(There are fill in the blanks and room for questions and answers in this posting).
What is the worst thing that could ever happen to you? Death, while perhaps intimidating is not the worst thing. There is an appointment with death that God has on His schedule for you. Hebrews 9:27 teaches, And as it is appointed unto men once to ______, but after this the judgment:
Perhaps the way a person dies is something that could cause fear.
Fear itself is not evil. In fact, the Bible instructs us to fear God. Solomon, the wisest man to ever live wrote a message God gave him in Ecclesiastes 12:13, Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: ______ God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole _________ of man.
God wants us to “fear” Him. What does this mean?
The Hebrew word for fear is “yare” and means
“to fear; morally, to revere; to be had in reverence.” -Strongs
History gives many examples of men who did not fear God. Emperor Julian of Rome had decreed that Christianity be outlawed, and he vigorously sought to destroy it. Passing by an old Christian one day Julian said, “Where is your Christ now?” The old man replied, “Making a coffin for the Roman Emperor.” At last death caught up with Julian, and he cried out, “O Galilean, thou hast conquered.” (15,000 Illustrations)
The Lord is worthy of all respect, awe, and admiration from you! We should also be “fearful” of God if we remain at odds with God. Our sinfulness apart from Jesus makes us enemies of God.
Hebrews 10:31: It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. The lost are already judged and because of rejecting Christ are already condemned (John 3:18). In light of Hebrews 10:31, Christians harboring sin, forsaking service with the church, and rebuffing the leading of the Holy Spirit are also at odds with the Lord. They should be fearful of the correction the Lord may send.
Other than this healthy form of fear- fearing God, what is there to fear? What are the six most common things you or people around you fear?
Did you list several of the hundreds of “phobia’s” the world fears? When Peter and the disciples had questions and did not fully understand the will of God, Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. (Mark 11:22). We need faith in God too!
Perhaps you have heard “A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted.” It is a valid thought. Here are 3 Bible characters who faced their greatest fears and saw the Lord do great things! They learned to have faith in God.
Faith can help you face your greatest fears…
- When You Feel Surrounded.
Imagine waking up one morning and going out for the day and seeing an elite army unit has surrounded your house. They have their equipment for spying, communicating, and weapons of warfare at the ready. They are not surrounding your neighbor’s house – they are surrounding your house. The bullhorn and listening devices are pointed at you. The rifles are shouldered, and your body is in their crosshairs. You are the target.
Don’t say you would not be afraid! That would be a shock, a real jolt to wake up to! This is exactly what happens to the prophet Elisha and his assistant, Gehazi. Gehazi is the one who walks outside and sees they are surrounded. What are the immediate thoughts that you believe would come to mind if this happened to you? ______________________
Read the passage: 2 Kings 6:8-23
These men for God were literally surrounded by a band of enemies that were sent by the King of Syria to “snatch and grab” Elisha. Most governments do not like military interference that spying can cause. Sharing military secrets is not a game.
The Lord had revealed in advance to Elisha the plans of Syria to capture the king of Israel as he traveled. Because Elisha had warned the king of Israel, the king had evaded all their attempts.
The enraged king of Syria wondered which of his servants was exposing their plot. When each cabinet member and military leader passed the cross-examination, they realized that it was Elisha who was revealing the secrets. How? I wonder if God does not give hints amongst leaders and militaries today.
Nothing is a secret to God. Daniel expressed this in another governmental setting to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in Daniel 2:28: But there is a God in ___________ that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days…
Who were these men surrounding Elisha and Gehazi? It seems to be an elite group of military personnel working in conjunction with the espionage arm (CIA) of the Syrians. For Syria to be the aggressor in this era indicates they had a more powerful army than Israel and were willing to go to war.
Here are several descriptions given of this “Snatch and Grab” unit: the Host (chayil) which means “a force or band of men.” A different word, Bands (dwdg), is also used which indicates “a crowd of soldiers.” It appears that this was not a full-scale attack army but rather an elite group of fighting men. It was a specialized task force.
Gehazi is right. There is no escape. There is no way out of this one – or is there? When you feel surrounded by the problems and pressures of life, there are two truths you need to remember.
God’s provision is not always immediately known.
The Lord already had the situation under His control. The angels of the Lord were already protecting His servants. Elisha prayed that Gehazi would see God’s protection and provision.
Elisha already knew the score. See verse 16. This is a foreshadow of an amazing New Testament verse: Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be ___________ us?
God is rarely early, but He is always on time. With imminent danger ready to pounce on him, Gehazi had given up hope. The fear of being surrounded was real and deadly. However, the Lord had a different plan. See verses 17-18.
When Gehazi’s eyes were opened to the spiritual dimension, he saw for the first time the presence of God’s angels. He was about to witness a lifesaving miracle for everyone involved. Even the lives of the enemies were spared. Notice in verse 18 how the enemies come down to Elisha. Elisha and Gehazi see the angels, but these enemy soldiers do not. If we were observing this event play out – perhaps we would not have seen the angels.
From a human perspective – there is no hope. But God is always on time. His timing is always right, even though we tend to question His timing. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time… (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Elisha offered a prayer to God, and God answered his prayer right as the soldiers were about to apprehend him. You may not see it with your eyes, but you can always believe “they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”
The band of enemy combatants was blinded temporarily by the Lord. In an ironic and incredibly merciful scene, Elisha leads this band of elite soldiers right to the King of Israel. Samaria was the capital of Israel at this time and is only about 12 miles from Dothan, where Elisha was confronted.
Gehazi experienced what David wrote about earlier in history in Psalm 34:4, I sought the LORD, and he _________ me, and delivered me from all my fears.
Be sure to pray for God’s deliverance when you feel surrounded.
- When You Feel Too Small.
David was a teenager. He was not the tallest or strongest, even in his very own family. I imagine him to be about 5’9’ and 150 pounds (just a guess.)
When Goliath, the 10-foot, 400-pound giant arrives with the Philistine army, Saul and the Children of Israel have a major problem on their hands. The difference in size, stature, and strength is disparaging! This potential discouragement alone would cause just about anyone to quit.
The army, under the leadership of Saul, had already quit. No one was volunteering to face Goliath. Fear was controlling the entire camp. Israel under their first king was already in a real crisis.
The ravages of war are terrible. A group of academics and historians has compiled this startling information: since 3600 B.C., the world has known only 292 years of peace! During this period there have been 14,351 wars large and small, in which 3.64 billion people have been killed. The value of the property destroyed is equal to a golden belt around the world 97.2 miles wide and 33 feet thick. Since 650 B.C., there have also been 1,656 arms races, only 16 of which have not ended in war. The remainder ended in the economic collapse of the countries involved. We human beings seem to have an endless capacity for conflict! -6,000 Plus
Doing the math in 1 Samuel 17:5, we find that Goliath’s armor alone weighed 125 pounds, nearly as much as David! David is the classic “underdog.”
Read: 1 Samuel 17:30-51. While Saul’s army thought, “Goliath is too big,” David thought, “With God, I can’t miss!” Here is how David responded:
Remember the Cause. 29-31. The cause for life is the glory of God. While Goliath is mocking the God if Israel, David is suggesting that his cause is to glorify the Lord! We have the same “cause” to rally around today.
1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, ______ _______ to the glory of God.
Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, ______ _______ in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Glorifying God could be understood as “doing the right thing, the right way, with the right attitude, at the right time, all while praising and thinking about God.” Pleasing the Lord is central to a person giving Him glory.
Realize Others Are Afraid. 32. David sensed the shame in the camp. Fear had already captivated the Israeli army. Even Saul, the tallest and most respected Jew in the land did not know what to do next. David’s words were not of condemnation. He was not critical of the other men. He demonstrated great faith in God and encouraged the other men to have faith in God too. Let no man’s heart fail because of him.
When people around you are afraid – it is a good time to remind them and yourself to trust the Lord. Proverbs 12:25 teaches, Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it __________: but a good word maketh it glad.
Reject Bad Counsel. 33-39. Man’s methods to overcome problems are not that good. Saul initially says, “you are too young.” Then he says, “you have no experience fighting in war.” After that he offers his very own royal armor. David was too small to fit in the armor. It was too heavy, and he had never worn any armor. This was not a proven or tried-and-tested form of defense for him.
David went against the accepted forms of defense. He rejected the common way of looking at this problem. He looked to God for an answer.
You will find that humanity has its own ideas of protectiveness and peace. While David rejected the conventional method, the Lord had him use a sling and 5 smooth stones. If you are honest, most of your responses (positive) or reactions (negatives) that you resort to in times of crisis are things that you learned growing up. For David, who grew up in Jessie’s home in the hillside of Bethlehem, 5 smooth stones and his sling were familiar and comfortable. It had worked in the past.
When we are confronted with a crisis, not everything from our past will work. New (to us) situations may cause us to look beyond our experiences and background. In those moments, we must look to God, His Word, and even His servants who are willing to give Biblical counsel to help us. Be sure that while you reject bad counsel, you also receive Biblical counsel. “The Lord delivered me out of the paw of the lion.” 37.
Do you react in negative ways when the situation is bigger than you? Some people get angry. Others believe if they get “louder,” then the battle will be resolved. Or, do you respond? Do you confess your need for the Lord? Do you look for His solution to the problem?
Rely on God. 46-47. I have never been really good with the “Y” shaped slingshots, and I certainly am not experienced with the type of sling that is whirled around the head and then released. David was an expert marksman. It has been said that guns are a great equalizer – no matter how big or small, strong or weak a person may be – if both people have a gun, they have equal power and equal potential in a conflict. True thought.
Goliath had all the armor and conventional weapons of the day, but he did not have a sling. No one thought this sling-swinging teenager had a chance. But God was there. God is BIGGER than the biggest enemy. The Lord used the skill of David, the willingness of this teenager, and a single smooth stone to eliminate the single greatest threat to David, King Saul, and the young nation of Israel. While doing what he could and should, David relied on the Lord. That’s Faith!
When you feel too small, remember how BIG God is.
- When You Feel the Suffering.
Let me introduce to you a man named Job. He lived in the day when dinosaurs lived in plain view of humanity. Job had one crisis after another. The things he feared most just kept coming his way. How did he cope? How did he recover in crisis?
- The livestock (1000 oxen and 500 donkeys) in the family farming business were all stolen. The foremen and ranch hands were all dead.
- A lightning storm struck, killing all the sheep (7000) and workers in the family clothing empire.
- The camels (3000), part of the family transportation, caravan, and vacation business were all stolen, and the “drivers” were all killed.
- With all the wealth and livelihood gone, the most tragic thing happens next. Job’s children (7 sons, 3 daughters), at a party, were all killed when the house they were in collapsed during a wind storm.
This is found in Job 1:13-22. Job’s plight continued as his health was immediately assaulted, and for the next 12 months his body is in utter and constant pain (Job 2). He feels suffering every day.
Job describes how the things he feared the most actually happened to him in Job 3:25-26. The idea of these verses is that he had one bad experience after another. In swift succession, evil, pain, and suffering overwhelmed his life. What he feared most happened, then the next thing, then the next.
Have you ever felt like that? What pain and suffering are you going thought now? Emotional, relational, physical? What sickness or surgery are you facing today? Life is full of Job-like events.
Ever say, “It can’t get any worse?” No one likes pain. I am like you – I avoid it if at all possible! Some pain and suffering are unavoidable. How can we have faith when the fear of suffering becomes a reality?
Job continued to worship God. 1:20. Before, during, and after these events, Job worshipped. Are you faithful to the Lord during good times, or do you only turn to him during bad times?
Job confessed the temporary nature of life. 1:21. He blessed God anyway. At least he was blessed to have had these businesses. For sure he knew he was blessed to have had these 10 kids. Even when his health is ripped away from him, he still had life and breath to be thankful for.
Perhaps health problems are the most difficult to deal with. Our pain affects and tests not only our physical bodies, but our cognition, emotions, relationships, and even spiritual life. Undiagnosed or untreatable ailments are terrible. Job knew that kind of pain.
Life includes problems. Pain is a sad part of life.
- Job 14:1 Man that is born of a woman is of ________ days, and ________ of trouble.
- Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our ______ unto wisdom.
Job persisted to bless the Lord. (Verses 1:22, 2:9-10.) He praises God in the good times and the bad times.
One of the possible struggles we have today is that we can be so busy making a living that we do not have a life. Disasters, pain, and suffering tend to help us refocus on the main things in life: faith, family, and friends.
Job did not know it, but he was being persecuted for his faith – by Satan himself. Paul encourages us when we too suffer for our faith in Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the ________________ of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the _____________ which shall be revealed in us.
God brought Job through the pain and suffering. Job is restored double of everything he lost. After a year of physical pain, his body is made whole. He lives out his days closer to God than ever before. He has a fresh perspective in life, and the hand of God (while evident during suffering) was also seen in Job’s blessing.
What to do when facing the fear of suffering? Remember, that God has an eternal plan for your life, and it is worth the living! His mercy can be seen even in the suffering you may endure.
James 5:11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the ______________ of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
Whatever you fear, be encouraged – do not give up. Get back in the game of life and glorify God!
In his autobiography, William Allen White related the story of a boyhood playmate, Temple Friend, who was kidnapped by the Indians when he was quite young. Ironically, Temple’s grandfather was a missionary to the Indians. The Lord’s servant persisted in believing his grandson was alive. He continued to love and serve the church. He never allowed Indian conduct to sour his spirit. When visiting an Indian village, the old man would line up the boys who would be about the age of his missing grandson, and whisper, “Temple, Temple,” quietly in the ear of each boy, so as not to excite them or the community. He followed this procedure day in and day out. Finally, he found about twelve boys the age of his grandson in one district—all eight to ten years old—and he started the same procedure. At the middle of the line a little boy’s face lighted up, and he responded, “Me Temple!” -1000
Faith can help you face your greatest fears…
- What fear can you give to God? __________ ____________________________________
- What areas do you need to trust God with? ____________________________________ ____________________________________