Fear Not!

Posted on 07/23/2006 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband

TRANSCRIPT:

 

The LORD is my shepherd;
     I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
     He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
     He leads me in the paths of righteousness
     For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
     I will fear no evil;
     For You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
         
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
     You anoint my head with oil;
     My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
     All the days of my life;
     And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
     Forever.

Amen!


Please stand to your feet as we open with prayer.

Lord God, thank you for giving us a brand new day. Thank you for bringing us all here together again so we can be drawn closer to you and know what it means to have total peace, pure joy, and to have the emptiness deep inside us filled to overflowing.

Accept our praise today as we worship you from a pure and humble heart, and teach us your heart as we open your Word.

And it's in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.


Click-touch the pulpit for a notecard, and let's worship the Lord together with song.

*** choose your connection speed to join us in worship ***

BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD

Blessed be the name of the Lord
     He is worthy to be praised and adored
So we lift up holy hands in one accord

Singing blessed be the name, blessed be the name,
     blessed be the name of the Lord



EVERY WORD OF GOD (Proverbs 30:4-5)

Every Word of God is tried and true
     He is a shield to those who put their trust in him
Do you know his name or the name of his Son?
     Every word of God is tried and true

Who has ascended into heaven?
     Who has descended, come to set us free?
Who has gathered the wind in his fists?
     Who has established all the ends of the earth?
Do you know his name or the name of his son?



REJOICE FOR THE STEPS

Rejoice for the steps of a righteous man
     they are ordered of God, they are ordered of God
Rejoice for the steps of a righteous man
     they are ordered of God

In the time of trouble, God will sustain him.
     God will preserve him, God will uphold him
In the time of trouble, God will lift him up
     so rejoice for your steps are ordered of God



ON CHRIST THE SOLID ROCK

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus' Name

When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood
When all around my soul gives way
He then is all my Hope and Stay

When He shall come with trumpet sound
Oh may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone
Faultless to stand before the throne

Chorus:
Oh Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand



Thank you Lord for your sweet Holy Spirit, and that you are here with us as we lift our hearts to you.

You may be seated as we learn from God's Word.


The name of my message today is "Fear Not". Throughout both the Old and New testament, angels, prophets, and God himself frequently used the greeting, "Do Not Be Afraid!" or "Fear Not!"

Abraham, at this time called Abram, was growing old, and he and his wife had no children to carry on their lineage. Under the customs of that time, one born in his household was to be his rightful heir since he had no biological children.

In those days, carrying on one's lineage was of the utmost importance, and the thought of having no one to continue his blood line was sheer torment for Abram.

And so in chapter 15 of Genesis, God greets Abram like this:

"After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, 'Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.'

"But Abram said, 'Lord GOD, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?'

"Then Abram said, 'Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!'

"And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, 'This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.' Then He brought him outside and said, 'Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.' And He said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.'

"And Abram believed in the LORD, and the LORD accounted it to him for righteousness."


The first thing God addresses in his visit to Abram is his fear. "Do not be afraid," God says to Abram, and then he proceeds to share with Abram his vision and direction for Abram's life.

When we are going through a time of disappointment, dread, or mental and emotional torment, God will find a way to say to us, "Do not be afraid!" and then he will reveal to us, step by step and at the perfect time, his plan and direction for our lives.

And yet, to those of us who have had this life-changing encounter with God, we may well have fallen prey to the same temptation as Abram.

Let's read a little further, starting with verse one of chapter sixteen:

"Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, 'See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.' And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai."

What just happened here? Abram, under the direction of his wife, had a child by their maid. While in those days this was an acceptable way to carry on the family name, the wisdom of men was not what God had in mind for Abraham and for his descendants.

How often do we get a glimpse of what God has in store for us, and think we have to make it come about according to our own wisdom?

God's first call to you is for you to lay down your fear. But the only you can cease to be afraid is to trust God and agree to do things his way.

As we know, Abram was named Abraham, his wife Sarai was named Sarah, they had a child named Isaac, and the nation of Israel, the Messiah, and our faith in Jesus are just some of the results.

And yet when God told Abraham he and Sarah would have a child, Abraham laughed. He knew God was speaking, but his response was, "Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child? Oh, that Ishmael might live before you!"

How often have we thought for just a moment God was going to do something miraculous, but our own human reason quickly dismissed the idea and instead insisted God do things in a "reasonable" manner that we can understand?

At this time, I believe Abraham's fear of his bloodline dying with him had been abated. And yet I do not believe Abraham was completely at peace, and I do not believe all his fear was gone.

For the absence of full surrender to God and his will brings an absence of peace; and an absence of peace in our lives brings fear.

God indeed kept his promise to make Abraham the father of many nations, and Sarah the mother of many nations, and he did it in the absolutely best way, the way he had planned all along.

Does God have a perfect plan for you? Does he have all those difficult questions figured out? Does he see the way through your maze of difficut choices, confusion, and doubt?

He most certainly does! And his word to you today is this: "Fear not!"

God does speak directly to us in a still small voice. But when he speaks, he confirms his Word, and he often confirms what he speaks through the mouth of another.

We know the story of Israel's exodus from Egypt, where they had been enslaved. After many plagues, ending in the death of the first born males in Egypt, Pharaoh let God's people go.

But as we know, Pharaoh had a change of heart. As the people of Israel came upon the Red Sea, the Egyptian army came up behind them. The people thought they were going to die, and if they lived, things would be even worse than before.

Under the direction of the Spirit of God, Moses stood before the people and delivered this word, starting in Exodus 14:13:

"And Moses said to the people, 'Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.'

"And the LORD said to Moses, 'Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. And I indeed will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them. So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen. Then the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gained honor for Myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.'

"And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night.

"Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

"And the Egyptians pursued and went after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.

"Now it came to pass, in the morning watch, that the LORD looked down upon the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud, and He troubled the army of the Egyptians. And He took off their chariot wheels, so that they drove them with difficulty; and the Egyptians said, 'Let us flee from the face of Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.'

"Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen.'

"And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and when the morning appeared, the sea returned to its full depth, while the Egyptians were fleeing into it. So the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.

"Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained. But the children of Israel had walked on dry land in the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

"So the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Thus Israel saw the great work which the LORD had done in Egypt; so the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD and His servant Moses."


Let's jump forward a few years to a small town in Bethlehem. A young lady named Mary was engaged to Joseph. As was usually the case in those days and as is God's will for us today who are not yet married, Mary was a virgin.

Most of us think we would like to have an angel visit us, and indeed it would be a wonderful thing. And yet for most of us, there would be an element of fear; for most of us, it's something we've never experienced before.

Let's read this account in Luke chapter 1, starting in verse 26:

"Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, 'Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!'

"But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.'

"Then Mary said to the angel, 'How can this be, since I have not known a man intimately?'

"And the angel answered and said to her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.'

"Then Mary said, 'Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.' And the angel departed from her."


Mary did not understand how this could happen. It just didn't make sense. She was a virgin, and would be so until after her wedding to Joseph. And yet Mary understood the timing of the angel's words, for she was bewildered, not knowing how she could so soon conceive when her marriage would not take place until later.

As God spoke so many times before, he spoke again through this angel, "Do not be afraid."

When Joseph discovered Mary was pregnant, he naturally didn't believe the child in his fiance's womb was the Son of God. How could he?

He did not want to disgrace Mary, and yet he could not bring himself to marry her after she had been unfaithful. He was planning to put her away privately.

And so an angel visited him in a dream. And guess what the first words out of the angel's mouth were?

Let's find out, reading from Matthew chapter one, beginning with verse nineteen:

"Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying,

"'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.'

"So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 'Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,' which is translated, 'God with us.'

"Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her intimately till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS."


Throughout all these examples, we see some very important similarities which speak to us today.

First, it was always an unsurity of God's plans or a doubt of his Word which has caused fear.

Second, the Word of the Lord has always been, "Do not be afraid!"

Third, God always followed up his word to "Fear not" with his will for today and his vision for tomorrow.

Fourth, God always performed exactly what he said he would perform in exactly the way he said he would do it. What God said would happen, happened.

And this is exactly what happens in our life today.

Do you have fear and uncertainty? Are you held back from right action? Do you feel stuck in a rut that is taking you nowhere? Are you afraid?

It is because you do not have a full grasp of God's will for your today, his vision for your tomorrow, or the faith that God will take care of all the details and the full surrender to his will and his way of making it come about.

And what is God's Word to YOU today? It is this:

"Do not be afraid!"

And as you choose to trust God to show you his will and to take care of the details, you will find your fear melting away into peace.

"You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon you, because he trusts in you." (Isaiah 26:3)

God's will for your life is not fear.

God's will for your life is perfect peace.

I will ask the ministry team to come stand accross the front now.

You have heard God's Word to you today, "Do not be afraid." And he is ready right now to show you his will for your today and his vision for your tomorrow.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.'" (Jeremiah 29:11)

Perhaps God has already told you his will for your today, and perhaps he has already revealed his vision for your tomorrow. Perhaps you do not know. But he is here today telling you to "Fear not", and he will give you peace by revealing his will for your today, and giving you his vision for your tomorrow.

Come to this altar now. Lay your fears and your unsurity at Jesus' feet, and submit to his will and his vision. And he will reveal his will to you. He will give you his vision for your life. And you will know that you can "fear no evil", for he is indeed with you! And he will perform the word he has spoken to you.

Come to the front now and let's pray together. Please no one leave, you're all invited to meet us in the room to your left for our time of fellowship in a few minutes.

Come to the altar.

The LORD is my shepherd;
     I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
     He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
     He leads me in the paths of righteousness
     For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
     I will fear no evil;
     For You are with me;

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
         
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
     You anoint my head with oil;
     My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
     All the days of my life;
     And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
     Forever.

Amen!