As Christians, we are part of God's Kingdom to come in the next life. But we are also part of that Kingdom now on earth. How can we live a life that honors God in the here and now while hoping towards what is to come?
All right. Hey, great to see everyone, blessings to you. I want to talk with you as we sit with the way of blessing about a subject that I think is so relevant for where we’ve all been and where we are still. I want to talk about fear and how to combat our fears. Not just the fears that you know, our product of things that are really happening, but also,
what I’m calling our imagined fears. You know, I think many of us are aware Jesus reminded his followers they were not to live as a fearful people. He said, do not be afraid. Fear, not, right in the scriptures. We’re told that God has not given us a spirit of fear that grips us and defines us and snares us binds us, but rather a spirit of, of love and of soundness of mind, uh, power, power, love, and soundness of mind, the products of Christ at work in our lives.
And boy, do we need that power to live above things that it would, uh, hold us back damage us, power to do what is right. And to be the blessing we’ve been called to be, love so that we might not have anger dominating us, whether it’s passive or aggressive. It’s not the Lord’s will for us, come on, and soundness of mind, the gift of the Lord, the freedom of our thoughts, because so much of where the real battle with fear is fought is in the mind.
And so many of the things that we struggle with, aren’t even things that are real. I mean, they have elements that are real, but a lot of it is connected to things we’re making up or making far bigger than they really are. And so I want to talk about that. I really do, want us to sit with that. And even now I just pray, Lord, I pray for all of my friends near and far, the church family in other parts of the country, even the world, those may, maybe who are just joining us for the first time, all those who are here.
I ask that, and in this moment I ask that these words would bring life and blessing and release. That you would bring the the freedom of love, because we’re reminded that the more aligned we are in Your love, the more free we will be of the fear that would seek to dominate us because perfect love casts out, all fear.
So Lord, we welcome Your flow of love into our life right now, a love that is holy and true, faithful, kind and good. The love of Christ that expresses utter devotion, the gift of God, a gift for you and a gift for me, the grace of the Lord at work in us. So I just pray over this, this time that we’re about to share.
Let these, these words have great meaning and value and bring a flow of life and freedom in Jesus name I ask this, Lord. Amen. So let’s jump back in here to, uh, a portion of scripture. It’s the end of the book of Genesis. We’re talking about this moment where Jacob, a man also known as Israel, is about ready to leave this world.
He’s on his death bed. Some of you may recall, and if you haven’t had a chance to listen to the messages leading up to this one, might want to consider doing that. But some of you may recall that Jacob has been giving his blessings to his sons. These are his closing words. And we read this in verse 28 of Genesis 49.
It says, all these are the 12 tribes of Israel, his 12 sons. And this is what their father said to them. As he blessed them, blessing each with the blessing suitable to him, and then he commanded them. And he said to them, I am to be gathered to my people. And I imagine him with weakened breath, as the frailty of his health is now evident both to all who are around him and certainly to himself, each breath costs him something.
These are his final words. And this is his final request. And then he commanded them and he said to them, I am to be gathered to my people. I’m about ready to leave this world, please, my son, bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Eph -ron the Hittite, that in the, in the cave that is in the field of, of, uh, of Mach -pelah to the east of, of Mamre in the land of Canaan.
Yes, the land of promise, which Abraham bought that, the place that he bought with the field, from he, from Ephron the Hittite to possess as a burying place. Yeah, there, they buried Abraham and Sarah, his wife, my grandparents. There, they buried Isaac and Rebecca, his wife, my mother and father. And there, I buried Leah, his first wife and the less favored wife, who ends up, ironically, sovereignly with the greater honor of her, of burial
with the, with, with her ancestors, Abraham and Sarah and, and Jacob’s ah parents, right? Isaac and Rebecca. So Leah has been given that gift. I love that. That’s a whole nother story about how God often cares for the one who is pushed aside. He says the field and the cave that is in, it were bought from the Hittites.
That’s where I want to be buried. And then when Jacob finished commanding his sons, it says that he drew up his feet into his bed, which is the Bible’s way of saying he died. And what a way to go. I mean, uh, Jacob may have had, by his own confession to Pharaoh, a painful life, and he did, he had a life that was not easy.
A lot of relational trauma will characterize Jacob’s life from the days of his youth, all the way through his family. There was just so many things. Joseph being sold, the death of, of what he assumed, Joseph’s death, the death of Rachel, the whole tension that existed between him and his brother. And, uh, he saw, and then of course there was a whole incident that occurred in which his uncle Laban deceived him.
And it’s just a, this, you, you study Jacob’s life. It’s, it’s one chaotic family moment after another, you want to talk about a dysfunctional family? I mean, Jacob, he experienced it all and he caused some of it. And yet as painful as his life may have been. And there were a lot of chapters in it that weren’t good.
One thing is certain. If we can put it this way, he had a good death. He had a good death, uh, what he had, what is often called the good death. He was able to be with those he loved in his dying moments. He was able to share final words and blessings, and then drift out in, in, in relative peace into the next life.
It was a good, it was a good ending. We read in Genesis 50. It says then Joseph, uh, he loved him. Remember he loved his father, Joseph fell on his father’s face and he wept over him and he kissed him. And Joseph commanded his servants, the physicians, to embalm his father. That was an Egyptian custom of burial.
So the physicians embalmed Israel. You know, Joseph, by the way, just see him just throwing himself on his father. If we haven’t noticed he’s, it’s just consistent. Joseph is, is a man who’s not afraid to express his feelings and emotions. He’s, he’s actually very emotional. He, he, he’s a man who knows how to, he weeps when he feels great feelings.
And uh, in, in that way, he’s a lot like, uh, the one he foreshadowed in so many ways. I mean, Joseph was a savior of his people and, and yet Joseph foreshadows, the great savior Jesus who also wept freely when he felt deeply. So that’s, that’s, uh, an interesting insight, isn’t it? It says when Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, watch what happens here
this is going to be the anchor. This is something that I’m just fascinated by because Jacob dies and Joseph is having him buried. He’s he’s having him embalmed, he’s making arrangements. And then the brothers seem to meet separately. And I don’t know how it started. I don’t know who, who first brought it up.
Maybe it was something that we’re all thinking about, but no one wanted to say, but then finally someone said, Hey, we need to talk about something, but look what it says. They said it may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him. Now, I suppose they left Benjamin out of this conversation, but the brothers had this discussion.
I don’t know how many days had passed, but a curious thought began to grip them. They started to wonder if perhaps Joseph would now exact his vengeance. That, that basically he had been insincere that, that he really was just waiting. And now that father was dead, it was going to be payback time because remember they had sold him off.
They had left him for dead. And even though Joseph had assured them, it’s all fine. It’s all good. No boy, it’s the Lord’s blessed me. You have nothing to fear. We’re told here that they began to think about it. And the more they thought about it, the more they talked about it, the more afraid they became, the more they talked, the more they nurtured it.
Uh, the more their fear grew and that is such a human thing. And we’re all, it can happen to any of us. It may be happening to some of us right now around an issue or two, I heard it once said, this is a great way of describing fear. Fear. Notice the four words, the four letters, excuse me. F E A R fear is false experiences appearing real. False experiences
appearing real. It was Mark Twain, who said, I am an old man and I have known many great troubles, a great many troubles, but most of which never happened. If you think about it, that’s brilliant. It was Ciarian Dalton who said, I often refer to it as the pseudo world that all of us create in our own head. It is the internal process where we imagine and ultimately feel,
so we feel it, additional stress. We feel the, the by-product of our thinking, the fear that we are creating in our mind. We, we feel additional stress and tormenting scenarios that never come to fruition. Do you see that? And we all do it. Stress is a part of life. Everyone has difficult and demanding jobs, problems with friends
and family, financial and personal problems and health concerns. Life is hard, but we tend to unwittingly cause everyday stress to morph into feelings of dread, by, oh, by overthinking these life problems. You know, it’s what I call our, um, negative imagination that is we create a fear scenario and then we sit with it.
We nurture it, we empower it. We create it, we amplify it. It might have an element of truth in it, but where we’re taking it, it’s, it’s far beyond even what it really is. Right? There, there are ways that God wants us to combat real fear. And there is even such a thing as healthy fear, but there is a whole nother dimension to fear is what we call what I like to call imagined
fear. I mean, we really work ourselves over in the “what if” or “what may be” non-reality. And then we start out of our imagination or our minds creation. We start to act out of the reality, which is not really a reality, is a reality that we are creating because of our poor thinking. And it’s, it’s really what, what mark Twain was getting at in that great quote there.
Right? That most of what we imagine actually never happens, right? We start playing things out in our mind, this, this is what’s going to happen. This may happen. This may happen. What if this happens and we can’t, we can’t get out, get out of our minds. We start, we start being unable to sleep. Boy, what a price we pay for the imagined fear we won’t let go of.
I’ll say that again. What a price we pay for the imagined fear. We won’t let go of it. We’re holding it. And when we hold it, in a way it holds us. Can we see for a moment how wise the Bible is when it instructs us in Philippians four, I call this an antidote to the fearful life. Look what it says here.
And I’m reading from ESV, Philippians four, four, rejoice in the Lord, always. And again, I will say rejoice, let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand. He’s not far away. He’s near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ
Jesus. Now that’s a well-known passage of scripture, but I want to unpack it a little bit. Look at it with some fresh eyes. What are, and then try to take this passage, these verses here and have them, you know, help us when we are finding ourselves at the mercy of, of fear, or we can sense that fear is trying to dominate our thoughts, or we can sense our fear is trying to get, get us to start thinking in ways that aren’t even real.
Like we’re imagining things, we’re imagining and we’re creating a fear dynamic. That’s really based, not on reality, but it’s taken on a life of its own. Look what it says here we are to first what rejoice in the Lord. First off to rejoice in the Lord. What is that? But to fix our gaze on His goodness and bless His name in praise, we are to remind ourselves of His faithfulness and of the good God we know him to be.
Yes, the good God we know him to be. And then we are to ask Him to help us put a song in our heart. We are to sing praise. We are to sing our joy to the Lord. We are to declare our belief and conviction in His goodness, his faithfulness. We are to rejoice in the Lord. And then secondly, we are, we are told, then we are to secure ourselves and I’ll use the language of the ESV here in reasonableness.
We are to secure ourselves in reasonable, this reasonableness. What does that? But, uh, a settledness, a gentleness of bearing. We are not panicking, loved ones. We’re not panicking. We’re not in free fall. We are not tormenting ourselves, letting our imagination run wild. No, we are by God’s grace, gentle with ourselves, uh, contending for what I call equanimity, that settled place.
Reasonable. Listen, not ignoring reality, but being careful not to create a false one. That that’s so important. We’re not ignoring reality, but we’re being careful not to create a false one. And that’s a very real temptation when we are being affected by things that are making us afraid to then create a false, a false one of a false reality, and then to operate out of that false reality.
So, so again, secure ourselves in is reasonableness. Thirdly, we are to, if we can think of it, this is where we’re told here is, is that we are to refuse to be anxious, listen, about anything, be anxious for nothing. Wow. That’s hard. It’s hard not to be anxious about things. Lord Jesus, You who, You who are near and not far away, help me help us, not to be anxious.
Yes, Lord, help me to settle my heart in the truth of who I know You are. And remind us Lord that we can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens us. Yes. And by the way, what we just did, there is exactly what we were told to do. We’re also told to pray, right? To pray and make our concerns and our desires known.
And then, and then one more thing and then wrap them in thankfulness. So we are to pray. We are to let the Lord hear our heart, let Him know our concerns, our desires, but then wrap that in gratitude, all the blessings known and unknown for a God who cares, and listen, who listens, who listens to us and is always there,
never, never abandons us. Uh, I have abandoned the Lord a few times. I’ve forgotten Him, but He has never forgotten me. You may have forgotten Him from time to time, but he has never forgotten you though. I am with you always, even until the ends of the age, he is faithful and true. He can be counted on. He is trustworthy.
The Lord is with us, Emmanuel God with us, right. And that invites us, the last piece here, when it comes to how to combat our fears. And that is to welcome his peace. I love this, to welcome His peace and let Him fill us, right. Let Him fill us with His peace in a way that settles our soul. Let, let us welcome His peace, which we’re told, will keep us like a Watchman in the night.
Think about it like a, a century who’s on watch. When, when we know someone is on guard and then we’re in a vulnerable place, but someone’s watching on our behalf, we can close our eyes and we can go to sleep. If we trust that one, we can go to sleep, unafraid, come what may cause he’s with us, right? The Sentinel guarding us.
His peace will guard us like a Watchman in the night. So we’re told and, and it’ll allow us to sleep and move forward in life and not fall apart. Yes, that is the way of blessing. Hey, back to the brothers, back to Joseph’s brothers, remember they’re creating this entire narrative in their mind. You know, Joseph’s just been waiting.
He’s going to pounce on us. As soon as this thing settles down, we need to, we need to, we need to talk about this. Right? And I don’t, again, I don’t know which one of them brought it up first. I have my suspicions. I’m not going to mention, cause I really don’t know. I don’t even know how that convo got started, but it got, but it got real fast and in their mind they could see it just like we can w when things just start to build a momentum inside of us and we were getting more and more afraid.
And so they reverted, they reverted, this is what we do when we’re afraid. We revert, we revert back to patterns and they’re not usually good patterns. We start creating a scenario, not based in reality. And then we drop back into, into ways of being that, that, you all, we’re accustomed to. And in their case, what did they do?
They started, they started conniving a plan. They came up with a plan, look what they did, what they did, verse 16. It says, so they sent a message to Joseph. Oh, Joseph. You may have missed this, really? Yeah, yeah, yeah. You, uh, your father, our father gave us a command before he died. I think it, you may have been out of the room.
Uh, but he gave us this command before he died. It was actually, well, it could have been, they may have said, oh, it was, it was days before. Right. But they said, they said that he told us to tell you to say this, please forgive the transgressions of your brothers and their sin because they did evil to you. So, you know, we’re we want to relay what he said.
And now, so we’re asking, please forgive the transgressions of the servants of the God of, key phrase, your father. I mean, that was so unnecessary. It was. It was sad. It was a disconnect. It was a complete misread of Joseph. It says, Joseph, there it is again, look at it verse 17, the end of the verse, Joe Joseph wept, when they spoke to him, Joseph wept when they spoke to him.
But you know why he wept this time? Because I think they broke his heart. They broke his heart, they broke his heart, because they doubted him. They, they doubted his motives, they doubted, and it wasn’t just his motives for Joseph. They doubted what God had done in him. They doubted the veracity of who he had presented himself to be.
They still didn’t understand his love and forgiveness and how real it was. He, they, they didn’t understand that God had healed him. I mean, he, God had really healed him that there was no bitterness in him, the pain of what had happened, he probably could never forget that, but it didn’t own him anymore. He was free.
He was free fact I would have made the case that it had never owned him. And if it did, if it did try, Joseph pushed it out, it’s one of the reasons for his success and spiritual and just prosperity at every level. I mean, it’s just a beautiful man. And, uh, his brothers also came. They, they, they felt like it was important.
Not only to send the note of what father supposedly said, but his brothers also came and they, they felt like they’d better humble themselves before him. One more time and basically ask for mercy. They came and fell down before him. And they said, behold, we, we, we are, uh, your servants, whatever you, you know, whatever, you know, whatever you need. And Joseph said to them,
do not fear, do not fear. I wonder if he had tears flowing down his eyes. Do not fear for I, for am I in the place of God? Uh, once again, he steps up and shows us the way it’s done in the kingdom. Yeah. He shows us the way Joseph shows us the way. He does what healed people do. He first calms them and he says, don’t, don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid. Stop it with the fear. Okay. Your fear is misplaced. Not, not because of what you said father said, but because of who God is to me. You see, that’s, that? That’s what matters. That’s my operating system. That’s my true identity. That’s why I’m even here in the first place. Right? As, look, look as for you, one of the great statements, as for you, you, you meant it
you meant it, human evil against me, but don’t you see, God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive as they are today. Don’t you see? It doesn’t change what you did. It doesn’t mean you weren’t responsible for your actions. It just means that God used it for good and, and, and His goodness has overwhelmed everything.
And I see it. I see it all. I see it as clear as day, is the Lord He’s in this some way. He’s bringing good from it. Do you, come on? You meant it for evil. God meant it for good. Both were true, but God’s goodness. That’s, what prevails and you are alive. We’re alive brothers. We are alive. God, loved ones. And I just, you get what I’m saying?
Let’s never forget that God can take the worst and turn it for good. Now it doesn’t mean it was good. Doesn’t mean there aren’t some consequences or some ramifications, but it does mean that God can turn some things for good. And we are never to give up on that. All things can work together for good to those who love God and are, are the called according to His purpose, you know?
And is that not what God did on the cross? I mean, when one greater than Joseph paid a price for us, that we could never pay for ourselves. That’s the cross. And that’s the love of God. That’s the definition of love for you and me. And, um, love was greater than fear there, and it’s greater than fear anywhere.
So Joseph says this one more time. So do not fear, do not fear. I will provide for you and your little ones. And then we’re told this, look at the beauty, look at this as so gentle. It’s so good. Thus, he comforted them and he spoke kindly to them. And so Joseph remained in Egypt. He and his father’s house.
Joseph lived to be 110 years old. You know, I look at this and I see Joseph as he comes and assures them. He didn’t, I mean, he could have, I mean, he really could’ve, he could’ve, he could’ve reproved them and a braided them. What’s wrong with you guys? You know? I mean, he could have exposed them. You’re liars.
You always are doing this. Stop it. He could have really gone at them. He could have shamed them. He, he, he could have, but he didn’t. Wow. I think I would have, I think I would, I think I would’ve gone at them. I mean, I, at the very least I would have nailed them to the wall with their fabrications and attempts to manipulate, but that wasn’t what Joseph did.
He, he, he comforted them. Wow. In their imagined fears. He calmed them and he came around them and I just, you know, he spent, he says, don’t, don’t let that fear grip you. Right. God is in control. He speaks words of assurance. Uh, and I just, ah, I am just very inspired by it. And so, and look what we’re told, not only does he comfort them.
Because remember they’re so afraid. He says, nah, not only is he comforted, but it says that we were told one more thing. He speaks kind words to them. Look at it. He spoke kindly to them, his tone, his bearing, the, the, the words themselves were reflective of, of kindness. And I just thought, Lord, may we be like Joseph in Ephesians 4: 32, we’re told, be kind to one another, tenderhearted forgiving one another as God in Christ, forgave you, this is the way of blessing.
And this is to be our dominant way. May the Lord help us to do that and to be a person who also is able to help heal people from their fears and even their imagined fears. Right? You know, we’re gonna close with a song that speaks of love and support, something we’re all going to need from time to time.
I do wanna remind everybody at the time that I get to do it, especially to you, all of my online, uh, community and family and friends, and this is for our church. So if you’re just joining us the first time, zero pressure on this, no attempt beyond just reminding all of you to be faithful in your giving, your tithes and your offerings are making a huge difference.
It matters matters, not only to the Lord, but it speaks about, uh, you know, where your heart is. So remember, you can give, uh, directly, you can send it into our offices. You can give online, the website or you can do what I do and give through our app. That’s a great way to do it. But, uh, the song, the song that we’re about to share, it’s called Forever on Your Side.
And it not only reminds us that God is with us, that He provides, which He does. Thank you, Lord for that. But also that one of the way He provides is by giving us people who will stick by our side, that is one of the ways the Lord provides is by giving us the gifts of people who will stick by our side.
So let’s think about that as we enjoy this, I’ll come back around and close this out with a final thought.