Do not be afraid

We talked about leadership last week around our devotional table at work.  Interesting comments as to what a leader looks like.  I think that there are times when previously unnoticed people will be people of prompt decision, resource and confidence and will take command, regardless of their position.  Weapon of choice could be hope in that situation.  However, as much as hope is powerful, there is a choice to go with timidity and fear as well and they are just as infectious.  In hope, one cheery voice will revive the drooping spirits of a multitude. It is amazing how hope infused by faith gives us a new set of lenses to see our world even though the circumstances have not changed – truly one of God’s amazing miracles.

Paul couldn’t keep his hope to himself. He had to pass it on to both the believers on board the ship and to those who had not yet believed.

How can we put ourselves in similar situations? I believe for Paul, it was because he stayed connected to God.  Of all people, I do not think Paul needed to have an angel come to him with a message, but the circumstances were pretty bleak and God created the tangible connection as an anchor of hope for not only Paul to hold too but for the entire ship. Even if we are not anywhere on the leadership scale – our ongoing choice to press into God through prayer, the Word and fellowship will infuse us with divine favour and solutions for those in our lives. 

 I urge you now to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.  For last night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship,  and he said, “Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before the emperor; and indeed, God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.’  So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told.  But we will have to run aground on some island.”  – Acts 27:22-26

You Are Mine (with lyrics)

 

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Do not be afraid

Hard to imagine the apostle Paul being afraid, but one night God took the time to come to him, through a vision, and encourage him not to be afraid.  He had just had an altercation with the Jewish people and had declared that he was leaving them and going to bring the gospel to the Gentiles.  There must have been something there that we are kept from because God had to take the time to build up Paul and ensure that he stayed right where he was and continue to do the mission he was called to do.  Fear is not a stranger to any of us.  Our encouragement has to be that we all fear, even Paul, and let’s continue to reach out to those who have never heard of God’s message of hope and redemption, confident that we walk with God as we do.

It does not mean we have to go on a conversion quest – but it does matter that we firm up our understanding of what our mission is and that we are doing it at the best of our ability, trusting God to move through us as we do.  It is scary to tell a co-worker about Jesus, we will face persecution of all kinds, people will not like us or accept us — but all that is OK when we are reminded that God knows what we are facing.  He also happens to know the heart of the person we are sharing the gospel with.  Regardless of their motives – God will come to us and encourage us through it all. We can hope in Him as we give knowing full well that we will be re-energized and refreshed.

 One night the Lord said to Paul in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to harm you, for there are many in this city who are my people.”  – Acts 18:9-10

Tenth Avenue North – Afraid

Why are you afraid?

Fear – the one thing that we fear most, the one portal that allows the enemy to come in as an invited guest, the one emotion that none of us really want to experience.  We find that it cripples us from taking the right actions and it robs us of our trust and reliance on God.  So we embrace courage and faith, embracing God’s Word and accepting Him in truth and love finding our confidence to act on it with a firm hope in the promises made by Him.  God’s love gives us the strength to do so and empowers us to act with both justice and kindness towards our neighbour even if doing so means personal opposition or even harm.

The one fear illustration that captures me at my best is when Jesus is asleep in the boat in the midst of a storm.  Most of us want this experience that Max Lucado captures so well —

Wouldn’t you hope for a more chipper second sentence, a happier consequence of obedience? “Jesus got into a boat. His followers went with him and… suddenly…a great rainbow arched in the sky, a flock of doves hovered in happy formation, a sea of glass mirrored their mast…” Don’t Christ-followers enjoy a calendar full of Caribbean cruises? No. This story sends the not-so-subtle and not-too-popular reminder: getting on board with Christ can mean getting soaked with Christ. Disciples can expect rough seas and stout winds. “In this world you will [not ‘might,’ ‘may‘ or ‘could’] have tribulation” (Jn. 16:33 brackets mine).

I love the fact that these disciples were the ones who took the first step in following Jesus.  The boat was filled with men of faith – they left their occupations, families and turned to being followers of Jesus in the most literal sense.  Yet there was one external circumstance that caused them to react in fear – a moment when they placed death as having dominion.  Jesus and they were as good as dead and they were without help or hope in the world.

Storms are the reality and they come when they come.  There will be blue skies but there will also be dark clouds.  They both should be reminders that our trust needs to be on God.  Setting our hopes on an illusion that we can be in control of everything one day, is just that, an illusion.  We will always have enough to keep us on our knees.  There will never be a day when we do not need to trust God who loves us so much.

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him.  A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.  And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”  And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm.  They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?” – Matthew 8:23-27

Why Are You Afraid?

Are You Afraid To Hope?

What are you afraid of?

Series: Holy Curiosity #2 – Why Are You Afraid?

WHY ARE YOU SO AFRAID?