Victory over fear

overcoming-fear

1 John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

It is no sin to be afraid.  When king Jehoshaphat’s kingdom was threatened by an overwhelming army, the Bible says that this godly king “feared” (2 Chronicles 20:1-3).  When the apostle Paul shared his testimony with the Corinthians, he admitted that there were times in his life when he was “troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears.” (2 Corinthians 7:5).

It is OK to be afraid at times, but it is never OK to allow fear to stifle us, stagnate us, subjugate us, or cause us to stumble and feel sorry for ourselves.  When Jehoshaphat feared, he sought strength and comfort by standing on the promises of God (2 Chronicles 20:4-13).  In the midst of his troubles, conflicts, and fears Paul found his strength in God; the One “who comforts the downcast” (2 Corinthians 7:6)   When I consider the examples above, I have to conclude that it is no sin to fear.  However, I must also conclude that if I do not turn my times of fear into opportunities to renew my trust in the unfailing promises of God, then I will be faithless; and whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23)

Psalm 56:3 Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.

I love Watchman Nee’s thoughts on victorious faith living below :

“Let me tell you here and now that if Satan comes to make you feel cold, weak and defeated, you should say , ‘I am victorious, for Christ is my victory.’   If he comes to make you feel hasty, you still should say, ‘I am victorious, because Christ is my victory.’  By so doing you declare that what Satan does and says is a lie, because only the word of God is true.  This is faith, and such tested faith is the kind which glorifies God’s name.”

“….. genuine faith must successfully go through testing.  You are finished if as soon as you encounter temptation you concede you do nave victory.”

“When you are faced with temptation, you will stand victoriously if you declare that God’s word–the word of Jehovah of host–is trustworthy and dependable.  Whatever God says is yea and amen, and His word is set in heaven forever.  The question now is, whose word will you believe?”  (Watchman Nee, The Life That Wins)

fear-no-evil

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forgive

nail-in-hand

Forgive

verb
1. stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake.

“I don’t think I’ll ever forgive David for the way he treated her”

(synonyms: pardon, excuse, exonerate, absolve)

  • stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for (an offense, flaw, or mistake).

“they are not going to pat my head and say all is forgiven”

  • cancel (a debt).

“he proposed that their debts should be forgiven”

I once worked with a man whose mother, by birth and by training, was truly a ninja warrior.  My co-worker’s mom was an accomplished martial artist, and a self-defense instructor for several police departments . My co-worker told me that he had seen his mom do some very violent things to others, so violent in fact that he grew up with absolutely no desire to follow in her footsteps and study karate. My friend told me that his mom lived by a very strict motto—a motto that had been handed down to her from generations of her warrior ancestors—which went something like this, “If you scratch my arm, I will cut your flesh, If you bruise my flesh, I will break your bones.” Although I did not grow up in a household of martial arts experts, I did grow up in a culture that routinely programmed me to think that “Revenge is a dish that is best served cold.”

From birth I was taught to hurt those that hurt me, and that it was my right to hold people accountable for their wrongs. However, as a man that has experienced the new birth through faith in Jesus Christ, God is teaching me that this kind of thinking is wrong.  As a follower of Jesus, I am being taught a new philosophy of life that instructs me to love my enemies, and to forgive them.

Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.

Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

Matthew 18:21 ¶ Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

You may ask, “How serious is God about us learning and living the new behavior of forgiveness?” “How far does God want us to take this?” Well the answer to these questions can be found in Matthew 6:15, where Jesus said that if we do not practice forgiveness then “neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Furthermore, the standard of forgiveness by which God will hold us accountable is the standard demonstrated to us by Jesus himself. I like R. T. Kendall’s thoughts on “Total Forgiveness” below. R. T. Kendall writes,

     It is very hard to forgive those who have hurt us directly, especially when they do not feel the slightest twinge of conscience. If our offender would put on sackcloth and ashes as a show of repentance, it would be much easier to forgive them.

     But remember, at the foot of Jesus’ cross no one seemed very sorry. There was no justice at His ‘trial’—if you could even call it a trial. A perverse glee filled the faces of the people who demanded His death: “’Crucify him!’ they shouted” (Mark 15:13). Furthermore, :those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!’” (Mark 15:29-30). They shouted, “Let this Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe” (Mark 15:32).

     What was Jesus’ response? “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). This must be our response as well.

     Jesus could have said, “I forgive you.” But such words might have been misinterpreted and wasted, like casting His pearls before swine. (see Matthew 7:6) Instead Jesus asked the Father to forgive them, a far more grand gesture. Asking the Father to forgive them showed that not only had He forgiven them and released them from their guilt, but also that He had asked His Father not to punish or take revenge on them. It was not a perfunctory prayer; Jesus meant it. And it was gloriously answered! These offenders were among the very ones Peter addressed on the Day of Pentecost and were converted. (see Acts 2:14-41)

Three Crosses and Silhoutted Person in Prayer at Sunrise

Self-righteous need not apply

 

Help Wanted Self righteous     I am always convicted when I read the Bible and note that the persons that gave Jesus the most trouble and grief were not the sinners, but the “saints”; not the rebels but the religious.

For example in Luke 5, the Bible records that when Jesus sat to eat with a “great number of tax collectors and others”, the religious folk who were observing complained, saying, “Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

Or how about the time when a woman, probably a prostitute, came and drenched Jesus’ feet with her tears, and wiped them clean with her hair; even kissing his feet and anointing them with fragrant oil.  (Luke 7:37-38)  Simon, Jesus’ host, said to himself, “If He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”

What convicts me personally is when I realize how easy it is for me to see how wrong the religious folk and self-righteous Simon were, while knowing that it is always easy to judge someone else’s sin and not my own.

Do gross sinners and prostitutes need God’s grace more than religious and self-righteous people?  I think not.  Let me suggest that the only difference between the two camps is that more often than not the “tax collectors” and prostitutes of this world know that they are sinners in need of God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness whereas the religious and self-righteous don’t see their need.

 Luke 18:10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  11 “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men–extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.  12 ‘I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’  13 “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’  14 “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

HELP WANTED

 

The Imperative of living the Truth

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

3 John 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

I love Michael Card’s thoughts RE: the imperative of living the Truth. Michael writes,

Telling the truth can be a serious and costly business. It cost Jesus His life, but at the same time, it purchased a new life for us. To be condemned means to forfeit all your freedom, but Jesus says that the truth means freedom (John 8:32)

And so the paradox remains: In this world the only true freedom comes from the truth of Jesus, and the inevitable consequence of testifying to the Truth is judgment by the world. To be free indeed, we must become slaves to the truth of Jesus. The condemnation that we will experience at all levels in the world is the truest freedom. (A Violent Grace, p. 82)