Listening to a recent Sunday morning online service by Pastor Randy Phillips (part of the Christian music group, Phillips, Craig and Dean) of Life Austin Church as our country began the “shelter-in-place” request by our government leaders, the reality and fear of the recent days began to fade away. As Pastor Phillips so aptly described the current situation, the whole globe is “baptized” or completely immersed in undeniable and overwhelming FEAR. What is this fear that has gripped our lives?
As Pastor Phillips began, he reminded that fear in itself is a natural God-given emotion, and is the fight-or-flight mechanism that keeps us from danger. We need this emotion for survival. But there is another type of fear – the “spirit of fear” which takes away our hope, overwhelms and paralyzes us. This “spirit of fear” is NOT from God according to 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Faith and hope are always in contrast to the “spirit of fear." This contrast is like the familiar playground see-saw in that when faith is up, fear is down. When we see ourselves filled with the “spirit of fear”, our faith is down. To overcome the “spirit of fear”, we need to say to ourselves, “I WILL NOT let the “spirit of fear” make me feel hopeless!”
Pastor Phillips drew on a story of Jesus and His disciples in Mark 4:35-40. Jesus was asleep in a boat with His disciples when a fierce storm arose. The panicked and fearful disciples awoke Jesus as He slept and asked Him, “Teacher, don’t you care we’re going to die?” Jesus silenced the wind and calmed the sea, and then said to the men He had personally chosen to carry on His work, “Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith?” Ouch – that is hard to hear, but oh so truthful.
Our country and our world right now are in the middle of the fiercest storm we have ever experienced. The angry winds of panic and the “spirit of fear” are all around us. The waves of doom are trying to overtake the boat of control we so righteously assume we ourselves earned and deserve. With this “spirit of fear” trying to overtake each of us, we begin to question God much like the disciples said to Jesus, “Do you not care?” God DOES care, and knows and loves each of us intimately. He knows we can easily give over to the “spirit of fear”, but He hasn’t given us that “spirit of fear” according to 2 Timothy 1:7 which says, “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control.”
The “spirit of fear” would have us question God and His care for us much like this acronym for F.E.A.R. –Forget Everything And Run. The “spirit of fear” would have us hoard and panic in the middle of this fierce global storm. Instead, as Pastor Phillips shared, let’s exchange worry for worship and live by another acronym for F.E.A.R. – FACE EVERYTHING AND RISE!
We can either worry or we can worship, but we can’t do both. Philippians 4:6-7 says this about worry: “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving (emphasis added), let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Bottom line – don’t worry, but pray with a thankful and grateful heart, and God’s peace will watch over and shield our hearts and minds!
So instead of worry we are to worship, but what does worship look like? Pastor Phillips gave some very practical and Biblical ways we can all worship no matter where we may find ourselves:
- Music – listen to Christian worship music. Hum, whistle, sing along, or even shout out as you listen to the words, and experience fully the opportunity to worship and praise God. If you aren’t sure what to listen to, ask Siri, Alexa, or Goggle to “Play Christian worship music!”
- “In the name of Jesus” – get in the habit of saying “in the name of Jesus” when worry and fear come knocking at our heart and mind. Fear has to bow and give way to the name of Jesus.
- Read God’s Word back to Him – say back as you read, “Lord, this is what YOU said…”
- Set an alarm at 9:10 a.m. each day - read and pray Psalm 91 which begins, “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Read Psalm 91 in its entirety (shown below), claim it, and most importantly, believe it!
- Rely on God’s Power and not on our own - none of us will know that God is all we have until we know and believe that God is all we need. Take time to read back to God Isaiah 40:28-31 claiming His promise in verse 29 which says, "He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.”
Let this global situation we are all in be a spiritual awakening for our families, our communities, our churches, our country, and our world. We are on assignment to show the rest of the world we trust in God. Be God’s light in a very dark time.
“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished. If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”
Psalms 91:1-16 NLT - https://www.bible.com/116/psa.91.1-16.nlt