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Sunday, 10 August 2014

'CHOOSING GOD OVER FEAR'

Rev. Brent Russett
By Rev. Brent Russett
Pastor of Sunnyside Wesleyan Church in Ottawa:
http://www.sunnysidechurchottawa.com/   

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PODCAST LINK to CFRA broadcast - Sunday, August 10th, 2014:
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Choosing God Over Fear’
 
            Good morning. And welcome to good news in the morning. My name is Brent Russett. I am the Senior Pastor at Sunnyside Wesleyan Church. It is my pleasure to look at some of life’s challenges, and then bring you some good news in the morning.

            This program is brought to you  by Good News Christian Ministries. This particular program has been sponsored by Rev. Mel Newman. Thank you for your generosity.

            You can find Good News in the morning on the Internet at Goodnewsinthemorning.ca . There you can hear past episodes and find interesting articles.

            This morning I want to talk to you about choosing God over fear.
           
            What is your biggest fear? 

            Sometimes fear drives us to do the right things. We lock our doors because we don’t want people to break in. That is an appropriate level of caution. Yet sometimes fear causes people to do destructive things. I have watched people so afraid of being left alone, that they would sabotage their relationships by being clingy.

            Here is what you need to know. If fear controls us then the enemy our souls can steal life from us. How much life does fear steal from you? If fear controls us it shrouds our life in darkness. This morning we are going to look at the dynamics of darkness.

            . Today we are going to look at a portion of the bible - Isaiah 8:11-9:7

            Isaiah was a prophet, and the he was living amongst were scared. There was a rumour going around that the King of Syria and the King of Northern Israel, which had defected from God and his people, were banding together to attack Judah – Jerusalem.

            The people inside Jerusalem were quaking in their boots. They were going to be over run – at least that is what they believed.

             Now God had already told them it wasn’t going to happen. But there were conspiracy theories all over the place. You couldn’t talk to your neighbour, you couldn’t go to the market without hearing some new take on what was going to happen – The rumours had one thing in common – they all predicted dire results.

            Not long before this had a vision of God. In that vision he was awed by God, and he was forgiven by God and he was sent by God. But, God also told him that people wouldn’t listen to him. Isaiah proclaimed the attacks were not going to happen. But people just kept right on with their conspiracy theories.

            So the word of the Lord came to Isaiah, for Isaiah. Someone who had known God. Here is the word of the Lord.

Isaiah 8:11 (NLT)
11 The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does.

            When you are living amongst a people who refuse to listen to the word of God, (And most of us do) then you can’t afford to think like they do. God issues this as a strong warning to Isaiah – for to fall into the trap of thinking like the people around him ---- will be detrimental to his soul, his life, his ministry.

            I want you to know that this just isn’t a word for Isaiah. I want you to know that this is a word that is meant for you.

Romans 12:2 (NIV)
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

            The only way you can live well in a wold that takes no thought of God, in a world that does not accept the word of God, in a world that doesn’t believe in God ------ is to think differently.
11 The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does.

            Or be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

            In Isaiah’s day it meant not buying into the conspiracy theories of the day. It meant not buying into the fear.

Isaiah 8:12 (NIV)
12 Do not call conspiracy
everything this people calls a conspiracy;
do not fear what they fear,
and do not dread it.

            Isaiah, you need to think differently.

            In Canada, unlike Isaiah, we don’t have conspiracy theories of Syria and Northern Israel attacking. But we are warned about danger every day. We have the danger of identity theft, and the danger of BPH in plastic. We have the danger of environmental disaster, or economic collapse, or terrorist attacks, or the danger of being a victim of crime – the list could go on and on. If you listen to certain television shows, every week they are warning of another danger that they say – you need to know of.

            It is quite easy to give into fear in this world.

            Here is the dynamic of fear  that happened in Isaiah’s world.

            The king and the people refused to hear God’s word that he was going to protect them from Syria and Northern Israel. So they started to fear. Fear has a way of building on fear. It wasn’t long until the fear of what was going to happen was bigger than God himself.

            That is why God command Isaiah, instead of fearing what they fear, fear me. God needs to be larger than the things you fear. When fear becomes an idol then things start to really get distorted.


Isaiah 8:13–17 (NIV)
13 The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
he is the one you are to fear,
he is the one you are to dread.
14 He will be a holy place;
for both Israel and Judah he will be
a stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.
And for the people of Jerusalem he will be
a trap and a snare.
15 Many of them will stumble;
they will fall and be broken,
they will be snared and captured.”

            If God is bigger than you fear he will be a holy place a set apart place, a place of refuge.

            What happens when your fear gets bigger than God, God becomes a stumbling block? God wants to be a refuge, but for those who will not make them his refuge they tend to stumble over him.

            Peter quotes this verse in 1 Peter 2:8 and applies it to Jesus. He is the one that people stumble over. If you don’t come to him, you tend to stumble over him.

            The point is that when your fear becomes bigger than God, then God just seems to get in the way of what you think you should do. And when that happens, you have a way of tripping and falling and hurting yourself.

MUSIC Amazing Grace (Chains are gone) Chris Tomlin 4:27

            Now Isaiah quits quoting God and this is what he says about himself

16 Bind up this testimony of warning
and seal up God’s instruction among my disciples.
17 I will wait for the Lord,
who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob.
I will put my trust in him.

            Isaiah says, I’m going to wait on God, even though he seems silent. I am going to trust in God, even though he doesn’t seem to be near.

            That is the hard part. The hard part is waiting in the “what if’s?” What if the word from the doctor is bad? What if the news that I am waiting on is bad? The anxiety creeps up.

            But I want you to know that how you wait will make the biggest difference in the world to you. If your fear gets bigger than God your life will get distorted. If God is bigger than your fear you will manage. If you wait trusting God to see you through what every comes your way – there is a peace that envelops your soul. If you wait and fear is your biggest driver then---  well you tend to do stupid things.

            Look what happened to the people around Isaiah. In the waiting they said,

Isaiah 8:19–22 (NIV)
19 When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20 Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. 21 Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. 22 Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.

            In the waiting and in the fear they decided that instead of consulting God, they would consult mediums or psychics and the like. They turned to calling up spirits from the dead – and Isaiah said it lead to their ruin.

            With fear running so high, they roamed the land. They were distressed and hungry. They were famished and angry. They look up and the curse the king and they curse God. They are thrust into utter darkness.

            It is a distressing picture for those who do not trust God. Look at how Isaiah and the people who follow Isaiah look at themselves.

Isaiah 8:18 (NLT)
18 I and the children the Lord has given me serve as signs and warnings to Israel from the Lord of Hosts…

            Isaiah and his disciples are watching and waiting and trusting in God. He has the same circumstances outside. He lives in the same city under the same threat, but he thinks different. He is not ruled by fear. He is ruled by God and he puts his hope in God.

            He is a sign to those around him that there is something better, something more.

            And people, when you wait in trust and put your hope in God, you are a sign to the people around you. When you have life, in spite of the fact that life is hard, you are a sign and symbol to those around you that there is God who cares.

            As a Christian you are not exempt from pain or suffering. This summer a friend of mine was killed in a bicycle accident. He was a follower of Jesus and his family follows Jesus.

            I have tracked with the family. They are not trying to be sign or a symbol to those around them. But they are – by their lives they are saying that there is something more powerful than death. There is meaning beyond this life.

            But I have been to funerals where that kind of loss is overwhelming and depressing and the feel was one of being completely enveloped in darkness.

            But Isaiah says, to those who don’t know God they are despairing and they are angry and they hopeless, and they are cast into outer darkness. I have watched that  all too many times.

Isaiah 9:1–7 (NLT)
*Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.
* The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,*
a light will shine.
You will enlarge the nation of Israel,
and its people will rejoice.
They will rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest
and like warriors dividing the plunder.
For you will break the yoke of their slavery
and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders.
You will break the oppressor’s rod,
just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.
The boots of the warrior
and the uniforms bloodstained by war
will all be burned.
They will be fuel for the fire.

            Do you see what is going on here. Those who made a god of their fear, and who were angry and desperate and hopeless and cast into outer darkness – a light is coming. There is a light that is going to break through.

            The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness a light will shine.

                        God will not give up people although they have given up on him. The question is – how does this light comes.

Verse 6
For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor,* Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen!

            That time of darkness is not going to last forever. There is someone coming.

            You hear these words ever Christmas. It is then that we celebrate the birth of Jesus. God is going to break through the darkness by sending a child.

            But this child will be no ordinary child. This child will grow up and he will carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. He is going to be called

Wonderful Counselor,* Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
will never end.

            He is going to shatter the darkness. There is a reason why John 1 talking about the coming of Jesus says,

John 1:1–5 (NRSV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God……..in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

            He came to shatter the darkness.

            There is a reason why Jesus said

John 8:12 (NIV)
12 …, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

            He came to shatter the darkness and to bring life.

            Jesus also said to his disciples in Matthew 5

\Matthew 5:14 (NIV)
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

            He sent us to shatter the darkness and bring life.

            When our fear becomes bigger than God, it causes us to stumble into darkness. When we are in darkness we tend to do stupid things. That just makes it darker.

            But God didn’t want his people in darkness so he sent his son Jesus into the world. In him was life and this life was the light of all people. He is the light of the world.

            The question is, what about you. Is your God bigger than your problems, is he bigger than your fears. Are you thinking differently from the world around you or are you buying into the worries of this world.

            Just like the people of God of old – it is easy to look at the circumstances of life, instead of the giver of life. In the middle of tough times you will have to choose between the who is light and the darkness that envelops you.

            There are some of you who feel like you are in the middle of darkness – I want you to know that Jesus wants to enter into that darkness to bring light and life.

            My questions is, which direction are you going to head towards the light or the darkness? It may mean thinking differently than those around you, but it is what you called to do.

            Maybe you have never asked Jesus into your life. He waits for an invitation to come into your life. He promises you hope and peace. He wants to make you part of his family. He wants to forgive your sin and give you a new life. But in order for him to do that, you need to hand over the steering wheel of your life to him. Tell him, Jesus, I give my life to you and I will go where you lead me. When you do that he has a way of taking you out of the darkness.

Let’s Pray

Lord, I pray for every person who is listening, that they would move from darkness into light and they would see you bigger than their fears.
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen

            Thank you for your words of encouragement, and for keeping us in your prayers. Keeping this program on the air continues to be a work of faith. If you can help with that, please make out a cheque payable to Good News Christian Ministries, Box 184, Rideau Ferry, On. K0G  1W0. Or you can give online by going to goodnewsinthemorning.ca

May you know Jesus Christ personally and profoundly.  May the Holy Spirit reside deep within your heart.  And may the heavenly Father surround you with His constant and abiding and accompanying love.

MUSIC – Guy Penrod – Rock of Ages  4:39

- Rev. Brent Russett
Sunnyside Wesleyan Church in Ottawa
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To listen to the above broadcast, click on the following link:

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