PHARISEE FEAR There is no such thing as a private or secret follower of Jesus. According to John, this does not and cannot exist. The person who disguises their faith is the self-proclaimed believer who has an intellectual faith but not one that has taken root in their heart. This group of followers chose to fear the Pharisees instead of following the Savior. John 12:37-50.
When the disciples were caught in the storm at sea, they couldn’t see Jesus, but the good news was that Jesus could see the disciples. When you’re going through a dark struggle, you may look around and ask, “God where are you?” You may not think you can see God, but you can be certain that God sees you and He cares for you.
Galatians is a short book—only six chapters. You can easily read it in a half-hour. But don’t be deceived by its size. A tiny stick of dynamite can blow up a big building. That’s more than a figure of speech; it’s a metaphor for the book itself. Galatians is spiritual dynamite. Learn how to achieve freedom from fear, doubt and guilt through grace.
When Jesus is out on the waves, sitting in the boat represents a lack of faith. Sitting in the boat represents your comfort zone. It’s the status quo. The boat life is dull. It is safe, but it’s sour. But Jesus calls us to think outside the boat. It took a lot of courage for Peter to throw his leg over the boat and place his foot on water. But he never would have experienced the adventure of water walking if he had stayed in the boat. What is your boat today? What is it that limits you from stepping out in faith and trusting God for something so great that if He doesn’t come through, then you’re sunk? Are you willing to throw yourself out of the boat of mediocrity and move toward Jesus?
Some Christians make the mistake of thinking that just because they have the Lord in their life that they will be immune to trouble, tribulation, and problems. Even if Jesus is in your life, you will still encounter storms. There are physical storms, financial storms, emotional storms, and relational storms which can strike you suddenly with no warning. But just because you find yourself in a storm it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love you or is punishing you. Jesus led the disciples into this storm to teach them to trust Him, so don’t be surprised when you face storms.
The Bible never tells us how many possessions Benaiah accumulated; instead we’re told about his mighty exploits, which is another word for his experiences. I can just picture King David sorting through the résumés for a bodyguard. One says, “I majored in security at the University of Jerusalem. Another one says, “I worked for Brinks Armored Chariots.” He laid those aside, and picks up Benaiah’s. “I ripped a spear from an Egyptian giant, and killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day.” David said, “That’s the man with the kind of experience that I’m looking for!” Later he gave him the job of leading his entire army! Have you ever considered that God allows you to go through tough challenges because He is simply building your spiritual résumé? Every lion you go after is preparing you for bigger and better challenges.
The amazing thing about God’s power is He can convert our troubles into joy. When the world does it worst to us, that’s when God can do His best for us! Do you think I’m making this up? Here’s a quick reality check. Joseph in the Old Testament—beaten up by his brothers—trouble. Sold into slavery—double trouble. Spent time in prison for a crime he never committed—triple trouble. Through it all, Joseph kept his focus on God, and he found joy in the midst of his troubles. So that in Genesis 50:20 Joseph said to his brothers, “You intended this to HURT me, but God intended it for GOOD, for the saving of many lives.” Joseph did look at the thorns, he looked at the rose. He never focused on the black clouds, he looked for the silver lining. He never stopped making lemonade with the lemons life game him.
If you let your mind run away, you can start entertaining all kinds of thoughts about bad things that could happen. As you look toward the rest of this year, is there a feeling of fear of what might happen? As you look toward the next couple of years, is there uneasiness in your spirit? That feeling didn’t come from God. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and a sound mind.” God is not the author of fear. The devil is the sinister minister of fear. He knows that if he can keep you in fear, you’ll be ineffective as a Christian.
You may wonder, “How can I face the future without fear? I don’t know what’s going to happen!” Take a moment and write the word “LIFE.” Circle the two middle letters. Life is full of “ifs.” There is so much uncertainty. Pastor, what are we going to do IF there are more attacks on American citizens? What are we going to do IF our economy takes a nosedive? IF, IF, IF. My response is we need to do the same thing we would do IF none of those things happen. We need to completely place our lives in God’s hands. We must keep on trusting God and work on developing an intimate relationship with Him.
For us, Kadesh Barnea is a place where we stand with an opportunity before us. This challenge can only be claimed by faith. At Kadesh Barnea, the Israelites failed to seize the moment and claim God’s promise; as a result they wandered aimlessly for 40 long years. As members of Green Acres, standing before a great opportunity, we must avoid the attitude of fear and unbelief.
When somebody directs us to do something, before we take the first step, most of us want to know all the details. In fact, if Abraham had been like most of us, and God had spoken to us, we would have said, “Now wait a minute. I need to know who you are, God. What’s your name?” Abraham didn’t ask. We would have asked, “Now, Lord, we want to know exactly where it is you are going to take us. What is the name of the land you are leading us to?” Abraham didn’t ask that. Later on, Abraham just kept on moving by faith until he came to this land that was going to one day be Israel.
How do you cope with the experience of a terminally ill loved one? Many of you may have experienced or are currently experiencing pain because someone you love is dying. That’s the kind of pain that’s really hard to deal with but it is the kind of pain that just about every one of us will face during life.