Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Power, Love, and a Sound Mind

     Fear causes us to feel weak, self-centered, and mentally unstable.  God offers and provides Himself to us in times of temptation to trepidation.

    "God hath not given to us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (II Timothy 1:7).

    Power for weakness.  Love for self-centeredness.  Soundness of mind for instability.  The Holy Spirit reveals the characteristics of His disposition in us as we trust and submit ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ.  "My strength is made perfect in weakness" declared the Savior to the Apostle Paul, and to all who share like faith with Paul (II Corinthians 12:9).  Therein God is glorified as indwelling life of Christ provided to believers as a free gift leads us to overcome the uncertainties of life in a fallen world.

    The sense of weakness elicited by fearful thoughts and emotions can either paralyze us, or cause us to run away from the challenges of life.  Faith in the Lord Jesus provides the enabling power whereby we arise to face difficulty with confidence and courage.  "He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings" (Psalm 40:2).  The heart of our Captain is brave, strong, and true.  He has faced every type of challenge we will ever encounter, and far more.  Thus, as we look to Him, no fear can overwhelm us because He assures us of His presence, involvement, and strength to overcome.  "By Thee I have run through a troop, and by my God I have leaped over a wall" (II Samuel 22:30).

    Fear also focuses us on ourselves, even in those times when our uncertainty may involves others such as our loved ones.  Close analysis of concern that overwhelms us always reveals the unholy fleshly trinity of "I, Me, and My" at the root of fearfulness.  When tempted to be afraid, opportunities for love always present themselves for our remembrance of the God of promise, and the promise of God.  "Father, how can the love of Christ lead and enable me to honor you and bless others in this challenge that causes me to feel uncertain, but which actually paves a path for loving you and loving others?"  This is the question of every hour of uncertainty.  There is something to do when fear knocks on the door of our hearts: "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee" (Psalm 56:3).  Such confidence delivers us from the black hole of selfishness, causing us rather to "shine as lights in the world" (Philippians 2:15).  Indeed, the believer who recognizes fearful thoughts and feelings as opportunity to trust the Faithful One wastes no time in paralysis or flight from fear, but rather arises to look upward and away to the glory of God and the needs of others.

    Finally, God grants to us in His Spirit a "sound mind."  At best, fear embraced and entertained shuts our brain down.  At worst, it leads to delusion and disastrous decision making.  Faith, conversely, keeps us in a place of spiritually rational thought and consideration, as illuminated by the Holy Spirit.  "The thoughts of the righteous are right" (Proverbs 12:5).  When we trust the Lord Jesus rather than yield to the temptations of fear and uncertainty, the Holy Spirit leads us in our thinking to rightly analyze and make good decisions about the challenges of life.  His thoughts become our thoughts, to the glory of God, the blessing of others, and our own joy of heart.  "In the multitude of my thoughts within me, Thy comforts delight my soul" (Psalm 94:19).

    The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit makes possible a life of peace, as provided by the Prince of peace.  Many challenges will confront us, and the way is not easy.  Such difficulty, however, must be viewed as opportunity for the experience of a dear Orange Moon friend who just wrote to me of being "at peace that is incomprehensible given what's going on!"  Amen, sister.  The Spirit of Peace.  The Prince of peace.  The God of peace.  "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose minds is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee" (Isaiah 26:3).

"Be careful for nothing, but by everything in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 4:6-7)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
(John 7:24)

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