Summary: “The Lord Is My Helper, I Will Not Be Afraid.” 1) Say it with confidence. 2) Live it with competence.
They say that most people would rather die than give a speech. Is that how you feel as you anticipate standing in front of us this afternoon, Daniel? The thing is you’ll be giving more than a speech; you’ll be confessing your faith. In a little while you will tell us that you would rather die than deny that the Bible, every noun of it, every verb, adjective, and conjunction is God’s Word. You’ll say, in so many words, that you’d rather have a stake driven through your heart than reject the heart of the Bible that Jesus died only to rise again…teeth, hair and all (as a recent Forward article stated). Confirmation vows are serious business. I know I had a few butterflies fluttering around my stomach on my confirmation day and you may too, Daniel. That’s why I want you to grasp on to these words from our text like a lifeline: “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.” Say it with confidence, Daniel and live it with competence. That’s what our sermon text will teach and empower you to do.
“I will not be afraid.” What kind of things are you afraid of Daniel? When I was your age I was afraid that no one at school would like me. I was afraid of messing up in band. I was afraid of tripping on the basketball court. I realize now that those things really aren’t worth being afraid of. Do you know what we should really be afraid of? Sure you do. We were reminded last week that we ought to be afraid of God. Why? Because he is holy and must punish sin. We learned how he impressed this truth upon the Israelites by appearing in fire, storm, thunder, and threats at Mt. Sinai. We discovered that breaking God’s commands even accidentally won’t excuse us before him. That means during your two years of confirmation instruction, Daniel, you should have been terrified whenever you didn’t complete memory assignments as faithfully as you could have. No, it didn’t matter that you were busy with schoolwork, 4-H, or work around the farm. The study of God’s Word should have been more important than all those things combined. And I should have been afraid for showing up to class only to think about how I couldn’t wait to get home to put my feet up instead of rejoicing at the privilege of teaching God’s Word to you, Monica, and Vanessa.
Yet in spite of these sins our text teaches us to say with confidence: “I will not be afraid.” Why? Because the Lord is my helper. How do we know that the Lord is our helper? Because “8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Jesus is the Father’s helper. He helped God the Father show his love to a fallen world of sinners when he climbed Mt. Calvary to sacrifice himself for our sins. That makes Jesus more than a good pair of shoes that helps us on our heavenward hike. No, he is our chairlift to heaven. You can count on this fact because Jesus does not change. He loves the two yahoos here today named Daniel as much as he loved the Daniel of the Bible. No, we may not be as bold in living our faith as was that Daniel who opted to be thrown to the lions than compromise his worship of God but Jesus doesn’t love us any less. He doesn’t love us any less because his love is dependant on his changeless promises, not on our ever-changing personality.
“The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.” Say it with confidence, Daniel even when you fall into sin and Satan laughs at your claim that you’re a child of God. Say it when death stares you in the face and you begin to worry about having to stand before God to answer for your life. Remain unafraid because Jesus Christ, the one appointed by God to save, is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Like an endless concrete divider that keeps oncoming traffic from plowing into our lane, Jesus will forever keep God’s righteous wrath from slamming into us.
“The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.” The Holy Spirit doesn’t just want you to say that with confidence, Daniel, he wants you to live it with competence. Let’s take a look at our text again to figure out what this means. “Keep on loving each other as brothers. 2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. 3 Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. 4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:1-5a).