Faith vs. Fear, Part 2
Throughout the scriptures we are admonished not to fear. “Fear not!” or “Do not be afraid!” whether it’s an angel appearing, the Lord directly, or God through a prophet speaking to His people. When we refuse fear, which is counterfeit to faith, we position ourselves to move with what God has asked us to do, to stand on what He has promised, and to believe for a breakthrough irrespective of how dire the situation or circumstances might look.
Your union with Jesus in His death, resurrection, and ascension imparts His authority over the chaos of this world and the circumstances you face.
Your born again experience not only reconciles you to God and justifies you by faith, but empowers you to think more like God, more like heaven, to understand what God says in His Word, and to be confident in the midst of all of life’s circumstances.
So, we are learning to rest in the finished work of Christ: what He’s already done for us through His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. We’re learning how to rest and pray from His victory towards earth, to change situations and see mountains, or impossible situations, move. As we rest in His finished work, we begin to live as overcomers.
As a follower of Jesus, you are an heir of God and joint-heir with Christ, which affords you His favor, resource, and the power of God’s kingdom in this present life. That power, authority, and victory that we live out of in Christ is greater than the chaos of this world and the circumstances we face.
Confident in a Storm
Our story begins as Jesus and the disciples are leaving the western shore of the Galilee immediately following the conclusion of the seed parables (Mark 4:35-41).
…Let us cross over to the other side…and a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. (Mark 4:35–37 NKJV)
He’s given them a directive: we’re going to cross over to the other side. There’s a mission, a ministry to do. And by the way, the church is always on a mission: we’re called to make disciples, to expand the kingdom of God. From the moment you accepted Jesus and were born again, you not only became a child of God, but you are on a kingdom assignment to expand the borders of His kingdom. However, the enemy tries to stop us from fulfilling our assignment. And this is what we find in this story.
It’s God’s will and initiative for Jesus and the disciples to get to the other side to free the oppressed and heal the sick. The storm is filling the boat with water—the situation looks dire and the disciples, many who were fishermen, knew the danger of the Sea of Galilee. The storm arises and the men seem powerless to do anything about it. Vs. 36 tells us they weren’t alone, other boats were with them. We’re all in this COVID-19 storm together, and we’re all going to get to the other side as we trust Jesus.
The storm represents a hopeless situation. The disciples were in a “great windstorm,” and confidence in what God spoke gave way to fear. There’s a storm, it’s bad, and the boat is filling with water. That’s the facts of the situation. Faith doesn’t deny the facts or situation, but during it declares there is a Greater One. Faith understands I’m living from a greater realm, it’s Christ within me.
The disciples think they are perishing, but it only appears they are perishing (vs. 38). Right now, around the world, it may seem dire, with little hope, and many have determined “we’re perishing!” No, it only appears this way. We need to stand against hopelessness that agrees with the fear of the storm. It’s contrary to what God is saying right now, even in this present storm. In no way am I minimizing the suffering and death many are experiencing in this pandemic. Rather, I’m addressing fear which breeds hopelessness apart from confident faith in God through Jesus.
Jesus is awakened; He then rebukes the storm. He spoke to the situation. He proclaimed, He decreed, He silenced it with His words and that unction by the Spirit of God. (vs.39) This is important, and I’ll develop this more in a moment. Jesus then scolds them for having no faith, and in Matthews account for having little or underdeveloped faith (vs. 40). But this storm is different, there’s something behind this storm that’s different than just a natural storm. It arises, and it seems like they’re powerless to do anything about it. And it represents for us today, what would appear to be a hopeless situation.
The COVID-19 storm is a reality, but there is a greater reality to live from—Christ in you, the hope of glory! Circumstances, resistance, and spiritual warfare happen in this life; there’s no denying this. We must live from His victory—our enthroning with Christ in the heavenly realm. Jesus gave Himself for you and me, for His Church that He loves. We are His inheritance. He delights in and loves us. God’s will is not that we should perish in this storm.
Caught in a Terrible Storm
Several years ago, we had a dog named Gideon. He loved to walk, and I used to take him on long walks and hikes. Once in the summer, we went up Mount Lemmon near Tucson to hike. I parked in an area called Turkey Run, and we hiked up the Aspen trail, which switchbacks alongside the Mount Lemmon ski run.
It was during Monsoon season, but there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and so we hiked the trail to the top of the mountain. It was beautiful, and Gideon and I drank water and I ate a snack while gazing over the city of Tucson. After a little while, I started to notice clouds forming, but I didn’t think too much about it. I was enjoying my time up in the mountain praying. After a little while, I realized the clouds were suddenly getting dark and ominous looking. So, we started to head back down the trail to the car.
We hardly got a couple hundred yards down the trail, before boom! It’s a thunderstorm, and this storm is a nasty one. There’s lighting all around us, and the rain is coming down hard, then changes to hail, and the lightning is very close. And this big dog, who wasn’t afraid of anything, was whimpering and scared. I’m thinking, “Do I have to pick up this 80-pound dog and carry him down the mountain?”
I actually said this to God, “Lord it would not be a good witness for you if one of your pastors gets struck by lightning and dies up here. This storm looks bad, but Jesus you’re greater than a storm!” And I started praying against the storm, commanding the lighting to stop. It didn’t stop right away, but in a few minutes the rain, hail, and lightning stopped. We were drenched, but the storm stopped and we okay—just a bit shaken by our ordeal!
The thunderstorm came out of nowhere—suddenly. There was nothing to do at that moment, but to keep moving down the trail and to stand in faith, courage, and not doubt the goodness of God or what He promised.
Church in this global storm called COVID-19, we’re not going under, we’re going over! That’s the posture we need to take as a Church in this hour. The kingdom of God is not decreasing, it’s expanding. And of His kingdom and the increase of His government, there is no end. God didn’t bring this disease; the devil brought this disease!
We understand the science, but there’s an unseen, demonic thing behind this pandemic. We need to understand that we’re in a spiritual battle unlike anything this generation has ever seen. We need to fast, pray, decree, declare, and stand on God’s word.
Jesus Equates Fear with little Faith
During this storm, Jesus is fully at rest. During chaos, He is confident in the Father’s presence and power. The story contrasts the panic of the disciples, He is at rest—they are in distress. The disciples saw the situation and fear seized them. In their minds, God was distant, and it appeared He didn’t care.
Jesus asks the disciples:
… “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” (Mark 4:40–41 NKJV)
He equates their fear to having little faith, or underdeveloped faith. The disciples fear for two reasons. First, their natural knowledge of the sea and the terror of the moment clouds their faith perspective. Secondly, they fear the raw power of God at work through Jesus, “Who can this be, that even the wind and sea obey Him!” They fear both the natural storm and the presence of God.
The disciples’ natural knowledge of the sea and the terror of the moment confuse their faith perspective. Church, do not let the terror of the COVID-19 storm cloud your perspective! The enemy would try to paralyze us with fear in this hour.
What God desires is for the Church to focus and declare His will for what should be happening! Not upon the negative news and what could happen!
Secondly, the disciples fear the very raw power of God that worked through Jesus. So they’re fearing both the natural storm and the presence of God.
Why are they fearing the natural circumstances?
They had more confidence in their knowledge of the sea, than their trust in Jesus. Don’t let your confidence be strictly in what the news says. Fear often results when sensory knowledge overrides the spirit inspired revelation of Jesus and His promises.
If I would’ve believed the report of tropical disease, tuberculosis, civil unrest, and government instability in Haiti in the early ’90s when God directed us to go and live there to minister, we never would have left! We would’ve stayed in central Florida where it was safe and practical. After all, we had an infant daughter, and in the natural Haiti wasn’t a logical place to go to. But we trusted God and did what God asked us to do.
Don’t become paralyzed by fear, it will hinder you from praying effectively! Natural knowledge can be an obstacle to what the Spirit is speaking. In other words, when our natural knowledge, which is based on our senses, knowledge, and circumstances, outweighs our trust in God, we often react from a position of fear rather than faith.
Fear will try and convince you there is no hope—you are perishing—it’s over. Perhaps it’s the doctor’s report, your bank account, a layoff notice, your marriage, the wayward child, your past, etc. Some fear the future, and many fear death. Many fear the global situation with COVID-19. Again, I’m not nullifying the intensity of this storm and suffering many of us are experiencing.
Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith, He reveals God’s will and perspective, even in the most difficult situations. He is our confidence and our great reward. He is the peace during the storm. He says in John’s gospel that in the world we will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world!
For the Christian, Jesus is our hope, He is our confidence through every season and circumstance we face. We should not fear the future or death!
As God reveals His will for a situation, fear can prevent you from acting in faith.
Do you remember the story of the twelve spies in Numbers 13? Twelve spies, one man from each of the tribes of Israel, were sent by Moses into the promised land to prepare the people to take possession of God’s promise.
The twelve return and only Joshua and Caleb were confident to take the land of promise (Num. 13:27–33). They saw how good the land was, “A land that truly flows with milk and honey.” Caleb declared, “Let’s go now and take procession of the land, we can do this!” The other ten spies who came out of Canaan said, “We are not able to go up against the people there…” Their negative report created fear in a nation that day. Except for Joshua and Caleb forty years later, a fearful generation missed their opportunity.
Fear replaced faith within the ten spies and eventually all of Israel, “…were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” Fear robbed a nation of their inheritance, and fear can rob you and me of God’s gifts and promises. God already gave them the land of Canaan, but fear masqueraded as human reasoning and faith was rejected.
Remember Paul’s admonition to his disciple, Timothy, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:7 NKJV)
Timothy was overseer of the church of Ephesus during severe persecution and trial. He was reminding Timothy, as well as us today, to refuse fear and instead trust God during trials. God’s love and power keep and preserve us during the darkest night. You have the mind of Christ—remain steadfast and confident in Him!
What if God is positioning us right now to be a significant influence in the world, that many would come into the kingdom amid this terrible pandemic? What if the greatest harvest of souls (that we have been praying for), what if the greatest awakening (that we’ve been praying for) is at our doorstep?
The Lord is trying to remove widespread fear in order that we step into faith to realize all that He desires. We want to be like Joshua and Caleb, we want the Spirit to inspire faith within us. We want to decree and declare what God has said in this hour.
I find it quite interesting that this last week President Trump talked about wanting to see the nation opened back up by Easter. Perhaps it was just his wishful thinking. Last night he admitted it was an “aspirational desire” of his.
But I was thinking this past week, “What if President Trump was hearing something from the Lord and he doesn’t even realize he was making a declaration that the Church needs to come into agreement with? What if God is waiting for the church to rise in this hour and just say no to this pandemic with conviction and His authority? What if this virus is supposed to peak, die off, and everything begins to shift as a result of our partnering with God in prayer over the next two weeks?”
After I thought of this, I discovered a podcast and article done March 16th from Steven Strang of Charisma Media with prophet Chuck Pierce. Chuck Pierce had a word in September 2019 that the nations would come into turmoil until Passover (April 8-16). In January of 2020, the coronavirus has already broken out and begun to spread, but Chuck gives a word in late January that a massive plague-like invasion would test us through Passover. I began to think then, what if Trump is picking up something in the Spirit that Chuck Pierce was sensing? And that we as a Church are supposed to come into a place of decreeing what God wants?
“Decree a shift!”
Two nights ago, I had a dream with prophet Patricia King in it, the same week I was thinking about Trump’s aspiration and Pierce’s prophecies. In the dream, Patricia and I were in meetings talking. In the natural, Patricia and I know each other and talk from time to time. But in the dream, we are very good friends, and talking about what God is doing, saying, prophecy, etc. The following morning after the dream, as I’m waking up, I hear the Lord say, “Decree a shift!”
So, I was thinking and praying about the dream the next morning and the word “decree a shift,” and thought, “What does Patricia represent to me?” Well, she’s someone I respect in the prophetic community, but she’s also known for her teaching on prophetic proclamations and decrees. As I shared with Carolyn, she felt Patricia also represented an aspect of the Holy Spirit being my comforter and friend, and one Who causes prayer to have effect.
What I believe the Lord is wanting us to do, is to decree a shift! To pray with boldness and authority against this virus, the suffering, death and economic hardship it is causing.
The Power of Prophetic Decree
“Master, don’t you care that we are perishing?” Of course, Jesus cares! He’s at rest, they’re in turmoil. So, He arises, and He rebukes the wind. The English word rebuke translates from Greek word epitimaō and is also used to describe casting out unclean spirits in Mark 1:25; 3:12, perhaps suggesting demonic powers caused the storm. Epitimaō means “to command, with the implication of a threat.”[i]
Jesus was not just threatening the wind, but the powers of darkness attempting to thwart their mission. Jesus wasn’t just threatening the wind, He was decreeing the powers of darkness stop. “Peace, be still” may not seem like much but He was actually saying, “Listen, you unseen forces of darkness, be still, be silenced. I decree a shift!” There is a time to pray, and then there is a time to declare!
Consider what Job tells us:
You will make your prayer to Him,
He will hear you,
And you will pay your vows.
You will also declare a thing,
And it will be established for you;
So light will shine on your ways.
When they cast you down, and you say, ‘Exaltation will come!’
Then He will save the humble person.
He will even deliver one who is not innocent;
Yes, he will be delivered by the purity of your hands. (Job 22:27-30 NKJV)
“When they cast you down,” …the they are the powers of darkness we’re battling.
These dark forces are trying to bring humanity into some of the worst suffering, worst economic devastation we’ve ever seen, but that’s not what God wants. Much of humanity doesn’t know the King of Kings, and they’re not united with Christ, but we are. We know His ways, and that He desires to bring abundant life. We understand that God didn’t bring this disease and suffering. So, God wants us to begin to decree His purposes so exultation will come for all of humanity (vs. 29).
There are unrighteous people in this world, but God’s desire is that all would come to saving knowledge of Christ. God wants the church to decree His purposes, so that even the unrighteous will come to know the goodness of God, and that He will deliver them.
Learning to discern the nature of storms and circumstances is important, it affects how you pray.
Some situations are ordained by God—you can’t rebuke this kind of storm. Remember the story of Jonah? God wanted the wayward prophet to preach repentance to the Assyrians. But Jonah gets on a boat to sail in the opposite direction. Jonah doesn’t want God to bring mercy to those who have oppressed the nation of Israel. God allows a great windstorm to get the attention of Jonah and bring him to his mission field and those he is to minister to.
You can’t rebuke a storm that God orchestrates to get you into your purpose. Sometimes we get wayward from God, but He’s so loving and knows what’s best for us. Sometimes He gives us correction to get us back to where we need to be. He’s not going to bring condemnation, in Christ we are free from condemnation, but the Spirit will bring conviction.
Other circumstances are a result of natural events or forces beyond our control, such as natural disasters (earthquakes, tornadoes), equipment failing, etc. Generally, you can’t “rebuke” these situations either, but you can learn how to trust God during these challenges, remain in His peace, and pray with confidence. That said, if a tornado alert flashes on your phone you can command and decree against it. What I’m primarily discussing are situations which arise suddenly, and you don’t have time to pray.
But there is a place for prayer or decree to combat the powers of darkness behind certain storms, like wars, pandemics, famines etc. Again, discernment is needed. There is a place of prayer or decree to combat the powers of darkness behind storms caused by the powers of darkness. Jesus demonstrated this often.
Consider what Paul wrote the Ephesians:
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Eph. 6:10-11 NKJV)
“Finally, my brethren.” In other words, this is the most important thing to grasp out of everything else I’ve been writing to you. Your strength is found in Jesus and in His power: “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” The key is in the phrase “in the Lord.” It means God’s supernatural power is found in one place—in the Lord.
The English word power is from the Greek word kratos and is used three times in the book of Ephesians (Eph 6:10, Eph 1:19, Eph 3:20). Kratos means His manifested dominion. So, we’re strong in His manifested dominion. And where is that dominion at work? In us! We’re strong in the Lord because we’re completely united with Him. Declare, not out of a place of wishful thinking or wishful prayers but knowing that our very life is hidden in Christ, and that we have authority to take the Word of God and use it as an offensive weapon.
And by the way, the shield of faith is also an offensive weapon; those Roman shields had knuckles on the front so they could use them in close combat. So, use your faith as a weapon, use the Word of God as a weapon when you pray.
Do you remember the story of Moses and the children of Israel leaving Egypt in Exodus 14?
Pharaoh let the people go into the wilderness. But God doesn’t lead the Israelites the easy way. God knows exactly what will happen, and God will get honor over Pharaoh, and the Lord wants to get honor through this pandemic situation.
Remember Romans 8:28 and how God works all things together for our good. God didn’t send COVID-19, but during this situation, the enemy that’s pursuing humanity, God wants to get a victory over so He would get all the honor.
We read in Exodus 14 how Pharaoh draws near the Israelites and they see his vast army of chariots and soldiers and become very afraid. Moses says to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today…” (Exod. 14:13 NKJV) This story is like what we looked at two weeks ago with King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20.
Moses is instructed to lift his rod toward the Red Sea. The rod represented God’s delegated authority and power. We have the authority of His name, the authority of His Word, and God expects us to speak to the storms, to the situations, in His authority. Moses acts in faith, and God brings the supernatural deliverance for the people.
Our life is in Him! Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might, His kratos, we’re going to see the victory! We’re going to be good citizens and ethical Christians, but we are not going to fear the terror by night. No plague shall come near your dwelling (Psalm 91). These are not idle prayers, they come from deep within because of your relationship with God and your conviction of what God is doing.
The SARS virus in 2003 blew in just like the Coronavirus or COVID-19 came in. And suddenly, SARS stopped. All I know is that the SARS virus went away, this one will go away too. We need to stand and decree that.
The Lord told Moses and the people you don’t have to fight, the Lord’s going to fight for you. God said to decree a shift today. The rod represents not just the authority given to Moses, it also represents the very words of our mouth, because of the authority we have in Christ.
So, when we release these decrees, they’re like arrows, they’re the very authority of God to go out and accomplish His purposes. As Moses lifted his rod, God sent the wind that blew back the sea.
Father today, we come before you. We are your children, we are sons and daughters, we are heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ. And Father you said today to decree a shift. In fact, you told me earlier as I was praying, that today is a turning point day, March 29th, 2020.
Lord today is a turning point day, and we decree a shift over our nation, over the nations of the world. We decree a shift God with this COVID-19 pandemic and this horrible Coronavirus. We say No! We rebuke you; we take our authority in the name of Jesus Christ. We lift high the rod of authority we have in His name, and the authority of His Word. And we say no! We command this pandemic to peak and stop, and the suffering to subside.
We command the economic problems in the United States and the nations around the world to stop, right now. Father, we agree with the prophetic word that we would battle something through Passover, but that it would stop God! The turmoil in the nations would be done in Passover Father, and we decree that Father God. And this plague God, would be stopped during this Passover season, this Easter season that we’re coming into. We decree God, that things would get back to normal in our nation by Easter.
We decree Father, your righteous purposes, so that even the unrighteous would be spared suffering, and disease, and economic hardship. We decree God, that you would get honor worthy of your name. That you would be hallowed, God, as this thing sovereignly, supernaturally, overnight begins to stop and subside because of the mightiness, and the greatness of who you are. The mighty God, El Shaddai, Jesus Christ the Mighty King, the Resurrected Savior of Mankind!
We decree your purposes, God, that millions and millions would come to Christ in this hour, and a mighty awakening would spring forth God, instead of this dire plague. We thank you, Father, that the shift has occurred, that this is a turning point time, a turning point day. We decree it, Father! In the mighty name of Jesus. And the church said, amen and amen and amen.
God’s got this thing Church, let’s not be fearful, let’s trust Him! Let’s prophesy, let’s decree, and declare His purposes this week.
[i] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 425.
For a more in-depth look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message, “Faith vs. Fear, Pt. 2”