The Reality Series part 2
Fear Factor
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
March 12, 2006

 

Main Passage: Isaiah 43:1-7 (NLT)

 

It’s time for my world famous Fear Test. In your notes this morning, you will see a list of fears, or phobias, and I want you to go through them on your own and see if you can identify what fear each one is. Now, I have given this test once before (three years ago). So for those of you who have the answers tucked away in your sermon binders, no cheating. Instead, let this be a test of your memory. There’s a list of ten fears, plus one bonus fear. Most of them are pretty tough, but hopefully you’ll be able to figure out three or four. Take a couple minutes and see what you can do.

Botanophobia - Fear of plants
Ailurophobia - Fear of Cats
Apiphobia - Fear of bees
Pyrophobia - Fear of fire
Pupaphobia - Fear of Puppets
Triskaidekaphobia - Fear of the number 13
Xenophobia - Fear of strangers
Chionophobia - Fear of snow
Blennophobia - Fear of slime
Chronomentrophobia - Fear of clocks (Chronophobia - Fear of time)

Bonus:
Arachibutyrophobia - Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth

Okay, let’s go through them one at a time…

How’d you do? Were you able to get two or three? Anyone get five of them? Anyone get more than that? Did anyone qualify for the bonus?

Most of these fears or phobias are pretty obscure. But the truth is, we all face a variety of fears every day. Some big, some small, but all very real. Some of our fears deal with things we have to do, some of them are about things that may be done to us, some of our fears are things we’ll have to endure… just the plain old circumstances of life. Like when we find ourselves in the middle of some dark valley of the soul, our world is in turmoil, and we’re overwhelmed with a fear about what may happen to us or the people we love.

Well, if you find yourself in a valley like that, then you should know that God has a message for you. And that message can be summed up with two words: “Fear Not.” Take a look at this…

VIDEO: Burqa_LRG[1].mpg-3 from ChurchMediaLink (2:10)

The message is simple: “Fear Not.” Fear does not have to be a factor for you. One of those times we’re told to “Fear Not” is found in Isaiah 43… the passage that Lynn read for us earlier. Actually, in the New Living Translation it says, “Do not be afraid.” And then it goes on to tell us why we don’t need to be afraid of these storms, and valleys, and times of oppression and heartache that we go through.

So this morning, let me just highlight for you four reasons why God is able to say to us… “Fear not. Do not be afraid.” You can use your notes to follow along and fill in the blanks. And we’re going to move fairly quickly this morning, so listen fast.

 

Reasons You Can Say Goodbye to Fear:

1. God is with you.

When you’re smack-dab in the middle of the toughest thing you’ve ever had to deal with, isn’t it good to know that the Creator of the Universe… this God of Wonders we sang about earlier… is right there with you and He’s on your side? As a child of God, you are never alone. If you have invited Him into your life, He has promised that He will never leave you. Never. He will not abandon you when the going gets tough. How do I know that? Because He promised it in Isaiah 43…

Isaiah 43:2a,5 (NLT)
“When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you… Do not be afraid, for I am with you.”

You know, that’s the same message that we hear in the 23rd Psalm. It’s probably the best known chapter in the entire Bible, and I think it’s so popular because it gives us hope and peace in the midst of the storm. Here, I want to show you something in this Psalm. And I think this is incredible. Look at this… It starts out…

Psalm 23:1-3 (NLT)
The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honour to his name.

Okay, so everything’s going well, and David writes “He lets me rest… He leads me… He renews my strength… He guides me….” But look at what happens next:

Psalm 23:4-6 (NLT)
Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.

You notice the difference? As soon as David started talking about valleys, all the pronouns changed from third person to second person. The “He”s have become “You”s. “His” has become “Your”. Why? Because it’s in the valleys that we come face to face with God. He doesn’t sit back and watch us go through the valleys alone; He’s right there with us. We are never as intimate with God as when we’re going through a valley. God is with you.

And He is there for you now. He loves you and He’s on your side. And nothing could ever change that. The Apostle Paul really drove that home when he asked…

Romans 8:35, 37-39 (NLT)
Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? … No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can't, and life can't. The angels can't, and the demons can't. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can't keep God's love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God is with you, and will never leave you. A second reason you don’t have to be afraid is that…

 

2. God views you as His treasure.

Did you realize that? The One in whom everything finds its origin treasures you.

Isaiah 43:1,4 (NLT)
But now, O Israel, the LORD who created you says: “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine… You are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.”

David in the Old Testament understood how much God cared for him. He knew that God treasured him. So he wrote these words of praise to God…

Psalm 139:14, 17-18 (NLT)
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable! I can't even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up in the morning, you are still with me!

God treasures you. He values you. He knows everything there is to know about you, and He loves you. He cares for you so much that He gave His Son for you.

1 Corinthians 7:23 (NLT)
God purchased you at a high price.

And that price was the death of His Son. And when you realize how much God treasures you, you realize that there’s no reason to fear. He’s not going to let anything destroy you. Oh, you will face the storms. You will go through the valleys. There will be times when the future is uncertain and the past comes back to haunt you.

But even in those difficult times, you can experience a peace and a confidence because you know that God is ultimately guiding your steps and you can trust Him. He may use bad times to build character and endurance and faith in your life, but He will not let you fall. He treasures you far too much for that to happen. Read this with me…

Nahum 1:7 (NIV)
The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him…

1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.

He cares for you because He treasures you. And because He treasures you…

 

3. God promises to protect and sustain you.

Did you read in the newspaper this week about the woman who thought she ordered a $300 iPod on eBay? She bid on the auction, won it, received the package in the mail… but when she opened it, all it was, was an empty box! She contacted the seller, and he claimed that all the auction was for was the box… she must not have read the fine print!

But you know, when God promises something, you don’t have to worry about Him sending you an empty box. He always keeps His promises. And listen to this promise…

Isaiah 43:2b (NLT)
“When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”

So whatever you’re facing right now, cling to that promise. Whether you’re facing a health crisis, a relational crisis, a professional crisis, a financial crisis, a family crisis… whatever… remember that He is there for you.

Psalm 46:1-3,7 (NLT)
God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear, even if earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! …
The LORD Almighty is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.

Underline “refuge”, “strength” and “fortress”. That’s what He is for you when you need Him to be. But you know what? This is only true for you if you accept what He offers. If you try to make it on your own and ignore the strength and protection He offers, then you’re not going to make it. You can’t sustain yourself… only He can sustain you. Read this with me…

Psalm 55:22 (NIV)
Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.

 

4. God will reward you in eternity.

To the Israelites who were going through a time of fear and oppression, he said…

Isaiah 43:5-7 (NLT)
“I will gather you and your children from east and west and from north and south. I will bring my sons and daughters back to Israel from the distant corners of the earth. All who claim me as their God will come, for I have made them for my glory.”

That was His promise to the Israelites. And to all believers today, He tells us in the New Testament…

1 Peter 1:6 (NLT)
So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while.

This “wonderful joy ahead” that Peter wrote about is Heaven. There are no problems in Heaven, no valleys, no dark days. And all of us who have entered into a personal relationship with Jesus have that to look forward to. As Rick Warren explains…

“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.”
~ Rick Warren

You know, the Bible talks about fearing God. When it says that, it’s talking about having a respect for Him. It means you stand in awe of Him. It means you honour Him above all else. And the amazing thing is, when you fear God, all your other fears fade away.

“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.”
~ Oswald Chambers
Citation: Reprinted in "Wisdom in a Time of War," Christianity Today (1-07-02), p. 47

 

Okay, we’ve been talking in a lot of abstract terms so far… God loves you, He cares for you, you don’t have to worry, blah, blah, blah. But what difference does God really make when you’re going through a storm? Earlier in our Worship Celebration, Kim and Chris committed to bringing Hannah up in the Church and teaching her the Word of God and raising her with the hope that someday she will choose for herself to follow Jesus. But as many of you know, the journey to this point in Hannah’s life has not been an easy one. There have been some storms. There have been some dark valleys. There has been fear and worry and anxiety and helplessness. And this morning, for the next little while, I just want you to put your notes and your pens away and listen as Kim comes and shares about some of the things they’ve gone through in the past three-four months.

 

KIM LEE TESTIMONY

 

We all have times of trial… circumstances of life that cause us worry and anxiety and stress and fear. What are yours? Are you trying to deal with them on your own? By now, you should know you don’t have to. We’re going to try something a bit different here this morning. If you have something you’re facing, and you’d like some prayer for it, I want you to stand up. I’m not going to ask you to announce what it is… that’s up to you if you want to do that. But just stand where you are.

 

 

 

 

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