“Do Not Be Afraid!”
As we enter into the year 2020 there will be a lot of discussion about what the future holds. Playing off the “20/20 vision” theme, many will ask: do we see clearly what is ahead? Are we prepared for the future? What are the challenges that are before us? How much certainty can we really have? The most important thing for us, however, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, is how do we view the future? Much of what will be talked about early in 2020 will have to do with fears: economic fears, election fears, family fears, relationship fears, health fears.
But are believers to be among those who fear the future? What if we were to take a look at what God has to say about the future, about our situation, about the current realities that we face? In fact, we do not have to look very far to see that He has much to say about the issue of fear. At least 365 times in the Holy Scriptures we have commands along the lines of “Do not be afraid” or its positive form, “Be strong and courageous.” The command to not be afraid shows up all throughout the biblical stories, even several times in the Christmas story, the season we have just celebrated. So what if we were to decide in 2020 to begin each day by stating boldly: “We will not be afraid?” What difference would that make in our attitudes, our actions, and in our minds?
The truth is that we all have fears, many of which we never confess to another person. We must face and recognize our fears, but we are not to let them have dominion or control over us. Moreover, they are not to be the things that guide and determine our daily decisions and activities. No! We have a much better solution than that. We have the One to whom we can turn who is in control of all things. He is the One who promises to be with us at all times and who directs all things for His eternal glory. Therefore, rather than turning to others in our fears, we are to turn to Him and commit all things to Him and to His care. We are commanded, called, and challenged to respond as people of faith rather than as people of fear.
If God is all-powerful, then that means He can do all things. If He is all-knowing, then He is aware of all things. If He is all-wise, then He does all things well. If He is all good, then He will not deceive or mislead His people. Therefore, how can we be afraid of whatever may come? For those of us who are in Christ, we know that our ultimate destination is sure and secure. We know that we will be with Him forever in the New Heavens and the New Earth. In light of all of that deep truth, it seems unwise, even foolish, to worry and to be fearful when God is with us as we walk through this life. God sees the beginning from the end and says that He has prepared a place for His children. Thus, in 2020, my friends, let us take Him at His word. Let us trust Him in His character. Let us rejoice and be at peace in His promises. He is with us always, and will always guide us in ways that transform us to be more like Christ and give Him the most glory.
Perhaps one of the reasons that we are often afraid, or even motivated by fear, is that we are not always wise in choosing the voices to whom we listen on a regular basis. Whether it is on the radio or on cable television, whether in magazines or in the coffee shops, we fall prey to those voices who pedal fear and even profit off of it. They keep us listening or watching because they tap into our fears and assure us that they have the solutions to our problems, whether personal or national. Each day and week is full of the latest “critical crisis” facing us for which they have the solution. However, a close analysis of their content shows that they are saying much of the same things that they have been saying for years and even decades. Their solutions, it seems, do not really work, but they do keep our ears and eyes focused upon them.
For the new year, I would like to suggest sources that will calm our fears rather than inflame them. The first one, of course is the Word of God. It seems trite to say, “Read the Bible” until you realize that many evangelicals, in fact, do not read the Word on a daily basis. I hope you are not one of them. As we begin 2020, the best way to have a clear vision of what is happening in the world is to hear from the One who is truly in charge. Therefore, make it a goal in 2020 to spend at least a few minutes every day reading the Bible, without excuse, without exception, without fail. Spending time with the Author of life, both in reading and in prayer, just gives a better perspective to life than any other source. If you keep seeing the Almighty One saying, “Do not be afraid,” it will transform your thinking as you face the issues of daily life.
While nothing can top the Word of God, there are some practical resources that I recommend as you consider where to get your news each day. The first is World Magazine. You can get it in its published form or, better yet, listen to the daily podcast, “The World and Everything In It.” This 30-minute program reports on the news from a biblical perspective. If you have a smart phone, you can get this podcast in the App Store or in Google Play. It is a free download.
Another good source is Albert Mohler’s “The Briefing,” where he gives his “daily analysis of the news from a Christian worldview.” He is a gifted teacher and insightful commentator. For those wishing to grow deeper in their understanding of Scripture, doctrine, and the Christian life, I recommend 2 other podcasts: “Renewing Your Mind” by Ligonier ministries, and “Core Christianity” by Michael Horton and Adriel Sanchez. All of these resources are easy to listen to and all of them are available as free downloads from the app stores on your smart phones.
If you are like me and are always looking for a good book, then you should get to know authors like Alistair Begg, R.C. Sproul, D.A. Carson, John Piper, and Kevin DeYoung. Their books are available from www.christianbook.com or www.amazon.com. You will be educated, encouraged, and edified as you read anything from these gifted authors. If you would like more suggestions, please feel free to contact me. I would be happy to help you find good sources that will encourage and strengthen you in the Christian faith.
As we enter 2020, one of the guiding verses for me in my personal life and ministry will be 2 Tim. 1:7: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” I commend this verse to you as well. Think of it: if we have love and power and self-control in the Holy Spirit, then we will be people who overcome our fears and experience the peace and joy that Christ purchased for His people. So friends, as we begin 2020, let us not be afraid or controlled by our fears; rather, let us be strong and courageous, knowing that He is in control!
I wish you all the best in Christ Jesus in this New Year.