A New Year Without Fear

Bible Book: Isaiah  43 : 1-6
Subject: Fear
Series: A New Year Without Fear

Today we are not only beginning a new year together, but we’re beginning a new series of messages together. And when I mean together .. I mean in every worship gathering of our fellowship.

Whether it is in our blended worship or in our contemporary worship or in our Brazilian worship, all three of us are preaching the same topic and the same text as together we’re thinking about A NEW YEAR WITHOUT FEAR.

Is it possible to have a year without fear? It is! In fact ... that’s the kind of year God wants for us: a fear-free year. Did you know that? Well .. He does. And He reminds us of that over and over in the scripture. 189 times the phrase “fear not” appears in the scripture. And when you add the expression, “do not be afraid” there are 365 times in the scripture that God tells us not to fear. He’s got a “fear not” for every day of the year.

But I suppose one of the greatest areas we struggle with when it comes to fear is “the fear of uncertainty.” Most of us are afraid of the unknown. “What’s going to happen next?” It’s that unknown lab report that tends to drive fear into our lives. Once the unknown becomes known, the fear begins to fizzle.

And what about 2009? There are so many unknowns: what’s going to happen to the financial market? Will the recession lead into another great depression? Will I continue losing money in my retirement account? What about my health condition? What does having a new President mean for us internationally, nationally, locally and personally?

We don’t know what this year is going to bring. Years ago there were some men who were on a leaky old ship in the middle of a rough and stormy sea. They were actually fearful for their lives. They didn’t know whether they were going to sink or not. So one of them went in to see the captain and asked him if they were safe. He said, “Well .. I’ll put it this way: the boilers on this ship are very weak and may explode at any moment. Also, the ship is very old, and she’s taking on water. And to be very honest with you, we may have an explosion or we may sink.”

Then he caught his breathe and said, “Men, we may go up or we may go down, but at any rate, we are going on.” And that’s the way we are as we face a new year together. Jesus may come - we may go up. We may die and go down and then go up, but at any rate we are going on.

And as we face a year of uncertainties .. those unknowns that tend to rob us of peace … that we’ll be able to say along with the Psalmist in Psalm 34.4, “I sought the LORD, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.”

Now that’s what we find God talking about here in Isaiah 43 as we learn some things today about …

The Fear of Uncertainty

Isaiah 43.1-5

1 But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob,

And He who formed you, O Israel:

“ Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by your name;

You are Mine.

2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.

When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,

Nor shall the flame scorch you.

3 For I am the LORD your God,

The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

I gave Egypt for your ransom,

Ethiopia and Seba in your place.

4 Since you were precious in My sight,

You have been honored,

And I have loved you;

Therefore I will give men for you,

And people for your life.

5 Fear not, for I am with you;”

Twice in these five verses God says to us “fear not.” Now not all fear is bad. Some kinds of fear are good. Like when you’re walking through the woods during the summer keeping an eye out for rattlesnakes. It’s the fear of being bit by a snake that keeps your ears open and walking lightly. Or when you’re crossing a busy street. It’s the fear of getting run over that causes you to look both ways before crossing the street. Or when there is a bear chasing you in the woods. It’s fear of getting attacked and mauled to death that allows you to run faster than ever before. By the way .. you’re greatest sprint will not outrun a bear.

So there is such a thing as healthy fear. But that’s not the kind of fear God is talking about here and much of the time in the scripture. For just as there is healthy fear .. there is unhealthy, unholy, unhelpful fear and it’s that kind of fear we’re talking about today.

So what does God have to say to us today about the fear of uncertainty? Well beginning here in verse 1 .. we find God say, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are mine.”

So who is He saying this too? Whom does God say to fear not? To those He has redeemed! To those He has purchased! That’s who! When it comes to facing the uncertainties of this year .. all of the unknowns (financial loss .. job loss .. healthy issues and more) here’s what God says to us …

I. Fear Not for I have Redeemed You.

What a promise! What a savior! As we face the uncertainties of life … we don’t have to fear and here’s why: because God has redeemed us!

A couple of beggars stood at a gate of a mansion one night, hesitating to enter because of a growling watch dog. One of them said, “Go on in. There is nothing to be afraid of. The dog is barking but he is also wagging his tail.” His friend replied, “Yeah, but I don’t know which end to believe.” Well .. you can believe God when He says to the redeemed facing uncertainties, “Fear not!” Isn’t it wonderful to be known by God? Especially when you’re not sure what’s coming next. And listen to what God tells us back in Isaiah 41.13, “For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.”

I know that sometimes we get to thinking as we go through times of uncertainty that we’re somehow holding on God. I’ve got news for you. You are not holding on to Him, He’s holding on to you! “For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand.” Hey folks ..when it’s the LORD God holding on to you .. you don’t need to fear!

And look again at whom God is holding on to in verse 1, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.”

Now that raises a question: have you been redeemed? What does it mean to be redeemed? Who are among the redeemed? Because whoever they are .. fear no longer has to paralyze their potential nor hinder their happiness.

Well .. the word “redeemed” means to release something .. to deliver somebody .. to buy something back. When God says, “I have redeemed you” .. He is saying that through the blood sacrifice of His Son Jesus on the cross 2000 years ago that He purchased you .. He bought you .. in order to release you from the bondage and burden of sin.

Now if you don’t mind: Hallelujah what a savior! All right .. thank you for letting me get that out of in here.

Hey folks .. the moment Jesus steps into your life .. from that moment on .. you belong to Him! You are His purchased possession. And here’s what that means for you when it comes to fear: the fear of the future is a waste of the present. That is .. if you’ve been redeemed.

Put this down somewhere: Fear flees where redemption reigns. “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.” By the way .. do you know what the opposite of “fear” is? Trust. Times of Uncertainty are times of trusting, not fearing .. when you belong to Him. Proverbs 29.25, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.”

Fear and Trust are extremes. They are opposites. You cannot be fearful while you are trusting nor can you be trusting when you’re fearful. When fear moves in, trust moves out. When trust moves in, fear moves out.

Here’s what fear says to God: “I am not sure that I can trust with this situation. I am not sure that You will come through this time. This unknown circumstance may be too difficult for You to handle.” And if today you find yourself dealing with the unknown .. write this verse in the margin of our Bible: Luke 1.37, “…. With God nothing will be impossible.”

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.” Now He doesn’t stop there. Keep reading in verse 2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.” Did you notice He didn’t say, “If you pass through the waters,” but rather, “when you pass through the waters.” You say, “Pastor, what waters is He talking about?” I don’t know, you tell me?

What waters are there in your life that has you swimming for your life? That has you stretching to keep your head above the water? THOSE waters! Well, God says here that whether our flood is ankle-deep .. knee-deep or neck-deep .. that we can know that the floods of life no longer have dominion over our lives.

Verse 2, “And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you, and when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.” Again, He doesn’t say, “if you walk through the fire,” He says, “when you walk through the fire.”

You see, just as the floods will come, so will the fires. There is no escaping them. Not in this life. Jesus said in John 16.33, “… in the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have over come the world.”

Do you remember what those 3 Hebrew children said to King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 3.17, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver u from your hand, O King.” King Nebuchadnezzar said, “We’ll see about that.”

He then tossed them into the flames and afterwards looked into the furnace and declared in verse 25, “Look. I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

Let me tell you something about that furnace: Jesus was there waiting for those three Hebrew children. He was already there. And just as He was there waiting for them to see them through it, He is waiting for you too. He is already there before you ever get there.

When you belong to Him .. fears over the unknown no longer have dominion over your life. And don’t you love what verse 3 says? “For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your savior.” And what a savior He is!

Here’s what these first 3 verses tell me: those whom God redeems, He releases from all fear!

So, here is the first wonderful truth when it comes to the Fear of Uncertainty:

II. Fear Not … for I am with you.

Verse 5, “Fear not, for I am with you ..” Isaiah 41.10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41.13, “For I, the LORD your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, “fear not, I will help you.”

Not only is God’s protection promised for those He redeems, but God’s presence is provided for those He redeems.

Do you remember those 3 Hebrew children? Did God take them out of the fire? No. But rather He took them by the hand and led them through the fire. They were more safe in the fire with Him than they were out of the fire without Him , and so are you! There’s just something about the presence of God that calms our fears, isn’t there?

Do you remember what happened to Adam and Eve after they sinned against God? Their sin separated them from God just as our sin separates us from God. And what did they do? Genesis 3.8, “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ So he said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

What separated Adam and Eve from the presence of God? Their sin. Now they were separated from the presence of God. No wonder they were afraid. When are we going to learn that there is no solution to our fears outside of a personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ!

Years ago there was a ship caught in a severe storm. Everyone on board the ship were filled with fear. A sailor on board had his son with him. Someone noticed how calm the young boy was while everyone around him were in a panic. So, they walked over to the boy and asked, “Son, how can you be so calm in this storm? Aren’t you afraid of what might happen?”

The boy looked the man in the eyes and as calm as a young boy can be said, “Sir, I’m not afraid of what might happen. I have just been on the deck and I know we are going to be just fine because my Father is at the wheel.”

When your Father is at the wheel, no matter how severe the storm or how high the waves, you can know that we’re going to be just fine.

Isaiah 41.10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Yes, especially in times of uncertainty, when you don’t know what’s going to happen next! When you don’t know what’s right around the next corner and here’s why:

Fear not, for I have redeemed you. Fear not, for I am with you.