Thursday, October 23, 2014

SESSION 4: FEAR

Your relationship with Fear and/or Anxiety
Answer yes or no to the following statements based on your experiences over the last three months:

1.     I have experienced physical symptoms, such as dizziness, heart pounding, hands trembling, or feeling hot and/or flushed when overcome by worry.
___ yes ___ no

2.     I’ve had a panic attack, an overwhelming sensation that lasted from several minutes to several hours, when I felt as if I couldn’t breathe and felt as if I might be having a heart attack.
___ yes ___ no

3.     I feel restless or on edge more days than not.
___ yes ___ no

4.     I’ve noticed that my sleeping or eating habits have changed because of feeling stressed out or worried.
___ yes ___ no

5.     More days than not, I feel unable to concentrate or as if I’m I a fog.
___ yes ___ no

6.     I have specific fear (e.g., of germs, social settings, public speaking, ect. ) that impedes my ability to function normally when confronted with that situation.
___ yes ___ no

7.     I have a specific fear that creates anxiety I can relieve only by certain actions or rituals, such as checking locks or stoves, thinking a certain way, or preparing certain foods.
___ yes ___ no

8.     I experienced a significant trauma (e.g., accident, illness, abuse) sometime in my past that gives me recurring nightmares, intrusive thoughts, or leads me to avoid certain people and places.
___ yes ___ no

9.     I am jumpy or easily agitated without cause.
___ yes ___ no



Session 4:


The bible gives us some helpful, practical, and timely advice on FEAR.
We don’t come to the bible just to get principles so we can DO better and TRY harder (that’s what self-help books are for). We come to the bible to learn the truth about Jesus and have Him take away our sin, and have Him send us the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit, so we might live a life that is obedient to His teaching and follow in His example.

WHAT IS FEAR?
False
Evidence
Appearing
Real

Fear is our response to danger that is real or perceived.
§  It doesn’t need to be real to be real scary (I.e. Horror movies). The whole point is to FREAK people out. And they’re not in any “real” danger, but the fear comes from a danger that is perceived to be potentially real.

FEAR BEGINS IN THE MIND

What does your mind fear? Who/what are you afraid of; Sickness, death, public speaking, failure, success, economic collapse, witnessing, being alone, suffering, rejection, the unknown, change, family members not being saved, losing a loved one, unemployment, weight gain/loss? Everyone fears something.

 In Luke 12:32 Jesus says, “FEAR NOT little flock”. Fear not is the most frequently uttered command in the whole bible. The first 5 books (Pentateuch) have 613 commands, and if you take the totality of the Bible (66 books of Scripture), and pull out every single command, FEAR NOT” is repeated most. This must be a perennial issue. The Bible was written over the course of a few 1,000 years, by roughly 40 authors, in multiple nations; but one thing’s consistent - people are governed by their fears.

But Jesus says, “FEAR NOT”. We could hear this 1 of 2 ways:
1.    A command: could sound religious and not helpful. (sternly) “Fear not, little flock!” or… “Fear not, puny little one.” “Well, that’s kind of why I’m freaking out. I’m the puny little one.” 

2.    An invitation: Every fear is an opportunity to either run to or run from God, as a source for our comfort, hope, and help. Jesus says, “Fear not” out of love. God is telling us, “Fear not… I’m your Dad, I love you, you’re not alone, I’m with you, and it’s going to be okay.

NOT ALL FEAR IS SINFUL

FEAR can ultimately protect us or destroy us. God has equipped us with the capacity to FEAR for the purpose of our own protection and benefit.

Two types of fear:

+ POSITIVE FEAR: healthy fear that keeps you from danger.
§  Matt 2:22, “But when he learned that the new ruler of Judea was Herod's son, he was afraid to go there. Then, after being warned in a dream, he left for the region of Galilee.” The perceived danger was real, and fear led him away from it.

- NEGATIVE FEAR: harmful fear that keeps you in bondage.
§  Mathew 14:30 “But when he (Peter) saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Unhealthy fear, overtook him, and brought imminent danger upon him.
§  Unhealthy fear is a spirit.  It is a sign of spiritual attack from your enemy, the devil.
In Romans 8.15 Paul refers to unhealthy fears as bondage. "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of Adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father.'"

God says He has not given you a spirit of fear, but He has given you loveand there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with PUNISHMENT.

1 Sam. 15:23 – “Saul has rejected the word of the Lord… an evil spiritfrom the Lord’ troubled (terrified) him.”

God is sovereign/in control over Satan & his demons. God can use evil to bring judgment and punishment according to His will. But this type of fear (spirit of fear) is not God’s will for His children. God is love, and so He desires us to be filled with His spirit and His love, not fear. If you’re living in fear, you’re not trusting God and you’re not living the abundant life Christ talks about.

FEAR and LOVE cannot dwell together. 


Tina Turner would say, “What’s love got to do with it?” By definition, God IS love, and love always trusts (fear doesn’t). So if you’re abiding in God’s spirit, His perfect love should cast out fear. So a lack of the Holy Spirit and love of God leads to bondage of fearGod says, “He who fears has not been made perfect in love” (1 john 4:18). Solution is to develop a deeper, more meaningful, intimate relationship with Him, TRUSTING in Him, and then God’s perfect love will not let your fears RULE you.

When we fear, we put the devil on the throne of our life instead of God. Our Father is not the author of fear; He does not want us to be afraid of anyone/anything. Living in fear grieves God’s heart. Why? Because when we fear, we reveal that we believe Satan rather than Him. When the devil comes to us and puts all kinds of lying thoughts & images into our mind, we need to reject them and remember God’s word and His trustworthiness. To do otherwise is to magnify Satan instead of magnifying God. Imagine Satan going before God with his lying accusations about you. “See, she really doesn’t believe in you. She’s bowing down to me! Her allegiance is to me because she is trapped in fear.” Is this you?

FEAR IS A FORM OF REBELLION

Why? It causes us to not believe in God’s word. Instead, we believe Satan’s lies! In Numbers 14 we read these words of warning from Joshua:
          “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us – a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord; and do NOT fear the people of land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” (feared the strength of the army)

THE ORIGIN OF FEAR

Let’s go to first place in the Bible where FEAR is mentioned in Genesis 3, where Adam and Eve HAD that perfect “Intimate relationship” with God.

8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

Was this a healthy, right kind of fear?
Adam had the wrong (negative) kind of FEAR. As you think about Adam’s fear, let’s identify the following phrases which properly describe this wrong kind of FEAR:

1.
F
A direct result of man’s sin and guilt
2.
F
Running from God (Jonah & the whale)
3.
Godly Fear
Running towards God ("cometh to God"--Heb. 11:6)
4.
Godly Fear
Facing and fixing my problems
5.
F
Hiding and covering up my problems
6.
F
Avoiding the Lord
7.
Godly Fear
Approaching the Lord
8.
Godly Fear
Open and honest before God
9.
F
Ashamed before God, "having an evil conscience" (Heb. 10:22)
10.
Godly Fear
Ever conscious of wrongdoing and of one’s own failure to fulfill his God-given responsibilities.

Does the believer who is hidden IN CHRIST ever need to be afraid of approaching a HOLY GOD? No. Hebrews 4:16 tell us to seek God about our fears/problems: 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Insights of fear:

·       Fear is vision without optimism & faith.

Some of you know where the economy is going, where your life is going, where your health is going, where your relationships are going, where your vocation is going. You have an idea of what’s down the road – BUT you don’t have any faith. And so FEAR creeps in – “Oh my gosh, that’s going to go bad, that COULD go bad, that COULD hurt, that COULD BE costly, that COULD fail.”

The whole time you are fearful, God is saying TRUST me. In Mark 5:36 Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid - Just have FAITH”. He tells us, "I know what’s going on, I’m in control, and I have a plan for your life -- and it’s for good!” (Jeremiah 29:11). Fear drives us to make some crazy decisions. Faith let’s Christ take the wheel.
§  
Having FAITH doesn't mean you’ll have no doubts or fears. It means you trust God will do what's right (and that he’s in control) in spite of your fears.

Faith and fear are very similar in nature.   Both are an unshakable belief in an unseen future.  Neither is merely emotional, but both are spiritual forces. The only difference between the two is that one believes God will come through for you - The other believes He won't.

·       Fear can be about:

1.    Not getting what we want.

Your hope is hung on something“I want to get married – I don’t’ think I’m going to get married.” I’m fearful. “We want to have kids – I don’t think we are going to have kids.” We’re fearful. “I want to graduate – I don’t think I’m going to graduate.” “I want a job… I want to serve God… I want to go into ministry… I want to own a house… I want a promotion, etc. I don’t think it’s going to happen.” And FEAR comes in. “I’m not going to get it… it’s not going to happen… the answers no. What will happen?” And FEAR comes in.

2.    Getting what we want and losing it.

* Sometimes success is more fearful than failure…
“We’re married – what if we get divorced? We’re pregnant! What if we miscarry? The child was born! What if they die? Or what if they don’t love God? I got the job! What if I lose it? We got the house! What if we can’t make the mortgage? So it’s the fear of getting something your heart longs for, and then losing it. That can cause fear.

3.    Getting what you don’t want.

“I got cancer – I don’t want it! I got fired – that’s not what I wanted. My spouse left – nobody wants to marry me… And FEAR comes in.

·       Fear reveals our values, loves, priorities, and longings.
You only fear losing what you love. You only fear getting what you hate. It reveals a lot about what is “essential to us… what is primary for us.

·       Fear turns us into false prophets:
False prophets are those who predict the future wrongly. In our own lives we could be false prophets: “It’s going to go bad. It’s going to go horrible. This could be worse case scenario. OMG, OMG, and then we get there and we’re like, “Nope… sorry, I was wrong.”

How many of you are false prophets? You freak out about things that don’t happen?  That’s ME. (I.e. Up late at night thinking, while Ryan’s fast asleep).  For false prophets, the future is bleak and you freak out until it doesn’t happen.

  
Multi-phobias

§  People fear many things, and some of those fears have been classified into various kinds of "PHOBIAS." ("Phobia" comes from a Greek word meaning "fear").  
§  Doctors have identified over 700 phobias.
§  According to The People's Almanac, this is the number one FEAR in the US:



The fear of speaking before a group.
This is my fear (I.e. public speaking in college) – also, leading a study group. *burden on my heart to feed you * Hosea 4:6, My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

Does fear affect your ministry? Is it interfering with God’s will for your life? Is it holding you back from reaching your calling/full potential?

(I.e. fear of witnessing)Root Cause? Rejection? Persecution? Fear what will others think? Fear you’re not knowledgeable enough?) * It’s a spirit of fear from Satan sent to destroy your influence.



*Sometimes God calls us
OUT
Of our comfort zone to
Serve Him.







Fear says, “No”.
Faith/obedience says, “Yes”.

When Jesus called Peter out on the water, it was FAITH that made him take that first step, but it was FEAR that ultimately SANK him. 

What is Jesus calling you to do that Fear is saying, “No” to?



Fear can seem reasonable to us, even when it’s irrational.

How many of you have irrational fears? And people try and reason with you and it doesn’t make any difference, because by definition, you’re being unreasonable. So we have this entire list of things people are afraid of and some of them are irrational… but they are always rational to the person who has them.



Fear says God will not help you this time.
Fear says your children
won't come back to the Lord.
Fear says that your finances will never improve.
Fear says that your marriage is
ruined.

Fear says the “opposite” of what God says.
This girl has a spirit of fear that tells her she is fat; leading to anorexia. This fear seems very rational to her, but to us… it’s irrational.



* Epidemic with both girls/women these days.
This destructive disorder is caused by a spirit of fear.

Does this scare you?


If so, you have a fear of clowns. It’s an actual “diagnosis”.

How about this? Does this scare you?



It’s a fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth.

How about this…
Does this man frighten you?




You may have a fear of sermons (an actual diagnosis).
This may be why some people have not come back to church!

And for those of you who do not find this funny
and are not laughing

you probably have this:



It’s a fear of laughter!

PHYSICAL & PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF FEAR
·      
Fear starts it the mind & manifests itself as anxiety in the body.

The number one category for prescription medicine in the US is Anti-depressants. One of the number one issues is: sleeplessness. People are ANXIOUS. Their STRESSED out, FREAKED out -------------à

They’re struggling. People are taking less vacations then ever… bringing along phones and laptops, to be connected to ALL of their responsibilities because they are so afraid of not having control that they can’t even take a break. It’s called anxiousness.

God designed our bodies in a way that gives us clues about our MENTAL state. And Luke is a medical physician, and he’s reporting Jesus’s teachings on this matter.

LIFE is a big category! That’s finances, health, relationships, etc. Anything in life is something that could potentially produce fear-based anxiety.
Luke 12:25 - Jesus says, “Which of you by being anxious (stressed) can add a single hour to his span of life?” Jesus is basically saying, “I don’t want you to be anxious because you’re going to hurt yourself. You’re going to REDUCE the quality and duration of your life. You’re actually going to shorten your lifespan if you’re ruled by your fears and anxieties.”

§  Anxiety is the body’s response to fear and it results in a physiological reaction called FIGHT or FLIGHT – either get amped up and go to war, or run for your life!
a.    "Fight or flight" brings on a surge of adrenaline setting the body on high alert. This triggers the release of stress hormones such as cortisol.  The problem comes when excessive worrying and anxiety keeps the body in a constant “fight or flight” mode; which eventually leads to adrenaline fatigue (No energy at all). Pushing beyond what God even intended for your body.
§  God designed our bodies, in moments of terror or danger, to use all of this energy for survival, but we live in a world where we’re stuck on. We’re always in that state of perpetual stress.
§  Sleep issues/insomnia. You start self-medicating. Deaths from narcotic painkillers like Vicodin, morphine, and OxyContin have rose 4-fold in a decade - CDC. Benzodiazepines such as Xanax, which are sedatives used to treat anxiety and insomnia, accounted for 31% of the narcotic overdose deaths in 2011 (up from 13 percent in 1999). People are stressed.
§  Mood swings, anger, and depression.
§  Exhaustion. You ever wake up, “Did I even go to bed?” See the average American is sleep deprived. Average person requires 8-10 hours of sleep—Most of you are getting less sleep than you should, and you’re paying for it out of your account of health and with things like coffee.
§  Nervous twitches.
§  Weight changes.
§  High blood pressure.
§  Disassociation or checking out. “Autopilot”—mentally elsewhere. How many of you have had that commute? You get in the car, you drive home. You get home and you’re like, “I’m home. I do not remember driving home. You were disassociated - checked out.
§  Paranoia /suspicion. Fantasize about death/suicide. For Christians, they tend to start reading books about the RAPTURE!
§  Suppressed immune system - Chronic stress depletes vitamin C!
§  Digestive disorders
§  Muscle tension
§  Short-term memory loss
§  Premature coronary artery disease, Heart attack!!
§  Reckless, aggressive driving. Like I did recently in traffic. Laid on the horn. Somebody went into the intersection and blocked it for an entire green light. And so I wanted to notify them. Just trying to serve!! J
Jesus says, “If you have anxiousness, you are reducing the quality and length of your life. It’s going to kill you.”

Robs us of our health.
Robs us of God’s presence.
Robs us of our peace.


And so Jesus tells us “FEAR NOT!”
“That’s easy for you to say, you’re in heaven getting worshiped by the angels.

Jesus understands what it’s like to suffer physically. He understands what it’s like to die. He understands what it’s like to have people malign your reputation. He knows what it’s like to have your family think you’re crazy or disown you or turn their back on you. He knows what it’s like to have friends you can’t depend on, because his were all asleep in the garden when he needed them the most. He knows what it’s like to have someone you love sabotage your life, steal from you, and betray you. Jesus knows what it’s like to be single and alone. At this point he’s broke and homeless, heading toward the cross. So isn’t it wonderful that this is OUR Jesus? Someone who loves us and can relate to us?

UNDERSTANDING WHO GOD IS HELPS US NOT TO FEAR.

1)
Isaiah 41:10
I will not fear because HE IS MY GOD
2)
Genesis 15:1
I will not fear because HE IS MY SHIELD
3)
Proverbs 3:25-26
I will not fear because HE IS MY REFUGE
4)
Psalm 27:1
I will not fear because HE IS MY SAVIOR
5)
Psalm 46:1-2
I will not fear because HE IS MY STRENGTH
6)
Hebrews 13:6
I will not fear because HE IS MY HELPER
7)
Psalm 91:2,5
I will not fear because HE IS MY FORTRESS


Some Causes of Fear:

o   A lack of faith and trust in God and His Word:
Mat.8:26 - Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?
Mk.4:40 - Why are ye so fearful? How is it ye have no faith?
o   Looking at circumstances and conditions:
Mat.14:30 – (Peter, walking on the sea) saw the wind & waves... he was afraid; and began to sink
o   A lack of the Spirit and love of God:
1 Jn.4:18 - He that feareth is not made perfect in God's love
o   Disobedience to God's Word:
Jer.6:19, 22-25 - I will bring evil...because they have not hearkened unto My Words...fear is on every side
o   Punishment for unrepented sin:
2 Chr.29:6, 8 - Our fathers have trespassed...wherefore He hath delivered them to trouble (literally: trembling)
o   Evil spirits:
1Sam.15:23, (Saul) hast rejected the word of the Lord...an
16:14, 15 - evil spirit from the Lord troubled (terrified) him


What Fear Can Result In?

o   It can cause you to become bound:
Pro.29:25 - The fear of man bringeth a snare
Heb.2:15 - Who through fear of death were...subject to bondage
o   It can cause weakness:
Job 4:14 - Fear came upon me, and trembling...all my bones shake
o   It can sap your will to fight and cause defeat:
Josh.2:11 - As soon as we heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage
o   It hinders you from witnessing or standing up for your convictions:
Mat.26:56 - Then all the disciples forsook (Jesus), and fled
Mat.26:69-74 - Peter, fearful, denied that he knew Jesus
o   It can cause you to disobey God:
Num.13:28, 31-33 - Jews refused to invade Canaan for fear of the giants.
o   It can cause mental torment and anguish:
1Jn.4:18 - Fear hath torment
o   Fear can even cause sickness and death:
Lk.21:26 - Men's hearts failing them for fear.
o   If not checked, fear can get a grip on you:
Jer.6:22-25 - Anguish hath taken hold of us...fear is on every side
o   Fears can materialize and become real things:
Job 3:25 - The thing which I greatly feared is come upon me
o   Fear is contagious and can affect others:
Deut.20:8 - What man is fearful? Let him go...lest his brethren's heart faint as well as his heart.


How to Have Peace and Freedom from Fear:

o   Trust in the Lord:
Psa.23:4 - Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me
Psa.31:13, 14 - Fear was on every side...but I trusted in Thee
Psa.91:2,5 - The Lord is my refuge...[I shall] not be afraid for the terror by night
o   Trust in God's Word:
Pro.1:33 - Whoso hearkeneth unto Me...shall be quiet from fear
Pro.3:1,2 - Let thine heart keep My commandments...peace shall they add to thee
o   Remember that God is with you and will not fail you:
Deut.20:3,4 - Let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified...for God goeth with you
Deut.31:6 - Fear not, nor be afraid...God... will not fail thee

o   Seek the Lord for deliverance from fear:
Psa.34:4 - I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears

o   Forsake your sins:
Job 11:13-15 - [Pray to God and] put (iniquity) far away...Then shalt thou...be steadfast, and shalt not fear
o   Rebuke the devil and the spirit of fear:
Jam.4:7b - Resist the devil, and he will flee from you
o   The solution the Holy Spirit and faith:
Acts 4:29, 31 – consider their threats...enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.


The Only One You Should Fear Is God:

o   We are commanded to fear (reverence) God:
Josh.24:14 - Fear the Lord, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth.
o   God's blessings on them that fear Him:
Psa.25:12 - He that feareth the Lord...shall He teach in the way
Psa.31:19 - How great is Thy goodness...for them that fear Thee
Psa.34:9 - There is no want (lack) to them that fear Him
Psa.103:13 - The Lord (has compassion on) them that fear Him
Psa.147:11 - The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear Him
Pro.1:7 - The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge
Pro.9:10 - The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom


How do you free yourself from fearful thoughts?

MEDITATION

The battle of fear takes place in our minds. What we choose to mediate on affects us. Everyone meditates.  The true meaning of meditation is to “roll a thought over in your mind, over and over again”.  The issue comes when we meditate on our problems, and not our PROMISES.  

How do you begin controlling your emotions and thoughts… by reprogramming your mind! God says that He hasn't given you fear, but self-discipline (2 Tim. 1:7) –ability to control your emotions and thoughts.  We can control our fears by filling our mind with the promises of God.  We need to meditate on His Word DAILY. If we do this consistently, and abide in His spirit and perfect love, no stronghold can overtake us.