December 11, 2016
First Presbyterian Church – Coeur d’Alene
Message Series: The World of the Light
Message: Part 3: Out of Fear
Scripture Text: Luke 1:79
1. This is the four weeks of Advent and we’re
looking each week at a passage from the Gospels focusing on darkness and light.
a. Last week we introduced the idea that Christmastime is a season of lights, but Advent is just as much about darkness as light.
i. Only in acknowledging the darkness within and without can we truly see God’s Light of the World when it comes.
b. We started out with Darkness which is simply the absence of light; then travelled to the Shadows, which is keeping secrets and deliberate hiding from the light.
c. Today we go into an even deeper darkness, which is fear.
2. Webster defines “Fear” as (1) an unpleasant and strong emotion caused by expectation or awareness of danger; or (2) concern about what may happen.
a. It’s opposite is assurance, confidence, trust …faith.
b. For example…
i. I’m somewhat afraid of heights, like when my family talked me into climbing up to the top of the 175 foot tall Ponce Inlet lighthouse in New Smyrna,
Florida to look out from the balcony.
ii. I could trust in the strength of the platform and enjoy the view or spend my time being terrified of falling off.
c. I’m afraid of conflict and confrontations:
i. If fear that pointing out something I’m upset about with someone else will end our relationship in a fight rather than have faith in how good relationships are strengthened with honesty.
d. Following Jesus as an all-in Christian can be cause me fear.
i. It’s hard to trust an unseen and mysterious God and give up on tangible evidence, go against the social grain, be
written off as a religious fanatic.
ii. Even if you’re a pastor and, sometimes, especially if you’re a pastor.
3. The Bible has a lot to say about Fear and Faith. Here’s a shocker: faith usually wins. Here’s a quick pass-through:
a. Read Psalm 23, Isaiah 41:10, 2 Tim 1:7, 1 John 4:18,
b. A story we remember at
Christmastime is when the shepherds on a hillside suddenly saw a bright light filled with angels. They fell on their face in fear but the angels said: “Fear not, for behold I bring you good news for all people..”
c. There is one situation in the Bible when fear wins.
i. Deuteronomy 6:13.
ii. Fearing God means a healthy respect for God’s absolute sovereignty and mystery AND awe in his amazing grace and unconditional love.
4. Our passage today is Luke 1:79, which is also part of the Christmas story – when Zechariah sings a
song of praise when Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, was born to him and Elizabeth.
a. Read passage.
b. The gulf between darkness and light, fear and faith, is bridged by peace.
i. Jesus’ birth as the long hoped-for Prince of Peace is during a time of Pax Romana – a time of relative absence of war and overall prosperity enforced by ever-present Roman soldiers and dictatorial Roman governors and puppet kings.
ii. It’s sorta peace, but it can’t transcend fear. In fact it needs fear to exist.
c. The coming of Jesus is an ‘epiphany’ in midst of Pax Romana.
d. The word for “give light” is epiphaino, a light which suddenly appears to make known what was unknown. Zechariah predicts Jesus will be God’s guides into the “way” of peace. Not just absence of war, but an absence of fear.
i. If Jesus proves God is with us, and is for us, what’s going to get you? What’s going to defeat you?
What’s going to destroy you?
5. So let’s turn the light on you now. What are you fearing today?
a. What stops you before you even get started? What turns “Now” into “Not Now?” What turns “Go” into “Stay?” What turns “Just do It” into “Someone else do it?”
i. Thing about your greatest fears. Is it failure? Rejection? Pain? Loss?
6. Let me offer an epiphany to you this morning.
a. It begins with an alliance with Jesus as the one who is truly capable of rescuing you from anything and leading you anywhere with absolute safety. He can deliver on the promise of peace.
b. Second, peace opens up the opportunity to pray for peace.
i. Peace asks the question “what do I trust? Is that more powerful than my fear?”
ii. An Arab proverb has a slave who sails on the king’s ship for the first time, and he is deeply afraid of drowning and can’t stop crying. The frustrated king asks his chief advisor for help, and the advisor promptly throws the slave
overboard. Flailing in the water and screaming, he is hauled back aboard and is now quiet. The king asks his advisor why he did that, and the advisor answered, “Before he tasted the calamity of being drowned, he knew not the safety of the boat.”
iii. Prayer helps you to know your safety, especially when it’s what I call “3 Deep Prayer:”
1. What am I afraid of right now?
2. Why am I really afraid?
3. Can God rescue me, and has He already? Am I safe in his boat?
c. Third, peace activates something called “Intrinsic motivation.” It’s the idea that just taking one more step, moving on to the next action, can build its own momentum and overcome the inertia of your fear.
i. A Cherokee proverb has and Elder telling his grandson about the battle that wages in each person as the fight between two wolves. One is fear and the other is conviction, confidence, hope and excitement. The grandson takes this in for a moment then meekly asks his grandfather, “Which one wins?” The Old Cherokee replies “The one you FEED.”
ii. God doesn’t always illuminate the whole way – but he does show us the next step to take and gives us the faith to take it.
7. So Jesus, the Light of the World, says “Fear Not.” Next week, we have one more level of darkness to shine a light into: death.