This past week, I ran across someone I have known for quite some time. Nearly four years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m uncertain at which stage it was but, nonetheless, it was tragic.
I told her I would pray for her. I even went as far as saying. “Here, I offer you my Guardian Angel who will stay with you and help you through this ordeal. Trust He is with you.”
Well, she went through the surgery, and all the treatment associated with it, and made it through. Yes, she lost her hair and lost her breasts but, she was still alive.
I ran into her this past Friday and she told me, “I’m due for more scans as it hasn’t been five years yet and there is a strong possibility the cancer has returned.” She was angry. She was frightened. All I could think to say was, “Have you no courage and forgotten how far you’ve been and who was there beside you?” She was, clearly, full of doubt and fear and couldn’t even offer me an answer.
This is very sad to me. How quickly we all forget the compassion of our Lord and focus-in on whatever circumstances we may be facing at the moment. We let our fear govern our hearts and leave God out of the equation.
This morning I would like to talk about our fears and the impact they have on our relationship with Christ. How many of you have been afraid? How many of you are afraid right now? I’m sure there are many as we have all seen the sickness and pain that surrounds us today. Yes, I understand why we might be frightened.
The Devil (The Liar)
So, where does our fear come from? After all, we serve the most-high God and follow the teachings of our Lord and Savior, right? Why then, are we still afraid and how does it hinder our healing?
First and foremost, we must understand. Fear is of the devil and we all know the devil is a liar. He is crafty and very sly and will use anything in his power to convince us we are alone on our journey.
Our first example goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. This is where Eve encountered the serpent.
“The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“’You will not certainly die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’”
Pretty crafty, wasn’t he? Well, we all know how that story turned out. Eve took of the fruit from the tree (the original sin) and both she and Adam were banished from the Garden.
Jesus, himself, was tempted by this same liar as Eve but He had far greater faith and knew how to deal with this evil.
Luke 4:5-7 – “The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, ‘I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.’”
To which Jesus didn’t deny but, instead, responded with…
Luke 4:8 – “‘It is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’”
When Jesus had thwarted the devil’s three attempts at luring Him into sin…
Luke 4:13 – “Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”
Do you see what happened here? As you might imagine, Jesus had to be thoroughly exhausted from His 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. I’m sure He was hungry, sick and weak from such a journey.
He could have taken the devil up on his offer and, maybe, he would have been healed and been granted all that the devil promised Him but, I’m guessing that probably wouldn’t have happened, but it most certainly would have taken away from His relationship with God.
No, instead, Jesus cast the devil aside. Once He had done this and ignored the devil, the angels tended to Him and restored his health. He never sided with the devil and His faith in His Father brought Him great healing.
The Devil’s Realm
As we just read from Luke, the devil offered Jesus “All the Kingdoms of the world with all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.”
What does this tell you about where the devil may reside? After reading through the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, I really can’t find a place where it is written that the devil resided in hell.
Instead, and much more clearly to me, he resides right here among us where he torments us and tries to entice us away from God using any means available.
Jesus warns us all, in 1 Peter, how we should be alert to the devil’s work and not be deceived.
1 Peter 5:8 – “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
Yes, as children of the most-high God, the devil will do anything to draw us away; devour us and, in this Pastor’s humble opinion, the greatest tool of the devil is fear!
Fear Distracts Us
Our fear is the very tool of the devil that causes us to stray from Our Lord. How can our Guardian Angels, or Christ Himself, possibly help us through our sickness if they’re constantly doing battle with our fears?
We need to stay focused on God; focused on Christ and let The Holy Spirit fill us and cleanse us of whatever our afflictions may be.
2 Timothy 1:6-7 – “For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
Fan that flame! Build your faith into a roaring fire and let God take over without having to deal with the fear the devil puts in your heart. Believe!
Wear does our fear come from? Were you always afraid as you are now?
Do you remember when you were a child? Remember chasing down snakes, frogs, lizards or any other animal of this planet without fear? Could you do it again today?
This world, the devil’s realm, has taught us all to be afraid. All the things we may have done as a child, we’re too frightened to do today. Perhaps this is why Jesus warned us…
Mark 1:15 – “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Jesus knew. He knew we would grow fearful in our lives, and distracted, and warned us against it as it would take away from our relationship with God.
Jesus also taught us that, if we are to fear anything, it shouldn’t be the worries of this world. It shouldn’t be sickness; shouldn’t be people; shouldn’t be your job or status in society.
Matthew 10:28 – “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Here, we are clearly reminded, the only one we should fear, is God! Our bodies are just vessels. These vessels are nothing but skin and bones and will, without question, one day fail.
Our soul, however, is the part of us that will bring us into Eternal Life: Walking in the presence of The Father; alongside The son; and filled with The Holy Spirit!
The Old Testament
Our lessons about fear are not only throughout the New Testament and the teachings of Christ, but also spoken about throughout the Old Testament as well.
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.”
David, King of Israel
Psalm 118:6 – “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
Well put David! If the Lord is with us, what have we to fear?
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The devil is a shady character. There can be no doubt of this as we’ve heard of his deceptions here this morning. He lives among us and uses all at his disposal to take us away from God and away from Christ, denying us of The Holy Spirit. Again, one of his greatest tools being Fear!
We simply cannot allow the fear that has been provided to us by the devil to distract us from the way God would have us live.
In our sickness and despair, I can understand as a human being, how we might be frightened of what may befall us but as a child of God, I know my fears are unwarranted as He will protect me and shield me from evil and only He can take both body and soul.
The body (vessel) will someday die. Both God and the devil want our soul. God, to provide us Eternal Life in His Kingdom and Love us for all eternity; the devil, to provide eternal suffering and condemnation.
Which do you choose? Let God control things while we’re here and do whatever we can to put our worldly fears aside… or let the devil distract you and take you away from all that God has promised? Pick one, I’m going for option A!
So, when fear knocks on the door, let “Faith” answer it, because fear cannot stand up to faith and faith, without fear, will bring you Eternal Life.
Go with God; be good to one another; always stay humble; always be kind… God Bless (Amen)