Overcoming fear

What's More Important: Your Works or Your Words?

“Preach the Gospel at all times.  When necessary, use words.” 

The above quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi is one that many of us embrace as well as repeat to others. It does underscore our need as Christians to be ‘doers of the Word’ whose actions should always demonstrate our love for God and commitment to live in accordance with His will. But all too often we also like the quote because it gives us a justification for not speaking out and sharing the gospel with words, words that well may offend others. But words are necessary to pierce hearts with the truth, set people free from lies, and have the power to lead to salvation. None of us wants to offend anyone. But the truth is that the gospel IS an offense, and we have been commanded by Jesus to proclaim—or preach— the gospel with words, not just glorify Him by our actions as revealed when Jesus told His disciples to “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Matthew 5:16; Matthew 16:15) In fact, when we make the focus on our actions rather than upon the finished work of Jesus on the cross, it easily becomes a man rather than God centered gospel. Our actions—no matter how ‘good’— will always be insufficient because there is only One Person Who has ever lived a perfect life and Whose life revealed the truth of Who God is. 

The ‘truth that sets people free’ is the gospel that exalts Jesus and what He did on our behalf, and the Word says that when He is lifted up—not our actions—that men will be drawn to Him, the Source of salvation (John 12:32). Jesus’ actions most definitely testified to the truth of Who God is, but very importantly, He also spoke the truth and said He came to earth for the purpose of testifying to the truth (John 18:37). He is the ‘Living Word made flesh’, and His words were an even greater offense than His actions (John 1:1,14; Matthew 15:11-12; John 6:59-61) It was His claim to be the Son of God, and the only way to be reconciled to God the Father, that most offended people and led them to crucify Him (John 10:30-33; John 14:6). That truth offended the people in the days when He walked as a man on earth, and His faithful followers should be aware that when they share that same truth they too will offend others. However, it is only by speaking the truth of Who Jesus is and what He came to earth to do that others will come to the saving knowledge of Jesus and put their faith in what He did to set them free from the penalty and power of their sin.

We have been commanded to preach the word because faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:14-17 ESV (boldness added)

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Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul penned much of the New Testament and wrote not only the passage above from Romans, he also wrote the passage below in 1 Corinthians where he highlights that the focus is not to be on us as human vessels, but upon Who Jesus is and what He has done:

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 ESV (boldness added)


What is the power of God? God lets us know that it is His Word!  (Hebrews 4:12; Romans 1:16; 2 Timothy 3:15-16; 1 Peter 1:23; John 17:17; Isaiah 55:11; Isaiah 40:8) Specifically, the word of the gospel which has the power to save!

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 ESV

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV

Paul exhorts us to know the Word and to speak the Word. He also warns us that the truth will not always be well-received, but we are to share it anyway, and to be willing to endure suffering as we do the work of an evangelist.

…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:2-5 ESV

It takes effort to be prepared ‘in and out of season’ to share the truth of God’s Word, and all too often we are lazy Christians. If we have a greater ‘fear of man’ than we do a reverent awe and fear of God, we won’t ‘preach, reprove, rebuke, exhort, admonish and teach’ others, because the ‘truth that sets the captives free’ is also foolishness and an offense to those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18;23). 

I was talking with someone the other day who ‘after push came to shove’ reluctantly said he believed Jesus died for his sin. But he quickly followed up that statement by saying that he would never try to ‘convert’ anyone else because he had no right to tell someone else that their belief was wrong. He revealed in that statement that he clearly doesn’t believe that ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’; that ‘the wages of sin is death’; and that all will experience the wrath of God unless ‘they confess with their mouths and believe in their hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead’. (Romans 3:23; 6:23; 10:9-10) My question to him and to anyone else who doesn’t want to share the gospel with others is this: If you truly believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection delivered you from a death sentence, how can you remain silent? If you committed a felony and were condemned to die and your brother stepped in and took your place on the electric chair and died the death you deserved to die, wouldn’t you tell others about that kind of love? Or, if you were in a burning building and knew there was only one way to safety, would you remain silent for fear of offending others in the burning building with the truth that there was only one way out if they wanted to be saved? 

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An unwillingness to share the gospel is an indication of one of two things: 1)You don’t believe the truth of the Word of God that you are a sinner under the penalty of death and can only be saved by faith in Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection or 2) You love yourself more than you love God, and more than you love others. If you really loved God, you’d be willing to ‘lay down your life’ and risk offending others in order to obey His command to share the gospel so that those He loves would hear the truth that has the power to save them.  And, if you love others as God has loved you, you will be willing to accept the risk of offending them in this life so that they can know Jesus, the One and Only Way to have abundant life on earth and eternal life in heaven.

It’s important for us to know that our works can never save anyone; only the finished work of Jesus on the cross can! People you know desperately need to hear from you what Jesus’ death and resurrection has purchased for them. Your ‘good works’ can point the way to Jesus because if your life has been transformed people are going to pay attention and want to hear why you love in a world full of hate, why you forgive those who do the unforgivable to you, why you live in every way counter to our sinful culture. Your good works are designed to glorify God and to draw people to want to listen to the gospel you preach (Matthew 5:16), but it is only in hearing the words of the gospel that people will be set free from their sin and accept Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord. Let us never be ashamed of the gospel which alone has the power to save!

For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Luke 9:26 ESV

Lord, release me from all fear of man and the deception that my ‘good works’ have the power to save anyone! Increase my love for You and for others and give me a vision of eternity so that by the power of the Holy Spirit I will boldly proclaim the gospel, which alone has the power to save! May I never be ashamed of You Who willingly laid down your life for me! In Jesus’ Name. Amen. 

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

Addressing the Fear of Financial Ruin

I have been having discussions recently regarding the fear of financial ruin.  This fear of or the reality of not having enough money to cover your debt can cause such a ripple effect in your life.  Some people allow fear of their own expected and/or looming financial disaster to create so much anxiety that they will avoid opening bills and financial statements because they don’t want to think about it.  The idea of ‘not thinking about it’ or not answering the nagging phone calls from debt collectors seems to them a better alternative than learning.  Learning the truth about exactly how much they owe, exactly how much money they have, exactly how much money they spend on other things, and how much God loves them.  The truth will set you free.  The person who hates correction is stupid (Proverbs 12:1 NIV) and the person who gets wisdom loves his own soul. (Proverbs 19:8a)

Another person I learned has been avoiding the IRS for years, refusing to open letters, and acting as if throwing the letters away or burying them in a huge pile of other unopened obligations somehow makes the problems go away.  There’s an old saying that says, ‘ignorance is bliss,’  but that is not found in God’s Word.  God has something very different to say about ignorance and avoidance.  God tells us that His people die because of lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4:6)  Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, and when you fear God, follow His ways and believe His promises you will not fear debt, the IRS, bills, or anything else.  God sees your debt and knows what your situation is.  Our God is a God of details, He counts the very hairs on your head and He most definitely is able to count the pennies in your bank account.  God has so many promises of His provision for His children.  When you choose to not gain wisdom and knowledge by avoidance, your actions convict you of a lack of faith. 

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Let’s learn from the event that occurred with the widow’s oil from 2 Kings 4 (AMP) and we will pull action items from this which I’ve listed in bold below:

The Widow’s Oil

4 Now one of the wives of a man of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha [for help], (Step 1, Ask a wise, godly person for help & counsel) saying “Your servant my husband is dead, (Step 2, Acknowledge the income source and any problem that exists there) and you know that your servant [reverently] feared the Lord; (Step 3, fear God) but the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves [in payment for a loan].” (Step 4, acknowledge who is owed money and what they are requesting as payment) 2 Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have [of value] in the house?” She said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house except a [small] jar of [olive] oil.” (Step 5, determine what you have of value) 3 Then he said, “Go, borrow containers from all your neighbors, empty containers—and not just a few. 4 Then you shall go in and shut the door behind you and your sons, and pour out [the oil you have] into all these containers, and you shall set aside each one when it is full.” (Step 6, create a plan) 5 So she left him and shut the door behind her and her sons; they were bringing her the containers as she poured [the oil]. (Step 7, act in faith) 6 When the containers were all full, she said to her son, “Bring me another container.” And he said to her, “There is not a one left.” Then the oil stopped [multiplying]. 7 Then she came and told the man of God. He said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt, and you and your sons can live on the rest.” (Step 8, obey and trust God to help you pay your debts.  God is able to multiply, redeem, and provide a plan to help you in your time of trouble.)  I found it interesting that God stopped multiplying the oil once there were no more jars left.  He provided for as much as they prepared to receive.  What are you preparing to receive?  Do your actions convict you of fear or faith?  

When fear is running your life, you are a prisoner being driven by fear which is in direct relation to your unbelief in God and His promises.  God wants you to be free from the prison of fear and be led by faith instead.  In Him, all things are possible.

When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: Fear God and keep His commandments, because this is the whole duty of man. - Ecclesiastes 12:13

Written by Jamie

Are you curious to know how much fear, worry and anxiety is impacting your life? Take our free quiz to learn how fearful, worried and anxious you really are?

How To Escape the Snare of ‘Fear of Man’

As she approached me, a feeling spontaneously arose within me…the feeling of dread. When in this woman’s presence, I feel judged by her; as if I don’t measure up to her standards; and that she is looking to find fault with me. I’m not saying that I’ve ever heard her say anything derogatory about me, nor that she has any intention of intimating me, or even any awareness that she does: I am just saying that's a feeling I often have around her.

Is there a person in whose presence you often feel intimidated? Have you thought what is behind the feeling, and how you can respond in a God-pleasing way when you feel judged and intimidated by someone?

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The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe (Proverbs 29:25 ESV). We need to recognize whenever we feel intimidated by another person that Satan is at work to try to entrap us. Usually we fall into Satan’s trap by succumbing to one of the following responses: we develop vain imaginations about the person and assign a negative connotation to their verbal or non-verbal communication, which can lead to our ‘becoming offended’ and in turn, retaliating against the person by gossiping about them, and/or becoming fearful of, resentful, or bitter toward them. We can wonder ‘what’s wrong with me’ that the person would treat me in such a way, and then fall prey to negative self-talk that can lead to despondency and depression. If we think a person is intimidating, we usually choose to avoid them, as well as situations where they may be present. I know of people who have left jobs or who’ve stopped attending church because of a person who intimidates them. 

It is so important that we don’t respond to other people based upon our feelings, but out of obedience to God and His Word.

God tells us that we have no need to fear others, and that’s true whether we perceive them to be judging or attacking us, or if they do in fact taunt or revile us. 

“Listen to Me, you who know righteousness (right standing with God), The people in whose heart is My law and instruction; Do not fear the reproach and taunting of man, Nor be distressed at their reviling. Isaiah 51:7 AMP

Whenever I allow myself to feel intimidated by someone, my focus is upon myself—or the other person— and not upon God, who should always be the object of my focus (Col. 3:1; Hebrews 3:1; Psalm 119:6; 12:1-2). When my focus is fixed upon God, I will know that there is only one opinion of me that matters: and that’s God’s! And He says that I am ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’, His child, and lavishly loved by Him! (Psalm 139:14; Romans 5:8; Romans 8:32; 37-39; 1 John 3:1) When my focus is upon God, then it won’t be on me and my subjective ‘feelings’; I won’t become fixated on the real or perceived ‘offense’ and become judgmental myself or buy into self-deprecation. Instead, I will be asking questions like,“How can I respond in a way that pleases and glorifies God in this situation?” and  “How can I be a blessing to the person and reveal to them God’s heart of love for them?”

The only reason to look to yourself when you feel intimidated is to examine your own heart toward the person, and ask God to give you a ‘clean heart’ before Him so that you don’t fall into Satan’s trap and become offended or downtrodden (Psalm 51). God’s word tells us that ‘love is not easily offended’ (1 Corinthians 13:5), and we are always to respond to others in love (John 13:34). God’s desire may be for you to humble yourself and go to the person to see if you might have offended him/her (Matthew 5:23-24; 18:15), and to do whatever God leads you to do to pursue a harmonious relationship with them (Romans 12:16-18; 14:19; Colossians 3:12-13; Hebrews 12:14). People who intimidate others because of a condescending, judgmental spirit  reveal they don’t fully understand God’s love for them, His love for others, and His desire that people love others ‘as He has loved’ them. So, rather than focusing on yourself, you can look at the situation as a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate to the other person the love that Christ has shown to you! When you feel intimidated by someone, ask God to give you His view of and love for them, and the strength to respond to them with the grace and love He has extended to you!

So I, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to you to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called [that is, to live a life that exhibits godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behavior—a life that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation], with all humility [forsaking self-righteousness], and gentleness [maintaining self-control], with patience, bearing with one another in [unselfish] love. Make every effort to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the bond of peace [each individual working together to make the whole successful]. Ephesians 4:1-3 AMP

Prayer: Lord, help me to keep my focus upon You and Your will at all times, and give me the faith to believe that Your view of me is the only one that matters so that I do not succumb to the fear of man. When I do succumb, immediately convict me so that I do not sin against You by believing the lies of the enemy about myself, or by having unloving thoughts about or actions toward the person I find intimidating. May my identity be firmly rooted in the truth of who you say I am, based upon Your lavish, unchanging love for me! Lord, help me to be a vessel through which your love flows into the lives of others—-those who are easy for me to love, and especially to those who intimidate me and are impossible for me to love in my own strength. Give me Your heart of love for them, remembering at all times that they too are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made in Your image’ and precious to You! May the people I find intimidating become rooted and grounded in Your love so they will have the power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is Your love for them— love that surpasses all knowledge—so that they will be filled to the measure of all the fullness of You!

 (Ephesians 3:14-19)

Written by Julie Van Gorp

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This is What Courage Fueled By Faith Sounds Like...

In the book of Daniel, 3 friends find themselves faced with death because of a decision they had made to not bow down to a statue of the King, since they only worshipped the One true God. The death sentence was made known to them, specifically that they would be thrown into a huge, hot, fiery furnace and this is how they responded:

“16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. Daniel 3:16-18 NIV

Here’s what we can learn from these men of God, which John Maxwell writes about in his leadership Bible, when we face situations in our own life that could lead to death. In this example from Scripture they were facing physical death. You may be facing a threat of the death of a relationship, dream, job, family member or even your own physical death. When you find yourself in the moment of crisis what do you say to yourself or others? Let’s look at what these men said:

“the God we serve is able to deliver us from it…” These godly men believed in the omnipotence of God, that nothing was too hard for Him.

“He will deliver us…” They believed in the love of God that acts on behalf of the beloved.

“But even if he does not…” They believed in the sovereignty of God, that He acts on the basis of His own pleasure and will.

“the God we serve”…(v. 17) They not only believed certain things, they acted on them, and had done so all of their lives

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I’d like to add in verse 16 above that these men also knew the truth that “we do not need to defend ourselves.” Jesus is our advocate, He goes before us and God promises to fight our battles. He is the One who alone brings us the victory, the victory that He has promised is ours in Christ Jesus. Be encouraged today, speak life when circumstances arise that threaten you, your life, your God given plans or dreams. With God all things are possible.

Written by Jamie Shaver


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