Fear is your friend

“Dare to stand before those you fear and speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.”
Maggie Kuhn

And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
– Paul, Apostle of Jesus,  1 Corinthians 2:3

 

I am guilty of judging content by delivery.  If someone is confident and smooth in their presentation, I sometimes give them much more credit than someone who is halting, trembles and shows their insecurity.

Fortunately God uses people like Paul who boasted of his weaknesses in order that Christ’s power would influence people, not his own power.

Last summer I stood up in front of about 100 people at a satellite campus of our church and presented a new ministry: hope for mental health.  My hands were shaking so badly I could not read my notes, and my voice was shaking as well.  But the comments I received afterwards about the content were positive, and we laughed about the delivery.

Perhaps you can relate less to the polished person than the trembling speaker, and you decline to talk about Jesus to others (friends, family, strangers) because of fear.

Fear is your friend.

If you trust Jesus with your eternity, trust him to fill you, and give you words and everything else you need to tell the people he died for, that he loves them.  Jesus takes full responsibility for you when you obey him.  And obeying Jesus is fun.  Being filled with Jesus and doing what he wants is the most fun I have ever had.  And I did it with shaking hands and shaking voice.  Fear was my friend because it drove away reliance on “me” and allowed Jesus to guide me, to do his work, his way, with his words.

Whatever your excuse for not doing what Jesus has commanded you to do is not worth holding onto.  Having the courage to obey Jesus does not mean you will not be afraid.  It means you love and trust Jesus more than your fear.

What’s in a name?

Does the same word mean different things to different people?  I grew up learning the definitions of words from the context of the experiences I was in.  Did you?  No, I don’t mean the context of the experiences you were in, but the experiences I was in.  Of course not, you say.  And herein lies the problem… or opportunity.  When I say, “father” what do I mean?  I think of my father.  If I am trying to describe to you my relationship with my Heavenly Father do you instantly think of my father?  Or, your own father?

I believe some people hate God the Father because they are really thinking He is like their own father.  And their earthly fathers did not fulfill their expectations at best, and were evil to them at worst.  Satan can encourage real or imagined hurts to grow into bitterness.  So when I talk of my Heavenly Father what do I mean?

Jesus is the exact representation of the invisible God (Isaiah 1:16).

When Jesus was born He was called: wonderful counselor, mighty God, EVERLASTING FATHER, prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6).  Because Jesus was and is God’s Only Begotten Son, He can perfectly represent God the Father to us.

So what is the character of this Father?  Jesus was patient, even when His disciples got it wrong again and again (as I would have gotten it wrong as well),  Jesus was kind, even when it cost Him.  And forgiving too.  He didn’t repay evil for evil.  When He was dying on the cross He prayed for His murderers (the religious leaders) and tried to help them discover His Forever Love by reminding them of Messianic Scripture.  Though God the Father created all things by Him and for Him, He was not proud.  He humbly seeks a relationship with us.  He never forces Himself on us.  He doesn’t hold our past mistakes and sins against us.  He loves us with all that He is no matter what we do or what anyone or anything else does.  He believes the best about us and encourages us to become all He created us to be.  He does not fail.  (See I Corinthians 13 and substitute “Jesus” for “Love”).

Does this sound like a Father you would like to have?  You can.  Just ask Him to forgive your wrongs and come into your life and heart.  He is waiting.  And you two have so much to talk about!

God doesn’t kill to advance His cause, He died

The “religious” leaders in Jesus’ day used intimidation and murder to keep and/or advance their power over others.  Claiming to be defending their “God” they could not have been any more against the one true God, Jesus (the very one who loves them and died for their sins).  Jesus said this would happen.  Jesus said that the day will come when anyone killing you (followers of Jesus) will think he is doing God a service.

“These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.”  John 16:1-4 NKJV

 Killing in the name of “God” has been going on for millenia.  Jesus, who had all the power in the universe, did not kill to advance His cause of love, His kingdom.  He died, and more than that, He rose again, to advance His cause of love.  And His cause is to love His Father, and love people; all people.

You may be wondering if you matter; if you make any difference being alive in this world.  YOU MATTER TO GOD!  It has been said, God would rather die than live in eternity without you; and He did, in the person of Jesus Christ.  Now it is your turn to decide if you want to live with Jesus for eternity.

This is His character:

But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.  Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all their sick, warning them not to tell who he was.  This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:  

 He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets.  A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory.  In his name the nations will put their hope.  “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.

I love the fact that “a bruised reed he will not break.” And “a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.”  I have failed at my own and others’ expectations, done evil, been hurt by others and have been a “bruised reed.”  I have lost hope, wanted to die, wondered where God was, and if anyone cared. I have been  a “smoldering wick.” How about you?  Jesus heals the sick, he doesn’t kill them.  He binds up the broken hearted, he doesn’t crush them.  He will take care of you and me!  He loves us!

And what else is His character?

If you will seek first His Kingdom (Jesus as Lord, that is, obedience) and His Righteousness (Jesus as Savior, that is, trust what He has done to please God for you) then God promises to supply all your needs.

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:31-34 NIV84

And,

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”  Hebrews 13:5-6 NIV84

Christ is still “dying” because of His love for people, in the form of His followers being murdered because they love people and love the Truth.  Jesus said that anyone who follows Him will never die.

  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
 “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”  John 11:23-27 NIV84

All the people of the world may hate us.  But there is One Who always loves us and is greater than the world: Jesus.  And He said,

So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.  In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.  Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.  

“Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father.  In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf.  No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.
I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”  Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech.  Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”  “You believe at last!” Jesus answered.  “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

If you want to know Jesus, He is waiting to hear from you right now.  He has always loved you.  Because He loves you He wants you to turn away from the things that you are doing and thinking that hurt God, hurt others and hurt you.  God calls these: sins.  I have sinned, and you have sinned, and that’s why Jesus had to die; to take away our sins.  If you agree with God that you have sinned and resolve to turn away from them, trust Jesus’ death to pay your sin debt to God, and surrender to the leading of Jesus through the Holy Spirit who will live in you, God will make you His child.  Go ahead, talk to Him, He can’t wait to listen to you, to love you, and to make you His child.