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As I mentioned last Sunday, in keeping with the theme of freedom in the month of July, we will talk today about Freedom From Fear as it pertains to our lives as Christians.

I read of a story • 5-year old Johnny was in the kitchen as his mother made supper. She asked him to go into the pantry and get her a can of tomato soup, but he didn’t want to go in alone. "It’s dark in there and I’m scared." She asked again, and he persisted. Finally she said, "It’s OK--Jesus will be in there with you." Johnny walked hesitantly to the door and slowly opened it. He peeked inside, saw it was dark, and started to leave when all at once an idea came, and he said: "Jesus, if you’re in there, would you hand me that can of tomato soup?"

This morning we will look at a short passage in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi. Philippians 4:4-7.

Now, while the translation here says, “Be anxious for nothing” the context is that we are not to be a fearful people. And, in Scripture, the phrase, “fear not” is repeated some 365 times in one form or another. So, I think we can gain from its prominence in Scripture, that fear is something which must be important in the lives of Christians.

Fear, when taken to its extreme will freeze us in our tracks, it will keep us from doing things we should do and need to do.

We can get to the point where we fear what God thinks of us because of what has happened with other people or what has happened in our past. Maybe we think that bad times are a sign of God’s judgment towards us.

We all, if we are honest, have certain things we fear. People experience all kinds of fear. And each fear actually has a name. They are known as “phobias.” You may have one, or more, of these phobias.

Acrophobia – fear of heights Hydrophobia – fear of water

O phi du phobia – fear of snakes - (that’s mine) Arachnaphobia – fear of spiders

Then we read a lot in the Word about fearing God. A healthy fear of God refers to the reverence and awe, and respect we have toward God. That fear is a proper attitude toward Him. That fear is not the dread and terror we experience from earthly things or events, such as those mentioned as phobias earlier.

That fear is an unhealthy fear which includes anxiety (what did Paul teach about anxiety? – don’t be anxious). Anxiety involves a feeling of dread and of negative behavior. And, unhealthy fear is a tool Satan uses against us.

Unhealthy fear comes as a result of intimidation. And, where does that intimidation come from? It comes from the enemy, of course. We see that in 1 Peter 5:8 – “Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Fear is a Liar – song by Zach Williams

When he told you you're not good enough When he told you you're not right When he told you you're not strong enough To put up a good fight When he told you you're not worthy When he told you you're not loved When he told you you're not beautiful That you'll never be enough Fear he is a liar He will take your breath Stop you in your steps Fear he is a liar He will rob your rest Steal your happiness Cast your fear in the fire Cause fear he is a liar Fear is not only a Liar, Fear is also a Thief – John 10:10 – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”

He robs us of our joy and our very life if we allow him to do so. He works overtime to stop us in our efforts to promote the Gospel.

Paul says we are to conquer our fear with joy – Philippians 4:4: Rejoice, and he repeated it – Rejoice !! Always!!

A story is told of two explorers who were on a jungle safari when suddenly a ferocious lion jumped in front of them. "Keep calm" the first explorer whispered. "Remember what we read in that book on wild animals? If you stand perfectly still and look the lion in the eye, he will turn and run." The second explorer said, "Sure," "You’ve read the book, and I’ve read the book. But has the lion read the book?"

Today we can read the book. We will stand firm on our relationship with Jesus, and we will look the enemy in the eye, and he will turn and run. Remember, the enemy has a real fear of God.

We conquer fear by being in the presence of the Lord. Verse 5 says, “…The Lord is near.” The Lord does not leave us defenseless. He is with us. In Isaiah 41:10 we see God saying, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Imagine, if you will, the three men thrown into the fiery furnace for their refusal to serve an earthly authority as god. I can believe there may have been some fear, but they trusted in the one true God to save them, and they conquered their fear, and walked out with not even a smell of smoke about them.

We conquer fear with prayer – communication with God; in an intimate relationship with God. Verse 6 says we are to let God know our requests through prayer and supplication (which is petitioning – pleading our case) and covering it all with thanksgiving.

Verse 7 describes the conquest. Our conquest over our fear and giving it all to God results in a peace which passes all human understanding. That peace will guard your hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.

Because our hearts and our minds then are focused on Jesus Christ, we will go from chaos to peace.

When we begin each day of our lives we must decide who, or what, is going to rule us. Will it by fear or faith?

God has not given us a spirit of fear. Romans 8:15 tells us we have received a spirit of adoption. And we can cry out to our Father. We are His children, His heirs, even fellow heirs with His Son, Jesus Christ.

We do not need to fear bad circumstances. Paul speaks of this in Romans 8.

Verse 35 asks a question which demonstrates the love God has for us! We must remember that Jesus loves us even if we feel like He does not because of the circumstances.

We sometimes fear what people can do to us. And then we may feel like God does not love us when bad things start happening to us.

It does not matter what you are facing, who you are facing, or what you have faced or done in your life; you need not have fear if you belong to Jesus!

Maybe you do not feel loved by God because of your past, or you do not feel loved by God because of a situation you are facing, and maybe you do not feel loved by God because of bad things other people have done or are doing to you. These are fears without foundation. For one reason: In Christ we have no fear!

One thing we can know, without any doubt that should help dispel any fear you are living with.

• God loves you, He is for you and He will do what He has promised us He would do.

• Now is the time to stop living in fear! Be anxious for nothing! Let your requests be known to God by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving.

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