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Sermon 5/2/10
Psalm 46:1-2 - He Is Greater Than Our Fear

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He Is Greater Than Our Fear

 

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea” (Psalm 46:1-2)

 

This sermon continues our look into the character, the nature of God.  We’ve seen His holiness, omniscience, truthfulness, goodness, forgiveness, grace, omnipresence, and more.  He is patient, He listens, and gives us truth.  Most people have fear inside themselves.  It may be the artificial fear of watching a frightening movie or the actual terror of a personal attack.

 

One of the most difficult feats in life is overcoming actual or imagined fears and in trying to do so, many have failed.  When I was a young man in college attempting to launch out into life, a roommate told me that he liked to walk around in his parent’s darkened garage and let the damp laundry hanging from the rafters brush against him.  He thought that doing something that made him afraid would heal his fear.  Others climb mountains or attempt feats that are terrifying in an attempt to prove they are not really afraid.  What we often do not see is that the apparent results of such efforts tend to be merely external and not real at all.  The fear still exists, but we like to think we have conquered it, though it is only hidden deep inside, even from ourselves.

 

Today’s Scripture is from a wonderful Psalm known to many.  It was a song of Israel, though the music has been lost to the modern world, but it contains the words that have touched many people: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).  The musical score of that and other Psalms will be heard in eternity, by the way, for even though we forget, God remembers and will give back to us more than we know that will bring us joy that will never end.

 

As mentioned previously, my wife and I share devotional readings from four different publications each day.  A few days ago, as I was reading one of them out loud, it occurred to me that if we were still able to share such things at all, our appreciation of them would be very different if we lived lives of extreme stress.  What if we were Jews, I thought, living in Nazi Germany during the 1930’s?  What if we lived in the Sudan, or Rwanda, or other such places during the times of terror that have come to so many in this world?

 

Our devotionals for that particular morning included a cat that had difficulty adjusting to a new home, our need for wisdom in relation to unmet needs and desires, opportunities to be honest with others, and avoiding excess productivity.  All of the articles were accompanied by helpful Scripture verses, but what if our lives were turned upside down because suddenly we are staring death right in the face?  Would we still be reading those articles?

 

If we were in great danger, we would be terrified about what might happen next, which is what tends to happen when cancer or some other monster enters our lives.  If suffering and death are imminent it fills us with fear.  And that’s why it’s important to note that God is greater than our fear.  He is more capable than anything or anyone that can attack us, and He is the One who will bring us through.  Though we often do not understand, we are safe in Him.

 

Frankly, I LIKE the devotions my wife and I share and we have no intention of stopping them.  Accompanied by prayers as they are, they have greatly benefitted our lives, but when disaster comes, the memory of encouraging thoughts may not be enough.  We need to abandon ourselves utterly to the Lord, to His Word and trust in His Holy Spirit, for only God can get us through.  If He chooses to let us remain in this world for a long time, He will be with us.

 

There is a somewhat older song that many have heard.  It had a country twang to it and it contained the words, “… I never promised you a rose garden…”  God has not promised that we will have lives of ease, prosperity, health and contentment.  3 John 2 quotes John the Apostle and it has been cited by those who want life to be easy for them. It says, “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”  But John also said in another place, “… if we ask anything according to HIS WILL, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests we have asked of Him” (1 John 5:14-15).  His will is greater and more important than an easy life.

 

John’s words in 3 John 2 were a prayer that life would go well for his readers.  For some of those he addressed, it may have happened that way, but for others, life was not easy at all, just like it is today.  Paul addressed a truth about prayer and the will of God in Philippians 4:6-7.  He said, “Do not be anxious about anything, 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 in Christ Jesus.”  The promise of God is that His peace will be there for you and me. He may say “No,” or “Yes” or “wait,” but we will know the peace of God.

 

John Chapter 14 contains many promises which Jesus gave shortly before He was to die a terrible death: He has a place in heaven for us… He will come again... He is the “way, the truth and the life” for us… We will be enabled to do “works” like He did… When we pray, He will answer and He gives us the Holy Spirit to teach us… Then He told about the “peace” of God.  He said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

 

Note that Jesus’ disciples were often terrified as they tried to reach outside their limitations and follow the Lord: “When the disciples saw (Jesus) walking on the water, they were terrified and said, ‘It is a ghost!’ and they cried out in fear.” Jesus replied with the words He is also speaking to the rest of us: “Take heart, it is I. Do not be afraid.”  Peter then gathered up every ounce of faith that was in him, and asked that he might go to Jesus.  He took a step or two on the water, but then “he was afraid” and began to sink (Matthew 14:26-30).

 

I’ve been interested in the accounts of the times when thousands gathered together to hear Jesus and there was not enough food for them.  He tended to stay late and teach because “He had compassion on them.”  They got hungry just like everybody else, and the response of the disciples is interesting when compared to the motivation of Jesus: Their solution was to “send them away.”  Get rid of the problem.  But Jesus deeply cared and I enjoy His words at that moment.  He said to His disciples, “YOU give them something to eat.”  They were shocked and frightened by this command of the Lord that they were to do something utterly beyond their abilities.  But then Jesus fed the people just like He will feed you (Mark 6:30 & forward).

 

Are you afraid?  Are you EVER afraid?  Probably, like the rest of us, you have fear from time to time.  Our computer-genius person, Sandy, who is fighting the great battle, showed us a bookmark this week which contained the legend, “What Cancer Cannot Do.”  And it continued: “Cancer is so limited… It cannot cripple love, it cannot shatter hope, it cannot corrode faith, it cannot destroy peace, it cannot kill friendship, it cannot suppress memories, it cannot silence courage, it cannot invade the soul, it cannot steal eternal life, it cannot conquer the Spirit.”

 

Note again that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea” (Psalm 46:1-2).  God will allow events that are completely beyond our ability to deal with them.  But He is “our refuge and strength.”  It may seem that the solid ground of life has been “removed” and the “mountains” of our health, our money, loved ones and more have been “carried into the midst of the sea.”  But He is with us and He calls out, “It is I. Do not be afraid.”

 

Dear God, thank You for being our refuge and strength.  We trust in You and give You our fear. Thank You for Your strong, capable love.  We praise Your Holy Name.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

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"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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