Girlfriends in God - Jan. 13, 2010

January, 13 2010 

The Fear Factor 

Mary Southerland

Today's Truth 
Philippians 4:4 "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"

Friend To Friend 
The "Fear Factor" is not just a television show. Fear is a common factor of life in our world, a broken world filled with broken people who seem to live at the mercy of their fears.  We worry about things big and small, important things as well as silly things. We are often afraid of what might happen and then worry that other things will never happen.  Worry makes everything seem bigger than it really is. Worry is not only wasted energy, but consuming and unhealthy in every area of life. 

The story is told of a man hospitalized because of anxiety.  Day in and day out, the man continually pressed his ear up against the wall, listening intently.  When a nurse came by, stuck her head in the room and asked what he was doing, the patient responded with "Shh!" motioning her over.  The very patient nurse pressed her ear up against the wall and listened for a long time.  Finally, the nurse said, "I can't hear a thing!"  Alarmed, the man whispered, "I know.  It's been like that all day!"  Worry fits this world, but worry does not fit the picture of a victorious life in God. And nothing will rob you of joy quicker than worry.  God came so that we would not have to worry and yet we continue to do so. How do we win this battle with fear and worry?

In Philippians 4:4, the apostle Paul tells us to choose joy and to rejoice in God. In this verse, "rejoice" literally means to practice joy, to take delight in and to be glad. Life often makes it impossible to be happy.  Happiness is not what Paul is calling us to pursue because happiness is merely a cheap imitation of true joy. Joy is a deeply-rooted confidence that God is in control.  Paul's situation, when writing this letter, makes me wonder. After all, Paul was a prisoner, awaiting trial and almost certain execution, but he still tells us to rejoice. In other words, we can't always find joy in circumstances but we can always find joy in the Lord of those circumstances. You have probably heard that statement many times and thought it was just a tired old cliché when it is really a choice of perspective and a way of life. The tense of the verb "rejoice" translates to "keep on rejoicing" and is an ongoing command and calling to obedience. In John 15:10-11 we find the promise that obedience always begins with a choice and always ends in joy.

John 15:10-11 "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."

We cannot avoid pain but we can avoid joy because joy is the harvest of a life that consistently pursues God and insists on seeking His truth, longing to obey that truth.  The pursuit of joy is a matter of choice and perspective. 

A little boy asked his friend, "Wouldn't you hate to wear glasses all the time?" "No," the other boy responded, "not if I had the kind of glasses that grandma wears.  She sees how to fix a lot of things.  Grandma sees lots of nice things on a rainy day.  She sees good that other people call bad and she always sees what you meant to do, even if you mess it up."  Noticing the puzzled look on his friend's face, the little boy continued, "I asked her one day how she could see that way all of the time and she said it was the way she learned to look at things.  So it must be her glasses." Choosing joy is choosing for God and against fear. 

Let's Pray 
Father, I do not want to live this year at the mercy of fear. Right now, I surrender my heart and mind to You. Please give me a hunger and thirst for Your Word as I seek Your will for my life. When I am afraid, give me the strength to trust in You. When the darkness comes, show me Your Light. Help me to choose joy - even when I don't understand or like my circumstances. I want to be a woman of faith, God, and honor You by the peace that fills my life.

In Jesus' name, 

Now It's Your Turn 
Fear and worry send people to counselors, psychologists, and ministers in droves.  I thank God for these gifted men and women.  Our Father knew we would need them. The store shelves are stocked with various supplements and vitamins that promise to calm anxiety and eliminate fear.  Entire television programs, books, magazine articles and even web sites are devoted to eliminating worry and fear. Fear and worry are destructive forces and the enemies of peace.

Would you describe yourself as a fearful person? 

Would family and friends label you as someone who tends to worry?

How does fear affect your daily life?

1. Physically: _______________________

2. Mentally: _________________________

3. Emotionally: ______________________

4. Spiritually: _______________________

Record your answers and thoughts in your journal.  Be sure to date your entry.

Read and memorize Psalm 27:3 "Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident."  Re-examine the consequences of fear and of worry in your life and hold each one up against the promise of this verse. 

Record changes, insights or new truths in your journal.  If you have never kept a journal, I encourage you to do so in 2010.

More From The Girlfriends 
Fear is a familiar enemy in my life and has often been a paralyzing force. I have discovered that the Word of God is our most powerful weapon against fear.  Get the Bible into your life.  Read, study and memorize Scripture and allow God's powerful truths to be a mental, emotional and spiritual hedge of protection. 

Need help?  Check out Mary's weekly online Bible Study, Light for the Journey, as she begins 2010 with the series, "Aim at Nothing ... And You Will Hit It!"  Learn how to set meaningful and powerful life goals. 

Check out Mary's E-Book Bible Study, Getting a Grip on Fear. It is a great study for your personal quiet time as well as for a small group.   

You can also connect with Mary through e-mail or on FaceBook!

Seeking God?
Click here to find out more about
how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Girlfriends in God
P.O. Box 725
Matthews, NC 28106

Click here to learn more about hosting a Girlfriends in God conference in your area or having one of the GiGs speak at your next women's event.

Originally published Wednesday, 13 January 2010.