WHEN YOU’RE TEMPTED TO FEAR, DON’T – PART 2

Excerpt: This post is Part 2 of a faith message that’s designed to help us get over our fears. We all wrestle with fear. We’ve got good reason to fear. But in spite of our reasons and circumstances, God doesn’t want us to be afraid. Why? Because He’s got a miracle for us just ahead!

SCRIPTURE TEXT

Exodus 14:1-14,  And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,  (2)  Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea.  (3)  For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.  (4)  And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord. And they did so. 

(5)  And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?  (6)  And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him:  (7)  And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them.  (8)  And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand.  (9)  But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baalzephon. 

(10)  And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord.  (11)  And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?  (12)  Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. 

(13)  And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.  (14)  The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

WHEN YOU’RE TEMPTED TO FEAR, DON’T

As I wrote in my previous post, we all have good reason to fear. Our life is imperiled and death seems all but a foregone conclusion. That’s the way it was with the Israelites at the Sea. Pharaoh’s army was coming their way. They couldn’t go forward because of the Sea. They could make a run for it through the desert, but it was useless because they could never outrun Pharaoh’s chariots. They could muster an army and fight. But even a hastily-mounted resistance would do them no good. They were ill-prepared to fight a war. They were not trained in war. And there was not a snow ball’s chance in Hell that the Israelites could defeat the military might of the world’s dominant super power. Yes, the Israelites, like us, had good reason to fear.

Now I also wrote in my previous post that God responds to our fear in one of two ways: (1) He either comforts us and assuages our fear; or else (2) He rebukes us for being so fearful and faithless. We looked at Jesus’ rebuke last time. Let’s look at God’s comfort now.

Speaking through Moses, God’s very first words to the fear-gripped Israelites were, Don’t be afraid (Exodus 14:13). Why not? They had good reason to be afraid. And fear is a natural response to danger or the threat of imminent death. But that’s just it. IT MAY BE NORMAL AND NATURAL, BUT IT SHOULDN’T BE TO A CHRISTIAN. Christians are a people of faith. Our faith and hope are in the Lord. Our God is a Savior and Deliverer. That means He’s in the business of helping and saving His people. That’s why, THE WAY GOD SEES IT, WE’VE GOT NO CAUSE OR REASON TO FEAR.

TRIALS ARE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU TO SEE GOD’S MIRACLES. The reason why God doesn’t want us to fear is because THE THREAT OF DEATH SETS THE STAGE FOR US TO SEE GOD’S MIGHTY, SAVING HAND AT WORK IN OUR LIVES. He said, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord (Exodus14:13).

I relate to Biblical truths in a way that means the most to me. In ways that drive the point home. When it comes to the storms and trials of life, I like to envision the trial in terms of a stage. You’ve gone to a theater, I’m sure. The theater I have in mind is a play where live actors put on a dramatic presentation right before our very eyes. We sit back and watch the play unfold on stage.

In much the same way, our trials are a stage that enable us to sit back and see the salvation of the Lord. Jesus puts it this way in John 11:40 which is one of my very most favorite verses of all time: Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

I used to be afraid of trials. I’d dread to go through them every time they appeared on the horizon. Now, trials don’t bother me because of the way I’ve chosen to see them. My perspective of trials makes the trials less threatening and more bearable. They give me something to hope for and expect, which is this, namely, I’m going to get another opportunity to see God’s love, faithfulness, and saving hand at work once again for me. Trials are a ticket, so to speak. They’re my entrance to a show where I’m going to see God work miracles for me. I’m going to see God prove once again that the Devil is a no-good liar and that everything the Devil’s said to me are hogwashed lies. Everything he’s trying to do to me will fail. Why? Because God does what He is. He’s a God of salvation and He will surely save.

We all want to see God’s saving hand. We want to sit back and watch God work mightily on our behalf. We like going to the theater, so to speak. But by God’s design, the show involves and requires a trial. IT TAKES A TRIAL FOR US TO SEE GOD’S LOVE AND POWER AT WORK FOR US. In the Israelites’ case, God brought them to the Red Sea—He brought them right smack into a life-and-death trial—because that was the stage, that’s how they were going to see God’s mighty hand of deliverance. Yes, you can look at your trials as another set of troubles and miseries to go through. But I’ve chosen to see them as another opportunity to see God at work.

God is at work on your behalf, brethren. He’s always at work. And He’s giving you a chance to see His power, love, and faithfulness at work in your life. Your trial is the ticket, the pass, that God’s given you to see His show. And boy does God have a show for you! So don’t be disheartened or afraid because of the trial. Cheer up. Go to God’s theater, sit back, and enjoy the show! May God bless you!

WHEN YOU’RE TEMPTED TO FEAR, DON’T – PART 1

Synopsis: We all wrestle with fear. We’ve got good reason to fear. But in spite of our reasons and circumstances, God doesn’t want us to be afraid. As Christians, we’re supposed to be a people of faith. God wants us to believe, not fear. Here’s a post that will help us do just that.

Scripture Text: Mark 4:35-40, And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. {36} And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. {37} And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. {38} And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? {39} And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. {40} And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

SO YOU’VE GOT GOOD REASON TO FEAR

One day, Jesus decided to go with His disciples to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. In the process of sailing, there arose a fierce storm. The storm was so bad that the disciples started fearing for their lives.

The one thing that I want you to note here is the disciples had good reason to be afraid. In Matthew’s account, the ship was covered by the waves (Matthew 8:24). That is, the waves were so tall and tempestuous that water was rapidly pouring in over the sides of the ship. The disciples couldn’t work fast enough to bail the water out. By all accounts, the ship was rapidly filling with water and starting to sink. Their lives really were in jeopardy just as Luke said in his account of this same incident (Luke 8:23). The disciples, I’m saying, had good reason to be afraid. Their lives were imperiled. The threat of death was imminent. If the Lord didn’t come through with a miracle for them, the winds, waves, and waters would take their very lives this dark and stormy night.

We all have had our storms at sea. There’ve been times when death came calling and we really felt that we could die at any moment. We’ve had our times of fear. And we’d just as soon prefer not to meet up with fear or death for a very long time.

EVEN WHEN YOU’VE GOT GOOD REASON TO FEAR, DON’T

Now whenever Jesus’ disciples were afraid He responded to them in one of two ways: (1) He either comforted them, assuaged their fear, and told them to fear not (Matthew 14:27); or, as in the case at hand, (2) He rebuked them for their fear and faithlessness and asked them, Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?

Do you know what Jesus’ rebuke tells me? In the first place, it tells me that NO MATTER HOW GOOD A REASON WE HAVE TO BE TERRIBLY AFRAID, JESUS DOESN’T WANT US TO BE AFRAID! Yes, the circumstances are quite dire and severe. The threat of death is very real and imminent. Jesus doesn’t deny any of that. But He still doesn’t want us to be afraid!

There were at least four experienced fishermen on that boat. And they, doubtless, weathered many storms at sea. But even these experienced fishermen were afraid. They knew what they were up against. They knew they could all be dead.

But from Jesus’ standpoint, THE THREAT OF DEATH DOESN’T JUSTIFY OR LEGITIMIZE OUR FEAR. No matter how real the circumstances, symptoms, or threat; no matter how severe the suffering or pain; Jesus doesn’t want us to be afraid. HE WANTS US TO BELIEVE EVEN WHEN BELIEVING IS A VERY DIFFICULT THING TO DO. HE WANTS US TO BELIEVE EVEN IN THE MIDST OF THE THREAT OF DEATH.

Jesus’ rebuke, in the second place, tells me that IT’S POSSIBLE TO GO THROUGH, AND GET THROUGH, A FEARFUL, DEATH-THREATENING, ORDEAL WITHOUT BEING AFRAID.

O, I’ll be the first one to say that I’ve been tempted to fear in the face of death. In fact, I have been afraid at death’s doors. I’ve gone through my severe storms at sea with respect to my lungs, heart, brain, and a number of other internal organs. My storms have raged on for months and years. I’ve known weariness. And in my darkest nights, I’ve kept company with despair and resignation. Yes, I’ve faced death many times. And, yes, I’ve been tempted to fear.

But I’ve found through all these storms that it’s possible to believe instead of fear if you just put your mind to it and choose to believe instead of fear or doubt. It’s not easy. It’s never been easy. It takes concentrated effort. It takes ceaseless work to stay in faith and keep on believing when there doesn’t seem to be any hope left. Believe me, you can stare death in the face and not be afraid—if you choose to believe.

And last, Jesus’ rebuke in this terrifying incident tells me that, no matter how hard it might be, IT’S POSSIBLE TO GO THROUGH THIS TRIAL AND ORDEAL WITHOUT SUFFERING HARM, LOSS OF LIFE, OR DEATH. Death may be knocking. But the faith that God wants us to have is the faith that we can go through the trial without getting killed in the process.

Now before any of you knock me, I know we all have a time to die. God allows some of His children to perish in the storm. I’m not going to question His sovereignty or His goodness. You’ve got to get quiet before the Lord, seek His face, and see if it’s His will to take you home on this particular storm-tossed night.

I’ve done my seeking and God, in one way or another, always lets me know what He wants me to do in the storms I’m facing. In every one thus far, He’s let me know that it’s not my time to die. Instead, He wants me to believe for preservation, healing, and life. That’s what I’ve done—with great effort and solely by His grace. And He’s always proven Himself true and faithful. Brethren, IT’S POSSIBLE TO GO THROUGH THE TRIAL AND ORDEAL WITHOUT SUFFERING HARM, LOSS OF LIFE, OR DEATH.

LISTEN TO GOD’S WORD, BELIEVE IT, AND IT’LL KEEP YOU FROM FEAR

Now I’ve said that you’ve got to get still before God and see what His will is in any given storm of life. God told these fearful disciples what His will was. They forgot it. They looked at their circumstances. And that’s why they were afraid. It works the same way with us. When we get our eyes off of the Lord and His promises, when our eyes and mind are glued to the dire circumstances that confront us; we, like the disciples, will get fearful.

But, wait a minute, you say. Where did God tell these disciples what His will was? Brethren, it’s so easy to pass over, forget, or not listen at all, to some of the things God says to us. The storm at sea is a case in point. Go back to the start of this incident in Mark 4:35and read what Jesus said. He said, Let us pass over unto the other side. Do you know what this means, brethren? It means Jesus wants to get to the other side of the Sea. He’s going to get to the other side. And nothing’s going to keep Him from getting there. Friends, that ship can’t sink as long as Jesus is on it! His will was to get to the other side. And not even the severest of storms can stop Him from doing His will.

In much the same way, brethren, when the ship of your life is beginning to sink with death’s waters, you’ve got to remember God’s Word, hold fast to it, and believe. God promised to heal you, not kill you: He said the prayer of faith shall heal the sick and the Lord shall raise him up (James 5:15). He promised you deliverance and escape, not death: He redeemeth thy life from destruction (Psalm 103:3). Yes, there are times when destruction threatens you. He never said you wouldn’t have trials or go through the valley of the shadow of death. But God promised to save you from destruction and you’ve got to believe that no matter how bad or convincing the circumstances look.

If, and when, it’s your time to die; then, and only then, do you relinquish the promise of healing and life and redirect your faith to God’s providential care and presence as you go through death’s portal.

Whatever the case may be, in every circumstance of life, God, dear brethren, wants you to be faithful, not fearful. If God has not told you otherwise, stay with the promises of God’s Word because HIS PROMISES ARE A REVELATION OF HIS WILL. They’re indicative of what His will is in the present storm: He wants to save you, not kill you. And He’ll do that very thing if you believe. All things are possible to him that believeth (Mark 9:23). All things, brethren, means all things. That includes your present encounter with death.

Stand resolutely on God’s Word, my friend. Believe it. Expect God to keep and honor it. And you’ll have the courage and strength to go through the storm knowing that you’ll be alright in the end. You’re in good hands. And remember above all that you’ve got Jesus with you at the back of the boat. That boat of yours ain’t gonna sink. God bless you and help you to believe.