Changed My Mind

I just spent about an hour writing a message about fear and how it can be used to control us.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

When I couldn’t think of how to conclude the message I realized that I couldn’t stop writing because all I was doing was rambling on and on and on.

So here I am starting over, and trying to stay on topic, which is about the fear currently controlling the world, a fear which I haven’t seen this bad since McCarthyism, the A-Bomb Scare, or Legionnaire’s Disease.

(OK, I wasn’t old enough to go through the McCarthy era, but I certainly remember the others.)

I’m not going to discuss my feelings about the coronavirus phobia, which is what happened in my first draft and why I had to delete it, but will simply state that fear will abide and grow where there is no faith in God.

What I think is really terrible (maybe you agree?) is that now even houses of worship are closing their doors to their own congregants!

When there is a worldwide panic, as we are seeing today, the one place you would expect people to go is to their house of worship, where they can collectively pray for God’s help and protection. Yet, what are these houses of God doing?

They are shutting the people out!

Now, you tell me…is this something that serves God or helps the Devil?

Ah, now you see where I am going with this message: worldwide fear is a tool of the enemy of God, and the more we allow it to propagate, the more people will be controlled by Satan.

That may sound a bit far-fetched, but I do not believe so. Satan will not walk up to you and say, “Yo! Satan’s the name, and eternal damnation is my game. Ya wanna play?”

No, that won’t be the way he does it. What Satan will do is generate distrust and fear among the people, then present himself as a savior, overcoming the problem that caused the fear.

As an example, let’s use the current phobia over coronavirus: maybe someone will come up with a cure and in order to receive it free, you have to qualify, and when you do you will receive a chip in your hand you can use at a clinic to receive the shot.

Or maybe it will be a financial crisis, or maybe it will be some other world-shattering event. No one can know for sure what it will be, but I am certain that this is the process he will use.

So stop being afraid of the virus; after all, the medical fact is that it isn’t very deadly, and almost 99% of the people infected recover within a few days, I’ll bet many have already had it and thought it was just the flu. But do be aware of the effect that this event is having on the world’s population, which has already reached the point where countries are shutting themselves off from the world.

Do you remember what Yeshua said when he was accused of working for Satan? He said a house divided against itself cannot stand, and what do we see in the world today? Countries separating themselves from the world, events banning people from attending, schools closing and churches and synagogues refusing to open their doors.

We are being torn apart from the inside, and if you don’t think that is something that Satan can use to gain power, then you are blind.

Wash your hands and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Really- we should all do that anyway. Didn’t your Mommy teach you that when you were a child? And shake hands with people, hug them and go through life as you always have, just be more aware of touching your face or wiping your nose. Keep one of those hand sanitizing spray bottles in your pocket- that’s fine. Being concerned and careful is not wrong, but being frightened to the point where you shut yourself off from others is wrong.

One last point…remember that Yeshua said whenever two or three are gathered in his name, there he will be; that can’t happen if no one is getting together with anyone else.

Thank you for being here, and please subscribe. Whether you agree or disagree with what I write, I welcome your comments.

Until next time, don’t be afraid, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

What Does “Believe in Jesus” Really mean?

No video today, but please click on the SUBSCRIBE button in the right-hand margin to receive notification when I post again.

As a Jewish man who accepts Yeshua (Jesus) as my Messiah, I have been told by nearly every other Jewish person I know who doesn’t accept him that if I “believe in Jesus” I am no longer Jewish because believing in Jesus is only for Christians.

Yet, I doubt they even know what “believe in Jesus” means. For that matter, I’m not sure if I know what it means!

Does it mean acceptance that he is the Messiah? Many would say yes, but then what about the Muslims? They believe in Jesus, in that he existed, but he is a Prophet to them and nothing more. This is also the view of many Jewish people.

Does it mean I am a Christian? Many would say yes, but then again, what about all the demons in hell? They absolutely believe in Jesus and more than that- they have seen him, in person! But they’re not what anyone would call “Christian.”

Does it mean that I acknowledge only that he existed as a historical figure? Yes, for many people, including many Jews (especially those that are theologically educated.)

So where does this leave us?  Pretty much the same place we started- it can mean many things, with the only constant being that Jesus existed…and there are many who will refute that.

Generally, the phrase “believe in Jesus” is understood to not just mean that he existed, but that the person who “believes” has converted to Christianity. This is not true, though, because of the other ways we can believe in Jesus. I believe in Jesus: I believe he is the Messiah God promised to send and yet I have not converted to anything and I vehemently deny being a Christian- I am a Jew. In fact, I am more “Jewish” now than when I was before, living as a non-practicing Reform Jew. Yet, whenever I meet another Jewish person who is not “Messianic”, they call me a Christian. And they aren’t nice about it.

It is because of this misunderstanding of the phrase that I do not use it. I will say I accept Jesus (I always say Yeshua, but to keep it constant in this posting I will use the name “Jesus”) as my Messiah, the one God promised in the Tanakh to send to the Jewish people.

Going forward, I recommend that we stop saying we “believe in Jesus” simply because it sends the wrong message, especially to Jews. We should say instead that we accept Jesus as the Messiah God promised to send. And, if you are talking to a Jewish person, NEVER use the name “Jesus” but instead use “Yeshua”. And also make sure you say “Yeshua, the Messiah God promised to the Jewish people”- the only way you can make any progress with a Jewish person when talking about Jesus is to make sure you maintain the “Jewishness” of Yeshua the Messiah.

I believe that when we begin to concentrate more on who we are talking to instead of just repeating what we have always been taught to say, as Shaul (Paul) did in all his letters to the Messianic congregations he began, then we can begin to break down the wall of preconceived ideas that have formed over centuries as a result of misunderstanding, prejudice, and fear.

We need to address the Good News to people in a way they will be open to hearing it. We should rethink what Shaul meant in Romans 1:16 when he said the Gospel is to the Jew first, then the Gentile: maybe what he really meant wasn’t so much a chronological order of presentation, but that if the Gospel being spread isn’t acceptable to a Jew, it isn’t any good for a Gentile, either.

Remember this the next time God presents to you an opportunity to spread the Good News.

 

 

fear abounds where faith is not found

Has a nice, catchy “ring” to it, doesn’t it?

Fear abounds, where faith is not found…..I would expect to see that on a marquee outside a synagogue or a church.

But what is the “fear” I am talking about? Is it fear of loss? Fear of death? Fear of going hungry? Fear of being unpopular? Fear of success? Fear of failure?

Yes. It is all those fears, and (just about) every other fear you can think of. And the cornerstone of fear is the lack of faith. Of all the things to be afraid of, I think the only thing that faith will not help with is fear of pain. No matter how faithful or spiritual you are, if someone kicks you in the groin, it’s going to hurt.

I know people who have been so controlled by fear that their lives have not changed for years. I know one person who has held the same, low-level position in a firm for over 30 years. I know another who refuses to drive; another who will not see a doctor. Another who hasn’t held a steady job, ever.  And when you talk to them, they have their prepared answers rationalizing why they can’t, but it is clear that they are just plain afraid of change and of trying something new.

You all know someone like this, too- it is an epidemic, this fear of something that we can’t even justify being afraid of. They say, “Oh, I could never do that- I’d be too afraid.” It doesn’t really matter why they are afraid, the problem is that it controls them.

I am afraid of many things, but I do not let that control me. Fear of death keeps me from doing things that are foolish, fear of pain keeps me from doing things that might result in my breaking a bone (although I do like physical challenges and often play on the Treetop Trek at the Brevard Zoo), and I am afraid that one day I may go blind or be crippled from arthritis (I already have some). These are normal fears, and although I don’t like the idea of these things happening, the difference is that my faith in God allows me to overcome these fears.

Yes, I may go blind, but I know that God will provide someone to help me. You know, when I think about it, by not seeing people with my eyes I will be better able to see them as God does, without first judging by their appearance (this would actually be a good thing for me because I do judge by appearance); and if I am crippled and cannot do the physical things I love to do, I will have more time to read, write and study- nothing wrong with that.

Fear is healthy when it is used to remind us to be cautious in dangerous situations. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the strength to overcome it, and the best way to gain that strength is to have faith. You need to have faith in God that He can, and will, make all things better and that He has nothing but the best in store for you.

What God wants to do for you may not be what you think is best, but you need to absolutely accept and trust that He knows better than you do what you really need.

I am a little ashamed to say I have very little patience with people who live in fear of everything, who have no ambition to improve themselves or help others, and who always have tsouris (troubles) in their life. Have you ever noticed how people who live in fear always have more things go wrong with them that they can’t get passed? Maybe it’s because fear causes problems and that is why the enemy uses it to control us? If so, then courage is what God gives us when we trust in Him, and those who are faithful may still have troubles but they overcome them. Living in fear is allowing the enemy to use you and control you, which can only separate you from God. But faith and trust that God is in control (which, BTW, is absolutely true) will allow you to overcome the fear.

In 2 Corinthians 12:8-10, Shaul (Paul) tells us of a “thorn in his side”, some weakness or issue that Shaul couldn’t overcome:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.…

This is what faith overcoming weakness and fear is all about: God’s Grace is all we need to know. When we allow the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, to come into us and to rule over us, we then are inside a protective barrier that will reflect the arrows of the enemy, quench the fire of disillusionment, and block the attacks of the world that come against us.

I “googled” fear in the bible and found at least 40 different verses about how we can overcome fear through faith. Here are just a few of them:

Isaiah 35:4:

Joshua 1:9;

Psalm 23:4;

Psalm 94:19;

Romans 8:38-39 (this is a really good one!);

Psalm 27:1 (this one just about says it all)

and there are many more.

Fear is not the enemy, but the enemy uses fear. God is not fearlessness, but courage to overcome fear. Only the foolish have no fear; the brave have courage to overcome fear and do what is right. Righteousness takes strength: strength of character, strength of conviction, and strength of will. These are things that are weak in humans, but strong in the Lord. As Shaul told us (above), we can be strong in our weakness when we allow the Lord to be our strength.

David was a man of great courage, a man of many battles, a fierce warrior and the one who set the standard for how a King should rule. And yet, when you read the Psalms, he was fearful on a regular basis, and he always found his strength and courage in God.

In Psalm 18 David says:

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock,in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies.…

If you feel fearful, are unsure of yourself, and find that what you want and need to do is beyond your ability to try because you are afraid, then trust in God and give up relying on yourself. Let God’s strength and awesomeness be manifested through your weakness, and allow the Lord to be your power.

The Green Lantern recharged his ring from his lantern, and recited the oath:

In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil’s might, beware my power… Green Lantern’s light!

It’s important to note that his power didn’t come from himself, or even from the ring, but from his lantern:  you can be just like a superhero yourself, and you already know where you get the light that is your power:

Psalm 119:105Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

The light that powers us is the Light of the World, Messiah Yeshua (Jesus), and the strength we need to overcome evil comes directly from the Word that is within us, the Ruach HaKodesh.

Don’t be afraid anymore- you are a superhero! You are the lantern of truth, justice and you have divine protection! You are the sidekick of the Almighty, El Elyon, The Lord of lords and the King of kings; you are Robin to God’s Batman, you are Bucky to God’s Captain America, and you can be even more because with God, there are no limits.

Just remember this: when you are feeling inadequate to the job and fearful, don’t trust in yourself but put your trust in God, ask for His favor and walk in faith, because…

If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

The answer is: no one!

WHAT ARE YOU SO AFRAID OF?

What is the greatest fear of all? It’s not really death, or pain, or suffering. The greatest fear of all is the fear of loss.

Everything someone is afraid of comes down to the loss of something: loss of life, loss of financial security, loss of friendship, loss of companionship, loss of job, loss, loss, loss. When I was in sales, I learned you don’t close the deal because someone wants what you offer as much as because they don’t want to lose the opportunity to get it at a good price, or to get it before it’s not available. Building urgency to buy is what we call it, but what it comes down to is fear of loss, the fear of losing the “deal.”

Being afraid isn’t, in and of itself, a bad thing- fear of pain is what makes us cautious and helps to avoid hurting ourselves. Fear of financial loss is what directs our decisions in investing to use discretion. Fear of death is what keeps us from doing those stupid things you see on TV and YouTube.

And fear of the Lord is what makes us courageous enough to overcome the human, fleshly fears that plague us. Fear of the Lord is trusting in God, it is honoring Him by obeying His word, it is the confidence that we receive knowing that He is always faithful to those who are faithful to Him, and that, unlike human promises, God’s promises are so trustworthy and dependable that what He says He will do is already historic fact.

If you tell people you are Born Again but still allow fear to control your life, stop being afraid, already!

Cowardice is something to be ashamed of; fear is natural, and courage is the ability to overcome fear. We are all afraid of something, of losing something, and that is not the problem: that is being human. What we need to do is overcome that fear by trusting in God.

If you are afraid of dying, remember what Shaul (Paul) said in Philippians 1:21:

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

He knew that death only meant coming into the Kingdom and attaining eternal joy and peace. Heck- he was more willing to die than to live.

By listening to the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) we can show bravery and confidence, not so much in ourselves as our confidence in God. In 2 Timothy 1:7 we are told:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

That “sound mind” is what reminds us to listen to the spirit of victory we have . We can feel confident, also, in what we are guaranteed in 1 John 5:4:

…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

Therefore, if you are ruled by your fears, your faith is weak and you do not honor God, or demonstrate the power and the strength God gives us. Shaul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

The bible is rife with expressions of bravery in the face of our human fears, and it all depends on our faith in God.

If you are afraid of what people will think of you (fear of loss of stature) then think about what God will think of you if you do things that are meant to please people and not to please Him. Now that is something to be afraid of! To upset and dishonor the Holy One of Israel; to dishonor the name of God by telling everyone you are Born Again, then showing them the fear and cowardice that they, the unsaved and faithless, have. To allow those who reject God to say, “What difference does it make if I believe or not- you’re no different than I am! I don’t see anything special in you.”

God is special; God is wonderful; God is great, powerful and those who have God in them are able to overcome the world. That which is in me is greater than that which is in the world (look that one up on your own) and when we demonstrate that to the world through our faithful courage and perseverance, we glorify God, Messiah Yeshua and His kingdom.

So, nu? Are you glorifying God or disgracing His name? Yeshua said when we see Him we see the Father- that is because He said what the Father told Him to say, He did what the Father wanted Him to do, and He did it fearlessly. Everything Yeshua did glorified His Father in heaven.

We can’t be the same way Yeshua was, but we can certainly be more like Him than like ourselves. And that is the testimony we show to the world about God.

God told Joshua to be brave and be bold because God was with him- that’s good advice for all of us.

 

Fear is Faithlessness

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world– our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Yeshua is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4)

How many people do you know who live their lives in fear? Now, I’m not talking about running away when they see a spider in the bathroom, or shrieking when a loud noise is made. I’m talking about people who always see the dark side of everything- the party poopers, the Debbie Downers, the ones who will always point out when you plan a picnic that it may rain, and the ants are really a problem there, and there may be poison ivy in the woods.

They always find the down side or the reason not to do something. They won’t travel if there was a plane crash, they won’t plan for a trip too far in advance because something may happen: they always have something bad to look forward to. These people are living in fear- they have no faith, no trust in God that whatever happens, it is for the best, because God is working towards our good.

Bad things happen, all the time, and often bad things happen to good people. But that’s what living in a cursed and fallen world is like.

When you see a beautiful gold bracelet, do you think about how much fire and heat the gold went through, melted and remelted until it was that pure? No, not usually, right? Most of us see the beautiful gold and don’t think about the smelting process it had to go through to become that beautiful.

It’s the same way when we see a godly person- do you really think that saintly person was born that way? We all are sinners- even the Talmud understands and recognizes what the Christian world calls “Original Sin”, only in the Talmud it is called the Yetzer Hara (evil inclination.) This is something that we are all born with, and it’s something we need to overcome. The only way to do that is to face it, to overpower it, and that is what John is talking about, above.

We who are Believers, meaning those who have accepted the Grace of God given through the sacrificial death of Yeshua (Jesus) and who have determined they will do T’Shuvah (turn from sin) are given the power of God to help us overcome ourselves. As Yeshua said of entering the kingdom of God, for men it is impossible but with God, all things are possible.

Part of this is faith- in fact, most of being a Believer is faith. Faith that God exists, that His promises are trustworthy, that Yeshua is the Messiah God promised throughout the Tanakh, and that the world is a really nasty piece of work that we need to live in, but that (once we are “saved”) we no longer really belong to. When we accept God, we reject the world system. When we do what the world system expects of us, we are rejecting God.

It’s that simple. And when we reject the world, the world will work against us. And…here’s the kicker…..the closer we get to God the more Tsouris the enemy will throw at us. We are no threat to “Old Nick” when we do what the world wants, but as we become holier he gets nervous, and tries his best to get us to go back to doing what our nature wants us to do.

Living in fear, always seeing the down side- that serves the enemy of God. That says you do not believe that God is in control, that you don’t trust God to watch out for you, and that you are more concerned about what people can do to you than what God can do for you.  In other words, when you are afraid, you are being faithless.

That’s the hard truth, and if you know you are the one in the crowd who brings up the downside, who looks for reasons things can go wrong, who expects that things will not work out, you need to get your head out of where it is and back on your shoulders! Stop being a faithless coward and start to show people the true power of God, the true strength that you have from the Ruach HaKodesh that you accepted when you accepted Yeshua, and walk bravely into that furnace right along side Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Their trust in God was absolute, even though they knew God might not save them! In Daniel 3 when good old Nebbie told them that he would throw them into a furnace if they didn’t bow down to the gold statue he made (i.e., conform to the world system) they answered:

“If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”

They faithfully expected God to save them, and knew that He could, yet they also recognized that He might not. That isn’t faithlessness- that is an absolute declaration of the faith and trust that God knows what is best and will do what is best to further His plans. We may have to die in the furnace, but it will eventually serve God, and that is our purpose on Earth- to serve God.

Faith is more than shouting how much you love the Lord at services, or telling others what they should do so they can be saved. It is living your life without fear, of anything, at all times. I am not saying to be stupid- you don’t stick your hand in the fire and hope God will not let you get burned. But, when you go through life, you stop being a stick in the mud and start to be positive, to look forward to things, to be upbeat and joyful.

I wrote a drash called SWISHSo What, I‘m Saved, Hallelujah! We need to remember that, every moment of every day. I’m not so good at it, either, and I have to learn to do what I preach. I believe that what I preach is justified and confirmed by God’s word (and PLEASE- if you ever think I am wrong PLEASE let me know. I never want my feelings to override what God says) so I preach it faithfully and with confidence. But because I preach His word doesn’t mean I am any better at living it than you are: I still get upset, I still get angry, I still use words that I shouldn’t even know, but I am becoming more holy, despite myself, because I do read and try to live in accordance to His word.

That is what being faithful is about- being brave enough to grow holier in a world that wants you to be more sinful. And not being afraid shows others that there is a better way to live, without fear, without worry, and full of hope. That’s what “walking the walk” is all about.

Don’t let fear overrule your faith. Henry Ford is known to have said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” Walk faithfully, believe you can, if for no other reason believe you can because you know that God can! Remember that with God all things are possible!

Don’t be afraid- you don’t need to be, you don’t have to be, and in truth, you shouldn’t be. If you know the Lord, you have nothing to fear from anyone or anything. And if you don’t know the Lord, maybe you should stop being afraid of what you might lose by accepting Him as your King and Saviour, and think about all you have now without God: fear, no hope, no future, nobody you can really trust to have your back, and no chance of overcoming anything.

Without the Lord we have no hope for anything to ever really work out well, and with the Lord we have the secure knowledge that we will have eternal peace, eternal joy and the greatest, most powerful entity in the Universe on our side.

I can’t believe people still haven’t figured that out!

 

Without Faith There is Only Fear

Scientists who claim that all life was formed by an accident, some coincidence of a random mixing of elements and environment, believe they are right. And, as we have accidentally became more physiologically advanced, we have also been told there is no guidance to the Universe, only the random interactions of different events. Now, as a result of believing that our entire existence is random and accidental, despite being at our highest level of intellectual power, we treat the theory of evolution as a fact, we worship not the God who created us but the science He created, and we wonder why there is so much fear ,discomfort, depression, anxiety, feelings of uselessness and lack of hope in the world.

How can we be so smart, and so stupid, at the same time?

There is a simple, obvious and understandable reason for the fear so many people feel, along with the insatiable need to be in control: it’s because we, as a species, need to know there is someone in charge who can manage this thing we call “life” better than we can, and we are told that He doesn’t exist.

Growing up as children, we tested the limits of our acceptable behavior and the limits of our bodies. We intrinsically trusted our parents to watch over us and keep us from going too far. As a baby we would fall right off our father’s shoulders, and never think for a second about harming ourselves because there was no doubt he would catch us. That’s what is missing in the world today- no one trusts God to catch them. In fact, too many people don’t even think God is in charge, or even that He exists.

And way too many people just don’t care.

It comes down to this: if there is no control in the Universe, if God is not the designer, creator, ultimately in control and able to save us whatever happens, then all we have left is ourselves to fight the world. Alone, empty-handed, and incompetent. No wonder people all so scared they soil themselves. Or smoke, or drink to excess, or do drugs, and practice any and all forms of hedonism.

If you don’t know the Lord and you want to, He is waiting for you. God wants to forgive you but you have to want it, too. You have to be willing to stop trying to control the world around you and let God take control of you. Fight the world from inside out, not the other way around, and that means you need armor and guidance. Our perfect coach is the Comforter, the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) that you will receive when you truly ask for it and are willing to accept it. And once you have this, you will be able to use the armor against the world that God provides for you (the inventory list is in Ephesians 6:10.)

President Roosevelt (Franklin, not Teddy) said that only thing we need to fear is fear, itself. That is one way of looking at it, and it makes sense in a world without God. But in my world, God is the one I look to for protection and guidance and salvation, and He is more powerful than anything, so I am not afraid of “fear” because He gives me a spirit of victory.

We all know someone (probably a lot of someones) who are ruled by fear- fear of loss, fear of the world, fear of  terrorism, fear of the weather, fear of the stock market, fear of change…they run their lives not by going forth boldly in trust and faithfulness, but by tip-toeing around every little thing that happens. And running scared whenever they hear a noise.

Fear of harming ourselves is instinctive, and it can be a healthy constraint that shows respect for the one who made us and gave us life, which is too precious to throw away foolishly.  However, fear should be used constructively, it should help us maintain a healthy lifestyle and we must control it. We should not let it control us.

God is in charge: He will make sure that you don’t have to deal with anything that you cannot handle, and even if you fall, He is there to catch you and help you get back on track. I always believed that failing is necessary to succeed, and if someone has never failed or never fallen on their face, then they have never tried to be better.

When we have accepted God’s grace, know His Messiah, and am empowered by the Ruach living inside of us, we can face the world confidently knowing that the one who formed it is on our side.

Hey, it’s easy to win when you are on the side of the one who makes the rules.

Living in Fear

How many people do you know that always think the worst that can happen? When they hear about a plane crash they say, “I don’t know if I want to fly anymore.” Or when they get a call late at night, the first thing they say is, “Oh no! Someone must have died!” (The first thing I say when I get a call late at night is, “Someone better had died!”)

Maybe it’s more subtle, maybe it’s something as seemingly innocuous as not driving a car, or refusing to travel, or even something as silly as never ordering anything different at a restaurant. Sometimes this is personal preference, and sometimes it’s just doing what one wants. If someone is brave enough to go their own way, and eat only what they like, that’s fine. But if their resasoning is that they are afraid they won’t like something, or that something bad might happen, then they are living in fear.

Fear is a very strong emotion, and it is like fire; it can be a friend or a foe. Oh, yes- there are things to be afraid of, and someone without fear is a fool. Fear is what keeps us aware, fear is what protects us from running foolishly into trouble or personal harm. Fear can be a lifesaver, or a life-ruiner. It all depends on who is on control: are we controlling our fears or are our fears controlling us?

There is one verse from the B’rit Chadashah (Good News) that I try to remember and tell people I know who profess to believe in God and worship Him: It’s 2 Timothy 1:7, where Shaul reminds Timothy that, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline.” Within the context of the letter, Shaul (Paul) is empowering Timothy, a young Disciple and someone struggling to preach the word. Paul is in jail and stating how he has been abandoned by friends. This letter is to encourage and strengthen Timothy to continue preaching with confidence and zeal, despite the suffering that Paul is going through.

The Bible is rife with statements and encouragements by God to those who have faith:

Psalm 23:4; Psalm 27:1; Psalm 118:6; Deuteronomy 31:6; Psalm 56:3-4; Isaiah 41:13; and on and on and on…

Fear that controls us, that keeps us from trying new things, that runs our life…this is not fear of the Lord, it is faithlessness. Yes- that’s exactly what it is. If you are a person who says you worship the Lord, then you are not to be afraid. The angels that went to Gideon and Joshua began by telling them not to be afraid. Why? Because they were afraid, because they did not trust. God sent His angels to be a physical sign to them that God is with them. After which they acted faithfully, took hold of that encouragement and fearlessly ran with it. Look what they did with it!

We all have fear in us. Abraham was as faithful as anyone ever was, yet he had fear- he “pimped” his wife two times out of fear! And when Moshe first saw the burning bush he was told not to be afraid to go to Pharaoh. Moses took a little more convincing than Abraham, but once he devoted himself to doing God’s will, even the failure to free the people after 9 plagues did not dissuade Moses from facing a Pharaoh that said he would kill him and a people that wanted to stone him. And in the desert, did the people not revolt? Did they not want to stone him and Aaron (at least) a few times? Did not Pharaoh’s army pursue them? All this time Moses grew stronger in faith, and fear left him. By the time they reach the land, Moses was unshakable.

I work with someone who assigns the incoming calls to the system engineers (if she is reading this do not be disheartened- please take hold of what I am saying and be strong, for yourself. I only want you to be happy and faith is the path to joy.) Each time she calls me to say someone is on the phone for me, she whines my name and sounds apologetic. I have told her, over and over, there is nothing to be afraid of. She is constantly afraid that she will “bother” me because she knows how busy I am. Well, DUH!! Of course I’m busy- it’s a help desk, there are barely enough techies to handle the calls and I am always busy. I tell her to just let me know if someone is calling for me, and I will let her know if she can send them through or to please take a message.  Yet, despite my constantly telling her it’s OK, and just say, “Steven: so-and-so is on the phone, do you want to take it?” Instead I constantly get, “Steeeeve? I’m sorry to bother you, I know how busy you are, but so-and-so is calling. They are asking for you and I know you’re busy and I don’t know if you want to take this or not? Do you want to take it?”

This is what I mean about living in fear. Despite the many times I have told this person that it is OK to just tell me who is on the phone, she refuses to accept that she can approach me openly. She thinks she is being courteous, but the truth is she is afraid of upsetting me, or getting yelled at, or upsetting the caller, and it is all founded in her overriding fear of being rejected. Of not being “liked.”  If only she showed faithfulness. She says she is a Believer, but yet, she is ruled by her fears and not by the spirit of victory that we all have in God .

Yes, even something as small and seemingly insignificant as transferring a phone call can indicate if one is living in fear or not.

Here is Zechariah 4:6, “Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”  We mere humans have little to nothing with which to accomplish great things, but God has everything that ever was and is, and whatever He needs he can create with a thought. It’s true! When He is with us, who can stand against us? Shaul tells us this in Romans 8:31, the basis for which is found in Isaiah 41. Whether we are battling the demons of the Enemy, or just asking someone to do something for us, we need to be firm and faithful.

How do you get this faith? It’s actually quite simple: do what God says you should do. Follow His commandments and He will bless you here on Earth. He promises that throughout the Torah, throughout the books of the Prophets and Yeshua confirms all this in His teachings, as well.

God has provided all you will ever need, and if you are afraid, remember who is on your side. If you are ashamed of God, Yeshua says that He will be ashamed of you (Mark 8:38) so stand firm and be faithful.

Being afraid of everything is not humility: humility takes strength and faithfulness (search “humility” on this page to read more.)  Being afraid does not serve God; it serves the Enemy of God. Being ruled by fear is when your actions are based not on, “How will this reflect on God?” but on, “What will happen to me and what will people think of me?”

It’s not about you, it’s not about me, it is all about God. Be faithful, trust in God, and he will justify your trust. Live in fear and the Enemy will eat you alive (Matthew 10:28.)

When you stop living in fear you can be truly free. When you reach out to grab hold of God you have to let go of your fear, first. So let it go, reach for God, and His hand will grab yours.

Fear of the world (being afraid of everything) will enslave you, slowly kill you and destroy your soul, whereas fear of the Lord (meaning faithful and obedient) will give you courage, strength and freedom.

You choose.