Apr 27, 2012

do not fear, for I am with you

I have been absent on this blog for a few months intentionally because I have been walking through what C.S. Lewis' Screwtape  would call a "trough" season. God is in the business of redeeming and delivering His children. What a perfect Father. He doesn't take us out of suffering, but walks us through it, lovingly holding our hand as we tremble in the darkness. He is near to the brokenhearted (Ps. 34:18) and draws near to us in our suffering. In the midst of our fears and uncertainties of what is to come, He draws near. I am so blessed to have church community, roommates, and friends who are reminding me of this very important truth.

At church this Sunday, I was encouraged as I heard of the most commonly mentioned command in the Bible: Do not fear. Here are some sermon notes that correspond with the 7min clip below from the sermon that specifically focused on fear.

What should our reaction be toward fear? Should we accept it as inevitable and try to avoid it or mask it with worldly positive thinking?

"Fear is not to be accepted. Fear is not to be embraced. Fear is not to be accommodated. Fear is not to be explained. Fear is a sin to be repented of. Fear of anything other than God is a sin to be repented of because the fear (respect, honor) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."

{ Four Things You Need To Know About Fear }
  1. "Fear is attempted sovereignty". We don't know it all (not even close!). 
  2. "Fear is vision without God." We are blind without Him, lost in our own worries.
  3. "Fear turns is into false prophets." We don't see the future yet we assume and grow anxious.
  4. "Fear preaches a false gospel." We warp around the gospel to a self-soothing, watered-down version that serves our needs, comforts and coddles our unrepented sin, and creates functional saviors to deal with our fear and disappointments. 
But isn't it so encouraging and exciting that almost every one of the nearly 150 "Do not fear" commands are followed with a faithful promise?  "... for I am with you". 

In the pain. In the suffering. In the confusion. In the depression. In the loneliness. In the silence. In the ugliness of our sin. 

Pastor Mike Wilkerson writes in his book, Redemption, about calling God Abba, which is translated as daddy. It doesn't appear to be the type of name to "respectfully" address God with, yet it is exactly what Jesus called His Father when He prayed (Mark 14:36) and also how we need to come to our Father amidst our worries, fears, pain, suffering:
Amidst Jesus' anguish, he pressed in even closer to the Father. "The very experiences that threaten to drive you the farthest from God are the exact experiences that bring you into closest possible fellowship with your Savior." As God's adopted children, we have the same amazing privilege as Jesus himself -- to call God Abba -- and it is often in our worse suffering that we most need to (p. 52).
He draws near to us. He walks with us. He leads us. He holds our hand as a good Daddy would if his little child is scared of an angry, barking dog or a crowded street as if to say, "Don't worry, my sweet child. I am here. Hold on tight and let's walk through this together. I won't let anything happen to you. I am your daddy and I love you". That's our Father God: The perfect Dad.

Here are the "baker's dozen" of verses that Pastor Mark mentioned. Meditate on them and allow our Father to rest your anxious heart to whatever is making it tremble. Hold His hand through it and invite Him in.

Genesis 3:10  Adam says "I was afraid" and God is near.
Genesis 15:1 "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield."
Genesis 26:24 To Isaac: "... do not be afraid for I am with you"
Genesis 28:15 To Jacob: "I am with you ..."
Exodus 33:14  To Moses: "My presence will go with you ..."
2 Kings 1:15 To Elijah: "Do not be afraid ..."
Psalms 23:4  David to God: "I will fear no evil for You are with me."
2 Chronicles 20:17 To King Jehosephat: "Do not be afraid or discouraged ... for the LORD is with you."
Isaiah 41:15 To Israel: "Do not be afraid Israel, for I am with you"
Jeremiah 1:8 "Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you."
Daniel 10:12 "Do not be afraid, Daniel. I have come"
Haggai 2:4-5 "Be strong, be strong, be strong for I am with you, declares the Lord Almighty"
Matthew 28:10 Jesus says "I am with you always until the end of the age."

"Do not be afraid. Persevere in Jesus. Worship Jesus. Serve Jesus' Church. Give to Jesus' Church . . . Our lives are not tribulation-free but tribulation-proof."

In the Father's loving hands,