This month, Jeanie Thomas led our discussion from chapter 7 on Fear. We had a smaller group, but a good conversation and time of prayer – here are the highlights:
No one is completely free of fear. Some fears are natural (running from a charging lion is a good idea). But when fear controls us, that is sinful.
Identifying Sinful Fear
1. What captivates my thoughts when I am tempted to fear?
2. In what ways do I allow fear to paralyze me and keep me from fulfilling my God-given responsibilities?
3. When I am tempted to succumb to sinful fear, what is my heart craving more than Christ? Am I seeking relief, escape, approval, acceptance, or comfort?
4. Are there ways I have sought to manipulate or control others (friends, spouse, children, and co-workers) because of my fears? In other words, are there payoffs I gain for nurturing my fears?
5. What am I believing about God when I’m afraid?
Fear expresses the opposite of all that Christianity is to be…Faith says, “Whatever it is, it’ll be okay b/c of God.” Fear says, “It’s not going to be okay,” and it doesn’t think much about God at all…Jer. 32:27 “Great is the Lord…Is anything too hard for Me?” Sometimes in life, we look at our need or the overwhelming circumstances and we feel beaten before we start. But God asks, “What exactly is it that you think I can’t handle?” To which we would have to reply, “Nothing is too hard for You, Lord.” — From “Always True” by James MacDonald
We are commanded to fear God, not man or our circumstances or what may come in the future (The Big Unknown). We trust and obey Him in difficult times because He is God, He is in control, and He knows the end from the beginning. The question is “What is going to control me—God or my fears?” You can’t serve two masters. Our answer is found in the gospel.
–The gospel assures us that it is safe to rest in Christ because He has demonstrated His love for us on the cross.
–The gospel tells us that God loves us so much that He would not withhold any good thing from us.
–The gospel tells us that God has promised to bring us safely to Himself.
–Our faith will not fail, even when we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. We do not walk alone.
–The gospel reminds us that we cannot fix ourselves—that’s why Jesus had to die for us.
We need to repent or turn from everything we’re trusting in to save us from our fears and trust Christ’s rescue alone. We must stop trying to manipulate situations so that we need not feel afraid, and seek to discover God’s will in every circumstance.
You may still struggle with habitual responses that are wrong (running, seeking to control everyone/everything), but the power of sin has been broken in your life. The good news about habits is that in the same way that you learned bad ones, you can learn good ones to replace them. Where we once succumbed to sinful fear, we now put on the holy fear of God. Where we once focused on loving and protecting ourselves, we can now love and protect God’s reputation and name. And trust Him to protect us where we need to be protected.
Psalm 103 begins “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name.” And then it lists several reasons why we ought to praise God. In the middle, it says 3 different times that God’s mercy is great “toward those who fear Him.” God pities those who fear Him. And that’s a good place to be.
Deuteronomy 31:8 “It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” The reason we need not fear is b/c God has made this incredible promise to us—that He is always with us.
I hope you were all encouraged by reading the Scriptures and the thoughts from this month’s T2W meeting. Next month we will be meeting on October 8, in the Coffee Cove at 8 AM. We will be covering chapter 8 in Women Counseling Women, “Help for Overcoming Anger” If you have not joined us because you haven’t yet purchased the book, it is available on Amazon, and the structure of the book is topical, so you can join us anytime your schedule allows. Contact me if you have any questions!
For the T2W team