A Climate of Fear

Over the last week we have seen fear run riot across our society. The corona virus, COVID 19, has ruined my potential holiday to Italy, but it has also single handedly plunging Europe, and indeed the world, into a recession.

In my life time I cannot remember hysteria like we have seen in the last few weeks. I’ve lived through 911, and I flew to Europe in September 11th 2001 in defiance of the fear of those around me. Today, in what is a genuine pandemic and global emergency, we have seen unprecedented levels of fear in the media and among governments worldwide.

Major sporting events have been cancelled, with no football in Europe, Asia or America. Concerts and festivals cancelled. In some places like Italy, schools, churches and museums are closed. Fear is everywhere, disrupting and controlling the lives of 7 billion people. But the Bible says,

 

Psalms 27:1 (ESV Strong’s)

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

 

Make no mistake, the world is enslaved right now. A few thousand will die of the corona virus, but billions will suffer financially as a result of the fear and hysteria created around it. So today I want to look at a Christian response to the corona virus pandemic…

 

THE WORLD USES FEAR TO CONTROL

 

Let’s make it clear we are seeing a worldwide tragedy unfolding.

 

Fears about the corona virus have wiped out nearly 4 trillion dollars in the US stock market, with the biggest weekly loss since 2008. Many countries are in total lockdown, and cruise ships are floating Petri dishes. Many are afraid to go out of their homes. Life appears to be grinding to a halt! It controls us. But,

 

2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV Strong’s)

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

 

So let’s exercise a sound mind and look at the facts, so we can shine a light of hope into a world plunging into darkness. In all the mess, the hysteria, the fear mongering, this is our moment to shine!

 

Matthew 5:16 (ESV Strong’s)

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

 

FACTS ABOUT COVID 19

 

Here are some facts you need to know about COVID 19…

 

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a new virus that had not been previously identified in humans. The virus causes respiratory illness (like the flu) with symptoms such as a cough, fever and in more severe cases, pneumonia. In rare cases, particularly among those who are elderly, have compromised immune systems or severe respiratory conditions, it can be fatal. It’s rare, but if you’re the one, it’s bad.

 

Spread of the disease can be limited by washing hands, staying home when sick and avoiding infected people.

 

I understand the role of hand sanitiser in this, but I am still unsure of the role of toilet paper.

 

The corona virus is a mild flu. It’s not the plague, or a flesh eating microbe. Because it is hard to tell how many are actually infected, the ratio of deaths to infections is high, around 3.4%. But epidemiologists agree this is grossly over estimated due to the lack of testing and confirmed cases. They believe it is under 1%.

 

Let’s talk numbers. Around 5,000 people have died of the COVID 19 so far. In the last 12 months it is estimated that 650,000 died of the common flu, for which we have a vaccine. 33 times more died of common flu. The largest pandemic in history was the Spanish flu of 1918, which infected 1/3 of the planet’s population and killed between 20-50 million people worldwide, double what world war 1 killed.

 

But the media, seizing and sensationalising figures like 3.4% death rate have driven this incredible fear within which we now live. While some is healthy, much of it today is destructive.

 

What does fear actually do?

 

1.      FEAR PARALYSES

 

Psalms 143:4 (ESV Strong’s)

Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled.

New Living Translation

I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear.

 

The devil uses fear to paralyses you. Many people are so fearful they cannot act. Agoraphobics cannot go out of the house, clostrophobics have fear of small spaces, , acrophobics are afraid of heights. Pediophobics are afraid of dolls, decidophobics fear making decisions. Omphalophobia is fear of belly buttons, arachi-butero- phobia is being afraid of peanut button sticking to the roof of your mouth, and one we can all relate to is nomophobia, fear of being without mobile phone coverage. A moment’s silence for those on Vodaphone. My favourite fear of phobia is called Hippo-poto-monstro-ses-quippe-dalio-phobia: People who are afraid of Long Words.

 

Fear can paralyse you and control and ruin your life.

 

2.      FEAR CONTROLS

 

People with phobia are controlled by their fear. The enemy wants to control peoples lives, and He uses fear to do it. It stopped me traveling to where I wanted to go, it may stop all travel. It’s stopped sporting and cultural events, and it is controlling how people live. It makes people buy toilet paper.

 

Romans 8:15 (ESV Strong’s)

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

 

People right now are slaves to fear, because it is controlling their behaviour. It does not set you free, it enslaves you. Right now the whole world is being enslaved by fear.

 

3.      FEAR LIMITS POTENTIAL

Fear stunts your progress and growth. If you are fearful, you are afraid to step out and try something, so you miss opportunities to develop.

 

Joshua 1:9 (ESV Strong’s)

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

 

When you live enslaved to it, your potential is limited. When you come to Christ, why should you be afraid, because your life is in His hands?

 

2 Corinthians 5:7 (ESV Strong’s)

for we walk by faith, not by sight.

 

People who let fear control and limit them are walking by sight, but we are called to walk by faith.

 

4.      FEAR CHANGES OUR FOCUS

 

What you’ll notice right now is that people’s focus is completely absorbed by fear.  What is everyone talking about? What is Facebook full of? Being afraid causes us to focus on earthly, immediate, fearful things, not one long term or important stuff. In a year’s time. Will you be afraid to shake hands or walk past toilet paper without buying it?

 

In this fearful climate, this is your opportunity to

 

Colossians 3:2 (ESV Strong’s)

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

 

To focus on loving and caring for people, not on your own preservation. Much of what people are currently focussed on is not fact, it’s sensationalised fear.

 

FEAR ITSELF

 

At the start of his presidency, Franklin D Roosevelt faced the Great Depression. People were starving, unemployed, destitute and without hope. At his inaugural speech he said these words, “We have nothing to fear except fear itself.” I think these words are appropriate for right now, don’t you?

 

Yes, it is powerful as we are currently seeing. It is terrifying, it is destructive but it is not our master, Christ is!  People in this world fear dying, but they also fear living. People fear not having enough money, but they also fear to lose the money they have. They are afraid of the virus, but also are afraid a recession.

 

A few might be infected with COVID 19, but all of us are infected with fear!

 

Peter experienced fear when he stood by the fire while Jesus was being tried.

 

Elijah had a mighty victory against the prophets of Baal at Mt. Carmel, then ran in fear of Jezebel.

 

Fear respects no one! Anyone can fall victim to fear. Even Timothy, with the Christian upbringing in the home, his training at the feet of Paul, and spiritual his gifts, fell victim to fear. Yet through it all God says,

 

Deuteronomy 31:8 (ESV Strong’s)

It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

 

The phrase “fear not” is used more than 80 times in the Bible, because God knows the enemy uses fear to decrease our hope and limit  our victories.

 

So I believe that right now God is calling us to stand without fear in a climate of fear! And as Steven Wright once quipped, “What happens if you get scared half to death twice?”

 

HOW CAN WE OVERCOME FEAR?

 

This world calls sinful behaviour normal, and attacks Christians without mercy. But this same world is now running scared, and I believe we have a unique opportunity to shine into their darkness…

 

Philippians 2:14-15 (ESV Strong’s)

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

 

We can shine and overcome fear when others are victimised by it. How?

 

1.      WE HAVE GOD’S FAITH TO SEE THINGS CLEARLY

 

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV Strong’s)

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

 

Faith sees differently. Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. There was no one there. Without downplaying the seriousness of a pandemic, you do not have to swallow the sensationalised fear mongering that the media is peddling. The eyes of faith can see the long term, eternal and important things. Faith doesn’t lurch from crisis to crisis, it believes for greater things to come, and it offers what the others cannot offer… Hope!

 

2.      WE HAVE GOD’S POWER TO CONFRONT FEAR

 

An experienced paratrooper was asked how many jumps he had to his credit. He responded, “Twenty‑five.” Then, with his head held low he added, “Actually, it was only one jump.” … “I only jumped once, the other twenty-four times I was pushed.”

 

Sometimes God will push us in order to help us overcome our fear. He wants us to know that the power to overcome is present not because we are great or better than anyone else, but because He is present in our lives.

 

Psalms 112:6-8 (ESV Strong’s)

For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.

 

Why be fearful? We can face our fears with His faith and trust God. Others have nothing, others can be consumed by fear, but we can have faith!

 

God is like a father standing in the pool beckoning his child to jump into His arms. The child is reluctant. At last, the child sees the father’s large, strong arms and smiling face, and jumps. There is no way that father is going to let the child drown! That is how God wants us to trust Him in every situation.

 

God willing, Fiona and I are headed back to Fiji, where I did my scuba diving ticket. I’m going to meet the same people again. In my course, on my 4th dive, the locals had failed to clean a valve and it seized up, causing my air to stop when I was 18m underwater. I nearly died. But an hour later I went back to another dive. I chose to confronted my fear, and I will do so again this week.

 

3.      WE HAVE GOD’S LOVE  TO CAST OUT FEAR

 

1 John 4:18-19 (ESV Strong’s)

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.

 

We have love to cast our fear. But this is not our love for God – it is His love for us. You need not fear; He loves you!

 

You see, it is not just God’s strength that causes us to trust Him, it is His love! He loves us and even if we are going through hardships, He is working behind the scenes to bring about a good purpose.

 

Romans 8:28 (ESV Strong’s)

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

 

All things, even the tough ones, even the scary ones! When you truly know the God of all creation loves you, and cares for you, and will never let your foot slip, then you can face anything, any virus, any persecution, any fear!

 

Psalms 121:1-4 (ESV Strong’s)

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?

My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

 

If you can trust Him to save your soul, you ought to be able to trust Him to take care of you. You are His beloved child.

 

4.      WE HAVE GOD’S SOUND MIND TO CONTAIN FEAR

 

Sometimes we know God, we eve trust God but our mind runs riot. As I plunge into the Emerald water and dive lower and lower, my mind imagines death and destruction, sharks coming out of the gloom, all kinds of fears! They’re not real, they are my imagination.

 

A large, old Bible, frequently used by Abraham Lincoln during the critical years of the Civil War, falls open easily to Psalm 34. One page of that Bible has a smudge where the President placed his finger often. It’s this verse…

 

Psalms 34:4 (ESV Strong’s)

I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.

 

We face fear, just like the rest of the world, but let not your mind be troubled.

 

2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV Strong’s)

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

 

Let me finish by examining this verse in the Greek, because we can gain valuable insight into how we should behave right now.

 

God gave us a spirit not of fear. The Greek word for fear used here is not the usual PHOBE, but it is DEILIA, which means timidity or cowardice. It is a call to, when faced with a fearful situation, choose courage over cowardice. To confront, stand firm and defeat the enemy, and not cower back in this climate of fear.

 

But what of the three descriptions of the Spirit we do have?

 

Power. The Greek for power is DYNAMIS, which is strength and power due to an inherent ability. It is used to describe powerful influence by wealthy people, the power of having and army or huge resources behind you and the power to perform miracles. It’s the word from which we get the English DYNAMITE. Explosive power. The power is not of your own doing, but you channel the power.

 

LOVE. The Greek here is AGAPE, unconditional, unrelenting, all triumphing love that knows not limits and no bounds. Perfect love comes from God and casts our fear.

 

Sound mind. In Greek SOPHRONISMOS, meaning self control or control of one’s behaviour and thoughts.  It means being sensible, not foolish, being balanced not alarmist and being Christ centred not crisis centred.

 

IT’S TIME TO STAND

 

When the world is running in fear, we can stand against the fear with power, love and a sound mind.

 

So, we must be sensible. Ease up on handshakes, hugs and missing, but let’s not fall into line and fall victim to the fear tactics of the enemy. The corona virus is big, but my God is bigger, and we can show the world how to live by faith when they are cowering in fear.

 

Now, there is one type of person here in this service, or out in the world, that has a right to be afraid. If you have never trusted Christ, you are one heartbeat from meeting God.

 

Hebrews 9:27 (ESV Strong’s)

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,

 

Without Christ fear has free reign, you are it’s slave and it is your master, but when you come to Jesus, His love and power creates a sound mind that does not live in fear.

 

1 John 4:4 (ESV Strong’s)

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

 

If you don’t know Jesus, I want to give you the chance to come to Him right now and begin to conquer your fears whatever they may be.

 

Sometimes, even when you love God, you need reminding that He is greater, He is in you and He will protect and lead you. Whether you are fearful of the coronavirus, or struggling with fear of loss, loneliness, failure or any other fear, this is for you. Some of you in business look ahead with fear.

 

I have asked God for a special Anointing to conquer fear today. If you are fearful, come and let’s triumph over fear together. Let’s lay our fears aside and trust God completely.

 

So let’s finish with a promise from God, for you and I today as we face the threat of the corona virus…

 

Psalms 91:1-11 (ESV Strong’s)

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High

will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,

my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler

and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his pinions,

and under his wings you will find refuge;

his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

You will not fear the terror of the night,

nor the arrow that flies by day,

nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,

nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,

ten thousand at your right hand,

but it will not come near you.

You will only look with your eyes

and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—

the Most High, who is my refuge—

no evil shall be allowed to befall you,

no plague come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you

to guard you in all your ways.

The Journey of Faith continues… Last week we started our series on faith discovering that, for many people, Journey of Faith is flawed from the outset because they simply don’t ask God for His will.  People decide what they want, pray for it, expect God to do as He’s told, then get mad at Him if He doesn’t perform to our expectations. He gets blamed if what we’ve prayed for doesn’t come true, even if He never promised us that!

 

Clearly your Journey of Faith is more complex than convincing yourself that something will happen. All the faith in the world you can muster won’t work if what you are believing for is wrong. And a tiny, sliver of faith in an omnipotent God according to His perfect will is a sure bet!

 

Last week we learned that true Biblical faith depends not on you, not on circumstances and not even on the outcome, whether it comes true or not, it depends on the object of our faith, God Himself.

 

Today we’re going to assume that you are close to the Lord, and that what you are believing for is His will. Even if your will aligns with His, there are still potentially fatal flaws to your faith, that can tear your faith apart and destroy the blessing God has for you.

 

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

 

So what are the 4 fatal flaws to faith that can destroy your Journey of Faith and rob you of the Lord’s blessing in your life?

 

1.     FRET NOT

 

Psalms 37:1-2

Fret not yourself because of evildoers;

be not envious of wrongdoers!

For they will soon fade like the grass

and wither like the green herb.

 

MESSAGE

Psalms 37:1-2

Don’t bother your head with braggarts

or wish you could succeed like the wicked.

In no time they’ll shrivel like grass clippings

and wilt like cut flowers in the sun.

 

Psalms 37:7-8

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;

fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,

over the man who carries out evil devices!

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!

Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.

 

Fretting is not faith, fretting, or worrying, is a faith killer!  Yet we all do it!

 

 

Worry is wasting today’s time to clutter up tomorrow’s opportunities with yesterday’s troubles. A dense fog that covers a seven-city-block area one hundred feet deep is composed of less than one glass of water divided into sixty thousand million drops.

 

Fretting or worrying is like a rocking horse… it keeps your mind occupied, but you don’t get anywhere! You know it well, I’m sure, you go round and round, you expend loads of energy, you can’t concentrate, you can’t sleep, you wake up all through the night, and you profit… absolutely nothing!

 

There are many things we can fret or worry about. We can worry about whether God will do what we are believing for. Most of us agree that God is able to do everything, but would He withhold something from us for no reason? Does He really want the best for us? If the answer is yes, you forfeit the right to fret! On the Journey of Faith there’s no room for fretting.

 

But one of the things we frequently fret about has no relation to our own situation with God.  When we see evil in the world, we ought to feel a holy anger at sin (Eph. 4:26), but to envy the wicked only leads to fretting, and fretting leads to unrighteousness anger (v. 8).

 

The Hebrew word for fret is HARA, which literally means “to burn, to get heated up.” When we see evil people prospering, when we see the bad guys coming first and good, righteous people suffering, we get angry, we get heated up, especially if we are the aggrieved party. We often even feel jealous  towards evil people we think are successful. We even feel upset when God heals someone else and not us, don’t we?

 

But David starts this Psalm by saying fret not, or “Calm down, be cool, cool it guys!”

 

David says, why bother being envious or fretting about evil men prospering.  His argument is that the wicked are temporary and will one day be gone (see vv. 9, 22, 28, 34, 38). They are like grass that either fades away or is cut down and burned.

 

In Israel, it rains and vegetation is abundant, but it quickly vanishes as soon as the moisture is gone.

 

We do not need to worry about or be jealous of others who seem to be getting away with doing wrong things. Their day in the sun is short; their moment of glory will be gone soon. Why envy that? The life we live is different, because we are called to live by faith, which means we must lead lives of lasting value—faithfully serving our God and helping the people around us.

 

The fretting heart is not a faithful heart. Why waste time, energy and faith worrying about how evil men seem to prosper, or worrying about why you’re not prospering?

 

Dr. G.C. Robinson of John Hopkins Hospital said, “Personal worry is one of the principle causes of physical ailments which send people to hospitals.” He found that out of 174 patients, 140 were worrying patients.

 

So before we get all steamed and fired up (fretful) about how the wicked seem to be prospering, or how we don’t seem to be prospering, remember that faith sees things God’s way, not man’s way. And God’s agenda is to develop character in you, not comfort. Money comes and goes, success comes and goes even health goes up and down, but character is permanent, and lack of character is extremely hard to ever overcome!

 

Matthew 6:31-34

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

 

A Christian who “frets” or is resentful is a poor testimony along their Journey of Faith. By their constant worrying, they are sending out a message: “God is unable to cope with my problems; He’s not big enough or He’s big enough, but my faith is too small. I just can’t trust Him.”

 

So how do you stop fretting on your Journey of Faith?

 

1) Live one day at a time… remember, most of what we worry about never happens.

2) Lift someone else’s burden that day… take your eyes off your own worries, stop fretting about others doing better than you, and care for someone in need. Caring for others takes your eyes off you and your perceived needs.

3) Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths (Prov.3:5,6)… don’t try and understand everything, don’t ask why all the time. Just have faith, trust God and shut up!

4) Delight in the Lord… Read His Word and believe in that, not the fruitless thoughts in your head! The closer you are to God, the less you will worry and fret.

 

 

2.     FEAR NOT

 

Isaiah 41:10

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.

 

Fear is a close relative to fretting or worry. They both paralyse, they both can control your life and place your life in bondage.

 

Recognise that fear is a natural thing, and feeling fear is not wrong or bad. If I walk near a cliff, I fear getting too close to the edge.  That’s protective, and that fear is fine. The other day someone with a Chinese accent called asking me to invest in their company, turning $10,000 into $100,000 in a year. I feared this was a scam, and this is a good, safe fear.

 

Another good fear is Fearing God… the Bible calls this wisdom…

Proverbs 1:7

 

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,

but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

 

Fear is not necessarily wrong. What is wrong is when any fear controls you rather than you controlling it. When it fills your thoughts and controls your actions, it’s controlling you!

 

Many people  today are living in bondage to fear, and this fear controls their lives and destroys any attempt at faith they may make. It might be fear of death, sickness, failure, poverty, loneliness or even something a bit more crazy!

 

Peladophobia: fear of baldness and bald people.

Aerophobia: fear of drafts.

Porphyrophobia: fear of the color purple.

Chaetophobia: fear of hairy people.

Levophobia: fear of objects on the left side of the body.

Graphophobia: fear of writing in public.

Phobophobia: fear of being afraid.

 

Fear is the great enemy of the human race. It inhibits, it reduces us and causes us to live as spiritual midgets. It paralyses us, and makes us do things we would never otherwise do.

 

Fear is also the great enemy of faith. Moody said that some folks went to heaven second class and some go first class. He said the second class people were those who said as David did in Psalm 56:3: “When I am afraid I will trust.” The first class folks say with Isaiah in 12:12: “I will trust and not be afraid.”

 

Fear is the father of cruelty. The rattlesnake strikes, the dog bites and the cat scratches when they are in a panic of fear. The same is true when a man kills. It’s often because of the panic of fear. Fearful people lash out, say things they don’t intend to say, often hurting those they love. Volatile, unpredictable, always pessimistic. They fear the worst.

 

Fear is the devil’s other name. Fear of ridicule by his peers causes the teenager to take up drinking and drugs. Fear causes us to miss opportunities, for ourselves and for God.

 

Fear robs the soul of sunshine. It turns the optimist into a pessimist.

 

To all of this Jesus says,

 

John 14:27

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.

 

If you live in fear of something or someone. If this fear is controlling you, then you need to recognise that fear is the opposite of faith…

 

Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. There was no one there! Do not fear, trust!

 

Fear is a fatal flaw to faith.  You cannot be faith filled if your life is controlled by fear, and “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”  – Jack Canfield

 

I’ve often heard that fear stands for F.E.A.R… False Evidence Appearing Real. At the height of the Great Depression FD Roosevelt put it this way.. We’ve nothing to fear except fear itself.

 

Isaiah 8:12-13

“Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.

 

Overcoming fear is not easy, because it is the most powerful emotion. But you can start by naming your fears and giving each one to the Lord. Pray through them, and have someone stand with you and walk the journey with you. Having a friend share the road is a powerful antidote to the poison of fear. (Revisit the poisons series)

 

The solution is not alcohol, drugs, sex, movies, holidays or any other form of escape. When you come back down to earth, the fear is still there!  The solution is handing it over to Jesus!

 

If fear controls you, you will fall. If faith controls you, you will fly. Give your fear to Jesus, and let go of it. Look up not down, and let your Journey of Faith take off!!

 

3.     FORGET NOT

 

We humans are a forgetful lot, especially when it comes to our Journey of Faith

 

I remember thinking that when John Howard lost the prime ministership. We forgot the financial mess he rescued the country from, and apparently just felt like a change. We traded 10 years of stability and a surplus budget for a $400 billion dollar debt within 12 months, that we are still trying to pay off. We forgot, and paid the price.

 

It has been said that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Ambitious Napoleon was defeated but the Russian winter… so was Hitler. After the holocaust the world said never again… enter Rwanda, Kosovo and Cambodia, just to name a few.

 

Even in our personal lives, we often forget the good family times and remember only the bad. We forget the good times at church when facing a crisis. People leave churches when the dislike something, forgetting all the good things, love and support they’ve had for years!

 

But more importantly, we forget God on our Journey of Faith… This is not new…

 

Jeremiah 2:32

Does a young woman forget her jewellery,

a bride her wedding ornaments?

Yet my people have forgotten me,

days without number.

 

Listen to these verses…

 

Psalms 103:2-5

Praise the Lord, my soul,

and forget not all his benefits—

who forgives all your sins

and heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit

and crowns you with love and compassion,

who satisfies your desires with good things

so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

 

The Bible is full of stories about how God has prevailed for His people. Why read these? Why bother learning these? Because they build our faith.

 

When you face persecution, remember the 3 young men in the furnace. When you face financial lack, remember God leading the people into a land flowing with milk and honey. When you face ill health, remember the blind man or the Leper being healed.

 

And even in your own life, your own Journey of Faith. Has God ever come through for you. Have you ever prayed in desperation and seen God prevail for you.

 

I remember having a tax bill one year of $50,000. I had nothing like that money in the business, so I prayed in desperation. I saved like crazy and managed to save $24,800, and the day before it was due an accountant came in as a patient and when I shared my dilemma with him, he asked to have a look at the bookwork overnight. He did not know what I had saved so far, but the next morning he informed me he could reduce the tax bill… to $24,700.

 

My Journey of Faith is filled with similar incredible miracles. Even this church, the generous giving and provision we have seen to buy this property. We must never forget, right?

 

Whatever we face, when we remember how God has come through for us in the past, our faith is built up. Forgetting is one of the great enemies of your Journey of Faith. Remembering, both Bible stories and our own experiences, is one of the great pillars of your Journey of Faith in God.

 

So with whatever you face right now, can you think of a time when God has proven Himself faithful?

 

Lamentations 3:22-24

 

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,

for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;

therefore I will wait for him.”

 

4.     FAINT NOT

 

 

Galatians 6:9

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

 

Fainting faith is faith that starts well, but fades away and eventually gives up. Winston Churchill in his famous speech at Harrow, his old school, said, “Never give up! Never, never, never give up” and he is still right today.

 

Vince Lombardi said, “Winners never quit and quitters never win.”

 

How many of us have fainted just before the breakthrough? How many of us have believed for something, then given up? How many of us would have given up trying to discover the light globe after 9,900 attempts? Edison didn’t!

 

Young William Wilberforce was discouraged one night in the early 1790s after another defeat in his 10 year battle against the slave trade in England. Tired and frustrated, he opened his Bible and began to leaf through it. A small piece of paper fell out and fluttered to the floor. It was a letter written by John Wesley shortly before his death. Wilberforce read it again:

 

“Unless the divine power has raised you up… I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that (abominable practice of slavery), which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? Oh, be not weary of well-doing. Go on in the name of God, and in the power of His might.”

 

He kept fighting, and fighting, and years later saw the dream come true as slavery was outlawed in the British parliament.

 

 

William Carey labored for 7 years before he led one person to Christ in Burma. Noah Webster labored for 36 years writing his dictionary. Leonardo DaVinci worked on the painting of The Last Supper for 10 years, often so absorbed he forgot to eat for whole days.

 

Spurgeon: “The snail reached the ark by crawling one centimeter at a time.”

 

2 Chronicles 15:7

But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”

 

Some of you right now are facing things and you’re weary, you’re tired, you’ve been struggling on in pain for so long, and you are in the verge of giving up. This message is for you! Don’t let this faith killer have its way in your life.

 

However, remember where we started this discussion? Remember we said not our will, but Yours, Lord. If your faith is for something you’re not sure the Lord promised to you, then you will faint if you keep going.

 

But if God has said it, if He has specifically promised you a breakthrough, a healing, a provision, whatever it is, then faint not. If He has given you a verse, confirmation from Scripture, then you can take that to the bank! Faint not, but keep believing by faith along your Journey of Faith!

 

 

THREE LITTLE WORDS BEAT FOUR FATAL FLAWS ON YOUR JOURNEY OF FAITH…

 

Now is not the time to give up! Now is not the time to fret, it is not the time to be controlled by fear, it is not the time to forget and it certainly is not the hour to faint and give up, regardless of how weary or discouraged you may feel along the Journey of Faith.

 

Matthew 11:28-30

 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 

COME

 

This morning His hand is outstretched to you. Come, bring your burden to Him. Bring your faint hopes, your shattered dreams, bring them all to Him this morning.

 

TAKE

 

Take His hand, take his yoke, one that fits you, one that enables you to serve and go on in faith. Take the encouragement of believers around you. Take the eternal life He offers you. Take His provision, because you can trust Jesus. See Him hanging on a cross for you… laying His life down for you… You can trust the Good Shepherd this morning on your Journey of Faith…

 

LEARN

 

Growing in faith, defeating these fatal flaws of faith is not an instant thing, it is a journey of faith.

 

Obtaining true faith isn’t a once-a-week hobby… it’s not a Sunday pick me up! It is the daily discipline of a lifetime. But in this age of microwave ovens, fast foods, google searches and numerous “made easy” books, many people are out of the habit of daily investing time and energy in digging deep into Scripture and learning wisdom from the Lord.

 

Thanks to television and the internet, our attention span is now less than a goldfish.  Thanks to consumer Christianity and religious entertainment that passes for worship, our spiritual appetite is feeble and spiritual knowledge isn’t “pleasant to [their] soul” (Prov. 2:10 NKJV). It’s no wonder fewer and fewer people “take time to be holy” and more and more people fall prey to the enemies of faith that lurk along the way.

 

Read the Word, and let us stand with you in your Journey of Faith!