it's the finale of #fearlessfriday!
My sister-in-law is on the blog today. Your soul will be infused with wisdom and grace as you absorb her nuggets of truth. Thank you for stopping by this month and jumping on social media to share all you have learned. As our series comes to a close, may we remember this is just the beginning. We are so well-equipped to call out the lies of fear and firmly stand our ground in faith. Here's to a strong finish and embarking on new, fearless beginnings!
Writing this post is an answer to prayer for several reasons. A few years ago God put a desire in my heart to write, but I stuffed that desire. I opened a Wordpress account at that time but that’s as far as it went. It wasn’t so much out of fear that I didn’t pursue the call, but because God wanted to do more work before I jumped. Two weeks ago He awoke that desire in me again, and this time I knew I had to act. I have been asked to speak at events before (usually on things like purity, carseat safety, marriage and finances) so I know the world wants to hear from me, but I was and still get nervous to share.
Long story short, two weeks ago I attended a writing conference and left with my mind spinning. Still questioning how God wanted me to fulfill this calling to write, I pulled out my computer and started typing on the topic that I have recently felt most passionate about. I began to pour my heart out, but a few thousand words later, I felt weary, exhausted and defeated. I told God that if He wanted me to continue in any sort of writing endeavor that He would have to give me inspiration and a fresh word in the morning. I handed my efforts back to Him, pulled the covers up and went to sleep.
He answered. I awoke to a text from Baylee asking if I’d be interested in writing for her blog series on fear. I chuckled because I knew it was an answer to last night’s prayer. When God wants you to accomplish something, He’s not going to let you forget it!
Life has not been as easy as we anticipated this year for several reasons, and my sweet husband and I have had plenty of reasons to fear. However, I know that telling you about specific fears really won’t edify you. Telling you how we have and will continue to overcome is what we want to proclaim to the world!
Fear is a blatant distrust in the power and love of God. It is a distressing emotion that arises from impending and limitless possibilities. Fear can be real or imagined, and is usually self-focused. One of my favorite authors, Elisabeth Elliot, says “Fear arises when we think that everything depends on us.” Good thing that’s not true!
When we are experiencing fear, it is as though we are looking at God and saying “you don’t have what it takes care of me or keep me happy”. It’s saying to your Sovereign Creator that His design and plan for you doesn’t meet your expectations, that they are not big enough, good enough, or safe enough for you… as if your opinion matters in the light of His! In a battle, fear is contagious. Fear, anxiety and worry destroy your effectiveness in Kingdom work. Fear wants you to stay at home, residing only in your little Christian circle, reading your Christian books, but NEVER to take action. Fear wants to keep you from seeing God for who He is and from serving Him as He ought to be served. Fear is paralyzing.
Upon looking at Scripture, the foundation we have built our lives and home upon, it’s easy to conclude that fear does not come from God, because “God is love” and “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:8,18). If not from God, we can determine that it is from the one who is in complete opposition to God. Satan’s primary pursuit, and his ultimate passion as the great deceiver, is to paralyze us with fear and render us ineffective for the Kingdom of God. He will do whatever it takes to prevent us from sharing the good news of the Gospel and from accomplishing Kingdom work. He would love nothing more than for us to get stuck in our worry, shame and guilt - those are his signatures after all. If he can keep us from being effective in our ministry, he has prevented God from receiving glory, and that’s what knocked him from God’s presence in the very beginning. 2 Corinthians 4:4 says “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t BELIEVE. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News…” Belief, or “faith” in God is the antidote to fear. If you’re experiencing the crippling effects of fear, BELIEVE in the goodness of your God and your fears will start to dissipate. Fear does not have to control us. It doesn’t have to have a say in our lives. Whenever we are ready, we can choose to stop listening to the voice of fear in our lives and choose belief. Faith and worry cannot coexist. Fear paralyzes faith, but faith counteracts fear. We can choose to believe that God is enough for us. That God does in fact have control of our lives and our futures, that He is God and He is good. That He is faithful and loves us. He is enough, good enough, faithful enough, and loves us enough anyway, believing them just makes life a whole lot easier!
"Fear is an imperfect bond to God… a bond that should be replaced by the bond of love,” John Piper.
It’s also safe to conclude that if fear is not from God, it must be that FAITH in God is the only cure.
Faith can be defined as placing your complete trust and confidence in something or someone (God). Hebrews 11:1 and 6 tell us that “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must BELIEVE that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
Faith is like a muscle. When exercised, it grows and becomes stronger. The more we use it, the more faith we have, and the bigger our faith muscles get. However, the less we use it, the more atrophied faith gets, and in the day of battle, when fears abound, we are much less effective.
In Scripture we can see that God puts a high value on our faith, so it’s only fitting that He would give us things to increase our faith. I like what Beth Moore says, “If you don’t go through anything, you’ll have nothing to overcome.” In other words, if we don’t face trials, disappointments, things that might cause us to fear or lose faith, we won’t have anything to help us strengthen those “faith muscles”.
Habakkuk 2:4 says, “… but the righteous shall live by his FAITH.” This is to emphasize that we are SAVED by grace alone, through FAITH alone, in Christ alone, and that we as Christians should LIVE by FAITH - continuing to trust in God and clinging to God’s promises even in the darkest days.
“Faith does not eliminate questions. But faith knows where to take them.” - Elisabeth Elliot
Is it a sin to experience fear?
“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, UNBELIEVING heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.” Hebrews 3:12.
There is sin in the failure to believe in God’s ability to take care of the world. To know that He is God (all-powerful, all-knowing, etc) but to not put your trust in Him as the God of the universe is to put your faith, trust and belief in something or someone else. To deny Him for who He is most definitely a sin.
Over and over again in Scripture, God commands us to “do not fear” and to “believe”, etc. “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” James 4:17. In other words, the right thing to do is to obey God and believe, but you fail to believe, that is sin.
Not to mention, you just aren’t doing yourself any favors by NOT putting your faith and trust in Him. There is a significant amount of reward for knowing and trusting in Christ. Peace and joy flow abundantly from Him to those who love him. “Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on Him who has all things safely in His hands.” - Elisabeth Elliot
So, how does this look in real life?
Deciding and learning to overcome fear is a process. It does take some time, but like all good habits, they’re worth accomplishing. I’ll teach you a “Process of Renewal”, where we will learn to “remove, renew, replace”.
Ephesians 4:21-24 walks us through. “Assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to PUT OFF your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to BE RENEWED in the spirit of your minds, and to PUT ON the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
“PUT OFF your old self.” Remove your fears. How?
Tell them they have no place in your life. You used to be fearful, limited, and ineffective. Hand your fears over to Jesus, and don’t try to take them back! God doesn’t always choose easy ways to make us more pure and holy. He will not withhold any trial from us that will make us more like Him.
“BE RENEWED in the spirit” Fill your mind with Scripture and the Holy Spirit. How?
Read the Bible from cover to cover. Don’t get just an 30,000 foot view of Scripture. Dig in and study the words. If you’re struggling to want to open your Bible, ask God to give you an unquenchable thirst and hunger for His word. He WILL! “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32.
Make sure you are attending a church that preaches the Bible from cover to cover. If you’re at a church that only preaches the feel good stuff, you’re not in a good church. Spend your time with Bible-believing people. Turn off the junk on TV and the radio. Listen to the stuff that edifies.
“PUT ON the new self.” Dress yourself in faith. How?
Act in such a way that says to the world that your God is in control, and that His voice is the only one that matters to you. Speak truth over yourself. Declare God’s word over your life, and let others speak truth into you and over you. Believe with every fiber of your being that God is who He says He is, and that He is enough for you, even if God never takes away the thing that is causing you to fear.
The list of “remove, renew, replace” items continues in Ephesians 4:25-32: “Take off falsehood. Put on speaking the truth. Take off stealing. Put on doing honest work. Take off corrupt talk. Put on words that build up. Take off bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander and malice. Put on kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness… as God in Christ forgave you.” Moral of the story - the process works for more than just fear, but definitely works on tackling fear!
Here are some practical tips and truths that have helped Clay and me navigate the Christian life and combat fear:
- Know that troubles will come. It’s not a matter of “if” but “when”. James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, WHEN you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Learn to expect them, because they will come. Trials and troubles are a part of life, especially if you’re a believer. There is a high likelihood that you are right where God wants you if the world is opposed to what you’re doing. Arm yourself for the battle before the battle begins (Ephesians 6:10-20).
- Keep a proper perspective of this earth, and even more so, keep a kingdom perspective. The only thing that matters on this earth is your level of faithfulness to God and His word.
- Focus on today. Elisabeth Elliot says, “Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business. If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future, I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me now.” Don’t worry about tomorrow (Matt 6:25-34). Fulfill your purpose and your ministry today.
- Do work that matters. Serve the church. Serve in the church. Take care of orphans and widows. Go to Bible studies. Lead Bible studies. Rock babies in the nursery. Have coffee with the weary mom who needs to know she’s seen and loved. Teach at VBS. Go on mission trips. Collect goods to donate to the needy. Pay for someone’s lunch. Occupy your mind and your time with Kingdom work.
- God doesn’t want your ability, he wants your availability. He doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. He desires a ready heart, and just wants to know that you are ready and willing to serve wherever He says serve, or to do whatever He says to do. He wants all of your affections, your longings, to be under His will and in alignment with His. When you have a heart that awaits hearing from Him for your next move, fear flees. Elisabeth Elliot said it well (again) - “The heart set to do the Father’s will need never fear defeat.” Fear no longer consume you when you love Him with every fiber of your being. Only you can disqualify yourself from ministry.
- Know that fear will creep in again. It’s not something you fight off once and it’s gone forever. Remember to “remove, renew and replace”. Keep in mind that Job (in Job 23:10) says “when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold.”
- Learn to fall deeply in love with your Savior. When you spend time perfecting your love for God, fear is naturally driven further and further away, and the more that fear is driven out, the deeper your love for God can get.
- Ultimately, never stop praying. This is God’s will for you, after all, along with rejoicing always and giving thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). The next time you find yourself in a fearful situation, ask God to comfort you, and thank Him for what He has already done in your life. Ask Him to give you a Kingdom perspective, and to remind you of His faithfulness. 2 Timothy 2:13 says “if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” Ask Him to help you have faith. Phone home, ET. Your heavenly Father wants to hear from you and help you. He sees you and knows what you need before you even ask, sometimes He just waits to see if we will ask Him (Matt 6:8).
Amidst our hardships and pains, Clay and I have made a choice to not speak to the world of our fears but of God’s faithfulness, His sovereignty and His goodness. We are choosing to seek Scripture and the Holy Spirit for comfort. We are telling fear that it has no place in our lives. And we know that God loves to look upon the people who have lived a full life of faith, loving and serving Him well, in hopes that He will say to us too, “Well done, my good and FAITH-FULL servants. Enter into the joy of your Master” (Matt 25:21).
Hey guys! I’m Breanna Mather. I am a 29 year-old, coffee-loving Ministry Wife. I am a OB/Nursery/NICU RN and love all things baby. I am passionate about serving the church through teaching Biblical Finance, Biblical Stewardship, and coordinating classes such as Financial Peace University, the Legacy Journey and Generation Change. I have started a small side business as a Ramsey Solutions Master Financial Coach - “Mather Financial Solutions”. You can find more information on facebook, instagram, and at www.matherfinancialsolutions.com. I also enjoy leading Bible studies, writing for my own blog page at www.breannamather.wordpress.com, and speaking at area events. In my free time I love to crochet, craft and sew. In this life, my ultimate enjoyment comes from learning how to better serve the Lord daily, by making much of Him while traveling through, and by seeing Him at work in the lives of those around me. He is good, faithful and sovereign!