Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Fear’s Opposites

Dannah Gresh: How do you respond to fear? Here’s Steve Canfield.

Steve Canfield: The question is not: Do you have fear? It’s not: Don’t be afraid. It’s: When I am afraid, I have a solution. I’m going to fear God more than I’m going to fear the culture, my circumstance, or whatever it happens to be. It’s not wrong to fear some things.

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, for November 9, 2020. I’m Dannah Gresh.

Fear . . . it’s something all of us face and likely in different ways. Today we’re going to consider how we respond to fear as we hear from Steve Canfield.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Steve is a longtime friend of Revive Our Hearts. He’s actually one of the senior leaders of Life Action Ministries, which is the parent ministry of Revive Our Hearts. We’ve served together in this revival ministry for over forty years.

Steve heads up one of the Life Action teams that travels to churches around the country, leading them through a time of seeking the Lord for personal and corporate revival.

Now, at the end of each summer, before those teams head out on the road, Life Action Ministries holds a staff conference that includes all the Revive Our Hearts’ staff. We call this our “Seek Week.” We’re seeking the Lord as we launch into a new ministry year. After Steve shared this message on fear at our “Seek Week” this past August, one of our staff texted me and said, “I think we need to share this message with our Revive Our Hearts listeners.”

Dannah: And, Nancy, the day before, you shared a message on “Coronavirus, Cancer and Christ.” And I want to say, it was such a joy for Bob and me to join from our home—via Zoom. That teaching was so powerful in my life. It was timely, and it was challenging. I want to encourage you, if you haven’t already, to listen to it. You can access it at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now, the message we’re about to hear from Steve references a phrase that you, Nancy, said in that message, and it’s one you often say: Heaven rules. Let’s listen in.

Steve: The premise of what I want to share with you this morning is because heaven rules, we can move beyond fear. Because heaven rules, we can move beyond fear. I’ve titled this, “Living Beyond Fear.”

We live in a culture today where fear is just overwhelming us. And the problem is we have not dealt with fear God’s way. The most often repeated command in the Word of God is—what?

Now, if you think about it, if you didn’t know the answer to that, and you thought, What would it be that God put down and said in His Word more than anything else? what command would it be?

  • Would it be pray? We see all kinds of direction about prayer.
  • Would it be that God tells us we’re to forgive? That’s an important thing.
  • Would it be that God tells us to love? The Bible says, “The greatest of these is love.”
  • Would it be to give thanks? To witness? To give money? 

What is it that God said over and over and over again?

“This is My command to you”—the most often repeated command in the entire Word of God—what is it? Do you know? “Fear not.” Now, there’s got to be some significance to that. Why did God choose, “Don’t be afraid; fear not,” as the thing He’s going to say over and over and over again?

Now, the beauty about preaching on fear is there’s such a plethora of verses. I want you to just listen to a few as the team shares—just listen to these verses about fear.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with You. He will not leave you or forsake you. (Josh. 1:9)

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, or the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea or the waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. (Ps. 46:1–3 ESV)

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Don’t let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27 NKJV)

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. (John 4:18–19 ESV)

Then you will walk in your ways securely, and your foot will not stumble. If you lie down, you will not worry. And when you lie down, you will sleep in peace. (Pr. 3:23–24)

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Ps. 27:1 ESV)

When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? (Ps. 56:3–4 ESV)

Steve: And we could go on and on and on because the Bible is filled with the promises and commands and instructions about fear.

I was thinking this through, and I thought, Who’s the most fearless person in the Bible? As you would make your list of fearless people—we see it modeled in life over and over again. I made a short list of people.

I thought of Jael—you remember her? She was the first volleyball player in the Bible—she spiked Sisera. (laughter) She was a Canaanite. Well, anyway, she was pretty brave.

I thought about Esther. She practiced civil disobedience. I mean, walking in on the king was a sentence of death unless he gave the thumbs-up sign. That was pretty fearless.

I thought about Daniel—again, practicing civil disobedience—to pray when he was told not to.

I thought about his buddies: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They stood for what they knew was right. That took a lot of courage. They were fearless.

I thought about Gideon who, with overwhelming odds, attacked an enemy.

I thought about Joshua. What a ridiculous battle plan God gave them to march around the city and then blow their trumpets. I mean, what kind of battle plan was that? What courage did that take?

I thought about Paul and the disciples. (It sounds like a 60s rock group “Groovin’ in Gethsemane.”) They had a lot of courage and all the things that they did.

As I made my list, and as you would make your list, you can’t go wrong just thinking about David. I mean, David was a study in fearlessness. I mean, as a teenager, he’s the guy out there facing the giant. Here’s what David wrote in Psalm 27: 

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (v. 1 ESV)

What did David have to be afraid of? I tell you what he had to be afraid of: The whole world was against him! You can’t go through your day in our culture today, and half the people you meet disagree with you on about everything—at least half. David was in a situation where the whole world disagreed with him. I mean, everybody hated Israel. They were, like, the superpower of the world. They all hated them, and then David is kicked out of his own country.

Saul tried to pin him to the wall with a spear, so David’s on the run. He runs to his enemies. He flees from them. He ends up in a cave someplace with just a few rejects. Here is a man who has the world against him. He had all kinds of things to fear. “Who shall I fear?” The whole world! But instead, he said, “I have no one to fear but God.”

And you sit there in your situation, and you say, “Yeah, but I’ve got some physical situations.”

I know our country is so divided, and people are disagreeing right and left. But David, maybe he was fearful. Actually, here’s what he did say: He didn’t say, “I’m not afraid.” What did he say? He said, “When,” in Psalm 56. “When I am afraid . . .” The reality is David did have fear.

The question is not: Do you have fear? It’s not: Don’t be afraid. It’s: When I am afraid, I have a solution. I’m going to fear God more than I’m going to fear the culture, my circumstance, or whatever it happens to be. It’s not wrong to fear some things. In fact, there are some health issues. It’s not a problem to be afraid of situations that are going to be dangerous.

The question is not: Are you going to fear? The question is: What will you fear? How are you going to respond to that fear?

So here’s two questions I want you to answer this morning:

Number one: Who or what are you going to choose to fear? (These are two questions for our consideration.) Who or what will you fear?

And then: What are you going to do when you have fear?

My father-in-law is going in for surgery today on his kidneys. He has some apprehensions. That’s normal. But he is not fearful because he knows God, and he trusts in God. So he’s choosing to go in apprehensively to surgery, which is understandable, but he’s choosing to be armed, to know, “I have a God who’s in charge of that.”

Are you going to respond to fear with boldness or cowardice? The Bible doesn’t say, “Don’t feel afraid.” God never condemns us for having emotions. God created those emotions. We all have things we’re fearful of.

I heard about a little boy. His mom was tucking him into bed one night, and there was a big thunderstorm outside, and he was a little bit tense. As she got ready to flip off the light, a big thunderbolt hit, and the noise rumbled, and the windows shook. He said, “Mommy! Mommy! Would you please spend the night in my room?”

And she flipped on the light and walked over to him and comforted him and said, “Honey, I have to sleep in Daddy’s room tonight.”

And he thought, Why is he such a big sissy?

We all have fears. Okay, maybe yours is not of thunderstorms or lightning or whatever. We all have fears, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But the question has got to be for us, as we look at those fears: Are we going to see them from God’s perspective or from ours?

I don’t fear weather. I do have some fears. I fear being smothered by all the pillows my wife is putting on our bed. That’s one of my biggest fears. (laughter) 

I say, “Honey, why do we have all these pillows?” 

She says, “Well, they’re for decorations.” 

Like, are we giving tours of our house? Are we giving tours of our bedroom so people can say, “Look at all those pillows. You’re doing really well.” I guess I’m saving them for the apocalyptic pillow fight at the end of the world—or whatever. (laughter)

There are certain fears. There’s all this, and there are things we all wrestle with, and that’s not a problem. However, fear is an emotion that can control you, and that’s where fear becomes a problem.

The problem with fear is its ability to control, its ability to capture us. So we’ve got to make sure that we’re fearing the right thing.

If you fear God, it will motivate you so that you live in personal revival and godly kingdom living . . . if you fear God.

If you fear the wrong thing, it’s going to motivate you to worry and anxiety.

What is the opposite of fear? What’s your definition? Some say, “Well, the opposite of fear is peace.” That’d be a good answer. One of the evidences of living a revived life is living in peace. Jesus said in John, “My peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you, not as the world gives, you give I unto you. Neither let your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27 ESV).

What does that look like? What is this revived life? We are in a revival ministry. We’re calling the nation, the world, churches, individuals to revival. But it starts with saying, “God, start in my life.” 

We want to see the world revived, but we’re not taking care of our lifes. We’re living unrevived lives, asking the world to do something we’re not willing to do ourselves.

We’re talking about churches, and the size of churches—they’re going to be going downhill after this pandemic. Why? Because so many peoplea’re not even close to the circle. They don’t even know Christ. They just know some country club they’ve come to all of their life.

As we’re going into churches and saying to the nation and the world, “We want you to have a revived life,” we better be modeling it first of all in our own lives. What does that look like?

Take your Bible and turn to 2 Timothy chapter 1. Second Timothy is part of what we call “the pastoral epistles.” Timothy was a pastor. Paul was his mentor. So Paul is writing to Timothy in this epistle, giving him some advice about the days ahead. Paul commissioned him to the normal Christian life.

The revived life is really the normal Christian life. If we lived the normal Christian life, then we’d be living the revived life. What did Paul expect Timothy’s life to look like? Here’s what it says in 2 Timothy 1, verse 3:

I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience, the way my forefathers did, as I continue to remember you in my prayers night and day, longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so I may be filled with joy. I am mindful of the sincere faith within you which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure is in you as well. . . . For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. (vv. 3–4, 6 NASB)

Now, we can’t do that in our culture because you can’t lay hands on people. But in that culture, then, before the pandemic, they’d lay hands on people to kind of commission them for ministry. And then he says this in verse 7: 

For God has not given us a spirit of [fear, your version may say] timidity but of power, of love and of discipline. (v. 7 NASB)

That is what Paul expected Timothy’s life to look like. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of courage, of power, and of self-control.

Now, this is a four-point message. I’m only going to preach on one of them. I don’t have time to preach on all four, so I’m only going to preach on one. I’m only going to talk about one. But just look real quick at these four things.

If you want to know what a revived life looks like, here’s what we’re asking you to look like because this is what we want the church to look like. We want people to see in us the courage, the power, and the love and the self-control that says, “We are living in that circle.”

Now, in Scripture there are three spirits. There’s the Holy Spirit. When you see that in Scripture, it will be capitalized. That’s God’s Spirit.

There’s evil spirits. We’re not talking about that right now. And then there’s our spirit. We talk about the spirit here, we’re talking about our attitude. When somebody says, “Hey! He’s got a bad spirit.” What we’re saying is, “He’s got a bad attitude.” 

When we are converted, when God comes and indwells, something changes on the inside, and the new man, the new spirit we have is one of courage, one of power, one of love, and one of self-control.

So Paul says to Timothy, “Rekindle that new man inside of you, that courage and power and love and self-control so that the world, so your church, can see what the revived life looks like.”

If we’re not modeling that, if we’re just talking about principles and facts and not modeling that, then we really have nothing to say to our church. And we have been crippled, I believe. The church and many believers have been crippled by timidity and fear because we’re worried about everything. Why? Because we watch the news probably.

People say, “I’ve got to see what’s going on in the world.” Out there, the news is going to be negative. It’s going to be bad. It was bad last night, and it’ll be bad tomorrow night. You already know.

People just live glued to their social media. If you’re getting your view of the world from social media, you’re foolish. We live on social media, and we let that form and mold our attitude and our response to life. A revived life is not characterized by worry and timidity and fear. Stating it positively, we need to live in boldness, courage and fearlessness.

One of our grandson’s middle name is Bold—Josiah Bold. I thought that was interesting when Ben named him Bold. Well, he was born on the way to the hospital in the parking lot. So he came out bold. But we want that, and Ben said, “I want my son to be bold for Christ.”

We all need to have that be the word that characterizes our lives. But we’re not going to move beyond fear if we’re not willing to live courageously and powerfully. I’m going to talk about courage and boldness, but look at the other three real quickly.

Power: When the Holy Spirit works in those of us to whom He has given, He works in power and in strength to fight the good fight of God. We have power to patiently endure but also to fight good blows for Christ. Power, for instance, to be steadfast in resisting temptation. One of the characteristics of you saying, “God, start with me,” is the power of the Spirit in you.

And the third one there is love. Love is basically defined as a self-surrender. That’s what love is.

When we get fearful, we stop living. We stop ministering. We’re told to isolate and insulate and hibernate in our culture right now. We need to commensurate, to participate, to accelerate. We shouldn’t be living in a cave. We need to be out there, investing ourselves, volunteering and being involved in people’s lives.

And the problem is we have let our culture tell us, “No, you just need to hide away someplace.” That is not what God tells us to do.

In 1 John chapter 4, “There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out all fear, for fear has to do with punishment whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (v. 18 ESV).

If you’re living in fear, you’re not living in the love of God. The reality is: Fear is about what we love. If you are fearful . . . Listen, it’s right to fear God in a good sense, a reverential respect. If you’re fearing God in who He is, then you’re going to be doing the right things.

If you’re fearing the wrong things . . . if you love yourself, if you love your comfort, your convenience, your health, whatever it is, then you’re going to be a mess. We fear something that we love and so we fear losing that. We fear losing our status or losing our position.

Love for others leads us to deeds of self-surrender. Love gets its strength from sacrifice, which may benefit a friend or a neighbor or a stranger.

The fourth one is self-government or self-control. We need to be self-controlled. That’s the power of a man or a woman who lives, mixing with the world, yes, exposed to temptations and pleasures, but is able to regulate or keep themselves in subjection, to keep those passions and desires and impulses where they need to be.

Victory over fear is a choice, and some of us are making the wrong choices. I want you to start making a list of your fears. It’s not to hand it; it’s not for anybody else, just for you. But I want you to start writing down: What are the things that make you tense up? What are the things that freak you out? I want you to make a list. All of us have those. I have those. I want you to start writing them down.

It may be something as simple as the dark. Some people are just afraid of the dark. I used to be afraid of the dark. I still don’t like the dark, but I’m not totally put in fear of it. When I was a child, I was. I had two younger sisters, and I was in a late grade school, and the light switch to the hall that went in our house was about three steps down the hall, and it was dark. I remember having my little sister go turn the light on for me. I was afraid to walk three steps into the dark. We understand that with children.

There was a young boy about five. His mom said, “Honey, go to the pantry and get me some tomato soup.” 

And he said, “Mommy, it’s dark in there.” 

And she said, “It’s okay. Jesus will be there with you.” 

So he walked up to the door, and he just didn’t want to go in. So he opened the door, and he said, “Hey Jesus, if You’re in there, could You hand me a can of soup?”

That’s kind of the way we are. We believe, but we’re just not going to live it. We’re not going to practice that. And the fact is, you can be afraid. I’m not saying don’t be apprehensive about dark things.

Some of us are in the dark about our job. “What’s my job going to look like?”

We’re in the dark about what’s going to happen with our family.

There’s fears that we have about things we’re in the dark about. Maybe your fear is the fear of death. I believe this: A person’s attitude towards death tells you something about their theology.

There was a John Hopkins’ doctor who said, “We don’t know why it is that people who worry die sooner than non-worriers, but we know that it is a fact.” People who worry die sooner than non-worriers. It’s something I’ve said during this entire pandemic: The reason we are so fearful is we have a poor theology of death.

Why do we fear death? I mean, death has driven us to such unhealthy extremes, and not even during the pandemic, but before. People live in such unhealthy fears about health. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be healthy, but it’s unhealthy with the fears we have.

Nancy: We’ve been listening to Steve Canfield sharing with the Life Action Ministries’ and Revive Our Hearts’ staff about fears that we may have and what we do with that fear.

Now, earlier in his message, he mentioned the opposite of fear, found in 2 Timothy, chapter 1:7. It says, “For God gave us a spirit, not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.”

So rather than living in fear, this verse says God equips us with power and love and self-control. You see, because heaven rules, we don’t have to be afraid of what’s going on in our world or of any situation we may be facing now or in our future.

Dannah: I don’t know about you, but that’s a reminder I need frequently, which is why I’m so excited that the theme for our 2021 Revive Our Hearts wall calendar is “Heaven Rules.” How appropriate given all we’ve been through this year!

I’m excited about this wall calendar for a lot of reasons, but one is the beautiful artwork of Ginny Graham.

Nancy: Yes. Ginny’s been a friend of mine for a long time. Her dad, Scott Melby, served on the board of Revive Our Hearts for a number of years before the Lord took him home with leukemia in his mid-50s. Ginny’s parents have been longtime friends of mine, and I’ve watched Ginny go through a lot of hard experiences in her life, including the loss of her dad, with such grace and leaning hard into this truth that heaven rules.

So I was so thrilled when our team decided to contract Ginny to do the artwork for this calendar. It’s beautiful, and I think you’ll agree when you see this lovely wall calendar.

Dannah: It’s not only that we get to display this beautiful art on our walls, but each month features quotes from Nancy and specially-selected Scripture passages to shift our minds to that eternal perspective. And in great big letters the words, “Heaven Rules,” will remind us of this important truth.

Nancy: Yes, that’s a phrase that’s been emblazoned in my heart through this past year of coronavirus, cancer, and other challenging world circumstances. Robert and I say to each other over and over and over again, “Heaven rules.” It’s a great reminder.

And as you have this calendar hanging in your home, every month you’re going to see those words: “Heaven Rules—Heaven Rules—Heaven Rules.” I don’t know what 2021 will bring, but one thing I know day after day, month after month, it will be true that heaven still rules.

We want to send you this thirteen-month calendar, (it starts with this December), when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. Maybe you’ve never taken the opportunity to give a gift to Revive Our Hearts. This would be a great time to do that. Maybe you’ve given in the past and would like to do that again if this ministry has been an encouragement or a blessing to you.

So this month, with your donation of any amount, we’ll send you this Revive Our Hearts wall calendar. My prayer is that you will be encouraged and strengthened throughout the year ahead by that daily reminder that heaven rules.

Dannah: If you’d like to make a gift, you can go online to ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959. Sending you this calendar is just one way we want to say “thanks” for supporting the work God is doing through this ministry.

Tomorrow we’re going to pick back up where Steve Canfield left off in his message about fear. You’re not going to want to miss it. I’m Danna Gresh. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you live a revived life. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

About the Speaker

Steve Canfield

Steve Canfield

After graduating from Bible College with a degree in Bible and counseling, Steve served as a youth pastor in Illinois. Since joining Life Action Ministries in 1975, he has communicated …

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