It’s almost humorous the number of times it has to be repeated in Scripture. The phrase so often heard is: ‘Do not be afraid.’ One would have to conclude that the reason for this command is that the audience was, in fact, afraid.  Jesus says it to his disciples as he promises his peace to them. John, much later, will insist that fear is not the answer because, as he puts it: ‘Love never brings fear, for fear is always related to punishment. But love’s perfection drives the fear of punishment far from our hearts.’ 1 John 4:18, TPT.

When Jesus prays his well-known prayer in John 17, he asks this of his Father: ‘I am not asking that you remove them from the world, but I ask that you guard their hearts from evil, for they no longer belong to this world any more than I do.’ Think of that for a moment! Knowing human frailty, and specifically the frailty of his ragtag band, Jesus makes this beautiful request of his Father, the God of all Creation, who holds all things in His hands! I don’t believe this plea would be refused. The Father and Jesus are one. My understanding, based on this Father-Son relationship, is that we (21st Century disciples), live with hearts guarded from evil by all the power of the Kingdom of Heaven (better by far than all the cyber security in the world)!

In Colossians 3:2, TPT, we read these fear-conquering instructions: ‘. . . we are to yearn for all that is above, for that’s where Christ sits enthroned at the place of all power, honor, and authority! Yes, feast on all the treasures of the heavenly realm and fill your thoughts with heavenly realities, and not with the distractions of the natural realm.’ Picture this if you can! We are encouraged to feast and get filled up with the eternal truths about the Kingdom of Heaven. As we do this very thing, will we be so saturated that there is no room left vacant in us for fear to get in? 

David, as a fugitive on the run from King Saul, writes in Psalm 23: ‘Lord, even when your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness, fear will never conquer me, for you already have!  . . . The comfort of your love takes away my fear.’ Small wonder his words are among the best known, and best loved, in all of Scripture!

Jesus, never one to tiptoe around truth, takes a long time (Luke 21:10-26) laying out the harsh facts of how things will play out here. But he lovingly prefaces those dire words with this exhortation: ‘There will also be many wars and revolutions on every side, with rumors of more wars to come. Don’t panic or give in to your fears, for these things are bound to happen’ (v. 9). What I hear Jesus saying is that the entire litany of bad news is known in heaven. God has a plan, and it’s Plan ‘A’ because there’s . . .

Are there big, bad, scary things happening in the world around us? Are many of them nightmare scenarios? Do news reports pander to our fears? Yes, yes, and yes. Has Jesus given us a strategy for living? Does he ask us to be his fearless ambassadors still? YES! One last Scripture: ‘Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude.’ Philippians 4:6, TPT. Prayer: a cool, stealth weapon for a stealth army!  PD

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