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How Faith Delivers Freedom from Fear

How Faith Delivers Freedom from Fear

I remember receiving the phone call like it was yesterday. The police in our son’s out of state college town wanted to speak with us about some trouble he’d encountered.

 

That moment started a cyclone of emotions and a paralyzing struggle with fear that simply blindsided me. Although I struggled to identify exactly what I was afraid of, over the next many months, the Lord walked me through a painful and gut-wrenching spiritual journey of discovery and surrender.

 

As early as the onset, I trusted the Lord and believed—even through this trial—that He had a good plan for my son and our family. Still, I experienced a gripping level of trepidation that nearly stopped my ministry in its tracks and began to have a crippling impact on my life roles of wife and mom. Every part of my life felt as though it were under attack.

 

The Beginning of Breakthrough

 

One day my pastor suggested I borrow a book called Fearless by Max Lucado. He pulled it from his bookshelf and I placed it inside my handbag to take home. It sat on the desk in my home office for weeks. Every day as I walked by it, I’d think, “I should read that.” But I was unable to muster the strength to take even the smallest step toward freedom. It was as if I were too sick to reach out and grab a cure.

 

At last, I picked up the book and opened it. On the first page was nothing more than a Bible verse. It was Matthew 8:26, when Jesus asked His disciples,

 

“Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?”

 

That was all I could take.

 

Tears spontaneously filled my eyes. I slammed the book closed and dropped it on my desk as the words penetrated my heart like a dagger. I couldn’t make myself read another word for quite some time.

 

But as only He can do, the Lord used His living Word to plant a seed of truth and understanding into my life. Matthew 8:26 swirled in my thoughts. It stayed in my mind when I slept, while I showered, and walked through my daily tasks. Slowly, over time, the Lord used that one verse to help me understand the powerful impact of fear and its relationship with faith.  Jesus used His Word to reveal a path of victory over fear that has stayed with me many years later.

 

The Opposition of Fear and Faith

 

 

In Matthew 8:26, Jesus referred to His disciples as “men of little faith” because of the fear they experienced. That unfolds an interesting dynamic. Faith and fear are like opposite platforms on a scale.

 

As our fear increases, it diminishes the manifestation of our faith. Conversely, if our faith increases, it diminishes our fear.

 

Fear and faith are in opposition and have a direct impact on one another.

 

It can sometimes feel difficult to hold fast to our faith, which leaves us vulnerable to the enemy’s fiery darts of fear. Even when we can’t identify that “thing” of which we’re fearful, effects of fear can be paralyzing. Just because we follow Christ doesn’t mean we’re exempt. I can tell you from first-hand experience that fear

 

  • Masks our joy
  • Keeps us from pursuing our calling
  • Causes dissension in relationships
  • Makes us feel separated and discontented
  • Can manifest in physical symptoms
  • Holds us in captivity
  • Makes us forget how big God is

 

Wielding the Shield of Faith

 

During that season in my life, there was little question that I was in bondage to fear. Each time those fiery darts made impact, I felt the sizzle and smelled the scorch. But God, as He always does, provided a way of protection. Ephesians 6 addresses the full armor of God and teaches that our shield of faith will “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (v. 16).

 

The Greek word thureos describes a large, oblong shield that protected every part of a soldier. It was an essential piece of equipment that was covered in leather to help defend against flaming arrows. The thureos was about waist high and at least as wide as an average person. Warriors became so skilled at using their shield that other pieces of armor often escaped any impact at all.

 

The illustration aptly demonstrates the power of faith. As Paul referenced a shield of faith, he selected the word thureos to make his point. Our shield of faith offers such complete protection, other pieces of armor (the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, helmet of salvation, and shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace) rarely receive impact.

 

“Imagine yourself holding up your shield of faith. All is going well until your eyes see something astonishing. Within your field of vision is something you never imagined and you stand, mouth gaping, feeling your left arm, which holds your shield, begin to slump. What you see with your eyes affects your faith and it begins to falter, ever so slightly. As your faith begins to weaken, your shield moves out of position and you are suddenly vulnerable to the enemy. We may have other pieces of protective armor, but when the enemy fires a flaming arrow, we’re sunk.  In my estimation, fear is a flaming arrow!

 

Think of what was happening to the disciples in Matthew 8. The storm was fierce. It was what the disciples could see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and feel upon their skin. What emotion did they experience? Fear. It can paralyze our brains and make us completely forget (even if just temporarily) how BIG God really is.   

 

I’ll just come out and say it:  Fear seems to make us lose our minds and forget the wonders He has performed in our lives and all the ways that He has proven Himself trustworthy. The disciples had many reasons to put their faith in Jesus. They saw Him work many mighty miracles, and yet were afraid when the storm on the sea arose.” *

Finding Joy in the Journey* this is an excerpt from my book, Finding Joy in the Journey (available on Amazon.com)

 

As believers in Christ, we love the Lord. We have learned to put our trust in Him and He has proved faithful through His work in our lives. We have seen Him perform modern-day wonders and bring us through hardships, trials, and heartaches. He promises to never leave us nor forsake us. He is incapable of dishonesty, yet at times, fear consumes us.

 

Why are we afraid when Christ has proven Himself so faithful? Why do we fear when the Lord of lords is on our side? What is it that makes us waver in our faith?

 

The Progression

 

Can you see the progression?

 

Our situation becomes frightening and our eyes fix on our situation.

 

We turn our focus to what we see (our situation) as opposed to what we cannot see (God’s activity).

 

Our faith is compromised, which causes our shield to move out of position.

 

We become a vulnerable target for our enemy, which causes deeper fear and a shield that shifts even further.

 

Faith Delivers Freedom from Fear!

 

There is good news! Just as quickly as our fear can cause us to lose faith, our faith can conquer our fear. Remembering to raise our shield of faith and duck behind it, even as we quake and tremble, our faith can overtake our fear. And here’s the thing – it can happen in a split second!

 

Because God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline (2 Timothy 1:7), the enemy of our souls will not win this battle. With this in mind, take courage. Raise your shield and fight the good fight, knowing God is your defender.

 

Throughout this battle with fear, God impressed five specific fear-fighting strategies that continue to help me to this day. I’ve compiled them into a beautiful, FREE Printable that you can keep close at hand when fear strikes.  Click here to access 5 Fear Fighting Strategies and download the printable instantly!

Faith Delivers Freedom from Fear

 

 

 

 

I pray that you always remember to wield your shield of faith and allow it to offer its vast protection against the schemes of the evil one. God is victorious! And as His children, so too, are we!

 

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like this 7-day series on calming anxiety!

Thank you for sharing on social media so other women can find encouragement too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Faith Delivers Freedom from Fear

What if Esther Held Her Tongue: Offering Surrender

What if Esther Held Her Tongue: Offering Surrender

Have you ever pushed through fear to do something that terrified you?

Queen Esther did. The people of her heritage, the Jews, faced tremendous persecution by an evil leader who had the power to annihilate them. Esther was Queen with a divinely-inspired level of influence. She alone could do something to stop the coming madness.

But fear gripped her.

The king of Persia hadn’t called for her in many days— and to approach him without permission could lead to her execution. Esther lived in a long-ago era where women were deemed property and their intuition and acumen were disregarded. She had much to say but hadn’t received an invitation to say it.

Esther wrestled with the decision to get involved. She counted the cost and knew that her decision could lead to dire consequences. Offering surrender was the bravest thing possible: She presented her offering to God, surrendering to the Lord’s will, and uttered one of the most piercing declarations in Scripture:

“If I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16)

After convincing persuasion by her uncle, Esther refused to let her people face destruction without stepping into action. She weighed the cost of her involvement then made the decision to entrust her life to God himself. He alone could protect her.

Her husband was a fickle king, ruled by his own emotions and acting as his moods determined. As Esther prepared to meet her destiny, she didn’t go alone. She encouraged the Jews to support her by fasting for three days. And when the fullness of time came, she respectfully, yet boldly faced her fears and approached the king.

Victorious, Bible Study, Esther

Available now on Amazon.com

Blessings of Offering Surrender

Sharing her news took several tries, but Esther accomplished her task. She revealed the evil plot to the king who made provision for the Jews to protect themselves against attack. Her people were empowered to gain victory in an overwhelming battle.

But what if Esther held her tongue? What if she let anxiety and fear stop her from stepping into service? What if she’d chosen her personal comfort and safety over the protection of her people?

Esther’s uncle, Mordecai shared his great wisdom when he said,

“Don’t think that you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king’s palace. If you keep silent at this time, liberation and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s house will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this” (Esther 4:13-14 HCSB).

It’s true. Had Esther forsaken her calling, the Lord would have protected the Jews another way. But because Esther stepped into service, she experienced the manifold blessings of surrender to God. She witnessed miracle after miracle as God revealed His power and presence.

Through Esther’s story of courage and surrender, we continue to revel in God’s provision over the Jews in Persia today. Through God’s Word, we see . . .

  • unexpected, favorable outcome from Esther’s bold step
  • our God, Who, even while deafeningly quiet, remains active and present
  • God’s orchestration of all things for the good of His people
  • good that overcomes evil
  • how God uses fully surrendered hearts for His glory

 

God could have rescued the Jews in countless other ways, but he chose to use His beloved child, Esther—an orphaned woman in an oppressive culture—to accomplish His purpose. He gave Esther a kingdom assignment and she found the courage to accept the challenge.

Personally Offering Surrender

God gives each of us a kingdom assignment. Some seem weighty and are completed in the public eye. Most, however, present themselves as typical, daily tasks accomplished in mundane settings. Each type of call is equally as significant. Every Kingdom assignment is God’s way of using our fully surrendered heart for His glory.

How does the Lord want to use you? (If you don’t know, ask Him!)

What’s holding you back from obedience?

In what ways is God prompting you to surrender to His will?

How will you prepare to step into action for your Kingdom assignment?

May God’s Word strengthen you today,

Cathy McIntosh

 

 

 

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Overcoming Fear

When God Seems Absent: 3 Unexpected Lessons from Queen Vashti

 

 

Offering Surrender

Overcoming Fear

Overcoming Fear

I am still in awe. The Lord is ushering us into new heights in our relationship and communion with Him. He is good. All the time, ladies.

Last night’s in-person study was amazing. It was amazing because of our connection with one another. And most of all, it was amazing through prayer. Those who were afraid to pray out loud joined in and sounded as if they’d prayed aloud for their whole lives! I sense new confidence and fearlessness. What a tremendous blessing for us all!

Our Past / Shame

Before moving into the topic of fear, we spent just a few minutes talking about our past and accompanying shame. Priscilla Shirer hit it out of the park with her comments on page 98 of Fervent.  Please take a few minutes and re-read the second paragraph – the one that begins with “First, God doesn’t live in the past.” She gave us ample reason to reject the lies of the enemy when he reminds us of days gone by.

As a group, we looked at 1 Corinthians 3:21-22. Paul is giving us a glimpse of the inheritance we have in Christ. We aren’t to boast in our human leaders. In Christ, everything belongs to us, and on that list are “… things present or things to come.”  Think through this: Past. Present. Future. Which of these three did Paul omit from our list of belongings? The Past.

The past does not belong to us.

Christ has already redeemed it.

He’s using it – right now – for our good and His glory.

As we look back on our past, from the heavenly places and in the unseen, our past looks nothing like we remember. God’s fingerprints and molding are all over it. It no longer belongs to us. We’re no longer allowed access.

Consider Romans 8:1 – there is now no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Conviction (the pricking of our hearts and minds when we’re on the wrong track)… yes. Condemnation (disapproval and pending punishment), no. There’s none of that.

Why?

Because when we are in Christ, we are new creations. The old things have passed away. New things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Because “Thus says the LORD . . . Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder the things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:16, 18-19).

If you battle shame over your past, ask the Lord to help you leave it where it belongs – behind you where such things pass away. Look instead to the present. Right now, where God is doing something new.

Please, don’t miss today’s blessing because you’re stuck in the past.

On to Overcoming Fear…

As I’ve said, fear is a very real, very personal struggle for me. At least it has been in the past. I’m more apt to declare freedom from fear than ever before in my life… except that I was struck with momentary, body-numbing fear just a few days ago. Praise the Lord it didn’t last long and I recognized it as an attack in record time. I’ll claim and celebrate that progress, thank you!

I love Priscilla’s chapter on prayer strategies for fear. With one exception. She encourages us to push through the fear and “do it anyway.”

I don’t disagree with her prompting. Not in the least. But I’ve been so completely paralyzed by fear that there was no way I could take a step forward. Here’s an abbreviated version of the story:

My son found himself in a mess several years ago. A legal mess. It involved the police in his out-of-state college town. Even after we learned things would eventually work out, I was still plagued with a consuming, paralyzing sense of fear. It was a fear I couldn’t name or describe, but I could barely hold a thought in my head or function from day to day.

After weeks of prayer, the Lord finally showed me that the source of my fear was shame – over personal past sin. This incident brought a simmer to a full boil. I felt terrified that this mistake was my fault and that I’d let my family down as I had in years past.

Overcoming the Paralysis of Fear

The fact that Priscilla ties shame (our past) to fear as neighboring prayer strategies in her book is confirmation to me that I’m not alone in this. One can lead to the other. For me, I had to overcome the paralysis before I could step forward.

Here are 5 steps/strategies that helped:

Acknowledge the fear and pray through it.

Until we admit that we’re afraid, concede to the fact that our fear is real, we can’t pass through it. Declaring to the Lord something like, “I’m scared out of my socks here, God,” is a great first step to embracing freedom. Pray and ask for His help, but be sure your petitions show complete and honest transparency.

Fight Fear with Scripture.

The more Scripture (TRUTH) we have in our heads, the fewer lies can penetrate our thick skulls. Memorizing is a great idea. Praying Scripture (which we’ll discuss more next week) is a mighty weapon. Scripture is our only offensive weapon named in the armor of God. Wield that Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God!

Share the Struggle.

Enlist a friend or two for help. One that you can text message, “Pray NOW” and she’ll know exactly what you’re facing. Ask for her prayer coverage daily – not just when you’re facing a struggle. Don’t go this alone. There’s no need for that. Partner with someone, and with the Lord you’ll form that cord of 3 strands which is not easily broken.

Watch for God to work in unexpected ways.

Our worst fears might be realized. What we dread may come to pass. But we must know that God is in control and will use every bit of it for our good. Beth Moore teaches that when we press through a trial, only then can we find the promise that awaits us. Trust God with all your might and know that He is at work, even when you don’t feel you can see Him. Even when the outcome of your prayers is completely unexpected.

Choose Faith over Fear.

Raise your shield of Faith, even while your knees knock and your legs tremble. Raise that shield and ward off the fiery darts of the enemy.

With our paralysis gone, we can take a step forward to move through fear instead of allowing it to stop us in our tracks.

Why Fight to Overcome Fear?

Fear chokes God’s promise out of our lives. It makes us forget how BIG God is – His sovereignty, His power, and most of all His authority. We want nothing to do with it and yes, we can overcome.

As one sweet sister reminded us last evening, Satan is a defeated foe. Remember that, as well as the holy power and might of the Most High God!

Sometimes fear looks like worry… or confusion … or anxiety. Nip it in the bud right now before it goes any further. The strategies are the same. Put them to work and watch God move. He’s already fighting for you, even while you sleep.

I’ll leave you with a final verse: Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace for it is trusting in You.”

In this verse, the Hebrew word for “dependent” is samech. It means to trust, uphold, support, firm, stay. Think of a large tent with a center pole. Samech acts as the center pole. If all the outside poles were removed, the tent could still stand. It may look different from how we’d expect a tent to look, but inside we could find comfort, protection, and peace.

Let the Lord be your Samech. Trust Him.

Blessings,

 

 

5 Strategies to Overcome Fear

Overcoming Fear

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