Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Don't Panic (Part 4)...

Panic or fear of the Lord – which is most often present in your life? You’ve got a little of both, I know, but which is dominant? Do you take things into your own hands more often than not? Are you always causing pain for others? Are you a disaster creating fool? Or are you more prone to trusting God? Are people blessed by your fear-of-the-Lord actions? Do your Spirit-empowered words bring healing and peace?

We’ve been talking about panic and fear of the Lord in other people’s lives. David had both. Saul/Paul had both. And we could find both in a dozen more Bible characters. But we don’t want to focus on others and miss entirely God’s personal message of hope for you and me.

We’re mixed up messes, panicking and fearing God, acting impulsively on our own and waiting patiently for God to come through. That means we’re just the kind of people God can use to show the world how much power he has to change people’s lives. You’re the King David this generation needs to see. I’m the Saul of our day. Our neighbors are watching us to see what fear of the Lord looks like. They’re depending on us to bring blessing into their lives. They’re counting on us to reject panic and choose faith.

So let’s talk about how we can be a blessing to the folks around us, those we hold dear.

This is where the rubber meets the road. Fearing the Lord affects every area of life. It is the way to blessing for yourself, your family and your friends in so many circumstances. I hope you will choose more often to fear God rather than panic when were through. These examples of application are meant to encourage you to trust and obey.

Ready?

Let’s talk about dating.

Dads, panic will cause you to meet your daughter’s date at the door with a shotgun. Fear of the Lord will cause you to drop to your knees and pray for your little girl and the guy she’s going out with. I can entrust my daughters to God and allow young men to take them places without me. God is a better protector than me. He’ll be with them on every date. He’ll give them courage when they need it and joy too.

Girls, panic will cause you to give in when your boyfriend says, “If you love me, you will.” Fear of the Lord will give you the strength to say no and to patiently wait for the right guy to come along. You can trust God to provide a godly man to be your husband if that’s in his plans for you. God is a wiser matchmaker than your friends. Wait for him and he will work it all out. Just keep following and remain pure.

Guys, panic will cause you to ask for things now that God invites you to wait for. Fear of the Lord will give you the strength to resist temptation and ignore the locker room jeering of friends who’ve already scored on a dozen dates. Wait! You’ll get plenty of sex when you’re married and it will be by far better than anything you get from a girl in the backseat of your clunker. And you won’t have to panic when the girls tells you she’s pregnant and her dad comes after you with his 12-gauge. I guarantee looking down the barrel of a loaded gun will put the fear of God in you.

Can we talk about work?

Employees, panic will cause you to stab others in the back to protect yourself. Fear of the Lord will lead you to serve the company and your coworkers to the best of your God-given ability. You can trust God to provide promotions and raises in his perfect timing and by his godly means. You don’t have to steal stuff from the office to make up for being underpaid and overworked. You don’t have to lie or cheat even when your boss threatens to terminate your employment.

Colossians 3:22-24, “Obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (NIV)

Employers, supervisors, panic causes you to mistrust those under your authority and to treat them unkindly. Fear of the Lord leads you to provide a fair and honest wage for those in your employ. It causes you to care about those who are not measuring up, confronting them in love and seeking their best. It makes you want to reward those who work hard to make you and the company look good. It refuses to cut corners and shortchange customers who “wouldn’t know any better.”

Marriage.

Panic causes husbands and wives to serve themselves rather than their spouse. Fear of the Lord leads husbands to lay down their lives for their wives as Christ laid down his for the church. Fear of the Lord leads wives to respect their husbands and look out for their needs. Panic makes bailing out look like a terribly attractive option when things aren’t going so well. Fear of the Lord prays hardest during difficult times. It refuses to give up. It recommits to long-forgotten vows made before God and seeks his help in going on. It seeks satisfaction in God’s love when the flame of human love is going out.

Dare I mention school?

Panic says that already completed essay I found on the internet will boost my grade. Fear of the Lord says no to “borrowing” work from others. It chooses hard work over cheating. Panic shouts, “I’ll never pass this test!” Fear of the Lord trusts God to come through. It leads you to study hard. It urges you to pray for help in remembering what you know. It chooses calm confidence in the midst of the train-of-thought derailments that come from time to time.

We can’t forget money.

Panic is sure there won’t be enough paycheck left at the end of the month. Fear of the Lord lays out the bills before God and says, “How are you going to come through this time?” It seeks first God’s kingdom and his righteousness knowing that what is truly needed will be supplied. Panic refuses to give to neighbors in need. It demands sacrifices of others but not of self. Fear of the Lord is generous. It trusts God to provide more so that more can be given away.

“As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. ‘I tell you the truth,’ he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’” (Luke 21:1-4, NIV)

That’s trust to the extreme. Surely you can trust God to care for you. You can be generous. You can meet needs and bless your friends. The fear of the Lord always produces blessings.

Have I shared enough examples for you to get the idea? Panic is never God’s will. Panic leads to sin. It causes pain, creates disasters, causes destruction. Fear of the Lord is God’s will for you. It leads to peace of mind. It always produces blessing – for the God-fearer and for those he or she serves in love.

What is God saying to you? Has he brought a specific situation to mind as you’ve been reading? Are you panicked about something right now? Take a moment and write that situation down and ask God to show you how to trust him when all you want to do is panic, panic, panic! Write it down and pray for faith to do what God says to do.


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