Peace be with you the Lord said. When all is said and done, we have nothing to fear because the Lord invites us to live life unafraid.
All right. Great to see everyone blessings to you all. Uh, if you’re new here, if you’re joining us for the first time, I’m Pastor Terry, I’m the Lead Pastor here at Cornerstone Church in San Francisco. And it’s so great to have you, you know, uh, we’re just what two weeks removed from Easter. And I pray that we don’t miss the opportunity to, uh, linger a bit just a little bit longer and glean the life that is there for us in our series.
Is Surrender. It’s about, uh, it’s about how to let go and how to trust God. And we’re going to sit with this for the coming weeks and months, and just try to really make this are our late spring and in summer focus. But last week we shared about surrendering our tears, and I talked about the painful hurting places of life.
Today, we want to talk about surrendering our fears. Those places in life that are intimidating or fears, we all have them. They’re always trying to keep us locked up, but God has not given us. I think some of you know, this, a spirit of fear, but of power of love and a soundness of mind as part of our promise in the Lord.
I think it was Kipling who said of all the liars in the world. Sometimes the worst, our own fears. With that in mind, I just kind of want to open our time and let’s pray together. Let’s believe that God is going to meet us in this moment. So Father, we begin this time by welcoming you in, yeah, to our fearful places.
We didn’t want to live afraid of things. We, we don’t want to live afraid of things on the outside that are without, and we don’t want to live afraid of things with Him. Help us Lord. Maybe some of us are really having a hard time right now, help us to surrender our fears to You. Teach us great teacher, how to let them go, how to let them drift away.
Like, uh, like letting a balloon, just go or, and fly away into the into the sky carried by the wind, help us to unlock our hands and surrender to You. Even now, Lord, You know where we need it most, we welcome You into this time. We truly do in Jesus name. Amen. All right. Let’s return to Easter. Well, that’s first night in Easter.
Um, John 20 verse 19 says that Sunday evening, the disciples were meeting behind, look at this, locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. I mean, when you look at this, you see what was happening with the disciples. The picture we have of them is hardly, it’s hardly inspiring isn’t it? I mean, I mean, it’s good that they were together, admittedly.
though at least two of them were missing. One, one had killed himself that was Judas. And what a tragic figure Judas was. The last time Jesus had spoke to him. He said, “What thou doest, do quickly.” And it says that Judas went into the night and, um, he left his community. He left, he left the believers in that moment.
Didn’t he? And he was by himself. And of course there was another person who was not one of the other disciples that wasn’t there as well. And later on, his absence will become an occasion for us to be given one of the great teachings of Jesus. I’m talking about Thomas, and we’re going to look at him next week.
We talk about surrendering our doubts. But I can say this, at least the disciples and, you know, they were together, they were in community. And, you know, it’s been said that shared joy is what, twice the joy and shared pain half the pain. Plus the real danger is that in times of great calamity and despair, um, the real, I think one of the real dangers is isolation.
And, and so it was good that even though they weren’t in a great mindset, at least they were all together. The Bible reminds us two is better than one, a threefold cord, not easily broken when one falls, the other is there to pick them up. Do we understand how important it is to cultivate community and friendships within the community trusted places where, you know, we can, we can share our heart and we can, we can be open and vulnerable.
Um, we can pray and be prayed for. We can be honest about our struggles about our fears. You know, Jesus had prayed for them on the night of his betrayal. He prayed for their unity. He had told them to stick together because the waters were going to be rough. Now their minds were doubtless, afraid, much afraid.
They had seen the master taken away. Uh, they had watched Him put to death, you know, it was awful. Um, you know, the images were vivid, they were fresh. And, but you know, now it’s true, part of their number had said they had actually seen Him alive, which just seemed incredible. Actually it was a few of the women in particular, including Mary, Mary Magdalene, who they normally trusted,
actually. She was someone whose words they tended to believe and she had said He was alive and that, you know, she had seen Him, but then that He had disappeared. And so they were unconvinced. It was like, well, maybe Mary, you know, John had said also that he had seen the grave cloths arranged in such a way in the tomb that, that led him to believe that maybe what, what they were saying was true, that Jesus was indeed alive.
But then upon being pressed, I mean, you would think that John would have to admit that he actually hadn’t seen Jesus. So the majority of, if I can put it this way, uh, the majority of the disciples in the room that Easter night, uh, they were either very unsure or just, you know, disbelieving just, and they said, look in your mind.
Yes. Um, I know He’s alive. I know you want Him to be alive? Um, when we’re emotional, we can, we can sometimes create things that aren’t real. I mean, you could, you could just hear them talking about it, but they ended emphatically with, but we saw Him die. And nothing’s changed the, look, I hear them say these are rumors, they’re just born out of desire and wishful thinking they’re just –.
But there was another rumor, another rumor that they did believe one that was far more believable than the one about Jesus being alive. And that rumor was, was that they were next. And so, you know, they were in hiding, they were meeting behind locked doors, afraid the temple leaders would follow through and, listen, finish them off as well.
And I think that, uh, I mean, Jesus had come to His end, at least in part because the leaders had pushed for it. Right? They had played their cards. Well, they had played the temple authorities had had pivoted off of their confrontation with Jesus shrewdly. Uh, they talked it over, they calculated, they played chess at a high level.
They said for the sake of the nation, this man must die. And they had pressured Pilate, uh, until he broke like a man in power without a true center would do. They knew his pressure points and they found a way to get Pilate to move and to do something that pilot perhaps himself was reluctant to do. But because they knew how to approach him, right?
We have no King but Caesar. Right that if, if you, if you don’t deal with this man, you’re not a friend of Caesar. I mean, they, they worked Pilate over and Pilate still had to decide. And even when he went out there to ceremoniously clean, cleanse his hands in front of the, every one to say, I find no guilt in this man.
Pilate was responsible. Let us make no mistake about it. The death of Jesus was the product of, of the Jewish leaders and the Gentile leaders. It was a decision made. Um, and it, uh, by, by if we can say it this way, by all, all those who had the power at the time. There was, uh, an equal responsibility, and, but, you know, as far as the disciples were concerned, you know, they were, they were now in trouble because
they were His acolytes, they were His students, they were His disciples, His followers. And on top of that, they had joined. If you think about it, they had joined in those, uh, heated conversations, uh, when Jesus would was, you know, kind of verbally jousting and the Jesus would, would deal them, devastating blows
actually He exposed them, their hypocrisy, uh, and when He did it, He did it with such precision that there was nothing that could be said and the disciples often were right with Jesus saying amen. Right. They were on it. And so when Jesus gives His scathing rebukes to the scribes and the Pharisees and the temple authorities who He called them, uh, what you
brood of Vipers? What a vivid description, just, you know, He says, you’ve got, you’ve got the sting of death on you. You, whited sepulchers. Jesus called them. You’re just painted tombs. Places where people die spiritually speaking. But now it was Jesus who was in the tomb or so they thought. Because the body was gone and no one knew where it was. But in that moment, as they scan the room, you know, it was with the realization that they really could be next.
I’m trying to imagine there was a lot of small talk going on. There was a lot of, uh, discussion around some of the things that were being said, but remember the door was locked from the inside. They had been careful, they were being careful. They were huddled. Fear had drove them there. Yes, they were together.
That was good, but they were very afraid. And those fears caused them to huddle behind closed locked doors and who can blame them. I mean, fear, you know, fear can do that. They can do that to us. Can’t it? I mean, fear. If you think about it has the ability to keep us locked up and in hiding, And as I’ve mentioned it before, how many people have turned in on life?
Right? Figuratively speaking, they’ve shut their doors because of fear, right? If you’re a foot and you can think of all the different kinds of fear, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of vulnerability, fear of being disappointed again. All those fears that can easily, you know, I think about that. Think about those fears.
A lot of us don’t even try because we’re afraid we don’t want to risk. We don’t want to risk it. Don’t want to risk- we might fail. We don’t want to risk. We could be rejected. We don’t want to risk being open because we could be shamed. Uh, people might think less of us. We don’t want to risk loving, cause we feel like maybe we could be disappointed again.
And there are other kinds of fears, the fear of irrelevancy. Like I don’t count. I’m not noticed. I mean, a lot of that is being discussed right now in the culture. Right? Fear of loss. Fear of, of, I don’t know what, what they think, what they may think of me. Fear I don’t have what it takes to actually do this. Fear that I’m, this is an interesting one, fear that I’m not good enough.
I’m not really good enough. That I’ll just be a disappointment. And, you know, thinking about that fear of fear of what maybe, uh, what might happen next. Like sometimes that fear can be paralyzing. Like, Oh no! You know and we’re so focused on what might happen that we’re getting paralyzed in the present.
Right? And this is just to name a few. I mean, I thought about how fear can keep us just imprisoned. Fear can keep us, and you know this, fear can keep us from being hopeful. Fear can keep us from being creative too. One of the real downsides to fear and why the Lord wants to teach us how to overcome our fears is because, and you’ve heard me say this before, but I think it’s worth saying again, fear inhibits creativity and creativity is often the, the vehicle for problem solving.
It’s when we can use our God-given imagination that not only can we create things and achieve things. And conceive things, but it’s often the best method of problem solving. And so if our fears lock up our ability to be creative, we’re not going to be problem solvers. We’re going to be, we’re going to be people who essentially are just beaten down by our problems.
And I can tell you right now that is not the Lord’s will, you know, uh, fear can also keep us from being optimistic. We’re so afraid that we can’t, we can’t move in a positive direction. Fear can keep, well, I mean, fear can make a sour on life. It can, it can, it can make us small. Again, the metaphor of being enclosed being locked in. Fear is something that, that keeps us tied up negative and, and uninspired.
And yet, as you know, I remember reading something that Dale Carnegie wrote. And he had a lot, he was a writer that had a lot to do with how to relate in a positive way to other people. And he said very insightful. He said, fear doesn’t exist anywhere, except in the mind, like it’s not really real anywhere, except in our mind. Fear exists in the mind, but it’s not like something we can touch.
Is it, it exists only in the mind. And then I remember reading something that Ruth Graham wrote, you know, she was an amazing woman. I mean, we often talk about how Billy Graham was, well, I think he was the most influential Christian figure of the 20th century. I don’t think, um, it would be an overstatement to suggest it, but his wife, Ruth was
an extraordinary woman in her own right. And no. And there was no question in my mind that a portion of his greatness and effectiveness for the cause of Christ was connected to this amazing woman. And I remember Ruth Graham. I remember reading what she said. She said, “Fear not tomorrow,” and I love this,
“God is already there.” Fear not tomorrow, God is already there. And that was a way of anchoring herself in the confidence that the Lord’s there. I don’t have to be afraid of what may be, what may happen, you know, what’s around the bend. What next year may bring. I mean, haven’t, we been surprised how much, I mean, I mean last year was just reminded us how much things can change and how rapidly they can change.
And although we’re all feeling, much more optimistic about where we’re all going. And, you know, we’re finding our way back together again. And, and we’re very much looking forward to moving in a direction that is more like what we were accustomed to prior to getting hit with the pandemic in, in March of 2020.
But again, fear not tomorrow, God is already there. If He’s already there, then it’s just about me finding Him in tomorrow. Right? And that really does tie perfectly into what happened next, because look what happened, what it says here. It says that suddenly Jesus was standing there among them. And look at His greeting, peace, be with you.
He said, and I’ve tried to imagine what that would have been like for them. I tried to put myself in that room and I, I really think that, you know, they’re talking and all of a sudden, you know, I don’t know, maybe somebody had mentioned, yeah, they, they don’t know. They just, whatever they have been talking about Jesus and being alive.
And I just tried to imagine the moment I was starting to try to have some fun with it, but I’ll, I’ll say this all of a sudden, Jesus is there. He’s there. In the room. I don’t know who noticed Him. I don’t know if He was there and didn’t say anything for a moment, but I’ll tell you this. When they started to look at Him, fear of a different kind fell upon them.
I think they were startled, utterly startled, clearly shaken. For out of nowhere He had come and His greeting. I think when we read this, “Peace be with you.” I think we can miss something of what He was reading in their eyes. I think they were terrified. I think they were afraid. I think they were in shock.
And the first thing that Jesus wanted to do, what’s settle them. Peace be with you. Peace. How did He say, Peace be with you. Right? It was designed to be both familiar. They had heard Him say it many times, right? The Shalom, the blessing. And I think it was designed to calm them. Peace be with you. Don’t be terrified.
Don’t be afraid. Be at peace, be at peace. I think the Lord would say that to us. I really do. When we’re most afraid, don’t be terrified. Don’t be afraid be at peace, right. Verse 20. And as He spoke, He showed them the wounds in His hands. Look at this and in His side where the spear pierced His side. And they were just, I just see Jesus showing them His body and they were, it says they were filled with joy when they saw the Lord.
I mean, that, that fear, I mean, look at, look at Me. You see Me? Look at Me. Jesus has say, look at Me, see Me. Could it be? It was incredible. It was undeniable and slowly like a receding tide, the fear was overcome by joy and the older version renders it and I love this and then they work glad and I remember reading it this way when they saw the Lord.
And then they were glad when they saw the Lord. Isn’t that great? And I suppose this may sound a little simplistic, but it will always be so. If I can say it this way, loved ones, it will always be so our joy in the Lord will always be connected to seeing the Lord. For a Christian, and I don’t mean in a political sense or in a cultural sense.
I mean, in a biblical sense for a person who is truly committed themselves to following Jesus and seeks to emulate His ways by the power of the resurrected Christ within us, our joy, listen, we’ll always be connected to our focus, to keeping our eyes on Him, to reminding ourselves of His promises and of His reality.
Yes. Surrendering our fear to His peace and choosing to trust, remembering that when all is said and done, ah, we have nothing to fear because the One we follow the One with the nail prints in His hands and in His feet has endured and conquered the worst of what life brings, including death our great foe.
Oh death, where is your sting? Oh grave, where is your victory? The place we are all heading towards and the path, unless the Lord comes first, we will all walk down. Don’t ever forget that each one of us, and even as David said, I have been young and now I am old, but I’ve never seen the righteous forsaken nor their seed begging for bread.
He was talking about the faithfulness of God throughout the course of life. I know, I think, yeah, it’s good for us to remember that we really don’t know the, the number of our days. I don’t. I don’t. I know what I aspire to and even that, I don’t know. Cause I don’t know, you know how this body is going to hold up.
of mine. Right? What I do know, is I have a promise anchored in the Lord. And it really does go back to what, you know, Ruth Graham said, you know, I don’t, I don’t need to fear tomorrow. God is already there. And how true that is? How much well, think about it, how much more true that is, is the end of this life. I mean, He’s already there, right?
So I don’t need to be afraid, you know, but part of us is afraid. We’re afraid of the unknown. We’re afraid of becoming frail. We’re afraid of being dependent. We’re afraid of our, our, you know, our inability to care for ourselves. Those are understandable fears, nothing wrong with them, but even there we are invited to trust the Lord.
I guess the best way I can say it is the living Jesus invites us to live life unafraid surrendered, uh, in unshakable trust and secure in unrelenting grace, I’ll say that one more time. The living Jesus invites us to live life unafraid surrendered in unshakable trust and secure my identity secure in unrelenting grace.
So again, uh, He said, verse 21, peace be with you. Look, Jesus didn’t stop. He said, peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me. So I am sending you, so what do we see here the second time? He speaks peace two different times in this, in this situation. The first time He does it to chase away the fear.
I love that. Cause there’s times where I felt like the Lord as I’m reading His word, or I was just pondering His truth or I’m in a conversation and I’m being prayed for something like that. You know, I’ll listen to a message sometimes, um, uh, teaching that I feel the Lord bringing His peace and the fear is being challenged and chased away.
But, but this was not the declaration of peace to calm their fear. That was what He did at the beginning. This peace. And He says, peace, be with you as the Father has sent me, so I am sending you. That peace was a peace that He was giving them that would settle them into a purpose. So one peace was to chase away
the fear, the other peace was to settle them in a purpose. Do we see it as the Father has sent Me, so I am sending you, and then He breathed on them, remarkable verse actually, and said, receive the Spirit. Receive the Holy spirit. Now one cannot help but think of the description and Genesis of how God started human life.
As we know it, He says that He breathed life into Adam. He breathed into Adam in some way. He became a living soul, the beginning of human life. As we know, it was a catalytic creation of soul breath from God. And it says, if Jesus is saying, it’s almost as if, when He says receive the Holy spirit, He is saying, I am, annointing you for what I’m sending you or creating you for and you know, um, it’s almost like, and I’ll just say this one more thing.
It’s not, it’s not only that I’m anointing you for your assignment, but I’m. I’m investing you with full authority to fulfill it. So I’m giving you an anointing and a power to go and do what I’m asking, but I’m also giving you the credentials, the authority. And that’s when He says this verse 23. If you forgive anyone since they are forgiven, if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.
Essentially what He’s saying is by the power of my spirit and through the power of the message that I am now commissioning you to share on my behalf, this message of the Gospel. I give you the ability to set people free from their sins. This is the power of the Gospel of the good news. This is what we talk about, right?
The death, the burial, and the resurrection of Christ that everything has to do with the Cross and the rising of Jesus. And this message is the liberation message of the human race. Not just one ethnic group. We live in times where everyone’s being pitted against the other. No, we’re talking about the unifying message of Jesus that is designed to both honor our distinctives, but be so much more than that for we are bound together in the, in the, in the power of the Lord, in the beauty of who He is and in the wonder of His blood, like we are in Christ one.
Right? That’s why the Lord, if you think about it in Galatians, we’re told it’s neither bond nor free, you know, male nor female, uh, Gentile or Jew. Right? In other words, all these distinctions that are legitimate, nonetheless, in terms of they’re there they’re real, nonetheless are overwhelmed by the commonality that we are to share in Christ.
We are all part of the bride of Christ. And this invitation is being made to the world, to the entire human race. Everyone is welcome at this table. The only, the only thing that will keep us from the welcoming of the Lord is the choice on our part not to have Him. The invitation is for all. And those who know Him have been given the great privilege.
Really? He, He it’s almost like Jesus is saying when He says it says this to the disciples. In reality, He’s saying it to all of us who have been impacted and touched and transformed by Christ because we really are the spiritual descendants of this, this band of believers that the Lord uses. To begin the church that He says, the Gates of hell shall not prevail against.
And they haven’t. And they won’t. Listen to me. Kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall, but of His kingdom, there shall be no end. And every time I’m afraid of what may be happening in our nation or in the world. I anchor myself in this great truth that Jesus said, kingdoms will rise and kingdoms will fall. They will come and they will go.
But until that day, when He returns and sets the nations in order in a very different, a way than I can even imagine, probably I don’t even know what it’s going to be like. I don’t know what Heaven’s going to be like. I think we get bits and pieces and shadows and glimpses, but nothing more beyond a yearning that is deep within us
that God put there that reminds us that this is not all there is. And that as beautiful as this is our world, it cannot compare to what is yet to be for eye has not seen what God has prepared, right? Nor has it even entered into our conception of the beauty of what is yet to be, think about that. But in the meantime, between now and then we, you and me were created
to be His messengers. That’s what He was saying. It’s almost like He said to them, get out from behind these walls. I didn’t rise for you to be, I didn’t die and rise for you to be locked up in fear behind these walls. No I’m sending you and you gotta go. You can’t get locked in here. This is where the men.
No, no. And it’s almost like He’s saying the same thing to us. We are to be in our own way. That’s why we should be inviting people to connect with us. We should be talking about Jesus. We should be unafraid. Um, yes, even sometimes to make people a little uncomfortable because of the convictions that we hold around, who Jesus is and His transforming touch.
That we should be open to inviting others and tell them about what God is doing, invite them into our, our church and, and just to be a part of, of what we are as a community. You know, why not? We are to be lights in a dark world, and as Jesus reminds us, we are to confess Him in the midst of a, I’m just going to say it a broken and a confused culture and an, and a extraordinarily divided
um, nation and time, such as this God calls us to be peace makers and peace bringers, life givers in His name. Why not? Oh, and one more. Well, I guess the only last thing I’ll say is that it was in the dark place of cruel disappointment that Jesus appeared. Think about it, startling them, not only with His presence, but with His words.
I want to send you out. And it’s if, it says, if He said, and let us hear it for ourselves in our most defeated places. Cause this is, what’s just stood out to me. You who gave up on Me as He looked at them. I have not given up on you. Whoa. Isn’t that good? You who have given up on me, cause you didn’t believe I was alive.
I have not given up on you. Think about that. I have to believe the Lord says that to us too. There’ve been times where it’s only the Lord’s belief and call and willingness to have me has allowed me to keep going. All right. All right. Uh, I’ve got a song. The song was going to focus on what it, what it means to be surprised.
Right? But what the Lord can do. I think it’s because it’s going to connect beautifully. I do want to remind all of you that, you know, this is the time that I get to remind you of giving and just being faithful to the Lord and stay committed to the church and just doing your best really unto Him. So remember, you can give to directly, you send a check into the, you know,into the offices. You can give directly on the website, which is what most of us are doing.
Although many of us are doing, um, You know it differently. We actually give directly through the app, which is how would I do so whatever works, that’s the, that’s the thing. And I always say, just make sure you give your heart first as best as you can. Right? Everything we have is going to pass some day.
May the Lord give us wisdom to steward it well. We’ve been temporarily entrusted with, yeah, but Lord, I just ask that you bless this time. Share this song, come back around, close out together in Jesus name. Here we go.