Today on Fellowship in the Word, Pastor Bill Gebhardt challenges you to become a fully functioning follower of Jesus Christ. Some of us get just paralyzed by this kind of fear. Fear is a common, common emotion. But fear is also a contradiction of your faith.
It's a contradiction. Thank you for joining us today on this edition of Fellowship in the Word with Pastor Bill Gebhardt. Fellowship in the Word is the radio ministry of Fellowship Bible Church located in Metairie, Louisiana.
Let's join Pastor Bill Gebhardt now as once again he shows us how God's word meets our world. After the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, FDR, the president of the United States, gave a memorable speech. And one of the lines from that speech was that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. I don't think Americans ever really bought into that.
I don't think they did in World War II and I don't think they have since World War II. Psychologists have categorized 645 types of fear that we humans experience. The top three, by the way, are number one, fear of death, number two, fear of loneliness, number three, fear of failure. I mean, we have astrophobia, which is the fear of thunder and lightning, numerophobia, which is the fear of numbers. When they get bigger, it gets scary. Euophobia, fear of animals. And now, for people in our sound booth, computerphobia. The point is that fear is a universal human condition.
It goes from a passing thought to paralyzing your life. I mean, a lot of times we even try to hide our fears. Sort of like this, I hear people say this and maybe you say it, I hate spiders. You don't even know a spider. You've never known a spider. You don't hate spiders. Come on, be honest.
You're afraid of spiders. I mean, that's just the way you are as people. We do everything we can to hide it. Fear is almost always, by the way, the root of anxiety and worry and issues that preoccupy us like that. But you know, for believers in Jesus Christ, I think that FDR's words are correct.
He's right. We have nothing to fear but fear itself. I want you to open your Bibles to Genesis chapter 3. Genesis chapter 3.
Right after the fall. In verse 8, Moses writes that they, Adam and Eve, they heard a sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. And the man and his wife, they hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. And then the Lord God called to the man and he said to him, where are you? And he said, I heard the sound of you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked so I hid myself. There it is.
That's where it shows up. Fear. Really the first consequence along with shame of sin. Man's afraid and he stays afraid.
In fact, fear is such a common emotion. It's everywhere in the Bible. Just a couple examples in Genesis, this survey. Look at Genesis 15. God is talking to Abram. And Abram is the recipient of the Abrahamic Covenant. And in 15, 1, Moses writes this. He said, after these things, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision saying, do not fear. I am a shield to you.
Your reward shall be very great. He's fearful. About what? No offspring. He's afraid and God says, do not fear. Look at chapter 21. And as the story continued and Isaac was born and Ishmael was getting put out. In verse 17 of Genesis 21, God heard the lad crying and the angel of God called to Hagar, his mother from heaven, and said to her, what is the matter with you Hagar? Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the lad and where he is. Do not fear.
She was fearful about the life of her son. All the way through the book of Genesis, you find fear. In Exodus, it's the same way. In Exodus 14, Israel was fearing they're going to get massacred. And God says, do not fear.
And it happens in a lot of different ways and a lot of different aspects of life. Turn to 1 Chronicles chapter 28. And here is David and Solomon. David wanted to build the temple of God and God told him Solomon would build it. And after some great insight in 28, 9, David says, as for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord searches all hearts and understands every intent of the thought. If you seek him, he will let you find him.
But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. And then in verse 20, then David said to his son Solomon, be strong and courageous. He says, enact. Do not fear or be dismayed. For the Lord, he says, God, my God is with you.
Again, we have this idea. Solomon, don't be afraid. Don't be afraid.
God is with you. Whether you'll build this temple or not, do not fear this. In Jeremiah 1, God tells Jeremiah, Jeremiah, don't fear the people. By the way, he had good reason to as time went on. But he said, do not fear the people.
I am with you. You see this over and over again in perhaps the most famous passage in the Old Testament with regard to fear. You can turn to Psalm 23. And in this great Psalm, in verse 4, David says, Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible was full of the concept fear. The word fear is used over 440 times in the Bible. Afraid 167 times.
Other synonyms like tremble, terrified, over 220 times. It is a theme all the way through the Bible. From the fall on, what you find with humankind is they are afraid. They have fear. And it's instinctive. Have you ever sat down and said, you know, I think I have to plan this out. I think I want to feel fear.
And so I'm going to make a plan so that I'll feel fearful. Is that the way it works? No, it's intuitive. It's instinctive. We feel fear.
It is everywhere in the word of God. And it's interesting when you think about fear. Regret and guilt pretty much is a preoccupation with the past in a negative way. Fear is a preoccupation with the future in a very negative and destructive way. Fear always focuses on the future.
The fear of loss or the fear of pain that is yet to be future. That's why we're afraid. We're afraid of losing people.
And we know that's a reality of life. We don't want to lose loved ones and grandparents and then parents and then spouses. Sometimes we're afraid of losing our spouses through divorce. We're afraid of losing our children. Losing them to death is a terrible fear. But just losing them as they grow up to reject you is a fear that we have as human beings. We're afraid of losing possessions. We're fearful.
Do we have enough? What if I lose what I have? We focus also not just on loss but on pain. We're afraid of potential future pain.
We learn that very young, don't we? Do you remember ever asking your mom or dad this? Is this going to hurt?
Is this going to hurt? By the way, children naturally anticipate when they're young that it's going to, don't they? I mean, even when you try to convince them, this is not going to hurt.
Inevitably, it seems to to them. And boy, the potential of future failure. We have a lot of fear of that. It's not only the loss of not gaining what it is we thought we would achieve if we were successful, but I think also we're afraid of what will other people think of us when we fail. And for some of us, it's rooted in the way we were raised.
What will my mom and dad think if I'm a failure? And when some of us get just paralyzed by this kind of fear, fear is a common, common emotion. But fear is also a contradiction of your faith.
It's a contradiction. Turn now to John chapter 14, the Gospel of John chapter 14. Jesus in the upper room trying to reassure his disciples. In both our men's and women's studies, we have just finished the book of John.
We started in September and we've just completed the book. And boy, if there's one thing you can say about the disciples, boy, they are fearful, they are afraid, and they have been afraid. But here we sort of see it crescendo. The night before the crucifixion, it is crescendo to them.
They are in terror and they are fearful. And Jesus says to them in verse 27 of John 14, he says this, Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Notice he says, not as the world gives do I give to you. He said, do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. Don't be afraid. You see, don't be afraid.
He says that to them and he says that to us. Don't be afraid. I'll give you my peace. You see, I'll give you my peace, not peace of the world. Peace of the world, by the way, as I've said in the past, there's just peaceful circumstances. Boy, when you have peaceful circumstances, you have peace. We all do.
Everybody does. Jesus said, no, my peace isn't like that. I give that to you. Paul wrote to Timothy and he said this to Timothy. He said, God gave us a spirit not to fear, but a spirit of power, love, a spirit not to fear. You see, we live in a fallen world.
There's a lot of things in that condition that aren't pleasant. But God says, look, there's a remedy for that. Fear is common to man. But the wonderful thing is fear has an antidote. God has decided that fear has an antidote.
And the antidote to fear are the promises of God. That's his way of handling it. Now, that's not the way we would like it handled, I'm sure. I think I would like him to eradicate any negative consequences in my life, that have everything work out exactly the way I'd like them to.
By the way, that's not usually a good idea either. I've had things work out in my life the way I liked it, and it didn't turn out well anyway. But the point is, is that we wouldn't have done it this way, I don't think, but God did. The antidote to fear are the promises of God. And God is a promiser by nature.
I mean, right after that fall, God makes a promise. He makes a promise that there's a solution. And that's in Genesis 3 when he promises of the seed of the woman.
He said, he will be the solution to what has just happened here. In Genesis 9, God promised Noah that the world will never be judged again by a great flood. He said, you can count on that. In Genesis 12, he promised Abraham. He said, Abraham, your descendants are going to be innumerable.
I want you to know that. It's my promise to you. In Exodus 6, he promised Israel that they would be delivered, that they would be delivered from their slavery. There are messianic promises all through the Old Testament. There's the Davidic Covenant that the Messiah himself will come through the house of David.
Jesus, when he began his ministry, began to make promises. I will die. I'll be buried. I'll rise again from the dead. And he continued that promise and the apostles wrote of the promise in the epistles. And obviously comes the culmination in the book of Revelation, the John, that I'm coming back. Promise after promise, God by nature is a promiser. The antidote to fear in your life are my promises.
And some of them are very personal. Turn to the book of Hebrews, chapter 13. And by the way, he attaches this promise to one of the fears that you and I live with as good, red-blooded Americans.
If you're an American in this century, or the last, or probably the one before that, boy, this is right up front for you. Notice in verse 5, the writer of Hebrews says, Make sure that your character is free from the love of money. I'm okay with that. He said, okay, let me give you a little test. Being content with what you have. Now are you okay? You see, the issue is, now are you okay?
Being content with what you have. Then notice what he does. He said, for he himself has said, I will never leave you, nor will I ever forsake you.
Isn't that interesting in context? You would have thought this was a life and death situation where he would have made that promise. That's the kind of thing we all want to hear when we're in the intensive care unit. But he says, oh, by the way, when you're fearful about your money, and you're not content with what you have, I just want to promise you something. I'll never leave you nor forsake you.
You see, that becomes the heart of almost all these promises. Fear not, for I am with you. Fear not, I'm right here. Fear not. But here he says, I will never leave you nor forsake you. And so no matter what lies in the future, David was right. You know, if I go through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.
Why? Because you are with me. You see, that's the great promise of God that I will be right there with you. He promises Joshua in Joshua 1 that as you go in and conquer the promised land, don't you fear, be fearful. I'll go before you.
I'll be right there. David, in a low spot of his life, had written, how can he not be there? He said, where can I go to get away from God? He said, I can't go anywhere.
I can't go to the grave. I can't go anywhere that he's not there. Jeremiah 23, Jeremiah said, can a man hide himself from God?
He said, I'll always be with you. There's more to the promise, though. Notice verse 6.
So that we confidently say, the Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What will man do to me? He not only promises to be with us, but he promises to help us.
He says, I'll be there. The Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid.
What would man do to me? Paul said it differently. If God is force, who could be against us? You see, what about this idea of fear? There's no easy way to deal with life.
I can tell you this is a fact. Without the promises of God, life is scary. It is.
It's wounded. It's hard. Boy, pain and suffering is just part of the human experience. You can't escape it.
It's everywhere in the world. And without these promises, it would be terrifying. And a lot of our phobias and fears would be justified. But with these promises, everything is different. Listen as I read a familiar passage to you. Paul says to us to be anxious for nothing, but in everything with prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And then he says, and the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
And then he says this attached to it. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, are the promises of God true? He says, whatever is honorable, are the promises of God honorable? Whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
Dwell on what? The promises of God. And then he says this, the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Practice these things. And the God of peace will be with you.
Notice that condition. I have to dwell on the promises of God. I have to look at someone like the apostle Paul as my example to follow. And then the peace of God will be with me. Simply because there are the promises of God doesn't mean you're going to have peace.
You've got to dwell on these things. See, on the one hand, you might say, well, isn't God with everybody anyway? In one way, yes, but not in the way of alleviating fear and giving you peace. Turn to Psalm 138, for example. Psalm 138.
Just a few examples. In Psalm 138, verse 6, David writes this. For though the Lord is exalted, yet he regards the lowly.
One of the great paradoxes. Though the Lord is exalted, he regards the lowly, but the haughty, the proudful, he knows from afar. He knows from afar. If you're a proudful, he's not close.
That's what he's saying. In fact, in Isaiah chapter 1, he tells them, if you are rebellious, he says, I will hide my eyes from you. David said in Psalm 66 that if I regard iniquity in my heart, he will not hear me. Now, we know he hears, but he's saying he will not hear me.
My prayer life will hit the ceiling. And so if I'm proudful or rebellious, or one who harbors and enjoys the sin in my life, don't expect this to help you at all. Fear might be a constant companion. But for us who dwell, as Paul said, on the good promises of God, we have nothing to fear but fear itself.
The last passage I want to look at to me is the best passage of all, and that is in Deuteronomy chapter 31, because it's a verse worth memorizing, especially if you're prone to fear. By the way, just make yourself go back into time and be an Israelite that lived in slavery. And remember, you're a slave. Your father was a slave. Your grandfather was a slave. Your great-grandfather was a slave.
Your great-great-grandfather was a slave, back about 400 years. And then all of a sudden, this guy Moses shows up, and a lot of really crazy stuff starts happening, amazing things. Now, you can imagine, they're afraid of a lot of things. They're afraid of the Egyptians. I couldn't even imagine what they thought of the angel of death.
I couldn't even imagine what that would have been like. And then they try to get out, and then Pharaoh's heart is hardened, and then he's after them. And so God tries to reassure them. And in verse 3, Moses, by the way, is showing you where this occurred at the end. He said to them, I am 120 years old today. Happy birthday, Moses. He said, I'm no longer able to come and go, and the Lord has said to me, you shall not cross into the Jordan.
I'm not going. He said, it is the Lord your God who will cross ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you. And he says, and you shall dispossess them.
Joshua is the one who will cross ahead of you just as the Lord has spoken. What is that? That's a promise. Next verse.
The Lord, he says, will do to them just as he did to Shairon and Og and the kings of the Amorites to the end of their land when he destroyed them. What is that? That's a promise. He says, the Lord will deliver them up before you, and you shall do to them according to all the commandments which I have commanded you.
What is that? It's a promise. And then he says this, be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. Or tremble at them.
Why? For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He gives them the promises.
There are three things that he asked them to do. Be strong. Be courageous.
And don't fear. Because, he says, you have to understand, I will be with you, I will not fail, and I will not forsake you. You see, the antidote of fear is the promises of God. Without the promises of God the world is a scary, scary place. But as a believer in Jesus Christ, you have a relationship with God. You are the recipient of the promises of God.
And you have nothing to fear, but fear itself. At that website you will find not only today's broadcast, but also many of our previous audio programs as well. At Fellowship in the Word, we are thankful for those who financially support our ministry and make this broadcast possible. We ask all of our listeners to prayerfully consider how you might help this radio ministry continue its broadcast on this radio station by supporting us monthly or with just a one-time gift. Support for our ministry can be sent to Fellowship in the Word, 4600 Clearview Parkway, Metairie, Louisiana 7006. If you would be interested in hearing today's message in its original format, that is as a sermon that Pastor Bill delivered during a Sunday morning service at Fellowship Bible Church, then you should visit our website, fbcnola.org. That's F-B-C-N-O-L-A dot O-R-G. At our website you will find hundreds of Pastor Bill's sermons. You can browse through our sermon archives to find the sermon series you are looking for, or you can search by title. Once you find the message you are looking for, you can listen online, or if you prefer, you can download the sermon and listen at your own convenience. And remember, you can do all of this absolutely free of charge. Once again, our website is fbcnola.org. For Pastor Bill Gebhardt, I'm Jason Gebhardt, thanking you for listening to Fellowship in the Word. ...
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