• Matt Beaney

#697. CHOOSE LIFE PT. 4 - FAITH OR FEAR? (24/11/22)

This week’s devotionals are based upon Sunday’s message from Simon Guillbaud. Simon Guillebaud MBE is GLO’s International Director. He had a very clear call to Burundi in 1999, when it was regarded as the most dangerous country on earth. He set up GLO with the vision to transform Burundi and beyond through holistic mission, working with gifted local leaders of integrity. For the full message please go to:

https://www.communitychurchputney.com/teaching

For more on Simon and to find out about His blog, podcast and teaching, please go to:

https://www.simonguillebaud.com/inspired-podcast/


‘This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Summary: Faith is believing God - believing His promises and character. Faith extinguishes the flaming arrows of fear.


We have had a huge dose of fear during Covid. The church oftentimes is crippled by fear. Simon shared his experience of being in very dangerous and life-threatening conditions when he was in Burundi- the most dangerous nation on earth at the time. He made the point that when you think that you might die each day, you don’t waste your time and life! He shared the attitude that he had to adopt, which was: ‘We are immortal until God calls is home.’ Faith in God is the antidote to fear. Fear will keep us from the mission and joy that God has called us to.


WHAT IS FAITH?

Perhaps the best definition is by Dr M. L. Jones who defined faith as, ‘believing God’. It’s believing in what He reveals of Himself and His will in scripture. William Lane writes:

‘Faith, is confident expectation for the future. It is a quality of response that appropriates the divine promise and recognises the reliability of God’ (William Lane, WBC Commentary, page 98)

Here are two important texts from the book of Hebrews:

‘Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.’ (Hebrews 11:1
‘And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.’ (Hebrews 11:6)

Faith has confidence in all that God promises. Faith trusts in God although He is invisible and despite having to wait for Him to act. Faith is revealed by our trust. Faith is also revealed by ‘earnestly seeking Him’. True faith prays.


RESPONSE - LEARNING TO OVERCOME FEAR BY FAITH

Fear must be resisted and repelled. We cannot be passive about it. The devil sends the most repulsive things at us like:

“You are going to fail and look a fool... You are ugly and repulsive to others… When you speak others don’t want to listen… You’re a fool…Everyone’s laughing at you… God doesn’t care…Those closest to you will be taken away… your spouse doesn’t find you attractive… No one can ever love you… You’re too old… You’re too young…”


The world, the flesh and the devil send ‘flaming arrows’ of fear and accusation at us all the time and we must learn to recognise and quench them with faith. Paul writes:

‘In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.’ (Ephesians 6:16)

To ‘choose life’ is to choose faith over fear. To ‘listen to His voice and hold fast to Him’ is about putting our faith in Him. When struck by fear, we must apply truth of God’s word and so extinguish its power. For example, a common fear is around money and being generous. The news and many sources are seeking to make us fearful at this time. We know that we should be generous but fear can make us hoard and distrust God to be faithful. However, Jesus promises us:

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:24-26)

Faith trusts this kind of promise. Faith holds it up as a kind of shield against lies. Faith frees us to serve God with our money rather than serving money as our God!


YOU MIGHT FIND THIS INTERVIEW WITH J. JOHN HELPFUL:


 

COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY

1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

 

2. Icebreaker

What has God been speaking to you about from His word recently? How would you like prayer?

 

3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group


CHOOSE LIFE

This week’s study is based on Sunday’s message from Simon Guillbaud.


Simon based his message on 30:11-20.

‘This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

God was calling the people to live by faith. They have just come out of 40-years of wandering in the desert due to unbelief. God reminded them of there previous unfaithful attitude at the beginning of this book:

‘But you were unwilling to go up; you rebelled against the command of the Lord your God. You grumbled in your tents and said, ‘The Lord hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us.’’ (Deuteronomy 1:26-27)

God had promised to give them the land of Canaan. He had shown His power and love by bringing them out of Egypt, but they refused to believe and obey. In response, God had caused them to wander in the desert for 40 years because of unbelief. Now, He’s calling them again to listen to Him and walk by faith. This account is reminding us that God doesn’t want us wandering in circles. He wants to lead us into greater fruitfulness.


In his message on Sunday, Simon gave us six challenges to consider:


1. ARE WE GOING TO CHOOSE CLARITY OR TRUST

To ‘choose life’ requires that we choose trust over clarity. Many have a faith but don’t live by faith. We too often want clarity. We want to control things. We want God to show us all the steps before we’ll take the first. God wants us to take that first step.


2. DISOBEDIENCE OR OBEDIENCE?

Only Joshua and Caleb entered The Promised Land. Only they were willing to obey God. Are you and I willing to offer our lives entirely to Him?


3. CYNICISM OR ACTION

To choose life is to reject cynicism and take godly action. It’s easy to become cynical and back out of living actively for God. Have we allowed cynicism to rob us of joy and action? The antidote to cynicism is to take good action rather than wait for our feelings to change.


4. FAITH OR FEAR?

We have had a huge dose of fear during Covid. The church is often crippled by fear.

In our finances, particularly during our gift days at the moment, are will giving in fear or faith? Choosing life if to choose to do things by faith.


5. URGENCY OR APATHY?

In a war-torn and poor nation like Burundi, it’s easier to see and be provoked by great needs. In London, are we aware of the ‘falling bombs of unbelief, cynicism, materialism, fear…’? These should provoke up to urgent prayer and action.


6. GRATITUDE OR MOANING

To choose life is to choose thankfulness over grumbling. It’s easy to become critical and entitled. Simon encourage us to do what we are taught in Romans 12:1-3 and count our blessings.


7. RULES OR RELATIONSHIPS?

God always wanted a relationship with us. To ‘choose life’ is to seek a relationship with God and seek to avoid empty legalism and formality. Choosing life is, at its core, having a relationship with God.


8. DEATH OR LIFE?

Will we choose life? Will we choose to remember the gospel and share the gospel? Will we allow Jesus’ blood-scared hands to cause our hands to be active in compassion?


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

i. Did you feel that God spoke to you from any particular aspect of Sunday's message?

ii. Of these 8 challenges, which do you feel that you need to take action on and why?


SIV - Let's keep praying and planning for how we can invite people to our carol service on 11th December (4 pm).

SIV - Do you have any encouraging stories of sharing your faith with your friends?

SIV - How do you plan to 'serve, invest and invite' into your friendships?

SIV - Let's pray for the Spirit to lead us in reaching our community.





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