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There are times in our lives when our world comes crashing down on us; if anything can go wrong, it will. Fear traps us in the belief that nothing will ever improve, that we are ensnared and will never escape. When life gets us down, fear fills the void left by hope. 

  

Fear is not the domain of the timid, but swells over all of us no matter how brave we may appear to be. 


Two gas company service men, a senior training Supervisor and a young trainee were out checking meters and parked their truck at the end of the alley and worked there way to the other end. At the last house a woman looking out her kitchen window watched the two
men as they checked her gas meter. As they finished the meter check the older supervisor challenged his younger co-worker to a foot race down the alley back to the truck.

As they came running up to the truck, they realized that the lady from the last house was huffing and puffing right behind them. They stopped and asked her what was wrong. Gasping for breath she said, "When I see two gas men running full speed away from my house, I figured I had better run too."


We fear a lot of things.We fear losing our health, our wealth, our family; our friends. We fear losing the promotion or even the job. We fear growing old, but even more, we fear death. 

  

This week I posted a question on Facebook asking “What do you fear most?” The answers ranged disappointing God to worrying about the need for chemo and radiation. 


Here are just a few of the others: 


Failing others, losing someone to an untimely death, fearing for a child serving in the military in a hostile country, many fear danger to their children physically or spiritually. Missing God’s will for your life, some fear acquiring Alzheimer’s, a lot of parents fear that their children will not accept Christ or be influenced by the world around them in a negative way. 


On a global scale right now there is much to be concerned about.  


Major unrest in middle eastern countries (direct link to our economy based on oil) 

Radical Muslim threats if the wrong people gain control.

Our own fragile economy and the notion that our Government may just not have the ability to “take care” of us in the future. 

Some of us fear job security

Many of us fear the unstable nature of our world. 


In Psalm 27, we read a vivid description of someone that trusts God completely with their life. I am not talking about some kind of pseudo relationship that is only active when you are in trouble but a daily ongoing relationship between you and God. This Psalm is not for someone looking for some surefire easy formula to a better life in three or four steps.


The Bible teaches that when we are followers of Christ all things are new and as a result we can live without fear and with an assurance in our heart that God is in control. We can know Him. We can trust Him. 


I want you to look at a couple of verses from other places before we unpack Psalm 27 together. 


This message will have very little or no meaning for you if you have no intention of taking Christ seriously and following Him. 


“He died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. . . This means anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

                                                                                                             2 Corinthians 5:15,17 NLT


“What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.” Galatians 6:15b NLT


. . .but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” 

                                                                                                                         Romans 12:2b NLT


The one thing you can “go to the bank on” is that when you follow Christ you will be a changed person and that transformation will continue till the day you pass from this life. 


In light of the call of God to be new or even renewed in our faith let’s look at Psalm 27 and allow the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and give us faith to follow in a new way. 


 1. No Fear


A young police officer was taking his final exam for the police academy. And he comes across this question:“You are on patrol in the outer city when an explosion occurs in a gas main in a nearby street.

On investigation you find that a large hole has been blown in the sidewalk and there is an overturned van nearby. Inside the van there is a strong smell of alcohol. Both occupants—a man and a woman—are injured. You recognize the woman as the wife of your Chief of Police, who is presently out of the country.

A passing motorist stops to offer you assistance and you realize that he is a man who is wanted for armed robbery. Suddenly a man runs out of a nearby house, shouting that his wife is expecting a baby and that the shock of the explosion has made the birth imminent.

Another man is crying for help, having been blown into the adjacent river by the explosion, and he cannot swim. Describe in a few words what actions you would take.”

The young man thought for a moment, picked up his pen and wrote, “I would take off my uniform and mingle with the crowd.


All of us probably have something that we are afraid of or that overwhelms us or causes us to be afraid. There are times in all our lives when we no doubt would like to not have to face something we fear. 


One thing for sure. . . we are called to live our lives without fear. Nobody makes that clearer then the writer of Psalm 27: 


 1 The LORD is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid?
   The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?
 2 When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me,
      they will stumble and fall.
 3 Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid.  Even if I am attacked,

     I will remain confident.


God is our Light

God is our Salvation

God is our fortress

God protects us from danger Why should we be afraid or tremble? 


What do you fear today? What causes you to worry or sometimes feel like you wish you didn’t have to go on? What overwhelms you when you think about it?  


Dr. E. Stanley Jones: “I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath--these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely--these are my native air. A John Hopkins University doctor says, "We do not know why it is that worriers die sooner than the non-worriers, but that is a fact." But I, who am simple of mind, think I know; We are inwardly constructed in nerve and tissue, brain cell and soul, for faith and not for fear. God made us that way. To live by worry is to live against reality.”  


2. New Focus


One of the most beautiful things about living for Christ is that you receive a new focus. The Psalmist probably gives us the best word picture of this new focus in these words. 

 4 The one thing I ask of the LORD, the thing I seek most— is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.
 5 For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary.
      He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
 6 Then I will hold my head high above my enemies who surround me.
   At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy, singing and praising the LORD with music. 

When you accept Christ into your life everything changes. Remember the words found in 2 Corinthians? If there is any message that we need to hear as a church it is this one. When you are a follower of Christ, a Christian, your life cannot and will not stay the same. If it stays the same and you are not evolving and being transformed something is desperately wrong. 

This means anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!   2 Corinthians 5:15,17 NLT


Paul wrote to the Galatians and reminded them of this new focus: 


“. . .let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses. 

 19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. 

 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! 

 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.” Galatians 5:16-24 NLT

Do you enjoy a new focus in your life? Are you currently able to say with the Psalmist I love and delight in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in His temple? 

3. New Family

One of the things you gain by following Christ is a new family. This doesn’t mean that your biological family is bad or always wrong but for sure you gain a family in Christ. God is our Father. Jesus is our brother. In fact do you remember these words from Jesus? 

46 As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 47 Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, and they want to speak to you.”[ HYPERLINK "http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew 12&version=NLT" \l "fen-NLT-23512g" \o "See footnote g" g] 

 48 Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 49 Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 50 Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!” Matthew 12:46-50 NLT

The Psalmist expresses it this way. 

 7 Hear me as I pray, O LORD. Be merciful and answer me!
 8 My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.”
 9 Do not turn your back on me. Do not reject your servant in anger.
      You have always been my helper. Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me,
      O God of my salvation!
 10 Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close. 

When we enter God’s family we should never be without a family. What keeps you in God’s family? Remember Jesus said it best, “Anyone who does the will of my Father. . .” 

Doing God’s will, avoiding the practice of sinfulness, allowing God to transform you spiritually, loving God with all your heart mind soul and strength and your neighbor as yourself, are all good places to start. 

If you are part of God’s family, you will live differently than those around you who make no claim to be followers of Christ. 

4. New Faith

 11 Teach me how to live, O LORD. Lead me along the right path,
      for my enemies are waiting for me.
 12 Do not let me fall into their hands.
      For they accuse me of things I’ve never done;
      with every breath they threaten me with violence.

So there it is. A prayer that ought to be on all of our lips on a daily basis. “Teach me how to live O Lord. Lead me along the right path.” 

Do you ever pray that prayer? You have to mean it. You have to want God to change you and not just give it lip service with no intention of changing. What is this path that the writer is referring to? The answer to that question if found in Jesus’ own words as recorded by Matthew: 

 13 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell[ HYPERLINK "http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew 7&version=NLT" \l "fen-NLT-23305f" \o "See footnote f" f] is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. 14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it. Matthew 7:13 NLT

The church today is filled with people that have never heard these verses. The church is filled with people that live on the broad way that lead to destruction. Every evidence given when you look at their lives suggest that they live pretty much like everyone else that lives around them. 

Here is the problem as I see it. We have no problem teaching that Jesus is the way and the narrow gate that we must enter through Him but rarely do we embrace the rest of these verses. The way to eternal life is a narrow way. If you interpret these verses based on the lives and lifestyles of most of the church in America you would read them exactly the opposite of what Jesus said. You would think that the gateway to life is very broad and not difficult at all and many find it. 

Why is this? If we are to find a new faith and a new focus why do so many still live unchanged? 

There are many professing that Christ is their Lord and Savior yet when you look at their lives you find that they live just like those who make no profession at all. They believe this because somewhere along the way they prayed a prayer and said yes to all the right questions. How many people in this room believe that you are saved because you repeated a prayer that someone asked you to pray but nothing has changed in your life? You are saved through faith in Jesus Christ and that faith is active and new every morning. 


Do you believe that you are a sinner? Yes

Do you want to go to heaven? Yes

Do you want to ask Jesus into your life? Yes

Did you ask Him to come into your heart? Yes


Then you are saved. There is nothing scriptural about that. There are many people who think that they are Christians based on entering in through that narrow gate through a prayer repeated by someone else but in reality they live everyday of their life on the broad way that leads to destruction or hell. They look like the world, they act like the world, they talk like the world and in the end it is their lifestyle that will condemn them when they stand before Christ one day. 


Listen to me carefully. When you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior you will know it because everything about you will change. The way you talk will change. What you are passionate about will change. The priorities of your life will change. The habits of your life will change. Your desires will change. The evidence that you have passed through the narrow gate Jesus Christ, is that you are now walking the narrow way. You don’t see how close you can live to this world or like this world but you live to see how close you can be like Jesus Christ. 


There are days when I get weary and tired and long for a church that will embrace the way of Christ and will live with eternity in view. When you find a new and living faith you hunger for holiness and not the filth of this world. When you are a Christfollower you follow Him and He changes everything about you. 

My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device or creed;
I trust the ever living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.

Enough for me that Jesus saves,
This ends my fear and doubt;
A sinful soul I come to Him,
He’ll never cast me out.

My great Physician heals the sick,
The lost He came to save;
For me His precious blood He shed,
For me His life He gave

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea,
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

Milton was flying on a plane from Atlanta to Dallas. He happened to have the middle of the three seats on one side of the aisle. To his right, sitting next to the window, was a young girl who obviously had Down's syndrome. She began to ask him some simple but almost offensive questions. 


"Mister," she said, "did you brush your teeth this morning?" Milton, very shocked at the question, squirmed around a bit and then said, "Well, yes, I brushed my teeth this morning." The young girl said, "Good, 'cause that's what you're supposed to do." Then she asked, "Mister, do you smoke?" 


Again, Milton was a little uncomfortable, but he told her with a little chuckle that he didn't. 

She said, "Good, 'cause smoking will make you die." Then she said, "Mister, do you love Jesus?" 

Milton was really caught by the simplicity and the forthrightness of the little girl's questions. He smiled and said, "Well, yes, I do love Jesus." The little girl with Down's Syndrome smiled and said, "Good, 'cause we're all supposed to love Jesus." 


About that time, just before the plane was ready to leave, another man came and sat down on the aisle seat next to Milton and began to read a magazine. The little girl nudged Milton again and said, "Mister, ask him if he brushed his teeth this morning." 


Milton was really uneasy with that one, and said that he didn't want to do it. But she kept nudging him and saying, "Ask him! Ask him!" So Milton turned to the man seated next to him and said, "Mister, I don't mean to bother you, but my friend here wants me to ask you if you brushed your teeth this morning." 


The man looked startled, of course. But when he looked past Milton and saw the young girl sitting there, he could tell her good intentions, so he took her question in stride and said with a smile, "Well, yes, I brushed my teeth this morning."


As the plane taxied onto the runway and began to take off, the young girl nudged Milton once more and said, "Ask him if he smokes." And so, good-naturedly, Milton did, and the man said that he didn't smoke. As the plane was lifting into the air, the little girl nudged Milton once again and said, "Ask him if he loves Jesus." 


Milton said, "I can't do that. That's too personal. I don't feel comfortable saying that to him." 

But the girl smiled and insisted, "Ask him! Ask him!" Milton turned to the fellow one more time and said, "Now she wants to know if you love Jesus..." 

The man could have responded like he had to the two previous questions -- with a smile on his face and little chuckle in his voice. And he almost did. 


But then the smile on his face disappeared, and his expression became serious. Finally, he said to Milton, "You know, in all honesty, I can't say that I do. It's not that I don't want to, it's just that I don't know Him. I don't know how to know Him. I've wanted to be a person of faith all my life, but I haven't known how to do it. And now I've come to a time in my life when I really need that very much." 


As the plane soared through the skies between Atlanta and Dallas, Milton listened to the fellow talk about the brokenness in his life. Then he began a Bible study and explained how to become a person of faith. 

And he did all of that because a little girl with had asked him to ask the fundamental question that all Christians should be finding a way to communicate, "Do you love Jesus?"

Do you love Jesus today? I mean do you really love Him? Do you love Him enough that it shows in your walk and your talk? If the answer is yes you have nothing to be afraid of. The last thing the Psalmist reminds us of is that we have a new future. 

5. New Future


 13 Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. 14 Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.


If you don’t feel like you are in God’s family today I want to invite you to come and pray. IF you are tired of living with a foot in two worlds I invite you to come today. If you are afraid today and don’t know what to do about your future I invite you to come as we sing this song. Tell it to Jesus. Have a talk with Him today. 


Song 


Prayer


 1 The LORD is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid?
   The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?


 4 The one thing I ask of the LORD, the thing I seek most— is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.