Episode 1. The World’s A Scary Place
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You know something – the world can be a scary place. We all travel through times when fear eats away inside and it’s right in the middle of those times, that we need to know what to do. I don’t know about you but as I look around, it seems to me that the world […]
You know something – the world can be a scary place. We all travel through times when fear eats away inside and it’s right in the middle of those times, that we need to know what to do.
I don’t know about you but as I look around, it seems to me that the world can be a scary place. Take spiders and snakes for instance. Depending on where you live in the world, they’re dangerous or they’re not.
Here in Australia we are seriously over-represented in the top ten list of the worlds most venomous creatures. So growing up as a child I had a good reason to be afraid of them. And still today, the idea of a spider crawling into my bed. Well it’s one of the scariest thoughts that I can come up with.
Let me tell you a funny story. One of the most venomous snakes on the planet is called the Death Adder. Good name huh? When I was training to be an officer in the army, we had not only Australian students but New Zealand students. And if you know anything about New Zealand, you will know they don’t have venomous snakes at all.
And we were training and we were doing a grenade practice. So we were down in the bunker. And one of the New Zealanders went up, out of the bunker, to throw his grenade. And while he did, we found a dead Death Adder. So we put it down right where he had to sit down. So when he sat down, when he came back, he saw it and I tell you, it was so funny. His legs were going before his backside was up off the seat, running out of the bunker. Terrible stuff isn’t it? But there you go.
We can laugh but the world can be a scary place. Especially with friends like me.
That was a long time ago, I have to say. I was young and stupid then.
So this week we’re starting a new series on the program that’s called, “Do Not Be Afraid”. There’s a reason for that. There are lots of people in this world who spend much of their lives living in fear.
Sometimes it’s because they’re living in a war zone. I mean there are plenty of people today, listening, who know that only too well. There are people in the Democratic Republic of Congo for instance. And there are parts there where there’s war raging right now. There are some people, sitting in their homes, listening to this program today, wondering whether or not they’re going to see tomorrow or next week or next year.
Other times, life threatening things happen. You have a health scare. The morning I sat down to prepare this message was the morning of the funeral of a good friend of mine. He was just a few years older than me and he died suddenly of a heart attack.
It’s easy to be afraid of things. And when we’re afraid it rocks our confidence. And yet other people, they just kind of live life with a real sense of dread. Always something there for us to dread. Always something lurking out there that we can be afraid of.
For me, honestly, if I allowed it, I could be afraid of quite a few things. There are a few things in my life right now that could cause me fear. I mean this ministry that I’m involved in at Christianityworks. It’s a global media ministry. We’re just a small team of people and we don’t know where the funding’s going to come from to do all we have to do over this next year. We just don’t.
So you either live in fear or you live in faith. If God doesn’t provide that funding, we’ll fall flat on our faces. That’s the stark reality. And that’s the thing, it doesn’t matter who we are or where we live, we can live in fear. And that fear can rob us of life itself. And yet, time and time and time again, you read God’s word and these are the words from God, that He speaks to His people. He says: “Do not be afraid.”
And He utters them, invariably, right at the time when the people He’s talking with have every reason to be afraid. The people and the circumstances that are confronting them, conspiring against them.
We experience fear too and yet God wades in and says: “Do not be afraid.”
Now if God doesn’t want me to be afraid, when I have every reason to be afraid. You know something, I want to have a piece of His brand of confidence, don’t you think? I mean, think about it. What’s the point of God saying, “Do not be afraid” when we have no reason to fear. It’s right in the middle of fear that we need His brand of confidence. I definitely want that, how about you?
Well, how can we have that confidence? That’s a good question. That’s what today’s program is about. That’s what this whole week is about. It’s about discovering, right in the middle of where we live. Right in the middle of all the stuff that goes on in our lives, how not to be afraid.
So I invite you to come on a journey with me this week. And we’re going to start that journey with an account of a time when God’s chosen people, Israel, were very afraid. They had every reason to be afraid.
They’d been living in the Promised Land for several hundred years and then, all of a sudden. Because they were struggling with God. They were worshipping idols and other God’s. Eventually God lost His patience. And in 586 BC, the Babylonians, the world power at the time, the dominant power, invaded Jerusalem. They destroyed the place. They destroyed the temple, the place where God’s presence dwelt. And they took God’s people back into slavery, to Babylon.
Now talk about a crisis of confidence. Think about it. God makes all these promises. To Abraham and to Isaac and to Jacob. And then, when Israel are in slavery in Egypt, He sends them Moses and He does amazing miracles. The whole Red Sea thing, the exodus through the desert for 40 years. Everything, and got them finally to the land that God had promised to Abraham centuries before.
And once they got into the Promised Land, under the leadership of Joshua. They fought battle after battle against nation after nation that was bigger and stronger than Israel. And yet, God was with His chosen people and they took the land that God had promised to them.
And now, now all of a sudden, Babylon wins. God’s own temple’s destroyed. Where’s God? What happened? Is the king of Babylon stronger than our God? Are the Babylonian God’s stronger than our God?
The Israelites had a loss of confidence. And when we lose confidence, we get afraid. It’s a big deal. I mean, you look at share holder confidence, consumer confidence. That feeling when you go to sleep at night, having that falling sensation. You know, you wake up in a panic and you’re grabbing onto the bed.
Confidence is being able to, to trust the earth beneath our feet. And people trust the stock market, they trust the plane they’re flying in, they trust their governments, they trust whatever. And then it’s like things get pulled out from under your feet and you lose confidence and panic and fear set in. Because we’re no longer safe, we’re no longer able to trust what we’ve always trusted.
That’s where Israel was. They had a complete loss of confidence in their God. He was punishing them but they didn’t see it that way. It’s like they were flying along, in a plane, at 32,000 feet above the ground and all of a sudden, all of the engines got switched off. Panic and fear and fair enough too.
So what does God say to them in the middle of their fear and panic? In Isaiah chapter 41, verse 10:
Do not fear for I am with you. Do not be afraid for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
I often wonder, how can He say that? How can God bowl up to us in the middle of our fear and circumstances where it’s logical and reasonable and human for us to be afraid and say:
Do not be afraid.
How can He do that? Well, that’s what we’re going to be looking at over the rest of this week on the program. We’re going to take a look at fear, well … from a different perspective.