Onaway & Millersburg UMC
Sunday, July 12, 2020
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
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Sermon

 
Be a Faithful Disciple 
 

 July 12, 2020
Sunday Home Worship Service

Welcome & Invitation to Worship

Call to Worship                          
Come, let us worship the Lord our God,
For the Lord is our God, and we are the Lord's people.
As we wait upon the Lord, let us open our ears,
That we might both hear and heed the word of the Lord.
As we wait upon the Lord, let us open our eyes,
That we might both see and perceive the will of the Lord.
As we wait upon the Lord, let us open our hearts.
That we might understand with our hearts and turn to the Lord for healing.
Come, let us worship the Lord our God,
Let us worship the Lord our God with our joyful heart. AMEN

Worship in Song                                            Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee                                       89

Old Testament Reading                                                                                   Psalm 62:1-2, 5-8

Doxology

Offertory Prayer

Prayer of the People

The Lord's Prayer

Gospel Reading                                                                                                Matthew 10:29-33

Musical Response                                          Thank You Jesus                                                                  2081
                                                Thank you Jesus, Amen! (x3) Alleluia! Amen

Scripture Reading                                                                                            Proverbs  3:21-26

Message                                              The Good Life 3: Fear and Trust        

Today is the third in a series of sermons on Proverbs, titled the Good Life. The book of Proverbs tells us how to live wisely and godly in the world. I would like to give you a quick reminder about our last two sermons. In the first, we discussed "Wisdom," the main theme of the book of proverbs and how fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. And, one of the biggest points was that fear of the Lord does not mean terror, it refers to rever ence and love for God in our lives. Last week, we talked about "Heart." We learned that we should guard our hearts against many temptations and sins and guide our hearts toward God with fulfilling worship. And, today, I would like to talk with you about "Fear and Trust."

Before starting my message, I want to tell a story. Three friends waited for a train to get back home at late night. When they got into the subway station, they heard the announcement for the last train of the night so they jumped through the doors. However the doors dinged and starting closing right as the 3rd guy jumped in. Since he was right in the middle of the doorway, the doors go clunk and trap the person who jumped last. Half of his body was hanging in the subway and the other half was hanging out, and his face was all squashed. Of course, all three friends are fearful and freak out. One of friends inside the train started pushing on him yelling get out! But, the other friend started pulling on him, trying to get him in. The person who was stuck yelled because of the pain. At that moment, they heard a voice from outside, “Hey a person is stuck in the door,” and the doors opened. The voice was from train conductor in the station. He watched a person get stuck and let him inside. The three friends felt really embarrassed.

In our lives we can sometimes feel like these friends, like a person who got stuck in a door - feeling trapped, scared because the train is about to take off, and sometimes we can feel like the two friends inside the train - feeling fearful, confused, and having no idea what to do or how to help.

In today's scripture reading, especially, verse 26, "for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught." Does this mean that a Christian will never experience bad and/or difficult circumstances? No. Non-Christian or Christian, we all have experienced difficulties and may be overwhelmed with things in our lives at this very moment. You may have experienced what it feels like being at the end of your rope and frankly you might just want to give up. Some of you may actually be there right now. This isn’t the message where I say “get over it, come on, stand back up and forget about everything that is holding you down.” Because most of the time it just isn’t that easy. But let me say this… there is hope.  The scripture simply tells us that we don’t have to fear because God is greater than our circumstances and God is able to pull us through.

There are many passages that remind us "not to fear because God is with us" in the Bible, and the book of Proverbs also mentions about how and why we do not need to be fear in a practical way. Let us look over them.

Proverbs 12:25 says, "Anxiety weighs down the human heart, but a good word cheers it up." When we hear this passage, we understand what it means because we have experienced it. Don’t let your heart be afraid. It will wear you down and weigh you down and the gospel, which literally means good news, should always lift you up and take away all fear, no matter what you’re going through.

That sounds nice and pretty but fear doesn’t just disappear by itself.  Fear has to be evicted. So here’s how you evict fear and kick it to the curb of your life… Don't ever let what you're going through take your eyes off of who you're going through it with.

Imagine if the friends in the story I told you knew for a fact that the train conductor was watching to make sure he got on the train and he had promised to always be protecting him. None of them would have freaked out! The best action was to call out to the conductor and ask for help.

That’s what happens when we don’t focus on what we are going through but on the God who is right there with us. When we keep our eyes focused on Christ we can go through trials as boldly as lions. Open your eyes and focus on how God is with you and gives you strength. That is the key allowing us to overcome our fear and trust in the Lord.

I just mentioned a lion who was bold. Actually, it says in Proverbs 28:1, "The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion." Nelson Mandela said, "Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the overcoming of it." Be bold in trials, don’t be afraid of the world or anything in it and don’t be overwhelmed. Jesus came so that you could overcome. Remember in John 16:33 Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” We believe in Jesus who has overcome the world, temptations, and even death. That Jesus is with you and looks over you.

Proverbs says that we shouldn’t fear the world and the circumstances we encounter in it, but it also says that there is something we should fear…Yes, fear the Lord. As I keep emphasizing "Fear of God (yir-'at Yah-weh)" means recognition of God's might and holiness, reverence and awe, and objective submission. Not the fear that we have when we face bad or uncontrollable situations.

When the size of God in your life increases, the amount of fear you have for your circumstances decreases. If you don’t want to fear the world and what is pressing in on you, then Make God bigger in your life and "fear" of the Lord as loving reference. Proverbs is saying that wise people know what to not fear and what to fear. Wise people fear the Lord and fools don’t, but they do fear the world and many other things.

The Bible doesn’t say “fear the Lord and all will be yours” or "fear the Lord and everything will be solved". It says the fear of the Lord is the beginning… The fear of the Lord is the beginning of the solution to all of your questions and fears in life. What does that mean? In your fearful and confused moments, what should you lean on first? Family? Friends? The internet? No, don't depend on those things before God but lean on and depend on God first as your Lord and as the priority of your life. In difficult moments, first pray to God "God, help me" with trust. Let God guide and lead your life.

Proverbs 29:25 "The fear of others lays a snare, but one who trusts in the Lord is secure." As you know, many people focus on pleasing people because of the fear of being judged and/or hatred by others rather than focusing on pleasing God. The person who is wise fears the Lord first and tries to live well and right in front of God. However, the person that is foolish fears something else, or perhaps many other things. Who do you fear? Who do you hold up high, who do you listen to, who do you want to be like, and who do you want to please? Is it Jesus above all else or is it someone else? Whose approval is the most important to you in your life, Jesus or others? The book of proverbs tells us to fear the Lord! Be more concerned about God than other people or your circumstances.

Because here’s the truth, freedom from your circumstances begins with focusing on the Lord.

Proverbs 14:26-27 “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and one’s children will have a refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, so that one may avoid the snares of death."

Proverbs 19:23 "The fear of the Lord is life indeed; filled with it one rests secure and suffers no harm."

What can we trust? Jesus, our Lord. He is our confidence and refuge and strength in our lives. Sometimes people fear rejection, or loneliness, or disappointment from people. Yes, it is important to live harmoniously with people however, it does not mean that you need to fear them or let your fear of people lead your lives. God is the one who we can trust in alone.

Additionally, we shouldn't place all of our trust in anyone or anything, including our own abilities, our possessions, our status, and or our circumstances. But here’s what Proverbs says that we can always trust ...

Proverbs 3:5-8 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be a healing for your flesh and a refreshment for your body."

This passage tells us that trust in the Lord means that you believe that our Lord, Jesus, who is almighty, will direct you down the right path. He will always be with you guiding you down the right path, picking you up when you fail and fall, and getting you going again.

You might be saying right now, I just can’t believe that. God seems so distant from me, nothing is going right in my life. How in the world am I supposed to trust Jesus? Listen, when our world is caving in around us and our circumstances are telling us to doubt God and fear the world, we can still trust Jesus…

Isaiah 43:1-5 "But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you. 4 Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life. 5 Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you;"

God loves you. God is with you. Despite everything that God knows we face in this world, God said do not fear. Don’t be overwhelmed by your uncertain and difficult circumstances, instead overcome them by trusting in God and God's love. If God is for you, and God is, nothing can be against you. The Bible says “Don’t be afraid” 365 times, once for every day of the year. Here is today’s… Don't fear. Instead fear the Lord, walk closely with God, obey Jesus and you will be strong and courageous enough to have victory in every situation because of your complete trust in God’s continuous love and grace. Now listen. That’s a good message for you and for me. Do not fear! Trust in God!

Additionally, I would like to remind you of one verse I shared in the very beginning of the sermon, Proverbs 12:25 says, "Anxiety weighs down the human heart, but a good word cheers it up."  It is important that we do not fear and trust in God. And, it is also important, if there is anyone who has fear or anxiety around us, we share this good news.

Let us pray.
O Lord, our refuge and strength. Help us remember that you are always with us, so that we trust in you all the time. There are many things happening in the world and in our lives. In those times when we have fear, we hope we trust in you alone, not other things or people so that we can feel your work in our lives as healing for our flesh and a refreshment for our body. Thank you for your love and grace. We pray in your name AMEN

Worship in Response                        Leaning on the Everlasting Arms                       133

Prayer of Dismissal & Blessing