I’ve been trying to visit a myriad of blogs I follow and I’ve noticed something, very similar to a theme, cropping up here and there. It isn’t so much what media calls, a trending, but it has come up enough to make me realize that with the state of the world, let alone the state of politics here in the U.S. there are a lot of people who are demonstrating a bit of fear in their social media posts, if not just outright coming out and stating that they ARE fearful at events unfolding.
Now I want you to know that I am aware, the subject of fear, the teaching on it from behind the pulpit and in print is not something new at all, but rather a subject that has to be visited from time to time and it seems to me, that it is something that we SEEM to need to be reminded of quite a bit more frequently as of late.
I was actually going through some old notes on messages I had preached and taught in the past and ran across this one that I had titled, “Do Not Fear.” When perusing some of the blog posts that I mentioned above, I went looking for the notes that I remembered. It just seems like this is a good time to remind my brothers and sisters, those who’ve been around for a while, and those who are fairly new and questioning events going on, the necessity of realizing fear’s place in the Christian’s journey through life.
I know it’s not some new and scintillating teaching, but that doesn’t detract from the importance of it as a teaching, none-the-less. The following is an updated version of that message I taught a few years ago when I was still in Arizona.
2 Timothy 1:
6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,
9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, . . .
I know that verse 7 is especially a common and well-taught verse, but it is among some of my most favorite verses. In context and in conjunction with the other verses, it paints a very profound picture of an aspect of our walk in the Christian lifestyle. Yes, I did say, Christian “lifestyle” for what I want to bring forth is not just the fact that we ARE saved and redeemed, but that we are on a journey of a lifetime that encompasses a change in the WAY we live, a lifestyle change, brought about by following the example of Christ Jesus.
Now understand this was the Apostle Paul speaking to Timothy as his mentor and reminding him of the charge and the calling that he, Paul had given to Timothy. Paul was the one that “ordained” Timothy as led by the Holy Spirit, but Paul wanted to remind Timothy of something further. Before I touch on that further “something,” I want to remind you of some things I have learned over the last couple of decades.
Many people who minister (or serve) on the internet are and have been accused of wasting their time, of having a “hobby religion” and not serious ministry at all. But I would beg to differ with any of them for this reason; one of the most important and loving demonstrations, is the ability to spend our time in the service of others to encourage, inspire, comfort and strengthen with the LIVING Word of God.
How many people in your local community who “minister” at their local congregations can say in all honesty and truthfulness that they have encouraged someone in the Lord all the way across to the other side of this earth? How many of your local ministers (don’t forget, the word minister MEANS to Serve) can say they have prayed “unselfishly” with no thought of acknowledgment for some poor or hurting person in an area that you may never travel too or have never been, and yet still give those people the inspiration to carry on when they have felt dismayed and weary?
Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT condemning by any means the local ministries, but I am making a point; and the point is that what you do here online, day in and day out, without thinking of any reward, even considering the reward could be in the form of acknowledgment, prestige or the ego boost of someone patting you on the back, THAT is the greatest DEMONSTRATION of your love for the Heavenly Father and His Creation!
The Bible tells us that “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13). Well, that has always been taught for so long as “you are willing to die for another,” because that is in essence what Jesus did on the Cross of Calvary for each of us. That may be true in essence, but how much more of a sacrifice for others is it to give up YOUR time, (that you could spend doing something else), time that you can’t get back and yet because you love the Lord and the people He created, the lost and the saved equally, you are willing to give some of yourself up to pray, to encourage, to inspire, etc. That is really what laying your life down means. You are forfeiting a portion of YOUR life for another. You are putting your wants and needs aside to make sure another is encouraged, blessed or interceded for!!
Think about it. Yes, Jesus died that the debt we owed would be satisfied, but He didn’t stay DEAD! He is STILL giving His life for us!! He is standing at the right-hand of the Father, constantly interceding AND advocating before the Father on our behalf! If we are to follow the example of Jesus, isn’t that the greater example?
We can enter into the Throne room of the Almighty, (where Jesus is standing) and we can come boldly to the Throne of God and intercede on the behalf of others! (Hebrews 4:16, 10:19). See, Jesus is still living His life in service for others. By example, we can do the same.
So what does this have to do with 2 Timothy and the concept of fear? Simple, and hear me out; we have all had “hands laid on us.” Maybe not all by man, but by the Holy Spirit who is the originator distributor of our individual gifts that enable us to serve! So we know from this that we have a job, a mission to accomplish, but here is where Paul continues to exhort Timothy and to us on a very important and powerful spiritual principle: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Any fear, any doubt, any indecision that disables is not of God, but is of the enemy of mankind’s soul. The enemy, yes, the devil, known as “the thief” only comes to rob, to destroy and to kill us. (John 10:10). If he is able to accomplish that goal, if he is able to kill or disable us, how then are we, as Ambassadors and disciples of Christ, able to give our lives in the pursuit of other’s needs? So – you have to first realize and recognize that fear is not of God. Second, if it is not of God, then no matter where the fear comes from, the devil or the world, it has NO power over you, “because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4.
Now recognizing what is NOT from God Almighty, let’s look at what God, our loving Heavenly Father DOES give us. Paul writes to Timothy, God gives us “power, love and a sound or disciplined mind.” Power to overcome not just the lies of the enemy, but also the barbs and spears and to continue forward when things look bleak. Power to LOVE in a super-natural, Godly way; not with mere feelings but with decisive action. Then on top of that power, He gives us the ability to actually LOVE as He commands and desires us too. Why, because “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” – 1 John 4:16.
By giving us HIS love, we are abiding in Him and He in us. Power to Love and Love is Power. But it doesn’t stop there. He gives us a sound or disciplined mind. We have become “new creatures” in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are no longer of the selfish nature which is the opposite of Godly love, but now created and reignited within us is a caring, compassionate and loving nature. This is reflected in the transformation of our mind and the things we choose to think on.
Paul also wrote this to the Romans. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” – Romans 12:1-2.
Do you see the point I was making in this Scripture? We present our bodies, our very usefulness as a LIVING SACRIFICE, just as Jesus is even now still doing. But furthermore, our minds themselves are transformed by this renewal. We come out of those old ways and our thoughts are alive and more sure (more disciplined); why? Because we have super-natural, spiritual Power and Love which by their very existence chases away fear! These are the awesome gifts given freely from a Heavenly Father who truly loves us in ways we can only imagine!
So, whomever is reading this, or whomever this is for (in a personal way), don’t accept fear, don’t nourish it, don’t even entertain it, for fear IS the enemy’s tool. Remember, it’s just a tool, not truly a weapon. You must grasp it, accept it, AND utilize it for it to work as a power over you. The truth is you do NOT have to hang on to fear. But the Power, the Love, and the Sound mind ARE weapons in the hands of a people whose Lord (and Master) is God Almighty!
My sincere and greatest prayer is that this encourages and emboldens you. The Lord loves you, more than you can ever know, imagine or even comprehend. Our corruptible flesh, including our brain that is just another fleshly organ, can only comprehend and grasp so much. But what little we are able to comprehend, imagine thousands of times more than that, and that is just the tip of God’s love for each of us individually!
So, be encouraged, be inspired, be comforted and be at peace, but – do not be afraid!