The Heart, part 3

(Review for Men’s Ministry Series: The Heart of a Man)

We’ve looked at the reality of a corrupt heart.  We’ve seen that what comes out in speech and action cannot be blamed on circumstances but is the fruit of internal motivations and desires that control our hearts.  Going along with pride, we also must deal with fear.

There are different kinds of fear and many different causes of fear.

There are fears of real physical problems.
And fears of perceived potential problems.

There are fears to control–force certain behaviors.
There are fears to paralyze–prevent certain behaviors.

Fear is often compounded by or created by worry and anxiety.  Both of these deal with mentally bring up “what ifs” and mulling them over often contemplating the worst-case scenario.w8-13.gif

While there are many good definitions of fear, it seems that at the core, fear is a real or perceived sense of loss of control. Many of us have had the experience while driving of hitting a patch of ice.  The fear that springs up over the loss of control is normal/natural–but can be paralyzing.  But it is not normal or natural to fear driving over an overpass in the middle of summer when we read the sign, “Bridge freezes before road surface.”

So what are the things that cause fear?
Fear of failure, judgment, exposure
Fear of conflict
Fear of rejection, betrayal, abandonment, isolation

These tend to lead to self-protective (or at least seemingly) tactics, leading to the two extremes of avoidance and control. Tactics that often cause exactly what we think we are protecting against.

So what is the solution?

First we must ask–what is the opposite of fear?  I think there are two answers to that question: Faith and Courage. Fear is the opposite of faith and the opposite of courage.  There is so much that could be said, but better than what I could say. . .let me let Scripture speak.

There are many Scripture passages that address this issue–here are just a few:

Trust God in whose image we have been created and Who values us dearly   Matthew 10:28-31

Fear paralyzes  Matthew 25:14-30

Trust the One who controls everything   Matthew 8:25-26

Psalm 112:7 He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. (ESV)
Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (ESV)
2 Peter 1:3-4  His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (ESV)
Isaiah 41:10, 13 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
13 For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” (ESV)
1 Peter 5:7-10 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (ESV)
1 Peter 4:12-19 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (ESV)

Perspective on worry and fear

  • Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear. . . .  Worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.  Corrie ten Boom
  • How much have cost us the evils that never happened!   Thomas Jefferson
  • Worry is when you pay the interest on trouble before the bill comes due.     Chuck Swindoll
  • Worry is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but doesn’t get you anywhere.
  • Worry is wasting today’s time to clutter up tomorrow’s opportunities with yesterday’s
    troubles.

Dealing with fear–see Philippians 4:5-9
1.    Pray the right prayers – turn everything over to God
2.    Think the right thoughts – not nice thoughts or “positive thinking” but right thoughts
3.    Do the right things – practice what you focus on

Suggestions from a friend of mine:

Steps to Overcoming Fear (Barry Ferguson)

  1. Be ever aware the hard work of salvation and payment for sin is already done.
  2. Find meaningful verses that apply to your fear.
  3. Pray daily, naming your fears, giving each one over to the Lord.
  4. Ask someone else to pray for you.
  5. When faced with fear, act, don’t shrink, humbly praying for God’s intervention.
  6. Recognize when you have met a fear and passed through it successfully.
  7. Tell someone about your fear and how God enabled you to pass through it.
  8. Faithfully, trust God daily for His provision; know that He is the only thing we need when meeting especially fearful situations.

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