home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > March 25th > NEVER BE AFRAID AGAIN

Never Be Afraid Again (header)

Fear can be crippling. Being afraid is often the result of not what is happening, but what we fear might happen. Such fears make each of us vulnerable to withdraw, give-up, hide, or excuse ourselves from ever trying something new. The result of this happening is that we each become less than who God has created us to be and in the process we deny the world the benefit of what God can do through us. In the Bible there are many stories of many heroes who learned the secret of overcoming their fears by trusting God and learning how to ‘fear’ Him despite their circumstances or fearful expectations. We read of how Kings led their vastly outnumbered army to defeat immensely more powerful and ruthless enemy armies by fearing the Lord. We read how previously unsure, uncertain, unable people became fearless, decisive, and confident and able to solve previously insurmountable problems by simply fearing the Lord. We read how the arrogant were humbled and transformed into gentle and caring souls when they experienced the fear of the Lord. Then, in the early chapters of the Book of Acts when becoming a Christian could cost you your life, we read of the numbers of Christians exploding across the Empire because they also no longer had a reason to be afraid because they had learned what it meant to fear the Lord.

¶ So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up.
And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.
Acts 9:31

 

OUTNUMBERED, OUTGUNNED, OUTMANNED, YET NOT AFRAID!

¶ Jehoshaphat lived at Jerusalem. And he went out again among the people, from Beersheba to the hill country of Ephraim, and brought them back to the LORD, the God of their fathers. He appointed judges in the land in all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city, and said to the judges, “Consider what you do, for you judge not for man but for the LORD. He is with you in giving judgment. Now then, let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Be careful what you do, for there is no injustice with the LORD our God, or partiality or taking bribes.”
Second Chronicles 19:4-7

King Jehoshaphat led the nation of Judah into revival even though they faced enemy forces on nearly every part of the borders. The secret to his leadership success is revealed in the one thing he insisted from his leaders – that they learn to fear the Lord.

And he charged them: “Thus you shall do in the fear of the LORD, in faithfulness,
and with your whole heart”
Second Chronicles 19:9

The result of fearing the Lord was that his officials refused to take bribes, they refused to pervert the cause of justice, and they refused to be intimidated by enemies. When someone truly fears the Lord they trust God more than they are afraid of those who try to intimidate them. King Jehoshaphat took the commands of the Lord through Moses seriously –

¶ “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you,
but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him,
to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,
Deuteronomy 10:12

Jehoshaphat believed the words of the prophet Samuel who said that if Israel’s kings would fear the Lord they would trust God and therefore be faithful to Him by implication then, God would protect them from their enemies (1Sam. 12:24). 

¶ And the fear of the LORD fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that
were around Judah, and they made no war against Jehoshaphat.
Second Chronicles 17:10

 

UNSURE, UNCERTAIN, UNABLE, BECAME FEARLESS, DECISIVE, & CONFIDENT

Someone has wondered how Lazarus viewed problems and threats after Jesus had raised him from the dead. When Jesus appeared at the tomb of Lazarus four days after Lazarus had died and been buried, He wept (John 11:35). F.W. Boreham suggested that Christ wept not because of what had happened to Lazarus, but because of what He was about to do to Lazarus in bringing him back from the dead.

¶ Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odour, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard Me. I knew that you always hear Me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that You sent Me.” When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
John 11:38-44

Bizarrely, after Lazarus had been raised from the dead, the Jewish religious leaders sought to put him to death (John 12:10). I can imagine that if Lazarus had discovered this plot to put him to death, he would have been somewhat bemused. Did these religious leaders really think that mere death threats could make Lazarus fearful? Perhaps through his pre-mortem illness (Jn. 11:1), which his sisters were hoping that Christ would come and heal him of (Jn. 11:3), the ailing Lazarus had become unsure, uncertain, and fearful. But after experiencing healing when his pain-ridden body was vacated for a pre-resurrected pain-free immaterial body, and he was ushered into glorious comfort that awaits the righteous, he could never be fearful of death or the trials of this life ever again! Lazarus’s fear of the Lord before he was raised from the dead would have been profoundly boosted after his death as a result of his experience in paradise where there was no sorrow or pain. After his being raised from the dead by Jesus, no more would the thought of dying ever cause him to be afraid. Lazarus had now discovered that the fear of the Lord was the fountain of true life (Prov. 14:27).   

 

ONCE AFRAID, ARROGANT, AND THEN HUMBLE & GENTLE

Discovering the magnificence of the fear of the Lord is a very humbling transformation. Saul of Tarsus was an arrogant, fearful, man. He was fearful that the growing number of Christ-followers would undermine his world and everything he believed in. As with most violent men, he too was afraid and responded to what he was afraid of with murderous violence (Acts 9:1). Then he experienced the fear of the Lord (Acts 9:5) and his newfound fear meant that he was no longer afraid (Acts 9:18, 20). From that moment, Saul became Paul and he lived with a constant awareness that Christ was not just with him he was always watching over him (Matt. 28:20). Living in the fear of the Lord transformed Paul from an angry, afraid, man into a gentle, humble, man (1Thess. 2:7). And this is what the fear of the Lord does to a person.

The ultimate example of what living in the fear of the Lord was declared in 750BC by the prophet Isaiah to be the coming messiah.

And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD
And His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
He shall not judge by what His eyes see,
or decide disputes by what His ears hear,.
Isaiah 11:2

No one exemplified living in the fear of the Lord more than Jesus did. According Isaiah 11:3, Jesus delighted in the fear of the Lord. That is, Jesus delighted in the knowledge that everything He did was watched by His Father. Jesus described the fear of the Lord in terms that would bring comfort to every person who turns to Him in faith and obedience – but in terrifying terms for those who refuse to accept the love of God (Matt. 12:36-37).

 

NO LONGER AFRAID

Little wonder then, that when people encountered the Christ they experienced the fear of the Lord. Thus, in the early chapters of the Book of Acts, the apostolic preaching of the gospel resulted in new believers walking in the fear of the Lord –

¶ So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up.
And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.
Acts 9:31

Three things resulted from these members of the early church learning to walk in the fear of the Lord. Firstly, they experience the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Secondly the Church (and churches) grew exponentially. Thirdly, they were no longer afraid of death. Athanasius, writing about A.D. 280 described this change in attitude about death by the early believers as “the disciples of Christ [now] despise death”. By despise Athanasius was saying that the early Christians were no longer afraid of death.

All the disciples of Christ despise death; they take the offensive against it and, instead of fearing it, by the sign of the cross and by faith in Christ trample on it as on something dead. Before the divine sojourn of the Saviour, even the holiest of men were afraid of death, and mourned the dead as those who perish. But now that the Saviour has raised His body, death is no longer terrible, but all those who believe in Christ tread it underfoot as nothing, and prefer to die rather than to deny their faith in Christ, knowing full well that when they die they do not perish, but live indeed, and become incorruptible through the resurrection.
On The Incarnation, Athanasius, A.D. 280, Chapter V, The Resurrection (27)

 

ONCE YOU DELIGHT IN THE FEAR OF THE LORD,
YOU NEED NEVER BE AFRAID AGAIN!

When the early Church walked in the fear of the Lord, their lives reflected a sincerity of authentic trust in the Lord. The fear of the Lord brought a fear to sin or compromise and it also led to these early believers no longer being afraid of death despite the threats that came from the Jewish leaders, then from Rome. This is why I am bewildered by the spate of high profile Christian celebrity preachers who have been exposed for compromised lifestyles which has brought great disgrace to the cause of Christ. It is my pastoral hope that we will learn—and delight in—the fear of the Lord so that we be quick to repent when we fall, eager to seek God’s will in our lives, and strive to make Christ known by how we live and by our preparedness to confidently share the gospel. And we can do this because through Christ we never have to be afraid again!

Your Pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

1 Comment

  1. LYDIA

    Thank you Andrew. Many thoughts came to mind to the point where I had already highlighted some words ready to paste. Then I came to the last paragraph, the punch line. If every person on God’s green earth were to look up to their Creator, the One who set the Universe in place in perfection, the One who in His delight created a planet, the Earth, to be enjoyed and cared for which at the moment is being bombarded and ruined and has been in the many years gone past as well, what a feast it would be if ALL acknowledged the He is the Ruler and none other, the One to be feared above all others. I wonder how many leaders of this world at present fear the Lord? Yet I do know of one, our own Queen Elizabeth 11. She has kept the faith and still running the race and soon she will be called Home in His time.

    I love this line: “Did these religious leaders really think that mere death threats could make Lazarus fearful?” It is truly laughable really, that for Lazarus to have been raised, knowing that life eternal is just ‘around the corner’, that the religious leaders of that day where ready to kill him, to die again, so that he could be stopped from spreading the news! No, nothing stops the Lord!

    Fear itself is between the ears. With our eyes closed we can very deliberately think of something fearful and then very deliberately think of something very beautiful and peaceful. Being able to do this, we can most decidedly scale a mountain with God on our side. Fear of others or what they can do to us can be thrown out the window, because God is our Protector and none other!

    As you said Andrew, fear can be crippling and it is. You wrote: “In the Bible there are many stories of many heroes who learned the secret of overcoming their fears by trusting God and learning how to ‘fear’ Him despite their circumstances or fearful expectations.”

    I really appreciated you walking thru all this.

    Reply

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3 EXERCISES THAT WILL WILL MAKE YOU HEALTHIER, FITTER, AND STRONGER, PART 3

Now I turn my attention to an oft neglected aspect of our spiritual well-being: resting. As a disclaimer, I am one of the least qualified to discuss this topic—but, embarrassing, any lessons I have learned about the value of rest have come negatively from not resting as I should have and then enduring the inevitable consequences.

3 EXERCISES THAT WILL MAKE YOU HEALTHIER, FITTER, & STRONGER, Part 2

A healthy lifestyle involves regular vigorous exercise (aerobic exercise) – such as long brisk walk, a competitive game of tennis, or a 30-minute jog – and, eating a healthy diet. In Part 1, I drew the parallel to how we maintain our physical health with how we can contribute to our spiritual health. In particular I pointed out that just as doing aerobic exercise delivered more oxygen into our blood stream, so too does developing our times of prayer add spiritual oxygen into our soul. In this instalment, I am going to draw parallels with maintaining a healthy diet of eating fresh fruit and vegetables, cutting down on sugared and processed foods, and how our spiritual diet. Too many Christians have poor diets. I hope to encourage you not to be one of them. 

3 EXERCISES THAT WILL MAKE YOU HEALTHIER, FITTER, & STRONGER, Part 1

Every physical fitness coach will tell you that daily exercise which causes you sweat and puff is the kind of exercise that is doing you long-term good. Vigorous physical exercise such as running will cause you to need more air in your lungs which will cause you to puff. Puffing, the act of heavy breathing to replenish your need oxygen helps your respiratory and cardio-vascular systems to become healthier. Interestingly, breathing is the word that the Bible uses to describe how God created the First man. As a result of the lack of spiritual exercise, too many people do not have spiritual reserves, and consequently lack spiritual strength, capacity, confidence, psychological contentment, or the emotional happiness that they would otherwise have had. Yet, this is so unnecessary considering that there are three very simple spiritual exercises that everyone whose spirit has been regenerated can do to remedy this malady. 

AS MOSES LIFTED UP THE SERPENT

It might seem an odd thing to write about just two days before Christmas, but the story of God plaguing the Israelites with poisonous snakes and then commanding Moses to construct a bronze serpent and attach it to a cross-beamed pole has baffled even the best minds for centuries. Some people have regarded this story as yet another reason for them to reject God and the Bible and consider both to be nonsense. An ever-so-slightly-less-cynical approach that some, who seem to really want both God and the Bible to be true, have taken is to regard the story as a fictional myth with mysterious allegorical meaning. I think this is how Dr. Jordan Peterson recently interpretted it in his discussion with Mr. John Anderson on their Youtube discussion last week. The high profile psychologist Dr. Peterson seems to have been on an interesting spiritual journey of late and he is obviously delving into the Bible and coming up with what appear to be some roadblocks to his complete acceptance of the claims of Christ largely due to these obscure passages in the Bible such as this account in Number 21. “No one has ever been able to explain it to me!” he told Mr. Anderson. I wish he had asked me, because if he had, this is what I would have explained to him.

THUS SAITH THE LORD

Within the sixty-six books of Scriptures we have a unified and coherent revelation from God about His identity as the Creator, the Law-giver, the Redeemer, the Saviour, and the Final Judge. Its sixty-six books tell one story – God’s plan of redemption and conquest over and ultimate vanquishing of evil. Within the Scripture is the revelation of how to be reconciled to God by having our sins forgiven through Christ. It is the Scriptures which assure us that we have one mediator between us and God the Father – Jesus the Christ (1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 9:15; 12:24) through whom we can directly appeal. It is within the Scriptures that we find the commands of God for how we are to live, conduct our lives, order our affairs, treat others, and prioritise our worship of God. Thus, we are not permitted to just be “hearers” of God’s Word, we are to accept its authority and be compliant with its commands and imperatives (Rom. 2:13; 1 Tim. 4:16; James 1:22-23) – because it is the Word of God.

HOW TO BE A SUCCESSFUL INVESTOR (OF MORE THAN JUST MONEY)

The most basic form of investing was described by Christ in the parable of the talents where He described it as putting money with the money-lenders to earn interest. Albert Einstein stated that ‘compound interest’ is the eighth wonder of the world! When some people hear the word ‘investing’ they might think that it only involves money. Investing involves thinking about present action and the future consequences of those actions. And then acting in a way that sacrifices present income to invest in a richer future. Understood in a much broader sense, investing can and should mean thinking about much more than just money. It can involve investing time, effort, wisdom, training, and prayer. Investing done well results in increased wealth and riches which is not just limited to financial rewards. It is exemplified in the biblical promise, “You reap what you sow.” Each generation is responsible to steward the resources that are at its disposal. These resources are managed by individuals, families, communities, states, nations and the Church. Church leaders have a duty to invest well into the spiritual resources that shape culture to the glory of God so that a tree is planted for the next generations will be the ones who enjoy its shade.

AMAZING ACCESS

Anyone who has attended a large event such as the recent Will Graham Outreach event that was held at the Launceston Silverdome would be familiar with the varying levels of access that are provided to staff and volunteers associated with this type of event. The security system used included identification in the form of different coloured shirts, prayer volunteer cards, and all access cards that permitted access to the entire venue with no questions asked by security personnel. This is like the access level that God has to our lives. Being omnipresent, He has unhindered access to every aspect of our lives. He knows our innermost thoughts, sees all that we do, hears all that we say. God has the ultimate ‘all access’ card.

WHY FINDING TRUTH MATTERS

How can we determine whether a claim is true or false? Some people think there are different kinds of truth — my truth, their truth, and your truth. But how do they know that their assessment of truth is true? After all, their assessment – that there is my/their/your truth might just be based on their truth rather than the truth. Truth has certain qualities that distinguishes it from what is false-
 Truth corresponds to reality.
 Truth is verifiable (that is, if it is true, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is falsifiable (that is, if it is false, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is sometimes testable (that is, claims that are experiential can be tested by experience – including scientific claims, historic claims, and existential claims).
We have good reasons for the believing that the Bible is true because it is the divinely inspired, reliable and authoritative Word of God which has been superintendedly preserved by the Holy Spirit (read more about this).

THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT YEARS OF ANYONE’S LIFE

Parents, Kids Church leaders, and Christian school teachers should be intentional about shaping children to be fully devoted followers of Christ who have reasons for believing Christianity is true – which shapes them into virtuous contributors to society and to find their role in God’s Kingdom. This will be one of the necessary and indispensable means for the Church to fulfil the Great Commission of Christ.

TIME- YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT – BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT

We live in a fast paced world. We expect things to happen quickly. None of us like to be kept waiting. Even when we order something online we expect it delivered straight away. Some of us having to work two or even three jobs just to be able to pay the bills. We describe ourselves as time-poor. Yet, we all get twenty-four-hours in a day. Sixty-minutes in an hour. And sixty-seconds in a minute. Most of us need to adjust how we see, understand, and treat our time. This will involve, what will be for some, adopting a foreign and largely unaccustomed view of time that involves worship, sabbath, and deepening relationships. From this biblical perspective we will come to see time as a gift from God, not a curse, or source of frustration. Within this gift of time God teaches us how to worship in those times when it is difficult to do so. Rather than thinking this divine gift of time is ours to do with what ever we want, God uses this gift to teach us that we should gift it back to Him beginning with (but not limited to) treating Sunday as a sabbath to come together to recommit our hearts, voices, minds, and presence with God’s people, back to God. God gives us passing time to learn to deepen relationships – especially with our kin, and our friends. Time is meant for relationship building.