Don’t you agree that Selwyn’s conclusion is great? “Our love for Christ fuses the divisions of the soul into a burning unity. There is no room for inner fear, for there is no room for inner division. Fear cannot live in this fire of love – this love that has as its highest priority love for Christ. Bowing before Him, the soul bows before nothing else. It belongs to the One who is afraid of nothing – hence it is unafraid.”

Jesus has prepared a number of tasks for us to do. He wants us to complete these good things; yet, there is an enemy doing everything he can, to prevent us from even starting – and fear – especially, the fear of failure is one of the main weapons used by Satan to hold us back from doing a good day’s work in the harvest field. It’s important to trust in God’s word – that He has a firm hold on us, and will never let go. We don’t have to depend on the strength of our grip, we are not holding His hand such that we can let go at any time. It’s His wounded hand and His grip – powered by His love. Nothing can separate you from His love – do you, believe this?

Pull out all the stops!

I’ve had a difficult time over the last few days – so, I’ll keep my comments short until I catch up.

The best bit, I thought, from today’s study is: ‘Expand your personality through perfect love so that love empowers the will, drives the emotions and clears the mind. This expansion drives out all fear. It turns it out of doors!”

As I’ve said in earlier posts, it’s only by allowing Jesus to be in complete control of our mind and heart that we will fearlessly head in the direction towards home.

What compels us?

What compels us – to act in certain ways? This is a very good question because I think it’s a type of acid test – we, can say we believe in Jesus and maybe even recite John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Yet, if we openly state with our mouths that we believe in Jesus but that belief does not compel us to live our lives in obedience to God’s commandments – then clearly, in my view, we are the worst type of hypocrites. There are many verses in Scripture that express the same view.

I think that the major problem facing the Church in ‘western’ countries – is the failure to recognise that the majority of people who call themselves Christians do NOT follow the teachings of Jesus – do you agree?

Okay, back to what Selwyn is talking about today, he continues to examine ‘fear’. He says: “Because fear is possibly the greatest hindrance to entering the experience of being ‘more than a conqueror’, we must continue our examination of (it) …”. The link to my introductory comments is that I think ‘fear’ is mainly an issue for people who claim to be Christians (and I’m mainly referring to people who claim to be mature Christians); but, in reality, they are not!

For those young Christians still trying out their legs of faith – Selwyn’s summary is worth considering: “The fears that have to be dealt with are those which paralyse our activities and hinder us from functioning effectively. When fear stops us being our best for God then that fear ought to be confronted and brought into His presence.”

The verses set for reading and meditation are excellent, Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians 5:11-21 (NIV):

“Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

In summary, we are compelled by the love of Jesus – we have left behind our fearful, worldly views – we are a new creation – we live our new life in Christ reconciled to God – therefore there is nothing on earth, to fear! What do you think?

‘The great destroyer’

Selwyn continues to discuss the fact that through Jesus we have been given ‘a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline’.

However, many Christians appear to be paralysed by fear of different types. In some cases, as Selwyn mentions “the devil is directly responsible for some fears.” I think that Satan does this in two ways; one, to create a general atmosphere of fear, for example, the emergence of global terrorism which, I’m sure, has all the fingermarks of Satan on it. The second way, is that he targets Christians who are on fire with the love of our Lord – Satan is an expert on the sort of issues which worry us the most; and, is often most effective in diverting our attention away from working in God’s harvest field to problems to do with those closest to us – family, relations and friends.

Satan knows our weaknesses better than we know ourselves. That’s why we must always ask Jesus for help in difficult times – Jesus has defeated Satan and can turn all his devious, evil schemes into good.  I always like the way Joseph reassured his brothers who had earlier sold him into slavery, Genesis 50:20, “You (under Satan’s influence) intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

We can overcome fear by lifting up our hand for God’s help – we just need the confidence that He will take hold and help us through a difficult, fearful time. Scripture is full of stories which demonstrate God’s faithfulness to a disobedient and rebellious people – why don’t we believe in them enough, to live our lives with the love and power, He is offering? 

Fear – the thing to fear

It appears that Selwyn will examine ‘fear’ over the next few days – ‘in an attempt to understand it more fully’. He goes onto say that ‘the fears I am concerned with here, however, are the fears that paralyse us and incapacitate us. … No Christian need be paralysed by fear. Aware of it perhaps, even apprehensive, but never its prey.”

In a few days time, Selwyn will highlight that great verse in John’s first letter, and it’s worth introducing it now (1 John 4:18): ‘There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear …’.

God’s perfect love drives out all fear – consequently, all who are against God – want to create fear and confusion. It’s not a coincidence that there are many people who want to destroy our trust in Scripture – to erode its authority.  Imagine, if we could not trust what John wrote all those years ago – that God is love and perfect love drives out all fear – to whom could we go to seek any form of truth? Yet, we do have a solid rock on which to stand – our faith that Jesus loves us – a faith strengthened by His Spirit which enables us to believe His Word. Do you agree?Â

The basis of certainty

The verse for today is one that’s worth committing to memory (2 Timothy 1:7): “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” It’s great to know that with God’s help we have the ability to control our sinful desires (self-discipline), that we are able to love our friends and enemies with a love which is the same as God’s love; and, we have access to God’s power to further His kingdom while we are on our journey of faith.

We are not mere survivors, clinging on to life, hiding at the back of some dark cave. We have the ability to walk out into the light with a spirit of power to demonstrate God’s love to all who we meet.

I like this bit in today’s study: “Here, then, is the basis of being ‘more than a conqueror’; the whole person is strengthened. The will, the emotions, and mind are all renewed. There is power for the will, love for the emotions, and sound judgment for the mind. What more could one want in order to cope with life?” 

Yet, do we really believe these truths as outlined by Selwyn? Why is it, that we say we believe what Paul wrote in his letter to Timothy, yet live our lives as if we believe the exact opposite? What’s holding us back?

‘Nor anything else’

Selwyn continues to explore these verses from Romans  8:37-39: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

He says: “Finally Paul adds, ‘nor anything else in all creation’. This covers all the things that have not been specifically mentioned. Nothing, absolutely nothing in the whole universe, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. We have perfect security as we surrender to His love.”

The last sentence tells us, where we should be – in a place of perfect security – standing firm with this knowledge should enable us to be God’s ambassadors within our families and communities. Too often, we worship Jesus behind closed doors – nailed shut by our fears of ridicule, persecution and the unknown. Why is it that many of Jesus’ followers – follow at a distance, afraid of what others may think; is it because we are insecure in our faith – is it because we have only partially surrender to His love? What do you think?