How to Handle Your Fear
“We have nothing to fear but fear itself."
Those riveting words, spoken by President Roosevelt in the Great Depression, struck an encouraging chord with the American people. Those are beautiful words but I don't agree with them. There's a lot to fear besides fear. I would never teach my children there is nothing to fear besides fear itself as long as there are rattlesnakes and drunken drivers! There are many things in our world to fear!
Perhaps President Roosevelt was trying to say, “If we allow fear to take control of our actions and emotions, then fear itself is indeed a fearful thing, for fear will paralyze us.”
1. What is your worst fear? Write it out in this space. Or if there is more than one—if you are plagued by several troubling fears—write them down. Later we will return and look at this.
Some people are afraid to write down their fears for fear that writing them down and looking at them on paper will cause them to happen! The truth is, once we have written down our fears—or spoken them to another person—often just the verbalizing of that fear makes it less formidable and more manageable.
Do you share any of these? Most commonly today, people fear:
Our study this time will be about:
(1) how to assess your fear
(2) how to handle your fear.
God's Word has plenty to say about conquering fear, facing fear with faith, and how to live a future free from the bondage of fear.
Some Fear Is Good
2. Not all fear is bad. Some fear is a productive, protective mechanism God put into all of us. It is a vital instinct to protect and preserve us. And some fear is of God Himself.
a. Jesus literally told us to fear on one occasion! Turn to Matthew 10:28:
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather ________ _________ who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Those who are not saved have something to be afraid of. This is healthy fear.
b. The Bible speaks of the fear of the Lord. That's a good fear.
Turn to Proverbs 9:10:
“The ________ of the ________ is the beginning of ________________, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
That’s a kinder way of saying you don't have a modicum of sense unless you fear the Lord.
A CLOSER LOOK AT “FEARING GOD”
To “fear the Lord” doesn't mean you cringe before God. The Bible word for fear here means reverence. You have a holy respect for God.
An electrician has a fear of electricity if he is going to have longevity on the job. That doesn't mean he trembles every time he goes to work. But it does mean he knows what's in those wires. He has a respect for that power.
Now that's the idea of the fear of Lord. 'There's no competition between fearing God and loving God. As a matter of fact, the man who fears God the most loves Him the best. Here’s a good definition: The fear of the Lord is love on its knees.
Some Fear Is NOT Good
3. Turn to 2 Timothy 1:7. There is a type of fear the Bible calls “a spirit of fear."
"For _______ has ______ _________ us the spirit of fear."
There are healthy fears. There are some harmless fears and phobias—like fear of the number 13 or fear of mice.
But the spirit of fear is not harmless; it’s deeply damaging, destructive, and debilitating. The Bible speaks of “the bondage of fear.”
The Destructive Power of “The Spirit of Fear”
If you suspect you might be in bondage to fear, you’re in good company—but you don’t have to stay there.
For awhile, Timothy was right where you are.
You remember that young Timothy was in the great apostle Paul’s inner circle. He was Paul’s intimate acquaintance and best-known disciple.
4. Turn to 2 Timothy 1:6-7. Paul says to Timothy:
"Therefore I remind you to stir up the ______ of ______ which is ___ _____ through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a _________ of ________, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Timothy was a gifted man, unusually equipped and anointed to do the work of God. He had a remarkable gift, but for awhile he failed to use it. Paul says, "I put thee in remembrance.” Or, “you've forgotten who you are. You have forgotten your heritage. You have forgotten what God has done for you and what God wants to do through you. Timothy, you're a very gifted man, but you've forgotten it." Why?
Fear and Forgetfulness
What caused Timothy to forget is fear. Note in your Bible that verses 6 and 7 are connected by the word for. "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear.” Fear had caused Timothy to forget.
When you focus on fear, it takes your eyes off the Lord—you don’t understand who you are or what you can do. You to forget the blessings of God, what He has done in the past, and you waver in trusting what He will do in the future.
Some of you are immensely gifted, tremendously blessed, but there is something you are afraid of, and it has caused you to forget the blessings and the giftings of God in your life. You have focused on your fears rather than trusting in and focusing on the Lord.
A CLOSER LOOK AT PAUL
If anybody had anything to be afraid of at this time, it was Paul, who wrote this. Do you know where Paul was? In prison. He goes on to say in v. 8, "Be not therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner."
Paul was a prisoner of the Lord in a metaphorical sense in that he was a bondslave to the Lord Jesus, but he was also a prisoner in the literal sense in that he was in prison, perhaps waiting to be executed. But Paul is not afraid:
In v. 12 Paul says, "For which cause I also suffer these things, nevertheless I am not ashamed for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I've committed unto him against that day." Paul says, "I know whose I am. I know what I've committed to the Lord. Yes, I'm in prison. But it’s all right."
Paul had not forgotten who God was and how great God was. Even though he was writing from prison, his eyes were focused on the Lord. You can feel the breath of heaven flowing through that prison, into his spirit and out through his pen.
If you are afraid today, your fear is because you've forgotten who God is and what God has done for you.
Fear and Failure
5. (v. 8) “Therefore do not be _______________ of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but __________ with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God."
Perhaps Timothy had failed to share Christ and stand up for Paul because Paul was in prison and Timothy was afraid of what might happen to him. Fear had shut his mouth and paralyzed him.
We fail when we ought to succeed because we've listened to that sinister minister of fear, the devil, rather than listening to God.
Are you someone who has abilities that are unused, gifts that are buried, and forgotten because you are afraid? What lies of the enemy most often come to mind when you think of stepping out in faith? ______________________________________________________________________
6. Turn to Matthew 25, the parable of the servants and the talents (bags of gold) beginning in v. 14. For what reason did the last servant bury his bag of gold underground? (see v. 25) ______________________________________________
If you’re buried by fear, your treasure will remain buried—you’ll never succeed because of fear. And you're ashamed of the testimony of the Lord.
A CLOSER LOOK AT FEAR OF FAILURE
Many people want to be soul winners. But what prevents most of us is fear. Fear of failure.
People are so afraid of failing, they do fail. Have you ever gotten behind a driver who was afraid every light was going to turn red? By the time they get to the light, it has! Have you been around people who just project their failures? They’re ready to fail, and therefore they do fail. We project a built-in fear on ourselves, like Job: “The thing that I feared is come upon me.
You don't have to be a weak person to be fearful. Strong people are sometimes much afraid. The great Roman general Julius Caesar was afraid of thunder. Peter the Great, the Czar of Russia, a political and military leader, was afraid to cross a bridge. He would put one foot on a bridge and begin to tremble. We can be possessed by an extraordinary fear that will keep us from being what we ought to be. Some businessmen will never succeed in business because of fear. The Bible speaks of those who are in bondage because of fear.
Fear and Frailty
Have you been neutralized by fear? Shackled by the devil? Fear can literally sicken us, weaken our body.
7. Turn to 1Timothy 5:23. Paul says to Timothy, "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thy often __________________."
Here was a man who was sickly. Was he afraid because he was sickly? Perhaps. But he may have been sickly because he was afraid. And that fearful disposition literally made him sick.
A well-known American doctor said at a roundtable discussion on psychosomatic medicine, “In spite of what they say, 90% of the chronic patients who see today’s physicians have one common problem. Their trouble did not start with a cough or chest pain or hyperacidity. In 90% of the cases the first symptom was fear.”
Doctors tell us that an arthritic condition may be greatly enflamed because of worry and fear. You can worry yourself sick.
8. Worry is a terrible thing. Turn to Luke 21:26:
a. Who is speaking? ________________________
b. The time period is “the last days.” This is one of the marks of that time:
“…men’s hearts failing them from ____________ and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth…”
Heart failure because of fear. People who carry a load of fear actually have physical problems because of fear.
Fear in your life is like sand in machinery. Faith in your life is like oil. It lubricates life. Fear will do the same thing to you that sand will do to machinery.
A True Story from My Life—About Fear
Many years ago when our oldest son was in college, something happened that filled my heart with fear. He was driving back to school. I received a midnight phone call from his roommate, who was greatly worried. David had not arrived—hours after he should have been there! How are you going to find someone in hundreds of miles of road? What are you going to do? I felt that spirit of fear come in.
I thought to myself, "Adrian, you preach to people telling them not to be afraid. You've told them God ‘has not given them the spirit of fear.’ And you're afraid. Why doesn't your sermon work?"
So I said, “Well, I'll preach it to myself again.” It still didn't work. Fear was there! “Am I a hypocrite,” I asked, “or have I been preaching something that is not true? Why am I afraid right now?”
And I realized that this fear, as I analyzed it, was a legitimate fear. But there was nothing I knew to do. I had to commit it to the Lord.
Do you know what happened? David had met someone who was looking for directions. He was driving all over Dallas trying to help this man out, figuring I wouldn't know whether he’d gotten in on time or not. “What Dad doesn't know won't hurt him.” But I did know. I realized also I'd begun to worry and I said, “Lord, I can't do that. I just put that in Your hands.” And I committed it to Him.
God has not given you that kind of spirit. That's not productive.
The Delivering Power of the Spirit of Faith
Thank God, Paul doesn't just tell us the problem; he gives us the answer.
God has set us free. Faith can face fear and overcome.
9. 2 Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of __________ and of _______ and of a __________ ________."
If you put these three elements in your life, you can have a future free from the bondage of destructive fear.
God endues us with power.
10. When Jesus told His disciples, "Ye shall be endued with power from on high," what power was He speaking of? ______________________________________
Sometimes we’re afraid because we feel we have a foe who Is bigger and stronger than we are. But if we understand that we have greater strength than our foe, then there’s no need to be afraid.
If you were walking home from school and there was a bully picking on you, you’d be afraid. But if your dad was walking alongside you, then you’d no longer be afraid.
11. Turn to 1 John 4:4. You are familiar with the last half of this verse!
“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is ______________ than he [the devil] who is in the world.”
Greater is He that is with you than the guy who's picking you.
If you have the spirit of fear, it is because you are not focused on the Lord. You have forgotten the gift of God that is in you.
12. Turn to Psalm 27:1
“The Lord is my light and my _______________; whom shall I _________? The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be ____________?”
God has given you the spirit of power. “The Lord is the strength of my life.”
Am I remembering God's power shown to me? Do I know just how great my God is?
God enriches us with love.
13. Love is a mighty force. How does love deal with fear? Turn to 1 John 4:18.
"Perfect love _____________ _______fear."
That verse used to bother me. I used to think it meant that if I could just love God perfectly, I wouldn't be afraid!
But I realized, “I don't do anything perfectly except sin. So how is that going to help me?”
This verse doesn't mean if I love God perfectly I won't be afraid! It literally means that I don't have to be afraid because God loves me perfectly.
Here is how The Living Bible amplifies beautifully what this verse says:
“We have no fear of Someone who loves us perfectly.”
His perfect love for us eliminates all dread of what He might do to us. If we are afraid, it is for fear of what He might do. We are not fully convinced that He really loves us.
When you see on the one hand God's mighty power and on the other God's mighty love, then fear seems to melt away. Rest in that love. Say, “Lord no matter what happens to me, I know that I know that You love me. And because You love me and because You are all powerful, ‘All things work together for good to them who love God, who are the called according to His purpose.’”
God enlightens us with a sound mind.
“Sound mind” literally means that God has given us discipline, self-control, a discerning spirit. Wise discretion. So many of the things we are afraid of, we fear not on the basis of reality, but because the Deceiver, Satan, has made us afraid.
“F‑E‑A‑R is often false evidence appearing real.” --Zig Ziglar
So often the devil causes us to be afraid when there is nothing to be afraid of.
14. Look at Proverbs 28:1
“The ____________ flee when no one pursues, But the righteous are bold as a lion.”
With the sound mind He gives us, we are able to look at these things in the clear light of God's Word. We have to look past what might happen to us at the immediate moment and see that God is ultimately victorious.
15. Finally, this is what Paul did in 2 Timothy 1:12. Study this verse.
“For which cause I also suffer these things, ___________________, I am not ashamed, for I _________ whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to _________ that which I've committed unto Him against that day.”
Why is Paul not ashamed? Because “I know whom I have believed. I am persuaded that He is able to keep me.”
He wasn't blown away by all that the devil was doing. He chose to stand rock-solid in his commitment. That is a sound mind.
The fear of man made Saul a coward.
The fear of God made David a hero when he went against Goliath.
The fear of God removes all other fears.
The man who can kneel before God can stand before any man.
Glimpse at your problems and gaze at your God
Look back at the fear(s) you wrote out on p. 1. Analyze them in the light of what we have just discussed and what God is clearly saying in Scripture. Are some of your fears legitimate? Which ones? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Which of them are destructive? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
What have you learned that God is saying about your fears, both legitimate and destructive? __________________________________________________________
What do you need to tell yourself about your fears? _______________________________________________________________________________________________
You may want to spend some time with the Lord, journalizing on this topic.
The war is over.
Jesus has won.
It is finished.
Your sin has been paid for.
He is offering amnesty and forgiveness.
The devil doesn't want you to understand these things. But the apostle Paul says, “Nevertheless, I know whom I have believed and am persuaded He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day.”
Have you committed everything to Him? Then do not fear.
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