Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lesson 4 - Thinking on the Truth About... the Future

What meant the most to you from this chapter or helped you think more accurately about God’s character and the truth of His Word?

What offered you the greatest challenge or blessing, and why?

Crippling Fear
Check any fears you have, and put a star next to your greatest ones.

____ Natural disaster ____ Money/finances

____ Marriage ____ Children/grandchildren

____ Singleness ____ Widowhood

____ Old age ____ Illness/suffering

____ Death ____ Others:

How have these fears hindered you and your quality of life in the past?

How are they inhibiting your life now?

Overcoming Fear
The Bible has much to say about not being fearful. What do these verses remind us about God’s watch-care?

 2 Timothy 1:7 - For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear - A nervous and fearful spirit. This is said in order to encourage Timothy.

But of power - Power to encounter foes and dangers; power to bear up under trials; power to triumph in persecutions.

And of love - Love to God and to the souls of men. The tendency of this is to “cast out fear” and to make the mind bold and constant.

Nothing will do more to inspire courage, to make a man fearless of danger, or ready to endure hardship and persecution, than “love.”

The love of country, and husband, and children, and home, makes the most timid bold when they are attacked; and the love of Christ and of a dying world strengthens the soul and sustains it in the deepest sorrows.

And of a sound mind - The Greek word denotes one of sober mind; a man of forethought and good judgment.

The state referred to here is the mind being well balanced, and under right influences; in which it sees things in their just proportions and relations; in which it is not agitated and excited, but when everything is in its proper place.

It was this state of mind which Timothy was exhorted to cultivate; this which Paul regarded as so necessary to the performance of the duties of his office. It is as needful now as it was then.

 Hebrews 13:6 - So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

So that we may boldly say - Without any hesitation or doubt, In all times of confusion; in all times when we barely know where the supplies for our necessities are to come, we may put our trust in God, and be assured that he will not leave us to suffer. There is a ground for confidence on this subject which is not always exercised even by good people.

The Lord is my helper - What can we fear if we have the assurance that the Lord is on our side, and that he will help us? Man can do no more to us than he permits, and of course no more than will be for our own good; and under whatever trials we may be placed, we need be under no painful apprehensions, for God will be our protector and our friend.

 1 John 4:18 - There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

There is no fear in love - Love is not an affection which produces fear. In the love which we have for a parent, a child, a friend, there is no fear. If a man had perfect love to God, he would have no fear of anything - for what would he have to dread?

He would have no fear of death, for he would have nothing to dread beyond the grave. It is guilt that makes people fear what is to come; but he whose sins are pardoned, and whose heart is filled with the love of God, has nothing to dread in this world or the world to come.

The angels in heaven, who have always loved God and one another, have no fear, for they have nothing to dread in the future; the redeemed in heaven, rescued from all danger, and filled with the love of God, have nothing to dread; and as far as that same loves operates on earth, it delivers the soul now from all apprehension of what is to come.

But perfect love casteth out fear - That is, love that is complete, or that is allowed to exert its proper influence on the soul. As far as it exists, its tendency is to deliver the mind from alarms. If it should exist in any soul in an absolutely perfect state, that soul would be entirely free from all dread in regard to the future.

Because fear hath torment - It is a painful and distressing emotion. We suffer from the fear of poverty, of losses, of bereavement, of sickness, of death, and of future woe. From all these distressing apprehensions, that love of God which provides an evidence of true faithfulness delivers us.

He that feareth, is not made perfect in love - If we allow our mind to linger on the apprehension of future wrath, we show that love in our soul has not accomplished its full work.

The following promises were given by God. Who were they given to, and what was the substance of the promise?

 Genesis 15:1 - After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.

After these things, - the victory, the blessing, and the self-denial recorded in the previous chapter. “The word of the Lord,” manifesting himself by speech to his servant. “In the vision” the intelligent observer passes from the merely sensible to the supersensible sphere of reality. “Fear not, Abram.” The patriarch had some reason to fear. The formidable allies had indeed been defeated, and the fruits of their marauding enterprise wrested from them. But they might resume their purpose, and return with an overwhelming force. And Abram was still a stranger in a foreign land, preoccupied by tribes of another race, who would combine against him as soon as they suspected him of being an intruder. But the Lord had stood by him and given him the victory, and now speaks to him in the language of encouragement. “I am thy shield, thy exceeding great reward.” The word I is separately expressed, and, therefore, emphatic in the original.

The mind of Abram is here lifted up to the spiritual and the eternal. (1) thy shield. (2) thy exceeding great reward.

Abram has two fears - the presence of evil, and the absence of good.

Experience and conscience had begun to teach him that both of these were justly his doom.

With such a shield from all evil, and such a source of all good, he need not be afraid. We have the great doctrine of “the Lord our righteousness,” redeeming us on the one hand from the sentence of death, and on the other to a title to eternal life.

 Genesis 21:17-19 - And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is.
 18 Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.
 19 And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink.

God hears the voice of the lad, whose sufferings from thirst are greater than those of the mother. An angel is sent, who addresses Hagar in the simple words of encouragement and direction. “Hold thy hand upon him.” Lay thy hand firmly upon him. The former promise Gen_16:10 is renewed to her. God also opened her eyes that she saw a well of water, from which the bottle is replenished, and she and the lad are recruited for their further journey.

 Joshua 1:9 - Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

When we are in the way of our duty we have reason to be strong and very courageous; and it will help very much to keep our eye upon the divine warrant, hear God saying, “Have not I commanded thee? I will therefore help thee, succeed thee, accept thee, reward thee.”

Our Lord Jesus, as Joshua here, was borne up under his sufferings by a regard to the will of God and the commandment he had received from his Father, John 10:18.

No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

How can these promises help you overcome your fears?

Thinking about the Future
What is/are the “what if(s)” you think about most often?

What is true and real about your future? How can you remember these truths when you are tempted to be fearful?

Asking “But What Is True and Real?”
Briefly note the truths the following Scriptures contain and how they apply to your specific fears about the future.

Joshua 1:9 - Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

Psalms 23:1, 4, 6 - Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Psalms 46:1-2 - To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

2 Corinthians 12:9 - And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Philippians 4:13 - I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Philippians 4:19 - But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 13:5-6 - Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

What will you plan to do the next time you find yourself thinking, “What if…”?

Noting a Few “Nothings”
Review again the list of “nothings”. Which one(s) encouraged you the most, and why?

What can you add to the list?

Loving God…Even More
Read this section in your book again. As you consider the contents of this chapter and God’s amazing love for you, what can you do this week, in obedience to Christ…

…to think on the truth?

…to train your thoughts?

…to love God with all your mind?

Think on these things.

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