FaithSeries: Upside Down. James Dewhurst March 15, 2020
In the year 1933, during his inaugural address, President Roosevelt, seeking to calm a troubled America in the throes of the Great Depression, said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself!”
Fear is an emotion that brings about feelings of dread, alarm, panic, and anxiety. The fear spectrum can range from mild anxieties to full-blown panic attacks.
Psychiatric Research, regarding fear, found that human beings are born with only two fears – The fear of falling and the fear of loud noises!
(All other fears are learned!)
The worst part is, fear produces overwhelming negative effects on our lives. Fear paralyzes our decision making, hinders our prayers, limits faith, damages relationships, reduces motivation, jeopardizes the health, stifles our joy and steals our sleep!
We tend to live in a world of extremes! Things quickly swing from being a joke one moment to being the end of the world the next. Where is the balance in life? The Bible tells us a story about two extreme responses to tragedy, and teaches us the balance:
40 Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. 41 And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house, 42 for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying. As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. 43 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians,she could not be healed by anyone. 44 She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. 45 And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” 47 And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” 49 While he was still speaking, someone from the ruler’s house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more.” 50 But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” 51 And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. 52 And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.” 53 And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.” 55 And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat. (ESV)
-When Jesus rolled up onto the scene with Jairus’ dead daughter, he found people responding in two extremes – Some were wailing, while others were mocking!!!
-The wailers thought it was the end of the world, and the mockers thought that Jesus was a joke! (Just out of curiosity, does that sound familiar to anyone at all???)
-Jesus dismissed the extremists and took in 3 men of faith to join him in prayer (Peter, James & John). They entered the daughter’s bedroom, prayed, and she woke up!
There were three things true about Jarius when Jesus arrived that day:
-Jarius was a devout man: He was a man of faith, who was also an upstanding leader in the community, and a ruler of their local synagogue.
(Elder in church!)
-Jarius was a desperate man: Jarius was so desperate, he even stepped over his religious prejudices and reached out to Jesus.
(Desperate people go after God!)
-Jarius was a disillusioned man: Jarius had just received the worst news possible, that his 12-year-old daughter was dead.
(His Faith and Hope was devastated!!!)
Jesus turned to this devout, but desperate and disillusioned father, and he spoke four profound and life-changing words – Fear Not; Only Believe!
I know that the markets are dropping, people are scrambling, the media is hyping, schools are closing, events are canceling and toilet paper is disappearing, but the same answer Jesus gave Jarius 2,000 years ago is the same answer he’s giving to us today…
Fear Not… Only Believe!!!
2 Timothy 1:7
7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (ESV)
When fear comes rushing in, that’s when people of faith rise and lead the way!
10 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 hand. (ESV)
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (ESV)
3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? (ESV)
There is nothing that Corona can do, that the Cross can’t undo!
(God’s in control!)
Church – There is a balance between foolishness and fear.
The Bible calls it faith!
The great D.L. Moody used to pray for faith, and then one day he read, Romans 10:17 “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” God’s Word builds faith!
It is time for believers to turn down the media madness, and open up God’s Word!
> The Daily Wire won’t build your faith!
> Your F.B. newsfeed won’t build your faith!
> No cable news network is going to build your faith!
> The Good News is the only thing that will build our faith!
Jesus teaches us how to have an upside/down faith in:
25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. (ESV)
The same God that got us through Y2K, Anthrax, West Nile, Sars, Ecoli, the Bird flu, Ebola, and Zika, will get us through this.
Fear is hurting us more than Corona ever will!
We must all respond by using wisdom, but we don’t have to be controlled by fear!
This virus is not a joke by any means, but it is also not the end of the world!
Thomas Jefferson – “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
(Throughout history the church shines brightest in the darkest times!)
Paul taught Christians in:
1 Corinthians 16:13
13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. (ESV)
So, how should we, as people of faith, respond in the face of fear?
1. Pray the Prayer of Faith!
(We’ve got to Pray on it, Pray over it and Pray through it!)
18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, (ESV)
Jesus gave us a perfect example of how to handle a crisis or tragedy. Jesus told Jarius to clear his house of every cynical and hysterical voice, and only gather around himself people of faith. The cynical and hysterical are a distraction Jarius. They have to leave!
Unfortunately, in times of crisis, most people fall into one of these two extremes, and only a few join the circle of faith!
(Peter, James, and John were all that were left!)
Many want to exaggerate this, others want to reduce this but few are praying about this!
2. Stand on God’s Promises!
(Don’t doubt in the dark what God promised in the light)
1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (ESV)
9 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.” (ESV)
3. Commit the Outcome to God!
(We cannot control things we have no control over!)
> Fear is an emotion that always anticipates the worst possible outcome!
> Faith is a decision that always leads us to the best possible solutions!
***Fear plagues us with “What ifs?”, but faith answers with “I Knows!”***
2 Timothy 1:12
12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. (ESV)
4. Walk-in faith, don’t Run in Fear!
(When fear kicks in people often become selfish!)
Our temptation when fear arises is to become narrow and self-centered. Generosity and compassion disappear and self-preservation kicks in. God challenged a widow in the OT to feed Elijah a meal, even though it was the last bit of food she had. God blessed her!
Jesus calls us to remain generous:
36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ (ESV)
1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. 5 You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. 9 Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— 10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12 On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. 14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. 15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” (ESV)