Mar 23 – The focus of this week’s prayer letter is again on dealing with fear and the Fear of the Lord.
Jesus teaches on the Fear of the Lord. Luke 12:4-7, ‘And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.’
Here we read of Jesus’ words to His disciples. In verses 4-5, He tells them not to fear man, nor demons, but to fear the Lord, the One who has power to cast into Gehenna, hell – Christ Himself will be that judge. He calls His disciples, philois, ‘friends.’ In the context Jesus is telling them not to fear martyrdom, nor the pressure to recant their faith. He is not promising to protect His people from physical harm at that moment, but that God will protect His people after this earthly life is over.
Father, as we reflect on these words, they remind us that we may very well face threats in this life, but that our eternal destiny is secure in Christ. Thank You for this great truth and the teaching it conveys about fearing You. We pray for those today who are worried, nervous and fearful as the Coronavirus Pandemic continues to spread. Only in Christ can they assured that after this life all will be well. Enable us, as a church, to teach on this great truth, and the freedom that the fear of the Lord brings. May Your Spirit convict and challenge many people about eternity, and where they will spend it revealing Christ as Saviour to them. Amen
Mar 24 – In Matthew’s parallel account (10:27-31, ‘Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows’), there is a contrast between those who can kill the body but not the soul.
Matthew writes about a different type of fear to Luke – about constant ongoing fear in ministry. Jesus says not to allow unsanctified fear to determine the shape of our ministry of the Gospel; instead, to live in the fear of the Lord every day. In Luke, the focus is on the fear that arises in the moment, the fear of the Lord in the face of a threat of persecution or attack. In Matthew, Jesus is encouraging believers to continue to preach Christ’s words, the Gospel, living in the fear of the Lord, not in the fear of man or woman. We pray for all local ministers in the churches in Telford and Shropshire – may they preach and minister the Gospel faithfully as many churches are having to move their services online. May the services highlight Your truth, reverence and Your fear. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Mar 25 – In Luke 12:5, Luke writes a threefold repetition about who we should fear, God Himself. Gehenna refers to the place of the unrepentant dead, the place where they are punished and will serve the sentence of judgement. It was named after the Valley of the Sons of Hinnom, a ravine Southwest of Jerusalem which was the refuse heap where waste, and dead animals where burned, there was a fire burning in it all the time. This place was also where the earlier Kings of Israel had served Baal-Molech, including through the terrible practice of child sacrifice (2 Kings 23:10 et al.).
Foerester writes that it is better to fear the Judge (Jesus) than those with no real authority (See Mark 9:42-48, ‘But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched – where ‘Their worm does not die & the fire is not quenched.’ And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched – where ‘Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire – where ‘Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched’). Lord, these are sobering words – we pray that many will heed them in our communities and turn to Christ as Saviour. Amen
Mar 26 – The world is wonderfully adept at employing scare-tactics to influence people, and yet complains bitterly when Christians speak about Hell and the need to repent and trust in Christ. Some examples: if you don’t eat right you’ll die before your time – if you don’t take vitamins and antioxidants the free radicals will destroy your immune system – smoking can kill you – if you don’t have enough insurance your family could be left destitute. Advertisers employ it well!
Father, today’s generation also needs to heed the spiritual warnings contained in the Gospel. Personally, it was the fear of Hell that led me to Christ seeking forgiveness and salvation. I’d rather be scared into Heaven than for someone to tickle my ears, pat my back, and ‘love’ me into Hell! Lord, we ask for Spirit-anointed full-Gospel preaching to arise across the churches in the UK. In Jesus’ name and for His glory. Amen
Mar 27 – There are two theological terms that help us understand why we should fear God: transcendence and immanence. As transcendent, God is altogether different from us. There is nothing in the universe by which He can be compared. He is omnipotent – all-powerful, omnipresent – always-present, eternal, perfect, and holy — He is transcendent in being different and above all powers.
He is also immanent! And that means God is involved in His creation, is here and walks among us by His Spirit. We don’t see His physical manifestation but the omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal, perfect, and holy God is here, now! The prophet Zephaniah said: “For the LORD your God is living among you” (3:17).
Father, since You are both transcendent and immanent – both powerful and present – nothing escapes Your attention. You are the all-knowing Judge who assesses both our motives and behaviour. You are both merciful and just; therefore, in Christ, You forgive sin when we repent, but also holding all guilty of sin who refuse to turn to Christ. That’s what Your fear is all about! You call us to order our lives in Christ in such a way so that He will ‘present us faultless in Your presence.’ At this time of global crisis – we pray for a great spiritual awakening bringing Your grace, righteousness and truth to the heart of the lives of many so they fear You as the transcendent God, and glorify You as the personal God. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Mar 28 – In Luke 12:6-7, Jesus mentions the Father’s care for creation, and says to them that He cares much more for people. In verse 7, Jesus tells them, ‘Do not fear therefore…’ This is a present imperative meaning that it is not just a simple statement about not fearing which we one can take or leave, but it is a command statement. In other words, Jesus is commanding His people not to fear because of the Father’s care. We cannot ignore this command.
Father, any fear which is not Your fear is something which Jesus forbids. This type of fear includes all phobias. It can be a fear of man, of the future, of failure, of someone finding out about our past, of sickness, of the loss of a job and poverty, of dying, and sometimes, even of living. Wherever fear raises its ugly head we are to step on it and not allow it the room to grow and develop. Holy Spirit, enable us to apply this principle at this time of the Coronavirus Pandemic. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Mar 29 – Fear can have a devastating effect on our lives leading us to do less and less until eventually we end up bound fast by it, unable to move & enjoy our lives. When we get to this stage of being bound by fear – even the truthful thought that the Father in heaven cares for us means little to us.
Father, Your care is wonderful. I pray for those who cannot accept it because an unsanctified fear is blocking their pathway to freedom – it is only a concept which they agree with verbally, but which they do not allow to grip our hearts and minds. Therefore, many end up knowing that Your care and grace are sufficient, but are not partaking of any of the benefits of these great theological and practical truths. There are many Christians, as well as non-Christians, who are like this. We pray for Christian and non-Christian alike. Grant them the revelation of this, and lead them into a new place wherein they can receive and benefit from this truth in Christ. Amen