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“So Do Not Fear…” (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
January 29, 2024 3:00 am

“So Do Not Fear…” (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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January 29, 2024 3:00 am

Sometimes, despite fervent prayers, God doesn’t change our difficult circumstances. Does that mean He’s ignoring our prayers? How should we respond? Learn the biblical antidote to fear and anxiety when you study along with Alistair Begg on Truth For Life.



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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at tfl.org thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!





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Sometimes, in spite of vervent prayers, God does not change our difficult circumstances. So does that mean he's ignoring our prayers?

How should we respond? Alistair Begg provides answers for us today on Truth for Life as he teaches from the book of Isaiah. He's titled today's message, So Do Not Fear.

What a sorry picture of the pitiable plight of our culture! He says they need a voice from outside, but the voice that I have sent from outside they will not listen to. They need a power beyond themselves, but the power that I have provided they will not acknowledge their need of. I am amazed at the privilege of having my eyes opened to the truth of God's Word. This is no time for those who have begun to understand the Bible and God's grace in all of its wonder and of its truth to be silent. It is a day of good news, and we dare not hold our peace, because our friends and our neighbors around us are living in this chaos.

They are without God and without hope in the world. And some of you may be here this morning, and you're saying, What right is he to say that of me? My dear friend, it is the Bible that describes you, and your experience confirms it. Unless there has come to your life this great distinction that is there in verse 8, whereby we are described as the children of Abraham. Oh, he says, Israel, my servant Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham, my friend. I want to tell my Jewish friends that. I want the opportunity to tell them, Listen, I'm one of Abraham's boys. They say, No, you can't possibly be. Yes, I say, I have it on the strongest authority. Yes, I am. I am a child of Abraham.

I want you to know that. Galatians chapter 3, consider Abraham. He believed God, verse 6. It was credited to him as righteousness. Okay, verse 7, understand then that those who believe are children of Abraham. Those who believe are the children of Abraham. The thing about being Abraham's child was not the mark of circumcision.

It was the circumcision of the human heart. That's why the prophet Jeremiah says, I'm going to come, and I'm going to create in you a new heart and a clean heart. But he is not speaking to the mere formalist here in verse 8. He is speaking about the wonder of his divine choice.

But you, oh, Israel, my servant, whom I have chosen. And on what was the basis of the love? Because he found them attractive?

No. Because he loved them. You say, I don't understand that. I only know somehow or another to love in response to that which I see to be attractive.

I have no ability to simply and purely initiate love in and of myself. That's correct. We love because he first loved us. Now, I want to say to you this morning, dear friend, that if you are in Christ, these are the things that you need to anchor around you in your days. As you face the chaos and the confusion, as you bump into the idols, and as you trip over them, and frankly, as we are tempted to go chasing down after them or to erect them in our own homes or to try, as the Jewish people did of old, and that is, have a little paganism and a little worship of God, and somehow to keep the Asherah pole and yet our family altar.

Here's what's true of you. I have chosen you, he says. Look at these wonderful verbs in verse 9. I took you from the ends of the earth. I took you from the ends of the earth. Abraham, in our of the Chaldees, here, come here. Jacob in Egypt, Jacob, we're leaving. Corrie ten Boom in Holland, Corrie, I love you.

Jim Elliott in the Midwest, Jim, Elizabeth, Mary, Kevin, Tom, Alice, I called you. Is this not amazing? Amazing love, how can it be that thou, my God, would die for me when I'm tempted to think that my existence has somehow or another to do with what I am or what I've achieved or where I've been or where I'm going or how much I've made or haven't made or any of the rest of it?

These are irrelevancies. Here is the great truth. O my servant whom I have chosen, I took you from the ends of the earth. I spoke with a young lady in between the services here this morning and in the course of the conversation.

She previously, with her husband, was here when he was a surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic. And she said, you know, the amazing thing, she said to Sue and I, the amazing thing is this, that both this man and I came to this place unbelieving and unknowing of Christ or of one another. And God, as it were, called to us from the ends of the earth, and he called us to himself, and he called us together. God does that.

My life is not haphazard. In all the chaos that I create, still he says, I took you, I called you, I said of you, you're my servant. I've chosen you, and I have not rejected you. My belief, my involvement in God, my being laid hold of is not as a result of my wishful thinking or well-founded human opinion. No, he says, I have chosen you, and I have not rejected you.

Oh, there's the great line, is it not? I have chosen you, and I have not rejected you. You know the old line, have you ever considered divorce? No, I've never considered divorce, but I have considered murder. Because the longer you live your life, you look at one another and you say, you know, it is a wonderful thing that we have chosen one another, and it is an equal wonder that we have not rejected one another.

Why? Because we give to one another the grounds for such rejection, do we not? By our selfishness and by our pride, by our ugliness and by our disappointing behavior. And many a spouse has had to take all of that before the throne of God and say, No, I have chosen him, and I have not, and I will not reject him. And in doing so has ate the very character of God.

Have you not given God grounds to reject you? If somehow or another his covenant was a trivial thing, that one day you could be in and the next day you could be out, which of us would be in for more than twenty-four hours at a shot? Not many of us. We'd be bouncing in and bouncing out.

We'd be all over the place. But here's the wonder. I took you. I called you. I said of you.

I have chosen you. And then, and only then, do you come to the tenth verse. We say, The sermon's just starting?

No. But I can do that if you want. But the fact is, only now do you come to the first, because now the so makes sense. So do not fear. You see, this is the antidote to fear and anxiety. It's not a little mantra that you say to yourself, So do not fear and do not be dismayed. Stuff like that.

That's paganism. I am afraid. I am fearful. I am dismayed. I am discouraged. I am frustrated. I am anxious.

I don't know what to do. I called you. I chose you. I love you.

I have not rejected you. Yeah, that's true. Now let me give that to you again. And then again he comes to reinforce it, and again to reinforce it, to give substance to the exhortation. There's always grace before obedience.

It's always grace before experience. These sermons that simply go, So don't be afraid. So don't worry. So don't. So don't. So do. So do. So do. And it calls to obedience, calls to experience. How in the world do you ever do this stuff? So always grace, then obedience.

So always grace, and then application. Because I have said all these things to you, he says, and I don't want you going around worrying. I know you worry. I don't want you going around dismayed.

I know you are dismayed. But I want you to focus on this. I am with you, and I am your God. I am the God whose truth does not change. The grass withers, the flowers fall, the Word of God stands forever. I am the God whose purposes don't change. Ephesians 1 11, he is working everything out according to the purpose of his will. I am the God whose Son does not change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, Hebrews 13 8, and so on. And I, this unchanging God, am the one who is with you.

I'm with you. I know people make fun of some of these old songs, and sometimes I do myself, but there is a great truth in the lyric, I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses, and the voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses, and he walks with me, and he talks with me, and he tells me that I am his own. Do you know that experience? Oh, I don't mean that you hear voices in your head—most of them you ought not to listen to, ninety-nine percent of them.

But I mean, do you have that sense of the Spirit of God bringing a Word of God home to you and saying, You know what? That is for you. Do you know what, loved one? That is true of you.

Do you know what? That's what I've been saying to you. I know that you're going through it. I know that you feel yourself to be impoverished. I know sometimes that you can't go on, but I am with you, and I told you I love you, I chose you, and I haven't rejected you.

I'm here with you. Three times my children have gone under anesthetic, and on two of the three occasions, I have gone into the operating room to hold their hands while they went under. The fact is, I needed Sue to hold my hand while I held their hand, but that's a different discussion. But it meant something to them to know that I just held them by their hands. And as they drifted off into semi-consciousness, they did so in the awareness that although somehow or another, as they went into this darkening tunnel, they knew that their Father was with them. Now, the promise that he gives of divine help, he just heaps three phrases on each other.

Let me mention them, and I'm through. He says, I don't want you to fear, because I'm with you. I don't want you to be dismayed, for I am your God.

And we've seen the confidence that is found in contrast to the chaos that's around. He says, I will strengthen you. I will strengthen you. Verse 29 of the previous chapter, he gives strength to the weary. He increases the power of the weak. That's why tough guys seldom know much of God. People who are very confident in their own abilities, confident in what they've done, what they've achieved, what they've built, what they've made, what they've earned—it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for such individuals to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Why? Because before you discover God's power and strength and all of its fullness, you're brought face to face with your own total, abject poverty and weakness. When Paul faced up to this in 2 Corinthians 12, he tells quite honestly that he had some predicament that he asked the Lord to free him up from.

He'd asked him on three separate occasions, and three times he'd heard as a no, no for an answer. And that's hard, and we go through things in our lives, and we find that, again, the answer comes back, and it is one that we do not want, and it crushes us, and it reduces us, and it breaks us. And God says to us, as he said to Paul, … my grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Paul then does the logic on it, and he says, Okay, given that, I will therefore glory in my weakness, for when I am at my weakest, God is at his strongest. You're spending all your life trying to be strong. You've got to be strong for this person, you've got to be strong for that person, I've got to hold it together for this one and hold it together for that one, and I'm sure I can do this.

Listen, loved ones, you cannot do it. But if you will acknowledge just how desperately weak you are, you will be amazed at the power of God unleashed within your life. It is the power that is able in the verses that follow in a dramatic mixture of metaphors to transform a worm into a threshing sledge. Look at verse 14, Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel. What's a worm? I'm a worm. You said, You're a child of Abraham. Yes, I am, but I'm a worm.

You said, You're part of the creation of God. Yes, I am, but I'm a worm. In the scheme of things, I'm a worm, inferior to the task, aware of weakness. You see the worm down there in the grass, and the lawnmower's coming?

What can a worm do? That's right. So what does it need? It needs a pair of eyes that can see its extremity, and a pair of knees that will stoop to its predicament, and a hand that will pick it up out of its potential disaster. That's the God I serve—with eyes that see me, with knees that stoop to me, and with a hand that reaches up to strengthen me. Some of us this morning are physically and emotionally and spiritually totally drained.

Well, then, allow the Spirit of God to minister this truth to your soul. God comes with his strength for our feebleness. I will strengthen you. I will help you.

I'll certainly help you, he says. Got any rivers you think are uncrossable? You got any mountains you can't tunnel through? You got a new task awaiting you, and you're afraid?

Have you got a predicament that just bugs you, that rides on your shoulder all your days, that the challenges don't dissipate, that the difficulties are continual? Listen. Not only is God able to pick up the worm and make it useful, but he is able to plant pines in the wasteland. Look at verse 19. I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set pines in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand that the hand of the Lord has done this. In other words, that people would look at the very vegetation, and they would say, What an amazing thing that God would do this! Look at all of this finery! The problem with some of us is we don't go in the garden for long enough. We don't sit under a cloudless sky at night long enough.

We don't pore over this book long enough. He's able to plant pines in the wasteland to make the rivers run in the deserts, and he can transform your heart and your life and your attitude, even when he chooses not to transform your circumstances. And finally, he says, I'll strengthen you, I'll help you, and I will uphold you. I will uphold you.

How? With his righteous right hand. The hand, you see, is the organ of personal action. It is the indication of powerful enabling. The idols topple, the people tremble, the Lord upholds his people.

If God be for us, who can be against us? Do you look at people's hands? I look at hands all the time. You can tell a lot about hands.

From hands. In fact, I can't remember whose hand it was. I was looking at it, I was sitting next to a man the other day, and I was looking at his hands, and I said, they're pretty broad between here and here. And I looked at mine, I said, it's not much of a hand. Compared to his hand, I was thinking, well, maybe I could get a hand like his. But then I'd have to chop mine off. That's not a good idea.

So I'll just stick with the ones I have. But there's a lot you can learn about hands. Your father says to you, don't let me take my hand to you.

Your father also reaches down and says, can I give you a hand? Some of us are here this morning, and we're living in that chaos. We've got idols all over the place. They topple, we put them up. They topple, we put them up. We think we're tough. We're not. But we're not prepared to admit we're weak, so we'll never know God's strength.

We're not prepared to admit we're helpless, so we'll never know his power. And we're like the people who walk down the steps here into the baptismal pool regularly, although I tell them all, say, I will offer you my hand. Just go, hey, I'm okay. I'll be fine. Don't worry about me. Yeah, no, I'm fine. Sure, you're fine clown. You just baptized yourself. You want to do that?

Just do a dive bomb from the side for goodness sake, but you don't need to humiliate yourself. I'm giving you my hand to steady you. Do you ever put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the water? To quote the old Campus Crusade songs, you put your hand in the hand of the man who calmed the sea?

And if not, why not? You want to go back out and live with those same silly idols? If you're listening to Truth for Life, that is Alistair Begg pointing us to our source of hope when we find ourselves anxious and afraid. Keep listening.

Alistair will return to close today's program in just a minute. And if you or someone you know is currently going through a difficult season, you will find hope and assurance in the book we're recommending to you today, a book called Divine Providence. It's a collection of writings originally presented as sermons by Puritan pastor and writer Stephen Charnock. This classic book was originally written hundreds of years ago. It's still considered one of the most insightful explorations of the providence of God.

You'll find this newly released edition has updated language and is formatted to make it easier to read and understand. And there are study questions at the end of each chapter that make the book perfect for a study group to go through together. Let me read an excerpt from the book that I think you'll find encouraging if you're going through a trial right now. Charnock writes, Christians' darkest moments often produce the greatest periods of sanctification. It is in our distress and despair that we most sincerely and devotedly seek God's face, for we know that the Lord never forsakes his promises. In his wise providence then, the Lord orders even our distress to bring us closer to him in humility, godliness, sincerity, and devotion. You can read more as you request your copy of the book Divine Providence. It's yours when you give a gift to support the teaching ministry of Truth for Life.

You can do that through the mobile app or online at truthforlife.org slash donate, or call us at 888-588-7884. Now here's Alistair with a closing prayer. Oh God our Father, grant then that in the hearing of your word we will be caused to acknowledge how easily we depend upon idols that are crafted by human ingenuity, how prone we are to turn from you the living God and to go it on our own. We thank you that you call out to the islands and to the peoples. We thank you for the wonderful change that you bring about in the lives of those upon whom you set your hand.

So then come to our fear and to our dismay. Grant us a sense of your presence and your power. Grant to us strength in our weakness, help in our distress, and uphold us, Lord, for another day, for another journey, and we will praise you. And now unto him who is able to keep us from falling, to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy to the only wise God our Savior. Be glory and majesty, dominion and power today and forevermore. Amen. I'm Bob Lapeen. If you've ever been tempted to question why is this happening to me, I think most of us have at some point. You'll want to join us tomorrow for a message of encouragement. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-20 17:23:51 / 2024-02-20 17:32:48 / 9

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