Resting in the Shadow of Fearless Love

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Integrity: Conquering Fear

Resting in the Shadow of Fearless Love:

Overcoming the Paralysis of Fear

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Ps 91:1NIV
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.
1 John 4:18NKJV
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 NKJV

INTRODUCTION

The Paralysis of Fear

Fear stops us dead in our tracks. The tongue is tied while the mind races from one possibly pending calamity to the next, none of which ever actually happens. We are frozen with fear, the chilled blood in our veins inches its thick stream through the constricting arteries of our body. Respiration quickens growing ever more shallow and useless to our desperate lungs—we are a mess! Why?

  • Because something that hasn’t happened, might,
  • or because something that has happened might happen again,
  • or someone whose actions we cannot predict enters our story,
  • or because someone else whose actions we can predict re-enters the frame of the internal movie that is our life’s story.

What to do?

  • Panic, of course! Jump on our horse and run off in all directions. “They went that-away!”
  • Blame somebody! Who? Anyone but ourselves!
  • Get mad! Fear expresses itself as anger.
  • Or we might revert to old patterns or old friends who will gladly reinforce our fears and help us tie the rope we will hang ourselves with if it comes to that.

But it doesn’t come to that. The thing we feared did not come upon us. Something else entirely happened. Perhaps God remembered us even when we forgot Him. Maybe, just maybe, He remembered His covenant with us when we tossed aside our covenant with Him. You see, He was never afraid. The peace He has was never disturbed. He never panicked, was never perplexed, was never at a loss for what to do,  and He was never paralyzed by anything, let alone fear.

To break into a strong man’s house you must first bind the strong man, Jesus said. Satan tried it. Jesus was bound before Pilate. He was fastened to the cross. He was tightly woven with linen in the tomb—the strong man bound.But before the first round of drinks were poured in hell, Jesus broke the bands and plundered hell itself. Demons scattered like roaches in the middle of the night on the suddenly illuminated kitchen floor before His victorious invasion. Somehow I see Him, like He was in the Temple, with whip in hand. The strong man was unbound!

The LORD is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid?
Ps 27:1NIV

Realizing the Source—Fear Has Torment

God has not given us the spirit of fear—so what is the source of fear? It comes from life: from our family, from our history, and from our imagination. My parents both dealt with fear and so have I. There can be a genetic or environmental predilection toward fear. Life’s experiences residing in our memory can foster fear of the recurrence of unpleasant events or behavior in others. We have also been “blessed” with powerful imaginations capable of constructing horrible possibilities from amazingly small amounts of imaginary materials. In other words we can make huge mountains out of tiny molehills.

Fear also comes from the enemy of our souls, who is called “The Accuser.” (Rev. 12:10)  A voice inside accuses us of failures and shortcomings, capitalizing on self doubt and insecurity. This type of fear is really the temptation to doubt God’s character and faithfulness. It is the first step down into a downward spiral: Fear—anger—depression.

What has God given us? Power—the Spirit’s power; Love—the Father’s love) and a sound mind–the Mind of Christ! “Fear hath torment,” the Old King James Version says, and it is true. The word “Torment” is translated punishment. We feel the negative circumstances we face are really punishment for our sins. But Jesus took the punishment for our sins at the cross! He cast our sins into the sea of forgetfulness never to be remembered against us again. Knowing that God has forgiven us, we can disregard each fear, each opportunity to doubt God with this truth. When we do it is another step into an upward spiral: Faith—peace—joy!

There is a positive fear, the fear of God. “Reverence” is a better word to help us understand. Psalm 22:24 says this: “I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you. You who fear the LORD, praise him!” The fear of God is the first step in another way of expressing the upward spiral: Reverence—worship—sowing in obedience—reaping in blessing and revelation. This reverential fear is also a gift from the Lord.

Resting in the Shadow of the Almighty—the Secret Place

In stark contrast to fear, God has given us the promise of rest as a dimension of New Covenant life. Rest may seem to be the least available commodity of life in the ministries of pastoral leadership. We work hard at this ministry. On a typical Sunday the hours are long and the day is sometimes more exhausting than refreshing. A study of the Old Covenant will reveal the Lord’s intention that the Sabbath be a day of worship and rest. This is a supernatural kind of rest, quite separate from a ceasing from activity. The Promised Land is the Old Covenant history that functions as a metaphor for New Covenant worship/rest. The writer to the Hebrews says this:

Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves], that no one may fall or perish by the same kind of unbelief and disobedience [into which those in the wilderness fell].
Heb 4:11 AMP

Old Covenant believers failed to receive the rest of the Promised Land. Unbelief robbed them of their promise of rest. They had the Law but not Grace. New Covenant believers can “ labour to enter into that rest.”(KJV) Faith (obedience) gains entrance. The Holy Spirit does the work—the anointing is work within rest and rest within work. Rest in the Secret Place is the environment of the work of the Word in us.

The Secret Place of prayer and the Public Place of worship are vitally linked in New Covenant life. Jesus called us to the Secret Place of prayer. Paul reveals to us the relationship of the Secret Place with the Public Place. The fundamental dimension of time is the day—it should be framed in Secret Place prayer. Morning and Evening prayer form the ancient basis of the “constant” prayer Paul encouraged. The Secret Place fuels the Public Place. In fact the problems that plague us on the platform, in the board room, or the staff meeting or in the pews may happen in public but they are rooted in the Secret Place.

Resisting in the Lord—Fearless Love

If fear paralyzes us, faith activates us. We resist fear with love: loving God in worship and loving the people who cause us to fear. Finding a way to love within the circumstances is the great challenge. Love is a decision we make and a gift from God. We decide to love our enemies and God empowers us to do what needs to be done.

By following the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, we learn to love. Prayer in the Secret Place fuels worship in the public place. As the Word of God works in us richly through psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, we are empowered to love people, those in the household of faith, unbelievers outside the covenant community, and even our enemies. God can give you’re the ability love the unlovable, to enter into a process of forgiveness, another gift from God. You can develop empathy, they ability to look at the person or the situation though Jesus’ eyes. Fear is cast out as we accept the gift of love. With all this love flowing in our hearts and occupying our minds there is no room in us for fear.

Remembering the Covenant—Power, Love and Sound Mind

This fearless love is based on the unchanging character of God. He is a covenant keeping God! Pagan prayer was based on appease a hostile deity. New Covenant prayer is based on the sterling character of Father God: He knows,He hears, He provides, He meets with us. His New Covenant gift to us is three-fold: power, love, and sound mind.

The New Covenant has four promises:

  • The Word of God planted in our hearts,
  • A relationship with God Himself,
  • An intuition of the Holy Spirit to teach us, and
  • Real and ultimate forgiveness of sins.(Heb 8:10-12)

The Power to overcome fear comes from God’s real forgiveness of our sins—promise #4. Love comes from our covenant relationship with God—promise #2. A Sound Mind comes from the Law written in our hears and an holy intuition of the things of God—promises #1 and #4.

CONCLUSION

Overcoming the Paralysis of Fear

Faith presents the opportunity to believe God.

  • The tongue is loosed while the mind races from one scripture promise to the next, all of which are actually true and in force.
  • We are comforted by faith, the hot blood in our veins races through the avenue-like arteries of our body.
  • Respiration deepens to fill our lungs with hope—we are ready.

Why? Because God is faithful to his promises. What he has done before he will do again.

When tempted to fear someone or something what should we do?

  • Pray, of course!
  • Instead of riding of in all directions, prostrate our hearts in all directions.
  • Call on God!
  • Get calm! Faith expresses itself as peace.
  • Depend on biblical patterns and faithful friends who will gladly reinforce our faith and help us tie a knot on the rope that will save us and help us hold on.

When it is all over, the thing that tempted us to doubt will not come upon us. Something else entirely will happen. God remembered us when we did not forgot Him. He remembered His covenant with us when we stood inside our covenant with Him.

You see, He is never afraid. The peace He has is never disturbed. He never panics, is never perplexed, is never at a loss for what to do, is never paralyzed by anything, let alone fear.

To break into a strong man’s house you must first bind the strong man, Jesus said. Satan tried it. Jesus was bound before Pilate. He was fastened to the cross. He was tightly woven with linen in the tomb—the strong man bound. But before the first round of drinks were poured in hell, Jesus broke the bands and plundered hell itself. Demons scattered like roaches in the middle of the night on the suddenly illuminated kitchen floor before His victorious invasion. Somehow I see Him, like He was in the Temple, with whip in hand.

The strong man is unbound—and He guards our lives.

The LORD is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid?
Ps 27:1-8:1 NIV

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

Resting in the Shadow of Fearless Love

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