In His Grip Devotions
by Dr. Chuck F. Betters
How to Short-Circuit the Holy Spirit – Part 3
Obstacle #2 Fear and Worry
I began this devotional series, “How to Short-Circuit the Holy Spirit” by referencing my own bucket list. I wonder how many of us include in our bucket lists to live fully in the power of the Holy Spirit. Can that ever really happen in this life? Can I ever wake up one morning and expect that I can live a full 24-hour period in complete obedience to Christ in sinless perfection? Can I ever hope to live in such communion with Jesus that I can say to the lame man, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” What is it that hinders me from experiencing God is such a way that I can walk in step with the Spirit in perfect submission?
Peter wrote his first epistle to suffering Christians who faced imminent pain and heartache. One would think he would have counseled them to become like Mel Gibson, mount their horses, paint their faces and become mini-Bravehearts shouting to their enemies “You will never take away our freedom!” Instead, Peter calls them to humility.
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. [And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:5b-11 E.S.V)
Have you considered putting this call to humility and holiness on your bucket list?
Last week I suggested that the number one short-circuit to the power of the Holy Spirit is pride, the antithesis of humility. Pride, the default setting of the human heart will kill spiritual power every time. But there is another faulty circuit dwelling in the dark recesses of my heart that threatens to undo any progress I have made in the pursuit of holiness. It is an ugly enemy of my soul that stands in stark opposition to the spiritual constitution of the New Testament Christian – FEAR and WORRY.
There is healthy fear and destructive fear and most of us really do know the difference. I have a friend who has to be sedated before crossing a bridge. Her fear is real but unnecessary. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel in Virginia is a modern wonder as it traverses the Bay for 18 miles including two trips under water through tunnels constructed to allow large vessels to pass above. It is an amazing bridge filled with unparalleled beauty. Unhealthy fear as in my friend would cause one to miss this beauty. Contrariwise, healthy fear originates with some outside danger and dissipates as soon as the threat passes. If you see your child running out onto the street with an oncoming car, that will produce a healthy fear. To be concerned is a virtue but to fear and worry in a destructive way is a sin.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? ... But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25,33-34 E.S.V)
Destructive fear paralyzes us and short-circuits the power of the Holy Spirit. Some people worry if they are not worrying and are afraid if they are not afraid. But what is the antidote for fear and worry? One might immediately think it is faith. But I suggest it is more than that. The Holy Spirit hits moving targets. He does not dwell in stagnant water. The sweet fragrance of the Holy Spirit does not belong in the sewer. What I mean by this is that the antidote for fear and worry is to become a risk-taking disciple who searches for open doors and who climbs through cracked windows not knowing what is behind them. That is faith at work or a faith that works. The Holy Spirit is always on the move and if we are to keep in step with Him we must be on the move as well. What’s next for you? What does God have in store for you? What chapter has He closed and what new one is He opening? You may not know every detail. But we must break the shackles of fear and pursue the risks of a faith at work.
This is why Peter cautions his persecuted church this way - casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7 E.S.V).
What’s on your bucket list? What are your spiritual goals? Don’t miss the dynamite that blows up worry – “because he cares for you.”
In His Grip,
Dr. Chuck F. Betters
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