Fear – Overcoming the “Little Death” with God
Purity 488 08/04/2021 Purity 488 Podcast
Today’s photo of a roaring campfire on the shores of one of New York’s finger lakes, presumably, comes to us from a friend’s recent get together from a couple of weeks ago. I just love the contrast of colors in this photo with the blazing fire and how it lights up the foreground of this scene, and the flood lights on the shore, the fading light of dusk in the sky, and the distant lights on the opposite shore. The whole scene is just a picture of a wonderful summer evening that is made even better by the gathering of friends to enjoy it.
Yes, we are not alone. The Lord goes with us, and He provides us with companions for our paths through life to appreciate and draw close to for friendship and in times of need.
It’s Wednesday and this campfire will serve as today’s blazing hump to get over as we look to move into the second half of the week. As I have stated over the last two days, August will prove to be a month of transition for many of us as more things than just the season will change as we draw ever closer to Labor Day.
With change comes uncertainty and with uncertainty one possible emotion we may experience is fear. As I attempt to take one day at a time and remain in the peaceful presence of the Lord, concerns over the future and how I am perceived by others drew me into an absolute paranoid panic attack that took on the surrealistic views of a bad LSD trip yesterday for a few minutes as compounding uncertainties and insecurities were stoked to create a perfect fire of fear that left me feeling groundless as irrational thoughts of persecution and impending doom had me grasping for something I could be sure of.
When you get hit by sudden irrational fears we should realize that we may have unwittingly left the door open to allow the influences of dark demonic forces in our lives to take away our peace. I may have made some poor entertainment choices recently by watching some horror genre shows of no redeeming value.
My dreams over the last two nights had some demonic cameos in them, one being a black snarling wolf like dog that was threatening to break free of its leash and another being an impish midget character that seemed to be sowing the seeds of discord among gathering of friends. Neither of these images were in the material I viewed, leading me to believe that these weren’t just drawn from what I watched but their sinister and unfamiliar nature makes me suspect that they are the results of a spiritual attack.
The dreams and this panic episode remind me how vulnerable we can be to dark influences. While stress can certainly bring on panic attacks, I know the enemy loves to take our peace as well.
I know that will probably freak people out or cause them to think of that claim as ridiculous, but I would ask you: when we suffer from panic attacks who benefits? Do we want to feel this way? Do these instances of irrational fears cause us to think constructively? Are the contents of these episodes based in truth or are they a skewed view of reality? Does it take away our trust and confidence in the Lord? Do we totally forget about the Lord in the overwhelming fears of what is presented to us? Often panic attacks are just all emotion, feelings of insecurity and unease, without any logical cause. Could these triggered emotions point to a demonic influence assailing us?
As scary as these thoughts may be, and how undiscernible a spiritual attack may be to identify, the good news is that the remedy of all fear is the love that is found in our relationship with and our identity in the Truth, Jesus Christ.
I was reminded of the David Lynch’s 1984 film, Dune which contains a scene in which the hero, Paul Atreides played by Kyle MacLachlan, is put through a test in which he must face his fears. The scene is a great analogy for spiritual warfare and walking by faith because it depicts Paul Atreides’ thoughts regarding fear. Dune’s writer, Frank Herbert, original quotes from the scene in his book show us Paul’s thoughts saying:
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
I love that quote and the scene in the movie. It shows us how we must choose to persevere through the fears we face and how we will remain after our fears pass.
But as much as I love the scene and quote, it is not held up by the authority or the power that comes to us through our relationship with God. Yes, we must endure but can we, in and of ourselves? Quite frankly, no. By ourselves and even with others, our strength will give out and eventually we will perish.
But with God, we live not only to see another day, but we also live forever. It is only in the security of our relationship with God through our faith in Jesus Christ that we can ever truly silence fear because He has power over all things, including life and death.
So as I cycled through moments of panic contemplating an uncertain future, I recalled that while there will be many things that are currently unknown and that will be beyond my control in the days, months, and years that lie ahead, there is one thing I could be sure of: My Lord will never leave me or forsake me. And as I reminded myself that with Him, I could endure even the bleakest worst-case scenario, I was able to find my way back to the light of His truth and love, escaping the irrational fears that overcame me.
Believe me, fear and panic attacks are nothing to take lightly. As soon as we feel that we are past one episode, they may come crawling back as our flesh or the devil will chime in with prophecies of impending doom and dread to test our defenses.
The spiritual warfare advice that is commonly given is to put on the whole armor of God, that is a word picture in Ephesians, that reminds us to stand in the different aspects of our faith in Jesus Christ: our salvation, our righteousness, our truth, our faith, our peace, our prayers, and the word of God, our wisdom.
So to remain in the peace that our Lord wants us to live in we must continually remind ourselves of our identity in Christ and use it to defend against the emotions and troubling thoughts that would seek to take it away.
Fear is a liar. Combat it with the truth and stand firm in knowing our faith in Christ puts us on the Rock that can not be shaken.
So I declare today to be a worry-free Wednesday. If you are shaken, go to a friend and let them know what you are going through. They can help remind you of what is true and assure you of the reality of your surroundings. We need one another and that’s what friends are for, to lean on and to support as we walk through this life. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those in your life and to ask for help. That’s why God put us all here together.
And if no one is around, talk to the Lord. He is your ever-present companion. Talk it out and agree with what God says about you. Expose the lies with the Truth and you can even walk through the valley of the shadow of death without fear.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
1 Thessalonians 5:3 (NKJV)
3 For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.
Today’s verse reminds us of the clear and present danger that exists for those outside the faith.
Talk about switching gears. If there is any need for proof that I don’t plan these messages ahead of time, today is a good example. Hey guys, relax, have no fear and then “sudden destruction comes upon them” and “they shall not escape”.
Ok, so there is quite a contrast here this morning but as God’s word is consistently true and trustworthy the context and proper understanding of the Word of God always resolves seeming contradictions.
This verse is warning of the suddenness of the coming of the Day of the Lord and the fact that it will result in the judgement and destruction of those who do not believe, as the following verses assures the followers of Christs, the saints in Thessalonica and everywhere throughout history, that our fate is not the same as those outside of a covenant relationship with the Lord.
Through faith in Jesus Christ, Christians do escape the destruction of the Day of the Lord as our transgressions have been covered by the work of Christ on the cross and through the imputation of His righteousness upon us when we place our faith in Him.
This section of scripture is a dire warning to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who don’t believe and to encourage Christians to diligently live out their faith.
As scary as the idea of the end time’s Day of the Lord can be, it should not scare Christians but it can be a source of great comfort, reminding us of our personal deliverance from God’s wrath and of the inevitability of God’s delivery of perfect justice to the world and the total defeat of the forces of evil, and it should also motivate Christians to represent God’s kingdom and seek to bring more people into God’s grace and mercy though sharing the gospel and living by faith.
So yes the world can be a scary place, and the idea of a future judgement can be scary too. But we as Christians, know the One who has overcome the world and are in a secure relationship with the King who will one day make all things right as Jesus will rule and reign in a new heaven and a new earth for ever and ever.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue with Dr. Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, beginning Chapter 10.
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work. If you need this title you can find it online at several sites for less than $15.00:
Your Emotions Reveal Your Beliefs
Your emotions play a major role in the process of renewing your mind. In a general sense, your emotions are a product of your thought life. If you are not thinking right, if your mind is not being renewed, if you are not perceiving God and His Word properly, it will show up in your emotional life. If you fail to acknowledge your emotions appropriately, you may become spiritually vulnerable.
One of the best scriptural illustrations of the relationship between beliefs and emotions is found in Lament. 3. Notice Jeremiah's expression of despair as he wrongly perceives that God is against him and that He is the cause of his physical problems:
I am the man who has seen affliction because of the rod of His wrath. He has driven me and made me walk in darkness and not in light. Surely against me He has turned His hand repeatedly all the day. He has caused my flesh and my skin to waste away, He has broken my bones. He has besieged and encompassed me with bitterness and hardship. In dark places He has made me dwell, like those who have long been dead (Lament. 3:1-6).
Listen to his feelings of entrapment and fear:
He has walled me in so that I cannot go out; He has made my chain heavy. Even when I cry out and call for help, He shuts out my prayer. He has blocked my ways with hewn stone; He has made my paths crooked. He is to me like a bear lying in wait, like a lion in secret places. He has turned aside my ways and torn me to pieces; He has made me desolate. So I say, "My strength has perished, and so has my hope from the Lord" (Lament. 3:7-11, 18).
If your hope was in God, and these words were a correct portrayal of God, you would be depressed, too. What was Jeremiah's problem? What he believed about God wasn't true. God wasn't the cause of his affliction. God didn't make him walk in darkness. God wasn't a wild beast waiting to devour him. Jeremiah wasn't thinking right or interpreting his circumstances right, so he wasn't feeling or living right.
Then, surprisingly, Jeremiah began to sing a different tune:
Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I have hope in Him" (Lament. 3:19-24).
What a turnaround! Did God change? Did Jeremiah's circumstances change? No. What he thought about God changed and his emotions followed suit.
You are not shaped as much by your environment as you are by your perception of your environment. Life's events don't determine who you are; God determines who you are, and your interpretation of life's events determines how well you will handle the pressures of life.
We are tempted to say, "He made me so mad!" or "I wasn't depressed until she showed up!" That's like saying, "I have no control over my emotions or my will." In reality we have very little control over our emotions, but we do have control over our thoughts, and our thoughts determine our feelings and our responses. That is why it is so important that you fill your mind with the knowledge of God and His Word. You need to see life from God's perspective and respond accordingly.
Remember, if what you believe does not reflect truth, then what you feel does not reflect reality. Telling people they shouldn't feel the way they do is a subtle form of rejection. They can do little about how they feel. It would be better to say, "I can sense your pain and anger, but I'm not sure you understand the whole situation or have all the facts. Let me share my observations and then let's see how you feel."
For example, suppose your dream of owning your own home was in the hands of a lending institution that was screening your application for financing. All your friends are praying for the loan to be approved. You arrive home one evening to find a message on your phone's answering machine that you didn't qualify. How would you feel? Angry? Depressed? Frustrated?
Now suppose you are getting ready to break the bad news to your spouse that your dream house is still only a dream. Then you listen to the next message on the machine that tells you the first message was a mistake. You actually did qualify! How would you feel now? Elated! What you first believed didn't reflect truth, so what you felt didn't reflect reality.
Imagine the real estate agent, who knows that you qualified, stopping by to congratulate you before you heard the second message on the machine. He expects to find you overjoyed, but instead you are in despair. "Why are you depressed? You should be happy." His encouragement is meaningless until he tells you the truth about your loan.
The order of Scripture is to know the truth, believe it, live accordingly by faith, and let your emotions be a product of your trust in God and your obedience to Him. What kind of a life would you live if you believed what you felt instead of the truth? Your life would be as inconsistent as your feelings.
Right after the Fall God said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?" (Genesis 4:6, 7). In the New Testament Jesus said, "If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them" (John 13:17). In other words, you don't feel your way into good behavior; you behave your way into good feelings.
Victory Over the Darkness: Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ.
God bless you all!
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