Summary: If we are to make forward progress in our Christian lives and ministries, we must: (1) Fear Not, (2) Faint Not, (3) Fire Up.
Forceful Precepts For Forward Progress
Text: Phil.3: 13 & 14; Isa.41: 8 & 9; I Kings 18: 38
Intro: The apostle Paul was a firm believer in forward progress. In our text in the book of Philippians, Paul vividly explained that he left the past in the past, and pressed forward toward the heavenly goal line.
Like Paul, we must not focus on the failures of the past; nor can we afford to focus on the fears of the future. We must simply keep pressing forward for Christ.
To make forward progress will require two things of us as servants of Jesus Christ: Focus and Faith. Concerning the matter of focus, Paul said, “…this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,” (Phil.3: 13b). Paul’s focus was always forward.
Not only should we be a people of focus, but we must also be a people of faith. The writer of Hebrews tells us rather emphatically that it is impossible to please God without faith. That gives us some idea of just how important faith is in the Christian life. But faith must have an object. Faith in faith will never accomplish God’s work. So what is the object of our faith? The answer can be summed up in one word—Jesus. The Lord Himself warns us, “…Without me ye can do nothing” (John 15: 5b). Jesus must be the focus and object of our faith if we are to make forward progress.
With those thoughts in mind, I want to give us some exhortations, positive and negative, that if followed will insure forward progress in our Christian walk and ministry. Be careful to apply the ideas of focus and faith to each of these exhortations.
Theme: If we are to make forward progress, we must:
I. FEAR NOT (Isa.41: 10-13)
Isa.41: 10a “Fear thou not…”
II Tim.1: 7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
NOTE: A certain amount of natural fear is normal, even healthy. However, God never intended for us to live in fear. Dr. E. Stanley Jones once said:
I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath—these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely—these are my native air.
A John Hopkins University doctor says, “We do not know why it is that worriers die sooner than the non-worriers, but that is a fact.”
But I, who am simple of mind, think I know. We are inwardly constructed in nerve and tissue, brain cell and soul, for faith and not for fear. God made us that way. To live by worry is to live against reality.
Dr. E. Stanley Jones
A. We Need Not Fear Because We Have God’s Presence.
Isa.41: 10b “…for I am with thee…”
Heb.13: 5b “…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
B. We Need Not Fear Because We Have God’s Person.
Isa.41: 10c “…for I am thy God…”
Ps.91: 1 “He that dwelleth in the secret place (the shelter) of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”
NOTE: Moses once asked God, who had told him to go to Egypt that Israel might be delivered from bondage, “Who shall I tell them has sent me to them?” God said, “Tell them ‘I AM hath sent me unto you’” (Ex.3: 14). Folks, that term for God basically refers to “The All-Sufficient One.” That’s my terminology, but that’s really the bottom line. If you are fearful, God says, “I AM your courage.” If you are spiritually weak, God says, “I AM your strength.” If you are hurting from life’s battles, God says, “I AM your comfort.”
C. We Need Not Fear Because We Have God’s Power.
Isa.41: 10d “…I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
Phil.4: 13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
D. We Need Not Fear Because We Have God’s Protection.
Isa.41: 11 “Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish.
12 Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought.