Sunday, June 24, 2012

Our Fears

          The Israelites were afraid of the Philistines. The disciples were frightened by the wind and the waves. Everyone’s afraid of something it seems.
          Yet, David didn’t show any fear of the giant Philistine, Goliath. And Jesus wasn’t worried about the wind or the waves. He was sleeping soundly on a pillow in the boat. So, what was it that was different?
          David wrote in the psalms ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?’ Ps. 27:1  ‘I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.’ Ps. 34:4 ‘God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Ps. 46:1-2  Psalm 91 says, ‘He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.’
          David believed God had everything covered. There wasn’t any need for him to be afraid.
          Solomon wrote in Proverbs 29:25, fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”
          The prophet Isaiah spoke about the fears people of Israel had. He said in 35:4, “…say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do no fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.’ And in 41:10 and 13 he said, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand…For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you.” The Prophet said in 51:6 & 7 & 8b, “…Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail. Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have my law in your hearts: Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults…my righteousness will last forever, my salvation through all generations.” Isaiah 54:14… “In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you.”
          Jesus said in Luke’s gospel…”I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you who you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has the power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him Lk 12:4-5
          Paul, the apostle, even talks about fears that he had. In his 2nd letter to the Corinthians in chapter 7 he talks about…conflicts on the outside and fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us…
          And John who wrote so much about God’s love for us said, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us 1 John 4:18ff.”
          So, my friends, even though we might let our fears and worries overwhelm us all we have to do is remember that the One who made us and this creation has it all in his control.  As David said, “The Lord is our stronghold…of whom should we be afraid.”
          Don’t let the things of this world control you. Don’t be afraid of those things over which we have no control. Listen for the voice of the One who said to the wind, “Be still” and who said to the waves, “Be calm.” Listen for that still, small voice and your fears will be driven away.
          Thanks be to God for his redeeming grace. Amen.

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