â€œâ€¦Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right handâ€¦For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”- ESV Isaiah 41:10, 13
Beloved congregation of God, remember the promises of our great God to us! We grow in our faith as we trust in and believe Godâ€™s promises.
The battle can be difficult and hard and we grow weary so easily. In fact, we are often surprised by how weak we actually are and this can contribute to our frailties and fears, drawing the life out of our prayers and good intentions to live for Christ.
Yet God is faithful and comes to us and says multiple times in Scripture: â€œFear not!â€ This is the most frequent command of God found in Scripture: â€œfear notâ€ usually followed by some form of â€œI am with you.â€Â â€œFear notâ€ is Godâ€™s covenantal greeting to His people from the very beginning to Abram (Gen. 15:1). â€œFear notâ€ is a covenantal greeting because it is from our God of grace and mercy to needy and weak sinners. God knows we are timid and by nature fearful (since the fall we have been running in fear from the presence of God: â€œWhere are you?!â€ asks your God!).
Yet God pursues us and seeks we after those who are so prone to wander, and God is graciously and convenantally committed to us through the Lord Jesus Christ in calling us, in saving us, in making us like Himself.
This is our hope. We have nothing to fear.
Why do we fear? Many different reasons, but the fountain of fear is unbelief. Fear is our failure to believe Godâ€™s promises to us in Jesus Christ.
Puritan John Flavel wisely wrote: â€œTo the extent that our souls are empty of faith, they are filled with fearâ€¦.If people would dig to the root of their fears they would find unbelief.â€ Fear weakens the act of faith in God and His promises and we must endure in this life â€œseeing Him who is invisibleâ€ (Heb. 11:27). Fear through unbelief severs the soul from its refuge in the divine promises. Unbelief can leave our dearest interests and concerns in our own hands (and no matter how much we boast, we know weâ€™re weak creatures). So we by faith must commit to God all that is precious and valuable to Him alone.
We must confess our unbelief before God. Often we realize we are sinfully fearful, but we donâ€™t recognize the fount of unbelief from which our fears are flowing. As teacher Jerry Bridges says, unbelief is a â€œrespectable sinâ€ so it is often not easily recognized (as is bitterness, unforgiveness, stealing, malice, gossip, etc.). Let us seek to find our unbelief in Godâ€™s promises, confess our unbelief as sin to God, then we will see our fears diminish and our faith grow.
God is the one who helps our faith grow. God promises to His believing people in this passage from Isaiah 41 that he will â€œstrengthen usâ€ â€œhelp usâ€ and â€œuphold usâ€.Â God promises to strengthen us in our battle, to teach us as we trust in Him that we can have trust in Him and confidence in His power and goodness. God promises to help us in that He wages war with us in our battles; he is alongside us, fighting with us, never leaving us nor forsaking us. God promises to uphold us and this is very good news for the tired, achy, and weary of heart. He will uphold us so that we will endure to the end; so that during the struggle and the wrestling we will not give up, but continue to fight the good fight by His grace.
Our Savior, Jesus Christ knew these words of promise from Isaiah 41 and believed them on behalf of His people.
Jesus during His earthly ministry on our behalf had to be tempted and tried in the wilderness, He endured the torments and anguish of Gethsemane, He experienced the disappointment of weak-hearted, selfish followers who denied Him in His time of need, and He had to go the way of the heinous and abominable cross to secure our redemption and salvation.
Jesus needed to hear the words â€œFear notâ€ often; Jesus had to trust in His Heavenly Father for our sakes and for our salvation! Jesus needed to know that His dear Heavenly Father would strengthen, help and uphold him as He endured all of the forces of hell, and the wrath of God for our sins, so that we could be saved- -and endure, too!
And He overcame through Godâ€™s promises, as we can overcome in Him!
Do not grow weary in the battle today. God has met you with His promises.
â€œFear notâ€ and know that God is with you in Christ to help you to endure and grow in grace.Â You are united to Jesus Christ who has already believed Godâ€™s promises and overcome the threats and torments of the enemies of God by His grace on your behalf. He is now safely in heaven at Godâ€™s right hand, fully secure and strong in might to ever be with you and to strengthen, help and uphold you by His Spirit and His prayers (Heb. 7:24-29; Romans 8:31-34).
Christ is with you; He is your Savior and loves you dearly. Believe.
Jesus says to you: â€œFear not, I am the One who helps you.â€
Pray for one another: Father, by your strength in Christ, by the power of our union with Him, grant us courage as your people to have trust and confidence in Christ and your promises. By your help we are thankful you come along side of us and fight the good fight with us. We thank you that by your righteous right hand you uphold us and prevent us daily from sinking under the difficulty of the conflict, and to endure to the end. We are more than conquerors in Jesus who loved us and gave His life for us. We are not to fear- -but will have courage and hope in Jesus. Amen.
Love in Christ,