Fear Not

Take a moment and consider the following questions.  What is it that holds you back? What keeps you from stepping out into unknown territory, reaching out to others or trying a new venture?  Try to condense your answer into one word.  Many people I asked almost immediately gave the same answer.  “Fear.”

Just as so many other words in the English language, “fear” has more than one definition. First it is defined as “a feeling of alarm, terror, dread or apprehension.”  Surely this is not what is meant when we are commanded to fear God.  The second definition of fear, however, “profound reverence and awe especially toward God” complies with the command to fear God. Hebrews 12:28 (NLT) illustrates this clearly: Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.

All too often our experience is the fear described in Psalm 143:3-5 (NLT). My enemy has chased me.  He has knocked me to the ground and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave.  I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. How can we overcome this paralyzing fear?  We find the answer in the Scriptures.

The passage found in Genesis 3:6-10 tells us that Adam and Eve enjoyed a relationship with God and were blessed with everything they needed. The fear they experienced was one of “reverence and awe.”  Things changed dramatically when they listened to the lies of Satan and disobeyed God.  According to the scripture, their eyes were opened and they felt shameful. They tried to hide and when God called to Adam, he responded, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid…”

When sin entered the world, fear was its companion.  It has remained so until this day.  The root of this dreaded emotion seems to be the issue of control.  Adam and Eve took control and disobeyed God. Often the issue of control, brings about apprehension, dread, even terror.  When we lose control we often lose our peace. So, did God just leave us in this sad state of affairs?  Absolutely not!  Our awesome, loving God, full of grace, took control and put into motion His provision to restore the original fear that man experienced before sin entered the world – the fear that bursts forth as reverence and awe.  But He asks us, just as He did Adam and Eve to obey.  We must give up control and surrender our hearts and our fears to Him. As we do, the fear of apprehension is replaced with the fear of reverence and awe. The very thing that causes fear, giving up control, is what God requires.  We must trust God.

Now, fast forward to what I imagine as a still, cool, clear night in the hills around Bethlehem.  The shepherds are tending their sheep.  All is peaceful and quiet until suddenly in the sky there is a commotion unlike any other in all of history.  The sky is illuminated and an angel of the Lord appears.  The shepherds are terrified!  They are apprehensive!  They are filled with fear!  And what are the first words they hear from the voice of the angel?  “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11 (ESV) The first words man heard when God proclaimed that we have a Savior were “Fear not!”

God filled the heavens with the message that He would deliver us from our apprehension, our dread, and our terror. He set into motion the provision that would forever free us from our fears. In his love, God sent Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for sin and restore the fellowship that was broken. As we trust God, obey Him and give up control by accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, God delivers us from terror and apprehension. Peace is restored as we focus on our loving God with reverence and awe.

As stated in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love, But perfect love drives out fear…”  As you trust in God’s perfect love, remember that angelic declaration at any moment that you are alarmed or filled with terror, dread or apprehension.  Fear not!

“For I hold you by your right hand—I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.’” Isaiah 41:13 (NLT)

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