1 John 4:16-19 (ESV) 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.
“He does not say, as we might expect, that we look away from ourselves and simply trust in God’s all-powerful, all-conquering love. No. He says that ‘just as he is, so are we within this world’. What does that mean? He means, it seems, that if God revealed himself in the world by turning his love into flesh and blood, when we do the same we should realize that we are ‘completing’ God’s love. What will be operating through us will be the true love of the true God. When that happens, there is no need to fear any longer. Love that has been made complete in this way leaves no room for fear. Once you learn to give yourself to others as God gave himself to us, there is nothing to be afraid of any more, just a completed circle of love.” (NT Wright, The Early Christian Letters for Everyone)
Love and fear are polar opposites. Even more so, we see in 1 John 4:18 that perfect love casts out fear. “Perfect love” does not mean a love that does the “right thing;” rather, as NT Wright explains, it is love that responds to Jesus’ love by giving itself in the exact same way. It might be more aptly translated as “completed love.”
– Are there opportunities in your life to drive out fears, by stepping into “completed love” expressed to others around you?
Let’s worship to the song “Not Afraid” (click here), performed by Jesus Culture.
Psalm 34:4-10 (NIV) 4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. 6 This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. 8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. 9 Fear the LORD, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. 10 The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
Psalm 34:4-10 is the testimony of one who has experienced God’s rescue from fears. The rhythm of the psalm is undeniable – the person in trouble looks to the LORD for deliverance. It is crucial to note that they did not try to conquer their fears or achieve their own deliverance.
• What are the different ways the Psalmist describes the Lord in Psalm 34?
• What are the main “action words” of the supplicant in relation to the LORD?
Oftentimes, fear provokes in us a fight or flight response. The Bible urges us toward the correct option – run to the LORD. Are there areas of life where fears have caused you to fight or flee instead of trusting the LORD for his answer?
• Read through Psalm 34:4-10 again, but this time, aloud. Choose one or two verses to meditate upon, and then verbally speak them over our life.
In closing, let’s bring our whole lives before the Lord in worship to the song “In Christ Alone” (click here), by Passion.
Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV) 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 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.
The Bible continually urges believers to elevate the fear of the LORD above every other concern in our lives. Fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge (Pr. 1:7) and wisdom (Pr. 9:10). We are to serve and fear only the LORD, clinging to his every word (Deut. 13:4). The LORD revealed himself to his people as “I AM the LORD” (Ex. 6:2), which established a unique and special relationship between He and his people. Only his called ones had access to his presence.
In chapter 4, the author of the book of Hebrews invokes this special relationship, now fully consummated through the ministry of our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, to call us to enter God’s throne room with confidence. We foster the fear of the Lord through a lifestyle of worship that is predicated on Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf.
• What do you think it means to live our everyday life with God’s throne in view?
• Are there areas of your life where you need to worship with God-given, God-enabled confidence?
Let’s worship to the song “Yours (Glory and Praise)” (click here), performed by Elevation Worship.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Let’s watch the video testimony of Jamie Torres (click here).
As we saw in the video, there was a complete transformation from the “old” Jamie to the “new” Jamie. Ironically, it was only in prison that he experienced true freedom! Romans 8:15 says that, through the Holy Spirit, we have been delivered from slavery to fear into adoption to sonship. Can you imagine a more drastic change of identity?
We often find that we allow habits and thought patterns of the “old” way of slavery to motivate our decisions. Sometimes, we might see the old identity in our “mental mirror” and begin to remember fears that were associated with that identity. However, the truth is that those fears have no hold on our lives any longer; we are completely free.
Prayer: “Abba, Father!” Come deliver me again into your freedom – body, mind and soul. Holy Spirit, I invite you to testify in my heart and in my mind that I am a child of God. Today, lead me as a child of God in everything I do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
1 But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
Isaiah 43:1-2 is spoken to the people of Israel who have experienced exile from the homeland. They now live as aliens and strangers in a foreign land. It is difficult to imagine the kinds of fears and difficulties they must have faced as they tried to remain faithful to the Lord.
Yet what they found was that God was pursuing them the entire time! In fact, he was reminding them of the story of his faithfulness throughout their history – redemption from slavery, crossing the Red Sea into freedom, and much more. But the most important promise the Lord made was that he would be with them through everything.
Have you ever experienced that feeling that you are a “stranger in a foreign land?”
What kinds of thoughts went through your mind?
The amazing truth is that we are protected from the burning fires of this world by the fire of the Lord. Let’s worship to the song “Here Again” (click here), performed by Jesus Culture.