Don't be afraid, Part 3
Today we are looking at John 6:16-21. This is the third part in a Mini-series on Fear which we have been doing together. Jesus used the situation of a storm to teach His disciples about dealing with Fear. Let’s look this passage together.
When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
It is I; don’t be afraid
It is I; don’t be afraid
Jesus wasn’t even in the boat and He knew they were afraid. He knew them. He knew the circumstances. He knew their hearts. He saw their fear and did not condemn, but sought to bring hope and comfort. “It is I; don’t be afraid.”
This gives me hope. Jesus knows my fears, and He does not come to condemn me, but to bring comfort. He comes to show me how to overcome the fear that grips me, cripples me, and steals my life away from me.
How does He want us to deal with our fear? Let me summarize what we have found before we move on to the final part of dealing with our fear.
The first week we saw how this was not the first occasion on which Jesus was with his disciples in a storm at night. On that first occasion, Jesus demonstrated His care for them by miraculously stopping the storm! Then, He asked them,
Why are you so afraid?
Why are you so afraid?
We took that week to examine our fear. If we take the time to consider Jesus’ question, we can learn a lot about our fear, and ourselves.
Of what exactly am I afraid? Why do I fear that? What do I think is going to happen? What is it that I care about here? What has become the most important thing to me at this time of fear?
Our fear shows what we are truly loving in the moment. Whenever I am afraid, and I take the time to consider what I am truly desiring/loving in the moment, it is not God or His Kingdom purpose. It is typically something to do with me in this world.
As we examined that, we found that the first step away from fear is to:
Desire His Kingdom Purpose More than Our Own
Desire His Kingdom Purpose More than Our Own
So, To deal with our fear, first we want to know why we are so afraid. What is it we care about more than we care about God in the moment? Then, we need to confess to God that we are seeking this instead of Him and His Kingdom. We need to ask for Him to change our heart to desire His Kingdom purpose more than our own.
The next part of dealing with our fear is to:
Trust Him (not ourselves, or someone/something else)
Trust Him (not ourselves, or someone/something else)
After Jesus tells the disciples to not be afraid, Matthew records in his gospel how Peter walked on the water. He started out well, but then started to sink when he saw the wind and the waves.
Jesus asked Peter, “Why did you doubt?”
When dealing with our fear, we need to recognize that we we are putting our trust where it does not belong, we are putting it in something, or someone other than our God and Savior. We need to confess that, and ask God to change our hearts to trust Him.
Then, after confessing our misplaced desires and trust, and asking Him to give us hearts to love and trust Him, from when Jesus cried out to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid,” we see that the final and crucial step in dealing with our fear is to:
Be Still and Know He is God
Be Still and Know He is God
Fear is the enemy that comes and hijacks our minds. Like the raging fire that consumes acres of the forests, it starts as a small spark, but quickly flares up, and as it takes over our minds, it begins to rage as it predicts what is going to happen. Not what might happen, but what is going to happen; and it is never good. Then those thoughts lead to more thoughts of dreadful consequences which add more full to this raging fear within us. IT demands our attention. It demands action! It makes us want to flee… But to where can we run? We are trapped...
And into that raging fear, God calmly speaks
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
The answer to our fear is not an action plan. The answer to our fear is Him! It is God!
When we are afraid, we need to take time to be still, to derail the fear train in our minds, and remember Him, He is GOD!! What has He done for us so far in our lives? What has He said about what He will do?
This past week, our homework was to look at the 114 verses in which God tells His people to not be afraid.
Did you notice the reasons He gave for not being afraid? Did you notice that He always spoke specifically to the fear, to the need of His people? He does not generically say, ‘don’t be afraid.’ He speaks specifically, and gives reasons for them to not fear the way their heart is leading them to fear.
What were some of those reasons? Do you remember? Give me a few...
Here is a list I made:
He is our deliverer
He is our refuge and defense
He holds our hand, and strengthens and helps us
He redeemed us
He will save us and we will be a blessing
He hears our cries and prayers
He values us!
He will give us what we need (food, clothing, words)
Our King is coming
He is with us
Peace of God will guard our hearts and minds
The Lord is our helper
Our Hope is Christ
Perfect love drives out fear which has to do with punishment
Jesus is the Living One; he was dead and now look he is alive for ever and ever! And he holds the keys of death and Hades
He will give us life as the victor’s crown
God has told us to not be afraid. But He doesn’t just give a command, “Don’t be afraid!” No, he tells us to not be afraid out of love and concern for us. We see that because He always speaks into the situation, and gives us the reason we do not need to be afraid. He is always the reason. He will act on our behalf! What a great God and Savior!
Fear makes us want to run. Let’s learn to run the right way. Let’s learn to run to Him! He is God. And He will deliver. In fact. that is what happens at the end of the passage we started with.
Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
Jesus delivered them to the place where they were supposed to be going.
I love that. Another miracle! They were immediately at their destination!
Jesus gave them the destination at the start. They headed out, just like He wanted them to do, and they ran into the storm.
Jesus comes to them, deals with their fear, and then delivers them to the destination!
I believe the disciples learned a great lesson here. Later in their lives, we see them facing a lot of difficult circumstances (you can read about them in the book called the Acts of the Apostles. They faced a lot of adversity, but instead of living in fear, they were able to overcome, and live boldly and confidently.
That is just like David. We read a lot of Psalms from him over the past weeks. David faced a lot of adversity over his life. But through it all, instead of living in fear, what’s going to happen next… He lived in confidence.
As I went through the passages this week, One in particular stood out to me: Psalm 91.
Whoever 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. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
I will deliver
I will deliver
Jesus did deliver the disciples, and He delivered David from many things.
What is deliverance?
What is deliverance?
Deliverance means that there is already something going on! Deliverance is never in the absence of trials or bad things.
The disciples would not have been delivered had they not been in the storm.
David would not have been delivered had he not gone through the trials.
We would not be delivered if we were not going through difficult storms in our lives.
Sometimes when we read Psalms like Psalm 91, we think, “Oh look! If I rest in the Lord, nothing bad will happen.”
But wait. Bad things do happen. That is why fear is a part of our lives! Bad things do happen, so I am worried and afraid that they will come, and be like… (fill in the blank).
The fact that God delivers should help us in our fears. It does not help us by ignoring the fact that bad things happen.
Deliverance in the bible does not ignore the fact that bad things happen. Deliverance reminds us that bad things will happen, but God intervenes!
How does He intervene?
From the context of John 16, we see a couple different ways that God intervenes.
The opening of John 6 is Jesus feeding the 5000 plus. This was the time of year that the Jews were remembering the Passover.
The Passover was when God delivered the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt. Notice, they needed deliverance from a bad situation. We will come back to that example in a second.
After they left Egypt, because God made the Eqyptians favorably disposed to the Israelites, they gave the Israelites everything for which they asked.
The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.
This was whatever they asked for. I believe it included food.
Exodus 16:1-3 tells us that literally one month later they were out of food.
What did God do? He provided manna for them to eat. When they were afraid, God delivered them by providing for them daily. They did not need to worry about what they were going to eat for the next 40+ years because provided for them daily.
God often delivers us daily, and we don’t even give it a thought. We are constantly in danger if you think about it. Every time you get into your car, you are in danger! Yet he delivers us daily.
In a book that I have been looking at again in preparing for this series, Running Scared by Ed Welch, I read how some doctors actually think that cancer is lurking in us continually, yet we do not all have outbreaks of cancer! Why, God is daily delivering us from bad cells, germs, and viruses which are all around and in us.
Here is an interesting exercise. How many days have you been alive? Simple calculation, years times 365.25, plus months times 30, plus days since the day of your birth. That is a rough estimate.
I have been alive for 48 years, 8 months and 7 days. rough estimate is 17779 days.
Of those 17779 days I have been alive, how many of those days did something that was really bad happen? Appendicitis, broken toe, chimney fire, grandparents passing, broken engagement, malaria, malaria, malaria, dengue, hepatitis, cars dying, … let’s be generous and say 100 days where something bad actually, really happened.
So God has daily delivered me 17679 out of 17779 days…
Wow. God is giving me daily deliverance a whole lot! I just don’t think about it!
Do you see God’s daily deliverance in your life?
Sometimes we think we are afraid of everything… but are we? Are we afraid that we won’t eat lunch? Are we afraid we won’t have a place to sleep tonight? Are we afraid that we won’t have clothing to where today? Are we afraid that we won’t get home after church? Are we afraid that…
No, we are not afraid of so many things because of God’s daily deliverance.
Let’s keep in mind His daily deliverance to help us not be afraid.
Another form that deliverance takes is timely deliverance. When bad things actually do happen, how many times has God come through and delivered me.
In this case, the disciples were in the storm. The storms in life do come. But when they come, here comes Jesus! He is with us. “It is I; don’t be afraid.”
Sometimes those storms are short. Sometimes they last all night like it was with the disciples. Why did they have the storm all night, so they would learn to trust Him! Sometimes the deliverance is slow in coming as God wants us to learn to trust Him, and we are slow to learn...
Sometimes is last for years… The Israelites were remembering Passover, remember. How long were they slaves in Egypt? Decades.
Why did they suffer so long? Is God wanting us to suffer? No. We know the Israelites were enslaved because of the sin of others, and the patience of God. God was being patient with the people living in Palestine and the people of Egypt, wanting them to repent.
Sometimes we go through storms because of the sins of others. Where is God? He is still working, and wants us to know that He is with us, and working for our deliverance. And like the Israelites, sometimes that deliverance is a process as God is working out His kingdom purposes.
But in both cases, God did deliver! As I think back over those 100 days that something bad actually did happen, in hindsight, I can see how God delivered me from those things. He has healed me, he has provided for me, he has comforted me, he has protected me. My God has delivered me time and time again!
Have you seen His timely deliverance in your life?
The Psalmist saw God’s timely deliverance over and over in their history That is a big part of Psalm 107 that is a part of your homework this week. Read that Psalm, and then think of all the times that God has given you timely deliverance when the bad things actually did happen.
Let God’s past timely deliverances help us not be afraid, today.
The final form of deliverance is true deliverance. It is God taking us from this world of trouble and sorrow to be with Him.
This is the deliverance Jesus bought for us with his own life!
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
Our ultimate deliverance is when He delivers us to our true destination, Life with Him in Heaven, and then finally in the new Earth.
Death is not our enemy, rather death is now, for the believer, ultimate deliverance! What?
Back to Psalm 91.
This Psalm starts with
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This is the title of a biography, In the Shadow of the Almighty, and a favorite Psalm of Jim Elliot.
Who was Jim Elliot? Jim Elliot was one of 5 missionaries killed by the tribal group they were trying to reach in Ecuador, in January of 1966.
Jim’s wife, Elizabeth Elliot wrote the biography. How could she write about Jim being in the shadow of the almighty when he was killed? Shouldn’t being in the shadow of the almighty lead to deliverance from the spears of the Aucas?
Many would look at Psalm 91, and the example of Jim Elliot and say God failed. He did not deliver on His promise to deliver.
But to quote something I read from John Piper this week:
“Elisabeth believed the world was missing something. She wrote, “The world did not recognize the truth of the second clause in Jim Elliot’s credo: ‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.’”
“She called her book Shadow of the Almighty because she was utterly convinced that the refuge of the people of God is not a refuge from suffering and death, but a refuge from final and ultimate defeat. “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:24) — because the Lord is God Almighty.””
Read over that psalm closely this week. It is a part of your homework. As I read through the Psalm, I saw that bad things were happening, and were going to happen. However, the promise was deliverance.
Deliverance is not the avoidance, or God keeping us from bad things. Deliverance is God saving us. That is what the Psalmist says at the end of the Psalm. God will show us his salvation.
The ultimate deliverance is what Jim experienced as he was in the shadow of the almighty that day, for Jim was delivered from this world to his destination!
The troubles of this world cannot keep us from our destination when we are in the care of the God who delivers. The worst the troubles of life can do, the worst death can do is be God’s means of delivering us home, out of the trials of this world!
Yesterday we were working on Drew’s roof again. Yes, I am still afraid of heights and roofs. Yes, I still work and move slowly when I am up there. But, I am not hindered from doing what God wants, seeking His kingdom purpose and serving Him. I am not crippled by my fear and kept from serving. Why?
Well, Pat texted me yesterday and told me not to fall off the roof. I texted back and said, “Why not?”
You see, my fear of heights is actaully a fear of falling. Wait. No, I love the ride at Knoebels that drops. My fear is not falling. My fear is the landing, and the result of the landing.
But, if I fall off of Drew’s roof and die, what is the result?
I think David learned this lesson. Maybe that is why David wrote,
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
I believe David knew and found confidence in God’s Ultimate Deliverance. That is how he could sleep at night, even when running for his life!
Praise the Lord for His Ultimate Deliverance!
As we learn to deal with our fears, we do need to confess and ask Him for hearts to love Him, seek His kingdom.
We need to confess and ask Him to give us hearts to trust Him.
We need to be still and know He is God!
And, we need to remember Deliverance.
He gives us Daily Deliverance, without us even giving it a thought.
He has given us Timely Deliverance! Remember all of the times God has protected, provided and performed healing for you!
And keep in mind He will be faithful to give us Ultimate Deliverance!
Keep in mind deliverance, and let’s let Psalm 32:6-7 be true of us:
Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Let those songs of deliverance fill our hearts and minds to keep us from fear this week!
Read Jeremiah 17:5-8 again (it was in the homework last week). What is said to happen when our hearts turn away from the Lord (in what we love and trust)? What happens when our confidence is in the Lord? Where we place our confidence is a conscious choice we need to make moment by moment. It takes work. It takes mental discipline. But that discipline has sweet rewards! What are the rewards of trusting in the Lord?
Read Psalm 130. This Psalmist was apparently going through something really difficult. What did the psalmist do when in the depths? In what did the Psalmist find comfort (vs. 3). When we are living in fear, often we are loving and trusting things/people other than God. We talked about that being sin. How is verse 4 a comfort for us when living in fear? What is the point, or end result, of forgiveness? How might serving Him help us in our fear? Notice verses 5-6. Waiting for the Lord. Sometimes when we are in difficult situations, God does not take us out of them. Often, we are in those situations forsome time. What do we need to do? Waiting for the Lord is placing our hope in Him and what He has promised. What promises will you cling to , and wait for the Lord to fulfill? How does putting our hope in Him bring help for our fear?
Read Psalm 91. Does this Psalm promise that we will never have any trouble? Does this Psalm remove fear by telling us that nothing bad will happen? No. Notice that there is stll a fowler’s snare. There is still deadly pestilence. There is still terrors of night, the arrow that flies by day, the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, the plague that destroys at midday. There is still harm and disaster in this world. This world is full of things we would rather avoid. However, we are in this broken world. Bad things happen all around us, bad things happen to us. So, how does this Psalm bring comfort to our fears of these things happening? “Will” is a key word. We may experience hard things in life, but He will save us. He will cover us, or comfort us. (When do you need comfort, when all is well? No. Comfort is given when things are not well.) We will not have to fear when we are rest in Him. Things may happen, but it cannot touch us, that is our eternal soul. What are the promises of verses 14-16? How does that allow us to rest as the Psalmist does? How can we rest in the shadow of the Almighty today?
Read Hebrews 11. What did all of these people have in common? Were they living for their purposes in this world, or were they looking ahead to God’s Kingdom? How is that an example for us? We tend to enjoy the beginning of the chapter up through verse 34; other than Abel being killed, it is a celebration of the good things God did for His people as they trusted Him. However, reread verses Hebrews 11:35-40. The latter part of this chapter has some pretty bad things happening. Why is this recorded? How does this help our fears of bad things happening? When bad things happen with us, will Hebrews 11:39 apply?
Read Psalm 107. In this Psalm, we find a number of bad things happening. But, then there is a line that is repeated a number of times. What is that line that is repeated? When we are afraid, we need to do what this Psalm, and so many others, like Psalm 130 talk about. We need to cry out to the Lord, and keep crying out to Him. As we continue to cry and and wait for Him, we will have our eyes focused on Him. Reread Psalm 107:43. What is the two wise actions that we need to put into practice? How will this help us in our fears?