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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Your Fear Didn't Come from God

  2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)
7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.


God did not give us the spirit of fear but fear is often the most distinguishable spirit found in a room of Christians. They are fearful of doing what God calls them to do. I wonder if their fear originates in their inability to hear God, know God and, lacking of history of obedience, trust God.

Paul tells Timothy that he needs to get to the business to which he has been anointed. Evidently he had allowed his gift to take a back seat. It is certainly easy to do. There will always be those who will tell you that you are not good at the very thing to which you have been called and anointed. They cannot see past your outward exterior and know nothing of your heart but appoint themselves as great judges who can determine the will of God.

I lived in Nashville for at total of nearly twelve years. I started there as a Single Adult minister. I saw a girl who had visited the church in a retail store one day and asked her a little about herself. She had come from the Midwest to make her way in the music industry as a singer. I knew that lots of people with plenty of talent are destroyed on their way in Nashville and told her, "Whatever money you have left, do yourself a favor and use it to go back home. Perform as much as you can there and maybe you will be invited to Nashville but this is just to hard of a place to make it."

She looked at me very sincerely and said, "But God told me to do this."

To this, I replied, "Then, don't let anything stop your from doing it!"

You see, I didn't know if she was any good. In fact, I didn't care. Too many very talented people do not make it in Nashville. However, I forgot the factor of God's will. I assumed that she was doing this because she was good, I didn't consider her being called.

Fear is prevalent with God's people.They are afraid to step forward in faith to start a church. They are afraid to build a church. They are afraid to build again after the facilities become old or cramped. They are afraid to tell their neighbors about Christ. They are afraid to call the church to prayer for healing. They are afraid to step out of their secure jobs to do what God is calling them to do.

Instead of fear, God has given the spirit of power, love and self-control. The gifts we have been given were done so with power and they will be exercised with power. I heard a guy speak boldly Isaiah 61:1, "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, " just before he preached. Some might have thought that he was being arrogant. I think he was fully realizing the power in which God had called him to preach.

John told us that this fear should not exist in those who are believers. He said, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."   (1 John 4:18 (NIV))  God calls us to tasks in order to demonstrate His love to us and through us. Our response is to love Him by doing what He has called us to do. Jesus Himself said, " If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love."   John 15:10 (NIV)  It is abundantly clear that love is the motivation for obedience. It is clear that this love also casts out the fear. Love has been God's gift to us to cast our our fears.

Have you ever had your mind run away from you? That didn't come from God. God gave us a spirit of self-control. This means we have the ability to act rather than react to the circumstances we are in. The world is always going to bring us tribulation. This is a promise from Jesus. But He also promised that He has overcome the world. We are not at the mercy of the world. We are at the mercy of Jesus. This Jesus, who died for us, will not bring us to damnation. He will walk with us to the other side of our tribulation. This means we can have self control knowing that ur Lord- the Lord of this Universe- has lot left us to our own designs. He who allowed Shadrach,  Meshach and Abed-nego to go into the blazing furnace also went into the furnace with them. Nebuchadnezzar who ordered them into the furnace said as he looked into the furnace, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods." (Daniel 3:25)   We can walk into the worst of circumstances knowing that our Lord walks with us.

If God has called you to do something, no matter what others tell you, no matter what the circumstances, no matter how inadequate you feel, do not let fear take hold. This fear does not come from God. He has instead given you power, love and self-control to combat this fear. His gifts will gloriously allow you to complete what He has called and anointed you to do.

5 comments:

high-expressions said...

Once, in my preaching, I said, "People think that we, Christians, are without fear. It is NOT true, we do fear, yet, because of our knowledge of God (particularly of His protection, as in Ps 91), we overcome our fear, and be courageous." A brother afterwards, corrected me, and said that he disagreed that a believer is with fear. Although he did NOT quote this verse, the opening verse of Ps Prentis' entry, quite obviously he was referring to this verse - that God did NOT give us a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, love and self-control. I just kind of agree with the brother, for bringing matter to its conclusion, he is NOT wrong, for finally we are NOT to be with fear, except the fear of the Lord. But the point (which I did NOT elaborate with that brother) is that we are all NOT at perfection, and so, all of us have varying degree of fear, just as all of us are on the way to full righteousness and holiness by volition (as to imputed righteousness, we have full righteousness, as to volitional righteousness, we are all being perfected). Just like believers are NOT to sin (but we all sin in a matter of degree, and God said, in 1 John 1:8,10, if we claim we are without sin, we are making God to be a liar), we are to strive to overcome our varying degree of fear; so that indeed we becomes one truly without fear. But how do we get there?

1. Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).
The fear here is talking about fear of punishment, NOT necessary all fear. More specifically, the fear of punishment here is referring to punishment coming from God. In other words, the fear here is referring to the “fear of the Lord”. What is the fear of the Lord? Now if God’s love is perfect, and God is extending that love to us, how do we reconcile the asking of us to have the fear of the Lord (Prov 1:7a, 9:10), and at the same time we are told that with the love of God we should NOT be fearful (of his punishment or censor)? Is it the “fear of the Lord” was a teaching from the OT, and is therefore NOT applicable anymore, and that NT’s love superseded that requirement prescribed by God? Overly grace preachers’ tendency to throw out the laws of old, and along with that, the OT, is too simplistic in approach. It is really too simplistic to adopt, “Oh, the NT theme is nothing but the love of God, and the love of God is perfect, and if you are taking in the love of God, there is nothing for you to fear, you can just ‘bask in grace’, do nothing, or even do anything you like; just lap up the love of God.” I would like to give some understandings concerning the connections between love, fear and wisdom:

Firstly, Prov 8:13 (KJV) gives us the meaning of “fear of the Lord”: “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward {perverse} mouth, do I hate.” In other words, we are to be absolutely reverent of the holiness of God. “Holiness of God” – big word! Bible did give us a fundamental point about holiness, and that is that of being set apart or being separate. In relation to God, it is of course, no equivalent of being set apart to/for another, but it is that God is apart from evil; God is separate from evil. God is NEVER evil, for He is apart from evil, and that is the most fundamental nature attribute of God that all of us must know and take it in. Fundamentally, that is who and how God is, and so, if you want God, and you want to subsist with Him, it is imperative that you have to honor that, respect that, and be in one accord with Him with regard to this one matter. God hates evil; the fear of God is to hate what God hates, evil. Prov 16:6b said that it is through the fear of the Lord that a man avoids evil.

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high-expressions said...

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The once arch-angel, Lucifer, offended this; he could NOT subsist with God in Heaven, what more we, Man, who was created a little lower than the angels. When I said it is the most fundamental, I mean it is the most fundamental (and it is my prayer that all preachers preach it {holiness} as such); it is more fundamental than love (of God). There is no option, there is no other way, for us, but to conjoin with God to hate evil; rid of ourselves of self-pride and arrogance, and guard our words (tongue and lips) and our ways, and therefore, our heart (for our words and ways cometh/flowed from the heart). It is imperative we have the fear of the Lord.

There is no contradiction between demand of holiness and the love of God. So, if holiness of God is foremost, love cannot be ahead of holiness. This is no space here (if you want, go to my blog site, for more on holiness), but I leave a clue: What and why do you think the creatures (the 4 creatures) before God’s throne are always {day and night – Rev 4:8} saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God Almighty”? Yes, the perfect love of God is unconditional (“agape”), but it is also “love unto righteousness” (`ahab love).

You don’t see this “love unto righteousness” directly in NT, why? Because the Greek’s love ideas have NOT such a concept, although there were several love concepts (and therefore, love words) in the Greek culture. The best word to capture the love of God in Greek was the word, “Agape”; yet, in the Hebrew culture (OT), there was (and is) such a thing as “love unto righteousness”, and God’s love is “love unto righteousness”. What is love unto righteousness? Very simply, there is no unrighteousness in that love of God; God cannot love you, and ask you to do an unrighteous thing, or entertain your unrighteous request. In other words, even the love of God is subject to (or in line with) His holiness.

When it is said that, perfect love casts out all fear (of God or of punishment {from God}), it is saying, when the righteous love of God (love unto righteousness) is flowing in you (for you) and through you (for others), there is really no need to have fear, and there should NOT be any, for that perfect love of God has always taken into account the holiness of God. Scripture said we love God back, because He first loved us; in other words, when we respond with loving God back with His love, which is the love unto righteousness (His righteousness, NOT ours), again, we should have fear NOT, for if we indeed love Him back with that same love unto (His) righteousness, how can we offend Him (His holiness), and be expectant of punishment.

So, please banish from your mind the notion that if God truly loves, why wouldn’t He do what I want. Wouldn’t you agree that is a childish way of viewing love, commonly expressed by rebellious children? Love unto righteousness cannot be a love simply giving in to the person (being loved)’s want (although He may, at times), but it is to be a love flowing in accord to the righteousness of God, even when we are the ones extending that love (of God) to another man. So, it is also true that when we love others with the perfect love of God, there should be no fear in us, and no fear to the person being loved.

Now, it is of course, NOT out of fear, we love God or love another; but rather the receipt of perfect love and giving of perfect love banish fear. Anyway, who falls in love with his girlfriend or boyfriend out of fear? No, right! This is despite, in most times, we cannot be said to be loving with the perfect love of God.

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high-expressions said...

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Why does Scripture repeatedly emphasize “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom? Prov 1:7 (KJV) said this: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction”, and Prov 9:10 (KJV), this: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. When you pluck in the definition of “fear of the Lord” as given in Prov 8:13, you will understand why. In fact, Prov 9:10, said NOT only, it is the beginning of wisdom, it said “AND the understanding for the fear of the LORD is the knowledge of the holy (the holiness of God).

Knowing that you have a holy God as your Abba Father is the beginning of wisdom. It is the foundation upon many other (in fact, I would think it is even all other) wisdom precepts, prescribed to us. Job 28:28 said this: “And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.”; meaning, fear of the LORD is wisdom (here, “beginning” was NOT present in the verse, therefore, reading it together with those with the “beginning”, it only serves to reinforce the idea that fear of the LORD is foundational to wisdom), and the understanding (to indicate you have that foundational wisdom) here is that you depart from evil, making it in line with Prov 8:13.

So, remember, even though fear (of punishment) is NOT from the Lord, fear of the Lord is honoring Him, because you want to be in keeping with who He is (honoring, not because of the word, “fear”, for indeed the Hebrew words used for “fear” were NOT necessarily that which means “honoring”; the “fear of the LORD” should be interpreted as a phrase {as in Prov 8:13}, and NOT word by word).

2. The truth shall set you free.
There are many truths in Scripture; confine NOT, yourself to just one truth – the truth that Jesus has come to bring you into salvation grace (although this is an important truth). The point is that a truth (from God) shall set you free. And freedom here can include freedom from fear.

Unless you hear, read and study Scripture, you are NOT likely to know the many truths in Scripture (this is despite, “laws are written upon the hearts of believers”). When you do NOT know the truths, you cannot apply them, and when you do NOT know and do NOT apply them, the truths cannot set you free, including freedom from fear.

For example, if you are requested by your boss (employer) to go with him to a Chinese temple to pay homage and pray, if you know the truth from the Word, which is that “You shall NOT worship another, besides God”, you should NOT fear turning down your boss. Just do it with gentleness and respect, as prescribed by 1 Pet 3:15, since you have set your heart apart for the Lord. Don’t fear what your boss might do to you. Do NOT entertain the other voice (voice other than the Holy Spirit’s), for it is NOT God who giveth you the fear, but it is the evil one who will coerce you using fear {sometimes referred to as bogus fear}. Even if your boss, indeed takes it against you, treat it as a sacrifice for the Lord, and a good works done as unto the Lord {God does note it}.

One can develop fear for all sorts of situation and thing, but Scripture also covers all sorts of situation and thing. For example, should you fear the evil one or demonic spirit? No, when you are standing on the truths of God. Bible tells us that “He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world”. The first “He” is the Holy Spirit or God, and the second “he” is Satan; God is greater than Satan, full-stop. Don’t fear Satan, but you need to know how to deal with him. All of us have still, to face it, being tempted by Satan, but we need to know the truths in the Word, so that, we can effectively deal with him, even as Jesus effectively dealt with Satan when the latter tempted Him after His 40 days and 40 nights fast.

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high-expressions said...

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But there is NO such thing as a freedom from the fear of the Lord. Those who implied that (such freedom), clearly lack the understanding of who God is, and what is foundational. Now, “beginning” can also mean “foundational”. For example, the beginning of a house is the referring to the foundation of the house. I know the Strong’s Lexicon does NOT have this precise word, “foundation”, in it, but the usage of Hebrew word (H8462) can, in fact mean “foundation”. For example, this verse, Eccl 10:13, “The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness: and the end of his talk is mischievous madness.”, can be interpreted as the foundation of the words of his mouth is foolishness, the outcome of his talk is mischievous madness. Can we build a strong house without the foundation? No, the same is with wisdom, that foundation (beginning of), cannot be done away with; in other words, there is no truth that can set you free from the fear of the Lord; the perfect love of God does NOT free you, but it is in line with the fear of the Lord. Ps 19:9a (KJV) has this: “The fear of the LORD is clean {“pure”, NIV84}, enduring forever”

I came across an article on the internet by a PhD scholar, arguing from the angle of “beginning” and “end” of wisdom. He asked the question “to fear God is the beginning of wisdom”, what then is the end of wisdom? And his conclusion is that, “it is NOT to fear God, but to fear what God fears”. Clearly, he, despite, being a staff professor at a Seminary, is missing the definition in Prov 8:13 of what “the fear of the Lord” is. I am sorry it is NOT “we are to fear what God fears”, but it is “we are to hate what God hates” (Despite this, I want to say that I am NOT expressing anything about the author’s ministry work. I am only wanting to express an opposing view to what I believe is NOT a very correct view of the “fear of the Lord”, and the “nugget of wisdom” that he is proposing).

There are many so-called “secrets” in the Word, and one of them is this: The protection of the Lord is most assuredly assured for those who love Him! The secret to a believer’s well-being is to love God with `ahab love (love unto {His} righteousness). People like to claim Ps 91, which also has come to be known as the Protection Psalm, but many just “blindly” claim the many promises there (and in Scripture, in general); I said blindly, because they claim without understanding. The key of that Ps 91 is in verse 14 – God said, “Because he (the person) loves me, I will …..” The secret is to love Him!

3. Fear and faith are ultimately incompatible.
So, what must you do? There are at least two enemies of “faith”; one is unbelief, and another, is fear. The two, are NOT necessarily the same.

For example, if the Israelites did NOT believe (unbelief) that God would bring down the city-wall of Jericho, after they marched around it (a very, very thick wall), they would NOT do the marching for 7 days, probably with the Jericho town-folks laughing at them from the wall. There was no issue of fear; for what they were asked to do, was NOT something they could NOT do easily, or that harm could come to them. But the situation was different, some forty years earlier when the Israelites were first near the Promised Land; they did NOT go into the Promised Land, because they feared the giants of the land. Fear prevented them from exercising their faith to go in and take the land, even though God had earlier said that He would fight with and for them.

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high-expressions said...

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As one who knows God, we should NOT let fear stand in the way of doing that which He desires. What does Ps Prentis opening verse says? God gives us a spirit of power, and love and self-control. In other words, instead of fear, we can be with power, and we can love God and people with the love of God, and we can be with self-control. It is usually NOT an overnight thing; it is that we will grow in the Lord, and as we grow, we will be with greater power, be more loving, and be with greater self-control. It is NOT “Jack and the Beanstalk”; it is NOT an overnight thing. Christianity is about obedience, faithfulness and steadfastness in the Lord; you don’t give up on God (and that include His Word), and God does NOT give up on you.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions