I remember the day we were in chapel in high school when they announced that a girl was going to come up and sing a special. We all looked at each other and said, “She can sing? She doesn’t even talk!” About that time, this shy girl was escorted up on stage. She looked terrified and the microphone was shaking in her hand. Without warning, and with no music playing, she started singing. It was incredible! We sat there shocked as she sang this song. As soon as it was over, we all jumped to our feet and cheered. She went on to win several singing competitions and is a worship pastor at a church today.
The Bible is full of people who were timid and shy about using their gifts and talents. Moses had a speech impediment, but God chose him to lead Israel out of slavery and through the desert. Timothy is another example. He was young and inexperienced, but God chose him to be a pastor. Paul’s letters to him were always encouraging him to continue to step out in faith into his calling despite his fear. I grew up quoting several of Paul’s messages to him because I needed to hear those words. We simply cannot allow fear to hold us back from using the gifts God has given us.
2 Timothy 1:7 says, “God doesn’t want us to be shy with His gifts, but bold and loving and sensible” (MSG). Almost every other version starts out with, “God has not given us a spirit of fear.” In the verse before, Paul reminds Timothy to fan his gifts into flames. We fan them into flames by pushing through the fear and doing what God put into us to do. Almost anyone who uses their gifts experiences fear. The ones who push past that spirit and embrace God’s spirit of power, love and a sound mind get to experience the satisfaction of fulfilling their purpose. It’s up to each one of us to find the encouragement we need, step out in faith and do what God has created us to do. Pushing past the fear isn’t easy, but it is necessary.
When I was growing up and going through my teenage years, I was part of a scouting program at church. It laid the foundation for a lot of things in my life and taught me how to do things I would have otherwise never learned. One of the foundational things it gave me was a code to live by. I can still recite all eight points of the code and their definitions 30 years later. The first point in the code is, “Alert: he is mentally, physically and spiritually alert.” Being mentally alert is to be present in conversations, in life and in preparedness to give an answer for the hope in you. Physically alert is all about paying attention to your surroundings and anticipating what might happen. Spiritually alert is the most important one of all. It’s recognizing that we’re in a constant battle within ourselves between our human nature and the Holy Spirit as well as being alert to our enemy who wants to devour us.
I’m afraid we all get caught up in the daily grind of things that we lose our spiritual alertness. We’ve all been a distracted driver at times when we’ve failed to be alert to the things around us. We’ve had to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident while everything in our car has flown forward. It happens usually when we’re not alert. Just like it is dangerous to drive distracted, it’s dangerous to live out your faith being distracted. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (NLT). You and I must recognize that our enemy seeks to destroy us. We need to stay alert in order to keep him from sneaking up on us. Remember though that being is alert is different than being fearful. Fear is not from God. He gives us a spirit of power, love and a sound (alert) mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
Staying spiritually alert was something Paul wrote to the believers as well. 1 Corinthians 16:13 says, “Remember to stay alert and hold firmly to all that you believe. Be mighty and full of courage” (TPT). You don’t have to fear the enemy. Greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world and is trying to devour you. Stand firm in your faith with courage, resist the enemy and he will flee. Remember that you are a child of God and have the authority Jesus gave you to overcome. You don’t have to be afraid of the enemy, but you do need to stay alert. Pay attention to what’s going on around you spiritually. What work is God doing in the lives of people you’re around? What work does God have you doing? Satan wants to disrupt progress in both cases. Pray over your family, your friends, your pastors and the work you’re doing. Ask God for courage to stand up against the enemy and to help you resist his advances. Your spiritual alertness may be the difference in eternal life for someone.
Fear. Worry. Addiction. Self destructive thoughts and patterns. Depression. Insurmountable odds. Our past. These are things that many of us battle on a daily basis. They are mentally and physically taxing. It’s hard to sleep when these battles loom over us because they’re all we think about. The idea of getting free of them rarely enters our mind anymore because we’ve given up hope of overcoming them. They are powerful and make us feel powerless against them. We yield to them because we know it’s useless. So we live under their cloud in a defeated life without hope of winning victory over them.
If you struggle with these things, you’re not alone. Millions of people live just like that believing they’re the only ones going through it because the enemy of your soul has lied to you. He knows if he wins these battles, he can sideline you for a lifetime. But God has not given you a spirit of fear, nor has He abandoned you. He has given you the strength and the tools to break every chain and every stronghold that tries to hold you down and keep you from the life He created you to live. Remember that our weapons are not carnal, but are mighty through God (2 Cor 10:4)!
Psalm 18:35 puts it this way, “You empower me for victory with your wrap-around presence. Your power within makes me strong to subdue, and by stooping down in gentleness you strengthened me and made me great!” (TPT) Yes, you were made to be great and victorious through God. When we spend time in His presence through prayer, reading His Word and in praise and worship, He envelops us with the power we need to overcome. You don’t have to be a prisoner to these other things because you’ve been empowered for victory.
Have you ever been intimidated by someone who was purposefully trying to prevent you from doing something? Intimidation works because it creates fear and fear paralyzed. It’s one of the main tactics the enemy uses against us. Peter told us that our enemy roams around like a roaring lion. What’s more intimidating than a lion? But we often overlook the keyword “like”. He isn’t a lion, but he wants you to believe he is because he wants to intimidate you.
All of us deal with fear and intimidation from the enemy. Paul reminded Timothy that God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear. God gives us a spirit of power. He knew that they enemy would try to intimidate us so He gave us the power to overcome. Remember, greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. We don’t have to be intimidated by our enemy. We can stand up to him because we have a greater power at work in us.
Here are some verses to help us to not be intimidated.
1. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified or dismayed (intimidated), for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.
JOSHUA 1:9 AMP
2. What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.
Luke 12:6-7 MSG
3. They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could discourage us and stop the work. So I continued the work with even greater determination.
Nehemiah 6:9 NLT
4. I will not be intimidated or afraid of the ten thousands Who have set themselves against me all around.
PSALM 3:6 AMP
5. Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because GOD, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.
Deuteronomy 31:6 MSG
I threw out my back this morning to the point that when I moved, it would tense up and bring excruciating pain. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t make it better. After a few hours, a chiropractor was able to come help me. Where I had pain, he pushed. Where it was tense, he massaged. Little by little he was able to help me move. After a while, he was able to help me stand up so I could walk.
After taking a few steps with help, my back would tense up, and I would need to sit back down. We went through this several times over the period of a half hour. Little by little I was taking more steps, but still had the issue where my back would tense up and force me to sit. Finally, the doctor looked at me and said, “The work has been done. What’s happening now is your fear is impeding your progress. You need to trust the work.”
The fear of this pain is crippling me. It’s causing my muscles to tense and locking up my back. It’s a similar process for many Christians. The work of the cross has been done, but our fear often keep us from progressing in our walk with God. We take baby steps, fear takes over, and we fall. In trusting our minds, we fail to trust the work that Jesus did for us. We have to learn to trust what He says over what our mind says.
We know that II Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (NLT). Fear is not from God. We cannot allow it to rule in our minds. If we do, our struggle will be long, hard, and painful. God can give us a mind that trusts Him and the work He’s done. We need to ask Him to let us have the mind of Christ, and then we have to trust in the work that’s been done.