Why Standing Stones?

Why Standing Stones?

In ancient Israel, people stood stones on their end to commemorate a powerful move of God in their lives. It was a memorial to something God spoke or revealed or did. Often these standing stones became reference points in their lives. Today, we can find reference points in the written Word of God. Any scripture or sermon can speak something powerful into our lives, or reveal something of the nature of God. In this blog I offer, what can become a reference point for Christians, taken from God's ancient word and applied to today's world.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Fear of Doing Something for God

Mark Ruiz represented the United States in the 2000 Olympic Games, he did not return in 2004. Ruiz missed an opportunity to make the 2004 Olympic squad because he was not able to jump from the next to the last ledge of the 33-foot-high tower.
In practice earlier in the season, Ruiz hurt himself in a painful crash from the 10-meter platform. In the 2004 U.S. trials, Ruiz climbed to the ledge, but could not go any further because he was overwhelmed by a fear of heights due to the earlier crash. Ruiz decided to skip the dive, which cost him the opportunity to make the U.S. squad for the summer Olympic Games in Greece.

This young man allowed his fear to keep him from living out the thing he practiced and worked toward for many years. It is the same with us; many Christians allow fear to stop them from fulfilling the call on their lives.

The thing we need to remember is that God saves us in order that He can use us. People often think God saved them so they can change their lives. Sometimes, people think they received my salvation so that they can enter Heaven. Or they even think, God saved them for them. But I want you to know God didn’t save you to change your life; that’s a by-product of salvation. God didn’t save you so you can go to heaven; that’s the reward of salvation. God saved you because he has a plan for your life and that plan revolves around other people.

We are supposed to love our fellow man. Do you think God saved you because he loved you more than the people who remain unsaved? If you think that you’re mistaken. He saved you because you may be the key to seeing those others saved.

That’s God’s purpose in bringing us to Him; to use us to reach others. Most Christians want to be used by God, but sometimes there is something that holds us back; and most often the thing that keeps us from doing something for God…is us. It’s our own fear that stops us from being used by God. Let’s examine that:

2 Timothy 1:3-8
3 I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day,4 greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy,5 when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,

Recalling the Faith in You

Human beings are born with just two basic fears. One is the fear of loud noises. The other is the fear of falling. All other fears must be learned. —Ronald Rood – Naturalist and author

We are born with only two fears; the fear of loud noises and the fear of heights. These are the only natural fears, all other fears are learned responses to stimuli. A loud noise could indicate the possibility of danger; that something was going to happen. That’s why it is instinctive to duck.

When my daughters were infants, before they could even crawl, I was watching them in their crib, when there was an especially loud roll of thunder. My daughter Elizabeth jumped and began crawling for all she was worth, but she couldn’t crawl so she was making no headway at all. I put my hand on her back to comfort her, but she must have thought the danger was upon her and began to cry.

The desire to protect our lives is instinctual, that’s why we have fears. In this case fear is a good thing, because it begins the fight or flight response, which can result in us saving our lives. That’s why Elizabeth began to try to escape the thunder.

But for the most part the fears we suffer day to day are unfounded. They are created in our minds; these fears are called phobias. Look at this list of some common phobias:

· acrophobia—fear of heights;
· claustrophobia—fear of closed places;
· pentheraphobia - fear of your mother-in-law
· gymnophobia – fear of nudity – tough to take a shower
· lachanophobia – fear of vegetables
· chaetophobia – fear of hair
· Logophobia fear of words
· How about this one – arachibutyrophobia – fear of Peanut Butter
sticking to the roof of your mouth
· Barophobia – fear of gravity

These aren’t real fears, these fears are created in our imagination. Actually that’s the location of all fear. We can imagine what will happen to us. With phobias we let our imaginations control us.

Someone once said, There are 365 "fear nots" in the Bible—one for each day.

What is the root cause of fear. In some cases fear can be caused by experience. We have experienced some horrible outcome to some activity or by some object and we begin to fear that thing. Sometimes, fear is cause by our imaginations as in the case of the phobias in our list. But the root of fear for a Christian is simply…lack of faith. As Christians we are called to have faith in God, fear comes from a lack of faith.

Look at the beginning of our text. What is it that Paul is remembering about Timothy? Paul writes, “When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you…” His remembrance of Timothy is Timothy’s faith. But something is wrong here. Because Paul is writing to Timothy to overcome his fear.

Think about your own fears for a moment. What are they rooted in? What is the cause of them? There are people who are afraid to speak in public. Their greatest fear is that they will make a fool of themselves. That’s it…they’re afraid they will look bad, so they won’t do it.

Timothy is receiving this letter from Paul. It has been written while Paul is in prison in Rome, awaiting his execution. Timothy is a pastor in Ephesus, he’s seen what happened to Paul for preaching the Gospel and no doubt he's fearful and somewhat reluctant. But Paul begins by recounting his faith, “I remember your faith.” What is faith, but trust in God? He is reminding Timothy to trust God and through that trust in God will come comfort from fear.

My pastor is funny sometimes. He’ll listen patiently for me to recount all the things I’m afraid of. How difficult it is to get people saved in Taiwan. What if I let everyone down? Or maybe something will go wrong on the outreach. What if I preach the wrong thing? And he listens quietly and says. So God’s no longer on the throne? All is doomed? And I just feel stupid

What Pastor Strutz and Paul are saying is even if the worst happens; you need to trust in Giod. Maybe there is a reason. (Remember the things that happened in Joseph’s life, happened to bring about the will of God.) You just need to trust God.

Haggai 2:5-7
5 ‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’6 “For thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land;7 ‘and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts.

Paul says, “Look Timothy, I remember your faith. It was in your mother and grandmother, too. So what do you fear? Why are you afraid? God is still on the throne. And the same could be asked of many of us. Why are we afraid? I’ve talked to guys who resist going out to pioneer a church. Nine times out of ten that resistance is rooted in fear. What if I fail? What if I succeed? What if nothing happens, then everyone will know I’m a fake.

These people have a fear of doing something that God has called them to do. They’re afraid to rise up to the expectations of God.

I’ve personally asked people to get involved, but they’re afraid, they attend but they seem to be afraid to stretch themselves to commitment. Have you examined what fear keeps you in your seat? Maybe it’s my approach…My pastor never asked me if I wanted to be involved, he would tell me…”I need you to do this. I didn’t want to let him down. So I swallowed my fears and rose up. Fear will insure that we don’t get hurt, but it will also keep us from ever doing anything.

French Essayist Michel de Montaigne said, “He who fears he will suffer, already suffers because of his fear.”

If we let fear control us, we may not fail, but we definitely won’t succeed either. Everything that’s worth doing comes with a risk. Was it scary to propose to your wife? Was it scary to have your first child? Was it scary to move out of your parents’ house and begin to live on your own? Why are you able to do those things but you fear doing something for God?

We’re fearful because we don’t think God will cover us. Look at Moses for a moment. He was asked to do something much more difficult than God has asked you to do. He was asked to get one million plus people out of bondage in Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land…and solve any problems that come up along the way. Moses was afraid, his first words to God were, “Why me, God? Why not Aaron?” Look at God’s answer.

Exodus 3:12
12 So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

God told him, “I will certainly be with you.” Are you afraid God won’t be with you? Where’s your faith. You know we don’t even need a lot of faith, just faith the size of a “grain of mustard seed.” That’s a little faith. Fear for the most part comes from unbelief or a lack of faith. Paul reminds Timothy of his faith.

“I Have Not Given You a Spirit of Fear”

2 Timothy 1:6-7
6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

What Spirit is imparted into us through the laying on of hands? In the Book of Acts there is a man named Simon who watches the apostles as they minister. He sees what is produced and he wants it…especially the spirit that is produced as they lay hands on people.

Acts 8:17-18
17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money,

It is the Holy Spirit that’s given in the laying on of hands. This is what Paul is referring to when he exhorts Timothy to “stir up the gift of God that’s in you.” It’s through the Holy Spirit that boldness comes into us. It isn’t a spirit of fear that we are given through the laying on of hands, but “a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

When it is necessary to protect your children are you willing to risk death to do that? Why? Because you love them. George Washington risked everything he had to fight against the oppression of England? Why? Love of Liberty. Missionaries have braved death the world over in order to preach the Gospel? Why? Love of God and their fellow man.

Love is able to overcome fear.

1 John 4:18
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

God isn’t in to torment. His love is a perfect love. When His spirit is infused into you and you have the same spirit as God, that same kind of love comes upon you. There can be no fear because His love is a perfect love that casts out all fear. We’ll never reach the world for Jesus when there is resistance due to fear. We’ll never reach our families when we’re afraid to reach out to them.

Fear will always stop us from risking and without risk there is no maturation. A baby takes a risk to stand up and begin to walk. We take a risk as we become more independent from our parents. Life and growth is all about risk. Nothing great is ever done without risk. Do you think great leaders never experience fear? Do you think successful men and women are unafraid? Do you think courage is the absence of fear? Courage is continuing on, in spite of the fear. This is what Paul is trying to instill into Timothy’s life; not an absence of fear but an ability to overcome it so that he can do something for God.

Share in the Sufferings

2 Timothy 1:8
8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,

Jesus carries the testimony that He lived suffered died and was buried, but that He also rose from the dead. Paul tells him, “Don’t be ashamed of that testimony.” He also tells him not to be ashamed of Paul’s testimony either; that he is in prison for preaching the Gospel. Being ashamed leads to fearful resistance.
How many times has this kind of shame stopped you from preaching the Gospel. “What if they think I’m weird?” “What if they get angry?” This is fear borne from shame. Why are we afraid to be mocked about what we believe about God? Paul is concerned that Timothy will stop because of fear that comes from shame. Paul is concerned that Timothy will quit because of the fear that comes from shame. That’s why he exhorts him not to be ashamed and not to be afraid; so that he can continue the work that God has given him. We can’t afford to be ashamed of the work God has given us. We must continue to press onward despite the criticism we endure and the Gospel endures.

The world will mock and ridicule us, but it is because of our stand for him. The one they hate is Jesus. What we endure is nothing compared to what He endured. What is there for us to be ashamed of, that God loved us enough to come and die for us? That he rose from the dead; that he ascended into heaven? I’m not ashamed of those things. It all cokes down to this: Do you want to do something for God? Do you love God enough to put aside your fears? Are you ashamed of what Jesus did for us on the cross? Paul is speaking to all of us who want to do something for God.

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