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Faith Toward God (27)

Over the last two broadcasts, we have been looking at the subject of fear; the fourth of four cardinal faith killers; the others being, having alternatives to God, unbelief, and doubt. And in our last broadcast, we noted that the Lords rebuke of His disciplesWhy are ye so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?for exhibiting fear over a storm at sea, while He was right in the boat with them, revealed His concern over His disciples fearfulness and lack of faith in Him and His word. Looking at Psalm 118:6, which states, The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? we noted that, 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 surely be fearful, and unable to exercise faith in God! Basically, when a person is not sure if he is protected by superior force, he will be fearful of any opposition, but when that individual is fully aware that his superior protection is in place, he will walk with a swagger, anywhere he goes. Hence, some people are most confident when they are carrying a gun on them; some others are most confident when they have an armed bodyguard by their side; and yet some others who believe in esoteric means of protection, are most confident when they have their potion or charm on their person. In the absence of the things which people put their confidence in, they become worried, fretful, anxious, timid, or, are in trepidationall manifestations of fear. For the believer in Christ, however, his confidence comes from knowing that God is with him wherever he goes. When therefore we find a believer in Christ who is fearful, which is manifested as worry, fretting, anxiety, timidity, or, trepidation, we can safely say that he is either ignorant or unsure of the promise of God to be ever present with him. In Isaiah 45:1-7, we read one of Gods promises in part, 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 Over the ages, we have seen people who trusted in Gods promises, and for whom His word have proven true: people like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego whom Nebuchadnezzars fiery furnace did not consume; and Daniel, whom lions did not devour when he was thrown into the den of lions all night long. We are also aware of the Psalmists confident expressionYea, 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.

In spite of these scriptural faith boosters, we sadly find many Christians today who are so full of fear, that it is amazing that they can still be called Christians; for a Christian is someone who is bold and is unfazed in the face of adversity! So, the question is, Why are so many Christians fearful? Or, as the Lord Jesus asked His disciples in Mark 4:40, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith? We shall in this broadcast begin to proffer answers to this all-important question.

In Matthew 16:23-26, the Lord Jesus made a crucial statement. After telling His disciples that He must suffer many things at the hands of the religious leaders and the Gentile rulers of His day, Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him for speaking such negativity when they (the disciples), had just come to recognize Him as the Son of the living God, and the much awaited Messiah. The Lords response to Peter was swift: Matthew 16:23: Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. And to the other disciples, in v.24-26, the Lord said, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? When we put together, the statement the Lord made to Peter, with the statement He made to the other disciples, we will begin to see some of the reasons why so many Christians today are full of fear; are always in trepidation; are constantly in a state of panic over lifes challenges; are timid or cowardly; have no trust in God; have no confidence in God; and are without faith toward God! In Jesus statements to Peter and His other disciples, we see the root-cause of fearfulness and its manifestations:
1. A lack of interest in doing the Will of God. When the Lord spoke to Peter about him not savouring the things that be of God, He was basically telling Peter that his interests were completely at variance with the things that God is interested in. For the Lord, the suffering He was speaking about, was Gods will, and the very reason why He came down to the earth. The Lords impending suffering and death, was of primary interest to the Lord than the preservation of His life; hence, the statement He made to the other disciples that if they intended to live in a manner that will make them preserve their lives in this world, by avoiding the pain and suffering which comes with doing the Will of God, they will ultimately lose their lives in eternity; but if they are prepared to lose their livesforgo their own comfort, personal ambition, and concern for their safetyin doing the Will of God, then, they will ultimately preserve their souls in eternity. The word savour as used by the Lord Jesus when He addressed Peter in Matthew 16:23, speaks of affection towards something, setting ones mind on something, or being interested in something. In other words, what the Lord told Peter was something like, Peter, your affection, your concern, your thoughts, your interest, your pre-occupation, is not of, or on the things that are of concern or interest to God; instead, your affection, your concern, your thoughts, your interest, your pre-occupation, are on the things which are of concern or interest to men. In Matthew 6:31-33, the Lord Jesus said, Therefore take no thought [dont be overly concerned, or, dont be anxious, or, dont be worried, or, dont fret], saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek [the word Gentiles describes people whose God is not the Almighty God; people who do not believe in the salvation of God through Jesus Christ; people we would call unbelievers, today]:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God [that is, make the kingdom of God or the things of God your priority], and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Friend, when you are anxious or too concerned about what you will eat, drink, and wear, or even where you will live, so that doing Gods Will takes a back seat, you will do anything and everything that is contrary to the word of God to gain those things. When we seek after things that are of concern to people who have no relationship with God, we make ourselves partakers with them in their concerns. So, in a bid to get what to eat, what to wear, where to live, etc., people who dont know God get themselves involved in all manner of sinful acts which are detestable to God. How sad if a Christian is also involved in such sinful acts! The bible says in 1 Timothy 6:6-11, godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. The expression, love of money, means making money your affection, setting your heart on money, or being pre-occupied with having money; or, simply, covetousness, greed, or avarice; and when you chase after the things that Gentiles chase after, including money, you are inevitably going to err or stray or depart from the faith. If Peter had been mindful of the things of God rather than the things of men, he would have been of the same mind as the Lord Jesus Christ, and would not have strayed away from his faith in the Lord. The Lords mind was to do the will of God, even though it would be painful to the flesh; even though it would involve suffering; even though it would result in His death! Peters mind and theology was at variance from the Lords; no wonder, the Lord used the expression, Get thee behind me, Satan when speaking to Peter. Peter could never have imagined the Lord suffering, not to talk of dying, because his theology was one of pleasures and living for as long as possible on the earth. Peter may have believed, albeit, erroneously, that the Lord was bringing the salvation of God on a platter; not by means of the cross, hence, his concern that the Lord was saying things that would bring fear and discouragement into the hearts of the disciples, but it was he who was fearful because of the thought of the suffering and loss of life of the Lord. Many Christians today are concerned with the same things that Peter at this stage of his life was concerned with, and the things that people who dont know and believe God, are generally concerned aboutthings like enjoying this life to the fullest; having lots of money to spend on whatever pleases them; staying alive on earth for as long as possible; and so onhence, their focus or pre-occupation is on what unbelievers are focused on or pre-occupied withwhat to wear, what to eat, where to live, how to live long on earth, making lots of money for themselves, etc. Beloved, until a believer in Christ becomes pre-occupied with what is uppermost in the mind of God, it will be difficult, if not impossible for that believer to trust God in any situation, particularly, when that situation could mean death. The bible tells us in Philippians 2:5-8, Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Brethren, our Lord Whom we are called to emulate, was so concerned, and so interested in doing the Will of His Father, so much so, that even the death on the cross could not override it. The bible once recorded how strong the Lords desire to do the Will of His Father was, that when food was brought to Him, He did not eat. If your desire to do the Will of God is not so strong as to override and eliminate the fear of death, or any other fear or desire, for that matter, you will not be able to trust God absolutely! Christians need to be Christ-like; not just church-goers; they need to have the mind of Christ, which is a mind to always do the Will of Godwhatever that Will is; whatever may happen while doing the Will of God! Until a Christian has the mind of Christ, which submits to the command of God, regardless of what doing that command may entail, fear in its various manifestations, will continue to dominate him and he will not be able to exhibit faith toward God. The average Christian today is so overly concerned with himself, it is obvious that the things of God do not concern him. When many Christians gather in church today, they do so with their needs list which has little or nothing to do with Gods Will. When many Christians fast or go for night vigils, it is not because they are interested in seeing souls come into the kingdom of God, rather, it is so that they can get a good job, win a contract bid, obtain one favour or the other, so that what they want for their personal advantage can be theirs. And because the affections of many Christians are not set on the things that are pleasing to God, the fear of things other than the reverential fear of God persists. Little wonder most of the people who throng into churches today are full of fearthe fear of witches, the fear of poverty, the fear of men, and the like. They do not to seek the things that are pleasing to God, but the things that are pleasing to menthe things that excite the flesh! In Colossians 3:1-3, the bible says, If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. Friend, what can you do to a man who is dead? Nothing! You cannot kill someone who is already dead! If indeed, you are born again, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you are dead, and so your sight should be on heavenly things, rather than on earthly things. Your desire should be to do the will of God. Setting your sights on earthly things is to have greater regard for earthly things than have reverence for God which results in fear and a lack of faith. Brethren let us no longer be fearful; rather, let us be full of faith toward God, being ready to do His Will, and to please Him!

Let us pray!