ps.18:2). Mark Twain puts it this way, “Courage isn’t the absence of fear - it is the presence of fear, yet the will to go on.” I conquer fear by Fearing God - that displaces other fear.
Mt.10:28 tells us not to fear man, but instead to fear God.
The Proverbs tell us that the fear of the Lord is the source of knowledge and wisdom, it gives strong confidence, it gives and lengthens life, it gives contentment, wealth and honor, it is better than wealth, it teaches us to hate, depart from and avoid evil, neglecting it results in destruction, it comes by accepting His Words, seeking understanding diligently and looking for it as for treasure, we’re told to be zealous for the fear of God and to fear God always. Proverbs continues, saying that the man who fears the Lord will be blessed and the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
I conquer fear by dying to myself experiencing the power of His resurrection (Phil.3:10). Retired Marine Col. John Ripley, with a few hundred men, held off 20,000 invading troops after being given the orders to “hold and die.”
He described the fearlessness associated with dying to yourself saying, “When you know you’re not going to make it, a wonderful thing happens: You stop being cluttered by the feeling that you’re going to save your butt.'’ When I fully surrender to Christ and die to my self (my own hopes, dreams, ambitions, desires and even my own life) - there’s nothing left to fear, I’m in His hands. I conquer fear by knowing and applying God’s Word (Jos.1:8-9). I conquer fear by Praying (Phil.4:6-7). I conquer fear by taking a step by faith in the power of the Spirit. Russ Akins puts it this way - “If faith had a feeling it would probably be fear.” I always tell our students to get themselves into a situation where if God doesn’t show up they’re dead. It is in that walk of faith that fearlessness becomes a reality. Chesty Puller and his men were surrounded by hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops in the Chosin reservoir. He famously responded, “We got them right where we want them now, there’s no way they’re gonna get away this time.” I want to have that same attitude about the spiritual battle around me. I want to be more like Daniel - thrown into the lions den in stead of forsaking God and God protected him. I want to be more like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego - thrown into the furnace because they wouldn’t bow, and God was with them and protected them. I want to be more like Esther who said “if I perish, I perish,” then trusted God and God saved the nation of Israel through her courage. I want to be more like Gideon who defeated the entire army of the Midianites with only 300 men. I want to be more like Peter and John in Acts 4 and Stephen in Acts 7 who looked death in the eyes and took a stand for Christ turning “the world upside down.”
Let’s fearlessly turn this world upside down. He is so worthy of our fearlessly led lives of radical obedience to Him.

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