Sermon: February 8, 2009

9 02 2009

 

As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

 

                                                            Mark 1:29-39

 

             Fear is an emotional response to threats and danger. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of pain. 

 

           What are you afraid of?  You know, there are all kinds of fears out there.  What are you afraid of?  There are some people who are afraid of spiders.  Others are afraid of mice.  Some people fear heights.  Others fear crowds.  Some people live in fear of losing love – losing financial security.  In fact here is a list of a few fears that I have never heard of before:

Catoptrophobia: Fear of mirrors.

Glossophobia: Fear of speaking in public or of trying to speak.

Isopterophobia: Fear of termites, insects that eat wood.

Phalacrophobia: Fear of becoming bald.

Atomosophobia: Fear of atomic explosions.

Mageirocophobia: Fear of cooking.

Cyclophobia: Fear of bicycles.

 

I find some of those amusing.  But you know, I know that fear is real.  I have spent a good deal of my life learning about fears – counseling people who life with fear.  But in spite of that – over the years, I have been amazed just how often people allow their lives and their decisions to be guided by their fears.  I will never forget this one guy who came to me for counseling.  He hated his job but he never would apply for another job because he was afraid that nobody else would hire him and as he would tell me, “I just don’t think that I could stand the rejection.”  As a result, he stayed in a job – he stayed where he was – he stayed being unhappy – all because of his fears.  Well, what are your fears?  What are you afraid of?  And how do those fears control you life?


            Last week we spoke about the evil one.  We talked about how he is real.  We spoke about how he is like a roaring lion who roams about seeking whom he may devour.  Well, I am here to tell you that one of the greatest tools – one of the greatest weapons in his arsenal is fear.  He wants us to be afraid.  Fear weakens us.  Fear makes it impossible for us to move.  The devil feeds on our fears.  And we spend most of our life being afraid.  Afraid of what people will think of me.  Afraid of getting sick.  Afraid of being able to care of myself and my family.  Afraid of life.  Fear paralyzes us.

         

   And that is what I like about this story that we find in the Gospel of Mark.  Mark tells us how this Jesus frees us from fear.  In one sentence Mark shows us how Jesus has the power over fear.  And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

          

  He has the power.  He has the final word.  There is nothing that we cannot do.  There is nothing we cannot be with God our side.  There is nothing to fear because Jesus is the master of fear. 

            And you know that is what I was talking about last Sunday.  I said that there are three things that we need to do – three things that we need to work on – three things that will keep the evil one from us – three things that will keep fear from us.  Worship.  Prayer.  Bible Study.

        

    I know that there are many who think that you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.  Why I can sit on my back deck – watch the sunrise – drink a cup of coffee – and touch the divine.  Nonsense!  This is where I touch the divine.  This is where I find God.  This is where I get strength from my brothers and sisters as I deal with my fears.  And, I am sorry, but a sunrise and cup of coffee just don’t do that.  That’s why one of the commandments says, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.”  This is where I touch the face of God.  This is where I find peace and love and joy.  This is where I can leave my fears.  And this is where I find my strength – not just in God but from all of you.  Because I know that you really care for me.

           

This is where I can get strength to face my fears as I pray with you and as you pray with me.  As I pray for you and as you pray for me.  I know that when I am armed with the power of God and the power of prayer and the power of my brothers and sisters that there is nothing that I have to fear.

          

  I know that when I read the Bible with you – as I study the Bible with you – that I can discover that the fear is an illusion.  It is what the evil one uses to pry me from the confidence that I have in God.  In just I have nothing to be afraid of. 

            And now you also know why one of my favorite hymns is Have No Fear Little Flock:

Have no fear Little Flock;

Have no fear Little Flock;

For the Father has chosen

To give you the Kingdom;

Have no fear Little Flock

 

Amen!

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