Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

3 Father focused or a fear focused – Part 1

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Psalm 27:1-14

“1 The Lord is my light and my salvation so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? 2 When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. 3 Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident. 4 The one thing I ask of the Lord, the thing I seek most is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. 5 For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. 6 Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me. At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the Lord with music. 7 Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! 8 My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” 9 Do not turn your back on me. Do not reject your servant in anger. You have always been my helper. Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me, O God of my salvation! 10 Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close. 11 Teach me how to live, O Lord. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me. 12 Do not let me fall into their hands. For they accuse me of things I’ve never done; with every breath they threaten me with violence. 13 Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. 14 Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.”

Sometimes our fears are unfounded and irrational but more often our fears are based on rational and well-founded reasons. Psalm 27 doesn’t just deal with fear, it details how to face your fear and find victory regardless of whether those fears are real and rational or imagined and irrational. Because life can be risky, it can be filled with reasons to worry, from the small apprehension and anxieties to deep dread and total terror. Fear begins at an early age, we become aware of anxiety quickly, from dread over darkness to worry over monsters under the bed. As we transition into the teenage years our fears tend to focus on things like rejection, humiliation and failure. As we progress into adulthood the frequency and ferocity of our fears seems to escalate as we face, financial problems disease, death, ruined relationships, aging, crime, the list goes on and on. Judging from the successful sale of both books and drugs to try and deal with our anxiety, we have become an anxiety-laden society. We all want answers to anxiety, something that will relieve our fears and reassure us. As a result we start seeking some source of security, something that will instill peace and produce confidence. Some are looking for security in their savings account, while others are seeking that reassurance through a relationship. Others try to fix their worries through work while some put their trust in the government. Yet none of these solutions will bring lasting success, because they don’t offer total security or absolute reassurance. No amount of gold or government can guarantee success and peace in every situation. So the question becomes, “what’s the antidote to anxiety, how can we have victory over fear?” It’s here that the Psalmist gives us four focal points to conquering our fears, starting first with a call to:

 

  • Look to the Lord – Vs 1-3

In verses 1-3 David chooses to focus on God the Father not fear. He expresses confidence in God and an absence of fear in a very fearful situation, not because his fears aren’t valid but because his God is victorious. When we focus on God our fears flee. When it comes to fear this is the consistent and constant message of scripture. When Peter walked out on the water his fear got the victory only when he lost his focus on the Lord. In Isaiah 26: 3 God has said “I will keep in perfect peace all who trust in me, who thoughts are fixed on me!” Philippians 4:6-7 proclaims the same message, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. Then the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Our problem today is that we are looking in all the wrong places. Instead of looking to God we look to government, or gold, or goods. But it was as David focus on God that he realized that he had no reason to fear. This is why David askes the rhetorical question, “Why should I be afraid?” When he and we consider the character of God, who He is and what He can do, there should be no real reason to fear. As David looked to the Lord he was reminded and reassured of God’s light, salvation, and secure stronghold. He starts by stating, “the Lord is my light…” Very often troubling and fearful times are described by darkness, because we feel lost and in need of direction during those times. If you’ve ever walked into a room absent of light and experienced total darkness you’re first response was probably one of reservation because you were fearful of making a wrong turn and walking into something. The same is not true when the lights are on, for light enables you to look and see. The same is true in life, difficult dark times can increase our fear because we don’t know which way to go or what to do, we are in the dark. Darkness makes life directionally difficult, but David’s fear disappears because he looked to the Lord to be his light in dark and fearful times. The Lord doesn’t necessarily give us light, rather He is our light, our personal guide through the perilous darkness. A great illustration of this is found in this story: “When I was a small boy growing up in Pennsylvania we would often visit my grandparents who lived nine miles away. One night a thick fog settled over the hilly countryside before we started home. I remember being terrified, and asking if we shouldn’t be going even slower than we were. Mother said gently, “Don’t worry. Your father knows the way.” You see, Dad had walked that road when there was no gasoline during the war. He had ridden that blacktop on his bicycle to court Mother. And for years he had made those weekly trips back to visit his own parents. How often when I can’t see the road of life, and have felt that familiar panic rising in my heart I have heard the echo of my mother’s voice “Don’t worry. Your Father knows the way.” –James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited, p. 201. jun99. Second As David looks to the Lord He sees the Lord as his Salvation, which means that he is looking to the Lord as his rescuer and deliverer. David is not looking to self, society, or the state to rescue him, rather he is looking to the Lord as his Savior. Imagine for a moment that you find yourself surrounded by several thugs in a dark alley threatening you and flashing weapons. Just as you are starting to be filled with fear, you see someone coming to your rescue. As they draw close to your dismay you discover that the person running to your rescue is Barney Fife, his one bullet still in his top pocket. Rather than your fears being relieved you would rightfully continue to be concerned. But what if instead of Barney running to the rescue it was Chuck Norris that showed up? When David looked to the Lord he was able to let go of his fears. His panic was replaced by peace because rather than focusing on the problems he was focusing on God’s power. Our God is a mighty deliverer, the one who stills the storms and settles the seas. Not only is the Lord our Savior but He is our stronghold, not only our rescuer but also our refuge. A stronghold is a place of safety and this metaphor should be one we can readily relate too living in tornado alley. Except for storm chasers anyone with commonsense will seek refuge in a stronghold during these severe storms. The greater the severity of the storm the stronger the refuge we desire, and the stronger the refuge the more secure we feel. If you tried to ride out a tornado in a mobile home verses a concrete and steel reinforced emergency bunker you might not feel very safe. What David is telling us is that our confidence and peace comes not because there are no serious storms in this life, but because we have a secure and sure stronghold in our Savior. Instead of looking at the garbage, look at God’s greatness, stop focusing on the storm and start focusing on the Savior. We have a God who can guide us with His light, rescue and redeem us and bring us safely into His stronghold of protection and provision. Our security doesn’t come from locks it comes from the Lord. As a result David asked this question, “so why should I tremble?” If God can take care of you and carry you then why would you choose fear instead of faith? Today are you going to choose trembling or trusting?

 

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