In the name of Jesus Christ, who sought you, who saved you, who still remains
with you, dear Christian friends, If you are looking down the barrel of a loaded .22 aimed at your face, what thoughts and emotions surge over you? My thoughts, not necessarily in this order, might be: “Why is this gun pointed at me? Who is the person pointing it at me and is
he/she mentally stable? What pain will I feel if that trigger is pulled and will I survive?”
If those are not exactly your thoughts, would you agree your thoughts would include
Tonight, you are looking down the barrel of a ’22 as 2022 is about to explode
into your lives. What thoughts and emotions surge over you— anticipation...over the
expected arrival of a baby, joy...knowing that you graduate this year, comfort...confident
that God’s got this? How much does fear play in when considering next year?
Speaking of a .22 caliber gun, I know the horrible possibility of more school
shootings still exists. Coronavirus and its variants hit the headlines every day to keep us
questioning the length of our lives. Inflation and other economic issues confront us and
we consider if we can financially survive.
What follows the word “fear” in your vocabulary and your thinking? Fear...full?
Fear...everything? Fear...not? It is the latter phrase that comes from God! He inspires it for us. He instructs it in us. He instills it in us.
The words are heard more familiarly in the words of the angel to the Virgin Mary
and again to the shepherds, announcing the birth of Jesus, but most of you have also
heard and may remember these words from the God-inspired quill of the prophet
Isaiah 43:1-3a But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you,
O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed
you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
FEAR NOT! FACE 2022 WITH GOD ON YOUR SIDE!
2 Why do these words hold any credibility as to what we should follow? It is
because of who says them and why he says them!
This is what the LORD says— he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you,
O Israel. He is your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. The one who tells us to
fear not is the one who is both our Creator and Savior. The one who brought us into
existence is also the one who will bring us into eternity! With him we are alive and with
him we are alive! His credentials tell us he is someone to whom we need to listen.
His actions tell us the same thing! “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have
summoned you by name; you are mine. He is the Redeemer and the Sanctifier! He
redeemed us— bought us back from our slavery to Satan and rescued us from the
punishment of our sins— with his holy, precious blood and his innocent suffering and
death. He sanctified us— called us out of the unbelieving world to be holy and made us
his own— by the power of his Word and Holy Baptism. He claims us as his own and he
is strong enough, gracious enough and concerned enough to never let us go!
So, fear not! Fear not the power of the devil as Jesus has defeated him with a
perfect life and a substitutionary death! Fear not when you have failed Jesus and
listened to the devil because Jesus has secured forgiveness from God for every one of
your sins by living and dying in your place! Fear not the fires of hell because Jesus
rescued you with his life and death! Fear not, as Paul writes to the Romans, “trouble or
hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword” (8:35) because
“we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (8:37).
I recently read a story about Zakaria Botros, who has a $60 million price tag on
his head. He was at one time thought to be Islam’s public enemy number one, as tens
of thousands of Muslims came to saving faith in Jesus through his ministry, but he has
become more clandestine lately due to some unfounded accusations. When asked by a
reporter, “What price have you had to pay for your boldness in pointing out the errors of
Islam and sharing the claims of the gospel?”, Botros answered, “Whatever price I have
had to pay is cheap in comparison to what Jesus Christ has done for me in shedding his
blood for us! Jesus takes care of me until it is my time to go!”
Isn’t this what Jesus is telling us today through the Prophet Isaiah’s words? He is
taking care of us until it is our time to go. When you pass through the waters, I will be
with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When
you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
While the children of Israel literally faced these events in their lives, you and I
might have to face things that put our life in danger: school shootings, a virus and its
variants, an unstable economy that might make it difficult to feed, clothe or shelter
ourselves or our family. We can listen to the mainstream media and be filled with the
fear they foster or we can listen to God and fear not. We can trust in the
prognostications of mankind or we can trust the promises of God and fear not.
God wants us in heaven, which is why he sent us Jesus! How and when he gets
us there is his call to make! In the meantime, he promises to protect, bless and guide so
that we remain his— now and forever!
Fear not! Face 2022 with God on your side!