Fighting Your Fears

(modified from the book "Slaying the Giants in your Life" by David Jeremiah 2001 by David Jeremiah)

Introduction

All of us face fear in different times in our lives. Fear is the feeling or condition of being afraid. It is a distressing emotion caused by potential danger, evil, pain, etc. God has given us the emotion of fear to help us so that we could be wise enough to protect ourselves from the unexpected. Fear provides us with a sudden burst of strength and speed just when we need it. It's a basic survival instinct, a good thing as long as it remains rational.  But our thoughts can become irrational and we end up being trapped by unjustified fears that can handicap us so we can not live a full and complete life that God has intended for us. What are some of the things that make you afraid? To just name a few examples, it could be fear of failure, the dark, heights, changes, loss of loved ones, poverty, of being criticized, sickness and death.

As believers in a good, powerful and loving God who is concerned for His children how is it that we sometimes still have times of fear? Why is it we can not have faith in God so that we are not afraid. The disciples of Jesus as they walked with God in human flesh still were fearful of storms, of crowds, of poverty, of armies, of the loss of their leader. They let fear get the better of them (see Matthew 14:22-33).  In this lesson, I would like to look at the topic of fear and the relationship between fear and faith in the life of Christians. This is the irrational or compulsive fears that ignores logic and God's promises that handicap us.

As you go through this lesson, read the verses in the Bible to help you find the answers. Try reading the verses first in a Bible in your own language (Chinese) and then in an English version and writing down any questions you would like to ask later and   answers to these questions that follow.

Note: The Bible verse references below are linked to an English version of the Bible. If you would like to follow the Bible verse link, it would be good to "right click" on the Bible verse link and choose to open in new window  resized the window so that you can quickly go back and forth from this page to the verses.

Bible  Study of God's Word

Food for thought

Has past failures in your life or in the lives of others ever made you afraid to try to do something? Have these made you afraid to try again?

  1. Example of the effects of fear

Read Deuteronomy 1:19-33 and then consider the following questions.

Background information

About the year 2,000 BC God gave a man named Abraham a promise that he would become the father of a great nation and promised him that this nation would be the land the at the time of Abraham was called Canaan (Genesis 17:1-8). Today it is the country of Israel.

Approximately 600 years have passed and Abraham's descendants (now called Israelites) had just been freed from slaver in the country of Egypt and God had promised them that now He would lead them to the promised land that would finally become their own. God promised that He would help them conquer the land of Canaan.  They are approaching Canaan from the south east and have stopped on the east side of the Jordon river across from Canaan. Now Moses is preparing the people for there advance into the promised land. This is not the first time that the Israelites were preparing to attack and conquer the land. Forty years earlier their fathers were asked to go in and conquer the land but they fail because of fear and lack of faith in God (Numbers 13:17-14:45). Now Moses their leader is reminding the next generation of what happed to their fathers 40 years earlier. What we are reading in these verses is a reminder of how the fear of their fathers 40 years earlier had resulted in suffering and hardship failure because of that generations fear. He is challenging them not to let fear do the same thing in their lives as it did to their fathers. 

Vocabulary Helps

Horeb (v. 19) - is another name for Mount Sinai in the desert were God gave Moses the Ten Commandments.

Amorites (vv. 19) - are one of the treble nations that ruled a part of the promised land that God had promised Israel.

Aakites (v. 28) - are a race of people who where known to be very tall (see also 1 Samuel 17:4-7).

  1. Principles we can learn

 

  1. In Deuteronomy 1:19-21 the people are reminded that before God had giving a clear command and a promise. What was God's plan for them? Why did Israel disobey the first time and not follow God's plan for their lives (Deut. 1:26-29)?

    Answer: God had promise the people that He would give them a gift, the land that would become Israel as their home. Now was the time for them to go and get the gift God had promise ever since the time of Abraham (see background information above). That was God's plan for their lives. God has a plan for all of His children who have put their faith in the Lord Jesus. There is no need for us to fear the future for God keeps His promises if we will trust Him and move ahead as He directs us.

What promises have God giving a Christian, a child of God, to help them with their fears (2 Timothy 1:7; Romans 8:15)? Are you using these promises or has fear caused you to ignore His promises and plans for your life?

Answer: God has given believers His Spirit so that our fear can be replaced with power, love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). He has given you a Spirit of sonship so that we can call out to God as our father in prayer to help us with our fears. He has adopted those who believe in Him as His own children and we have all the rights of  the children of the King. We don't have to face life alone.

What is the first principle about fear and faith that we can learn from these verses?

Principle #1: Our fears can cause us to disregard God's wonderful plan for our lives.

  1. In verse 1:26 we have another result of fear. What is this result?  What does the Bible call this (James 4:17)? What is another principle we can learn from these verses?

    Answer: Another result of fear is that we do not do the good that God wants us to do. Because of fear we disobey God. The Bible calls this sin.

Principle #2:  Fear results in disobeying God

  1. In verses 27-28, what was the result of their fear? How did it effect their attitudes? (see also the original response in Numbers 13:32-33). What is another principle we can learn from these verses?

Answer: We see hear a common example of the results of fear. We start to complain, distrust, blame others and become depressed. We become irrational in our thinking. When you talk to a fearful friend or family member, you find yourself wanting to say, "But that is silly!" For it's easy for us to see the irrationality and absence of perspective of other people who are controlled by fear. The spies brought back a distorted picture. They said "We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them." (Numbers 13:33).

Principle #3: Fear distorts God's purpose for our lives

  1. In verses 27-28 we see something else that fear can do. What is this? What is another principle we can learn from these verses?

    Answer: It can cause others to be discourage as well. Fear can spread. Ten of the twelve spies came back with a "bad report" about the task ahead of them  and those ten infected an entire nation not just for a week but for a generation (Numbers 14:20-23). If you don't think fear is contagious, just try standing in a building and call "Fire!" If you do you will change the moods and plans of a number of people in an instant. You'll also endanger everyone around you.

    Principle #4:  Fear discourages other people

     

  2. What do we learn from verses 29-33 about fear? What is another principle we can learn from these verses?

    Answer: The people of Israel had seen the power of God to liberate them from slavery in Egypt and protected them as He lead them through the desert. Whey then why should the disbelieve God's promise now. God had been testing them but now because of fear they did not pass the test of faith in God. We have our past experiences of God's help but each new situation test us again to trust Him and not be afraid. By remembering God's past faithfulness should give us perspective, but we don't remember the past but our thoughts are frozen in fear because of our present situation.

Principle #5: Fear disbelieves God's Promises

 

  1. How to Deal with the giant of fear in our life

    Confront Your Fears Honestly 

     

    1. What lesson do we learn from Psalm 139:23-24; Philippians 4:6-7and Esther 4:10-16? How would you summarize the first step we need to take to deal with our fear?

      Answer: We should not hide our fears but go to God in prayer as David did in Psalm 139:23-34. Ask Him to reveal what the real problem is that causes you to be fearful or anxious ask Him for His guidance (Philippians 4:6-7). With this information honestly confront your fears and move ahead (Esther 4:10-16).

      Modern illustration: There was a Canadian family  who were convinced a world war was about to break out and they were terrified. They decided to ran away, hoping to find some corner of the earth where they would be free and clear from the fighting. In  the spring of 1992, moved to a quiet little spot known as the Falkland Islands, an obscure piece of British real estate of the coast of Argentina South America. the family relaxed and enjoyed five days of peace and tranquility before the Argentineans invaded their backyard and began the famous Falkland War.  What does this illustrate? There is nowhere to to run and hide from our fears. Better to take a stand and face the truth of the fear. What is it that really concerns you and why? (from the book "Slaying the Giants in your Life" by David Jeremiah 2001 by David Jeremiah pg. 12)

    Confess Your Fear as Sin

  1. What can we learn from Psalm 32:3-5? Summarize what the second step we need to take to deal with our fears?

    Answer: Fear is an emotion and sometime we can not completely control our fear. But often fear is the result of disobeying God or not trusting Him. God tells us not to fear so confess to God this sin of disobedience to Him. It is a choice we make. If we do not confess our sin our fears then our emotions will torment us. It will effect us not only emotional but physically as well. It will prevent us from being able to fulfill what God intends us to do. It disappoint others and effects our relationships with other. By confessing our fears to God as sin we in effect are repenting. That means we are making a conscious act of our will to turn away from our fears not allowing them to control us and to move ahead with God's help to do what our fears have hinder us in the past.  We will know the forgiveness of God and our guilt will no longer hinder us from using God's resources to help us with our fear.

Claim God's Promises of Protection

  1. What does Psalm 34:4 suggest to us as the third step we should take to deal with our fears?

    Try some of these promises in God's word. Do these help you understand the resources you have in God's promise?

    Deuteronomy 31:6

    Psalm 27:1

    Psalm 118:6

    Proverbs 3:25-26

    Proverbs 29:25

    Isaiah 41:10

    Answer: The Bible is full of promises which you can use as resources to encourage you when you are afraid. Try writing some of the  verses in this lesson or any others you may find as you read the Bible down on small cards. Carry them around with you so that you have them available when you need them and to help you memorize these verses. You may want to highlight these verses in your Bible so you can find them easier later.

In our example above about how the message of 10 of the spies cause Israel to become fearful  when asked to go in and claim the promised land. But there were twelve spies that were sent out.  Two other spies who came back with an encouraging message saying that with God we can defeat them. They were Caleb and Joshua (Numbers 13:30; 32:7-12). What was it that made them different than the others? As we study them we will see another step in conquering fear.

Develop a Closer Relationship with God

  1. What can we learn from the example of Caleb and Joshua about the source of their courage and lack of fear (note Numbers 32:12)? See also Joshua 14:6-15. Here is another passage that can be helpful. What additional information can we learn from 1 John 4:18-19? How would you summarize the fourth step in conquering fear?

    Answer: Joshua and Caleb, unlike the other spies had a different report than the others. All of the twelve spies saw the same things but these two used a different criteria or measure stick to evaluate the situation. The other 10 measured the giants or the situation by their own standards or size and they felt like grasshoppers compared to the enemy. Is this not often the way we can view things. We so the problem or danger as bigger than it really is because we are basing our assessment on our own  insecurities making the problem worse.  Joshua and Caleb used a different measure stick. They were not comparing the problem with their own abilities but God's ability. They were seeing the enemy as grasshopper when they compared them with the almighty God who would be with them to give them the victory. Our worries and fears became insignificant when we compare them with our God whom be serve. 

    The question then becomes, how did Caleb and Joshua come to have  such a view of God and the faith that God was active in their lives? The answer is in Numbers 32:12. "They followed the LORD wholeheartedly". They follow God with all there heart. This would mean that they had developed a close personal relationship with God. This would mean that they were continually talking to God in prayer (Philippians 4:6-7) and listening to God by studying His word to us the Bible (Joshua 1:7-8; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).   The closer their relationship developed with God the more they would come to understand that the opposite of fear is love. Study careful 1 John 4:18-19. After you spend time with your Creator you are simply incapable of shrinking in fear. You have seen His power. You have seen His love and faithfulness to you. You will come to realize that because He first loved you then you can love and trust Him. As you read the Bible you will realize that His Spirit and power is living in you (2 Timothy 1:7) and that He will never leave you (Deuteronomy 31:6) if you have believed in the promises of God through faith in Jesus Christ as your redeemer. You will know more fully what it means to have God as your father (Romans 8:15).  We will not have time to nurture some deep fear and build it up to become a giant, because the Spirit will see that our hands are active in ministry and loving service to God and to others. The more we reach out to love and serve others the smaller our fears become. "There is no fear in love. but perfect love drives out fear ..." 1 John 4:18 (NIV). 

The next point is the most important and all the above is meaningless unless you know for certain that you are able to draw near to God and claim your rights as a child of God. It also is important to be able to deal with the most common fear we all face. There is one fear that is common to all people and that is the fear of death. The apostle Paul when he was in prison in Roman for preaching the gospel was facing a trial that could lead to his death. What was he feeling at this time? Was he afraid, anxious, discourage? We know because at this time he wrote a letter to his friends in the city of Philippi in Greece. This is what he wrote. "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21 NIV)

Commit Your Life to Jesus Christ

  1. What then is the source of overcoming our fear of death Hebrews 2:14-15; Romans 10:9-10?

    Answer: Christ Jesus' death on the cross for us has destroy the power of death for those who believe in Him. We thus are freed from the fear of death. You are freed from the power of the spiritual being the devil who tries to convince you not to believe in God's promises. Just as Christ conquered death when He rose from the grave we to have His promise that we will not die but will rise again to eternal life with Him.  This was the secret of Paul's statement that "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain".  Have you accepted Jesus Christ death for your sins? If so you have all the promises of God listed above to call when you are afraid, even afraid of dieing.  If you would like to know more about how you can have this assurance of eternal life with God see "How you can know God personally" for a summary or The Way to Life for a more complete Bible study series on this topic.