How to Face Fear Faithfully – Part Four

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41: 10

In the Ford Theater in Washington, D.C. is President Lincoln’s Bible. The edge is well worn where it has been often opened to the passage stained from his finger having passed over it many times as he read: “I sought the Lord and He heard me and delivered me from my fears” (Psalm 34:4).

All of the reassurance stored in our text should incite faith. Faith makes us stretch and want to live up to the standard set by our predecessors in the faith. Imagine, if you can, a moment of time in the ebbing life of a faithful follower of our Lord in the days of the infant church.

It is the Circus Maximus in Rome. Standing alone in the center of the arena is one of our predecessors in the faith of whom the world was not worthy. Try to conceive of the stress of standing alone in that vast hostile arena. Only a few moments are allowed to elapse before the wild beasts are released. Come now, use your vivid imagination, and stand alone in that theater ringed by tier upon tier of bitter, blood lustful, mocking former friends. Wait in utter isolation and hear the derisive jeers of those with whom you have lived from childhood.

You know full well you will have to wait and endure that indignity only a moment before tasting bittersweet death.

They, your former associates, think you to be mad for you have broken with their way of life and embraced a God they don’t know. You have rebelled against what they call their gods of common sense.

This you have done for a love which only your heart knows.

You are acting in obedience to a voice they cannot hear. You are living and dying for a hope they can’t comprehend.

For this love, for this hope, in obedience to this voice, you are making the ultimate irrevocable sacrifice of your life.

This can be done only by looking away from everything that is not God.  You are calmly and peacefully acting because of the intensity of a single allegiance.

Come back now to the present and your personal modern arena. You can live it victoriously as they do. You cannot do it without the intensity of a single allegiance. You must look away from everything that is not God.  It is an act of faith.

Practice today and every day hereafter looking away from everything that is not godly. You must expect it to require the intensity of a single allegiance.

How to Face Fear Faithfully – Part Three

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41: 10

The gospel of comfort is explained in the text. Expressions of God’s companionship with His people (that means you) are heaped one on another.

Cause number one : “I am with you.”

It excites me to think God never takes His mind off me. Actually, the God who was with Moses in the slime pits of Egypt, as well as on the summit of Mount Sinai, is with me.

When I was a college student my mom gave me a quote I carried for years; it still resides not just in my head, but in my heart:
“The light of God surrounds me
The love of God enfolds me
The power of God protects me
The presence of God watches over me
Wherever I am, God is!”

Mark this well. Make it a mental marquee. God never assigns a task or appoints an ordeal without personally accompanying His people in it.  Never, no never.  He doesn’t say,”You will feel my presence.” Feelings come and go. God abides. Our security isn’t based on our changing moods, but on God’s unchanging character.

Cause number two: “I am your God.” Therefore, let God be God.  If He is the loving God scripture asserts Him to be, and which the experience of many of us confirms Him to be, then He has a purpose in what He is allowing in your life.

Faith knows God’s glory is being acknowledged when it is applied because it enables angels and mankind to see God’s faithfulness in response to its presence.

Cause number three: “I will strengthen you.”

This is not a reference simply to natural strength, but to the supernatural. He enhances our ability and increases our capacity. Resort to His word as a means of obtaining His strength.

Cause number four: “I will uphold you.” When His strength is your strength, stability results. When there is danger of falling a support is needed. It is not in the Bible, but the principal is throughout “I got you,” and He has. It is not only OK to lean on Him, it is essential.

How to Face Fear Faithfully – Part Two

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41: 10   

An estimated 10 million Americans failing to live in accordance with that text suffer from anxiety neurosis. There are so many phobias that there is even a phobophobia, a fear of fear.

Fear has been mankind’s nemesis ever since Adam hid himself.

Fear paralyzes reason. Bible knowledge is the antidote to fear.

Faith works against such obstacles as: 1) past failures, 2) present difficulties, 3) the silence of God.

Great honor belongs to all to whom God spoke these words. If you are one of His children, that means you. It is an honor because these words mean He knows about you and cares about you.

The expression “fear not” indicates God wants you to live in terms of personal intimacy with Him.

With the force of a bolt of lightning God instructs us not to be dismayed.

The word dismayed refers to a sudden complete loss of courage, to become utterly disheartened. When the text says, “Don’t be dismayed” it simply means, “Don’t give up and quit.” Does that sound like your current address? Are you living at the corner of “Give Up” and “Quit” streets?

John Bunyan, in his incomparable “Pilgrim’s Progress,” describes certain people graphically. I hope this description doesn’t fit you. Bunyan uses illustrative language to depict the conditions of people He spoke of being in a “Slough of Despond.” A slough is a kind of swamp. Despond is short for despondency. He says of certain people: “They need not fear the Slough of Despond for they carry a slough within their heart, they never get it out and they never get out of it.”

God says, “Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Don’t get bogged down in the Slough of Despond.” Faith is confidence in His character that keeps us out of the Slough of Despond..

Faith is consciousness that God is present even when our feelings tell us He isn’t. Faith acknowledges God has entered into an eternal covenant with us that cannot be broken which assures us He is obligated to finish the work He has begun in us. Faith knows our Refining God has a purpose in every degree He allows in our furnace.

Faith knows that when it is being applied, others are learning lessons from us they could not comprehend any other way.

How to Face Fear Faithfully – Part One

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41: 10

Jesus wants to calm the troubled soul. Eighty times in the Bible God says to His people, “Fear not.” To this day some seem not to have received the message. Or having received it, they appear to argue with it with such lines as, “But God, you don’t understand how bad things are.” Or, “God, things are worse than they have ever been!” We often inventory the difficulties for God.

It is the economy, my health, my job or lack of one, my family, the social condition, the world situation, etc.

Reality would snatch us up by the nape of the neck and remind us of a line from the 23rd Psalm most of us could quote from childhood: “I will fear no evil.” Look that one up and underscore in your mind, if not on the page, the little two letter word N O. I will fear N O evil.

Faith is merely confidence in God’s character. It is the ability to believe God means what He says and has the capacity to do what He promised. Faith and belief are one. The most commonly used word in the world is a Hebrew word. It is used in many languages. It is the word “amen.” It is the word for belief. By concluding our prayers with it, we are affirming, “Lord, I believe.”

The nation watched from here in Atlanta during the recent bowl season as East Carolina made one of the most remarkable comebacks of the year. The theme of the team was captured in many banners of the fans: “I believe.”  It inspired confidence and improved capacity.

In an important game the Denver Broncos were down by one point with two minutes to go and 98 yards between them and the goal line, the thought quarterback John Elway said came to him was, “We got ‘em right where we want them.” That belief inspired a great victory.

We can live with the confidence, “Lord, you got me right where you want me.”

Faith grows in the face of obstacles. Faith isn’t related to doing spectacular things. It is simply obedience to a spectacular God.

Doubt is an attack on God’s character. Remember, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11: 6). Today and every day put your faith in Him and thereby please Him. He’s got you right where He wants to evidence His love.

Dependability: Who Cares? Part Three

Luke 22: 25 – 30

Have you ever had anyone stand by you in your trials? Have you been willing to stand by anyone in their trials?

We must come out of our hot, tight little circle of friends and show others we care.

Jesus said, “I am among you as one that serves.”  That kind of servant attitude could have come only out of a fountain of love.

When people care, they share.  One of our members in a public place spoke to a lady in the same group in which he was waiting. Finding that she was new in the community he asked her if she had found a church home. She responded, “You folks around here really care about your churches.  A lady just a minute ago asked me the same question.”  She then said that she was a member of another denomination, but asked, “To what church do you go?”  When He told her, in astonishment she replied, “So does that lady that just asked me to visit her church.  If your church means so much to you folks, I will be there Sunday.”

People who care, share.

As a pastor I paused one Sunday to look through a window into one of our children’s areas.  There I saw a friend, one of our State Representatives lovingly attending to the needs of the little children. The need of one of them was for a ride on his back with a choke-hold around his neck. He cared so much for little children that he shared love with them.  Of all the people in the room, he seemed most happy.  That is the way sharing works.

Jesus once said, “In as much as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it unto me.”  An application of what He said would be, “You have served me, now go out there and imagine the person you find in need to be Me and help that one as though he or she were Me and you were helping Me.”

There is mutual strength in sharing.

I visited California’s giant Sequoia Forest. I was amazed at one tree known as General Sherman. It is over 200 feet high and is 70 feet in circumference. I thought surely the roots of that big fellow must go at least 100 feet deep. I was fascinated when the guide said they were just beneath the surface. I thought that must be wrong. If they are so shallow, a wind would easily blow them over. The guide explained that Sequoia trees grow only in groves. Their roots intertwine.  When the strong winds come, they each hold up the other.

Jesus intends for His followers to be Sequoia Christians.

There is a big blessing inherent in the doing of a good deed.

Have you anyone who has stuck by you in your trials?  Have you thanked them?  Have you thanked God for them?

Have you related to anyone who can say of you, “You stayed with me in my trials.”

There are many fringe blessings inherent in caring.  Jesus spoke to His disciples of the heavenly reward. However, He has made provision for His followers in time. By continuing with Him He is also with us. He has said to those who follow Him, “Lo, I am with you always….”