Summary: Because God is here we should have no fear.
The Promise of God’s Presence
Rev. Brian Bill
I’m speaking on a topic today that I really need to hear because I struggle with fear. I was reminded of this on Monday when Beth and I were out driving. When we came to one of the railroad crossings in town, the lights starting flashing and the arms came down. When I realized a train was traveling down the tracks, I stopped about 50 yards from the crossing. Beth asked me what I was doing and I didn’t even realize that I was so far away from the train. I told her that I didn’t want the train to tip over and hit us.
Apparently she had never seen me do this before. I told her that I was just sharing one of my 12,000 thoughts (from last week’s sermon) and she wondered instead if I had 12,000 fears. Don’t get me started about my fear of water or my phobia about Bears fans.
My guess is that many of you also struggle with fear. What are some of your fears? Anyone care to share with the class?
Last Sunday we learned that the antidote to anxiety is the peace of God. Our text today teaches that the solution to fear is the presence of God. Here’s our main point: The Lord will never leave those who belong to Him. We could also say it like this: Because God is here, we should have no fear.
Since most of us didn’t bring a Bible to the park today, the text from Isaiah 41:10 is printed at the top of the bulletin. Let’s read it together: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
This verse gives us two commands to obey:
• Do not fear
• Do not be dismayed
And two reasons to obey:
• For I am with you
• For I am your God
We also see three promises that God will keep:
• I will strengthen you
• I will help you
• I will uphold you with my righteous right hand
He tells us what not to do – don’t fear or be dismayed and then He tells us why – because He is with us and because He is our God. And then He tells us three things He will do – God will strengthen, help, and uphold us.
The context here is that God is promising to bring His people back from captivity. The crazy thing is that Isaiah is writing about what will happen 180 years in the future from the time of his writing. Even before God’s people sinned and were judged and were sent to Babylon for 70 years, God is telling them that they will return and He will bless them once again. He is such a gracious God!
Isaiah has been referred to as the Bible in miniature because it has 66 chapters and the Bible has 66 books. The first 39 chapters correspond with the Old Testament as they speak of judgment and the final 27 echo the New Testament’s emphasis on grace and comfort and restoration. These chapters were written to afflicted people who were filled with fear. Check out the tone in this section as found in Isaiah 40:1-2: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for…” God still speaks tenderly to those going through trials and He offers comfort to the discouraged and dismayed, the hurting and the helpless.
God promises His presence in order to free us from fear in our families, in our jobs (or lack of jobs), in the middle of our marriage messes, with our school stresses, with our health situations, with our friendships, with our finances, problems from our past, worries about the future, or in any other situation.
The word fear comes from the word phobos, which initially had the meaning of “flight” or “fleeing.” Instead of fleeing from our fears, Isaiah 41:10 gives us a five-part formula to help us face our fears.
1. I will live without fear because God is with me. Notice that it doesn’t say God was with me, or that He will be with me but that He is with me. This can be translated as, “There is nothing to fear because I am with you.” It’s been said that the phrase, “Fear not” or “Be not afraid” is found 365 times in the Bible, one for each day of the year.
Friend, in order to face your fears, the first thing to remember is that God is with you. Moses needed this reminder in Exodus 33:14: “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Psalm 23:4 says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” And after giving the Great Commission, which involved going and making disciples and teaching and baptizing (by the way, our next baptism service will be held on September 11th), Jesus promised His presence in Matthew 28:20: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” When you’re filled with fear, remember this truth and declare it out loud: I will have no fear because He is here!