Do Not Fear

black-bear-1I love it when the readings in various parts of the Bible display common themes. In Psalm 27, we read several references to not fearing.

27:1 – “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?”

27:3 – “Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear.”

Then the reading in Mark 6:45-52 with Jesus walking on the water, the disciples saw that and were terrified and what does Jesus say to them in v50? Yup – “Do not be afraid.

There is part of fear that is a natural reaction to keep us from danger.  If I go out to the woodpile in the darkness and run into an 800lb mama bear and her cubs and she stands up on her hind legs and growls at me, yeah…I’m afraid. And that’s normal – there is danger.

Feelings are flags that need to be investigated as to why they are there – why am I feeling afraid?  Two things to consider:

(1) Fear itself is not necessarily sinful, we need to investigate the feelings flag. It is the “fear-spiral” that is sinful.  Do you allow your fears to run unchecked and ending in panic?  (Adams, CCM)

(2) What is important is to whom we turn to when we are afraid (Thanks Ed Welch in “Running Scared”)

Fear heads the list of a host of many “disorders” that are diagnosed today – worry, anxiety, panic, OCD, Squirphobia (fear of Squirrels) – the list goes on and on and gets longer every year.  Fear, anxiety, and worry control so many lives.  No wonder Jesus says “Do not fear” so many times.

Our courage needs to be found in our God – who is in control of all – we should say like the Psalmist in Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the LORD, be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD.”  Fear essentially is a lack of faith in who God is, at that moment he is still there on his throne.  Let us turn to God when we fear, not turn inward to ourselves.

Bed Repentance

It was one of those mornings where you are laying awake, perhaps the alarm has already gone off and you have it the snooze already. You know you need to get up…you start to think about stuff. Then conviction happens about something and you need to do something about it. You can (1) feel guilty and start your Monday off in a bad mood, not recommended, (2) ignore it, also not recommended, (3) try to motivate yourself into embracing your best life now and fill up your self-esteem tank – not recommended either, or (4) confess and repent and enjoy the grace of God in Jesus and move on.

My mind was in full “what’s next” mode and I was off and scheming, except I had left God completely out of it. I was thinking, planning, moving all in my own strength and my own wisdom. Then I read Psalm 21 this AM (after getting out of bed)…

O LORD, in your strength the king rejoices,
and in your salvation how greatly he exults!
You have given him his heart’s desire
and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah
For you meet him with rich blessings;
you set a crown of fine gold upon his head.
He asked life of you; you gave it to him,
length of days forever and ever.
His glory is great through your salvation;
splendor and majesty you bestow on him.
For you make him most blessed forever;
you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
For the king trusts in the LORD,
and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.
(Psalm 21:1-7 ESV)

David is rejoicing in God’s strength, not his. In God’s salvation, not his ability to save himself. He realizes that every good desire is from God and God has given him great things, he didn’t do it all on his own – including his very life and breath and health!

God’s greatest glory (v5) is demonstrated in his salvation that he offers us through the Messiah, Jesus. God is pleased to save sinners – 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God doesn’t wish that anyone should perish, but wants all to come to repentance. Repentance is a big Bible word meaning to “change direction” – we do this first in faith in trusting God to save us in Jesus, but then a life of faith is started – as Luther said we then our whole lives are repentance. A daily turning from ourselves and turning to God. Redirecting our thoughts, words, actions to be God pleasing, not self-pleasing – to have the mindset of King David…sometimes this is required even before we get out of bed…