Fear Not

Fear Not
Isaiah 41:10-13
November 29, 2015

For the next 4 weeks we are looking at scriptures which tell us not to fear.  Today is the start and over the next 3 weeks, we will look at scriptures in the birth story of Jesus which tells us “Fear Not!”

I’m not sure about you, but I believe we all have fears.  Some of us don’t want to admit them, we may even be embarrassed by them, but there’s nothing wrong with having fear.  One of my great fears is heights.  I don’t like to be more than 10 feet off the ground.

When we lived in Michigan I was able to help build a home in a Habitat for Humanity blitz.  Now, if you know me, I’m not a real fix it kind of guy either.  So, I would have been happy painting.  But nope!  I had to help construct scaffolding which was 3 stories high.  I’ve never done that before and was clueless, then to make matters worse, we had to get on what we built!

After awhile I was asked if I ever put in windows in a home.  NOPE!  I was told you’ll learn.  I was told to get on the scaffolding and go to the 3rd floor.  No way!  I had to sit on the edge and lean over and caulk the outside frame, then lean back so someone could hand me the window, then I had to hold the window and lean forward again and slap the window in place.  Talk about being scared!

Then I had to climb down!  I couldn’t figure out how to get down.  I walked back and forth, and I’m glad there was not a video of me.  I would have looked pretty dumb.  Finally, I figured it out before they sent a rescue team to get me.

Suffice it to say, I don’t like heights.  We have lots of fears in this life, but one thing we are not to fear is what happens in this life.  It sounds crazy, think about how many phobias there are, yet we still aren’t supposed to fear.

Think about how deranged our world is.  A waitress was killed in Mississippi because she told a man in the restaurant it was no smoking.  So he shot her.  We see what happened at Planned Parenthood in Colorado.  The attacks in Paris and the list goes on about things we fear.

Then we read an amazing passage in Isaiah 41 which should help us.  This is what God told Isaiah ~

10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

11 Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish.

12 You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all.

13 For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”

Verse 10 is one of the great promises of Scripture.  Because of our relationship with God we don’t need to fear anything.  This is not our attempt at positive thinking.  Our hope is not putting away negative thoughts.  Instead our confidence and hope rests in the power of God Almighty!

In verse 10, God tells us 5 reasons we should FEAR NOT!  We’re going to look at all 5 reasons and end with an amazing thought from God!  So . . . prepare to be encouraged!

To start with God said ~ 10 Fear not, for I am with you;

First we should take courage because our God is with us!  That’s great news!!  If we can hold onto this as a fact, not as wishful or as positive thinking . . . .then we should be able to stand firm and remain strong and courageous against evil; and even against temptation.

When we think that God is absent, or doubt whether or not He is with us, when we are anxious and frightened . . . we need to stop, as the Psalmist tells us in Psalm 46:10 — Be still and know that I am God!  We need to do the same, be still and know that God is God and He promises to be with us.  With that in our spirit, heart and mind – we can hold fast and be confident to the fact  God is with us.  If God is with us, if we really believe that, then we can stand on the foundation that we will not be overwhelmed by life.

In order to face our fears, the first thing to remember is that God is with you.  David reminds us in 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.   Those are great words of comfort when we’re going through the difficult times of life.  We don’t fear because we are confident God is with us.

And in Matthew 28:20, after giving the Great Commission, Jesus promised His presence when He said — And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.  When you’re filled with fear, remember this truth and declare it out loud: I will have no fear because He is always with me!

The problem for most of us is that we are not aware of His presence as we stumble through life oblivious to the fact that the Lord is with us and will never leave those who belong to Him.

If you’re filled with fear today it may be because you’re acting like Jesus is not here.  Declare this first truth: I will live without fear because God is with me.

Let’s look at the second part of the formula for overcoming fear.  God said ~

10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;

To be dismayed literally means you have completely lost courage; you are utterly and thoroughly disheartened.

Notice that the key to not being dismayed is to make sure that God is your God.  In 1 Samuel 30:6 we hear this about David ~  6 And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters.  But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

What changed?  David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.  It wasn’t David’s strength, it was God’s strength.  And that’s because David knew the Lord was his God.

Is He your God?  This promise becomes real and active when you personalize your relationship by trusting in Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  Can you say, “He is my God?”

I’m convinced if each of us would see God as big and powerful; as true and trustworthy; as faithful and loving as He really is, most of our fears would go away because when we trust God is with us, we won’t fear other things.

So far we’ve learned —

I will live without fear because God is with me.
I will not be dismayed because He is my God.

These two promises give us confidence to make the next proclamation…

10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you,
We need to learn to lean on God to strengthen us.  As we just saw it can’t be our strength that gets us through the tough times, it needs to be God’s strength and power.  Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:13 –
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

And in his last letter in 2 Timothy 4:17, Paul wrote — The Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.  So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.

How many times are we able to say that we have been strengthened by the Lord.  That strengthening comes when we’ve built up that relationship with the Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit so that when trouble comes our way, we know the way out.

As God strengthens us we also see the 4th reason we should fear not – – – –

10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you

I will trust God to help me.  Because God is always present, He promises His strength and He promises to help us.  After the writer of Hebrews reminds us the Lord will never leave us or forsake us, he then tells us – – – 6 So we can confidently say, The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?

Isn’t it great to say with confidence the Lord is my helper . . . and if He is my helper, I have nothing to fear, because people can do nothing to me.  Jesus reminds us God is our friend and  God will never “unfriend” us when we do something stupid or when we sin or when we’re stressed out but instead He promises to help us.

Finally, the 5th reason is that God – – –

10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

God will uphold me with His righteous right hand. The word “uphold” means to hold up or grasp, to support. The idea is similar to the word undergird which means to make secure underneath.  We are upheld by His “righteous right hand.”  This is His promise.

In Psalm 145:13-14 we read — 13 The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made.  14 The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.   He helps us and He holds us, and again, remember we need to submit to Him, not to the world.

God gives us assurance of His strength, help and support in life and in death.  We need to realize who God is, His attributes and His great desire to help us.

The Lord will never leave those who belong to Him.  Because God is with us, we should have no fear. God reveals His presence in the midst of our circumstances.

Here is the cool ending I told you about.  Let’s jump to verse 13 and see what God tells us — 13 For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”

I want you to note the parallelisms with verse 10.

Look at these 2 verses side by side.

Both tell us FEAR NOT.
Both tell us God is our God.
Both tell us God will hold us up.
Both refer to the right hand.

What’s cool to me is that verse 10 speaks of God’s right hand upholding us – and verse 13 says God will hold our right hand.

Taken together, these two verses present a powerful picture of a parent and a child. The Father’s mighty right hand can defeat any enemy, but in his left hand HE is holding His child’s right hand.

I picture God holding us as we face Him, just as a parent would comfort their child, God looks at us, and we look at Him and we see His love and power and we experience His comfort.

That’s cool!

So . . . FEAR NOT —

• God is with you
• He is your God
• He will strengthen you
• He will help you
• He will uphold you

Pastor John Piper restates these promises using five different prepositions…

• I am your God – over you.
• I am with you – by your side.
• I will strengthen you – from inside of you.
• I will help you – all around you.
• I will uphold you – from underneath you.

Friends — —
God is over you, by you, inside you, around you, and underneath you.

So, if God is for us, who can be against us?

Nobody!!  So . . . FEAR NOT!

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