How is everybody doing? Good. It's good to be here with y'all today. I appreciate that enthusiasm. That's nice. I feel welcome. If you don't know me, my name is Trip. I'm a rapper, and I'm also a pastor at Concord Church in South Oak Cliff. I love what y'all are doing here, and I'm excited to be able to be here and serve with y'all, and I'm excited to get to preach the Word tonight. Anybody want to hear from God's Word? I'll pray, and then we'll get started.
Father, we come before you in Jesus' name. Father, there's no other name under heaven by which we can be saved. The name of Jesus is all we have to lay claim to, Lord, so we thank you for Jesus, and we thank you for this time when we can hear from you in your Word. God, we pray you'd speak to us, that this be a good use of our time, that you would work in us, Lord, that we can know you more. We ask this in Jesus' name, amen.
I want to talk this evening about fear. When you think about preaching a sermon on fear, it's not one of those things where I'm wondering, "Is this the type of issue that will be relevant to people's lives? Are these the kind of people who have fears?" because fear is a part of all of our lives. There's not a single person in this room… If I said, "Hey, if you've never struggled with any fear, raise your hand," no one would raise their hand…unless they were a liar. Then you need to repent.
Fear is a part of all of our lives. When I think of fear, one of the things I think about is the IRS, because I have a particular situation. Stop laughing. Let me tell you. For most of my life, my main employment has been being self-employed, because I'm a rapper. That means my taxes don't just get taken out of my check. No one pays me a salary. I'm self-employed. That means there were some things about my taxes that were a little harder.
So my wife and I felt like, "Look. We need to get an accountant and someone to take care of it so this isn't so stressful." This was really early on in my career. So we do that, and then we feel like we can relax. We're like, "Good. It's taken care of." Until we started getting notices in the mail. Just so you know, the IRS doesn't write you love letters, so if you get something from the IRS, it's usually not a good thing.
We would get these notices that would say, "Hey, you didn't pay this; you owe this. Hey, you didn't pay this; you owe this." These things would pop up, and we'd show it to our accountant, like, "Hey, this is your whole job, and I need you to do that." They'd be like, "Oh, my bad. We'll take care of it." This kept happening, and we had to pay these late fees. It was around this time that the Spirit of God revealed to me that I needed a new accountant. He said it to me as clear as day. So we got that.
Now, because we have this new accountant… I have a good accountant. I have a good CPA. It means I'm again at a place… Taxes are still annoying, but it doesn't give the same stress and anxiety and fear. Here's what that shows me: the exact same situation can have a lot less fear depending on whose hands it's in. The exact same situation seems a lot less scary when it's in the hands of somebody you trust.
So, I want to talk about fear today. Here's why I think this matters and we should talk about this. While fear is a part of all of our lives, and it will be, fear doesn't have to rule our lives. Fear doesn't have to be the thing that reigns over all of our decisions. This is what fear can do: fear can make us begin to live in a way where we're so afraid of things we make all of our decisions based on avoiding what we think is a worst-case scenario so that our lives become about avoidance instead of actually moving forward toward something specific.
When we begin to think about who God made us to be and what God calls us to, he has not called us to live our lives just to avoid things we fear; he has called us to live actively in a way that honors him and is in accordance with who he made us to be. I want us to be able to do that and know we can relax if we're in good hands.
We're going to look at Isaiah 41:10, one of my favorite verses of Scripture. It's in this verse that God is going to speak to us about that. He's going to give us some promises he has for us. In this section of Isaiah, the prophet Isaiah is speaking to God's people. God is speaking to his people. He's comforting them in the midst of captivity. What I want you to pay attention to is how committed God is to his people, how decisive he is, how confidently he speaks.
Isaiah 41:10. This is what God's Word says: "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." That's the Word of God. God speaks these words of comfort to his people at the time, and he has these same words for us.
Here's what I think the main point of this is. If you walk away with one thing, this is the main thing I want you to walk away with: knowing God means we don't have to know fear. There are two reasons in the text that we'll look at, and we'll start with the first one.
1._ God's presence._ The passage starts by saying, "So do not fear, for I am with you…" Pretty straightforward. In this book, Isaiah is speaking to a fearful people. He's speaking to God's people, the nation of Israel, when God was mainly working with this particular nation of people he was saving.
They always had to deal with threats, so they were always afraid. There were always these nations around them that were threatening to take them out, threatening to overtake them and destroy them. God had said that these nations definitely would overtake and destroy them if they didn't follow him and obey him, so they always felt like they were in danger.
In the United States, we live in a kind of security and a lack of fear about our neighbors always attacking us. Israel didn't feel that way. They always thought an attack, them being taken into captivity, could be around the corner. Isaiah, the prophet, writes ahead to God's people who will be held in captivity. They have a lot of reasons to be afraid, a lot of reasons to be insecure. They'll wonder if they can ever be safe again. They'll wonder if their God is still there.
God is kind enough to speak through his servant in advance. God says through his prophet Isaiah very clearly to them, "Do not fear" or "Don't be afraid." Those are the exact same words he has to say to us today. Our situation may look amazing compared to theirs, but we don't have to be in danger of attack from other countries in order to be afraid. We don't have to be carried away from our homeland in order to be wrestling with fear.
If I was to ask you, "What is your biggest fear?" what would you say? What is your biggest fear? I don't mean when you're trying to be super-Christian and somebody is like, "Hey, what do you fear?" and you're like, "I don't fear nothing but God, brother." Nothing like that. Actual, real answers. Some of us forgot to answer questions like humans after we got saved. Like, really, what do you fear?
There's a show that used to be on TV called Fear Factor, and the whole premise of this show was to play on people's fears. Whoever made that show was rude. They would put people through all of these crazy, scary challenges to see if you could make it, stuff like sitting in a pit of rats or being trapped in a tunnel with tarantulas or eating goat eyeballs, just crazy things. Some of y'all are just done. You're not going to hear any of the rest of the sermon you're so distracted.
Those things sound scary (and people signed up for that voluntarily), but most of our biggest fears aren't things like that. It's stuff like losing a loved one. Those are the kinds of things that are our biggest fears. Maybe just being a failure, failing at the things we strive for, disappointing the ones who love us and depend on us. Maybe our greatest fear is people finding out who we really are. We have fears.
What would you say your biggest fear is? We all have these things in our lives. It's interesting for God to tell them not to be afraid. When anyone tells you not to be afraid… No one just decides they want to be scared. When we are afraid, we don't normally think to ourselves, "You know what? I could be courageous in this moment, but I don't do enough being afraid of stuff, so that's what I'm going to do right now." That's not normally how fear sneaks up. It's not a decision we make; it's an emotion we feel that we can't just turn off.
Here's what fear is. Fear is when we dread something because we think it's a threat to us. Fear is when we're in a situation, we see something, and we think something is a threat to us, so we dread that. We feel fear when we get a phone call late at night, because we're afraid. We don't know what that call could be about. We fear when we're driving and someone slams on their brakes right in front of us and we almost rear-end them. We feel we'll get injured.
How about this? What if that happens? Somebody stops really quickly, and you have to slam on your brakes. You're afraid, and you have a friend riding with you on the passenger side, and right as you're about to do that, they just do this. They say, "Don't be afraid!" Would that help you? No. Probably not. We all have friends who when they ride with you they just overreact to everything, and it's like, "You almost made me have an accident by your overreactions. Just open the door and roll out if you're going to be like that."
It wouldn't help just to scream, "Don't be afraid." The reason that wouldn't do anything is because this is not the situation at hand here. You can't just scream, "Don't be afraid," but that's what God tells his people right here in this terrifying situation. He says, "Don't be afraid." So what's the difference between your friend who's not helpful and God saying it? Here's the difference: God tells us why we shouldn't be afraid.
He's not just screaming pointless stuff at us, and this isn't just some random person, our friend, telling us not to be afraid. It's not someone who can't do anything about the situation. This is the God of the universe who is sovereign over your situation. This is the God of the universe who already knows what's going to happen in your situation. This is not a random friend who's observing what's happening along with you. This is God.
When God tells us not to be afraid, not only is it different because of who's speaking but also because he gives us reasons that we shouldn't be afraid. Fear isn't something we can just turn off like a light switch, but fear dies when the perception of danger goes away. Fear can only thrive when the perceived danger seems real, when the threat seems real.
God is talking to these people, and he's saying, "Look. I know it looks really bad, but I need you to reassess the situation. I need you to rethink about this threat that's in front of you." I'll give you an example. A few years ago I was in DC. I was an elder at a church there, and we were going on this retreat. They had this thing they called the elder Olympics. We were doing good stuff like prayer and spiritual things, but we also were just doing fun stuff. They called it the elder Olympics. It was just a way for people to play some games.
There was a list of stuff you could sign up for. I was looking at the list, and I was like… I'm only good at a very few things. I was like, "Terrible at that. Not good at that. Don't respect people who do that." I'm going through this list, and I see "basketball" on there. I love basketball. I'm not great at it, but I just looked around the room. I was like, "I think I've got this." So I signed up for that, and I was feeling good.
Then there was another dude named Jeremy. They were like, "Do you remember what Jeremy was doing last year?" and I was like, "Huh?" They started talking him up like he was the second coming of Michael Jordan, so I started to feel fear. I felt confident before, but now I began to feel fear, because I saw something completely differently. I reassessed. We don't need to talk about how it ended up. We got the point of the illustration. We're just saying fear is based on how threatening something seems to us. That's what decides whether or not we'll be afraid.
What God is doing here to his people is kind of like the opposite of trash talk. You know what trash talk is, where dudes are playing basketball, and you're just trying to get in somebody's head. You're like, "You ain't going to make this shot. You're not good. You'll probably fall and lose your job." Whatever comes to mind. (You shouldn't say that on the court. That's too much.) You're trying to get in their head to throw them off so they won't be able to succeed. You're trying to say, "There are bigger threats in mind. You should be afraid."
What God does here with his people is kind of the opposite of trash talk. He says, "You are in a really difficult situation, and I want to whisper things to you. I want to say things in your ear that change the way you see this threat. I want you to know that this threat doesn't have to overcome you. You don't have to see this threat in that same way."
In the middle of whatever kind of stuff we have going on that's scary, God is whispering confident things to us in our ears to build us up, to give us what we need to persevere. He's telling us in the midst of difficulty, "Reassess the situation. Do not be afraid." Don't get me wrong. As a pastor, I understand that in a room this big there are so many people with all different kinds of issues going on and all different kinds of fear.
We have family issues and health issues and money issues and emotional issues, and you can't figure out whether or not you actually believe in Jesus or whether or not you still believe the Bible and you're afraid of what that might mean for you. I know there are a lot of different fears, but God is saying right here when we are overwhelmed with fear we should reassess. To think about the truth that I don't have to be afraid, that I don't have to live under the tyranny of fear is a comforting thought. I want to know what it would look like to actually walk in it.
I want you to ask yourself what kinds of scary situations in your life you need to reassess. What kinds of things in your life do you need to reassess in light of who God is? Somebody right now might be thinking, "Now, Trip, fear is a really natural thing, so why are you talking about it like it's something we can just get rid of or as if it's something that's really bad?" You might say, "Trip, why does the Bible sound so negative about fear?"
Fear comes up in the Bible a lot. The command, "Do not fear" is actually the most common command in all of the Bible. God is saying this all the time. Like Joshua 1:9, where God says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
The Bible is always telling people, "Don't be afraid." But since fear is such a natural response to difficult situations, why does Scripture talk about it so negatively? To give you the quick answer, fear can show our lack of trust in God. Again, I don't mean just being scared when you're about to crash your car. That's a good kind of fear that can save your life. In that sense, fear is good. But there are different kinds of fear. Not every kind of fear is sinful.
Here's when fear is actually sinful. Fear turns to sin when it comes from unbelief or when it leads you to disobedience. So, scared you're going to crash the car? Not sinful fear. If you're afraid to be honest about your faith in Jesus because you think someone will look at you differently, that would be sinful fear because it has led to disobedience. If you're afraid of not getting that job opportunity because you don't trust God could provide for you any other way or open any other doors, that would be sinful fear.
Fear turns sinful when it comes from a belief or when it leads to disobedience. The Bible is calling us not to fear in a way that distrusts God. We shouldn't fear things more than we fear God. So many of our daily fears do have to do with what other people think, though. If you think about a lot of the stuff we fear, it has to do with what other people think, and it's because we fear people more than we fear God.
At the end of the day, the way what people think of us matches up with what God thinks of us and what God has promised us, it just looms larger in our minds. Even if we would say God is bigger, we treat those things like they're bigger than him. We pay such close attention to our fears because they expose our unbelief. We think God is smaller than the other things that are facing us.
Here's the thing that happens. Our response in a trial or something scary is kind of like an x-ray. You know, something is wrong, your leg hurts, you go to the doctor. They can do an x-ray and tell you if something is broken, and it can come back good, it's all good, or you can see that there's a fracture. What our trials do is they expose what's actually happening in our souls. The way we respond in difficult situations shows what's inside.
There may be this kind of faith that sees God for who he is or there could be a lot of fear in there that sees God as a lot smaller than others. So, we should pay attention to our trials, we should pay attention to our fears, because they show us who we really are. We should do the same thing for one another. We should pay attention to what's going on in those tough situations, but we want to turn from fear, because fear is giving our trials more credit than they deserve. Fear is giving our circumstances more credit than they deserve.
God says, "Reassess," and he gives them a reason. I know you said, "Trip, you said there were reasons." Here's a reason he gives them: "Because I am with you," which sounds really nice to think that God is with us. Doesn't that sound nice? "God is with us." But what does that really mean for God to be with us? When the Bible talks about God being with us, it means more than just he's present, because the Bible is clear: God is present everywhere at the same time.
He's always present, so it must mean more than just that. Sometimes somebody just being present doesn't really help that much. If you were in school and a bully said he was going to beat you up and you told the teacher and you were like, "He said he's going to beat me up at 3:30," and she was like, "All right; I'll be there," and then she shows up and she watches, that's not really helpful. It's like, "You were here, but…"
When the Bible talks about God being with us, it doesn't just mean he's present. When the Bible talks about God being with us, it also means he's going to work on our behalf according to his promises. When the Bible talks about God being with us, it means he's committed to work on our behalf according to his promises.
We know that from passages like Genesis 39:2. It says, "The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man and was in the house of his Egyptian master. The Lord was with him and caused all that he did to succeed in his hands." Jeremiah 1:19: "They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail…" Why? "…for I am with you, declares the Lord** , to deliver you."**
So, when the Lord talks about being with us, he's saying, "I am committed to you to work for your good according to my promises." He's committed to us. This doesn't mean God is just going to help you win every military battle. That's not what that means. We have to think in terms of God's promises to us.
You shouldn't just talk crazy to your boss tomorrow, like, "God is with me, though, so I'm good." This is not what this is… Don't blame me for your termination. We have to think in terms of God's promises to us. God made commitments to Israel that have to do with these battles. What promises has God made to us that can remind us what it means that he's with us in difficult times?
Just to give you some, God has promised never to leave or forsake us. When we have a particular fear about relationships and we allow those to kind of lord over our whole lives, we should remember we have a God who has promised never to leave or forsake us. God has promised to give us eternal life. God has promised to resurrect our bodies.
God has promised to work all things for our good. God has promised to wipe away all of our tears one day. God has promised to pour out riches of grace on us for all of eternity. God has promised to give us strength in difficult situations. God has promised to care for us through his people. God has promised so many precious things to us.
So, when we think about the things we fear, when we remember, "Wait. I have a God who's with me, who has made amazing promises to me," that should make us reassess those threats. There's nowhere you can go that God won't be with you, and in this tough season where we feel like we're alone, but God is saying he's with us. He'll never leave us.
The next part of the verse is really similar. He says, "…do not be dismayed, for I am your God." There's a call not to be anxious, and then he says, "Because I'm your God." Notice he doesn't say, "Don't be afraid because you're better than that." He doesn't say, "Hey, bro, don't be afraid; man up" or "You've got this." These are not the things he says.
Instead of pointing to you and what you can do, when God says, "Don't be afraid," he points to himself. He says, "Don't be afraid not because you're so amazing. Don't be afraid because I'm with you." He doesn't say, "Don't be afraid because you're amazing." He says, "Don't be afraid because I am your God." It's trusting God that kills off sinful fear. Faith in God suffocates sinful fear. How could it not?
I don't have enough time to go into this, but Isaiah 41 happens right after Isaiah 40 where God points to all of these amazing things about his character, where Isaiah is just pointing to how incredible he is. "He's so big we're like grasshoppers in his sight. He sits over the circle of the globe. The things that seem huge to us are tiny to him." Right after that, God is saying, "Don't be afraid because I'm your God."
Especially to Israel, he's saying, "Not those idols of the other nations, not the false gods of the other nations they say are going to help them defeat you." He says, "Don't be afraid because I'm your God." To us he may say, "Not the money you've been depending on and made the center of your life." He's saying, "Don't be afraid because I'm your God." Not those relationships you think are the only things keeping you afloat. He's saying, "Don't be afraid because I am your God."
For so many of us, it's so difficult to survive in fearful situations because we've made other things our gods. We've built our lives on things that are not strong enough or mighty enough to hold us up, and God is saying, "I am your God." That is a beautiful truth, because there's no one like our God.
It's scary to remove other things from the center of your life and put God there, because it's vulnerable the stuff you like about how things are, but it's always a good trade-off. God is stronger than those things. He's more faithful than those things, more loving than those things, and has a stronger commitment to us than those things. God is saying, "Don't be afraid; I'm your God." Knowing God means you don't have to know fear.
2._ God's provision_. When my wife and I got married, a lot of people said, "Man, your wedding was beautiful, especially the vows." People just kept saying the vows were amazing. I don't think it was because we said anything especially amazing. I think just the concept of vows is amazing. You're saying all of these things you promise to do for somebody for the rest of your life, not even knowing what they're going to be like. "I like you now. What are you going to be like in 10 years, though?" But you're saying, "No matter what, richer or poorer, I'm with you."
So, if the first part is almost like God's pronouncement of who he is to us, "I'm your God," this second part is almost like God's vows, what he is promising to do for us based on this relationship he has with us. The difference with my vows when I got married was I also promised, "And for all of the times I'll fail these things, I promise to try to repent and do better." We have a God who's perfectly faithful and will never have to repent and try to do better, because he will keep them to perfection.
Here's what he vows to do: "I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." What a God. These weak people have gotten themselves into trouble because of their disobedience. God is saying, "I will help you. I'll strengthen you. I'll uphold you." He's making that promise to us.
I don't know about you. I don't always like when people offer me help because I feel like it's implying that I need it, and I don't like to seem like I need help. Even if I'm supposed to take the trash out, and I'm about to do it, and my wife reminds me right before I do it, I'm like, "I was going to do it. I didn't need you to say that. I got this."
It implies that we need help. It implies that we're weak. God is implying that we're weak when he says, "I'll help you. I'll strengthen you. I'll uphold you." He's implying that we need help, that we're weak and need to be strengthened, that we're about to fall and we need to be upheld. At different seasons of our lives, more times than others, we are afraid to admit or acknowledge or see our own weakness, and it's very hard for us to not give in to fear. It's all over our lives when we are determined to only depend on our own strength.
I just want you to know if you think your strength is going to get you through everything, you will live a life full of fear, because you will constantly run into situations you cannot possibly get through on your own. It's okay to admit our own weakness. This is one of the hard things that's difficult about beginning to follow Jesus at all. I know there are some of us here today who are wondering, "Should I follow Jesus? I'm trying to figure this out."
One of the hard things is you're saying, "Look. Actually, the way I've been doing this hasn't been working that well, and I need God to show me." The good news is that God doesn't only tell us we're weak. He tells us we're weak as he promises to strengthen us. He's saying, "I'll strengthen you, help you, uphold you." All of us are weak in different ways.
When God does this, it helps us to understand our role in the relationship. He's the rescuer; we are the damsel in distress. He's the one who swoops in to save the day; we're the ones who need a rescuer. He's the firefighter coming to put it out; we're the kids inside who need to be snatched. God has promised to be with us.
This means something that he'll strengthen us. This means something for those of us who feel especially emotionally weak, who feel like there's a cloud over our heads at all times. God is saying he will strengthen us. For those of us who are physically weak, who struggle to get through our days, God is promising to help us.
For those of us who are spiritually weak, who aren't even sure where we are, wondering if we can still believe in Jesus for another day, God will uphold us. He'll give us what we need to keep persevering, and he has promised. I love how he promises to do it. He says by his righteous right hand. He doesn't say, "I'm going to send a friend of mine to help you." He doesn't say, "I'm going to send some really strong people I know to try to uphold you." He says, "I will do it with my righteous right hand."
God is willing to get in the field with us and uphold us himself. This is part of the beauty of the gospel of Jesus. When we had sinned against him in such a way that we were separated from him, God didn't send angels to die for us; God put on human flesh and came himself. He said, "I'll take care of it." This is part of the beauty of the gospel. It's part of the beauty of who God is. Here, too, he says, "I will uphold you by my righteous right hand."
My wife and I were talking about fear when I was studying this text. We agreed that, a lot of times, we fear God not because we actually think those things are bigger or stronger than God, but a lot of times, we fear situations because we know that even though God is stronger, sometimes he allows things to happen that are going to be hurtful.
It's not enough to say, "Oh, God is stronger." Yeah, I know he's stronger, but sometimes he allows things to happen that we don't like. Just because you believe God is in control doesn't mean you're not guilty of sinful fear. I want to remind you God can and will give you the strength you need to be able to persevere through that. If we know God, we don't have to know fear. He can work up that trust in him and how good he is.
If you're like, "Man, how can I learn to trust God more even in the midst of my fear?" I wish I had some magic solutions, like, "Hey, click your heels together three times and listen to a Bieber song and you'll be good." I wish it was that easy. It's not. I don't have any magic solutions, but there are these things the Bible tells us about all the time that don't really sound that special or impressive but are the things Scripture sends us to to build up our trust in God.
One of them is his Word. That's how we see what he's like: when we look in his Word. When we look in this book and see how time after time after time he has been faithful to keep his promises, time after time after time he has gone before people who seem too weak for the situation, time after time after time he has blown us away with his amazing power and grace and love… When we see that stuff in his Word… This is not just a book full of stories; this is how we see God.
If you miss your friend, you forget what your friend is like, you spend time with your friend. This is not just a book of some good stories to inspire us; this is where we meet with God, where we're reminded what he's like. I want to encourage you also to pray. I can't tell you the number of times when something seemed so much bigger than me, but when I was forced to just be quiet and talk to God, I was reminded how big he is, and I was reminded I get to hand it over to him.
Another thing that helps us with this is other people who are trying to walk after Jesus, who are also striving in the same way. It's good to have friends who will say, "Man, look. I just want to be honest. I think you are sinfully afraid right now, and I think you're treating that like it's bigger than Jesus." You need some friends who will say that kind of stuff to you, where you'll be really mad at them that night, but then you text them like, "You were right, bro." You need those friends.
Some of us only like friends who will just be like, "You know what? I'm mad too. I'm more afraid than you are, bro." We only want friends who will never say anything hard to us or challenge us. One of the ways we're able to be reminded that God is bigger than our stuff… Sometimes we can't see it, and we need friends to say, "Hey, as a reminder…" Not in a self-righteous way. "I struggle with fear too. Let me tell you what God reminded me the other day. When I was wrestling with fear, he reminded me that he's much bigger than this."
We need friends like that to help us wrestle through these things. If we know God, we don't have to know fear. One of the most amazing pictures of this, that God means this… Sometimes when God makes a promise like that… "You don't have to be afraid because I'm your God. I'll strengthen you, uphold you, help you." A lot of times, when people make big grand promises, we wonder, "Can I really believe them? Is this the kind of person who's actually going to follow through?" Or we might say, "Look. That sounds nice, but I need some action to show me."
Let me tell you, one of the ways we know this is the kind of God who means it when he says, "I'm with you," who means it when he says, "I will strengthen you, I will uphold you…" The clearest picture of God's strength in the midst of our weakness, as we already talked about, is the gospel of Jesus, the good news, a story about the fact that we were desperately lost and there was no way we could get ourselves back to God, that we are broken. This is why our world is such a mess.
But God, even though he's the one we sinned against, said, "I'm going to put on human flesh. Though they were too weak to actually obey me, I'm going to put on human flesh, and I'm going to show them how it's done. I'm going to live the perfect life. I'm going to love. I'm going to live a life of justice and mercy. I'm going to live a life of forgiveness. I'm going to show them how it's done, and then, even though I lived a perfect life that deserves rewards, I'm going to take the punishment for them. I'm going to take all the justice they deserve and put it on me instead."
Sometimes we'll be like, "Man, how do I know God loves me?" The Bible is really clear that the way we know God's love… He displayed his love for us in that while we were still sinners Jesus died for us. Then it says most people wouldn't even die for a righteous man, but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. If you're here today and you're wondering, "I don't know if I'm really convinced that I should really lay my life down to follow after him…"
These are promises he has made to his people, so if we don't know Jesus, if we're not in his family, these are actually not promises he has made to us, but God longs to be able to say to you, "You don't have to be afraid because I'm with you, because you're mine." You can be his now. You don't even have to wait. You don't have to say a special incantation. You don't have to go to a special place. You can believe on Jesus, that he is who he said he is, that he paid for our sins, that he got up from the grave, and that he delights to be able to pour grace on you for an eternity.
Let me tell you, when we're in the family of God, he makes beautiful promises like this to us over and over again, and amazingly, he always keeps them. Sometimes he keeps them and we don't even notice, and then like a year later it's like, "Man, God is good. I didn't even think about the way God cared for me through these people. I didn't even think about the way this hard thing is something God was using to strengthen me, just like he promised he would do."
When we are able to be reminded of the kind of God we have, the kind of promises he keeps, then there is rest…rest to know that these scary situations don't have to rule our lives, rest to know that threats that seem big are not bigger than our God, rest to know that God hasn't promised that those things that scare us won't hurt us. That's not one of his promises. He's saying, "Even when they hurt you, I'm still with you, and I'm going to work them for your good."
So even in the toughest situations that hurt a lot, I know God is with me. That freedom is available to all of us. For some of us, it means we need to join God's family and grab ahold of those promises, and then for some of us, it means I need to push farther in to know God more so I can walk in that freedom he has provided for me in Jesus. Friends, that's what my desire is for you tonight, and I'm praying that this word that knowing God means we don't have to know fear would be a reality for you. Let me pray.
Father, we are so grateful for how gracious you are to us, Father, that you bring so much strength where we have so much weakness. We bring death, but you bring life, Father. We bring sin and you bring righteousness, Lord. Father, we bring bitterness and hatred and you bring love and forgiveness. Father, you've shown time and time again that you're willing to be a strong God to weak people, and we thank you for that, God.
God, I pray for my brothers and sisters who are in this room who know you, God, that you would help us to know you more, to see you more clearly, Father, to walk in the freedom you've given us. God, we pray for our friends in here who don't know you yet or are not sure they know you yet, God, we pray you would show them how good you are, that you'd remind them that this is not something that's too good to be true. This is true.
You are who you say you are, Father, and you've been so gracious that you haven't asked us to clean ourselves up and then come to you strong already. You said, "Just come to me weak like you are. I'll provide the strength. I'll provide the forgiveness. I'll provide the good works. I'll give it all to you. Just acknowledge, come, and trust." So, Father, we pray you'd work that in their hearts, and, God, we pray you'd help all of us to know you and trust you. We ask in Jesus' name, amen.