Monday, June 26, 2017
Fear (Isaiah 43:1-3, John 14:25-27, Isaiah 41:13)

FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

GLEN ROSE, TX

January 15, 2012


Series: F-Bombs

“Fear”

(Isaiah 43:1-3, John 14:25-27, Isaiah 41:13)

Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn

INTRODUCTION:

     A little girl asked her father if he was afraid of the dark. He told her “No.” She asked if he was afraid of snakes. He said “No.” The little girl asked if he was afraid of long, slimy worms or lizards or crickets. Her father again told her he wasn’t afraid, not even of any of those. The girl thought for a moment and then concluded, “So, then, the only thing you’re afraid of is Mommy!” (1)

     We laugh but there is a certain amount of truth in that. And the thing is, we all have fears. We’re all afraid of something even if we won’t admit it to anyone else. We never know when those things or circumstances or situations are going to come dropping into our lives like a bomb and go off. And believe me, this F-Bomb of Fear can cause as much if not more damage than a physical bomb.

     So, that’s what we’re going to look at today, the F-Bomb of FEAR.

PRAYER

     There are a lot of things in the world that strike fear into our hearts; some of which, most of which we have no control over. I believe that one of the keys to dealing with our fears is to remember that God is in control. We try to be in control but ultimately, God is in control. Sometimes it’s not even the events or situations or feelings that strike fear into our hearts it’s the shadows of the unknown. But we don’t have to be afraid of the shadows.

     Do you know what a shadow is, it’s the outline of something blocking the light. It’s not the light. It’s harmless except for the fear we let it generate in our hearts because of the unknown whatever which it hides and we sense lurking. But a shadow has no substance and it can’t hurt you.

     Let me ask you this, would you rather be run over by a truck or the shadow of a truck? The shadow has no substance. And the light which shines upon whatever fear is causing that shadow is the Light of Christ reminding us there is nothing to fear, if we trust Him, because He IS with us.

     Two explorers were on a jungle safari when suddenly a ferocious lion jumped in front of them. "Keep calm, 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."

     Shaking in his boots his fellow explorer said, "Sure, I remember Sure. You've read the book, and I've read the book. But has the lion read the book?"

     The thing is, you and I have read the book. And it tells us Not To Be Afraid. Here’s just a couple of the passages that deal with the F-Bombs of Fear and Trusting God.

Isaiah 43:1-3 (NRSV)

[1] But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.  

[2] When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.  

[3] For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

John 14:25-27 (NRSV)

[25] "I have said these things to you while I am still with you.  

[26] But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.  

[27] Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.  

Isaiah 41:13 (NRSV)

[13] For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, "Do not fear, I will help you."

     As we look at this F-Bomb we need to remember that FEAR FREEZES, FAITH FREES US.

I. FEAR FREEZES:

     A. And that is so true. FEAR FREEZES us into inaction and self-doubt.

     The Truman Show, which is really a parable of life, is about a man, Truman Burbank, whose entire life has been broadcast live in a 24 hour a day soap opera. It’s the ultimate reality show and the most popular TV show on television. There’s a scene in the movie that shows exactly what I mean.

     In this scene we discover that Truman is afraid of the water. In his job, he’s asked to cross the bay on the ferry in order to collect an insurance form from a client. Truman tries to get out of it but gets the job anyway. As Truman starts down the pier, he gets just about to the middle. He looks down and sees a small dinghy that has sunken and he freezes. He can’t go any further. He can’t get onto the boat to fulfill his job because of his crippling fear of water. He turns around and goes back.

     B. Fear takes on many forms, from simply being afraid of embarrassing ourselves to phobias like arAchibutyrophobia (the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth). Check it out, that one’s too weird to have been made up.

     There are so many things in life that fill us with fear. Fear of failure. Fear of succeeding. Fear of disappointing someone or yourself. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the great unknown, Death.

     Most of our worries are wrapped up in this because our minds start spinning out of control when there is any kind of crisis. We begin to expect the worst. And we blow the smallest thing out of proportion. Kind of like the news and weather did with the ice back in January. It was bad but it wasn’t disastrous. But by the time they got through beating the flames of everybody’s anxieties, we all expected at least a half an inch of ice on the roads and everything shut down for days. And what did we get, ulcers and about two hours inconvenience.

     And then there’s everyone’s fear. The fear of being found out that you’re not who you really say you are. That you’re a fraud and that you’ll be exposed. That kind of fear often FREEZES us from of doing something to change or doing something to become the person we want to be.

     And then there’s the worst FEAR of all. Whenever we fail or fall or stumble in our walk of faith, the enemy begins to creep in with words of doubt. “You failed. You fell, God can’t really love you like that. You’re supposed to be better than that. What if someone else finds out? What will they think? What does God think? God’s probably up there, disgusted, ready to thump me on the head and boot me out.”

     That kind of fear cause us to doubt. FEAR FREEZES. But that’s not what God wants.

II. FAITH FREES:

     A. While FEAR FREEZES, FAITH FREES US. FAITH FREES US to go on. FAITH FREES US to take that first step. FAITH FREES US to try in spite of the possibility of failure.

     A man who was a worrier suddenly changed. He looked more rested, had more energy and he was actually nice to be around. Somebody asked him what happened to cause such a change. He said he read in the Bible that “He who keeps Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps” and all of a suddenly it dawned on him “If God’s going to be awake there’s no point in both of us not getting any sleep. And then he said. “And I’ve slept like a baby ever since.”

     That’s the sentiment of FAITH. FAITH FREES US to pursue what God has called us to do. Tuesday’s Grand Opening of the new Arena made me remember the scene from a great movie, Hoosiers. Hoosiers is based on the true story of a small-town Indiana team that made the state finals in 1954. Hoosiers tells the story Norman Dale, a volatile coach with a spotty past and the father of one of the boys on the team. This father just happens to be the town’s basketball-loving drunk. Norman Dale takes this group of undisciplined athletes and a town chock full of second-guessing fathers, and leads their high school team to victory.

     The boys have arrived in the state capital and the coach takes them into the stadium where the game will be played. It’s huge and imposing, kind of like ours. The boys are awestruck. But then the coach does something that changes everything. He pulls out a tape measure and has them measure the free throw line. It’s 15 feet. Then he has them measure from the rim ground to the rim. Ten feet. Then he looks at them and says: “I think you’ll find it’s the exact same measurements as our gym back in Hickory”

     Scripture tells us God is the same today as God was Yesterday. And God will be Faithful tomorrow as well, because that’s the nature of God. God is faithful even when we’re not. And that means that God won’t relinquish control. And if God is in Control then there’s nothing to fear.

     I saw a bumper sticker that read: “If God can Handle Creation and Eternity, Then Surely God and I Can Handle Today.”

     FAITH FREES US in the midst of trials and tribulations and reminds us that no matter how big the problem is, our God is bigger. And no matter how dark the valley we walk through, the Light of Christ well guide us through. We are not alone. The problems may seem big but God is still the same size. God is always bigger that our problems. Besides God promised to walk with us through them.

     That’s where the Church comes in because the church is the greatest network and resource for comfort that has ever been created. The church is filled with people who can and will reach out and help remind us that FAITH FREES US to focus on God, not the problem.

     I think God planned it that way because the one who is most able to help someone else is the person who has faced the same fears or trials or failures. They understand.

     It’s sort of like being a Grandparent. Until I became one I had no point of reference. Until I became one I just sort of smiled and shook my head or laughed at the stories told about grandchildren. But now that I am a grandparent I know that incredible love you have for these children of your own children. And the joy which they bring.

     Now when somebody shares a story about their grandchild, I understand. And, I’m armed and ready with five or six of my own stories. But it’s because we share similar experiences.

     B. Another area of comfort and strength is Scripture. That Word lives in our hearts through the presence of the Holy Spirit and in those times of trouble the Word of God begins to speak to us about companionship with Christ and what God has already done in our lives. We’re lead to those words which bring the comfort we need. And if not on our own then through the help of one of the flock.

     Do you know how many times the Bible uses the phrases: “Do not fear, Fear not or Be not afraid?” In the KJV 137 times. In the NRSV 130 times. That’s almost twice in every book you read in the Bible, that God reminds us that God is in charge and God is right there with us in whatever phase of life we’re going through.

     Jesus couldn’t have said it any plainer than John 14:18 (NRSV) “I will not leave you orphaned.”  

     Deuteronomy 31:8 (NRSV) says: “It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

     Romans 8:31 says: “What then are we to say . . .? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

     God wants us to remember that no matter what happens in life, God is with us. We are not alone. And the more we study the Bible, the more we read and hold in our heart, the more we are strengthened against the fears the world can bring. So, when you start feel Fear starting to build in your life, turn to Scripture. Try and find all 130 or 137 passages that tell us Do Not Fear. And remember FEAR FREEZES, FAITH FREES US.

CONCLUSION:

     There were two rabbits who were being chased through the woods by a pack of ferocious foxes. The rabbits dove into a hole. One rabbit cried out, “What will we do? What will we do?” The other rabbit replied calmly, “We’ll just stay in the hole until we outnumber them!” (2)

     What we need to remember is that we ALREADY outnumber all of our problems through our faith in Christ and the power and presence of God’s Holy Spirit who reminds us that we are not alone. And if we take to to read and Study Scripture, the Holy Spirit will remind us of all of those passages telling us to Fear Not.

     Trust in Jesus. Have FAITH, faith enough to thaw the FEAR that FREEZES US.

     This morning as we pause for our time of reflection ask yourself about those things in your life which cause you to FREEZE up. What FEARS do you need to let go of and turn over to God? Where is God calling out to you and saying “Fear Not?” Where do you need to more FAITH so God can FREE you for Joyful Obedience and a life of Faith? Think about those things then turn them over to God.

     And remember what God said in Isaiah 41:13 (NRSV) “For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, "Do not fear, I will help you."

     And during these moments, if your heart has been touched by God’s presence, if you have felt the Holy Spirit move and would like to spend time in prayer at the altar or make a public profession of your faith in Christ and join the fellowship of our church, then come and let us welcome you as we sing our Hymn of Invitation.

                   

This is the Word of the Lord for this day.

________________________________

Bibliography

1.   Parables, Etc. (Saratoga Press, P.O. Box 8, Platteville, CO, 80651; 970-785-2990), September 1997

2.   Preaching-Vol. 9, #4

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