Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fear or Faith?


I’ve heard it said that 90% of all people are motivated by fear. Only 10% of the world is motivated by reward. We see this in the stock market as only the ones who are motivated by gain take risks and win. Fear for ourselves, our church, our family, etc is constantly being injected into our minds by the world. We are taught to be afraid of all kinds of things.

I’m afraid of alligators. I know, but it’s a very rational fear. My wife is afraid of Black Holes! Take a moment and tell your neighbor one of your fears. Now that you know their fear, exploit it first chance you get! Just joking…

Open your Bibles to Mark 5:21-43. This is where Jesus encounters the women with the issue of blood. Jairus is walking with Jesus on the way to Jairus’s house when someone met him from his home with a bad report. Let’s look at this story in the Bible where one man had a choice to be afraid or believe in faith. Turn to Mark 5:21–43.

21 Now when Jesus had crossed over again by boat to the other side, a great multitude gathered to Him; and He was by the sea. 22 And behold, one of the rulers of the synagogue came, Jairus by name. And when he saw Him, he fell at His feet 23 and begged Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter lies at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, that she may be healed, and she will live.” 24 So Jesus went with him, and a great multitude followed Him and thronged Him. 25 Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. 28 For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.”

29 Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?” 31 But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” 32 And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. 33 But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.” 35 While He was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” 37 And He permitted no one to follow Him except Peter, James, and John the brother of James. 38 Then He came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly. 39 When He came in, He said to them, “Why make this commotion and weep? The child is not dead, but sleeping.” 40 And they ridiculed Him. But when He had put them all outside, He took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with Him, and entered where the child was lying. 41 Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi,” which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement. 43 But He commanded them strictly that no one should know it, and said that something should be given her to eat.

So, what we are seeing here is what all too often happens in our lives. We are on the road with Jesus going to solve our problem, when someone we know tells us there is nothing more that can be done and that we need to just get over it. This is where we have a choice to make. Which voice are we going to listen to? Jesus is saying, “Don’t be afraid; only believe”.

What does the Bible say about being afraid? I’m glad you asked; here are just a few verses on the subject:

Psalms 27: 1 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?

Hebrews 13:6 So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Genesis 26:24a And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you…”

We could go on all day with scriptures on fear. If we are going have all that God wants for us, our families, our jobs, our church we have to learn to listen to the right voices in life. Let’s look at another scripture.

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

The word “world” here means the current age. The world we live in today is all about fear. We’ve learned to be afraid that our children will be abducted, that our jobs will be lost, that our country will lose what makes it great. And all of that is currently going on, but that isn’t what God is telling the church or you this morning.

I have a question that I ask people sometimes when I am trying to disciple them. “What is God telling you?” After letting that question hang in their minds for a few seconds, I further the question by dividing it into 3 parts; What is God saying to you, the church, and the world? Often times as Christians, we only listen to what God is telling the world and not what He is saying to the church or ourselves.

God is telling the world to be afraid. Danger and destruction are coming. He is motivating people to turn to Him.

God is telling the church to rise up and be an anchor for unbelievers. Get ready for the harvest.

God is telling you “don’t be afraid, only believe."

Looking back into the Old Testament, we read about Lot. For the sake of time you don’t have to turn there in your Bibles, I will just paraphrase. The Bible tells us that Lot was a righteous man, however living in such sin, in his “world,” vexed his soul and changed him.

We, as Christians, have to be on guard in the age that we live in. The movies we watch, the conversations we have, the places we go affect us more than we know. We have to be careful with our children, not because we are afraid, but because we want them to grow and mature having a personal relationship with their Father in heaven and knowledge of His word.

That’s where Lot messed up. He was a righteous man, and living in that sin changed him and the way he saw his family, but it really changed his daughters, who after living in a cave with old dad, they decided to get him drunk and sleep with him. This doesn’t sound like a righteous act.

When we listen to the wrong voice, we make the wrong choice.

What are you hearing this morning? The sky is falling? All the jobs are gone? Be afraid for your kids? You see, God is not telling you these things. That’s what the world is hearing and repeating to you.

Jairus had a choice to make: listen to the message about his little girl’s death, or continue to believe what Jesus was telling him. He could have just given up and gone home to mourn with the others, but Jesus was encouraging him not to be afraid, but only believe.

Friends, Jesus is encouraging you this morning to not be afraid, only believe. We cannot be conformed to this world as it says in Romans. That is what the world is all about: fear. God has not given you a spirit of fear, but love, power, and a sound mind.

If we are going to be men and women of faith, we cannot conform to this world, as we are not of this world. How are we going to do it? Again, let’s read Romans 12:2, this time in the New Living Translation: Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

If we are to “not conform” to this world, we will have to change the way we think.

If he was going to receive a miracle for his daughter, Jairus had to do just that. Fear could have stopped the miracle. It would have only taken a second for his mind to be filled with thoughts of fear, and he would have doubted Jesus’ ability to heal his daughter. But, he believed Jesus, obeyed him, and received his miracle.

Eleven months ago, I woke up to the sound of a pop in my head as I was rolling over. I had never heard this before in my life. Within seconds, I shot straight up in bed with a horrible pain where my head and neck come together. Let me tell you church, I was scared. Everything in that moment pointed to an aneurysm, based on all of my medical experience. I tried my best to fight through the pain, but the pain was nothing compared to the fear. I thought, “I don’t want to leave my family this way.” I forced myself to think on every word God had given me while at the same time trying to stay conscious. I was in a fight of the mind. I couldn’t let my thoughts win. I kept praying and believing in faith that this would not be my last breath. I was locked up. My body was covered in sweat, I couldn’t see. Everything pointed to the end, but I wouldn’t let go of the word God had given me. After what seemed to be a really long time, I realized I could move. The fear was gone; replaced by my faith. In retrospect, I think I must have had my neck pop out of place somehow. It’s still a little stiff, but God has given me victory over it.

We need to have victory in our situations, before we can have victory over our situations.

What we think and what we say will absolutely affect our victory in and over the things that come against us. We must not conform to the world’s behaviors and customs. The Word says that we do not wrestle with flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

How many of us would say that we struggle with fear? I know that I do from time to time. Here are two ways we can combat fear when it tries to consume our thoughts.

1. Our testimony – God’s Word tells us that we overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. Remembering what God has done for you in the past will give you faith for your moment. I always think of it like this. If God didn’t spare his only son for me while I was a sinner, then what wouldn’t He give me as a child of His.

2. The Word of God – the Word of God is a powerful two-edged sword. It will cut through anything that tries to come and rob you of victory. God’s Word tells us to fear not, for it is His good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

You see, the opposite of fear is faith. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Faith believes that God is in control and He will work all things for the good of those who are called according to His purpose. You will never be able to lead what you are afraid to lose. What are you afraid to lose?

Jairus could have been afraid of losing the respect of his family and friends by bringing Jesus to the house after his daughter had died. How would the story have played out if Jairus would have conformed to his world and began mocking Jesus when He said she was only sleeping?

What is Jesus telling you about your situation? What is everyone else saying? Whose report will you believe about your health, your finances, your marriage, your children, and your job? What is God telling you about those areas? If you listen to the wrong voice, you will make the wrong choice.

Jesus was in the middle of healing the woman with the issue of blood, when Jairus gets the news of his daughters’ death. The messenger furthers the pain by telling Jairus not to bother Jesus anymore, as if to say Jesus can’t fix this problem. This is where Jesus commands Jairus not to be afraid, but only to believe. What a struggle to be in. On the one hand he is confronted with the reality of his little girl’s death, but at the same time is told to believe that it is not a big deal and Jesus will fix it in a moment. It will take more than faith; it will take patience as well.

James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

In this day and age we want everything and we want it now, but that is not always how God works. In fact God is, often times, waiting on us to change our hearts. I’ve heard it said this way. God is seldom early, but He is never late.

If we are going to not be conformed to this world, we are going to have to

1. Stop listening to the world

2. Believe what God has spoken

3. Have patience

You know my neck doesn’t hurt anymore. In fact it hasn’t given me any trouble since God healed me. I don’t need to listen to what the world is saying I need to listen to what Jesus is saying and then wait on Him. Stop, believe, and have patience. Let us pray.