HELPING TO OVERCOME FEAR!
PARTS I -III
Fear can be one of the greatest robbers of our peace and happiness as God’s people.
The Bible tells us that “fear hath torment” (1 John 4:18). There are few things that can cause more torment and misery in a person’s life, than uncontrolled fear.
Fear will paralyze people physically, emotionally, and spiritually to the place where we cannot properly function in life. Fear disables us so that we cannot serve the Lord the way we should.
We would do well to try and identify what is causing our fears, and take the appropriate actions to deal with these causes, so that we might rid our lives of fear and its torment. We hope this series of messages will help each of us to overcome fear and anxiety in our lives.
There are many causes of fear; four of which we want to discuss in this message.
1. First we want to notice: Fear that results from life’s circumstances.
We want to notice two classes of circumstances that can bring fear into our lives.
First, there are fearful circumstances that result because of sin (Jonah 1:4-5). In this case, the fearful circumstance was caused by Jonah’s rebellion against the revealed will of God. These circumstances may be caused by our sins or the sins of others.
Secondly, there are circumstances that result from the providential works of God in the lives of His people (Mark 4:35-41). In this case the circumstance was a providential trial of the disciples faith.
The sea in both of these passages might be likened to our journey through life. As believers we are traveling over life’s sea to yon heaven’s shore.
The winds and the waves are like the fearful circumstances that come upon our lives. These take many shapes and sizes. They might include waves such as automobile wrecks, wars, natural disasters, sickness and disease, a rebellious and wayward child, and all kinds of calamities that befall our lives. You can plug in your own wave!
What is the solution to these fears caused by circumstances in our lives?
First, human reasoning and human efforts are not the answer. When the Lord sends a storm our way, all of our human efforts to lighten our ship, or lose the tackle, or row harder are useless. Too often times, the first thing we do in our circumstances is to try and figure out the solution ourselves.
The solution, however, is found in seeking the Lord, as the disciples did in Mark 4.
First, we need to find out if our sin is at the root of the trouble, as in the case of Jonah. If it is, then we must deal with the sin problem or the situation will only get worse. If sin is not the problem, then our circumstance is a fiery trial of our faith. In this case we need to find out what lesson the Lord has for us in the trial. The Lord has a purpose for us in the trial, and we need to find out what that purpose is, so that we might learn and grow through the experience.
Secondly, we need to ask the Lord for help in our circumstance as the disciples did. The Lord wants His people to ask Him for help, and He takes pleasure in coming to our aid to deliver us from life’s trials and to comfort us in them.
Thirdly, we need to trust the Lord to see us trough the circumstance in His way. Always keep in mind that the Lord doesn’t always work things out the way we think He should, but He knows what is best. We must understand and believe that God is in absolute control of all our circumstances. He is sovereign in all our affairs; and He is present with us. He will do what is best, and He will do what is right.
Finally, we need to obey and honor the Lord through the circumstance. We must maintain a godly, spiritual life and testimony through the trial. We must remain faithful to the Lord through the circumstance. In this way we give Him the glory in the midst of our trials. This is one of our greatest opportunities to witness for the Lord.
2. Secondly we want to notice: The fear of man.
For a Biblical example we want to notice Elijah (1 Kings 19:1-3).
We want to mention just a few of the many possible examples of the fear of man that we may face in our daily lives:
There are wicked leaders who persecute God’s people (like Jezebel in our text). This could take the form of legislation and ordinances against preaching certain doctrines (homosexuality), or witnessing and door-knocking, etc.
There are wicked bosses who persecute and oppress their employees, especially Christian employees. This could take form of abusive and filthy speech, making Christians work on church times, being unnecessarily cruel and harsh, giving Christians the worst jobs, and not giving them their raises.
There are wicked spouses or even children who persecute other family members. This could take the form of refusing to allow family members to attend church, or to read the Bible, or pray in the home, or cruel and harsh treatment.
There are religious people who hate the truth, who persecute the people of God. This could take the form of calling and writing nasty letters to the church in response to our ministries, or verbally or even physically abusing us during evangelistic activities.
There are wicked and violent people such as rapists, murders, muggers, terrorists, homosexuals, and other deviant persons. We all know that these things are getting worse every day even in our community.
There are pagan idolatrous cult religions such as Islam, which hate Christianity. It is just a matter of time before these idolatrous religions begin to make an attack on Christianity in our country like they have in other countries.
What is the problem with the fear of man? Proverbs 29:25 tells us that “The fear of man bringeth a snare…”. The fear of man can cause us to disobey the Lord (the apostles in Acts 4:18-20). It might cause us to fail to preach the gospel, attend church, and other spiritual activities.
The fear of man can cause us to deny the Lord (like Peter in Luke 22:54-60). We might refrain from witnessing, or even deny that we know Him at all.
The fear of man can cause us to dissemble from the Lord’s people (like Peter in Galatians 2:11-14). Because of the fear of man, we might deny or pretend that we don’t know our own brothers and sisters in Christ when we are in certain company.
What is the solution to the fear of man?
1) When we fear man, we need to run to the Lord like Elijah ran to Horeb, the mount of God in 1 Kings 19:8.
2) We need to trust in the Lord (Proverbs 29:25). We need to say with David in Psalms 18:2 “The LORD [is] my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, [and] my high tower.
3) We need to fear the Lord instead of man (Matthew 10:28). Who do we fear?
4) We need to obey the Lord, and return to the Lord’s work like Elijah did in 1 Ki 19:15). We best not let the fear of man keep us from serving the Lord, but we need to go right back to doing what the Lord called us to do. Come what may, the Lord will honor us when we honor and obey Him.
3. Thirdly we want to notice: Fear because of sin in our lives.
We want to notice the example of Adam and Eve- Genesis 3:7-13.
The problem was, of course, that Adam and Eve sinned against God.
The resulting affects of their sin were manifold. First, their consciences were defiled (they saw that they were naked). The result of a defiled conscience is a guilty conscience. Secondly, they tried to cover their sin (verse 7). Thirdly, they were afraid and hid themselves from God (verses 8, 10). Fourthly, they both shifted the blame for their sins onto someone else (vs. 12-13).
The solution for the sin problem includes the following. First, the confrontation of one’s sins (God confronted Adam); secondly, the confession of sin (1 John 1:8-10); and thirdly, the forsaking of sin (Proverbs 28:13). The result is forgiveness of sins, the mercy of the Lord, and the quelling of our fears that were caused by our sins.
4. Fourthly we want to notice: The fear of death- Hebrews 2:14-18
The problems that accompany death include: The process of dying (prolonged illness/disease); death itself and the unknowns of death; we’ve never passed that way before; and the sting of death, which is sin and the penalty of sin (1 Cor. 15.56).
The solution to the fear of death is faith and trust in Jesus. Jesus has tasted or experienced death for His people (verse 9). Through death Jesus has conquered Satan who has the power of death (verse 14). Consequently, Jesus has conquered death itself for each of His people. Through His death, Jesus has made reconciliation for our sins. That means that He has propitiated, or satisfied God’s wrath and punishment for our sins. Because of all these and many more things that Jesus did for us, He is able to aid us through all our sufferings, including the time of our death (verse 28).
In conclusion we want to briefly discuss one more fear- and that is the fear of God- Proverbs 1:7; 9:10.
The fear of God here means to submit to God and the commands of God. What are the commands of God to lost sinners? Repent, and believe the gospel (Acts 17:30, Mark 1:15). Men by nature do not fear the Lord (Psalm 36:1; Rom. 3:28…there is no fear…). As a result, men by nature do not submit to the Lord and they do not obey His command to repent and believe the gospel. How about you this morning? Have you repented and believed in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus for the remission of your sins?
As a saved person, do you fear because of circumstances in your life, or do you have the fear of man that is controlling you and causing you to fail in your service to the Lord? Do you have unconfessed sin in your life that is causing you to fear? Has the fear of death been haunting you? I hope that this message will be a help and blessing to you this morning.
Part II- Worry and Anxiety
Worry and anxiety caused by worry are major problems for God’s people today. Worry is one of the biggest thieves in the world, even in the Christian’s world. Worry all too often robs God’s people of our joy and happiness. Many Christians seem to worry most of the time. They are frazzled and worn out all the time from worry and anxiety. Worry can rob us of our health. It can cause real physical problems and illnesses if we allow it to continue and to grow, and to control our lives. Some of you may know what I’m talking about from personal experience.
This morning we want to ask, is there Biblical help for worry and anxiety and the torment they cause? The answer is yes! The Lord knows our frame; He knows how prone we are to worrying. And because the Lord knows what a problem worrying is to His people, He has provided much Scripture on the subject to help His people win they victory over worry. We only have time to look at a few passages this morning, but there many more Scriptures to help us overcome our anxieties and worries. There are many real life examples in the Old and New Testaments about real people who had real problems with anxiety and worry, and we can learn from them how to win the victory over worry and anxiety. The book of Psalms is full of examples of anxiety, and the solutions that David and other men of God found in the Lord for their anxieties and worries.
First we want to notice some Bible teaching on the subject of worry and anxiety:
Philippians 4:6-9 (READ)
In this passage the Apostle Paul teaches about worry and anxiety, and provides some ways to prevent and to prevail over worry and anxiety. Lets notice a few thoughts from this passage that can help us to overcome anxiety:
First, we are commanded in verse 6 not to be careful, which means to be anxious. As obedient children we should respond in obedience to the command of God not to worry and be anxious. Always remember that, whenever God gives us a command, He also gives us the power of His Holy Spirit to obey that command. So they key to victory is obedience to the Lord with the help of the Spirit. We won’t have the victory until we determine in our hearts that we are going to trust and obey the Lord in this matter of worry. Some of us are conditioned and addicted to constant worrying. It is our favorite thing to do, even if it kills us. And it might. For some of us, worry is all we know to do in life. We wake up worrying and go to sleep worrying. To win the victory we must be willing to quit our worrying, and trust and obey the Lord.
Instead of worrying, Paul gives us some positive things that we can do to prevent and relieve our anxieties: We are to pray and give thanks, and ask God for our specific needs. These spiritual exercises are productive to our lives, and the opposite of worry which is counterproductive and destructive.
He then gives us words of hope and comfort (verse 7): He assures us that the peace of God, which passeth all understanding (that is human understanding), will keep or guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. This is where worry and anxiety do there evil work is in our hearts and minds. But if we will faithfully maintain spiritual exercises, the Lord will guard and protect our hearts and minds from worry and anxiety.
This verse also encourages us to trust in the Lord to help us and to keep us. Trust is so important to overcoming worry. We need to trust our Great Physician and Counselor to help us overcome our worry and anxiety.
Next, Paul exhorts us to think on good things and positive things (verse 8). We could preach a series of sermons on this verse alone! But suffice it to say that Christians have every reason to be positive minded, and we have plenty of good things in the Lord that we can think about.
Finally, Paul gives us a prescription of things to do (verse 9). The solution to worry and anxiety is not just right thinking and trusting, but it is also right doing and right living as well.
Here in the sermon on the mount Jesus teaches His disciples about spiritual priorities and dealing with the cares and worries of this life.
We want to extract a few thoughts from this passage. Here, Jesus Himself commands us to “take no thought”; or in other words, don’t worry and be anxious about the temporal things of this life. These things the gentiles, or unbelievers seek after, and spend their lives worrying about.
Jesus encourages us to trust God instead of worrying, by giving several examples in nature. The Lord takes care of all His creatures who don’t spend one second worrying about their lives.
Jesus discourages worrying by teaching us the weakness of man and the sovereignty of God. Not one of us can add one cubit to our stature by taking thought, or by worrying about it. Rather, it is the sovereign God of Heaven that feeds us and clothes us, and looks after us. It is God that provides these things and not we ourselves. So, don’t worry about the temporal things of life, but rather seek first the kingdom of God, and doing the Lord’s will and work, and trust Him to take care of all our needs. This doesn’t mean we’re not to work to provide for ourselves, but that we should trust the Lord to provide all the means and the ability and the health to provide for ourselves. And when all those fail, He will still provide for us.
Finally, the Lord exhorts us to take no thought for the morrow, or in other words, don’t worry about tomorrow. These are the worries and anxieties about the unknown events in the future. This a major source of worry for some of us. We worry about diseases and health problems and accidents that never happen. This kind of worry is like an endless sea that knows no bounds. Beloved, if we get caught in this raging sea of worry about the unknown, we will be tossed to and fro until our lives are shipwrecked on the rocks of despair. But Jesus exhorts us not to worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will take care of itself.
The sovereign loving God of Heaven holds our tomorrows in His hands, and He dispenses them to us one day at a time. We must trust that He loves us and that He knows what is best for us, and that He will not deal us anything that is not for our ultimate good and His glory. If we could just get this truth into our thick skulls we would all be so much better off. May God help us to take life, and the cares of life one day at a time, even when we are in the midst of the raging sea of trials!
This passage is a specific example of worry and anxiety that Christians experience during persecutions. The phase “take no thought” is the same Greek word that means “be not anxious”. The Lord promises that He will be with His people during these times, and that He will give us the words to say to answer our enemies.
This same principle can be applied to every situation that we may face in this life. In all our hardships and perils, the Lord would tell us “take no thought” or “be not anxious”. Don’t be overcome with worry and anxiety about those painful situations that you will face, either before they come upon us, or in the midst of our experience. The Lord is with us, and His grace is sufficient to see us through; even if our temptation is unto death! He will give us sufficient grace to help us through, when it is needed and not before!
1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it].
Some Biblical examples of God’s people who were anxious:
1. A case of protracted worry and anxiety in the life of Jacob. Genesis 32:6-12
Approximately 15 years had passed since Jacob deceived his brother Esau, and Esau promised that he would kill Jacob. This meeting with Esau was in the back of Jacob’s mind all these years.
Note the host or camp of angels in verses 1-2 when Jacob reached the promised land. These angels no doubt were a greeting party to welcome Jacob, and to remind him of the promises of God to him. Jacob left the promised land with a dream of angels ascending and descending on a latter to heaven. He returns with a host of angels to protect him. Yet, with this plain sign from God in heaven, Jacob still feared his brother Esau.
When the day finally came when Jacob would meet Esau, what was the first thing that Jacob did? Yes, he immediately began attempts to solve the problem himself (verses 7-8).
Secondly, he took the matter to the Lord in prayer. We want to notice some components of Jacob’s prayer:
First, Jacob bases his prayer on God’s covenant to Israel and His faithfulness to His covenant (verse 9; first part).
Secondly, Jacob bases his prayer on God’s promises to him personally, and upon God’s faithfulness to His promises (verses 9).
Thirdly, Jacob takes his rightful place as an unworthy sinner before God (verse 10).
Fourthly, Jacob acknowledged that God in His sovereign mercies has given him all that he has, and has made him all that he is (verse 10).
Fifthly, Jacob prayed for deliverance from the danger (verse 11).
Sixthly, Jacob confessed his fear of his brother Esau (verse 11).
Seventhly, Jacob reminds God of His promises and His covenant to him (verse 12).
Of course we know that God delivered Jacob from Esau, by changing Esau’s heart toward Jacob, and instead of killing Jacob, Esau welcomed Jacob back home with open arms.
I wonder how much worrying and fretting that Jacob did over the past 15 years over this meeting with Esau?
God was faithful to His promises just like He said He would be, and Jacob really had nothing to worry about all those years.
2. A case of sudden calamity in the life of David. 1 Samuel 30:1-9
Here in this passage, David and his men had suddenly lost everything they had in this world…all their earthly possessions, their wife’s and children…everything. Sometimes life’s calamities come suddenly upon us without warning, as in the life of Job.
To make matters worse, David’s men were talking of stoning him. They blamed David for his poor leadership.
We want to notice three things that David did in this situation:
First, David did something that few people do in times of calamities that come our way in life. He encouraged himself in the Lord his God (verse 6). He didn’t immediately resort to human reasoning and human efforts, even as Jacob did in our previous text, but he immediately resorted to his God. Perhaps this is one of the reasons it was said of David, that he was a man after God’s own heart.
Secondly, David sought the Lord through the priest (verses 7-8). Notice David’s pointed question to the Lord “shall I pursue?” There is certainly nothing wrong with asking the Lord what we should do, or if we should do, and even how we should do. Our God is a personal God. He certainly knows the answers to our questions, and He knows the solutions to our problems.
Thirdly, David took action. The Lord gave David the go-ahead to pursue, and David obeyed the Lord took the necessary action.
This is a good strategy for dealing with many of life’s problems. That is, encouraging ourselves in the Lord when trouble comes, seeking the Lord’s help and direction in prayer, and then taking action to resolve the problem with the help and direction of the Lord.
This story had a happy ending. David and his men recovered all the belongings and more so, along with their wives and children.
We need to add a caution here. Not all such stories have happy endings. Sometimes the Lord isn’t pleased to recover our possessions or the lives of our loved ones (as in the case of Job), or even our own lives. In these cases, we must be resolved to trust that the Lord knows best, and that He is working all things out for our ultimate good and His glory. We can still encourage ourselves in the Lord, and seek the Lord in prayer, and take action to do everything that we can to improve and help the situation, although it appears that no hope of total remedy is in sight.
Two more Biblical examples of God’s people who were anxious:
3. A case of God’s invisible protection surrounding His people. 2 Kings 6:8-17
The enemy came in unawares by night. This was common practice in war, but this is often the way the enemies of our souls creep into our lives; that is, in times of emotional, and mental, and spiritual darkness, and in times of spiritual slumber.
God’s people were surrounded by the enemy. They had no way of escaping. There seemed to be no hope of escape.
It was this enemies desire to kill and to destroy God’s people, especially His prophet!
The enemy was well equipped for war. They had horses and chariots. This was advanced equipment. This made the enemy swift in battle, and difficult to defeat.
Elisha’s servant asked “how shall we do?” In other words, “what shall we do now”; or, “how are we going to get out of this one…”. This was a reasonable question, if all we can see is the physical world, and if all we use is our carnal human reasoning.
God’s people are in the majority! How many of us really believe that the celestial army is with us, and is greater than our earthly enemies. Greater both in power and in number!
Elisha prayed “Lord, open his eyes!”
That is what we need beloved, when we are afraid of enemies that attack us. We need for the Lord to open our eyes to see His heavenly host. Whether these enemies be physical enemies of our flesh, or spiritual enemies of our hearts and minds, God’s army is far greater than they.
Whether these enemies be real or even imaginary; God’s army has them outnumbered! God’s celestial army has them surrounded! We have no need to fear and fret because of our enemies.
4. A case of common, every day worry and anxiety in the life of Martha. Luke 10:38-42
In this passage, Martha was anxious and worried about the small, insignificant temporal matters of life.
Sometimes, these nagging little worries can be most distressing and burdensome. It seems humorous that Martha should be so stressed out about such trivial matters as cooking lunch and washing dishes. But people do get stressed out and bent out of shape over these little things. These things are important, but not so much as to get upset about.
Jesus told Martha that “one thing is needful”:
Sometimes we get stressed out by unnecessary, elaborate details and preparations, when simplicity if better, and the spiritual need of the hour is far more important. Often times we complicate our lives with carnal things, and then worry and fret about how we are going to get them done. As a result, other more important spiritual needs in our lives suffer. Beloved, sitting at Jesus’ feet and hearing His Word, which has eternal benefits, is far more important that carnal cares with their temporal benefits.
Therefore, the solution to Martha’s problem was that she should have chosen the good part, and sat a Jesus’ feet and heard His word. What an opportunity she missed! How many people neglect their spiritual needs, and neglect the house of God because of worries over temporal matters.
Passages that give hope for overcoming worry, and anxiety:
Psalms 27:13-14 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. 14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
Notice David’s solution to his worries and anxieties:
1. Believe and trust in the LORD’s deliverance. “I had fainted, unless I had believed…”.
2. Wait on the Lord. “Wait on the LORD…”, that is wait in faith, trusting that in His time the LORD will bring you out of your difficulty.
Often times in life we find ourselves in circumstances that don’t resolve themselves overnight, and we are helpless to do anything about our dilemma. We must wait patiently on the LORD, and trust that He will work things out in His good way, and in His good time.
3. Be courageous. “Be of good courage”, because the LORD is in control, and He is our protector, and He fights our battles for us, and because He has promised us good things in the land of the living; whether here in this world, or more so in that world to come!
Psalms 56:3-4 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. 4 In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.
In times of fear and anxiety we need to actively and actually put our trust in the Lord. We see that the Psalmist’s premise for trusting the Lord is the faithfulness and truthfulness of God’s Word. Herein is our trust founded, and herein our trust will be affirmed. Outside of the Word there is no hope or the assurance that trust brings. As a result, David did not fear what flesh could do to him.
In times of worry and anxiety, trust in the Lord. Go to His Word wherein we find faith and strength and hope. Therein are the answers and solutions to overcome our fears!
2 Timothy 1:12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
It is comforting and encouraging to know that He is able! The Lord is able to keep or guard, and protect and preserve both our body and soul, and our rewards in Heaven. This verse teaches faith and trust, as well as commitment on our part of everything we have to the Lord.
Hebrews 13:5-6 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
Paul said in Philippians 4:11 that he had learned to be content in whatever state that he was in. Of course he was speaking especially of the hard times in his Christian life. The Lord was with Paul in every situation, and the Lord was Paul’s helper, and therefore Paul didn’t fear what men could do unto him.
1 Peter 5:6-11 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. 11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
One key to overcoming our fears and worry and anxiety is to humble ourselves under God’s hand (verse 6). This insures us of God’s mercies and grace to help in time of need. The proud hearted will not find the favour of the Lord.
Then we are encouraged to “cast all our cares upon Him, for He careth for you”. We need to unload all our troubles and cares on the Lord. Cast all our cares and worries and fears on Him… whether big or small. And the reason why we should do this is, “because He careth for you…”. I can think of no better encouragement to go to the Lord with our troubles!
Then we are to be sober, alert, and watchful, because our enemy the devil is out to destroy us and to devour us. We are responsible to watch for our own souls, and to be alert to the onslaughts of our enemies.
I hope that these Bible teachings will help all of us who are saved by God’s grace to overcome worry and anxiety in our lives. Of course they will only help if we will trust and obey the Lord and apply these Scriptural helps in our lives. It doesn’t just happen by miracles or magic, but by a conscientious effort on our part to overcome worry by the help of the Holy Spirit.
Again, we have been talking to saved people this morning. What we have said does not apply to you if you are lost in your sins. What you need first and foremost is to repent of your sins and believe in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior this morning. Believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, was buried in the tomb, and rose again from the dead the third day for the forgiveness of your sins. Then will all your sins and burdens be lifted from you, when you come to believe that they were placed on Jesus when He was on the cross.