Thursday, August 28, 2008

Then I remembered

“They remembered that God was their rock.” Psalms 78:35
“Thou shalt not be afraid” Psalms 91:5
“He shall not be afraid of evil tidings.” Psalms 112:7
“When thou liest down thou shalt not be afraid.” Prover 3:24-25
“I will trust and not be afraid.” Isaiah 12:2
“Neither fear ye their fear.” Isaiah 8:12

On a recent morning I woke up and, without thinking, turned on the radio before my morning devotionals. A flood of horror streamed through the broadcast into my house and into my heart. Children were being stolen, cars were crashing, disease rates were rising. In addition, I was suffering with an allergic reaction. My chest ached as if an elephant was sitting on it. And with the onslaught of terrifying news stories, the elephant had suddenly gained a lot more weight.

I was suddenly afraid. What would happen to me? What would happen to my children? How could I keep them safe? How could I prevent harm from coming to them? What if my allergic reaction turned into a heart attack? Fearful thoughts thronged my mind.

Then I remembered.

What did I remember?
The promises of the Lord.
The Lord’s character and mercy.
The Paths He has taught me to walk.
The power of prayer.

I began to repeat the promises of God, shouting them as I lay in bed and later as I walked through the house. Whatever Scriptures came to my mind, I said them aloud, adding “It is Written.” All morning long, I sang the praises of God’s care, Love, and Protection. Then the fears left.

Often when we are overwhelmed, we react in a natural way. The world tells us that when we are faced with fear we should speak about our fear. But the Bible tells us, “when I’m afraid, I will trust the Lord” Psalm 56:3.

Certainly there is nothing wrong with speaking about our fear. But that is not the spiritual way to fight fear or temptation. Our weapons are not understandable to the carnal unspiritual mind. In fact, they might seem like mere foolishness. But, strange and bizarre as these weapons might seem to be, these weapons are powerful. God has appointed us to use these spiritual weapons victoriously that we might be more than conquerors against spiritual enemies such as fear, sin, sickness, despair, anxiety, and doubt.

We are told to fight the good fight of faith. The good fight is a fight more often than not a fight that occurs within our own minds. The apostle Paul tells us that we are not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Often the good fight involves triumphantly praising God in the midst of adversity and speaking His praises while refraining from speaking our fears.

A small example: when we get a sniffle or we feel a cold coming on, we often say – for no reason– “I just know it. I feel a cold coming on, and I get so sick when I get colds. I get earaches, my throat hurts, I can’t leave the house for three weeks. Sometimes it turns into pneumonia.”
Consider, however, if this is the faithful thing to do. Yes, we know our bodies. But shouldn’t we simply go downstairs make a cup of tea, buy some cold medicine and resist the urge to make negative prophecies over ourselves? And shouldn’t we learn to respond to the sniffle by saying, “In Jesus’ name, I will not get a cold; and if I do get a cold, it’ll come and go within a day.”

Another example: What if your child returns home past her curfew? Fears storm your mind. That is fine; fears are natural. But instead of simply telling the child, “Don’t stay out so late next time,” parents often say, “Don’t you realize you could be murdered? Do you realize X and Y and Z could happen to you?” Then, after the child is in bed, the parents speak to each other even more doubt-filled words. Instead of saying, “The Lord is working in our child’s life. I know she/he is beginning to understand how to live her life well,” parents will stay up nights saying, “I worry that that kid will end up in jail or pregnant or heaven knows what. Remember what happened to so-and-so’s kid? What a mess that was!” This kind of speech is useless. First, because our children have already heard the speech more times than they can say, and secondly, because we are indulging our fears by speaking them so prophetically. But even more important, this kind of talk is dangerous.

Jesus told us to “Take no thought, saying, ‘What shall we eat? What shall we put on?’”

It’s not our fault if fearful thoughts pop up into our heads. Fearful thoughts are temptations sent to make us doubt. But notice Jesus’ words: “Take no thought, SAYING.” A fearful thought is not yours until you start saying it, worrying about it, repeating it, prophesying about it possibly taking over your life.

The mouth is a hard thing to tame. Both Peter and James warn against it. Some may think that to consider the mouth a powerful demonic tool is foolishness, but this is what our Lord says, “Wisdom is justified by her children.” Matt 11:19 This means that a doctrine will prove itself sooner or later. A bad seed will bring forth a tree full of bad fruits, a good seed will bring forth a good tree full of good fruits.

He also said, “If anyone wills to do God’s will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.”This means that when we attempt to do God’s will begin to understand God’s will. There is something about actually trying to do God’s will which makes us understand that Jesus’s words are right. Those who decide to tame their tongues – in this case, struggling to praise God instead of speaking unnecessarily about something we fear– that makes us realize that we are indeed enslaved to our tongues.

Brothers and sisters, one of the first lessons we must learn if we are to wage war victoriously is to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. In the case of our tongue, it means we must let the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts be always about God’s power and care in our lives. Let our mouth continually praise His care, His power, His protection. And let us always speak His promises instead of our fears.

Prayer: Dear Father, I have sinned so often against others and against myself by using my tongue wrongfully. But most of all, I have sinned against You by speaking as if You aren’t powerful or caring enough to be my good shepherd. Lord, often when I try to do good, I am powerless. When I try not to speak words of fear, cynicism, and doubt, I sometimes fail. But You, Lord, have promised to perfect everything that concerns me. Perfect this, dear Father. Always make me remember everything You have done in the lives of Your people – the great cloud of witness and those people I know in my life. Make me remember the power of Jesus’ blood, Jesus’ name, Jesus’ word. Amen.
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