Aloha Friday Message – June 19, 2020 – Fear Not and Know Fear

2025AFC061920 – Fear Not and Know Fear

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Jeremiah 20:10a10 I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side! Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!”

Matthew 10:2626 But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when the truth will be revealed: their secret plots will become public information. Living Bible (TLB)[1]

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Grace and Peace to each of you from God our Father and our Lord, Jesus the Christ, in the Power of the Holy Spirit. I very much do not want this to be a diatribe, but I very much do want to be clear about what those of us who profess the Christian faith must be doing during this turbulent time throughout the world. It would be easy to write a forceful and bitter attack, a rant against what we see and what we know is wrong. As the expressions goes, “Everybody’s doing it.” And of course, as soon as we hear that, we can hear a parent or a preacher or a teacher saying, “Well if ‘everybody’ went and jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?” Instead of getting all livid and shouting, let’s just make some recommendations, share a little Praise, maybe give a few tributes and ovations, and perhaps include a Blessing – or two (or more).

One has to wonder how the whole world came unstitched in just a few weeks. We’ve seen so much bitter division over so many different things. It seems being offended has become the new National Pastime. The notion of being “ONE NATION UNDER GOD, INDIVISIBLE, WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” has become the basis for bitter recriminations. We have a widespread pestilence with devastating virulence that looks like it will be with us for years to come. History is being rewritten as people attack and destroy art they find offensive. (A quick aside here: Some of the folks who are tearing down statues are the same folks who decried the destruction of historical locations and art by ISIS.) This week sex was redefined as a characteristic unrelated to gender. Within the past year, the “right to life” for an unborn child was completely negated in some states. Laws permitting human persons to collaborate with a physician (sworn to “do no harm”) have been put in place that allow for another form of legalized murder. At the same time, laws that required capital punishment for certain heinous crimes were taken off the books.

Now, as we enter into what promises to be a very violent summer, we have unprecedented protests and riots around the world. The mayhem, criminal conduct, and disregard for life and property are horrific. The people we called heroes a month ago because of their contributions to keeping the nation running – police, fire fighters, truck drivers, healthcare workers, and the military – are now villainous usurpers of our individual rights. Leaders who pray for our Nation and our citizens are mocked as hypocrites while leaders who curse our citizens and government are hailed as models of decency. Let us praise God for those who serve others in humility rather than destroy others in pride!

On top of that, we have the prospects of a very serious and destructive hurricane season along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, a moderate possibility of a serious hurricane in the Central Pacific, the likelihood of at least one – and maybe more – super-typhoons in the Western Pacific, additional storms and flooding across the northern hemisphere, and who knows but what we might get a damaging earthquake somewhere along the line as well. There is no longer a “fire season” as there are humongous fires set off daily someplace in the world, probably in some West Coast states unfortunately. Again, in the past year or so, nearly the whole of Australia was burning and a great swath of the Amazon as well. Many of our rivers, lakes, streams, and oceans are brimming with pollution of some sort.

Despite all of these calamities, there are still wars going on, there are still terrorists acting, there are still crooked politicians (I heard that. Someone said “all of ’em”), and the world economy is tanking without regard to nationality, need, creed, or income. Millions around the world have lost their jobs. Well over eight MILLION (8,000,000) people have been infected with COVID-19 VIRUS, and close to 500,000 have died. We are told there is more of that coming. Social media is “blowing up” with people who are disgusted and impatient with all these catastrophes. What is an earthling to do? I want you to know that – really – it is not what we do at the start that will make a difference; it is what we do not do. We must not be afraid.

All of the things I’ve listed here are the kinds of things that make us afraid. Is that what God asks of us? In our Key Verse from Jeremiah, he speaks of his abuse by his own countrymen because he dares to prophesy against the false prophets who have led the nation astray. There was a false prophet named Pashhur son of Immer, a Priest and “chief officer” of the Temple. He used false accusations, false prophecies, and false evidence to persecute anyone who challenged his power. Jeremiah was sent by God to prophesy against him, to get him and his cronies out of power. To put it into modern lingo, Jeremiah told Pashhur the swamp was going to be drained, and he was going with it when Babylon wiped out Judah and carried Pashhur and his family off to Babylon where they would die by the sword. And so it was. Israel, Judah, the Chosen People were again conquered and subjugated, impoverished, and subjected to a vicious pogrom. Yet, some survived. Some remained faithful even in captivity, even in times of great fear and suffering. As you may recall, Cyrus (← Check it out!) eventually freed them and sent them home. We’d like an outcome like that, yes? So where do we begin?

First, be faithful to the Gospel. In the words of the simple instructions Jesus gave at the beginning of his ministry (and the end of John’s) – “Repent and believe the Gospel.” Prophecies that do not include a call to repentance were instantly recognized as false prophecies. We must start out with Faith that is nurtured and pruned through repentance. That is how we face and overcome the fear that all of the commotion around us can stir up. That is the second thing we must do. We must not fear.

You see, it is fear that the Foe uses to make us abandon our mission to go to all corners of Earth to proclaim the Good News. Satan uses F.E.A.R. to keep us in doubt and desire to keep us dissatisfied. We don’t have to submit to those tactics; in fact, we must not buy that line of baloney from Satan or his minions among our fellow earthlings. Earlier this week I sent you a music link: Be Not Afraid (↔ Music Link). Maybe you could watch it again? We cannot, must not, should not be afraid to make the Gospel known and to live it as completely as we can. We know that Jesus has told us he is always with us, that God is always watching over us, and – as the Apostle Paul said – “all things work together for good for those who love the Lord, who are called according to his purpose.” (See Romans 8:28) Ah, that last little phase there is quite the hook. For what purpose are we called? We are called to be faithful, to testify from the housetops (see Matthew 10:26-33, especially verses 32 and 33), and to reverence God. Here is a little logo I created a few years ago that summarizes that:

This image reminds us there is a “proper fear,” the Fear of the Lord, , and that includes adoration, thanksgiving, and praise – like Standing Ovation Praise. Now, most of us know that when we see that phrase – fear of the Lord – it does not mean we are to be afraid of God. It means to be in awe of God, to reverence him, and to know he is our Creator, our Salvation, and our Enduring Hope. Fear Not, because you Fear God! Someone has written that there are 365 instances in the Bible that tell us not to be afraid. I’d say that is pretty convincing evidence that being afraid in our lives is not what God intended for us. Here’s a good quote from the above selection in the Gospel of Matthew:

When each of us faces our day of judgment, what will it matter if we were afraid? Will we tell Jesus, “I couldn’t live the Gospel; I was too afraid.”? We know our mission will include controversy, confrontation, and contradiction – sometimes to the point of imprisonment or death. Do not be afraid. (← Check it out!) Fear can make us do things that are contradictory to our faith – we might act unethically because “no one will know,” or “everyone is doing it, so it’s OK for me.” We might do this because we are afraid of rejection, bullying, criticism, or persecution. We can honor those who stick to their faith by following their example. Do what we know is right. Avoid doing what we know is wrong. When we commit a wrong, we must repent. We must remember it’s The Ten Commandments, not the Recommendation List. We must remember that prayer is worship and praise, not a To-Do list for God. And we must remember not to be afraid!

There is a hymn I learned in our Youth Group around 1960. It was written Ellis Govan 1897-1983, born in Biggar, Strathdyde, Scotland. He served in World War I, and then worked in Kenya for several years. He later joined Faith Mission, the evangelistic agency his father founded in 1886 in Scotland and Ireland. Ellis wrote the hymn, “I Will Not Be Afraid.” (↔ Music Link) This hymn was born among the persecuted missionaries and believers in China during the war with Japan, 1931-1939. They boldly sang it together daily as they were surrounded by constant danger. Music: “Duntroon,” usually listed as Anonymous. As we listen to this simple tune and read the words, we can think about the love in our hearts and examine that love to see if there is any fear within it. If there is fear, we must “look upward, and travel onward, and not be afraid.” True Love does not evoke fear. We are repeatedly commanded to Love, and repeatedly reminded “Do not be afraid. (e.g., Psalm 56:11) Fear not. (e.g., Luke 12:32)” Love, instead, delivers us from all fear if we will just love one another in the same way that Jesus willing and completely, without pretense or demand, Loves us they same way his Father Loves him.  That is our blessing, the blessing we must share with everyone who Loves God.

God Our Father himself said, Isaiah 41:1010 … do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. We have Jesus’ word as well in John 16:33 33 I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world! So, Belovéd, what shall we do? Scripture shows us we need not be afraid, so what outlook should we embrace? Let’s choose Psalm 37:3Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security. Fear Not and Know Fear.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever —

at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

 

[1] Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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