April 17, 2014

Never let fear block prayer or obedience

In the past few months I’ve had Christians do and say things to me that blessed me yet also puzzled me. Why did she do that? Why did he say that? Just recently, the Lord whispered that it was not their words or actions, but His. He knows what I need and was using His people to supply that need. I am overwhelmed by such loving care!

It is important to credit God for these blessings because, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17) No matter what the “good” or “perfect” gift might be, or who He uses to supply it, all goodness comes from God. I might thank the person, but the glory goes to Him.

Regarding prayer, what God has been doing reveals that He listens not just to my words, but my heart. Some of those good things blessed me in ways that I had not prayed about or even realized the need. But God knows all about me. Even though I didn’t say anything, He says, “Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.” (Isaiah 65:24)

This insight into human need first happened in a negative sense. Just after their first sin, Adam and Eve hid from God. But God knew what was going on and why. He “called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.’” (Genesis 3:9–10)

Fear kept Adam from speaking to God about his situation. Is that the same reason why I’ve not brought all my needs to God? Am I afraid they are too trivial for Him to bother with? Or too silly? Or too human? Or have I been worrying about something and thinking if I say it aloud it will happen? Job did that. He said “. . . For the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me . . .” (Job 3:23–26)

Fear is a crippling force. It didn’t cause Job’s problems (clear from reading the entire story), but it did keep him from expressing those fears to God, who knew all about it anyway.

In another situation described in a parable, a man feared what God would not approve of his work so he didn’t do any work, nor did he bring those fears into the light. In the parable, his master had given him a “talent” or sum of money expecting him to invest it wisely. But fear shackled him. Eventually, “He who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’” (Matthew 25:24–25)

The master told the man that he was wicked and lazy. Because of fear, he did not use what he had and it cost him greatly. As Jesus said, “For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

This fearful disobedience shed light on the man’s true condition; he was without faith and had allowed fear to keep him from loving his master and trustingly doing what he asked. The master ordered, “cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:29–30)

As I read these verses, the strong message is that when I pray, God hears my heart, which is a good thing. He answers needs that I don’t even express. However, if I don’t talk to God because of fear, then fear becomes the controlling factor instead of faith and the Holy Spirit. In that condition, I put myself into mistrust and disobedience. Not only that, when I am fearful and untrusting, God cannot use me to bless others as He has been using others to bless me.

Paul warned Timothy to not let this happen. He told him to use the gifts God gave him and not be fearful . . . “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:6–7)

For me, these readings and thoughts are a form of “dot connecting” in which God gives me insight into His ability to minister to needs of human hearts. He motivates His people to do and say things without fear, but in love and in the power of the Holy Spirit. When that happens, we may not realize the value of what we do in the life of others, but God will bless them. How cool is that!

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