Sunday, June 11, 2017

Eek! - My Lighthouse lesson for 6/11

1 John 4:18 – Perfect love drives out fear

Do you know what I think of when I read this verse?  I think of a golfer with a driver and a ball on a tee.  That ball is our fear, and the golfer is our Lord.  It takes that club and smacks that ball so far away that it won’t be found for a while.  When we say this verse, let’s say it like a golfer sending a ball far, far away.

I also think of the Lord taking my fears into a car, driving it into the desert, and leaving it there.

I want to show you a few things that scare people.  As I show them to you, I want to see how many of you are afraid of these things.

Snake doll:  Back in 2006 I worked at Rainforest Café in Nashville at Opry Mills.  Has anybody been to one?  It has robot animals, jungle decorations and a story.  The store has toy snake dolls and one of the employees had one.  On the other side of the whole mall was a shooting.  The employee with the snake doll was scaring another employee with it.  She was not afraid of working in the same mall as a shooting, but she was afraid of any snake.  Real or fake, dead or alive.  She was afraid of snakes.

Toy spider:  I know somebody who will not watch certain movies because they feature giant spiders or bugs.  My own dad originally would not watch Charlotte’s Web because it has a spider.  However, I am the one who picks up roaches with my bare hands and throws them away.

A doll:  Did anybody have any dolls that would talk if you pull a string or press a button in its hand?  Did any of those dolls talk without you doing that in the night at some point?  We used to have a toy train that would do that.

Everybody has something they are afraid of.  Here are some other fears:
Arachnophobia? (Spiders)
Acrophobia? (Heights)
Thanatophobia? (Death)
Achluophobia (Darkness)
Ophidiophobia? (Snakes)
Pediophibia? (Dolls)
Sesquipedalophobia (Fear of long words)

Even the bravest soldiers and the boldest explorers have fears.  The key is not to let your fear overcome you.  If a soldier lets his fear of death overcome him, he can’t fight.  If an explorer lets fear of heights or darkness overcome him, he’s missing out on a great adventure.

The Bible talks about a cure for fear: taking them to Jesus.  And you know what else it says?  Jesus himself was afraid.

Jesus is God.  He always was and he always will be.  He created the world.  He created you and me.  He saw his creation rebel against him and turn their backs on him, earning permanent separation from God and death.  If you sin, you must die for your sins.

But God kindly sent him to pay the only price that could save us from hell: blood from a perfect man: the only man that could survive God’s wrath.

He also did all that for joy that he would see his people in heaven and rule the earth with them.

At the same time, Jesus was completely human.  He was born to a mother, got sick, got hungry, had to learn in school, had to learn to obey, and he did all that perfectly.  But he also cried and was afraid.

At this point in the scripture that I will read, Jesus was about to face the worst day in his whole existence: his death on the cross.  On that day, the soldiers would beat his back with a bony whip that would tear his skin and expose his bones.  They would put a nasty robe on him and press a crown of thorns into his head.  Then they would nail him through his wrists and his feet and he would eventually choke to death on the cross.  But that isn’t nearly as bad as God the Father turning his back on him so that he could take the full punishment for all our sins.

Does it ever feel like God has turned his back on you?  I can happily tell you that it has never happened to you.  You may disobey your parents, cheat at school, get in arguments, disappoint your teachers, make expensive mistakes, even end up in jail or dead, but God the Father has not turned his back on you while you still live on this planet.  But he did that to Jesus so that he could save you from your sins.

With all that, I will now read from Matthew 26:36-46.

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
Why is Jesus afraid?  Because he knows what is coming.  Jesus had come to earth to die, and the thought of being tortured, hung on a cross, and dying had become very real.  Jesus is sincere when he prays to his Heavenly Father, “If it’s at all possible, please don’t let this happen.”  And yet, even in his hour of great fear, Jesus is willing to do what it takes to complete his mission – “Your will be done!”

Was Jesus afraid of where he would go when he died?  Not at all.  Jesus came from Heaven, and he knew where he was going after he died.  Jesus was afraid of the pain, of the suffering, of the agony, and the loneliness he would face.  He was human, and he knew that paying for our sins would cost him greatly.  Jesus was willing to do whatever it took to free us from our sin, but he would have gladly taken another way if God had offered it to him.

But Jesus didn’t let the fear get the best of him.  He had come to Earth to save us from sin, and he was not about to run out on us at the last minute.  He could have run and hid.  He could have found another garden to pray at – one Judas would not know about.  But Jesus trust his heavenly Father’s plan.  He knew that death was not the end.  It was his whole purpose in living.  He knew that if he died, he could save us from our sins.  Jesus suffered and died on the cross so that he could be the cure for sin, for fear, and even death.  His death destroyed our sin and punishment and his resurrection gave us new righteousness (his righteousness) and life. 

What does that mean for us today?  What are some things that make you afraid?

I will talk about some of the things that make me afraid and why I would still face them.

I’m afraid of heights.  But if I am playing with a frisbee, and it gets stuck on a roof, then I would climb a latter with the joy of knowing that I would be reunited with my frisbee.

I’m afraid of confrontation and having to discipline children.  I do that as my job, but I do not enjoy that.  But if a kid is misbehaving, I would rather put that person in time out than have to see them continue in their bad behavior.  I do it for the joy of possibly being friends with that kid when they grow up and knowing that that person loves Jesus and wants to obey him.

I’m afraid of not succeeding in life.  I have been turned down for so many jobs and opportunities that it makes me not want to apply.  But I also still do it because I have a husband to support who also supports me, and I have a goal to move to another house.  I keep those in mind as I continue to look for better jobs and situations.

I can take all of those things to Jesus who was afraid of the worst possible thing yet still went through with it for my sake.  He saw the vision of living with us in eternity as friends and decided to go through with his worst fears.

But all these fears have one thing in common.  I take all my fears to Jesus and ask him to help me through them.  I cannot even wake up in the morning without Jesus allowing me to live another day.  I did not come to believe in Jesus without his Holy Spirit changing my heart to want to love and follow him.  And that is the same for you.  Every move you make really is from God, just like the song says.  You are still responsible for your choices and decisions, but you still rely completely on God to guide you through your life.  You must take your fears to God.

What are other things you fear that you will face?  Why would you face them?  What prize is at the end of them?

I have had one other fear that even I’m afraid to take to Jesus: fear that somehow God and the Bible are not true and that when I die, that will be the end.  But even that fear I had to take to Jesus or else I would not be cured from it.  I must believe that there is more to this life than right now and what I can see or else I won’t be able to move.  If you have that doubt, you must do the same.  If you don’t have that doubt now, but you do later on, you will know what to do.

1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

There is no one more perfect love than in Jesus.  And his love takes a golf club to fear and drives it far, far away.  Or he will put it in a car, drive it out to the desert, and leave it there.  You must trust in this love, bask in this love, and share this love with other people, wanting only the best for them, which is Jesus.

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