Sermon Notes • April 19

Fear and God

To put it mildly, the last month plus has been a difficult time not only for America but for most of the world. The nightly news begins with the latest death toll from the virus and that is followed by the reports on unemployment and losses in the stock market. To date over 2 million individuals have been infected by it worldwide. Pundits tell us we will get through it, but it could take several years to fully recover and that is going to happen only if we don’t get a second cycle. As far as stocks and unemployment are concerned, many have made a comparison to the great depression.

If I were going to try and pick a single word that would characterize our current world it would have to be fear. The Coronavirus has caused many to live in fear. So, what does the Bible say about fear?

I punched into my Bible Concordance a variety of terms such as “do not fear.” “do not be afraid.” and “fear not.” I got close to 90 hits. In addition to the “do not fear” passages, there are 22 passages that read. “fear the Lord” and 11 passages that read “fear of God.”  Those numbers would certainly indicate that fear is a subject on which the Bible has a lot to say.

In thinking about fear we need to note some things. We all know that fear by itself is not necessarily wrong. In fact, fear is one of those God given reactions to certain situations that is designed to protect us. We probably all know of people who seemingly fear nothing, and we worry about their safety. We pray they will develop a healthy understanding of danger and learn to fear what should be feared. 

We also know there is a difference between fear and a genuine or realistic concern. For example, reality dictates that we should be concerned with the financial resources that God have given us. Reality says we should be concerned about our health and should practice habits that promote health, including these days staying home and wearing masks when we must go out. The danger is that a genuine concern becomes an unnecessary fear that limits our ability to live as God would have us live. Corrie Ten Boom wrote, “Worry doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it empties today of its strength.”

When we are tempted to fear we need to remember several things. First, God is always with us. Second, because we are God’s children, we are of infinite value to Him. Third, God knows our every need before we are even aware of it. Finally, God has invited, in fact He has commanded us to cast our concerns upon Him.

First, we do not need to be afraid because God has promised to always be with us. Read Isaiah 41:10; Joshua 1:9; Deuteronomy 3:18; Hebrews 13:5 and Isaiah 49:15-16. 

When we are tempted to worry, we need to remember that God loves us as His children and has engraved our names on the palm of His hand. We are never out of His sight or love. Because we are God’s children, He has promised He will never leave us. That does not exempt us from storms but assures us that He has taken it upon Himself to ensure that nothing befalls us that He has not determined is ultimately for our good and His glory. 

Second, we are valuable to God. We are so valuable to God that He sent His Son to die on a Cross for us. We are His children and He values us accordingly. Read Matthew 10:29-31.  

We protect the things that are most valuable to us. I don’t know anyone who locks their trash in a safe but that is where we put our valuables. If a fire were to break out at our house what would we be sure was out of the house first? Our family, of course. I have often heard on TV someone who has lost all their worldly possessions praise God that their family is safe. Transfer that truth to God. We are His valued possessions. He is going to protect us even as we protect our family. We are valued by Him.

Third, God knows our every need before we are even aware of it. Not only does He know our needs, He has promised to meet them. Read Philippians 4:6. Paul then went on in that same chapter, in verse 19 to write, “My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Make a note that God has promised to meet our needs from “the riches of his glory.” In other words, God will meet our needs from His inexhaustible storehouse. There are no empty shelves in His storehouse and no signs that tell us there is a limit to how much He will supply. 

Read what Jesus said in Matthew 6:26 and then read Matthew 6:31-33, 

This is not a blank check that guarantees we will not have a shortage of things we might like to have. It is certainly not a promise that we will not come down with the virus or even die from it. It is a promise that we will have what we really need as determined by His love for each of us. It is His commitment to ensure that what comes our way is ultimately for our growth and His glory. We belong to God and are valued by Him so He will not withhold from us that which we truly need.

Finally, God has told us to take our worries and give them to Him. Read what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30.  Peter gave us what I call the Reader’s Digest version, found in I Peter 5:7. Read that verse. That is an invitation we should always remember, an invitation that is a command if we fail to willingly see it as a possibility.

Are you concerned about this pandemic? All of us rightfully are. It is impacting us beyond what any of us could have imagined 6 months ago. We should be concerned, concerned enough to take realistic precautions. We should be concerned enough to consider once again what really matters in our life. We should be concerned enough to pray for one another, for our EMS and health care workers. Be realistically concerned but do not let that concern turn into worry that robs you of the peace God would give you today. Psalm 34:4 reads, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” 

Why will God deliver us from our fears? Because God is always with us. Because we are His children and we are of infinite value to Him. Because God knows our every need before we are even aware of it. God has invited us to cast our concerns upon Him. 

Concerned, yes. Worried, no. Hey, your name is written on the palm of His hand.