Saturday, November 22, 2008


What To Do When You Are Afraid


Habakkuk 3: 16 When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops. 17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: 18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 19 The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments

The book of Habakkuk is about God dealing with questions in Habakkuk’s mind. There is the problem of evil in so many of its forms. There is the problem that confronted Habakkuk of the wickedness of Jerusalem.. why would You, God, leave the people of Judah unpunished when their lifestyles are so wicked? And God speaks up.. The Lord is going to bring in the Chaldeans to punish Judah.

God says He will punish Judah for their wickedness and God will punish the Chaldeans too.

Have you ever been there? You cannot understand the way God understands it.

You’ve come to the end of your reasoning and have had to put your trust in a God who is over you.

He had to let God be God. When you have slips of doubt or horrible circumstances and you want to know why? Ask God. As we wait for God to answer us we need to set ourselves for Him to answer us. We need to del with our hearts and our pride. We need to wait upon the Lord.

When God answers we have to adjust to what God says to us.

Chapter 3 is a song.

What is the most difficult experience you have had to weather in your life? What event most wrenched you emotionally?

For some that might be: · the death of a spouse, or of a child, or of a parent;

· for others it might be an act of violence committed against you;

· for others, being ignored, rejected, or put down by someone you love;

· for others, the consequences of a sin you yourself committed.

Think back, now: What were your thoughts toward God at that difficult time in your life? Did you pray? If so, how? With tears? With anger? With a broken and contrite heart?

Today's text - Habakkuk 3:17-19 - contains words of great hope. But we won't understand those verses unless we see the depth of despair that faced the prophet writing them.

Habakkuk 3:16: I heard and my inward parts trembled, At the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, And in my place I tremble. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, For the people to arise who will invade us.

One of the things that accompanied the entrance of sin into our world was fear. Having partook of the forbidden fruit, Genesis 3:8 records that Adam and Eve "heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day." Up until this time, the voice of God had been a cause of joy and delight, but sin had altered that. The verse continues, "and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God."

When God arrived at His usual meeting place, Adam and Eve were conspicuously absent. Can you picture Adam crouched down behind some bush, his hands clammy, his heart pounding in his chest like a kettle drum, hardly daring to breathe. Then God's voice broke the silence. To Adam it must have sounded like thunder, "Adam, where are you?"

In a halting, quivering voice Adam answers, "I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid." Sin brought many companions into the world, and one of them was fear: panic, dread, anxiety, each a manifestation of fear.

A young woman was waiting for a bus in a crime-ridden area when a young policeman approached her and asked, "Want me to wait with you?" "That's not necessary," she replied. "I'm not afraid." "Well, I am," he grinned. "Would you mind waiting with me?"

Some very ordinary circumstances in life are frightening.

Getting married. "Am I ready? Am I sure this is the right one? The right time?"

Becoming a parent. "Will I do things right? What will happen if I make a mistake?"

Raising teenagers. "Will they make the right choices? Will my example prove more powerful than the tug of the world? Am I giving them enough freedom? or too much?"

Growing old. "How will I care for myself? "Will I become a burden for others?"

Change. A new job; relocating to a new area.

Other situations are threatening by nature: Disease, Divorce, Disaster, and Death.

Throw into the mix the spiritual dimension (knowing the will of God, facing temptation, being opposed by the devil) and we realize that life can be a succession of experiences which cause our hearts to feel the chilling touch of fear. It's not a sin to be afraid, but it does matter what we do with our fears.

During the Gulf War the Pentagon --- the headquarters for the United States Military establishment --- even stopped pizza deliveries. This was due to their concern over some sort of terrorist attack via a Dominoes delivery man.

Billy Graham once observed, "Man is the only creature on earth whose existence is passed in a state of dread, who is prey to constant fear of one sort or another.

One of the biblical signs of the end-time is: "Men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world." The word "fainting" as used here actually means to "breathe out life, to expire, to faint or swoon away." What a graphic picture of a heart attack!

Proverbs 12:25 (The Amplified Bible) adds, "anxiety in a man's heart weighs it down." That is so graphic! If you're struggling under a load of fear, you actually feel like there is a heavy weight on your body, weak-kneed, "rubber legs." You, thus, cannot function normally.

2 Timothy 1:7 (The Amplified Bible) "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity -- or of cowardice, of craven and clinging fear -- but he has given us a spirit of power and of love and of a calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control."

Central Tanzania, Africa. August 5, 1995

Lined up on their knees were three Southern Baptist missionaries and two of their children.

"Are we going to shoot them all together or one at a time?" the kidnapper asked his two helpers.

He pointed an AK-47 assault rifle at them. The gunman grabbed missionary Sandy Harrington from the line and forced her to kneel five feet away.

She was absolutely terrified, and her fear had been escalating throughout the whole ordeal.

But even then, there was a calmness in the midst of her terror -- a sense of heaven-wardness.

"If they killed me, I'll be with God,' she thought to myself.n But she said to the gunman, "Please don't shoot me."

They all grabbed one another's hands and tensed up, expecting the bullets to hit.

One of them prayed, "Lord, put your angels around us, but if it's time for us to go, then it's time. Do your will." He felt that everything was surrendered to God.

Sandy Harrington felt a similar peace. She remembered the Bible verse in the book of Romans saying nothing could separate them from the love of Christ --not even death."

Her 10-year-old daughter said, "When I saw the gun, I felt scared at first.

But I knew I would go to heaven if I was killed, and that was better than being alive ... so, I didn't care."

Lined up, kneeling, their backs to the gunman, holding hands and praying aloud, the five expected to die.

Then one of the abductors leaned down and asked one of the men a question.

"Are you a pastor?" "Yes, I'm a pastor, a Baptist missionary."

The kidnapper forced them all to take a drugged liquid. When they woke up, their car was gone but they were alive. After the ordeal was over, one of the missionaries said,

"We crossed a line, the five of us, that most people don't cross. I had peace because I knew Jesus Christ and knew that he was my Lord and Savior. I've been someplace in my life that most haven't been, and I'm going to tell them about it. Then I'm going to ask them if they can say the same thing about Jesus that I can say".

THE WORLD PRODUCES FEAR--with its crime, war, Y2K, and hate.

THE FLESH PRODUCES FEAR--with its diseases, sicknesses and bad choices.

THE DEVIL PRODUCES FEAR--with his fiery darts, his demons, and evil suggestions.

But in response to those fear producing agents, the Lord likewise give three things:


How can you conquer fear the way Habakkuk conquered it?

You need to Rejoice In God

1. Rejoice In God’s Judgements.

17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: 18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
No figs.. good I don’t like figs anyway… bit not a whole lot was growing around Jerusalem. They had olives.. they had figs.. and that was about it.

They had some “fields” pretty barren with goats and sheep picking at the occasional blade of grass that they might find. Not a whole lot of anything growing around Jerusalem.

Now.. we are talking about famine! Real famine! A famine that was going to take the lvies of the largest part of the population of Jerusalem.

We are talking about a real problem. We are not just talking economic downturn here. We are talking about starvation. The flocks be cut off from the fold… even the sheep are going to die of starvation. No herds in the stalls. The people are going to have eaten every cow and every calf that was in their stall. There wasn’t going to be any cows left to eat. Not one! This was the vision that Habakkuk saw. Jeremiah saw it too. Nothing! What if I were to tell you that 9/10’s of Newcastle was going to starve to death in a year’s time… Well, we wouldn’t believe it would we?

We live in such a fertile area. There is grass growing every place. The concept of all the cows suddenly gone and real starvation doesn’t seem such a threat to us.

Habakkuk is saying that it was not just a threat, but a reality.

If everything as taken from you, and even life itself, what would you have left? What would you have that would really matter? Habakkuk is saying he’d have the Lord. It didn’t matter what he had left, or what he had lost, the only thing that mattered was that he had the Lord!

2. Rejoice In God’s Wisdom

17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: 18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
3. Rejoice In God’s Might.

17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: 18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,

Hab 3:5 Before him went pestilence, and plague followed at his heels. 6 He stood and measured the earth; he looked and shook the nations; then the eternal mountains were scattered; the everlasting hills sank low. His were the everlasting ways.

4. Rejoice in God’s Wrath

Hab 3:8 Was your wrath against the rivers, O LORD? Was your anger against the rivers, or your indignation against the sea, when you rode on your horses, on your chariot of salvation? 9 You stripped the sheath from your bow, calling for many arrows. Selah. You split the earth with rivers. 10 The mountains saw you and writhed; the raging waters swept on; the deep gave forth its voice; it lifted its hands on high. 11 The sun and moon stood still in their place at the light of your arrows as they sped, at the flash of your glittering spear. 12 You marched through the earth in fury; you threshed the nations in anger.

I guess all of this would make us reverence and fear the Lord.

I guess this is a starting point for knowing God.

Psalm 111: 10 The  fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;all who follow His instructions have good insight. His praise endures forever.

5. Rejoice In God’s Mercy.

18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
Hab 3:13 You went out for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed. You crushed the head of the house of the wicked, laying him bare from thigh to neck. Selah. 14 You pierced with his own arrows the heads of his warriors, who came like a whirlwind to scatter me, rejoicing as if to devour the poor in secret. 15 You trampled the sea with your horses, the surging of mighty waters.

1 John 4:8 declares that "Perfect love cast out fear." The Amplified Bible puts this, "There is no fear in love. Dread does not exist; but full-grown, complete-perfect love turns fear our of doors and expels every trace of terror."

Psalms 56:3-4 adds: "When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?"

Psalm 34:4, "I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears."

While here, let's look at the familiar Romans 8:35-39: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any power neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

6. Rejoice In God’s nearness

18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 19 The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments

Joshua 1:9, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

Psalm 46:1-3, 10-11: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging." 10. "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress."

7. Rejoice In God’s Care

19 The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments

2 Kings 6:14-17, "Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. "Oh, my lord, what shall we do?" the servant asked. "Don't be afraid," the prophet answered. "Those who are with us are more than those who are with them." And Elisha prayed, "O LORD, open his eyes so he may see." Then the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha."

But that might be fine while we are winning, but what about when we are losing?

He still promises that we win. Not here, but hereafter!

Fear has been described as: False, Evidence, Appearing, Real.

We need to see that the Lord is real, and eternity is real, and His plans are real.. and everything else isn’t so real. As the Psalmist wrote, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee." Psalm 56:3

I asked God to take away my pride, and God said no. He said it was not for Him to take away but for me to give up.

I asked God to make my handicapped child whole, and God said,

"No, her spirit is already whole. Her body is only temporary."

I asked God to grant me patience, and God said no.

He said that patience is the by-product of tribulation. It isn't granted; it's earned.

I asked God to give me happiness; God said no. He said He gives blessing; happiness is up to me.

I asked God to spare me pain, and God said no.

He said I must grow on my own, but he will prune me in order to make me fruitful.

I asked God if he loved me, and God said yes.

He gave me his only Son who died for me, and I will be inheaven someday because I believe.

I asked God to help me love others as much as he loves me,and God said,

"Ahhhh, finally! Now you have the idea."

Proverbs 3:24-26 adds: ". when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared."

Psa 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!

Psa 112:1 Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments!

Psalm 112:6-8 cries: "Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes."

Godliness in a man or woman consists of three things:

1. He fears God. Most Christians know that when the Bible tells us to fear God it is not telling us to shake in terror before him. The fear the Bible is talking about is best described as a profound reverence; that is, we are to revere God, or stand in awe of him. On the other hand, we should not dismiss the idea of fear too easily, for in many respects God is truly terrifying. God is holy, majestic, forceful, and frighteningly opposed to everything that is unholy or would seek to diminish his glory. We cannot take God lightly. God cannot be inconsequential to us or weightless in our thinking or acting.

The person who is blessed according to this psalm is, first of all, the person who takes God seriously. Indeed, he or she takes him with full seriousness—as lie starting point of everything, the critical factor in every calculation, and lie end to which everything is moving and to whom we are all accountable.

2. He obeys God. If the great, majestic God of the Bible really is the most important thing to the godly person in every situation, he or she will obey God in every situation. In this text it is not God himself the godly person delights in, though that delight also is important. Minneapolis pastor and writer John Piper has written several books about the godly person’s delight in God. Here the emphasis is on conforming to God’s “commands,” that lie godly woman or man is obedient.

3. He delights in God’s commands. The godly person does not merely do what God says, though obedience is necessary; but he or she also delights in God’s commands and obviously also in obeying them. There is a deliberate ‘ilin of the previous psalm here. Psalm 111:2 spoke of delight in God’s works. In Psalm 112:1 we are told that God’s people also delight in God’s words (commands). Derek Kidner says rightly that “to this man God’s word i’ as fascinating as are his works to the naturalist.”4

We need to examine ourselves by this probing definition of the godly person. We all want and should want to be blessed by God, desiring to be in His good graces and be prospered by him. God wants to bless us too. He enjoys blessing his people, but there are conditions to blessing: We must fear or reverence him, obey him, and delight in his commandments. I’m Linking these thoughts together with the earlier psalm, we understand that we will do these things if we truly and deeply appreciate the greatness of God in his works and to us personally. James Montgomery Boice

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