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Worship Message - Do Not Be Afraid


Do Not Be Afraid

Do not be afraid. That is the topic for this message. A topic that is a Biblical teaching. A

teaching found many places in the Bible.

It is found all the way from Joshua in the Old Testament, which has God saying, “Have I

not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be

dismayed. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

It is found all the way to Revelation in the New Testament, where the reason for not

being afraid is given. Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is and who was

and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Do not be afraid. That is a teaching found in the Old Testament and in the New

Testament. Concerning the New Testament, it is something Jesus taught during His

earthly ministry, the most famous example of that being toward the end Matthew 6,

which is in the middle of His famous Sermon on the Mount.

The teaching to not be afraid begins in verse 25 of Matthew 6. In verse 25, it is worded,

“do not be anxious.”

It seems important to define what Jesus meant by that teaching. It seems important to

point out that, as far as I understand it, Jesus did not and is not teaching to not be

concerned about the things of life.

I think it is certainly OK for us to do what we can to make sure we somehow have the

things we need to survive, whether that be by working or by investing for retirement

years or by taking advantage of help from others. In fact, if any of the things we need to

survive are lacking, of course there will be concern.

Jesus did not teach - He is not teaching us - to not be concerned about the things of life.

Instead, His point is not to devolve into worry, anxiety. Into fear. His point is that we

not be concerned about nothing but the things of this life, which can cause some very

serious problems, the two worst ones being eaten up with nervous energy, which can

result in physical ailments, and losing a good, trusting relationship with God.

Do not obsess about the things of this life is what Jesus taught as He said, “I tell you, do

not be anxious about your life.” As He then named some things about which we might

worry - that we might be afraid we will lack. Jesus said, “Do not be anxious about what

you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not

life more than food and the body more than clothing?”

Jesus then gave some examples of things that do not worry.

“Look at the birds of the air. They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet

your Heavenly Father feeds them.”

And listen. Birds do work. They work very hard.

In a few weeks, eggs will be laid in nests, which birds will have worked very hard to

build.

Soon after that, the eggs will hatch.

Then for a few weeks, the baby birds are going to be so demanding for food.

Then the mama and the papa birds are going to have to teach the little ones to fly. They

are going to have to push the little ones to try their wings. That will involve a lot of

work.

Birds do work hard, which means it OK for us to work hard. But the point is that birds

do not worry. They simply use what God provides for them.

Jesus asked, “Are you not of more value than they?” His point being that if God cares so

much for birds, should not we, the final and crowning part of His creation, be able to

trust He will provide for us?

Then this, which proves the silliness of anxiety - of fear. Jesus asked, “Which of you, by

being anxious, can add one cubit to his span of life?” Fear cannot add to the length of

life. If anything, it can shorten a span of life.

And again, we need to take care of ourselves, including protecting ourselves. In that

way, fear can be a good thing as it serves as kind of a warning system? But worrying

about the things of life? That can do nothing for us.

“And,” Jesus added, “why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the

field, how they grow. They neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his

glory was not arrayed like one of these. If God so clothes the grass of the field [which He

does, so since He does that], the grass being alive today but tomorrow is thrown into the

oven, will He not much more clothe you, o men of little faith?

“Therefore do not be anxious [do not be afraid], saying, what shall we eat or what shall

we drink or hat shall we wear?

“For [here is a very stinging comment] the Gentiles [for our purposes, Gentiles refers to

those who do not believe in Jesus - to non-believers - to non-Christians] seek [as in

worry about] all these things. Those who are Christians do not need to be fearful for,

Jesus added, “your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” The point being

that God’s knowledge will be translated into providing them all for us.

“So seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness.” We do that by repenting and

believing in and following Him. Following Him by obeying Him. Do that, “and all these

things [all the things needed] shall be yours as well.”

Do not be anxious. Do not be afraid. That is a Biblical teaching.

But you know what? That teaching is a whole lot easier to preach than it is to obey. So

let’s consider some examples of how Jesus provided for people during His ministry.

Each example will end with an important question. A question similar to the one Jesus

used in His Sermon on the Mount.

First, an example in Mark 6.

One day, a great crowd of people had gathered around Jesus and His disciples. They

had gathered to hear Jesus teach. But when evening came, it was discovered the people

were unprepared.

In fact, this might be a very good example of not worrying. That is certainly what the

people in the crowd displayed. They had come to hear Jesus, thereby seeking first God’s

kingdom. That had been their only concern when they had gathered.

But now it was evening. It was time for a meal. And none of them had any food.

Actually, one in the crowd had a little bit of food. But the others had none, which caused

Jesus’ disciples to suggest to Him He send the people away to wherever they might find

some food.

Jesus answered them. He said, “No. You give them something to eat.”

“Us?” they responded. “Are we supposed to go and buy enough bread to serve all the

people?”

Jesus’ words did not make a bit of sense. First, they lacked the money to buy that much

food. Second, even if they had had the money, they could not have carried that much

food. As will be reported in a minute, there were thousands of people in the crowd.

Jesus asked, “How many loaves do you have?” How much food could they find?

The disciples went. They found the one - a boy - who had the little bit of food. He had

five loaves of bread and two fish.

The disciples took the food to Jesus, who commanded the people to sit down on the

grass. And get this. He commanded them to do so in an orderly way, which they did.

That is amazing because hungry people can get kind of growly. But Jesus commanded

them and they agreed to sit down in groups of hundreds and then of fifties.

Jesus then took the five loaves and the two fish. He looked up to Heaven and blessed

and then broke the loaves. He gave the bread to the disciples to set before the people.

He did the same with the two fish.

Listen. They all - all the people in the crowd - ate. They ate so much they were satisfied.

And when they were done, the disciples took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces of

bread and fish.

Of course, there is significance to the number twelve. It means the disciples were also

fed that evening.

The number fed? The answer is 5000 men. Actually, 5012 since the disciples ate as

well. But thousands of men. That did not count the women and the children who were

in the crowd.

What a miracle. What an wonderful example of Jesus taking care of the needs of people.

So the important question: If Jesus helped those people then, can we trust Him now?

And let me add this, which I think is at least comforting if we ever find ourselves having

trouble trusting God for our needs to be met.

The feeding of the 5012 men is recorded in chapter 6 of Mark. Guess what happened in

Mark 8.

Just two chapters after the feeding of thousands of people, Jesus and His disciples were

again surrounded by a great crowd. This one was a bit smaller. The number given this

time is 4000. But Jesus and the disciples were again surrounded by a great crowd. A

crowd that had been with Him for three days when suddenly it was meal time and, lo

and behold, whatever food the people had taken with them was gone.

This time Jesus started the conversation. He told His disciples He had compassion on

the people, who were hungry. He did not want to send the people away because they

would faint on their way home.

The disciples sensed Jesus was suggesting they somehow feed the people in the crowd.

but listen to how they answered Him. This is amazing because it was just two chapters

earlier that Jesus had done the fantastic miracle of multiplying bread and fish. The

disciples answered, “Jesus, how can one feed these men with bread here in the desert?”

In other words, the disciples had not a clue how to take care of the problem Jesus

mentioned to them. And yes, that is amazing since Jesus had, just a little bit earlier,

proved His ability to take care of people’s food needs.

The disciples should have suggested to Jesus He repeat the earlier miracle. Instead,

they were dumbfounded about what to do.

Jesus once again asked the disciples how many loaves of bread were available.

Apparently no fish were on hand this time, but the answer was seven for the loaves of

bread.

With the bread in hand, Jesus again commanded the people to sit in an orderly fashion.

He again gave thanks for the food. He again broke the bread. Again the disciples served

the bread to the people. Again the people ate enough for them to be satisfied. And again

there was bread left over, this time enough to fill seven baskets.

I think this second miracle of feeding is in the Bible to let us know that if we sometimes

struggle to trust - if we sometimes struggle with not being afraid - we are not alone.

Even the disciples had trouble trusting. But again the question” If Jesus helped then,

can we trust Him now?

For another example of Jesus helping, let’s return to chapter 6 of Mark. Following the

first miracle of feeding thousands of hungry people, Jesus put His disciples into a boat

and had them head out on the Sea of Galilee. After that, He went up on a mountain to

pray.

From His position, Jesus could see the boat His disciples were on. It was at night, but

He could see the boat. Perhaps it was lightning that allowed Him to see. In fact,

lightning might have been in the air because there may have been a storm that had

started. At least enough of a storm to cause a very strong head wind for the disciples.

Because of the wind, the progress of the disciples was slow. I suspect they were tiring

out, which would have been dangerous for them. It could have caused them to be adrift

on the water.

Jesus, seeing their dilemma, left the mountain and walked to them. He walked on the

water of the Sea of Galilee to get to them.

The Bible says Jesus meant to pass by them. I will admit I do not know the significance

of that. Except maybe His intent was to reach the shore and then call out to the disciples

to remind them of their destination. Maybe they would be able to find the shore if they

followed the sound of His voice. From the shore, He could have shouted out

encouragements.

As Jesus walked past the boat, the disciples saw Him. Their first thought was, “It’s a

ghost.” That terrified them. It caused them to cry out in fear.

But immediately, Jesus spoke to them. “Take heart. It is I.” He added, “Have no fear

[do not be afraid.]” Whereupon He got into the boat. Whereupon the wind ceased,

doing so immediately .

Again the important question: If Jesus helped then, can we trust Him now?

Of course, that was not the only time Jesus helped His disciples when they faced danger

on the Sea of Galilee. And I might add that while my intent is not to take any of those

times out of context, there are some Bible experts who liken His help on the water to

what He also provides during various storms of life. Physical, emotional, financial,

relationship-type storms.

Jesus did help people with all sorts of storms. He did that during His earthly ministry.

So the question is valid: If Jesus helped then, can we trust Him now?

And one more example of His help, this one in chapter 10 of Matthew.

Jesus was talking to His disciples, getting them ready to go out on kind of a training

mission. He had already given them several instructions when He said, “Do not fear

those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.”

When the disciples were going to go on their training mission - when they were going to

teach and heal - they were going to be accepted by many people. But they were going to

be opposed by others. Some opponents were going to be as vicious as wolves, which

would no doubt cause a lot of concern for the disciples.

But they were not to fear. They were not to be afraid. Why? It was because Jesus would

take care of them. So would the Holy Spirit, who would give them words to say as they

were opposed.

Of course, we know the disciples - all but one of them - were eventually killed. Not at

the time of the training mission, but later. So we know they did not survive physically.

They did come across those who did kill their bodies.

But as they stayed true to God - as they stayed true to their service to Jesus - their souls

were not killed, which means they did survive spiritually.

You know, we have lots of things to face in our world today. And I will admit to being

concerned about the rise of what I see as support for religions like Islam, while

antagonism against Christianity also seems to be on the rise. Because of my concern, I

am talking to myself as much as to you as I once again ask: If Jesus helped His disciples

almost 2000 years ago, can we, His present-day followers, trust Him now?

The answer is yes. So may I make sure my concern does not turn into fear. May I keep

my soul entrusted to the Lord.

OK. Do not be afraid. that is something Jesus tells us, which means it fits into the

theme of the messages we have had for a few weeks now. The theme to “do whatever

Jesus tells you.”

In addition to what we have talked about today, there are other things Jesus tells us.

Specifically, to repent and to believe in and follow Jesus. To follow Him on good days

and difficult days alike. To follow Him whether what He says makes any sense to us or

not. To follow Him to the extent of obeying His teachings to show love and compassion

to others. And to forgive others.

May we know that each one and all together, those things make up what Jesus tells us

and that they are all to be done - they must be done - for us to be and remain spiritually

healthy.

Today’s closing song is ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,

Just to take Him at His word,

Just to rest upon His promise,

Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord.”

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!

How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!

Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!

O for grace to trust Him more!

Yes, I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,

And from sin and self to cease,

Now from Jesus simply taking

Life and rest and joy and peace.

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!

How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!

Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!

O for grace to trust Him more!

I’m so glad I learned to trust Him,

Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;

And I know that He is with me,

He’ll be with me to the end.

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!

How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!

Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!

O for grace to trust Him more!

Next week is the first Sunday of Lent. The beginning of a time of thinking about the

suffering of Jesus. Suffering He did for you and for me. To show our thanks for what

He did, may we, not only during Lent, but always, may we, individually and together, do

whatever He tells us, including to not be afraid. Amen.

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