Do Not Be Afraid, Believe

Do Not Be Afraid Series Sermon 2
Tyson Graber, Herscher Christian Church
December 11, 2011
~Believing~
Luke 1: 5-38

 
Do Not Be Afraid.  That’s what I would sometimes try and tell myself when certain people would show up.  Do Not Be Afraid.

I don’t know if you are like me at all but there have been times in my life that the presence of certain people would lead me to have some fear.  You know, its those moments that you feel when someone you greatly respect, admire, revere, and/or dread steps into your life for one reason or another, and your heart races with emotion and often a certain level of fear. 

For most of us adults, it’s those times we have realized we are in the presence of a police office who is shooting radar and we realize we are traveling beyond the posted speed limit.  All of the sudden his presence alone changes the mood.

For some, it has been those times the Doctor steps into the room and says I some good news and I have some bad news.  In those moments the fear can become frantic.

This type of fear is common to most.  But one of my most unique moments of fear  when I was in high school came from the presence of a father.  I  was standing in the foyer of a young ladies home that I was picking up for a blind date. My friends had set me up for the date, and would not accompany me to the house for introductions, but waited in the car.   As I waited for her to appear, I heard her father conversing room to room with her that she was expected to be home on time at 10 pm, and her assurances that she would.  But as she appeared, and just as we were about to leave her father steps into the room holding a shotgun. “Oh..., don’t mind this, I was just cleaning it...” and he bid us good evening.

There are times that the simple presence of someone in your life will lead you to be afraid.

But more than all of those combined examples,  at times in my life  I have been brought to my knees in reverent and holy fear because of the presence of the almighty God had come upon me.  It was in moments like that where I realized or been reminded that God was working in my life ..., and I wasn’t sure what he was doing.  Those supernatural moments with God are a blessing but they can also be initially overwhelming.

How do you handle the concept that God is still active and supernaturally, personally stepping into peoples lives with his presence and power?  Does it bring you to a place of fearful doubt and unbelief,  or does it lead you to a humbled belief that through Him nothing is impossible?

That is the question surrounding our text for today as we continue in this sermon series, “DO NOT BE AFRAID.”   Here is the truth that we all must wrestle with:
 
BELIEF IN THE SUPERNATURAL POWER AND PRESENCE OF THE LORD IS ESSENTIAL, ESPECIALLY WHEN FACING FEAR.

 

That statement has everything to do with the Christmas story.  Christmas is a pinnacle place in which God’s presence and power stepped into our earthly history to change the world forever through Jesus Christ. 

Do you really believe that Jesus Christ, God in the flesh came to earth, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on the cross and raised to life three days later so that you and I could also live?

Belief  in the supernatural power and presence of the Lord is essential when working through fearful times. 

Do Not Be Afraid and Believe!

Turn with me in your Bibles to Luke 1:5-38

Today, we are going to examine two very different ways people deal with the presence of God in their lives.

We will see in Luke 1 that the priest, Zachariah, was led to fear, and his fear led him to unbelief and burden.   And we’ll see a young and untrained woman named Mary was led for a moment to fear, but her fear turned to faith and a further belief and blessing in God.

We must believe and embrace that God intervenes in our lives today!

Much of the world can’t seem to accept that God actually steps into our lives and changes things.  They doubt the reality of God’s presence being involved in supernatural miracles and wonders.

Here's the astounding thing.  It is far too often that religious people have the problem with accepting the concept that the natural world could be interrupted by the supernatural...

In our Bible text today, Zachariah is perfect a case in point.   He is a priest, he is in the temple, and when he is told that his wife, who had been barren, is going to conceive and have a son (who would become John the Baptist), he does not believe!

He is confronted with a divine visitation, he is let in on one of the greatest miraculous works of God, and his immediate reaction - even though his life has been dedicated to the Old Testament law and rituals, even though he was a teacher of the faith - he doesn't believe!

Read Luke 1:5-20

Now Mary also had a similar issue because she was placed in the presence of something supernatural, something that she could not easily understand.  Do you understand that? None of us can understand the supernatural. If an angel appeared to me, I would be as afraid as anyone because I'm not used to it, no matter what other people say, I'm not used to seeing angels.  But the fact of the matter is that this was unusual and Mary was frightened with the same fear that Joseph was frightened with we discussed last week.

But this is what I want you to note:

Zachariah' fear led him to unbelief, yet Mary's fear led her to further belief.

Read Luke 1:26-38

You may be with us today in this place and you could be saved or not saved, you could be an believer  or an unbeliever at this point, but many of you are battling in your mind with the supernatural. You're trying to understand it, but it's a stumbling block to you coming in faith, or it's a stumbling block to you really going all out for God.

Many have been taught by very intelligent people much brighter than I am that God and especially God being born to a virgin is just not possible.  Its all just a nice story, there is no way the supernatural is really true because in your mind it can’t be understood.

Sometimes God in his awesome power and presence can be understood with our human minds, but He is not always to be understood..., He is to be bowed to, and Christ is to be worshiped - not understood! Christ is God!

Now you can see this in the questions that both Zacharias and Mary ask. There is a difference between them. In verse 18, Zachariah asks the question:

“How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” 

and Mary's question in verse 34 looks at first glance to be similar:

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

Zachariah - HOW CAN this be?   Mary - HOW WILL this be?

The fact of the matter is, we know from the context that Zacharias' question lacked faith, and Mary's question had faith. Zacharias was asking the question from the vantage point of unbelief and doubt, yet Mary is asking it from the point of faith - 'Lord, how are You going to do it?'. Not 'Are You really able to do it?', but 'How are You going to do it?'. You can see that from the reply that they get.

Zachariah is corrected and literally rendered speechless, but Mary was confirmed in her belief.   An angel told her that this child would be of the Holy Spirt, that the Holy Spirit would overshadow her, and she would be with child of the Spirit.

1.  UNBELIEF IN THE SUPERNATURAL PRESENCE AND POWER OF GOD PRODUCES A LIMITED TESTIMONY AND SILENCING OF THE SPIRIT.

When we do not believe in God’s supernatural power we lose our voice both literally and figuratively for the Kingdom of God.  IT SILENCES US!

I wonder what form of unbelief  is limiting your voice and testimony?

Make no mistake, both Mary and Zechariah were faced with a difficulty.

One was a difficulty of nature, verse 18, Elizabeth was beyond the age of childbearing and she was barren  a difficulty of nature.

The other was a difficulty of circumstance, Mary didn't know Joseph in the sexual sense not yet in marriage.Yet into this situation, where there was a natural problem and a circumstantial problem, God's word was fulfilled!

Here's the amazing thing to me today, and I don't want to encourage you in unbelief, but isn't it wonderful to know that even when we are faithless, He remains faithful? 

Even though He rebuked Zachariah, He stilled fulfilled His word, and Elizabeth came to be with child!  Even though God was faithful, Zechariah paid a price for his unbelief and lost his voice.

I want to just say that in Luke 1:21-22 we see the people's surprise.  See that his unbelief  prevented him from sharing the wonderful news of what was going to happen. Do you know that happens to us all when we do not believe? We are robbed of a certain consideration in our witnessing.

But look at what happened to Mary after she believed! We read in Luke 1:46 that she rejoiced.

When you believe in the Lord, and take Him and everything that He said by faith,  there is a special power that is given to you in expression of worship and joy.

2.  FAITH IN THE SUPERNATURAL PRESENCE AND POWER OF GOD PRODUCES A SPIRIT OF GREAT TESTIMONY AND REJOICING.

Some of us have the greatest fear of not being worthy.  We fear that we don’t deserve the grace, love, and gifts that God offers and it limits our rejoicing.

There have been times when I have been caught up in my own fear and that I don’t deserve anything, but God's grace and love is always shown toward the undeserving. You're here this morning, and maybe you're filled with fear for one reason or another, but what I want you to focus on just now is, not your fear, but on the favor that God gives to those who call on His Son Jesus. 

In Christ God gave the most perfect gift - the gift of love - to those who would receive Him.  That love is explained for us in 1 John 4:16-18.

Have you begun to enter into the discovery of all that God's grace has to offer you? I fear that most Christians are lacking understanding of grace.  We fear what  we have done in the past, and it leads us to unbelief in the present.

Maybe you're here today, and you're filled with fear.  For one reason or another, fear has gripped you, but God has a  word for you today:

In His perfect love there is nothing to fear.

If the whole world is against you there need be no fear or anxious feelings, because the God of heaven is for you.

Though Mary was a young virgin, through grace she was going to be given the privilege of being a mother - not through her own efforts, but by a gift of God. Though she was poor, she was going to be the mother of the Messiah, the King who would sit on the throne of David.

When this gift was offered to her did she say: 'I don't know, I can't believe', or 'I can't believe that the supernatural can invade my natural world to such an extent'? Do you know what she did? She gave the proper answer to grace - do you know what the proper answer to grace is, the proper reaction? Faith!

Read Luke 1:37-38

“I am the Lord’s servant.”

Mary had this gift, this grace,  poured into her lap, and what did she do? Did she doubt it? She believed it, she embraced it, and then she says: 'I rejoice in God my Savior'. She said:

Read Luke 1:46-49

Take a lesson from Mary today, if you are living in fear.  Fear of financial problems, fear of failure, fear of disease, fear of sin, fear of death, if you're in an impossible situation today, believe that God is faithful and will save us through Jesus Christ and give us life forever. 

Do not be afraid.  Believe,  and rejoice in what God has done.