Sermon: "Answers to Fear" (Parts 3-4)
Sin Causes Fear of God
We've briefly discussed the origin of fear and have seen some of Adam's reactions after God confronted him with his sin. And we've recognized the importance of facing our fears if we are going to be victorious over them. Next, we want to look at "Fears in General." I'll need your help with this one. I found a survey that listed the things people are most afraid of. What do you think was number one on that list? Going to the dentist? Driving at nighttime? How about changing a diaper? Anybody? So then, what are you afraid of?
Narrowing our focus, let me now just give a few examples of "heavy-duty" fears, and then we'll turn to the Scriptures for answers. Number One: Fear of Being Left Alone. Have you ever told God, "No one really cares about me"? Sadly, many a widow have this legitimate complaint. They fear trying to make it by themselves. Some have resigned themselves to the grim reality that being left alone is just the way things are (and will always be) until they die. Week after week, no one visits them; their children don't want anything to do with them. Out of sight, out of mind. Let me remind us of what James 1:27 says: "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress . . ."
But there are many others who are not in so obvious a need of friendship. Have you ever thought that a teen whom you know or a young adult, or even your own spouse, may be silently crying out for someone to listen to them? I know of someone who, as a teenager, believed that he had no friends, so he used to go out to his backyard and cry out to God because he could not relate to his parents and confide in them. How many young people have taken their own lives because they felt abandoned? Just how many of them could have been saved if someone took a little time to be with them?
Thirdly, I think of the Apostle Paul in prison. How did he deal with his circumstances? Let's take a careful look at 2 Timothy 4:16-17. (Read). If any man could fear being left alone to face a cruel death, it was Paul. But where was his focus? The Lord's presence. What was his perspective toward his "friends"? Forgiveness. My, how healthy can you get! But there are many prisoners who have no one to confide in; for the most part, they are a forgotten multitude. The author of the book to the Hebrews encourages his readers: "Remember the prisoners as if chained with them . . ." What does it mean "to remember" someone? Whom do you know that could use a friend?
Jacob and Esau
The Fear of Man
Heavy-duty fear #2: The Fear of Man.
There are many examples of man fearing man in the Bible. Recall, for instance, that Jacob feared Esau. Do you remember that incident when Jacob heard that Esau was coming toward him and his family with 400 men? Fearful of losing everything, what did Jacob do? He prayed. God brought him to the "end of his rope," so to speak; He used that fear to humble this one who had skillfully tricked his brother Esau into selling him his birthright. What did Jacob cry out and confess? "I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which you have shown your servant . . ." The LORD taught His servant about his wretchedness and about how unworthy he was to receive any favor from God.
How about Elijah, that great man of God, who had just won a stupendous victory at Carmel over the four hundred prophets of Baal? At the moment wicked Jezebel threatened to take his life, he hightailed it out of the land, and his faith degenerated into a paralyzing fear. Despite all this failure, however, the LORD dealt gently with Elijah, speaking to him in a "still, small voice." Not only did God convince him that he was not alone, but He also informed him that seven thousand believers remained loyal to the true faith.
Another example is John-Mark, the young man who accompanied Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary journey . . . but only part of the way. Paul didn't want him to go along with them on their next trip because Mark had departed from them in Pamphylia. Why? Because on the journey, the young man got a real taste of missionary life--persecution and other great trials--and being "green" he couldn't handle it. So, what happened? Uncle Barnabas took him aside and encouraged him. Later on, Mark became a valuable asset to Paul as well as the instrument God used to write the gospel bearing his name. John-Mark never ceases to be an encouragement to me. Can you be a Barnabas to some John-Mark out there, to someone who has experienced failure, disappointment and fear?
Finally, Paul himself, the great Apostle and missionary statesman, had bouts of fear in his service for God. Remember his words in 1 Corinthians 2: "I was with you in weakness, fear, and much trembling." He had just had a rough going over in Thessalonica and Athens, yet he said that he spoke "in demonstration of the Spirit and of power" (verse 4). In other words, he depended upon the Lord to enable him to carry out his commission despite his limitations.
Now in all of these examples, the saints relied upon God's provision to overcome fear and possible uselessness. And so can we. It won't be easy. We may still fail from time to time--maybe even frequently--but we will also have victories. And we can draw encouragement from them. A wonderful promise from the Lord concludes this section:
Philippians 4:6-7 read: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
© 2014 glynch1