Fight | Bullied by Fear
Bullied by Fear
MONDAY— For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
Fear is sweeping our world at break-neck speed. Our access to information makes us more vulnerable to fear than any generation before us. We know a tornado is coming hours before it finally swirls away from us. We know how many people are dying in Europe from a virus headed our way. And we know—or we think we know—the good and bad of every elected official, the arrest record of our daughter’s boyfriend, and whether a pedophile lives in our neighborhood. Those facts were always present, but only in the last ten years have we had that information at our fingertips. It all contributes to a spirit of FEAR.
Fear is a natural response to threatening circumstances. In the appropriate setting, fear can protect us from harm. But Satan exploits our natural fears and creates a spirit of fear that takes over. He points to a real event and suggests the worst possible outcome: “You’re gonna lose your job!” “No one will ever love you!” “Your health is in danger!” And then when our enemy sees God’s call on our lives, he takes it up a notch: “You’re not qualified!” “No one will listen to you!” “You don’t know enough!” Making decisions from fear allows Satan to create a spirit of fear in us. God has not given us that spirit because fear means we’re imagining a future without God in it. What God calls us to do, He enables us to do. And He’ll be right beside us.
Final Thought: Are you allowing the spirit of FEAR to have a vote in your decisions?
Prayer: Father, I often let fear control me. I spend a lot of time imagining my future without remembering that you will be there before me. I can do anything you ask me to because you will do it through me. I refuse to let Fear vote. In Jesus’ name, amen.
TUESDAY— But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” Matthew 14:27
The disciples had rowed against this storm for hours, but the wind and the waves were winning. If only Jesus was in the boat… Then, exhausted, they saw something moving toward them on the water and feared it was a ghost! They lowered their oars and squinted into the darkness as a familiar voice called: “Don’t be afraid! It’s me!” That voice changed everything.
You’ve been there. Panic shrieks at you followed by a wave of relief when it wasn’t what you feared. You hear about a car wreck near your house—then your kids call. It wasn’t them. Your mortgage company sends you an eviction notice—then follows it with an apology. Their mistake. Fear comes at us from a dozen directions: The CT scan results are scary. The layoff notices are increasing. The subpoena means your nightmare’s not over. Sometimes it looks like the devil is winning, so we’re surprised when a familiar voice calls: “Don’t be afraid! It’s me!” God doesn’t only work IN SPITE of our fears; He works INSIDE them. He uses our fears as opportunities to reveal Himself to us. What looks like a disaster may be a new beginning. What looks like a mountain becomes a gentle hill when we hear Him say: “Don’t be afraid! It’s me!” That voice changes everything.
Final Thought: What fear are you facing that may be an opportunity for God to reveal Himself to you?
Prayer: Father, I am limited by what I see and understand. Help me remember that you are not limited like I am. You know what you’re going to do in my situation. My job is to trust you. So I won’t be afraid because you’re here. In Jesus’ name, amen.
WEDNESDAY— There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…the one who fears is not perfected in love. 1 Jn 4:18
“I just can’t share my faith with those kinds of people. I know they need Jesus, but I’m too nervous.”
“I once thought God was calling me to be a missionary in Jordan, but I’m too scared to go. They kill Christians over there!”
“I’m going to buy all the toilet paper and Lysol before someone else gets it!”
How often has fear launched you into self-protect mode? Fear makes us self-centered instead of other-centered. When a spirit of fear is controlling us, we care only about “me and mine.” So the opposite of love is not hate; it’s fear We fear rejection, loss of comfort, disappointment, and failure so we hold back from loving, serving, giving, and pouring ourselves out in service to God and others. We’re afraid we’ll lose something we value so we cling tightly to it, forgetting that God cares about our needs.
How did Jesus and the apostles do it? The threat of persecution hung over their heads all the time; yet, they kept on healing, preaching, serving, and speaking boldly. It was love. Love seeks the best interest of another. Love for God seeks His interests above our own. Loving God with our whole hearts empowers us to love and serve people we wouldn’t otherwise choose. Love for God must be stronger than fear or it will keep us from obeying Him fully. Jesus went to the cross without fear because He loved the Father and He loved us. The apostles kept preaching until they were murdered because they loved Jesus and His message. When fear threatens to keep us from following God’s call, love is the antiseptic that will eradicate it.
Final Thought: Is fear keeping you from loving and obeying God? Let go of self-protection and trust Him to love you back.
Prayer: Lord, fear has kept me from being bolder in my witness for you. I want to abandon myself to you and to your purposes. I want the kind of radical love that Jesus has for me. Show me how to demonstrate my love for you. In His name, amen.
THURSDAY— Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. Jude 1:3
“I’m a loving person,” Shari said. “I don’t tell anyone what to do. Everyone has their own truth and we should respect that.”
“Yeah he beats me up,” said the battered wife, “but I’m not perfect either so I keep showing him mercy.”
“We’re an affirming church,” said the pastor. “We’re inclusive of all faiths and orientations. God doesn’t judge, so we shouldn’t.”
Fear and caution. Flip sides of the same coin. One is good; one is not. Fear takes the hand of doubt and decides that God won’t come through. Caution takes the hand of wisdom and makes good decisions. Wisdom requires that caution guard our choices. Leaping headlong into every idea that comes along is certain disaster, so we should exercise a healthy amount of fear which we call CAUTION. This verse warns people who are, by nature, people-pleasers that what we sometimes call “mercy” is actually communicating a message that sin is no big deal. Mercy means we don’t take it upon ourselves to exact revenge or pronounce final judgment. But it must be done with caution so that we don’t mistakenly affirm sin or end up participating in it.
Final Thought: Do you exercise caution when showing mercy so you don’t communicate that sin is no big deal?
Prayer: Father, I confess that the world has influenced me in this area. I’m afraid of hurting someone’s feelings so I don’t speak up when I should. Help me find the balance between mercy and caution so I handle your word rightly. Amen.
FRIDAY— Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events. Acts 5:11
First Church of Jerusalem was booming. New converts were pouring in, miracles were happening, and people were learning to love strangers and foreigners. It was all so exciting and new! Financial needs began to crop up, so people voluntarily sold property and donated it all to the church to bless everyone else. One new convert, Ananias lifted a brow at his wife Sapphira and she smiled back. They’d felt a little left out of the excitement but in unison they hatched a plan to get in on some of the praise. They sold the back forty, pocketed most of the proceeds, and then made a big show of donating it. “Wow, you’re giving it all to the church?” Peter asked. “Yes! That’s all of it! We’re totally committed!” they said. WHAM! God killed them.
“Great fear” might be an understatement to describe what everyone felt watching that scene unfold. “They lied to the Holy Spirit,” Peter announced as the pall bearers carried the bodies out. “They didn’t have to donate anything, but they chose to and then lied about it. You don’t lie to God.” Have you wondered why God killed them for something that seems small to us? It’s the same reason God prevented Moses from entering the Promised Land after Moses hit the rock instead of speaking to it as God had told him to (Numb. 20:6-13). They elevated themselves before God’s people, seeking glory for themselves in the work of the Lord. Holy fear should grip us when we elevate our own reputations, when we take credit for work only God can do, when we fool God’s people into believing something false about us. Holy fear is healthy. We should stand in reverential awe at the power and judgments of God. When we live with a healthy dose of holy fear, we never take for granted God’s mercy.
Final Thought: Do you live in holy fear of defying the Lord’s commands? You should. It will keep you in harmony with Him.
Prayer: Father, keep me humble before you, walking in reverential awe at your power and wrath. May I never exalt myself when you use me to help others. May I never steal glory that belongs only to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.