Today we begin part three our fall campaigns. Back in 2013 we began our group ministry exploring God’s plan for His people and our starting place was Genesis 1:1. We surveyed from creation to Abraham and focused on drawing closer to God and closer to one another as the groups met each week. Then last fall, 2014 we continued with our second campaign covering the life of Joseph through Moses and the Exodus of Israel from Egypt. Again our focus of closer to God and closer to one another continued. Now, here we are entering the fall of 2015 with our third installment, this time our study will take us from the promised land to the promised One as we survey the rest of Old Testament history together. The greatest commandments, according to Jesus Christ our Lord are clear: First is – Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength, and second is – Love your neighbor as yourself. The mission of the group ministry is to grow closer to God and closer to one another. There is no higher, better mission than that. Nor do we have a better means by which to facilitate growth in obedience to these first and most important commandments of our Lord than the group ministry. If you have not signed up to attend one of the small groups, please come and meet with us here in our auditorium tonight. Ours will be a little larger and less informal, but we will be covering the same scriptures and striving for the same mission.
Tonight’s lesson will be from Numbers 13, and our Sunday morning lessons will reflect on a theme from that text but not the specific contents. That will be for us to cover this evening.
This morning let’s consider this theme: How Misplaced Fears Mess up Faith. That’s a theme that we will see in both this week’s and next week’s texts, so I’m going to make this a two part message.
Let’s begin with a look at Psalms 34 (read)
What a great message about where to direct our fears and how God rescues us from our fears when we fear Him!
Two of the greatest motivators in our lives are love and fear. Rewards and punishments are useful training tools in just about any discipline. But love and fear, while connected to these are deeper and more difficult to predict than mere exterior rewards and punishments. Some people will withstand a lot of punishment in order to get what they love. Some will abandon what they love because of a few minor irritations or fears. We are complex beings, created in the very image of God, yet fallen and poisoned by sin.
In Genesis 3 when Satan first tempted Eve in the garden, he appeared to her as a serpent. Now, how many of you ladies here today would enter a conversation with a snake? Why not? Eve did! You see, the Bible tells us that when Adam and Eve were created God saw all He had made that it was very good. They had nothing to fear.
But what happened? Once they had sinned and disobeyed God’s word, it all began to unravel for Adam and Eve and they saw themselves differently. They felt shame at their nakedness. They felt fear when they heard God coming. Now, instead of running to meet God they ran away and hid themselves from Him. Guilt and fear are clearly connected here. So is sin and shame. Satan’s deceiving lies brought about a terrible change in their condition, a change that is still with all of us today.
God’s plan for His people is recorded for us in the Scriptures as one track within it. But there is also clearly another track, and that is: our resistance to His plan. As
Ecclesiastes 7:29 states it well: God has made man upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes.
Also, Isaiah 53:6 says: All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to His own way.
Paul’s letter to the Romans in chapters 1-3 explain and expound upon how we as humans have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Professing to be wise, we become fools. Though God created us upright, and He created us in His own image and likeness, we have fallen from that glorious condition into darkness and sin where fears and anxiety reign right next to pride and selfishness. Thanks be to God, in some sense we still bear His image and likeness, distorted though it may be. We may still have love, but we also have fears. More often than not, it is our fears that get us into trouble. Fears often reveal a lack of faith. One of these always seems to win, either faith… or fears. You can’t follow both.
Remember when the disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee and Jesus came to them walking on the water. It was the late in the night and the wind was howling and waves tossing their boat hither and yon as they tried to row to shore. Looking over the bow they could just make out some figure moving toward them on the water. Go to Matthew 14:25-33 for the account. Matthew, who was there, tells us the event.
Read it… What does this passage show us about the conflict between fears and faith?
Mark 4 tells about an earlier time when Jesus is with His disciples in a boat and a storm comes up while Jesus is sleeping. Mark 4:35-41
Read it… Notice where their fears finally end up in this event. Our fears are only safe when we give them to God. Matt. 10:24-31. Notice that Jesus tells us not to fear men, but God, then He finishes up telling us not to be afraid because God cares about us.
God is constantly having to tell us not to be afraid in scriptures.
Isaiah 41:10 ‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
David proclaimed in Psalms 23 “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me!”
1 John 4:16b-18 bluntly tell us that when we have a fear problem it is because we have a love problem.
In your study tonight, I hope you will take some time to talk with one another about how faith and love through Jesus Christ helps us conquer misplaced fears. We don’t want to miss God’s promised land because we listen to lies and follow our fears. Confessing our fears and laying hold of faith in God’s comfort and strength will help us. Seeking God’s truth and turning a deaf ear to Satan’s lies, we will find courage and tap into God’s power to overcome a troubled heart.
Are fears undermining your nearness with God? Are you struggling with the Satanic whispers telling you God is not in control and that you can’t trust Him to see you through? Are you listening to the crowds who are not walking in faith?
These will fill you with misplaced fears and mess up your faith. Put your hope in One who conquered death. Give your heart to Jesus Christ and take comfort in His promises.
His word to you is clear: fear not! Follow me!