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Fear Not

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Living Without Fear     Micah 5:2-5      Luke 1:26-38

II Timothy 1:7, “God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

1. Remember that God Knows the Details:  John 7:42 says “does not the scripture say that Christ will come from Bethlehem the town where David lived?”  God knows the details of our life whether or not we know or see it. Even in the “in-between” times he has his hand on us to steady us and to encourage us. Even when he appears to be silent in our lives, He knows what is going on.

2. God Knows How to Work Out the Details:  Like Mary, we often question how God can work out details when it looks as if there is no way He could possibly do it.  Jeremiah 1:12 says, “I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.”--I am WATCHING OVER MY WORD TO PERFORM IT!

3. Jesus Came to Be Our Peace:   Micah 5:5 says, “and He will be their peace.” Isaiah prophesied, “… and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, PRINCE OF PEACE.” (9:6).  At his birth announcement in Luke 2:14 the angels sounded the news, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth PEACE, good will toward men.”

     How can we have peace in our hearts when our world caves in, when things we are praying for have not happened,         when we are still sick, when we face the uncertainties of a new year?  Remember the words of Jesus:

              “Let not your hearts be troubled.” John 14:1   “Peace I leave with you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let               your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

              “And let the PEACE of God RULE in your hearts.” Colossians 3:15.   “And the PEACE of God which passes all               understanding shall KEEP YOUR HEARTS and MINDS through Jesus Christ.” Philippians 4:7

Ephesians 2:14 says, “for he is our peace.”   Because of Christ’s first coming, we have the opportunity to experience peace with God with no more fear of judgment, no more conflict and guilt hanging over our heads. Because of his great Love for us he came to dwell among us and to be our peace in difficult, fearful, and  “in-between” times.

                             
QUESTION: What can I do when I feel fearful and it seems to be the only logical reaction?

          1. Cast your burdens on the Lord. (Ps. 55:22, I Peter 5:7)

          2. Take refuge in Him. (Ps. 27:1-5, 32:6-7, 34:7-8)

          3. Replace anxiety with thoughts of God. (Phil. 4:6-8, Ps. 23:4, Ps. 46:1-3)

          4. Keep an eye on eternity. (Ps. 23:4,6, 2 Cor. 4:16-18)

          5. Listen to God’s words to you. (Is. 41:9-14, Is. 43:1-3a, Zeph. 3:16-17)

Fear not!   The phrase repeated throughout the Christmas story – “Don’t be afraid!”

 To Joseph – fear not; to Mary – fear not;  to Zechariah – fear not; to the shepherds – fear not!

Living Without Fear in ‘In-Between’ Times
Micah 5:2-5 "   Luke 1:26-38
At the beginning of WWII, President Roosevelt said to America, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” 

II Timothy 1:7, “God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of a sound mind.”  We can trust God to enable us to triumph over our fears.  Fear brings ruin to us; do not give in to it.  There is no need to feel overly pressured or worried when we are under stress.  Take your concerns to God and leave them with Him.  Trust in the Word of God!

Only 2 more days until Christmas!  We are nearing Christmas with last minute shopping, wrapping, thoughts of Christmas dinner, being with family and friends and other events, however, we are living in “in-between times.” It is ALMOST Christmas but NOT YET. We have made some preparations--shopping, decorating, planning--but we are still waiting for Christmas Day. We all live in “in-between times--come to think of it--on many things in our lives.  Between placing a catalog order and it arriving in the mail…waiting for a phone call, waiting to get well. Sometimes living in “in-between times” causes us to have anxiety and fears. What will happen in the future? What will God do? What if…Does God know my needs? The unknown “in-between time” is unsettling to us.

How do we live in “in-between times”?

God’s people have always faced the unknown and have survived because of God’s support. There were many “in-between times” for them as they walked by faith rather than by sight. The Israelites faced the unknown as they journeyed to Canaan land. Mary faced the unknown in our scripture today and was fearful at first. The angel told her, “You have found favor with God. Don’t be afraid.”

For us a new year is on the horizon and it is unknown to us. Today our prayer might be, “Lord, help me to settle in this “in-between” place in my life to hear your words of peace.” The God of the future and of the past is also present in our “in-between” time of uncertainty. As we face the new year with its unknowns, God tells us, “Don’t be afraid.”

The prophet Micah in 742 BC announced, “A new ruler will rise over God’s people. He is going to come from a town too small to be included among the 1000 family towns of Judah. The name of the town was Ephrathah which is the ancient name for Bethlehem. Micah prophesied “he is no mere human being--He is from ancient time--meaning from everlasting--from eternity. He will shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord and he will BE THEIR PEACE.”

At this time things were not going well for God’s people. They were living in fearful “in-between” times, but Micah brought the promise of hope and of God’s love to them even though it would be many years before it would happen.

What do today’s scriptures tell us about how to live in “fearful” times?

1. God Knows the Details--Micah was giving some very specific details about Jesus in this scripture. He was to come from a specific town. It was a very small town called Ephrathah which was the ancient name for Bethlehem. Yet he was no mere human--he was from everlasting. He would be like a shepherd over his people and would be their peace.  John 7:42 says, “does not the scripture say that Christ will come from Bethlehem the town where David lived?”

God knows the specific details of events that are to happen in our world and in our lives. Years before Jesus came to earth the plan was already in place. It was not an afterthought. It was all the time unfolding.

God knows the details of our life whether or not we know or see this. Even in the “in-between” times he has his hand on us to steady us and to encourage us. Even when he appears to be silent in our lives, He knows what is going on. That fact alone should give us hope and give us the courage to go on in faith.

2. God Knows How to Work Out the Details: From the scripture one might wonder, “How can this be worked out? How can such specific details unfold?” We wonder that about our own lives. How can God work out details when it looks as if there is no way He could possibly do it.

In our “in-between” times we do not recognize God at work. We have the tendency to think He is far away, that He has forgotten or even abandoned us. Even when we pray steadily, we do not always see IMMEDIATE answers. We get discouraged and wonder, “Why am I not seeing anything happen? Why is it taking so long? We do not see what is happening behind the scenes.

Jeremiah 1:12 says, “I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.--I am WATCHING OVER MY WORD TO PERFORM IT!
Throughout the over 740 years, “God was watching over His word to perform what He had said, events were shaping up to bring the Savior into the world at the appointed time. Finally the Angel, Gabriel, appeared to Mary in Nazareth--He said, “Mary, thou art highly favored, the Lord is with thee.” She was fearful. But the angel said, “Fear not Mary for thou has found favor with God.” God knew the details, but he just gave a few of them to Mary. The angel told her, “You shall have a son and his name will be called Jesus. He shall be great, called the Son of the Highest. The Lord will give him the throne of his father David. He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever.

Mary asked, “How can this be?”                              The angel said, “Don’t worry about the details. The Lord’s got it all figured out.”    Mary said, “Be it unto me according to thy word.”

In our “between times” we often fret and stew about things rather than trust the Lord. The Lord knows how to work out the details in spite of things looking impossible. Verse 37 says, “for with God, nothing shall be impossible.”

Think about things in your life that look “impossible” right now. Think about the things you worry, fret, and stew about. Think about the times when you ask, “How can God do this? I don’t see any way possible for this to work out. I don’t know how God could answer this prayer. It’s too difficult. Too much time has gone by.” Think about your fears as you live in this “in-between time” between the old and the new year.

What are we to do when we are unsettled and all churned up inside because we don’t know what God is going to do?

3. Jesus Came to Be Our Peace:  From these scriptures we need to remember that Jesus was coming to earth to bring peace to the individual hear. Micah 5:5 says, “and He will be their peace.”

Isaiah prophesied, “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given---and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, PRINCE OF PEACE.” (Isaiah 9:6).

At the announcement of his birth in Luke 2:14 the angels sounded the news, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth PEACE, good will toward men.”

How can we know that we can live without fear in “in-between” times? How can we have peace in our hearts when our world caves in, when things we are praying for have not happened, when we are still sick, when we face the uncertainties of a new year--the Jesus who came at Christmas time said to his disciples and to us:

“Let not your hearts be troubled.” John 14:1   “Peace I leave with you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

And let the PEACE of God RULE in your hearts.” Colossians 3:15. What is ruling you in the “in-between” times--fear, anxiety, worry? Rather LET THE PEACE of GOD RULE.”

“And the PEACE of God which passes all understanding shall KEEP YOUR HEARTS and MINDS through Jesus Christ.” Philippians 4:7

Ephesians 2:14 says, “for he is our peace.” Is he your peace today? Because of Christ’s first coming, we have the opportunity to experience peace with God with no more fear of judgment, no more conflict and guilt hanging over our heads. Because of his Great Love for us he came to dwell among us and to be our peace in difficult “in-between” times.

How do you keep from fearing?  How could the angel say something so simply and matter-of-fact

I was reminded that I don’t know what to say – but God does!  God does not want us to be fearful. And His word provides the antidote for fear.

QUESTION: What can I do when I feel fearful?

1. Cast your burdens on the Lord. (Ps. 55:22)
Ps 55:22  Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. (NIV)
I Peter 5:7 "casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." (NKJV)
I’m no fisherman – but I do know what it means to cast something. It means to hurl it away from you using force. You grab that pole and you swing it hard so the hook goes far from you.

But where are we supposed to hurl our cares? To the only one who can handle them. The LORD.

And what will happen if we do this? The promise is HE WILL SUSTAIN YOU. He will hold you up. He will keep you in place. He will make sure you have the nourishment you need.


2. Take refuge in Him. (Ps. 27:1-5, 32:6-7, 34:7-8)
Psalm 27:1-5 " The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me To eat up my flesh, My enemies and foes, They stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear; Though war may rise against me, In this I will be confident. One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock." (Psalm 27:1-5, NKJV)

Here David reminds us that we have a safe place to go when we feel fearful. He describes the Lord as our LIGHT, our SALVATION, and our STRONGHOLD.  And he describes what he has to do when fear strikes – he’s going to remember he has a safe place to go.   David says, in the day of trouble God will keep us safe if we take refuge in Him.

Psalm 32:6-7 Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him.   You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Sometimes we’re called to stay put and battle our enemy head on – but sometimes when we feel weak we need to realize God has invited us to run to Him for refuge.

TRANS: So God instructs us to CAST our fears His way, and to run to Him as our place of refuge. But we also have a way to fight back against fear, and that is to…

3. Replace anxiety with thoughts of God. (Phil. 4:6-8, Ps. 23:4, Ps. 46:1-3)  Now – it is important you don’t get the idea that it is somehow “unchristian” to be afraid.

I like the way Oswald Chambers put it:  It is the most natural thing in the world to be scared, and the clearest evidence that God’s grace is at work in our hearts is when we do not get into panics….The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else.               Citation: Reprinted in "Wisdom in a Time of War," Christianity Today (1-07-02), p. 47

God has given us the way to keep our fear from paralyzing us – and it involves changing our focus from the things that are causing us fear to thoughts of God.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." (Philippians 4:6-8, NKJV) -

I LOVE these verses. They promise us that if we can cast all our anxieties and fears at Him in prayer, then our hearts and minds will be guarded by the peace of God. A peace that passes understanding. A peace that doesn’t make sense. A peace that God brings to those who offer Him all that they are anxious about and let Him take it.

And then Paul instructs on what we SHOULD think about, instead of all the things that are causing us fear. Whatever is true, or noble, or right, or pure, or lovely, or admirable, or excellent, or praiseworthy.

ILLUS: A glass full of murky water held under the faucet. Eventually the murk will be removed as it is replaced with the pure water.   Our fears are diluted as we allow the Word to wash us and renew us!

When we dwell on our fears, the result will be unrest, stress, ulcers. But when we meditate on God’s promises and character, eventually the fears will be replaced.

Here’s some of that  “pure water” to start washing out the murk that may have taken residence in your heart:

Psalm 23:4  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

This comes from Psalm 23 which describes God as our shepherd. The shepherd’s tools for caring for and protecting the sheep from danger included the rod and the staff.
Rod-  long pole with a large knot on the end that the shepherd would hurl at anything that was endangering the sheep.
Staff-  a long stick with a crook in one end that the shepherd could use to lift sheep out of dangerous places, or even draw them near to himself if they needed personal attention.

Our Good Shepherd still brings comfort, protects us from danger and lifts us up and draws us near to him.

Psalm 46:1-3 - God is our refuge and strength, an 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.

This passage reminds me that sometimes I just have to CHOOSE not to give in to fear. I need to fill my mind with the picture of God as my refuge. God as my strength. God as my Good Shepherd. And say, “I will NOT fear.”

4. Keep an eye on eternity. (Ps. 23:4,6, 2 Cor. 4:16-18)
One of the reasons we fear is that we forget that this life is not all there is.  We were created for ETERNITY.

II Corinthians 5:6,8  -We look forward with confidence to our heavenly bodies. And we are not afraid, but are quite content to die, for then we will be at home with the Lord.

Rick Warren:  Death, for Christians, is a transfer, a promotion. It’s on to better things. No more problems. You’re not ready to live until you’re ready to die. You don’t know how to live until you’re ready to die. Only a fool would go all through life, totally unprepared for something that everybody knows is inevitable. You’re going to die - someday. If you have accepted Christ, then you’re going to go to heaven.
You’ll be released from pain, from sorrow, from suffering, from depression, from fear.

"He will wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain. All of that has gone forever." Rev. 21:4

Doesn’t that make you a little homesick for heaven?

II Corinthians 4:16-18 - Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

The next time you feel the fear grip your heart – change your focus to eternity!
Are you ready for the eternal? If you were to die today – do you know what your destiny would be?


*When you’re afraid, sometimes you just need to listen to what God has to say. And keep listening. And read it, and pray it. So – if nothing else has helped – listen now to God’s word to those who fear.

5. Listen to God’s words to you. (Is. 41:9-14, Is. 43:1-3a, Zeph. 3:16-17)
Isaiah 41:9-14 - I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ’You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.  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.  All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish.  Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. 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.  Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you," declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 43:1-3 - But now, this is what the LORD says-- he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

Zephaniah 3:16-17  On that day they will say to Jerusalem, "Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp.
The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

CONCLUSION:                   We have much to fear. Unlike my youthful fears of the dark, there are real threats. But God would not have us be paralyzed or panicked by our fear – but wants to quiet us with His love.

Remember He promises that though you walk through difficult circumstances – they will not overtake You – and He is with you.

When you feel afraid...
1. Cast your cares upon Him.                       2. Take refuge in Him.    3. Replace anxiety with thoughts of God.
4. Keep an eye on eternity. AND                                               5. Listen to God’s word to you.

Bring it all to Him and let Him carry you.

We bring what we have to Him – even our fear.  Sure, we’re embarrassed that we don’t have something better, but bring it on; allow Him to dilute and exchange.  When poison is contacted – flush with water – flush until all gone – keep on running the water!

The phrase is repeated throughout the Christmas story – Fear not!  To Joseph – fear not; to Mary – fear not; to Zechariah – fear not; to the shepherds – fear not.

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