Matthew 24:4-8 (NLT)
Jesus told them, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.”
Let’s see…wars (check), rumors of war (check), famines (check), earthquakes (check), persecuted Christians (check), hated all over the world (check), church divided (check), false prophets (check), sin rampant (check) and love grown cold (check). Looks like Jesus nailed it in His Summation of the world to come. It is exactly as the Son of God told us that it would be all those centuries ago. That in and of itself should breed more confidence in Christ unless of course you are too busy panicking to fully understand just now close His Return must be. Growing up in a strong Southern Baptist church, the Book of Revelation and the “end times” were covered in great detail. I remember my sister leaning over to me in church one time and saying, “He better not come back until I get married!” It’s funny how history repeats itself as my oldest daughter who is engaged recently reiterated her plea. How does one not panic and remain calm in a world that is failing with faith that is waning? Where is hope? Why are churches closing in such a time as this? How can the Lord say, “Don’t panic?”
Panic is sudden, overwhelming fear that produces hysterical and/or irrational behavior. It happens all the time. Faith rises up making us feel strong and confident in our hope until the next wave comes and drags us under the current. Lifeguards instruct swimmers not to fight waves that overtake us but rather relax until it passes. When we fight, we expend energy that is needed to keep from sinking and drowning after the danger passes. We are no match for the power of a crashing wave but we can break the surface if we do not get caught up in it. Panic is described by words like alarm, confusion, dismay, dread, fear, rushing or agitation. Most people live in a state of panic worrying and stressing over what will come next. The opposite of panic is peace along with assurance, calmness, confidence, courage, happiness and contentment. Not many people know any peace at all. Christians are most often not any better than anyone else about overcoming fear and panic. There is a hidden truth tucked in Matthew 24:4-14 in verse 13 that says, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Will you be that one? The one who despite all hell breaking loose in the world in which we live chooses to hang on to faith, plant God’s Word in their heart and allow confident hope to keep them from overwhelming fear and panic.
Psalm 34:1-10 (NLT)
I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the LORD; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the LORD’s greatness; let us exalt his name together. I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the LORD is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the LORD, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing.
There are two kinds of fear in this life. The first is the one that most of us are familiar with that produces panic. Fear that is a feeling of alarm, apprehension, or distress that fills us with concern and anxiety. Many people live in fear every day of their life always worrying about every single detail of their life. They never reach their full potential because they are too afraid to go for it. Faith is completely hindered by such fear. But there is another kind of fear and that is the kind that produces reverential awe of God. It is the kind of fear that is born of respect not because we are afraid that He will punish us in some way, shape or form. This type of mentality is slavery not sonship. When we try to please the Lord to avoid His Hostility than we do not know Him at all. Permanent praise is produced when God’s Greatness overcomes our greatest fear. If we continue to fear death rather than embracing life after we come to know Jesus Christ, we are living a lie. We are free to serve the Lord because Jesus Christ overcame this world including death and the grave. It wouldn’t make sense that He would be trying to take you at after doing all that. As we learn to live in His Grace and Mercy each day, our fear is overcome by faith in His Great Love. Our fear is turned into respect that promotes radical obedience as a symbol of our love and fidelity to God. We do not do it to earn righteousness but show that it is the desire of our heart to remain united with the Lord. This is how we find refuge and strength in Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:14-16 (NLT)
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.
We are all sons and daughters of the Living God. We are identified as His Children when we accept His Spirit. The Holy Spirit produces things like “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) These are all things that describe confidence in the Lord produced by reverential awe rather than fear. If we come to God because we are afraid of hell and choose to maintain such a relationship without intimacy, then we are nothing more than fearful slaves. But when we decide to come to the Lord as Children, fear no longer dominates our life with alarm, confusion, dismay, dread, fear, rushing or agitation as the Truth prevails in our life. Fearful slaves follow rules afraid of their master. Faithful children live in a way that demonstrates a desire for right standing with their father and mother. Faithful children are not perfect but seek their place in their father’s house despite their shortcomings based on love.
Romans 8:37-39 (NLT)
No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Fear is the absence of faith. Do you have faith in God the Father? Do you believe in Jesus Christ? Do you rely on the Holy Spirit to make it through this life? Overwhelming victory belongs to you through Jesus! Why? Because He loved us and still does to this very day. The power to live without panicking is to believe. If you believe that there is absolutely nothing that will ever separate you from His Love, you will win the battle against your fear. Your life and its choices are no surprise to the Lord. He bore every single sin and weakness on the Cross for you. When we decide to fully invest our faith in the Love of God, we will live according to His Word which is the Greatest Love Story ever to be written. As we move deeper into the refuge of God’s Presence, we begin to love and trust Him more which takes our faith turning it into confident hope that anchors us in such a place so the wind, rain and even earthquakes of life cannot reach us. Strength and courage are products of confident hope. (Psalm 31:19-24) Our personal strength will fail (Psalm 33:17-22) allowing His Grace to become sufficient in our life. (2 Corinthians 12:8-9) When our strength is exhausted, the Power of God begins to change our life from the inside out. The Spirit begins to produce evidence of faith and hope that keep us strong and unshakeable. (Psalm 46:1-3) The world as we know it is coming to an end. But our new life in Jesus Christ is only beginning. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain when we put all our faith in the Lord. Such a choice, calms all of our fear. (Zephaniah 3:17)
Proverbs 3:21-26 (NLT)
My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them, for they will refresh your soul. They are like jewels on a necklace. They keep you safe on your way and your feet will not stumble. You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly. You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked for the LORD is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.
Fear is a trap that produces panic in our life. The Lord has already shared what we have to look forward to in the future. His Spirit works on the inside of us to turn our faith into confident hope that lives boldly in the Presence of the Lord as righteous children not fearful slaves. Those who do not lose sight of “common sense” and “discernment” will be safe. Faith is not some super, spooking, spiritual thing but rather a lifestyle choice that is easy. It is to recognize who we are and to live like it. To take the knowledge that we have of Jesus Christ and produce confidence out of it by trying to use it each and every day. It means that each morning we seek His Face and ask for His Mercy just as He promised. Those who live by faith will not be overwhelmed by fear that causes a state of panic in our life – complete with bad decisions and all. When we are convinced that nothing can separate us from the Love of God, not the things that I do, the things that I don’t do, the words that I speak or the failures I have made – we begin to operate in the Power of His Love. You will never get to such a place without getting to know the Lord and our Father who loves you!
I John 4:17-19 (NLT)
And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.
There is no need to panic at the Return of Jesus Christ or even the arrival of a brand new day. His Grace is sufficient. His Mercy new with each day. You have everything that you need to be successful today. You have a place in the Righteousness of God offered by Jesus Christ. It is the perfect setup. The only way to claim it is love. We have tried to please God with our actions. We have attempted to charm Him with our words. But what if we just tried to love Him more and accept more of His Love, what would happen then? We would have nothing to fear as perfect love expels all fear from our life. We do not have to worry because God’s got our back. We do not need to fret because He will supply all our needs according to His Riches in Glory not my meager sustenance on hand. There is no need to panic. God has no intention of punishing me or anyone else for that matter – He just wants to love us more. What a mighty God we serve! He is so good! Do not stop today until you have fully experienced His Perfect Love as He intended you to do when He wrote it all down before you were born! Finally, love one another as this completes the Perfect Plan of God for our life. It’s all about love so don’t panic!
2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.