Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lesson 6: Fear of God Getting Out Of My Box

Read Chapter 14 from Fearless and we'll discuss the questions below.

Memory Verse: “Arise, and do not be afraid.”
Matthew 17:7

Gracious and loving God, we are seeking Your Word and what You have to say about living fearlessly. We desire to listen, to talk, to love and to be loved. For whatever reason we find ourselves here, Lord, may we be open to You and to others around us so that we may experience Your love and Your will for our lives. Help us put aside all the burdens and distractions that burden us so that we may experience this lesson's gift. In Jesus’ Name. Amen

We need to view God in His earthly glory and get Him out of our do-me-a-favor and make-me-a-buck boxes. We need to see God’s radiance, because with a Messiah like Him, who can fear? This week we’ll take a look at the Transfiguration to see how the disciples’ images of Jesus were blown to bits when His glory was revealed on a hillside in the holy land.

A taxi driver in Brazil rubs the plastic miniature Jesus on his dashboard when he needs a parking space, calling on his do-me-a-favor Jesus. The late-night cable TV preacher asks for your money, trusting in the make-me-a-buck Jesus. Our sin tempts us to conjure different genie Jesuses when we need a favor or a good-luck charm, but it is devastating to our faith to reinforce a false view of God.

Question #1 - In what ways have you reduced Jesus down to a handful of doctrines, attempting to fit Him into boxes of your life?

Box-sized gods. You’ll find them in the tight grip of people who prefer a god they can manage, control, and predict. This topsy-turvy life requires a tame deity, doesn’t it? In a world out of control, we need a god we can control, a comforting presence akin to a lap dog or the kitchen cat. We call and he comes. We pet and he purrs. If we can just keep God in His place. . .

Question #2 - Many of us don’t want excessive amounts of responsibility – having the job of U.S. president, for example. Nevertheless, we try to control God. Why?

As Peter, James, and John witnessed Jesus’ divine transfiguration, we can’t help but wonder about their frame of mind. Their friend and daily companion was radically transformed into something larger than life, something divine, something glorious. Don’t we half-expect them to repeat their Sea of Galilee question: “What kind of man is this?”

Question #3 - Do you think we have any chance of grasping Jesus’ glory without witnessing it firsthand? What has to happen before God will get out of the box you’ve created for Him?

Most of our fears are poisonous. They steal sleep and pillage peace. But fear of the Lord is different. As awe of Jesus expands, fears of life diminish. A big God translates into a big courage. A small view of God generates no courage.

Question #4 - How long has it been since a fresh understanding of Christ has buckled your knees and emptied your lungs with awe? When times get tough, how can you foster a correct view of God?

We need to know the transfigured Christ. The One who spits holy fires. Who convenes and commands historical figures. Who occupies the loftiest perch and wears only the true crown of the Universe. God’s beloved Son.

Question #5 - How do we get to know the transfigured Christ? What have you learned over the last six weeks about the connection between our relationship with God, our understanding of Him, and our fears

We made it! What a journey . . . I have really "enjoyed" blogging with you all! My prayer is that we are living less fearful than when we started this study. It's interesting - Max Lucado notes "there are 365 verses in the Bible that say, 'Fear not.' God provided us with one 'fear not' message for every day of the year! Do you think God is saying, 'Get the message. Don't be afraid!'"

Keep a look out for our next On-line discussion group on Paul's letter to the Ephesians starting next week!

Pastor Karen


  1. Question #1 - Our God is so complex-Father-Son-Spirit no wonder we try and find a box that is the size we can handle. I guess I have 3 favorite boxes depending on my need at the moment. God the Creator, Healer, Provider box when I am in need, the Jesus my friend box when I am lonely and feeling in need of support and love and validation, and then the Spirit box when I want guidance and strength.
    Question #2 - Is it control or more defining Him in terms that we can understand? Instead of accepting the ‘Super size’ version of God I try to define Him in human terms I can comprehend which of course limits His Greatness. Once He is reduced to human standards then we are on ‘more equal’ terms and easier to question Him and blame Him when things don’t turn out my way.
    Question #3 - Wow to be able to see the transfigured Jesus-seeing God face to face and hearing His voice-that blows me away. I am thankful for their witness and testimony. For Him to get out the box or boxes I have created I just need to be able to let go-open them up and let Him work in my life and recognize the power of His being. Easier said than done.
    Question #4 - For me it has been about 16 years sin I was really in awe as I watched Him work through my daughter. It was real spiritual warfare and He used her in such a powerful way. This is what I need to rely on and remember. Once we are willing to empty ourselves and let Him fill us there is nothing that cannot be conquered.
    Question #5 - Being able to open up and admit fears throughout this study has been helpful. Remembering that Christ was transfigured and there are not 3 ‘gods’ but a triune ONE is something I tend to loose sight of. It is much easier to break things down into parts so I can understand it. God is not meant to be understood by man. Reading Scripture and praying is the only way that we can understand what He wants from us and the path he has provided. We can know only part of His nature and look forward to the day that we will be with Him.

  2. 1. I have placed Jesus into boxes of what I understand Him to be and how I can use or manipultate those understandings. Thus, I dictate to what extent and fullness Jesus is a part of my life. However, my "fullness" would never even come close to the fullness of Jesus in my life if I let Him out of my box and I go stand in His box by His side.
    2.Control allows us to dictate who, when, where, why and how much. Trying to control when and where Jesus enters my life so that I can be in charge of my life is really just a knowlingly pretend ruse about who is in control. When I try to make decisions without Jesus' input and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I can just see God sitting up there shaking His head and saying, "here we go again." I try to protect myself from the hurts and frustrations of daily living but my attempts are really futile and exhausting. It seems to always get to a point or feeling of total loss of control before I actually give up control to God.
    3. No, I do not think we can see Jesus' glory firsthand until He is not confined by our boxes. He has to be allowed to have full reign and use of our lives and energies. To do that means to place all of our trust and faith in God, that He will not forsake us (even in the hard times)and will always be there with His love, peace, guidance and strength we need to do His work.
    4.I have been struggling with understanding and accepting God's unconditional love for most of my adult life due to bad choices and shameful sins of my earlier life. It was at my Emmaus walk in a very moving quiet prayer time that God emptied my soul of pain and filled my heart with the love of Jesus. He made sure there was no doubt in my mind that I could now understand and accept His grace, mercy and love and that no matter how bad I have been, He still loves me and truly knows my heart. I still struggle with difficult issues (estranged family relationships) and temptations ( a return to my former habits)but when those times come my focus turns to those who can help me - God who will clear my head, Jesus who will walk and stand beside me, and the Holy Spirit who will show me the way.
    5. I believe I get to see the Transfigured Christ when I look around me and see the work of Jesus manifested through His believers and followers. Christian acts of love and giving are seeing Christ in action. The brilliance and warmth that filled Peter and the disciples'faces when they witnessed the Transfiguration is like the same warmth and bursting joy I feel in my heart when I know Jesus is at work in those moments when you Christian love is shown but a power and joy emanates from that experience. The biggest thing I have learned about fear is that if I try to control it, it does become bigger in my head and my heart. But if I allow God to be in control and handle those fears for me, He grows bigger in my life and the fears tend to subside, in both size and power. Thanks for the chance to share and talk. I enjoy the chance to share ideas and feelings. I hope I can participate again, either online or in person with another study.

  3. Penny – I really appreciate your comment: “Once we are willing to empty ourselves and let Him fill us there is nothing that cannot be conquered.” I remember the Beth Moore “Living Beyond Yourself” study. In one of her videos she talks about Pouring Out, Pouring In, and Pouring Forth. Pour out our confessions of sin and our concerns so we can make room for God to pour in the Holy Spirit. Pour forth into the life God has placed us within. Pour out, Pour in, and Pour forth!

    Bill – I also, struggled with “understanding and accepting God's unconditional love for most of my adult life due to bad choices and shameful sins of my earlier life.” I could accept that God loved everybody no matter what they had done. I could even share this with others, but it took me quite some time to realize that this also meant me. God laid on my heart, “Karen, I love you and there is nothing you have done or nothing you will do that will ever separate you from that love.” It was at that moment that I knew that if my present belonged to God and my future belonged to God – then my past belonged to God as well!

    This was a great Bible study - getting to know each other better and being able to share what's on our hearts. Thank you so much for participating in our 1st on-line Bible study!! The Ephesians study is going on currently and you are more than welcome to jump in at any time. Go to the church website and click on "Ephesians." God bless!

  4. First of all I must say, I have been reading, I just haven't been blogging.....I do miss all of you. I also miss sharing my thoughts, weaknesses, and joys with all of you.
    1.Being raised in the Catholic Church, I was very much immersed in Doctrine. It wasn't until I joined the Methodist Church, that I feel like I developed a true relationship with God. He used to be part of my catechism. My personal relationship with God still experiences many times of trying to make this relationship work FOR ME....not God's plan.
    2.Great question...It is probably BOTH...control and trying to Humanize least it is for me. I have always been a type A charge, in control. But, if I truly "let go and Let God", it is a wonderful feeling. There have been countless time during Denny's recovery that I have asked "Why?". I still haven't been given an answer. I may never be given an answer. I guess asking Why does humanize dare I try to humanize Him!!
    3.It will be wonderful to see our God up close and personal, hear His voice, feel His loving touch, hear Him so "well done my good and faithful servant". But, for now, when I see the Saints of our church, I do see His love , His touch, hear His voice....the women who bring us meals, the hugs we get a church each week, the lessons we learn .
    4. When the time get tough, the Christians get going. During my most weak and helpless times, if I can be near other Christians, talk to them, listen to them either by phone or face to face; this helps me immensely. Of course, I pray like crazy, too, but being with Followers strengthens me.
    5. I agree with Bill, looking at the others around me allows me see the God of today. I have enjoyed this "blogging thing"....Once I got the idea, it wasn't half bad. Thanks for this opportunity. I have learned a great deal about myself during this study...hugs