Do Not Be Afraid

 

1 Timothy 1-7

Does it ever feel to you like we’re living in a world gone mad? Or that our own everyday is fraught with challenge and uncertainty? … Just me?

I’m a worrier. I used to think it was just my nature to worry. After all, my mom was a worrier too. I have since learned that this is not the case. I do believe fear is natural. It is an instinct that God has placed within us to protect and warn us of danger. But, I’m sure you will agree that fear for self preservation is much different than worry.

So, why do we worry? Or maybe the question should be; what should we do with worry, fear, or anxiety? Or more importantly, what does God want us to do with worry?

Did you know that in the Bible the phrase “fear not” appears 365 times? That’s right, three hundred sixty-five times for various reasons God’s word says, “Fear not.” Seems to me if we searched them out, we could find a reason and a word reminding us not to fear or worry for every day of the year.

And it’s true. God’s word is chalk-full off stories and verses about people who worried. For instance, Deuteronomy talks about the fears of the Israelite’s just as God had given them permission to enter the promised land (Read Deuteronomy 1:19-23) These people had been assured by God that he was with them. Twice he said Do not be afraid. But, still they worried about what they would encounter.

I’m sure you are quite familiar with this story in Matthew 14:22-33

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Who does not love this story? Seriously, what an awesome experience to be able to walk on water! I would hope that if Jesus said, “Come” I would be so bold as to try. But, then I remember this was not smooth water they were on.

I have had the horrible experience of being out on big lake when a sudden summer storm came up once in my life. It was terrifying! The wind suddenly came up and the sky grew dark within just moments. Lightening flashed in the sky and the waves went from little ripples bobbing our small boat along to big white caps tossing us and seeming to drive us further from the shore. It was a very one-step-forward-two-steps-back experience. These were not waters I would want to walk on. But, Peter…ah, Peter just looked and Jesus and said, “If it’s you, tell me to come to you…” And so long as he had his eye on Jesus he was in good shape. It wasn’t until he started to look around that he got worried and began to sink.

This of course teaches us about the importance of perspective. If we are to overcome our fears, and overcome our challenges the best advice I can give you is to keep your eyes on Jesus. And the best way to do that is to know what His word says about fear.

Let me share a few of my favorites with you.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9NIV

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
1 Timothy 1:7

So what can we do about our worry?

There are three distinct things that I do to cast bothersome worries to the curb.

#1

First Remember, that God has a history of being faithful. We find it over and over in his word. God did bring the Israelite’s out of slavery and into the promised land and they did conquer those vast fortified cities. God didn’t even let Peter go under water. Over and over God has proven his faithfulness. And if I may be so bold as to suggest it, I bet if you looked back you could see all the times God has proven faithful in your life. Sure we all face challenges, but as of this moment I am willing to guess, God has seen you through every one of them. And if you are in the midst of something that just seems too awful, too big, or too hard. Trust that Jesus is right there with you. He has not left you or forgotten about you. 

#2

Which brings me to the second thing I rely on for getting rid of worry. I RUN to God’s word. We all have favorite verses or passages of scripture that bolster our faith. Searching out scripture that encourages me not to worry has been a game changer in my life. I will often write these scriptures in my journal, or even better, I like to write them on index cards and post them around the house or even in the car. I’m sure there are even Ap’s for things like this (but I’m not that tech’y) The point is, like Peter we need to keep our eyes on Jesus. Keeping scripture in front of us is a way to walk that out.

#3

Pray. Pray a lot. Then pray some more. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I think he means it too. Some days it’s easy to hand over what I worry about. Other days it is a moment by moment, breath by breath prayer of my life. “I will trust You.” may be all I can say. And I may have to say it over and over, for I have a tendency to want to take my worries back. Reminding myself to trust God, hands it back over to him. Long prayers don’t mean more effective prayers. Just speak your heart to Him. He’s not afraid to hear anything you say. The more I pray, the more peace I receive. Jesus want’s us not to fear, He has already given us His peace. But it is up to us to take hold of it.

So, let’s keep our eyes on Jesus. Let’s remember that God is with us, so who could be against us? And let’s dive deep into Gods word and remember that we have at least 365 reasons to FEAR NOT.

Dear Heavenly Father,
We know you have commanded us not to fear. Too often we look around at the giants, and the heavily fortified cities. We see the wind and the waves that threaten to over take us. Father God, please help us to keep our focus on YOU.
Let us remember that nothing in this world has ever happened that you did not know would. Let us remember that nothing is happening or will ever happen that you do not know about or have your hand in
Lord let us take hold of the peace you have given us. Do not let our hearts be troubled or afraid.
Thank you Lord for seeing us through each moment of this day.
In Jesus name Amen. 

 

So, what scriptures do you draw comfort from? Tell us how you gain peace in times of worry? Even better, please share a story about how God has gotten you through a hard worrisome time. God Bless.

 

~Rita

 

 

 

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