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Faith Toward God (26)

In our last broadcast, we began to look at the last of the four cardinal or principal faith killers; Fear. We noted that the word fear can mean reverence or respect, and it can also mean fright, dread, or terror; and that fear is an emotion which numbs a persons focus on God and His word; and when allowed to fester, fear erodes and destroys ones trust in God. We noted that, when we have a healthy fear of God, which is, reverential fear or reverence for God, as is the case in true worship of God, the end result is a boost of our faith toward God. However, when the object or subject of fear is anything other than God, the resulting fear is a faith killer! We noted though, that in some instances, when God is the object or subject of an individuals fear, yet such a person is driven away from God, it can only be because there is a misconstruing of the extent of Gods love and forgiveness of man in general. It is therefore imperative that every individual who comes to God for forgiveness of sins, understand fully that in so far as his repentance was genuinely from his heart, Gods forgiveness covers every sin, no matter how horrible, no matter how terrible, no matter how unforgiving by man! Be that as it may, it is important that we bear in mind that having been forgiven of our past sins, we should no longer live anymore deliberately in sin. But if having received the forgiveness of God, you unknowingly or unwittingly or accidentally sin, the grace of God is available for you to be washed and cleansed in the blood of Jesus Christ. But if having been forgiven, you deliberately or wilfully or premeditatedly sin, there can only be a fearful expectation of the judgment of God (Please read Hebrews 10:26-31 on this matter of wilful sin)! But when after you have been forgiven, you keep or obey Gods word, the love of God is perfected in you, and there can be no room for fear or terror or dread of God or Gods judgment of eternal damnation; rather, what will obtain, is the reverential fear of God which can only lead you to worship God in spirit and in truth! See therefore, that you do not allow yourself to be misled into believing that the grace of God permits you to continually, and knowingly sin against God. If you have been thus misled, I plead with you to turn away from that form of doctrine, and turn to God in true repentance!

As for those whose fear is of anyone or anything except God, be it respect, reverence, fright, terror, or dread; their fear is a faith killer! Such fears include: the fear of men, the fear of failure, the fear of success and the resultant challenges, the fear of ones own inabilities, the fear of recurring unpleasant events, the fear of an enemy, the fear of death, the fear of punishment, the fear of poverty, and, the fear of the unknown, to mention but a few of the fears which hound men. The fear of anyone or anything except God, hinders peoples ability to express faith toward God; instead, you find them holding on to their lives, holding on to men, holding on to problem-solving methods, holding on to the things that make them feel safe (which is not God), etc. We saw in our last broadcast, how the Lord Jesus, in Matthew 10:16-33, warns us severally, not to be afraid of men or anything for that matter. As an antidote to fear of things other than God, the Lord proffered that we have the reverential fear of God! And we learnt from David in Psalm 56:3-4, that, What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me. Whatever our fears, we must turn to God in faith! Whenever, fear comes upon you, always remember that God is your God and that in Him there is nothing to be afraid ofall that is in our heavenly Father, the Almighty God, is His love, His forgiveness, His mercy, His compassion, His care, His lovingkindness, and so on; for, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8).

We shall press forward on this subject of fear as a faith killer in this broadcast, as we consider an instance in which the disciples of Jesus exhibited fear, the Lords chastening of them, and lessons that we can learn from this. In Mark 4:35-41, the bible tells us of how the Lord Jesus had told His disciples that they should cross over to the other side of the sea, and when they were in the midst of the sea, there arose a storm. So intense was the storm that the boat fast filled up with water from the sea. In fright, the disciples went to wake up the Lord (Who was strangely, fast asleep in the same boat), saying, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And the Lord arose from sleep, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm! And then, the Lord turned to His disciples and said to them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith? The Lord was cross with the disciples, because, in spite of the fact that He was with them in the boat, they were fearful. Another way of rendering the word fearful is, full of fear. Brethren if a person is full of something, then he is empty of any other thing. Hence, if a bottle is full of wine, it means that there is no space for any other thing to be added into the bottle. In the same way, if a person is full of fear, it means that there is no faith in him! Hence, the Lords statement: Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?

Now, if you compare this incident in Mark 4:35-41, with the incident in Matthew 14:22-32, when the disciples were all alone in the boat at sea, the Lords chastening was directed at Peters doubt, rather than his fear. Indeed, when He came walking on the sea toward them, and they were afraid, He told them, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. This is the point we are trying to make: in Psalm 118:6, the bible says, The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? If the Lord was with them, as He indeed was in the boat in Mark 4:35-41, and they were afraid, then it proved their lack of faith in Him! If you are not sure that God is on your side; if you are not sure that God is for you; if you are not sure that God is with you; then, you will be fearful, or be in dread or in terror. And if indeed you are not sure that God is on your side, that God is for you, and that God is with you, then it follows that you have no faith in God, but are full of fear! Fear in a believer in Christ, is the result of that believers ignorance of the presence of God, or his uncertainty of Gods presence, or his uncertainty of Gods promise to be with him through thick and thin. Friend, do not permit fear into your life, and in your walk with God. Let me read a passage of scripture to you.
Isaiah 43:1-7: But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. This word of God held true for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel Chapter 3, when King Nebuchadnezzar threw these three men into a furnace of fire, because they refused to worship the golden image which he had made. The bible tells us that the people who threw these three men who put their trust in God, into the fire, were consumed by the fire, but the fire did not burn Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednegoindeed, what the flames of the fiery furnace did, was to burn off the rope that was used in binding the three men; but their bodies or clothes, the flames did not torch. These three men were so confident in Gods deliverance that they said to King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 3:16-18, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Indeed, the bible records that King Nebuchadnezzar remarked that he saw a fourth man in the furnace. This fourth man was God with them in the furnace!

There was also the case of Daniel in the lions den recorded in the Book of Daniel Chapter 6. We know the story well enough to be able to recount that God did not permit the lions to harm Daniel when he was thrown into the den of lions in punishment for praying to God, after the king of the Medo-persians had made an irreversible decree that anyone who prayed to any god except the king would be fed to the lions. Daniel did not fear the kings decree, but feared God, and refused to cease from his usual prayers. In fact, the bible says that even though Daniel was aware of the kings decree, he still went ahead to pray to God! Gods presence was available for Daniel in the lions den, and he was not harmed by the lions! But those men who were trying to get rid of Daniel because he refused to permit their corruption to influence him, nor to bring ruin to the kingdoms economy, when thrown into the lions den, were all eaten up by the lions!

Brethren, Gods word held true for Daniel; and it continues to hold true, even today. So, why are so many Christians fearful? Why are so many Christians today full of fear? How have Christians come to have no faith? Christians now acquiesce to the commands of menpoliticians, esoteric parents, false prophets, wicked and evil men, and so on. Where is the boldness that was ascribed to Christianity? I tell you the truth, there is timidity and cowardice among Christians today, because of fearmany want to save their skins! Many Christians are so afraid of death, that anything that will threaten their existence on earth is enough to make them bow to everything that is brought before them. Most Christians today, dont need any persuasion to bow to idols, and to the whims and caprices of menthey are full of fear, and have no faith!

In our next broadcast, we shall look at some reasons why so many Christians are full of fear even though God has promised His presence in their lives. But at this time, I am reminded of a plaque that made the rounds about two decades ago: it was the dream of a man whom God showed his entire life and his walk with God, captured as footprints on a sandy beach. Let me read the poem as it was written:
One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life, especially at the very lowest and saddest times, there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
"Lord, you said once I decided to follow you, You'd walk with me all the way. But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life, there was only one set of footprints. I don't understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me."
He whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you!
Never, ever! During your trials and testings, when you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."

No wonder the Psalmist could say with boldness in Psalm 23:4, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. What confidence about the presence of God, in the midst of turmoil! This, my brothers and sisters is how we ought to respond to God, when we are confronted by the things that make people fearful!

Let us pray!