Mature Class Study, teacher Edith Tolbert.
There’s a lot of fear during the pandemic. God says to not be afraid of evil tidings but to fix our heart on and trust the Lord.
Psalm 112:7-8 He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord. His heart is established, he shall not be afraid, until he see his desire upon his enemies.
Fear paralyzes, torments, feeds doubts, feeds worry, and causes unbelief. Fear is a tool the enemy uses to oppress, hinder, frighten, and discourage so we can’t be successful in our Christian life.
Proverbs 3:25-26 Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.
Years ago when the teacher was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, she started trembling and immediately cried out for God to help her. God brought the words of the scriptures “be not afraid of evil tidings” and then he said “don’t be afraid of sudden fear.” Those scriptures immediately took away all her fear and trembling.
Everyone is going to get bad news at times but God is faithful to help us. Elijah the prophet had just called fire down from heaven and gotten rid of the 400 prophets of Baal. King Ahab’s wife Jezebel found out and said she was going to kill Elijah. He ran out of fear for his life. He lacked trust in what God’s plan for his life was. Jezebel killed many prophets of God but Ahab’s servant Obadiah hid 150 prophets in a cave. Elijah didn’t know if God would spare him or not so he ran 20 miles to Beersheba and left his servant. Then he ran another day’s journey and went to sleep under a tree. God didn’t condemn him for his fear but sent an angel to feed him and give him water. Elijah went to sleep again, then the angel woke him with more food. God knew where he was going, that he had a long journey ahead, and supplied food by the angel. He went 200 miles to a cave at Mount Horeb. God asked Elijah, what are you doing here? God knows why where we are and why but wants us to consider our own thinking. Elijah answered that he was the only one serving God and Jezebel was going to kill him. God sent the wind, the earthquake and fire but said he was only in the still small voice that said again “What doest thou here, Elijah?” Elijah gave the same answer and God told him what to do. He also told Elijah that he had 7,000 people serving God who hadn’t bowed to Baal. God was faithful, long-suffering, gentle, and kind to Elijah in his fear. God is the same today and doesn’t want us to fear. God will help and supply our need when fear comes.
God is not the author of fear. It comes from the enemy, not from God. He only speaks by love so he doesn’t give us the spirit of fear. Everything we have belongs to God – our children, life, careers, health. Bad news usually regards something that’s precious to us. How do we act when fear or bad news come? Do we let it consume our thoughts so it’s all we think about? Do we let it control our actions by fear or being paranoid? God wants us to trust and rely on him in every situation.
II Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
When Sennacherib the king of Assyria surrounded Jerusalem, Hezikiah gathered all the people and comforted them. He told them to be strong, of good courage, and to not be afraid about the great multitude – there’s more with us than with them. Every time fear comes, you can be sure there’s more with God than whatever the enemy is trying to bring against us. The enemy only has the arm of flesh but we have the Lord to help us and fight our battles. It’s important to encourage each other to trust God when fear comes to others so we aren’t drawn into their fear. Hezekiah encouraged the people who had fear to trust God and know he’s greater than anything that the enemy can bring against us. They believed him and rested on that. Isaiah prayed and really sought God to help the situation. An angel came and killed the enemy that night. Hezekiah and the people didn’t have to do anything. God was fought the battle for them and he wants to fight our battles so we rely on him. He wants to get glory when we wait on him in our trouble. If we don’t know what to do but we wait on and keep our eyes on him, he’ll work everything out for his glory and honor.
II Chronicles 32:7-8 Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude…with him: for there be more with us than with him: With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
II Chronicles 32:21-22 And the Lord sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men…of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And…they that came forth of his own bowels slew him there…Thus the Lord saved Hezekiah and…Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria…and guided them on every side.
There are ways people cope and protect themselves when they hear bad news. Some look for refuge in cynicism. They prepare for the worst by only expecting the worst. They get bad news and figure it’s just going to get worse – not better. Hezekiah received bad news but went to prayer so the expected battle didn’t happen and God gave them victory. Another way some cope is by apathy and claiming to not care when bad news comes. We do care about bad news and need to go to God so he hears and answers prayer. Another way of coping is to hide in isolation and avoid situations that might cause harm. God doesn’t want us to hide. He wants us to know he has control of the situation. Right after David escaped from Saul who was trying to kill him, he wrote “what time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” He went to the Philistine camp and they were going to kill him so he acted like a madman by slobbering and rolling in the dirt. He got away and went to a cave where he wrote this psalm. He had fear like we do at times but he trusted in and knew God was going to help him.
Psalm 56:3-4 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.
David was in a cave and asked God to have mercy on him. He said he was going to hide under the shadow of God’s wings until all the calamities passed. Saul was still after him, he was hiding in a cave, and had calamities but was trusting God. God wants us to hide under his wings when calamities come. None of us are exempt from bad news or calamities.
Psalm 57:1-3…O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. I will cry unto God…that performeth all things for me. He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.
Bad news doesn’t change the natural feelings we’ll have. We have to ask God to help us rely on him and know he has things under control. History tells of people who got bad news. Job got bad news. Three people came one after the other with bad news. A fourth came the same day to say all his children died. Job went to worship, and said the Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord. Job was confident God would help him no matter what happened. He didn’t see God anywhere but knew God knew where he was. We need to keep confident whether we see God working or not. He knows where we are. We’ll come forth as gold, not go astray, or go back from the commandments when we’re tried – like Job. He said God’s word was more important than food. God wants us to trust his word no matter how we feel.
Job 23:8-12 Behold, I go forward…and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. Neither …gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.
Jesus battled fear in the garden of Gethsemane. He asked God to remove what he had to do. He overcame fear when he said “not my will, but thine, be done.” He knew he was going to be crucified but was able to go through because had it settled. It’s important for us to have whatever we go through settled. We’re not our own and everything belongs to God. What he takes could be a barrier between us and God. We keep holding onto God and trusting him with all of our heart.
Elisha’s servant saw the enemy and was fearful. Elisha answered him to not be afraid because there were more with them than with the enemy. There’s always more with us and God than with the enemy or anything he wants us to fear. Elisha prayed God would open his eyes and he saw horses and chariots of fire all around. God is good to show that he’s mightier and more powerful than what the enemy brings against us. God is saying don’t fear, trust in me with all your heart.
II Kings 6:15-17…the servant of the man of God was risen early, and…an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said…Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed…Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw…the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.
God doesn’t want evil tidings, bad news, or suffering calamity to separate us from him. He wants us to be sure we’re on the altar of sacrifice and willing to do whatever he wants so we’re more than conquerors through him.
Romans 8:35-37 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Courage is not the absence of fear but the conquering of fear. Everyone is going to have fear. God doesn’t want us to rely on the fear and act out of fear, but to overcome the fear by trusting him. He encourages us, gives strength to do what is right no matter what the cost is, to go beyond what we feel and do what God wants even being willing to die. God says over and over, don’t fear. He says he’s holding our hand in his hand. When fear comes, know that God is right there holding your hand and saying, fear not, I’m going to help you. He allows us to hear bad things and for calamities to try us, to see if our faith and our trust in God is real. God isn’t the author of fear but he wants us to trust him to perfect us. Love casts out fear, so God will help us overcome all the fears with our love and trust in him.
Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
Isaiah 41:13 For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.
The apostle Paul was told several times to not go to Jerusalem because bonds and afflictions waited for him there. They asked him to not go because they knew bad things were going to happen to him. His answer showed he was completely given over to God and none of those things moved him. He didn’t count his life dear so he could finish his course with joy. Fear robs you of your joy and your peace. God doesn’t want our peace and joy robbed but wants us to completely be on the altar so whatever bad news comes, we commit it to God and still trust him with all of our heart.
Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.