One of my favorite reads lately is the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer. And, because I’m currently sitting in the middle of some pretty major career transition mixed with quite a few unknowns, the chapter on fear is really speaking to me. And, if the enemy of your soul is trying to throw some fear your way to in order to keep you from your calling, why don’t you join me in weaving the scriptures suggested below into your own prayers. Fear doesn’t stand a chance in the light of God’s truth. Here’s how she closes the chapter titled: “Your Fears: Confronting Your Worries and Claiming Your Calling”:
“Remember these worries of yours? They’re not just stray thoughts; they’re deliberate strategies. Strategies to derail you from your destiny and calling. And the way to fight them is with a deliberate prayer strategy of your own.” – Priscilla Shirer
“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what He has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?” – Psalm 56:3-4
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” – 2 Tim. 1:7
“The word of the Lord came to me: ‘I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’ But I protested, ‘Oh no, Lord, God! Look, I don’t know how to speak since I am only a youth.’ Then the Lord said to me: ‘Do not say, I am only a youth, for you will go to everyone I send you to and speak whatever I tell you. Do not be afraid of anyone, for I will be with you to deliver you.'” – Jeremiah 1:4-6
“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” – John 14:27
“‘For I know the plans that I have for you’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity – to give you a future and a hope.'” – Jeremiah 29:11
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go. I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” – Proverbs 32:8
“I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you.” – Luke 21:15
“My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me. And I give eternal life to them. And they will never perish and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father who has given them to Me is greater than all. And no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” – John 10:27-29
“Therefore brethren, since we have confidence to enter the Holy Place by the Blood of Jesus – by a new and Living Way which He inaugurated for us -let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering. For He who promised is faithful.” – Heb. 10:19-20, 23
So, our Amazing Churchasked all the worship team members to submit favorite Christmas songs to incorporate into the worship sets as we moved toward Christmas. I completely forgot about one of my all time favorites until the article below hit my email inbox. “I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day” isn’t as catchy as some of the modern Christmas tunes (like “Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer“) – but wow…. are the words powerful. And Leslie Vernick‘s email newsletter this week reminded me that, although these words were penned in 1863, they are so very timely today. Her article below reminds of some important truths to keep us strong and centered during a time we must not allow to become a season of fear.
This week we mourn over the hateful act of a husband and wife who forever changed the lives of the people attending a company Christmas party in San Bernardino, California.
A few weeks ago, 130 people were murdered by terrorists in Paris, France. The world is becoming a scary place. A soccer game, a pub, and a Christmas party no longer feel safe. But how do we respond? Do we stay home bunkered down in fear? Overcome by the evil around us? Or as God’s people, are we challenged anew to learn to live by faith and overcome evil with good?
Don’t get me wrong. Fear is a normal human response to evil, terrorist attacks, and anarchy. And, if we are faced with such evil, our fear response enables our body to kick into action so hopefully we can protect others and ourselves.
However, it’s tempting today to live in fear of what might happen. In addition to living in fear of what might happen, many of us also struggle with living in fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of death, fear of conflict, and fear of change. As we do that we orient our lives around avoiding what we fear rather than around serving and glorifying God. That is not how God wants us to live
The Bible repeatedly tells us to fear not. God tells us “do not be afraid.” Why? Because he knows we are naturally fearful creatures and that life can terrify us to a place of being ruled by our fears rather than the love of Christ.
It’s interesting to me that the psalmist says two seemingly contradictory things in Psalm 56 about fear. The first one is “I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me? (Psalm 56:11)
And then he says, “When I am afraid, I will trust God” (Psalm 56:3).
So what he tells us is that sometimes our faith is so big we don’t feel fear. Other times, we are so filled with fear we will be overwhelmed by it if we don’t trust God.
So, if you don’t want to be ruled by your fears, here are four things you can start to do.
1. Name your fear. Whatever it is, it needs to be named and faced rather than avoided or ignored. It’s only when we face our fear and move towards it in courage do we practice the faith to trust God with the outcome. For example, if you found you had a lump in your body somewhere and you feared cancer, naming your fear of the possibility of cancer and taking appropriate action will help you have the best chance of living longer if it is indeed cancer. Ignoring it or avoiding it will not make it go away. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is relying on God’s strength to walk towards your fear in faith.
2. Get some support. In our individualistic, independent society it feels shameful to admit we need help. Yet, God created human beings to need one another and to need him. We were not meant to walk through life all by ourselves. The victims of last week’s shooting will need support to process the tragedy. I needed support when I was called to write a book and feared rejection. Sometimes we need to borrow someone else’s faith so that we can face our fear and move through it.
3. Take responsibility for your life and how it’s going. Sometimes we stay victims when we do not need to. We are afraid to make a change, take a stand or speak up against what’s wrong. We allow ourselves to be mistreated, abused, terrified and feel paralyzed to get help, get support, or implement consequences including availing ourselves of the laws of our land for our protection.
4. Center yourself in God and not in fear. By practicing step 3, taking responsibility, you choose whether you are going to center yourself in love or fear, trust or unbelief, God’s truth or human reasoning. When we center ourselves in God and live by faith, we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. We’re not supposed to. We were not given the gift of omniscience.
But Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow today (Matthew 6:34). Tomorrow will have enough problems of it’s own. When tomorrow comes and it’s scary, then he will give you what you need tomorrow to face it with faith. Living in the “what if’s” cripples us for today.
Ask yourself the question: Today am I going to live in faith or fear? Am I going to live in faith that God knows my story, faith that God is bigger than my story? Faith that God has a plan for my life and he is my helper in times of trouble?
The psalmist reminds you that when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death – you don’t need to fear evil. Why? Because God is with you (Psalm 23:4).
As the Christmas season approaches, listen to the words of this beloved Christmas carol and allow it to speak to your heart.