Tag Archives: Fear God

Fear God, Not the Storm

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Robby took this photo in WalMart today.

 

Like everyone else in Florida, my family and I are waiting on Hurricane Irma to make landfall.

Every major news channel is reporting on enormous hurricane—her trajectory, the devastation she’s already wrecked, and the lives she’s claimed. This morning, CBS called her a “monster” and a “killer storm.” The poor folks in Barbuda would probably agree.

Although we’re in Tallahassee, most of our gas stations ran out of gas days ago. Stores like Wal-Mart and Publix have been out of water and low on staples like bread and toilet paper. Several stores have had new shipments, but the generators and water have sold out within minutes.

If I had to use one word to describe the tension in the air, it would be “Fear.”

We know the Bible tells us repeatedly not to fear, and yet we can’t help but be scared when life’s storms are headed our way. So, how do we respond in a godly way? What are we supposed to do?

 

DAVID’S MONSTER

This situation reminds me David, staring up at Goliath. At about nine feet tall, Goliath must have looked like a man-eating monster. If he had focused on Goliath’s past, his ability, his hatred, and his desire for blood, David would have returned home and let someone else worry about the giant. David was the youngest in his family, a mere shepherd boy. No one expected him to be a hero. He could have left without incurring any shame.

But David wasn’t looking for an out. In fact, he wasn’t looking at Goliath, either. His eyes were on God. He knew beyond a doubt what God could do in the present situation because he knew what God had done for him in the past:

“And David said, ‘The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine'” (1 Samuel 17:37 NAS).

Armed with nothing but a sling and a few stones, David brought his monster to its knees. (See 1 Samuel 17:32-51.)

This is the kind of life-changing experience a person doesn’t forget. I imagine David was thinking back on it when he later wrote, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?” (Psalm 27:1 NAS). By God’s power, David had fought a lion, a bear, and a giant. With each success, his faith was strengthened even more.

 

FEAR THIS

Interestingly, there is one thing the Bible tells us to fear: God Himself.

“You shall fear only the LORD your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name” (Deuteronomy 6:13 NAS).

“You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him” (Deuteronomy 13:4 NAS).

There are numerous Scriptures that reinforce this idea that we should fear God…and only God. That’s because when we fear God, we cling to Him with loving obedience. This is the opposite of being afraid of something and running away from it.

To “fear God” means that we:

  • Believe in God—accept that He exists and His Word is true (See 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • Obey God—follow His commands daily (See Deuteronomy 13:4)

This type of fear is really a form of holy reverence.

 

FEAR NOT

When we fear the storms of this life, our anxiousness can make them appear bigger than they are. We focus on the storm and forget the One who created all things, who manages all things, and who loves us immeasurably. Our problem looms so large that we cannot see God beyond it, and our faith falters. That’s when our storm becomes an idol.

We are told to fear only God because He is the only one worthy of our fear, our love, our reverence, and our obedience. To every storm on the horizon, every coming battle, every season of hardship, we are told to “fear not”—not because it isn’t scary, not because it won’t be hard, and not because God doesn’t care. We’re told to “fear not” because there is nothing bigger than God and nothing worthy of our adoration but Him.

 

ENCOURAGEMENT

If, like us, you’re in the path of Irma, please listen to the advisories. If you’re in an evacuation zone, get out. If you’re hunkering down, be smart about it. Use common sense and stay safe.

However, as you watch the news, and the wind begins to pick up speed, take a breath. Don’t let the storm loom larger than God. Keep it in perspective as you focus on Him—all the things He’s done for you and all the times He’s delivered you. Then put it in God’s hands. God is with us, and He’ll get us through this.

 

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10 NAS).

 


I’ll be posting updates throughout this storm. To see more about our experience, or for helpful hints and links, check out my Facebook page @ashleyljones.author. God bless you and keep you safe!

 

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Don’t Fall for the Enemy

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Have you seen the the TV show on Fox called Lucifer? It’s based on the comic book series by the same name, published by DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint. The gist of the show is that Lucifer (aka Satan, aka the Devil) gets bored running Hell, resigns his evil throne, and hangs out in LA where he helps the LAPD find and punish criminals. (Source: Wikipedia.)

I’ve never watched the show, but the commercials make me nauseas. I love science fiction, so it doesn’t offend me when a show is based on a weird idea, or the question “what if this happened”? But the notion of the Devil helping us fight crime makes me physically sick.

Know Thy Enemy

Apparently, we all need a little reminder of who Lucifer / Satan / the Devil really is:

  • Lucifer was an angel who exalted himself above the God who created him, which was a profound act of pride, arrogance, and self-worship. Since he no longer worshipped God, he fell from grace. (See Isaiah 14:12-15 and Luke 10:18.)

The name Lucifer means “light bearer.” Depending on your translation of the Bible, the name Lucifer may appear only in Isaiah 14:12, or it may not appear at all because it is translated as “star of the morning.”

  • The word “Satan” means “adversary.” This word appears often in both the Old and New Testaments as a proper name for Lucifer (presumably because he wasn’t so light and shiny after he fell from God’s presence).

When Jesus sent out 70 followers into nearby cities, He warned them that we were like “lambs in the midst of wolves” (Luke 10:3 NAS). But when they returned, they were full of joy, saying “even the demons are subject to us in Your name” (Luke 10:17 NAS). Satan may be a formidable adversary, but he is not omnipotent.

Paul states that “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15 NAS). In other words, Satan uses deception to lure people to follow him, and those followers use the same methods to undermine the church.

  • The word “Devil” is only used in the New Testament and means “slanderous, accusing falsely.”

Peter wrote, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith…” (1 Peter 5:8 NAS).

James said simply, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will free from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8 NAS).

  • The word “enemy” is a general description or title given to any “hostile” adversary. However, Jesus makes it clear that the Devil is the primary enemy. (See Matthew 13:24-30 and 37-39.)

While Lucifer / Satan / the Devil is an enemy of God—and our Enemy with a capital E—he is NOT on equal footing with God. This is not Batman vs. Superman, each with their own special skills. God created Lucifer, and the created being does not have more power than its Creator. It’s true the final battle hasn’t been fought yet, but the war has already been decided. (See Revelation 20:2 and following.)

Don’t Fall for the Enemy

The Enemy’s most successful ad campaign has been to convince well-meaning people that he doesn’t exist. This ideology has turned “educated” people against the “backwards, un-educated, superstitious” church to the point that Christians have questioned their own theology. The result has been a lukewarm, unnecessary faith—the kind that’s nice to have on Christmas but not really necessary for Easter.

Now, the Enemy is trying to convince us that he’s just like us—going through struggles, misunderstood by the world, and just trying to do the right thing while having a good time. He’s a 21st Century down-on-his-luck kinda guy.

Don’t fall for it!

The Enemy is our ultimate adversary. He hates our ever-loving guts, and he wants us to suffer in ways we can’t even imagine. He employs every tactic he can, withholding nothing in his evil scheme. He thrives on confusion, dissent, pride, lust, arrogance, manipulation, and every other sin known to man. He desires nothing more than for you to be homeless, addicted, violent, dependent, depraved, alone, and lost, for then you won’t be useful for the Kingdom of God.

Nothing to Fear

As dangerous as the Enemy is, we still have nothing to fear! God loves you and desires to protect you and fight for you. (See Psalm 121:7 and Isaiah 41:10.) Read your Bible to know more about the Lord. Pray regularly to align your thoughts with His. Resist sin in your life. It’s not difficult, but it is important!

Remember: “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will free from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:7-8 NAS).

“The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul.  The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever” (Psalm 121:7-8  NAS).

Mama Tiger

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The following is an excerpt from Girls with Gusto, a book I am writing for young women. I always think of the image of the mother tiger with the baby piglets around Mother’s Day. I hope you appreciate it, too. Happy Mother’s Day!

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Tiger with her baby piglet. (Photo obtained online, courtesy of the zoo in Thailand.)

Fear

I’ve always struggled with the idea of fear as it’s shown in the Bible. Over and over, Scriptures tell us not to fear, whether it’s the future; an individual; groups of people; or strange, miraculous events. But then the Bible commands us to fear God (see Joshua 24:14 and Proverbs 3:7). In fact, there are warnings throughout the Bible for those who don’t fear God (see Exodus 9:30, Jeremiah 5:22, and Malachi 3:5).

If God is love (see 1 John 4:16), why should we fear Him?

 

Mama Tiger

Strangely enough, I found my answer in a story about a tiger…and a litter of piglets.

I once read of a zoo in Thailand that would coax tigers to suckle piglets. (Don’t ask me why.) I’ve seen the pictures of one of the tigers, all teeth and claws, loving on her adopted babies, oblivious to the fact that they had curly tails and flat snouts and made grunting noises instead of mews. The piglets were also oblivious to the difference, and climbed all over the tiger without a care in the world. To be sure, that tigress was a dangerous creature…but not to the ones she called her own. To them, she was a protector, provider, and source of love and comfort. She was Mama.

 

God

That’s how I envision our relationship with God. When we first come face to face with Him, our sin makes us feel exposed and vulnerable—like a defenseless piglet in the tiger’s den. We’re afraid of God because He is righteous and can execute judgment against us. We have the urge to run the other way, with our curly tails between our legs. Thankfully, the Spirit speaks to us in loving tones, encouraging us to trust in God. If we do, He forgives us and accepts us as His own.

Once we belong to God, we no longer have to be afraid of His judgment. We can rest securely between His teeth and claws and know that He will use them to protect us and provide for us, and nothing can separate us from Him (see Romans 8:38-39). There is no greater safety or calmer peace than in God’s presence.

 

Believe and Obey

But, like any good parent, God has given us rules for our own good. When we fail to be obedient, there are consequences. He still loves us, but we have to learn from Him so we can mature in our faith and take the next step in our journey.

Moses said it this way: “You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.” (Deuteronomy 13:4) When we fear God, we cling to Him with loving obedience. This is the opposite of being afraid of something and running away from it (like I run from spiders).

The statement, “Fear the Lord your God,” means two things:

  • Believe in God—that He exists and His Word is true (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17); and
  • Obey God—that we should accept Him into our hearts and follow His commands daily (see Deuteronomy 13:4).

This is why the Bible says that we are to fear only God (see Deuteronomy 6:13 and 1 Samuel 12:24). He is the only one worthy of such honor.

If we will believe in God and obey Him, we will have the same peace and security as those little piglets snuggled up warm and safe in the arms of the tiger.

 

Encouragement

Doesn’t God care for you, nurture you, and love on you? Isn’t He every bit as attentive and protective as a new mother? As you celebrate Mother’s Day, I encourage you to think about the “mothering” role God has in your spiritual life.