Standing not Just Waiting

Exodus 14:13(NKJV)
13And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.

Ephesians 6:13(NKJV)
13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

In our study of Exodus 14 we have found that, for the children of Israel to fulfill their purpose they had to come to a place of absolute trust in God. This trust had to extend to circumstances where they could not see a way out in the natural. To this end God led them into an impossible situation. They were trapped with the Red Sea in front of them and the Egyptian Army behind them. Or were they?

We discover as we read on that it is was not Israel but Pharaoh who was trapped. God spoke to Moses to open the Red Sea. Israel went over on dry ground and the Lord caused the waters to come back over the chariots of Egypt. God was in control all the time.

To have the kind of faith God was trying to build in them, they needed to do some things. First of all they had to get rid of fear. Faith and fear cannot work together. We all have times when fear thoughts come in, but the question is whether we will allow that fear to control us. They had to “live by faith.” That meant they had to be controlled by the reality that God was there and involved in their circumstances. That’s we must to do walk by faith.

The second thing they had to do was learn to “stand still.” What could that possibly mean? It means that they could not run away from what they had to deal with. They were going to have to stay right where they were depending on God to make the difference.

Faith virtually always involves this kind of a stand. We have an enemy, the devil, and he is not just going to let us win without a fight. If we are going to have the victory, we are going to have to stand through some opposition. That’s just the way it is.

Many people think they are standing when they are just waiting and putting up with things until God finally brings some kind of change. That’s not what standing is. Standing is not passive, it is aggressive. The picture Paul uses in Ephesians 6 is that of the Roman soldier.

Rome was the most powerful military force of his day. They had some very specific equipment and some very special tactics. Part of their equipment was a full body shield. These shields had the ability to lock together. When the legion locked those shields together and planted them in the ground they became a wall that could not be penetrated.

Another part of their equipment were their battle sandals. They were heavily soled shoes with cleats that dug into the ground. When the Roman soldiers “dug in” with those shoes they were immovable.

One of the tactics that caused them to be so invincible was their ability to stand. They would set the shield wall, did in their feet with the battle sandals and allow the enemy to come against them. As the enemy charged they would break against the wall. Once that happened the Romans would fight forward a few steps and stand again.

They would continue this process until the enemy finally broke and ran. Then the slaughter would commence in earnest. They would pursue the attackers and annihilate them. The key to victory, however, was their ability to stand.

This is the picture of standing that we need to have. We stand with two elements. First we have been given the shield of faith. Romans 10:17 tells us faith comes from the Word of God. If we want to be able to stand against our enemy we need faith from The Word. Without that there is nothing to stand with. There is nothing to stand on.

The second element is also found in Ephesians 6.

Ephesians 6:15(NKJV)
15and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

In order to stand we must have peace. That peace is like the sandals with cleats that could dig in to the earth and make them immovable. Our peace comes from the Gospel. What does that mean?

There are many things that could be said, but for today let’s focus on the fact we are in covenant with God through the Gospel. We are saved. We are children of the most high. God is for me. I have a covenant agreement with the almighty which says He will take care of me. When I know that beyond a doubt I can stand.

As we stand, we need to see what the enemy is really coming against. He is not just coming against us, he is coming against our shield of faith in the Word of God. He is not just coming against us, he is coming against the peace of God that salvation brings. He is not just coming against us but he is coming against the most potent set of weapons in the realm of the Spirit. He is coming against the armor of God.

Ephesians tells us that when we have done all we should stand. And we should stand with our armor on and ready. Get that picture of the Roman shield wall in your heart. See the enemy of our souls rushing against that wall. See them being knocked back and then see us going forward in victory.

One more thing. We need to remember that we are an army. If I am alone, my ability to stand is limited. If I am in the battle line I am impregnable. That’s why the enemy will attack unity. He will try to cut us out of the army so he can pick us off one at a time. We need to be sure we don’t let that happen.

When difficult things come we will often feel like we want to be separated from the body. Don’t do it. It is the most dangerous place you can be. On the other hand we also need to look out for one another. If someone is faltering, help them stand. Reach out and shore them up. We are in this together. Together we cannot fail and alone we can only fail.

Let’s get that shield wall up and stable. Having done all let’s take our aggressive battle stance and we will see a great victory in the battle for our destiny.

The Father Knows

Matthew 6:31-33(NKJV)
31“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

This week I have been attacking the force of fear in the life of believers. We have studied the children of Israel as they faced the Red Sea challenge. This was the moment when God was going to ensure that they would be free to fulfill their true destiny. He was going to destroy the power of the enemy to bring them back into bondage. To accomplish this, it was necessary to bring them into a situation where their only hope was to trust in the power of God alone.

I believe God is doing the same for us today. This was a frightening thing for Israel. If God did not come through for them they would be destroyed. On the other hand if God did come through for them it would change their whole history. In the end God did move on their behalf and the Egyptian army was no longer a threat to them. But for this to happen they had to confront and overcome their fear.

We live in a world where the main enemy we face is something called “terrorism.” This is a natural enemy to our country and to the world in general, however it is also a spiritual enemy. The devil is nothing if not consistent. Fear is at the heart of his kingdom. It is how he controls the demonic realm and he has always tried to use it to control man.

In the last century we defeated two great natural enemies. They were both expressed by the terms ending in “ism.” This suffix defines a world view dominated by a certain philosophy or governing system. The two that were defeated in the 20th century were fascism and communism.

Though these philosophies differed in some key areas, they had one thing in common. They both required totalitarian governments that used fear and terror to control their populations. I believe they are manifestations of the same spirit that has always been in the world.

In the 21st century we see another “ism” enemy has arisen. This is also a world view. This world view says that terror is a valid way to gain the goals of those who use it. The thinking is so perverted that the killing of innocents is seen as a godly thing as long as it is motivated by the advancement of their agenda.

To me it is the same devil only now he is no longer disguising his tactics. He is still trying to control the world. He is still trying to dominate the hearts of men. The difference is that he is not clothing it in a government or economic system. He is putting it out there through a religious system. He is saying plainly, “Worship me or I will kill you.”

When there is a move that is blatant in the public arena you can be sure that the devil is moving in a more powerful way in the personal one. Anonymity is his greatest weapon. He is using terror in the public arena but he is using it to cause fear to be entrenched in the personal lives of people. The more he can get us geared to accept fear and terror as realities in life the more he can use them to control us.

We are more and more conditioned to respond to and in fear. We make more decisions based on it. It colors our responses to others. Since we are more and more terrorist minded we see terror in more and more things and we respond to others who may disagree with us using fear as the motivation.

Have you noticed how much this has crept into the public debate in America. We can no longer just disagree. It seems that I hear all the time how dangerous those who disagree with us are. I also hear how dangerous we are from those on the other side. I believe there are some dangerous programs and people out there, but even in saying that I wonder how much my own view has been colored by the enemies plan.

What are we to do about this. I am not sure in places like the political realm, but I am sure of this, we must not allow it to continue in our personal lives. The real game the devil is playing is based on the fact that he knows we are close to the end. He knows that we are at the “Red Sea” so to speak. We need to put away fear on a personal level so that we can cross over the Red Sea and enter into what God has for us. This is a critical time!

I did not intend to get into all that, but I think it is what the Lord is saying to us today. How does that relate to the scripture above? How does the scripture above help me overcome fear? In this whole section, Jesus is talking about the fears of day to day life. Jesus is telling us why we don’t need to fear anything. He uses the terms “care” and “worry”, but both of those are just elements of fear.

He goes over all the things most people are fearful for in their lives. He speaks of food, clothing and shelter. If we have those things fear has very little to attach itself to. How can we know that they are covered. In this one simple statement he seals it. “The Father knows.”

Even as I write it I feel the power of it. When we were children, assuming we had good parents, if we knew our father knew the need we had no fear. We didn’t worry about how our needs would be supplied. The father knew so it would be taken care of . In the natural this may or may not be true, but when we are talking about the Father God, there is no question of ability or resource.

I believe we must release ourselves to the Father’s care. If we do we will never be truly afraid. We may have days when we are unsettled. We may have moments when fear gets in, but we will always be able to go back to the place of peace. The Father knows.

Only then will we be free to do the next statement. “Seek first the Kingdom of God.” This implies getting busy in the business we are here for. That is the business of extending God’s kingdom to all around us.

The devil seeks to spread fear and control man through it. God seeks to use us to spread faith in the Loving Father God so that the day can come when He will, once and for all time, bring His creation back under the control of His love. In that day fear will be banished forever.

I believe we have a part to play in that. If we are going to play it, we must defeat terrorism in both its public and private forms. Most important we must defeat it in our lives. We can do that by recognizing that, in everything regarding the life, the Father knows.

Who can be Against us?

Romans 8:28-31(NKJV)
28And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

This week we have been looking at Is. 54.  This chapter is one of the most helpful in overcoming fear.  It tells us that, although fear comes to every life, it does not come from God.  God does not use fear to teach us, warn us or control us.  God does that by his spirit.  If Is. 54 is the “overcoming fear” chapter in the Old Testament, than Romans 8 might be it’s equivalent in the New Testament. 

Romans 8 is one of those chapters in the bible that is loaded with wonderful truths.  The end of the chapter, however, is particularly helpful in overcoming fear’s ability to control us.  When I was much younger, verse 28 was a hot topic.  The popular interpretation of this verse implied that anything that happened to us must be the will of God.  Therefore if I get cancer it must be just what I need.  Therefore I should praise God for the cancer, learn what I needed to learn from it and then God would heal me.  When verse 28 was coupled with 1 Thess. 5:18 it became a doctrine that taught us we should not resist evil but thank God for all that happened to us because God knew it was just what we needed.

I don’t agree with this interpretation.  It is true to a point.  However 1 Thess. 5:18 does not say thank God for all things.  Lets look at what it does say.

1 Thessalonians 5:18(NKJV)
18in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

It tells us to give thanks in all things because giving thanks is God’s will.  The bible is clear that God does not bring evil into our lives.  James 1:13 says that no one can say that God tempted them with evil because he temps no one with evil.  The Amplified Bible expands the word “tempt” to include “test or try.”  The Greek word means all three.  So God does not tempt, test or try mankind with evil. 

Verse 17 says good gifts come from God.  I suppose if you think that God is using cancer to bring about some good thing in your life you could say it was a good gift, but I don’t think that is God’s way.  He will use anything to bless us, but that does not mean we just accept everything as God’s will.  James 4:7 tells me to resist the devil.  How can I do that if he is just doing what God wants him to do to me. 

What does verse 28 mean then.  I think if we look at the rest of this scripture it is easy to understand.  Paul goes on to say that God has an ultimate will those who come to Jesus.  We are to be conformed to the image of Christ.  We are predestined by God to walk in glory.  God is for us and no one can succeed against us.  Romans 8:28, to me, is simply saying that whatever the devil may bring into my life to destroy me God will turn to work towards the end he shows me in this picture.  The devil may intend to bring destruction but God will cause it to work to bring blessing instead. 

It’s not that everything that happens in life is God’s perfect will so I should just accept it and thank him for it.  Instead I should resist those things that are not in line with the Word of God.  I submit to God, but resist the devil and expect that God will take the cancer, heal it and cause it to bring more of God’s glory into my life.  After all, God is for me.  Can any enemy really stand against me? 

This whole thing confirms Isaiah 54.  There God says no weapon formed against us can prosper.  He tells us he made the devil and the devil is fulfilling the purpose God needs him for.  However his weapons are not authorized against God’s covenant people.  In Roman’s 8 he says all things will work for us in the end. It is the same thought.

Now, what does that have to do with overcoming fear.  Just this.  When bad things come into my life and I am tempted to be overcome with fear, I can take courage in the knowledge that God is for me.  He is going to take this situation and cause it to work for my good.  The devil will not prevail in my life if I trust God.  God is working his glory in my life and nothing the devil does can stop it.  Furthermore anything the devil, or the world for that matter, does to hinder the process, God will turn so that it works for the process and against the devil. 

These are powerful truths.  The more we believe these things the less hold fear can have upon us.  Read the rest of Romans 8.  Paul did not live a life where nothing went wrong.  He did not live a life that was without trial.  His lifestyle kept him in constant conflict with the devil, but as you read the end of this powerful chapter, you do not see a man overcome with fear.  Instead you see a person who lives in victory over every circumstance.  He lives by faith not fear.

I’m sure he had his days just like we do.  But underneath was this awareness that God was at work in his life. In the end Paul would have victory over every circumstance until the day that he gained the final victory and found himself in the very presence of the God he served.  Let’s end today with some of Paul’s faith filled, fear free words from Romans 8.

Romans 8:31-39(NKJV)
31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
33Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36As it is written:   “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” 3 7Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

God Has the Enemy Under Control

Isaiah 54:15-16(NKJV)
15    Indeed they shall surely assemble, but not because of Me.  Whoever assembles against you shall fall for your sake.
16    “Behold, I have created the blacksmith   Who blows the coals in the fire, Who brings forth an instrument for his work; And I have created the spoiler to destroy.

Yesterday we looked at this chapter and saw that, although fear and terror may come against us, they do not come by God’s hand.  God never uses fear to teach us or control us.  If that is true we are free to attack fear anywhere it manifests in our lives.  We will feel fear.  That is inevitable and even normal.  We do not, however, have to give in to it and allow it to control us.

In these two verses from the same chapter we see some more statements with similar themes, but I believe they give us some further insight that will help us in our “war against terror.”  Again, the Lord needs us to know fear and terror will come against us.  We live in a war zone.  It is foolish to thing that they will not.  However there is a powerful promise here.  Whoever assembles against us shall fall for our sake.  Young’s Literal Translation says they will “fall by us.”  The New Living Translation says they will go down in defeat.  The promise of God to you and I is simply this.  We will win over the fear and terror that comes against us. 

Fear is such a powerful emotion that it can seem overwhelming.  The things is puts into our minds are often so real we feel as though they have already happened.  They have not.  The attack on you will result in their eventual defeat.  God guarantees it.  They don’t come from God and we are guaranteed a victory over them.  All we need to do is believe God.  This is a wonderful scripture promise that we can stand on to produce the faith we need to win. 

Verse 16 is interesting.  Verse 17 continues the theme of verse 15. 

Isaiah 54:17(NKJV)
17    No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn.  This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the Lord.

Here are some more powerful promises to stand on in relation to overcoming fear and terror.  No weapon of any kind formed against me by anyone can prosper.  Wow.  Why would I fear anything if I believe that?  Every tongue that rises against me, I shall condemn.  The Amplified Bible say, “You shall show it to be in the wrong.”  This is a promise to turn the tables on any and all enemies.  Whether they attack us using weapons or words, we are guaranteed victory in the end. 

What then, is the purpose of verse 16.  It seems to be out of context in some ways.  It is speaking of the one who forms the weapons to be used against us.  It seems to say that they were formed by God’s own will.  How can this be good.  Tied all together, however and this verse may be the most important one when it comes to overcoming fear.  God made the devil.  There is purpose behind him.  He thinks he can escape God’s control.  He thinks he is and independent force in the universe, but ultimately he is not. 

He does not have free reign over us or anything else for that matter.  He is a creation of God.  He has chosen rebellion against God and he will pay the price.  Although I do not believe the things he does against us are the active will of God, God is still sovereign.  God is still in control and God is still supreme.  On a global and historic level the devil is simply playing the exact roll God needs him to play.  That is comforting on one hand, but what about us personally.  Does that mean that I have endure the attacks of the devil because he is playing a role in God’s plan historically.  I don’t think so.  I think that’s why God tells us none of the weapons the enemy forms has the right to prosper against us on a personal level.

This scripture is talking about fear, terror and oppression coming against the servants of the Lord on a personal level.  In God’s plan for the future of the universe the devil is playing the role he was created for.  God wants us to know that fear, terror and oppression are not authorized to be used against us personally.  The Lord also wants us to know that He created the devil and He can control him.  God said to one brother regarding this verse, “I made him and I can take him out.” 

This is a powerful truth and one that can cause fear to have no hold over us.  The thing we must remember is that none of this will be effective in our personal living if we don’t build faith.  Faith is the spiritual force that counteracts fear.  We don’t have to be afraid, but if we don’t choose to build faith through the word of God, fear will come upon us and dominate us by default.

Take courage.  God is for us so nothing can succeed against us.  God has it all under control including the devil.  Trust Him and you really can defeat fear in every area of life.

They Will Not Gather by Me, Says the Lord

Isaiah 54:14-15(NKJV)
14    In righteousness you shall be established; You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; And from terror, for it shall not come near you.
15    Indeed they shall surely assemble, but not because of Me. Whoever assembles against you shall fall for your sake.

Yesterday we began looking at this scripture from the point of view that fear is what opens the door to oppression in our lives.  Fear is the dominant force operating in the kingdom of darkness.  Since the fall of man, it has become the dominant force in the world system as well.  As a believer, fear should not be our primary motivator.  We should be motivated instead by faith.  In many places the bible tells us that the just should live, not by fear, but by faith.  That means our lives should be dominated by the underlying idea that God is real and that he is involved in every area of concern to us.  When we see life through this prism it changes everything. 

I believe it is imperative that we overcome fear.  When I say this it must be understood that I am not saying we will never feel fearful.  That is a normal part of life.  Anyone who says they never feel fear is either a liar or a fool.  We all feel fear.  We all have situations that arise which, when they confront us, lead to a reaction of fear.  It is even healthy to have a sense of caution in dealing with dangerous things.  What I am talking about is being dominated by fear.  I am talking about being moved by fear primarily.  We may feel fear, but what do we do with it?  That is the issue.

In verse 15 we see that the Lord, through the prophet Isaiah confirms this idea.  He says that fear and terror will assemble against us but that they will come by his hand.  I think one of the most important tools we need to use against fear is to understand that it does not come from God. 

One might ask the question, “Isn’t a little fear healthy?”  Nothing that God specifically says does not come from him is healthy.  Again, what is healthy is caution and wisdom.  I used  to own a motorcycle.  When I ride I am not fearful.  I don’t ride worried that a car is going to hit me.  I don’t ride afraid of the weather conditions.  I do ride cautiously.  I do ride aware that there is a degree of danger associated with riding a motorcycle that is not associated with driving a car.  I remember the fact that there is nothing around me but my cloths and my helmet.  I don’t do foolish things.  That is caution and wisdom.  It is not fear in the sense that I am using the word.

If I were responding to fear I probably wouldn’t ride at all.  If I did I would not be able to enjoy it.  I would spend the whole time with a knot in my stomach, expecting something bad to happen to me.  I had to deal with real fear when it came to flying.

One of the things God has called me to is international ministry.  I have traveled to around 40 countries.  I have trained leaders, strengthened local churches and ministered extensively in the prophetic anointing.  Though I have been privileged to travel some in the United States, my heart for traveling ministry is really in other countries.  I believe it is a call from God.  If I am going to fulfill that call, I have to fly in airplanes.  There is no other viable option.

I got to the point where I almost had to stop traveling.  I would get onto the airplane and immediately I would begin to feel fear.  I was especially fearful in take off and landing.  I had tried using a computer flight simulator and I really think that’s what opened the door.  Not that there is anything wrong with flight simulators, but I knew I couldn’t seem to get those things right and it gave me just enough knowledge of how difficult it was to make me afraid that the pilot couldn’t do it either. 

I knew this was foolish.  I knew the pilots were trained, but I just couldn’t seem to shake it.  It got to the point where I almost quit traveling because I was so afraid every time I flew.  Finally I decided that I had to confront the problem.  I knew that this was the devil’s attempt to use fear to keep me from fulfilling my destiny.  In principle, I used verse 15 above to defeat it.  I spoke to myself in the Lord.  I reminded myself that God had called me to this ministry.  If he called me to it, it was up to him to take care of me.  I told the devil, “God did not send me to this country to have me die in a plane crash.  I am going and I am coming home again.” 

Every time I get on a plane I lay hands on it and declare the word of God over it.  It was a bit of a struggle.  The fear feelings did not go away all at once, but eventually I noticed that it was no longer a struggle to get on the airplane.  I simply had to remind myself that fear and terror do not come from God.  I had to replace the thoughts of fear with thoughts of faith.  I had to replace them with the promises of God from the Word of God. 

I am aware that airplanes do crash.  I am aware that even Christians have died in plane crashes.  Meditating on the possibility that I could die on a plane is unporductive.  I am not going to die on one if God sent me to a particular place.  “What if you do?”  I won’t, but if I did that’s God’s problem, not mine.  I simply trust Him.

I am also open and have responded to times when the Lord will caution me not to go somewhere because it is dangerous.  That is not the same thing as what I felt getting on to those airplanes.  Being controlled by fear and being moved by the Spirit of God are two very different feelings.  One is focused on what could happen to you and how awful it would be.  The other is a peace that says, “Don’t go this time.  Something is not right.”  One is a sense of being out of control, the other is the essence of control from within. 

Don’t let fear control you.  Go to the word of God and find some promises that deal with your situation.  Remember that fear is not from God.  It will come.  That is unavoidable, but knowing that God does not lead us with fear and terror will help us not be deceived when it does come.  In the end, I overcame fear of flying by realizing that my life was safely in God’s hand.  Therefore I had nothing to fear.  Your life is also in his hands.  He has everything under control.  He will get you safely to your final destination.

No Fear = No Oppression

Isaiah 54:14(NKJV)
14    In righteousness you shall be established;  You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;  And from terror, for it shall not come near you.

I want to take time this week to give you some more thoughts on the necessity and possibility of overcoming the force of fear in your life.  We have been studying the nation of Israel during their transition from a slave nation to a nation that would fulfill the purpose of God.  They had received a great deliverance.  During the period of the 10 plagues in Egypt, they had done very little.  The only responsibility they had was to obey God in the Passover.  All of the work had been done by the power of God through Moses’ leadership with no participation by them at all.  As they faced the Red Sea with the Egyptian army at their heals they were going to have to trust God enough to cross through the waters.  To do that they had to overcome fear.

Fear is a major force in the kingdom of Darkness.  It is one of the primary things that makes that kingdom work.  The world system that came into being as a result of the fall of man is influenced by the kingdom of Darkness to the degree that fear is also one of the primary motivating forces in it.  Let me illustrate it this way. 

In the natural world there are forces that govern the way things work.  One of the most common is gravity.  It is always present.  It never changes.  What goes up always comes down.  It is one of the dominant forces of the natural world.  All things being equal the force of gravity will hold you to the ground.  Period. 

However there are other forces that also work in the natural world.  Two of these forces are lift and thrust.  When lift and thrust are applied to the wing of an airplane, the force of gravity is overcome sufficiently to fly.  If lift and thrust stop being applied, however, the dominant force takes over again and the plane will fall back to the ground. 

In the world, the dominant force is fear.  However there are other spiritual forces that can be applied in the world.  These forces are dominant in the realm of the spirit, but since we are living in the world right now they must be applied in order for them to overcome fear.  If we don’t apply them, fear will reassert itself and we will be defeated.  The good news is that the forces of the spirit are far superior to the forces controlling the world.  They do not run out and, as believers, we have the right and ability to apply them continually and live totally free from the force of fear. 

In the above scripture, Isaiah is prophesying this very thing.  In verse 8 of this chapter, he says this;

Isaiah 54:8(NKJV)
8    With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment;  But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,”  Says the Lord, your Redeemer.

When he speaks of the “the Lord, your Redeemer” he ties this thought to the New Testament.  Jesus is the redeemer of mankind.  He is speaking to you and I in this chapter.  In the verse above, the prophet speaks of another New Testament reality, righteousness.  We are righteousness, or right with God, on the basis of what Jesus did. (2 Cor. 5:21)  So once again he is talking to us.  The next thing he says is significant for our study.

We will be far from oppression.  What is oppression?  Webster’s defines it this way; the exercise of authority or power in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner.  The devil is a cruel god.  Both Jesus and Paul called him the god of this world.  When he caused Adam to sin, he took the authority God had given Adam to rule the world and began to exercise it over man.  However he did it with cruelty.  He placed burdens upon mankind that held them captive until God rescued us, or redeemed us, in Christ.

How did he exercise this cruel oppression?  What force did he use to keep us bound by it?  The answer is right here.  We shall no longer be subject to oppression because we shall not fear.  Fear is the dominant force that keeps mankind in a perpetual state of oppression.  However the redeemed can live free of this oppressive rule of the devil because they can walk totally free of fear. 

Last week we looked at a number of things that help us overcome fear.  We will look at this some more this week, but today I want you to accept the truth of this scripture.  You can live free from oppression because you can live free from fear.  That is a biblical truth.  However we must remember that fear is the dominant force in the natural world.  The world operates by it all the time.  Fear is the natural state and oppression comes from this fear.

However Christians are called “believers” not “fearers.”  We can be far from oppression and fear because we have the capacity to believe God’s word.  As a matter of fact, that is the and normal state of every Christian.  We are citizens of the realm of the spirit not just of the flesh.  We will live here until we make our transition at death to the world of the spirit, but we are children of that world now.  Jesus said in John 17 that we are in the world but we are not of the world. 

We are here to rescue others from the oppression of the devil, but we don’t have to live subject to it’s dominant force.  We have been given access to another force called faith.  Faith is the lift and thrust of the world of the spirit.  It has the power to lift us above and thrust us past the oppression of fear.  It just has to be applied.  That is your heritage in the lord. 

Let this be a week where you apply these forces God has made available in such a way that you will fly above the oppression that is in the world through fear.  Along the way you can take some passengers with you and help them learn of this wonderful freedom. 

More tomorrow.

 

Power, Love and a Sound Mind

2 Timothy 1:7(NKJV)
7For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 

As we close out this week, I want to look at one more scripture related to overcoming fear in our lives.  This was critical to Israel’s ability to cross into the destiny God had for them as they faced the impossible obstacle of the Red Sea.  It is also vital to us as we believe God for the move of the spirit that will bring us into the destiny God has planned for our generation.  The devil wants us to be dominated by fear, but God calls us to live a life dominated by faith in him.  We have looked at many things that helped Israel do that and we can apply these same principles and attitudes to our own lives.

Today I want to look at something Israel did not have.  They did not have this promise in 2 Timothy, but we do.  I have not been given a spirit of fear.  I have been given a 3 fold gift by God that will render fear powerless in my life.

As we have noted this week, the world tends to flow from a fear orientation.  Life is evaluated on the basis of what we must fear and how we avoid whatever that is.  We fear the future so we must plan for retirement.  We fear for our health so we must have health insurance.  We fear that a catastrophe will come into our life so we have all sorts of insurance to cover any eventuality.  We fear the flu so we must have flu shots just in case we get the disease.  We spend so much time preparing to endure the rainy day we forget to enjoy the sun.

None of this is wrong.  We should be wise in our approach to such things, but while we are exercising wisdom, lets not forget that our primary source of confidence and security for the future is The Lord.  If I have healing I don’t need health insurance.  I may get it anyway, but I don’t trust in it.  If I have the promise of God to supply my needs, I may have a savings account but I have no problem making it available to help others or build the kingdom of God.  What is my focus?  Is it fear or is it faith?  If it is fear we have a problem.

Fear is like a cancer.  If we don’t deal with it it will grow and negatively affect some area of life.  How do I get rid of it.  I believe this verse is a major key for the believer.  Paul wrote this to his son in the faith.  Timothy was very important to Paul and he would have been careful to give him the counsel he really needed.  The context of this advice is Timothy’s tendency to be timid where the gift and call of God were concerned.  To Paul, nothing was more important in Timothy’s life.  Timothy could not allow fear to hinder God’s gift through him to the church.

How did Paul attack fear in Timothy’s life.  By letting him know what he had been given by the Lord.  You see in Timothy’s life fear was a product of a number of things.  It was probably a tendency in his personality.  It might have been rooted in the fact that he seems to have grown up in a household without a male parent.  At the very least his father was not a man of faith since Paul mentions the faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother but not his father.  It might have been the simple fact that Christianity was considered a sect and was subject to persecution.  Whatever the cause, Timothy was struggling against a spirit of fear.  The devil was trying to get him to live by fear and not by faith.

What was Paul’s solution?  Paul reminded Timothy that, although the world and his personality may have made him subject to a spirit of fear, God had given him something else.  God had given Timothy a spirit of power, love and a sound mind.  This was Timothy’s heritage in the Lord.  Timothy needed to receive that by faith.  This letter was not just written to Timothy.  It made it into the new Testament.  That means it was also written to you and me.

Whatever the source of fear may be in your life, remember this.  It did not come from God.  It may be a personality weakness. It may be real life issues that you face.  It may be an attack of the devil himself, but it did not come from God.  Never, ever, no way!

What was given to you by God is a different spirit.  It is a spirit of Love.  Perfect Love casts out fear.  (1 John 4:18)  Just as fear will hinder and even cancel our faith, love cancels fear.  Where the love of God flows fear cannot exist.  This love has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  (Rom 5:5)  It’s in there.  When fear tries to come upon us we need to call on this wonderful gift.

He has also given us access to his power.  What do I have to fear if the power of God is working in my life. 

Finally God has given me a sound mind.  Fear attacks the mind, but my Father has given me a sound mind.  A mind full of faith.  A mind under the control of the Word of God.

Fear cannot stand against these things.  Lay hold of them by faith today.  Prepare for the future cultivating these gifts from God before fear strikes.  When it does you will see these three forces rise up from you spirit and attack fear before it has a chance to gain a foothold.  What will result is a life lived by genuine faith in God.

The Just Shall Live by Faith 2

Habakkuk 2:1-4(NKJV)
1    I will stand my watch      And set myself on the rampart,     And watch to see what He will say to me,     And what I will answer when I am corrected.
2Then the Lord answered me and said:      “Write the vision     And make it plain on tablets,     That he may run who reads it.
3    For the vision is yet for an appointed time;     But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.     Though it tarries, wait for it;     Because it will surely come,     It will not tarry.
4    “Behold the proud,      His soul is not upright in him;     But the just shall live by his faith.

We have discovered that in order for Israel to fulfill it’s destiny, it had to come to a place of total trust in God.  In order to bring this about in their national life, the Lord led them into an impossible situation.  The purpose was not to destroy them, but to destroy the enemy who plagued them.  Once this was accomplished there would be no power on earth capable of bringing them back into bondage.  They would, however, have to trust God enough to walk through the parted waters of the Red Sea, believing God would get them to the other side as well as protect them from the Egyptian army

There were a number of things they needed to do in order to cooperate with what the Lord was doing.  The first of which was to deal with the fear they naturally felt facing such an insurmountable trial.  In Hebrews 10 we found that they needed to hold on to the confidence they had.  The only thing they could be confident in was the power of God.  They could not afford to start looking to the flesh.  They had nothing to be confident in there.

They also had to make the decision to endure.  God would come through in the end, but they had to decide that they would not pull back from their faith.  They had no where to go anyway.  The only thing that lay behind them was slavery and death. 

I believe we must learn the same lessons.  We face a day in which the power of God must come through or we will likely see some very bad things in our world and that of our children.  I believe God has led the church to a place where natural plans and programs will not produce.  We must have a move of God or we will not see the results we need to see in our world.

Today let’s spend a moment looking at the scripture that is being quoted in Hebrews 10:38.  The prophet Habakkuk lives in a time when God is restoring his power and presence to the earth.  It had been a long time since the people of God had dwelt in the city of Jerusalem.  Once again they had known bondage and once again God had delivered them from it.  As they worked to rebuild, it was a hard road.  Many bad things happened along with the good things.  It sounds a lot like our day to me.

God speaks to the prophet and tells him “the just shall live by faith.”  We talked about what that means yesterday.  Faith must become the source of their livelihood.  Fear threatened to dominate them just as it had their ancestors at the Red Sea.  They must begin to see through the eye of faith instead.  I believe we can see some more key attitudes in the prophet’s life that will help us today.

First it says he would stand his watch.  I believe in order to live by faith we have to stand our watch.  What does that mean?  It means we have to be busy in the kingdom of God.  It means we have to do our job.  It was his job to watch for trouble.  He was doing what he was supposed to be doing.  Living by faith does not mean we sit around waiting for God to do something.  It means we become active in the Kingdom, doing what we know to do.

Second, he was looking for correction.  That does not mean that he thought of himself as nothing but a sinner.  He simply understood that he had more to learn and he was willing learn it.  He was willing to be wrong.  He understood that being wrong did not mean being bad.  It just means we need to make a change.  If we cannot be challenged, if we cannot be wrong without feeling that we are being persecuted we will never make the changes necessary to maintain our faith life.

Finally, he was looking for the will of God, the vision.  The vision is the direction of God for today.  He was looking to hear and see it and he was ready to communicate it to others.  Faith takes vision.  Faith requires that we realize there is more to life than just our needs.  We are part of something greater than ourselves.  We must grab hold of the vision and we must encourage others to be people of vision.  Only then can we be people of faith.

One more thing we learn from Habakkuk.  If we are not living by faith, we are probably affected by pride.  When we think we can’t be corrected it is pride.  When we think we don’t need to be part of the vision it is pride.  When we become fearful it is pride because fear is always self centered in one way or another. 

Let’s get to our posts.  Let get involved in the vision God has given for our church and for our lives.  Let’s look for God’s loving correction.  In this way we will be prepared to live in the victory faith can and will bring.

 

The Just Shall Live by Faith

Hebrews 10:35-39(NKJV)
35Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: 37 “For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”  39But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.

As we have studied Israel’s transition from Egyptian slavery to nationhood in Canaan, we have been focusing on the need to overcome fear.  When they were faced with the Red Sea in front of them and the Egyptian army behind them, their only hope was faith in God.  They could not walk in this faith if they allowed themselves to be dominated by fear.  We are in the same position today.  We need God to move on our behalf, but there are major forces whose aim is to stir up fear in our lives.  We must not allow fear to dominate us.  We have much too much to accomplish with our faith.

These verses in the book of Hebrews point us to part of the solution.  Verse 38 tells us the just shall live by faith.  What does this mean?  If you have a job that pays you money you say that that job is how you make your living.  That means that the job is how you put food on the table.  It is how you pay for shelter.  It is the source of all you need to live.  That is how we use this term in the natural.  In the spirit we use the term to “live by faith” in the same way.  We depend on faith in God for all we need to live.

To live by faith means that we see everything through the prism of the reality of God and his willingness to move on our behalf.  We see everything through eyes that say, “If God is for me nothing can be against me” and “Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world.”  We depend on faith in God to make the difference in every situation.  This produces a lifestyle of confidence and optimism.

Fear is a force that works in a similar way only it flows from the opposite end of the spectrum.  Fear looks at the bad things in life and focuses on how we must avoid them.  Faith focuses on the goodness of God and how we can walk in it.  Fear says I must hold on to all I have so I will not do without in my old age or in difficult times.  Faith says God is my source of supply so I will give.  If I give it will be given back to me when I have need.

The just shall live by faith but the world lives by fear.  Just watch or listen to the news.  The focus is always on what is bad.  They will spend days and weeks talking about the latest tragedy or disaster and a few minutes talking about something good that may be news worthy.   This is not by coincidence.  The devil’s power is based in fear.  God’s power is based in Faith.  The devil has always tried to use fear to dominate the earth.  In the end, however, faith always prevails. 

How can we walk by faith in a world focused on fear?  The first thing we must do is feed the one we want to dominate our lives.  Faith comes from the Word of God.  Fear comes from the word of fear.  We cannot turn off the voice of the world completely, but we must balance the voices we hear.  Jesus said in Mark 4:24 take heed or be careful of what you hear.  The amplified bible says the degree of thought or study you give to the truth you hear will be the degree of power you get out of it.  If we want to eliminate fear and build faith we must begin to “hear” more of the word of faith and less of the word of fear.

The verses above give us some other keys.  We need to be sure and not “cast away” our confidence.  The only confidence we have is faith in God.  It is the only truly sure thing in the world.  We are being exhorted not to turn to natural things when faith doesn’t seem to be working out for us. 

Verse 36 tells us we need endurance.  We are in this for the long haul.  Sometimes faith takes time.  We don’t see changes right away.  We need to commit to the road of faith.  In the end we will see the fruits of faith come to pass.  Often they will not look the way we expected.  They will meet the need in ways we didn’t expect and sometimes in ways we didn’t think we wanted, but the needs will be met. 

It says here that God has no pleasure in those who draw back.  We must not give in to the message of fear that the world constantly preaches to us.  We must not draw back in fear but press ahead in faith.  Like the Hebrew children faced with the fiery furnace we must say, “Our God will deliver us, but if he doesn’t we still won’t bow to fear.”  God will deliver us, but we must make the decision that no matter what we see we will not give in to fear and draw back from God. 

When we take this attitude fear cannot win over our faith.  We will trust God to the end.  What if we die trusting God?  We had better not die any other way.  Death and life are what this is all about. I like to say, “The worst thing the devil can do to us is the best thing that will ever happen to us.”  Death is not an end to be feared for a Christian, but a beginning to be anticipated.  Praise God!

Take some time this week to change your focus.  When you hear the news, think of the how it is affected by the fact that God is alive and exists.  When you look at your own circumstances begin to meditate on the promise of God and the infinite ways God could bring about positive change.  Reject a fear focused life and take hold of a life focused on God and the difference his presence makes in everything.

Fear and Disunity

Exodus 14:10-12(NKJV)
10And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? 12Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.”

Yesterday we asked the question, “What is our generations?”  The Generation that left Egyptian bondage had no idea that they would be part of a world changing period in History.  They were just normal people doing normal things.  I believe we live in a similar generation.  The world is changing all around us.  Will we be ready for our part in this great drama.  There are some things in the life of Israel during this period that we should take note of.  If we learn from them we may be able to do better than the first generations of Israelites did.  They never went into the promised land.  I don’t want to miss our opportunity.

In the verses just after the one above we see three keys to being ready.  Moses tells Israel to “fear not” and “stand still.”  God then tells Moses, “God forward.”  The first thing that has to be dealt with is fear.  I find it interesting that one of the effects of fear, as displayed in Ex. 14:10-12 is to blame leadership thereby breaking unity.  Unity is very important during times like Israel is going through.  Strife is at the heart of the Devils kingdom.  If he can sow strife at critical times, he can disrupt our faith in God and keep us from the victory we should have.

We see this same dynamic in the early days of the church.  In Acts 2, 3 and 4 we read of thousands being saved.  We read of healings and miracles and great power.  In Acts 5 we read the story of Ananias and Sapphira.  They sold some property and instead of giving the full amount they gave only part of the sale price and told the church that was all they had received for the property.  Peter tells them that they could have given whatever they wanted, but because they lied to the Holy Ghost about it they would be judged by God.  They both dropped dead in the assembly.

Why was their judgment so severe?  Since the bible says their transgression was lying to the Holy Ghost, we must assume that to be the case.  However, I think I have done worse than what they did.  However if we look closer we find that the church was in absolute harmony both before and after this incident.  The crime was lying to the Holy Ghost, but the affect was to break unity and at this critical time that could not be allowed.  Unity was too important given what the church was about to do. 

At the period of Israel’s history we are studying the same is true.  During normal times disunity is bad.  During critical times when faith in God is the only hope of victory it is disastrous.  That is why the devil always tries to stir up strife during those times.  If he can stir up strife against the leaders, so much the better.  We must not allow fear, or anything else for that matter, to produce strife among us right now.  There are things at stake that are much more important than our feelings.

How can we keep disunity out of our lives?  There are a few things we must do.  First we must guard against it.  When people are afraid or hurt they will always look for allies.  They will always be compelled to talk to someone about how they feel.  If you find yourself in the place of the listener, don’t entertain the complaints.  It will seem you are helping the person by listening.  You are not.  You are only encouraging behavior that is damaging to them, to you and to the church.  If someone comes to you with a complaint about any brother or sister, encourage them to go to that person.  Encourage them to do so respectfully.  Matt. 18 gives us a formula for dealing with disputes. 

Matthew 18:15(NKJV)
15“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.

Notice the point of this process; to gain your brother.  Any other motivation is unacceptable.  If the brother is unrepentant, the next verse tells us to take someone else and, if that doesn’t solve the problem, bring the matter before leadership.  The goal never changes.  It is not to get satisfaction.  It is not to get a point across.  It is not even to prove to the one who is a problem that he or she is wrong.  It is to restore relationship and unity.  It is not specifically stated here, but in the process it could be just as likely that you will be proven wrong.  The truth is what matters and the result desired should be restoration of relationship. 

What happens if the party who is wrong will not repent?  Here is the rest of the process. 

Matthew 18:16-17(NKJV)
16But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’  17And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.

In the end the one who does not repent must not be considered part of the fellowship.  He is not to be treated badly, but he is to be treated as an outsider.  Why?  Unity must be maintained. 

The other way that we must guard against disunity is to be on the lookout for it in our own hearts.  We are all human.  We will all fail one another sometime.  Leaders have the greatest opportunity to fail of all.  We say more, we are looked to more and more is expected of us.  That’s OK.  It’s part of the job, but those who follow should remember this and not be too quick to judge.  On the other hand those who lead have the greatest opportunity to be offended.  We can’t allow ourselves to take things personally.  If we can’t handle the criticism we need to forget about leading.

We all must take the admonition in 2 Cor. 10:4-6 to heart. We must bring our thoughts into captivity.  We all have thoughts when our feelings are hurt or we think we have been wronged.  We can’t let them run around in our minds.  We need to cast them down in Jesus name. 

Finally we must do one more thing.  We must forgive, forgive and then forgive some more.  The times we live in are too important.  We must stay together.  I don’t know what God is going to do or when, but he is going to do something.  He is doing something.  I want to be a part of that and I won’t let some offense cause disunity between me and my brother that will jeopardize what will be the greatest day for our generation.