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.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Filters of Fear and Faith

We all make use of filters in life.  A filter is something that screens out impurities.  We filter water before we drink it.  We wear those masks to filter air when we ride our motorcycles.  Filter can affect the quality of what we take into our bodies.

In our cars and scooters there are certain filters that we use.  Our cars have air filters, oil filters and gas filters.  These filters affect the vehicle’s performance.  Unfiltered gas can clog fuel injection lines.  Unfiltered air can allow things to enter the cylinders that can damage the engine.  Unfiltered oil can allow metal shavings that enter and score the cylinders.  All of these things affect the cars performance.

I want you to know that we have spiritual filters that filter our perceptions of the world.  Those filters can affect our performance as well.  Today I want to post on filters from this portion of scripture:

Matthew 6:22-23 (NKJV)
6:22 "The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!


There were two sources of inspiration for this sermon.  The first was a comment that my wife made about what we look at and listen to.  The second was the story of David and Goliath from our Bible study on Wednesday (Points of Victory, “The Spear of Intimidation;” by Pastor Greg Mitchell).  This post is what God showed me through those two things. 

Our bodies are created with natural filters; our eyes are filters; our ears are filters.  The things we hear and see can affect us.  The scripture says that the eye is the lamp of the body.  If our eye is good there will be light in the body – The light is goodness and righteousness:

2 Corinthians 6:14 (NKJV)
6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

Our eye is a filter of light and darkness.  What we focus our attention on is what enters our minds.  What we see isn’t the filter.  What we see is information that requires interpretation.  We take what we see and we FILTER it through our biases, our culture and our frames of reference. 

Today, I want to focus on spiritual filters, specifically, the filters of fear and faith.  These two filters are opposites.  You cannot have faith in presence of fear, because fear betrays a LACK of faith.  If fear is present then faith is not. 

So much of how we behave and react is based on these two filters – many of us struggle with fear:

Fear is a natural response to danger.  It’s a part of the fight or flight response.  This is a natural physiological response to imminent danger.  Adrenaline is secreted into our bloodstreams.  Our heart rate increases, our breathing becomes deeper, so more oxygen can be transported to our muscles.  This can provide more speed when running or more strength when fighting.  Or reflexes become faster so that we’re better prepared to face the danger.  Those responses were built into us for a more dangerous time.

These days we don’t have to run from saber-toothed tigers but we continue to have the same reactions, but now we call them stress and they’re produced by different fears, like fear of failure, for example.

Fear of failure can cause us to react in one or more of following three ways:

1)      We don’t act at all – We’re paralyzed by over-analysis; fearful of a misstep creating more problems.  In sports this often called “the paralysis of analysis.”
2)      We become control freaks – We hold on to every detail.  We don’t allow anyone to help, running ourselves ragged, or;
3)      We become perfectionists and because nothing is perfect we end up doing nothing at all focusing on minor details always striving for an unobtainable result.

There are other types of fear and other reactions.

1)      Fear creates a lack of confidence – I can’t do it – I’m not up to it.
2)      Fear creates procrastination – If I ignore that thing that frightens me, it will go away.
3)      Fear makes you unable to lead – I’ll leave it to someone else so I don’t mess it up.

If we filter what we see through fear it stops us from moving forward in life, it’s destructive to relationships, and it hinders God’s calling in our lives.  Nothing positive is created by fear, but fear is pervasive in society. 

In order to illustrate the differences between fear reactions and faith reactions I’m going to look at one event in which, the filter of fear and the filter of faith cause separate reactions.

The Fear Filter

1 Samuel 17:4-7 (NKJV)
17:4 And a champion went out from the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, from Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5 He had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. 6 And he had bronze armor on his legs and a bronze javelin between his shoulders. 7 Now the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and his iron spearhead weighed six hundred shekels; and a shield-bearer went before him.

So here’s Goliath – He’s a huge man about three meters tall (9.5 feet).  The name Goliath is Hebrew and the man is a Philistine, so this is probably a name that the Israelis gave him.  The name means to strip naked – so as to humiliate someone.  Every time they see Goliath and say, “There’s Goliath!” they’re saying, “There’s the one who will strip me naked and humiliate me!”

Words have power, they define the filter that you’re using to interpret the circumstances you find yourself in.  You can speak words of strength and courage or you can speak words of fear and discouragement.  Your actions will always follow the direction seen through your words.  The words "I’m afraid" lead to the actions of fear that I mentioned earlier.  That’s what we see here:

1 Samuel 17:10-11 (NKJV)
17:10 And the Philistine said, "I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together." 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

They saw him – They heard his words and it caused fear.  That word dismay means to lose courage.  They saw this huge powerful man, they spoke their fear, they heard his taunt – You will be our slaves and they lost the courage to face him.  They quit.

1 Samuel 17:23-24 (NKJV)
17:23 Then as he talked with them, there was the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, coming up from the armies of the Philistines; and he spoke according to the same words. So David heard them. 24 And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid.

They used the fear filter.  They took actions of fear; they fled from him.  There’s no victory in fear.  Fear must be overcome in order to see victory.

How often do we filter our circumstances through fear?  “What if I lose my job, I may not find another one?”  “I can’t take a chance and invest my money.  What if I lose it?”  “What if my kids don’t get into the best school?” What if?  What if?  What if?   “I can’t.”  “I’m not qualified.”  “I don’t know enough!”  “They might be offended.”  “They might react angrily.”  That’s the fear filter.  It paralyzes you – It hinders you.

Do you know that great success usually involves great risk?  Edmund Hillary – No one had ever come off of Mt. Everest alive – But he went anyway!  Neil Armstrong – He didn’t know if landing on the moon was even possible – But he did it, anyway. 

Fear takes away the courage to risk.  You have dreams; things you want in life but you filter that vision through a prism of fear…so they never happen.

Fear also destroys relationships.  It creates family friction.

1 Samuel 17:28-29 (NKJV)
17:28 Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab's anger was aroused against David, and he said, "Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle." 29 And David said, "What have I done now? Is there not a cause?"

David’s talking to the others, trying to find out what the reward for killing Goliath is.  He’s considering it.  His brother Eliab confronts him, “You’re full of pride.  What can you do?  It’s insolence to think that you can do what this army of battle hardened soldiers can’t do.”  I think Eliab resents David’s courage.  He was also there and he also refused to face Goliath.  He thinks David’s courage highlights his lack of courage so he lashes out.  Have you ever done that?  Have you ever ridiculed someone because they weren’t afraid of what you’re afraid of?  That’s Eliab thinking.

Fear also betrays your lack of faith in God

The Faith Filter

Let’s look now at the Faith Filter.  We find faith in David’s reaction to Goliath.

1 Samuel 17:26 (NKJV)
17:26 Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, "What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?"

Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that defies God’s army?  Who is this enemy of God that has you running scared?  He’s reminding them that they’re instruments of God’s power.  This is the army that took the promised land.  This is the army that has faced enemies too numerous to count.  This is God’s army – Who’s this Philistine punk that thinks he can defeat God’s army?  That thinks he can defeat God? 

So, he goes to Saul, remember he’s a teenager – He’s young.  Look at what he says:
 1 Samuel 17:32-33 (NKJV)
17:32 Then David said to Saul, "Let no man's heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine." 33 And Saul said to David, "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth."

He says, “I’m not afraid – I’ll handle this for you – I’ll fight him.”  He’s confident; he has faith in his own abilities and in God’s assistance.  He knows God will help him.  Saul, though, is fearful, “You can’t you’re too young.  I’m a veteran of many battles and I’m scared.  You’re so young, what can you do?”

David’s had victories, though.  He’s a experienced battle, too.
 1 Samuel 17:34-35 (NKJV)
17:34 But David said to Saul, "Your servant used to keep his father's sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, 35 I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it.

David’s filter isn’t fear – He’s seeing past victories and he’s applying them to this circumstance.  David’s filter is faith; in himself and in God.

1 Samuel 17:37 (NKJV)
17:37 Moreover David said, "The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." And Saul said to David, "Go, and the Lord be with you!"

David says, “This is no different and since he’s also defying God, God will move on my behalf.”  Faith is the filter that David is visualizing this through.  Faith trumps fear.  Victory is only possible through faith. 

David’s faith encourages.  It doesn’t drive courage away; it causes one to gain courage.  It doesn’t paralyze it makes it possible to take action.  It makes it possible to take a risk that leads to reward.
 1 Samuel 17:48-49 (NKJV)
17:48 So it was, when the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, that David hastened and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. 49 Then David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone; and he slung it and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth.

David, in faith and courage, ran to the battle.  He RAN into the danger and God gave him a victory.  Our faith causes a response on God’s part.  Our faith can be the catalyst to victory.

Finally, your faith can ignite faith in other people. 

1 Samuel 17:52 (NKJV)
17:52 Now the men of Israel and Judah arose and shouted, and pursued the Philistines as far as the entrance of the valley and to the gates of Ekron. And the wounded of the Philistines fell along the road to Shaaraim, even as far as Gath and Ekron.

Suddenly, the paralysis of fear that has kept the Israelis from the battle is lifted.  The men rose up and ran toward the enemy, engaging them, chasing them and killing them.  Your victory through faith and courage can inspire others and encourage others to that same kind of action.  If we face challenges through a filter of faith, and people can see that we trust God for the victory, they will trust Him as well. 

What do you look like when there are challenges in your life – fearful?  Are you afraid to move forward?  Lashing out at others?  Or are you like David, filtering the challenge through faith, eager for victory?  Trusting God to bring it and making it happen.

The outcome of any circumstance is the dependent on the filter through which we see that circumstance.

Abraham’s filter was faith – He was called the friend of God.
Moses’ filter was faith – God met with him as with a friend.
David’s filter was faith – He was Israel’s greatest king – EVER!
Paul’s filter was faith – God’s greatest evangelist and missionary.

What are you looking for – Victory or defeat?  Through what do you filter your vision – Fear or Faith.

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