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 ~
The Lord continues to teach me how to handle fearful thoughts. He tied Israel’s journey into the Promised Land to my family’s circumstances and opened my eyes to the devil’s schemes to bind and destroy faith in God through fear.
This past year has been like being in boot camp! It was one thing after another, but I gained perspective as each event prepared me for the next. The battle often started in the mind, and sometimes, it was waged through physical discomfort or illness; but through it all the Lord was my “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
For me, the bottom line became, “Who or what am I going to put my trust in? Fear or the Lord? Am I going to be like Joshua and Caleb, who were faithful and fearless because they knew their God was with them and trusted Him? Or, am I going to be like the ten faithless and fearful men who led an entire generation to their death in the wilderness because they didn’t know their God and didn’t trust Him?”
This is what I’ve been learning about fear and how the devil uses it to paralyze and neutralize us and keep us from walking in God’s will for our lives:
• is founded on unbelief and restrains us as faith weakens;
• swoops in when we’re weak (vulnerable) and/or when we least expect it;
• relentlessly attacks us;
• is a deadly and effective weapon in the devil’s arsenal;
• robs us of hope and life.
Fearful thoughts take our eyes off God, making a way for unbelief to slide in and subtly challenge God’s word and the knowledge of who He is. As we question or doubt God about our situation, confusion arises. By then faith is wavering, and as it weakens, we end up not knowing what to do, so we don’t do anything. Like handcuffs that bind and control a prisoner, fear keeps us from moving forward in obedience to God’s will.
Whatever stresses us, weakens us—illness, relationships, finances, work, moving, etc. The enemy knows our weaknesses better than we do, so when chinks in our armor are found, you can be sure that arrows, poisoned with fear, are shot rapid-fire at our hearts and minds. If we don’t stay alert or on guard, and forget to put on our spiritual armor—God’s truth, the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the sword of the word, the gospel of peace, and prayer—we’re taken captive (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Faith and hope sustain us while we wait for the Lord to act on our behalf. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (NLT). Faith and hope are like conjoined twins—without faith, hope dies. That’s why fear is so deadly.
But we’re not helpless against fear! God’s given us the keys to release us from fear and overcome it: His Holy Spirit, His word, praise, worship, prayer, grace, peace, and so many other things!
The Holy Spirit abides in all believers. He has many roles in our lives, one of which is to teach us God’s truth through His word. He instructs and prepares our minds and hearts for warfare through Scripture. Second Corinthians 10:4-5 instructs us regarding “the weapons of our warfare”; 1 Peter 5:8-9 reveals that the devil stalks and seeks to destroy us; and Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might,” who we fight against, how we fight, and what we wear in order to protect ourselves.
Prayer is our lifeline to God. It’s as simple as crying out, “Jesus, help me!” As I lay those fearful thoughts at His feet and pour out my heart to Him, I’m confessing I’m weak and dependent on Him. It’s only then that I can raise my hands and voice in thanksgiving, praise, and adoration. He’s faithful to guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus with “peace…which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Praise is recounting to the LORD what He’s done and is doing in our lives. It’s how we appreciate that He’s with and for us. We’re to “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name” (Psalm 100:4).
Worship is adoration of the LORD for who He is. It means that we bow the knee and confess that He’s our God. Jesus says that “true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks” (John 4:23, NIV).
Worship moves our eyes heavenward and restores faith. As we focus on who He is, we affirm that He’s our God, that we love Him, and are thankful we’re His beloved children. Worship gives us eyes to see things from His perspective. It motivates us to wait patiently, in hopeful expectation, for Him to move in our situation. So, faith and hope grow, while fear wilts like a weed and is cast into the fire where it’s destroyed.
“Worship destroys fear and frees us from its oppression.*” Worship reveals our confidence in and dependence on Him. When the king and people of Judah were surrounded by enemies, they sought the LORD. He told them the battle belonged to Him. They bowed down and worshiped Him, then prepared themselves. As they went out in song and praise, the LORD defeated their enemies (2 Chronicles 20).
Truth: The enemies we face, are also God’s enemies—we never face them alone! “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31, emphasis mine).
Brothers and sisters in Christ, don’t let the devil take you captive through fear and keep you from the good Jesus has for you! Always stay alert, be on guard. The enemy is continually on the prowl, looking for weaknesses in our armor to assault us with fear. Whatever fears plague you, take them to the Lord, and lay them down before Him. Remember that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Appropriate this truth and hold on to it! Remember that this warfare will continue until we’re perfected, but we don’t have to surrender to it!
Ask yourself, “Am I going to put my trust in fear (aka the devil)? Or, am I going to put my trust in Jesus?
Father, we bow in awe of You! You alone are God—there is none like You! Salvation and deliverance comes only from You! You’re greater and stronger than anything that comes against us and makes us fear! You’re faithful even when we’re faithless. You know our weaknesses and how quickly we lose heart.
Help us, Father! Vanquish fear from our lives. Unlock all bonds and release us from strongholds of fear that “exalts itself against the knowledge of” who You are and who we are in You (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Empower us through Your Spirit to live in the victory Jesus obtained for us. Help us to stand still and see Your salvation and/or do warfare as You guide us. Make us strong and courageous, like Joshua and Caleb, so that when the next barrage of fearful thought arrows come, we’re abiding in Your Spirit, and fully clothed in Your word, truth, and armor. Guide us in prayer, praise, and worship. And may Your grace and peace carry us through each moment of each day.
Our desire, Father is to walk in awe of You and in obedience, as Jesus did during His time here on earth, that we too, may bring glory and honor to You. We ask in the name of Jesus our Lord, to whom we bend our knees and bow, and to whom all kings and kingdoms will bow. Amen.