Sunday, March 1, 2009

Freedom from Fear

The Psalms repeatedly describe us as sheep. In Psalm 100:3, “We are…the sheep of His pasture.” In Psalm 119:186a, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep.” And in the infamous Psalm 23:1-2, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.” Each time I read these verses, I remember how dumb sheep are, so God is not exactly complimenting us here. As a result, the whole devotional this week could look at the parallel between the really dumb things we do as we stumble along our path to knowing, loving, obeying, and serving Christ with everything that is in us. But, that’s not the lesson God has brought to my heart. Instead, maybe because I’ve had a sleep-deprived week and need rest, He’s been causing me to focus on the “He maketh me to lie down” part of Psalm 23.

In A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Phillip Keller says that to truly rest, to “lie down,” sheep need to have four basic needs met. First, they must be free from hunger—we discussed that last week, so I hope you’ve been consuming God’s Word all week long. Next, they must be free from friction with other sheep and free from pests (flies, parasites, etc.). And finally, they must be free from fear.

Freedom from fear. Did you know the most repeated command in the Bible is “Fear not.” But, why would God spend so much ink on telling us to not fear? Why not spend more time telling us to fulfill the Great Commission? Or to love one another? Aren’t those more important instructions? I think God’s telling us not to fear is connected, in part, to our being sheep who need to lie down and rest in peace in Jesus. If we have fear, we can’t rest. And ultimately, if we are not well rested and free from fear, we’re not going to fulfill the plans God has for us.

What do you fear? Losing your job? Losing your spouse or children…or never finding a spouse or having children? Not having enough money to pay your bills? Contracting a terrible disease? Dying? Or maybe your fear is completely different. Maybe you aren’t fulfilling God’s commands because of fear—do you fear being rejected when you share your faith? Not knowing what to say? Having God call you to missions in another part of the world? Being too embarrassed to ask another’s forgiveness? Whichever is the case, know this—fear can consume you and can keep you from fulfilling your destiny in Christ. If you don’t give them to Jesus, whatever fears you have can keep you from true rest in Him and will keep you from fulfilling the plans He has for you. So, spend some time this week asking God to reveal your hidden fears and consider how those fears are keeping you from His great plans for you (Jer. 29:11). Then, lie down and rest in Him.

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