Fear + Enemies

I’m determined to continue studying the Biblical command “Do not fear,” but I’ve run into a road block. A mind block. Six books into the Bible (beginning with Joshua), and I’m only finding verses where the context of “do not fear” is enemies.

Now the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear or be dismayed. Take all the people of war with you and arise, go up to Ai; see, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. (Joshua 8:1)

“Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed because of the king of Assyria nor because of all the horde that is with him; for the one with us is greater than the one with him. (2 Chronicles 32:7)

When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people: “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses.” (Nehemiah 4:14)

Battle, conquest, even the wholesale slaughter of people groups as Israel takes and keeps the promised land. These stories need more context than I have the time to present.

But more importantly, I find myself in a world where culture and even the church regularly tells me who my enemies are: Whom I should hate, who I am against, who is evil and with whom we should do battle.

I believe the Bible is God’s Word and we should be guided by it. But I’m not sure I want ancient cultures naming enemies for me, or prescribing my response to the enemies I might have. I have to follow Jesus in these things, and He leads in a different way.

And frankly, in a week when I’ve had to take a break from the news, from the sound of gunshots in schools and deep divisions over how we can curb the violence breaking out among us, I don’t want a Bible study that is centered on war and naming people as my enemies.

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Eating Obstacles for Breakfast (No Fear)

Our No Fear study this week continues the story of Moses and the Isrealites, who saw the Lord fight for them, while they had only to be still. After crossing the Red Sea and experiencing the deliverance of the Lord, the Hebrews were ready to enter the land God promised Abraham generations before.

Standing at the brink of God’s promises, at the border of Canaan, the people decide to send 12 spies into the land, to prepare the nation for the battle ahead.

Ten spies return with terrible news:

They gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size… and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.  (Numbers 13: 32-33)

This report causes the people to despair. But there is a voice of hope. Two of the spies have an entirely different view of the land of promise.

Caleb and Joshua attempt to calm the people, assuring Moses that the people can indeed take the land as God has promised. As the people weep and wail, wishing they had died in Egypt, Joshua and Caleb beg the people to believe God’s promise.

This fascinates me: How can 12 people have the exact same experience and come to two entirely different conclusions?

The answer is perspective.

Ten spies see obstacles, barriers, giants. Their view of the obstacles is bigger than their view of God: And so they preach fear and fleeing.

Joshua and Caleb see the obstacles, but their view of God is bigger than anything they saw in the land. And so they preach faith. Hope. Trust.

Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes;  and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “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 the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” (Numbers 14:6-9)

Ten spies see giants. Joshua and Caleb see food, knowing that the obstacles we face by faith strengthen us.

Perspective is a choice.

What choice will we make? As we look to the unknown, to challenges, as we listen to the voices in our heads that cry “I CAN’T”, which is bigger? The challenge? The obstacle? The giants?

Or God?

Perspective is largely a function of focus. In photography, whatever is closest to the camera appears largest. I have a choice where I focus, and what I let be closest to me, as I picture challenges and things that make me afraid.

Is the challenge, the source of fear, standing between me and God?

Or am I looking at every challenge – like Joshua and Caleb – through the lens of a good God, who keeps His promises?

This is an important choice: It will lead us to be grasshoppers in our own eyes, or it will allow us to see obstacles as food for us. And if we’re leaders? It’s the difference between leading people to despair or encouraging them to faith. God WILL keep His promises. No fear.

 

Journaling Prompts:

What obstacles are you facing right now? What makes you feel like a grasshopper, and maybe like you’d be better off anywhere but here?

As a leader (in life, in your job, in your family), in what ways might you tend to focus on challenges and obstacles, letting them be bigger than God in your eyes and the eyes of those you lead? And how are you encouraged in your leadership by Caleb and Joshua’s example?

As you look to the future, things that make you feel fearful, what would it look like for you to see God as bigger than any obstacle or challenge?

Are you facing challenges that make you feel like a grasshopper? Look to Joshua and Caleb and learn to eat those obstacles for breakfast. (No Fear Devotional from reemeyer.com)

 

 

 

 


This post is the latest in the NO FEAR Devotional Series. If this resonated with you, check back every Tuesday, and read the previous posts in the series here.


Photo in cover images by Gouthaman Raveendran and Boris Smokrovic on Unsplash

When you’re feeling trapped and there’s no way out…look for the way through (No Fear)

But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today… The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” (Exodus 14:13-14)

Our story today finds the Hebrew descendants of Abraham enslaved in Egypt, crying out under oppression. God heard their cry and raised up a deliverer in Moses. Moses famously demanded of Pharoah, “Let my people go”, and after the trauma and death of the plagues, Pharoah let the people go. And they went. They went all the way to the Red Sea, where they realized Pharoah had changed his mind about releasing the slave population that made life in Egypt possible.

So the Hebrews found themselves trapped, between Pharoah’s armies and the deeps of the sea.

As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord. (Exodus 14:10)

Do you relate to that feeling?

Have you found yourself between a rock and a hard place? At the end of your rope? Between the devil and the deep blue sea?

Do you know what it feels like to be trapped?

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Heard & Seen: A Message for the Ones Who Feel Invisible and Disposable (No Fear Devotional)

Throughout my childhood and early adulthood I battled feeling invisible in my family, in school, and in my first jobs.  My preferred method for dealing with hard things tends to be to handle them myself rather than speaking up, and I think it’s important to own my own participation in areas where I don’t have a voice. I have learned to speak up (to the point where now I’m told – by some people- that I can sometimes take up too much space. I’ve now grown a lot of shame around the idea of being too loud, too opinionated, too much.), but I still relate to the feeling of having no voice and being invisible.

And I hear the stories of women who feel invisible, weekly. In their families, in their marriages, in their jobs, in their friendships, women are under attack, and the lie being thrown at us is INVISIBLE. You’re not heard, you’re not seen, you don’t matter.

Make no mistake: Invisible is a LIE.

We have a God who sees, a God who hears.

I was so happy to be reminded of this truth in my search through the places in God’s Word where He says, “DO NO FEAR.” When I am afraid, the reminder that God sees me and hears my cries is balm to my soul. Continue reading

Fear Not: Willing to Wait

“Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you;
Your reward shall be very great.” (Genesis 15:1)

As God’s story unfolds in the Bible, Abraham is the first person to hear “Do not fear…” from God. Let’s sit at Abraham’s feet and see what we can learn from his life about freedom from fear.

We meet Abraham as Abram in Genesis 12, as God says to Him,

“Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

Abraham’s is a story of faith, and Abraham’s is a story of promise.

God says GO, and Abram goes. Abram goes in God’s promise to make him a nation, to make his name great, and to make him a blessing. Abram becomes the father of Israel, and through his descendant Jesus, all the families of the earth are blessed. Every promise Yahweh made to Abram was kept.

Abraham’s story is a story of faith and promise. But those promises of a nation and a prosperity and a blessing are given when Abram is 75, and childless. Without a child, Abram could not father a nation, or have a great name, or bless all the families of the earth.

At 99, Yahweh repeats His promises to Abram, and gives him a new name, one with the breath of God inserted in the middle. Abraham’s story is a story of faith and promise. But Abram waited for 25 years before a son was born to him, before he had even a glimpse of God’s plan, the keeping of his promise.  Continue reading

Fear Not: The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom

I feel God calling me right now, to something new or different. I don’t want to be melodramatic, so let me be clear: I don’t know how new, or how different, and I suspect that the new or different isn’t what I expect. I also don’t think He’s calling me to something bigger. I’m guessing it is something smaller, actually.

But I do feel like He’s calling me.

That sounds pretty romantic, but the truth is that I am scared to death. I trust God, but I don’t like change, and my life already has plenty of change coming, thankyouverymuch. I’m scared.

Afraid of mis-hearing God, of making wrong decisions.

Afraid of disappointment.

Afraid of failure. (Really, really afraid of failure.)

I’m afraid.

I decided a long time ago not to make decisions based on fear, but I’ve found that fear leads me in super sneaky ways.

So I’m going back to my roots, Bible study wise, and I’m doing a Word study. I’m going to look at every place the Bible says any version of the phrase “fear not” or “do not be afraid.” I think I’ve read somewhere that “fear not” is the most repeated command in the Bible, so I’m guessing this will take a while.

I probably won’t write about every single verse I find, but I tend to learn more when I  communicate what I’m learning. So I’m inviting you to join me on this journey. Most Tuesdays you’ll find some “fear not” thoughts here, as I work out this truth in my life. I’d love to hear what you’re afraid of, and the areas where you need to hear God’s invitation to “fear not.”

I’ll probably study in chronological order because that makes the most sense to me (Hi, I’m Renee. I like to go in order.) But my verse of the year is from the middle of the story, and it’s another return to my roots (as this is something of a life verse for me.) Continue reading