Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

11/18/2018 A.M.

 

Overcoming The Evil of Anxiousness & Fear

Psalm 23

 

Go with me to the Mount of Olives... We join Jesus and His Apostles.

Scripture tells us that this was His Favorite Place... A place of prayer... But tonight it’s a place of fear.

 

One of my first Bibles had a picture of Jesus praying in the Garden.

It was a serene scene... Jesus calmly kneeling beside a large rock... Hands folded... Eyes and face… Peacefully...Expectantly… Pointed toward heaven.

 

The artist was not much of a Bible student... Or he ignored what he read.

 

•Mark says... Jesus fell to the ground.

 

•Matthew tells us Jesus was... Very sad and troubled... Troubled to the point of death.

 

•Luke says... Jesus was filled with pain.

 

Jesus was flat on the ground... Face in the dirt... Arms extended... Hands gripping grass. His body rising and falling with sobs.

 

Jesus was experiencing FEAR!!... So much so that... He says he is near death... And he begs god for a change in Divine plans.

 

All of us have been there... Haven’t we?... We’ve all faced this emotion called FEAR.

Like Jesus... Fear prompts us to pray...

• When we board a plane...

• When we stand to speak to a large audience...

• When we’ve been dismissed from a good paying job...

• As they wheel us into the operating room for extensive surgery...

• When we are about to make a major decision that will impact our entire family... A new job... A new business venture... An extensive loan from the bank.

 

Fear is not restricted to age...

• Children fear being alone...

• Adolescents fear rejection....

• Young adults fear failure...

• Those of age fear death or life without meaning... Without purpose.

 

Sociologists... Doctors... Psychologists... Tell us that they have identified over seven hundred phobias or fears.

 

Our purpose in this lesson is not to learn how to stay out of this garden...

But how to prepare the heart for the Garden experience...

For the moment of fear.

 

You’re having a great time at the ballpark... The home team is winning. A friend slides in beside you saying that there has been an accident out on the interstate and your wife and three children have been rushed to two different hospitals... One has been flown to the burn unit in Tulsa... The other airvacted to Springfield’s Trauma Center.

 

FEAR...The heart races... The cry to God is that He would erase the last five terrible minutes. But it won’t happen. It didn’t for Jesus... It won’t for us!

 

A strange noise... A shadowy figure in the dark... A blow on the head... And you realize that someone has invaded your house in the middle of the night. There are screams from the children’s bedroom... Daddy... Mother... Daddy… Help.

 

FEAR grips your soul... You wish you could wake up... And it all be a bad dream... But it’s not!!... Not for Jesus... Not for us.

 

You sit across the desk... Waiting... Waiting... Will he ever come... Then the door opens and the doctor slowly... Deliberately... Eases into his chair... His eyes and solemn greeting cause your heart to pound. He clears his throat and says...Did you come alone?... Instantly you know this biopsy or scan is not good. Cancer... Stage four... Six weeks to six months at the most.

 

FEAR!... Fear that makes us sick at our stomach... The body moves in convulsions that you cannot stop. Jesus couldn’t... Neither can we.

 

There’s no feeling quite like the icy grip of absolute FEAR!!

 

Because... You see... Life has no pause button... No erase... Life can’t be placed on fast forward.... Those who will live Godly lives will suffer.

 

So... can we learn to face our fears?... If so… How?

 

First... We must be willing to confront our fears honestly.

Let me give you four false ideas about fear that we must jettison... Four lies about our fears...

 

One... If we think that we can live such a good life... That we can escape ever going to the Garden of Gethsemane... Satan has fooled us badly.  We will join Jesus in this Garden scene...Not once... But many times.  So... Living more perfectly is not the answer... Had it been... Jesus would not have been there.

 

Two... Not all fears are real...

Sometimes the best definition of fear is this... False Evidence Appearing to be Real.

Indeed...Statistics have proven over and over again that a vast majority of the things we fear never become reality.

 

However... In the mind’s eye... The false fears can seem more real than anything around us... So we must deal with them honestly...

• Are they real?...

• Or are they False Evidence Appearing Real?

 

Three... Some advise us to… just be patient... Fear will wear off... One day it will vanish!

 

Let me tell you... Fear ain’t going anywhere on its own... Except to get worse.

The reason for this is that Satan is behind our fears... And he is relentless...

He is a roaring lion... He’ll keep stalking us...

• Until our fears destroy us...

• Until they cause us to lose our faith in God...

• Or until our faith overcomes our fear.

 

Number four... We must know that... Like Jonah... We cannot run from our fears...  We must acknowledge them... Face them... Deal with them honestly.

 

I read a remarkable story about a Canadian family who were convinced that world war three was looming... They were terrified. They decided to run away...Hoping to find some small corner of the world where they would be safe. So... In the spring of 1992... They relocated to a quiet little spot on an island chain... An obscure piece of British real estate where nothing was likely to go wrong. The family relaxed and enjoyed only five days of tranquility before the Argentineans invaded the Falkland Islands... Beginning the Falkland War.

 

We must face our fears with… honesty... truth... Only then can we begin to seek help.

 

Secondly... We must take our fears to God... Cast our cares upon Him

Like Jesus... We must cry out to God.

Solomon is found saying in Proverbs 18.10... The name of the Lord is a strong tower... The righteous run to it and are safe.

Psalm 34.15 has David saying... I sought the Lord... And He answered me... He delivered me from all my fears.

Paul said... For God did not give us a spirit...Of fear... Of timidity... But a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

• Jesus took His fears to His Father... And God sent angels to strengthen Him.

• The church prayed for Peter’s release from jail and he was angelically miraculously released.

• Paul took his thorn in the flesh to God... And He gave him grace to overcome.

 

Church...We will never be delivered from our fears until...

• One we acknowledge them... Confess them...

• And bring them to God asking His help.

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds.

 

Thirdly... We must cling to God’s Word... His promise of deliverance

In the dark moments when fear stalks us and whispers irrational thoughts... God’s Word becomes a light bringing peace.

 

Listen to these Scriptures that affirm this idea...

Psalm 119.130... The unfolding of your Words give light...

Psalm 119.105... Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

 

The Bible is not a tool we use to bang on the heads of others to convince them of our beliefs.

 

The promise is that His truth will set us free...

• Free from sin...

• Free from eternal death...

• Free from the law of sin and death...

• And free from fear

 

Deuteronomy 31.6... Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

 

Psalm 23... The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies. He anoints my head with oil... Life’s cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

 

Psalm 27.1... The Lord is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid?

 

Psalm 118.6... The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

 

Proverbs 29.25... Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is always kept safe.

 

Isaiah 41.10... 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.

 

Church... Let me suggest that you write these verses and others you discover on a 3X5 card... Place it on the mirror where you shave or put on your makeup... Read them daily… And soak them in prayer.

 

Like David... You can pull out five smooth stones from your arsenal and slay the giant of debilitating fear.

 

It is Psalm 112.7 that has David saying... We will have no fear of bad news when we place our trust in the Lord.

 

The Hebrews’ writer quotes David saying... God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in time of trouble. We will not fear, though the earth changes and though the mountains be shaken into the heart of the seas... Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.... So we say with confidence, The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

 

Number four... Fear fails in the presence of right thinking & Doing.

You remember Jesus told a parable about a man who was demon possessed. He was healed... His heart was cleaned... But instead of filling his heart with good things... He left it empty.

 

You know the rest of the story... When Satan finds an empty heart... He comes to fill it with all the evil he can muster... So that it becomes worse than ever.

 

Listen to Paul’s admonition to us from about correct thinking from Philippians... Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And… Listen Now!!!... The God of peace will be with you.

 

Paul says... If you will fill your heart with good thoughts... Then FEAR will be replaced with peace... Peace... This is what I want... How about you?

 

Peace is not only found in right thinking... It is found in right doing.

 

Listen to this advice from First John 4.18... There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

 

practice it!!... Loving God with all our... Heart... Mind... Body... Soul... And loving our neighbor as yourself... Leaves no room for irrational fear... Because love castS out fear!!

 

Then Scripture tells us that we were created to do good deeds... Good works.

Why are we here and not in heaven?

 

Paul says... God has saved us to do good works... Good works that He predestined that we should do... ARE WE???... ARE WE??

 

I know some people who are afraid of everything... Because they do nothing!!

 

Indeed... An Idol... Mind... Heart...Hands... Are the Devil’s Workshop.

 

Let me encourage you... If you are having trouble with fear... Find something to do in the Kingdom of God…and go to work.

 

Karl Menninger was once asked... If you knew you were dying... What would you do? Do you remember what he said?... I would find someone less fortunate than myself and I would serve them.

 

There’s nothing that will do away with fear any more quickly than...

• Filling our mind with good thoughts...

• Losing ourselves in love And service to others

• filling our time with... good deeds... Good works.

 

One more before we stop... Learn to share our fears with others.

There in the Garden that night... Jesus asked that the Apostles pray with Him.

Apparently they did not!...

 

Wonder how much better off Jesus would have beenthat night... Had they done what He asked?

 

You see...

We are community...

We are family...

We’re brothers.

We’re to bear one another’s burdens...

We’re to contribute to the needs of the saints...

We’re to pray for one another...

 

Scripture teaches that group prayers are more effective than a single prayer.

 

James 5.16 tells us to take our fears to others... Call the Elders... Pray for one another that you may be healed. The prayer of a godly person is both powerful and effective. The prayer of the righteous makes things happen... Confess your faults to one another and pray for one another.

 

Question...

Are fears and phobias ruling and ruining our life... Are they?

 

Can I ask again… Are fears and phobias ruling and ruining our life?

 

I suppose the greatest fear of all mankind has to do with where we will spend eternity.

 

Each of us can erase that fear this morning by becoming a child of God... Accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior by... Faith... A changed life... And being born again in New Testament baptism.

 

Perhaps... As a Christian... We need some help with our fears... And overcoming them.

 

The Elders are here... The church will join them in praying with you and for you.

 

If you have needs that we can help you with... Come... As we stand and sing together.