What are you afraid of? Fear is a healthy emotion, but if it gets out of control it can cause a lot of harm. What does the Bible say about fear?

ROBERT >> What is it that you’re most afraid of? Is it speaking in public? Is it snakes or darkness? I know some folks that are afraid to go to the mailbox. There are those that are afraid of the toxins in our food, in our water, in our air. Some are afraid of what might happen in the future. We have all kinds of fears. But how does fear affect our lives? Does it serve any good purpose? How can we deal with these fears in our hearts?

SINGING>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.

ROBERT >> Fear can really become a problem to us as it grows in our hearts and it comes to paralyze it, it rules and it dominates our lives. I remember when I lived in Houston years ago and the weathermen were telling us that a hurricane was coming up through Galveston into the city of Houston, and so we all prepared for the coming of those strong winds and floods. That night when I went to sleep, I prayed to the Lord that he would keep us safe, watch over us. But it wasn’t long, I was in a deep sleep, and then all of a sudden a crashing noise woke me up. And I sat straight up in the bed paralyzed, couldn’t move because of fear. Finally got myself out of the bed and went to the front of the house, and it wasn’t a hurricane at all. Somebody had thrown some fruit through the front window and broken our windows. I found out the next morning that the hurricane had turned up the coast and never did come on into Houston. But I want you to see there for just a moment I was paralyzed. But some live in fear. And so we see how that fear can truly be a debilitating problem for us.

Before we go on with this, let me ask, does fear ever serve any good purpose?

Isn’t it important that we have this emotion of fear to warn us of dangers like crossing the street when the cars are coming? It’s fear that keeps us from getting into trouble so often. But how can we deal with our fears and keep them in control and use them for the good that God has given it? Let’s turn to Matthew 8:23-27, where we learn something from Jesus about fear.

Matthew 8:23-27. “Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. And then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, Lord, save us! We are perishing! But He said to them, Why are you fearful, O you of little faith? And then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And so the men marveled, saying, Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

Now you notice in this passage according to verse 23 that the disciples were following Christ. They were following Jesus, and yet they fell into fear. We also notice from this passage that he was with them. They were in the boat together. They were in the boat with Jesus, and yet still they found themselves in a storm. Notice what happened when the storm came up on the sea. The disciples tried to wake Jesus up. Lord, save us, they said. We are perishing. I think this is important because it helps us to understand to whom we need to go when we become afraid.

They went to Christ for their rescue. They went to Christ for their help, to relieve their fears. And indeed Christ was able to calm the storm. And as a result, their faith in him was increased. You see, Jesus rebuked them on this occasion because of their little faith.

Why are you fearful, you of little faith? It was a lack of faith that caused them to be afraid. And so faith in Christ is the answer to our fears. Let’s notice how the Bible addresses this in many places so that we might develop that kind of faith that can truly answer our fears, that can overcome those fears and help us to continue to grow in our faith that we might not be so afraid and let fear paralyze and dominate our lives.

I want you to go first of all with me to Joshua chapter 1. Moses had led God’s people through the wilderness towards the promised land, but Moses now had died, and Joshua would take the leadership. Joshua needed encouragement because he was about to cross over the Jordan River into the land of Canaan, full of enemies of God’s people. He would face many challenges, so he needed to know that he didn’t have to be afraid.

Joshua 1:5, we have these words, “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.”

God wanted Joshua to know that he was not alone, that he would be with him just as he was with Moses in the past. And so he wants to encourage Joshua’s faith.

Notice how he goes on in verse 6. “Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.”

I think it’s interesting here that God wanted Joshua to know that he would be successful. As long as we have faith, we can be strong and courageous, knowing that God will accomplish his purposes in our life.

God went on to speak to Joshua in verse 7, “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

You notice here that the success of Joshua depended upon his faithfulness to God. He needed to be obedient to God’s word. So many times we are afraid because we’re really not following God’s word, because we’ve stepped out on our own and we’ve become lost, we’ve lost our way. And so it’s important for us to recognize the importance of learning and knowing God’s word, of believing it, of keeping it in our life.

And then we have this final word in verse 9, “Have I not commanded you, be strong and of good courage, do not be afraid nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Let’s remember as long as we have our faith in God and we are following his commandments, he is there beside us, he will not leave us, he will not forsake us, and so we do not have to be afraid because God is greater than any of our fears, whatever fears we might have to face.

Let’s look at this further in Psalm 23. Psalm 23 has brought great comfort to many hearts through the years, especially verse 4 and verse 5. You remember in this passage that the Lord is pictured as a shepherd who watches over his sheep to protect them and to keep them. This is the promise that we have as Christians. Jesus said, I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep, John 10:11. But here’s how the psalmist related this protection from the Lord and how it took care of his fears.

Psalm 23:4-5, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

What a beautiful passage. It helps us to know that even when we go down into the valley of the shadow of death, into very dangerous and difficult places, that the Lord is there to watch over us as a good shepherd. You’ll notice the psalmist here tells us in verse 4, you’re with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me. It’s God’s presence that can bring comfort to our hearts in the midst of our fears. We can trust that he will be there to take us through the valley, to take us through those difficult times. Not only that, but on the other side of the valley, in fact, even in the midst of our difficulties, our stresses, all the enemies that may surround us, God is able to provide for us great blessing. That’s what verse 5 is about, the picture of him preparing a table in the presence of our enemies, feasting there in the midst of our difficulties and trials and sufferings. He said that my head is anointed with oil. This is a way of showing favor and blessing. And my cup runs over, again another picture of the blessings that God is able to give us in the midst of our difficult situations and circumstances.

Even in those times when we might be afraid, we can know that God will bless us. In fact, he says, Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. You see, God has promised us blessing in this life in the midst of our fears; but not only that, in the life to come. Knowing that we’re going to have to pass through death itself and face death itself, we don’t have to be afraid because we have a promise of forever. You’ll notice he says, I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. It’s that forever promise that calms our fears even in the face of death.

Look with me in Psalm 27, another psalm of David. “ The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear. Though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident. One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me. He shall set me high upon a rock.”

What words of encouragement. David the psalmist was not afraid. Even though he might be surrounded by enemies, he knew that the Lord was with him, the Lord was able to deliver him, and the Lord could bless him beyond his imagination now and forever.

In Psalm 34:4 we have these encouraging words: “I sought the Lord, and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears.”

He delivered me from all my fears. Again you see there is nothing that we might face in this life, there’s no challenge, there’s no stress, there’s no difficulty or trial that’s bigger than our God. I love Psalm 46 where the Bible tells us that there is a place we can go for safety, for security, for help; and to that place we must always run when our hearts begin to be filled with fear.

Psalm 46 says that place is God. It’s not a place. It’s a person. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried in the midst of the sea, though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. It doesn’t matter how terrible the situation might be, God is our refuge. We are safe in him. He’s right there when trouble comes our way. He goes on to say in verse 4, “There is a river whose stream shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.”

You see, God is able to bring blessing to his people and to those who take refuge in him, no matter what else is happening. God is in the midst of her; he shall not be moved. God shall help her just at the break of dawn. The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered his voice, and the earth melted. The Lord of Hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge. You see, just as God protected Israel of old, he is there to protect his people today. We can trust in him.

And so the psalmist says in verse 10, ‘Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.”

No, we don’t have to tremble, we don’t have to be afraid. We can take heart to know that God is in control, that he is above and over all. Another passage that ought to help us in our fears, Psalm 56. By the way, let me encourage you to read the Psalms often when you find your heart being vexed by the stresses, the distresses of this life, because throughout the Psalms we find great words of encouragement like we’re reading together this morning.

Psalm 56 is another one of those passages. “Be merciful to me, O God, for man would swallow me up; fighting all day he oppresses me. My enemies would hound me all day, for there are many who fight against me, O Most High. Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do unto me?”

Did you hear those words?

Whenever I am afraid, I’ll trust in you. We need to know that whatever our fear, there is one that we can trust who is greater than those fears.

One other Psalm, Psalm 112:7. Here the Bible says, “He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”

One of my favorite passages comes from Isaiah 41:10. It’s a passage that has been so meaningful to me and my family, especially in difficult times. And I’ve shared it with many before, and it always seems to bring comfort and encouragement. Isaiah says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

You see, Isaiah tells us there’s no need for us to fear, because God is with us. He is there, Isaiah says, to strengthen us. When we’re weak, we don’t see how we can do it on our own, we need the help from others, God says I’m there to strengthen you. I will help you. And even in those times when we can’t seem to do it at all, when we’re ready to give up, and when it seems that our heart has completely been destroyed, he says, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. We can lean upon the power of God in the midst of our fears. You might remember when Jesus was about to go to the cross and he was gathered with his disciples in John chapter 14. He knew that the days ahead were going to be difficult for them to see their Messiah, their savior, their deliverer put to death, they wouldn’t understand it. And after he was raised and they came to believe on him and to preach him, he knew they would be persecuted and it would be difficult times for them. And so he left them with these words, John 14:1, “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you; and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”

No matter what might come our way, we don’t have to be afraid, because, you see, Jesus has prepared a place for us. Jesus went to the cross, he paid the penalty for our sins, he suffered and died so that we could be forgiven. And he was raised the third day, raised up to give us the hope and the assurance of eternal life, to show that he has power over Satan, over sin, over death. And so in the midst of our fears, let us remember that God is able to forgive us, to save us, and to give us a home eternal with him. He’s coming back someday to take us home.

In John 14:27 the Bible says, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Yes, the peace of Jesus Christ is not like that of this world; but the peace that Jesus gives is in the midst of suffering and difficulty and trial and persecution and fear. Jesus promises to bring peace to our hearts, a real peace, a true peace, an everlasting peace that’s based upon the reality that there is a God in heaven who is in control of everything, a God who loves us, who cares for us, a God who has promised to be with his people; and we can trust him to deliver us out of everything.

I love what Paul said in Romans 8:15 about this spirit of faith. Here he describes the children of God. He said, “You did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, Abba, Father.”

We have a father in heaven who loves us. If I was ever afraid, I could always run to dad, and he would protect me. He would be there for me. But all of us have a greater father, a heavenly one who we can always go to and know that he will provide for us. Hear these words from Hebrews 13. They’re based upon passages in the Old Testament like we read especially there in Joshua chapter 1. But it tells us that there’s no reason for us to ever be afraid because of our God.

Hebrews 13:5, at the end of that verse, “For He Himself has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you, so that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

You see, it really doesn’t matter, because God is greater; and because God has promised to be with us, he’s not going to leave us, he’s not going to forsake us.

Are you a child of God?

Have you trusted in Jesus Christ to save you, to deliver you, being baptized into him, giving your life to him, walking with him?

Do you continue to trust him today so that he might remove every fear from your heart and give you the assurance of eternal life only made possible through our Lord and savior Jesus Christ?

Please, let us know here at The Truth In Love how we can help you towards heaven today.

SINGING>> There is beyond the azure blue
a God concealed from human sight.
He tinted skies with heavenly hue
and framed the worlds with his great might.
There is a God,
he is alive,
in him we live,
and we survive.
From dust our God created man,
he is our God,
the great I am.
Our God whose son upon a tree
a life was willing there to give,
that he from sin might set man free
and ever more with him could live.
There is a God,
he is alive,
in him we live,
and we survive.
From dust our God created man,
he is our God,
the great I am.

SINGING>> Years I spent in vanity and pride,
caring not my Lord was crucified,
knowing not it was for me he died on Calvary.
Mercy there was great and grace was free.
Pardon there was multiplied to me.
There my burdened soul found liberty, at Calvary.
Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan.
Oh, the grace that brought it down to man.
Oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary.
Mercy there was great,
and grace was free.
Pardon there was multiplied to me.
There my burdened soul found liberty, at Calvary.

ROBERT >> I want to thank you so much for watching our program today. If you have any questions, comments, or requests, if you’d like a personal home Bible study or special prayers, if you’d like more information about today’s lesson or any other lesson, on CD, DVD, or in manuscript form, let me encourage you to write The Truth In Love at P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas 76053.

You may e-mail us at requests@ttil.tv.

Or call our toll-free number, 800-819-2966.

And also, please visit our web site at ttil.tv.

Remember, all our materials and services are absolutely free of charge. We just want to do what we can to help us all towards heaven. So let us know how we can help you, and please join us next time right here on The Truth In Love.

SINGING>> Unto the hills around do I lift up my longing eyes.
Oh, whence for me shall my salvation come, from whence arise?
From God the Lord doth come my certain aid,
from God the Lord whom heaven and earth hath made.
From every evil shall he keep thy soul,
from every sin.
Jehovah shall preserve thy going out,thy coming in.
Above thee watching, he whom we adore shall keep thee henceforth,
yea for evermore.

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