Southaven, Ms

By: Mike Upchurch

What do you fear? In today’s culture there are many people with phobias.  Some have been clinically diagnosed, while some fears are merely a product of people’s environments.  There are those with fears related to worry, the fears that keep them awake at night. They fear the future and what might happen. I suppose we all fear something to one degree or another.

7 time NASCAR Champion Dale Earnhardt Sr, defined by many as fearless, was once asked by Darrell Waltrip what he feared.  He responded “Disappointing Theresa” who was his wife.  So I guess he had no real fear, at least pertaining to racing anyway. But there are people with genuine fears that hold them prisoner.  

For example, I’m convinced dogs were created to give us pleasure and bring us happiness, showing us unconditional love. But there are those who are terrified of dogs. When I was around 8 years old, I was chased by a rather large and angrily barking dog one morning while walking to school in Rolla, Missouri. It didn’t help that the movie Old Yeller had come out the year or two before and I’m probably thinking “oh great, a dog who is mad with rabies”. He was eventually stopped by a neighbor with a stick who stepped in his path. It did scare me at the time, but it didn’t instill a fear of dogs in me, I guess because we always had dogs as I was growing up.

  But there are some who’ve had similar experiences who are very afraid of dogs. There are people who are terrified of water, snakes, heights, the dark, or flying in aircraft.  I once heard of an elderly mother’s response to her son’s query as to why she wouldn’t fly out to the West Coast to visit him. He stated “Mom, if it’s your time to go, there’s nothing you can do about it.” To which she replied “I’m not worried about it being my time to go, I’m worried about it being the Pilot’s time to go!”  A little humor there (yes, I know, very little). But still, there are some people who are experiencing real fears that are deeply grounded. 

But what is fear as far as Christianity is concerned?  Simply put, it’s a lack of faith. If you don’t trust God to deliver you from whatever you fear, then your faith isn’t strong enough in that area. No condemnation intended, just an observation. Your faith must overcome your fear in order for you to trust God. 

The phrase “fear not” is mentioned over 70 times in the Bible. As a matter of fact the ONLY thing we’re told to fear is God…..

“But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, He’s the one to fear.”‭‭Luke‬ ‭12:5

‬And there are those who do fear the devil and his demons, but if that’s you, please remind yourself that NO created being (satan) can EVER defeat his Creator (God)!  As the apostle John said…..“greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”‭‭ (1 John‬ ‭4:4)

I realize I can’t undo your fears with just one column, but I do want you to pause and reflect on whatever fear you have that is holding you prisoner in your mind. And I want you to ask yourself this question…..

Is there any scenario I can think of where God wouldn’t protect me or deliver me if I asked Him to?

If you answered yes, then that’s really the crux of the matter. You may have fear because you feel as though God won’t deliver you or protect you. If that describes you, then you must learn to accept the unconditional love the Lord has for you!  You must face your fear, and through prayer and study of the word, you must learn the promises of God concerning His protection. You need to arrive at that place where you have overcome your fear with faith in your God to protect you. Remind yourself that without faith you cannot please the Father…..

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:6

It’s a very real dilemma to be in fear. I know rock solid Christians who have genuine fear. Sometimes they reveal it in normal conversation. They might fear losing their job. They may fear getting sick. They may fear for their children. Perhaps they fear violence could take their life.

We recently had an active shooter in our local Walmart. As it turned out he had been fired and had two targets in mind, the Manager and Assistant Manager, and he fatally shot both. So so sad, and we lift up the affected families and the employees. But there are those who’re now expressing fear on Social Media of publicly shopping because of that incident and others. 

But if you’re honestly trusting the Lord, you should know He can protect you. It’s called TRUST!  You might say “Pastor Mike, maybe those men trusted God, and He didn’t protect them!”  I can’t profess to know that, or why our Sovereign God operates as He does at times, but I won’t question His judgement either concerning that day. I do know that we are free will agents, and the choices we make affect others. And the shooter’s choices affected those men and many others that day.  He also set a fire in the store ruining thousands of dollars worth of merchandise.  People make reckless decisions every day that affect others. Drunks getting behind the wheel of a car, drivers not paying attention on the road, shoppers leaving children and pets in cars, people with out of control road rage; the list of bad choices and the tragic outcomes are endless, but we mustn’t live in fear!  I won’t for one minute change my trust in Him. My life, at ALL times, is in His hands, regardless!  

Consider the thief on the cross the day Jesus was crucified. He had made bad choices which were going to affect him forever. He had been sentenced to death. There was not only earthly punishment awaiting him, but eternal punishment as well. But in one instant he was delivered from eternal punishment by Jesus who told him “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” 

No, he wasn’t delivered from death that day and brought down from the cross, but he was delivered from eternal torment. His sins were forgiven and he is to this day with Jesus in Heaven. That deliverance is worth far more than being allowed to live longer on earth, and perhaps be given the opportunity to steal again, thus resulting in more punishment. He was delivered in the way Jesus chose, and it was a far greater deliverance than the thief was expecting. 

The concrete truth is God WILL be there for you if you will trust Him.  He CAN provide for you and He CAN deliver you!  Remember these biblical promises as you ponder your own fear…..

The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.”‭‭Exodus‬ ‭14:14

“Do not fear them, for the LORD your God is the one fighting for you.’”‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭3:22

“For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’”‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭20:4

“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. Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored; those who contend with you will be as nothing and will perish. You will seek those who quarrel with you, but will not find them, those who war with you will be as nothing and non-existent. For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’”‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭41:10-13

“The righteous cry, and the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.”‭‭Psalms‬ ‭34:17-19

And my favorite verses concerning His protection are found in the 91st Psalm…..

“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.”‭‭Psalms‬ ‭91:2-7‬ ‭NLT‬

Memorize those verses in that Psalm!  Write them down and tape them to your bathroom mirror. Do whatever it takes to get you to that place where you believe them for YOU!  Whatever your fear, let faith rise up inside you, in your spirit man, and overcome your fear with faith! Faith in God!  Be fearless and be MORE than a conqueror, because your God is your deliverer and He is on your side!  Always!

And that’s the way I see it!

Pastor Mike