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Sermon Series/Title
Detoxing Your Soul: Fear and Anxiety

Church Calendar Season: Lent

Scripture: Isaiah 41: 1-10

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Music for Sunday: 9:30am Streaming Service March 22, 2020


Family Devotional Guide

Pastor: Bruce Finfrock
Detoxing the Soul: Fear and Anxiexty  

In 1933 during the dark days of the Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in a radio speech, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Perhaps that is why there are over 300 references in the Bible having to do with fear—whether it has to do with the fear of God or the fear of circumstances that surround us.

Take a few minutes and share with those around you some of the things you fear the most, and then read Isaiah 41:10.

Here the God of Israel (Yahweh) is contending with the nations of the world and expressing His sovereignty over all human events. It is the Lord that is behind the rise of King Cyrus the Great who will come from the east and conquer the wicked Babylonians. The nation of Israel has seen and is afraid of what is happening in history (i.e. different circumstances to be sure but could be applied to what we are seeing and fearing right now with the Corona Virus). They can see the writing on the wall, and they know that difficult times are coming. Their response is to make idols to rescue them from the invasion of this mighty army and their fear has them scrambling for any solution. What solutions do you seek when you are afraid and where does God come into play?

Are you willing to be obedient to that which you may not understand? In Isaiah 55:9 God declares, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

It’s not about understanding the movements of God. It’s about finding some meaningful abandonment and embracing an entirely confident surrender to that which we can’t grasp and therefore don’t understand. We realize that the vast majority of this thing we call life, and all that makes it wonderful and exciting, is in a place that only God truly understands, and is impossible to find unless we trust that in God’s hands everything is purposeful and with a value far beyond whatever fear or loss we might understand.

“Faith is the substance of things we hope for and the evidence of things we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1), so it’s not about dissection or deductive thinking or rationalization or endeavors designed to rein the infinite into an intellectual corral where it can be understood. Faith is about deciding not to know. It’s not about ignorance or the lack of commitment to gain knowledge. Rather, it’s about recognizing that all knowledge will quickly collide with a wall of human intellect that cannot be understood because it is finite. In other words, it’s about knowing that the vast majority of life is surrender to what we can’t know and a God Who we can.

Now, in conclusion go back to the verse where we started in Isaiah 41:10 and see if you can identify the two commands; the two reasons given for the commands, and finally three promises that are ours if and when we obey.

Prayer of the week

Gracious God, Champion of the Universe, we so often fluff ourselves up. Aren’t we the only creatures who compose masterpieces of music and art? Don’t we govern ourselves, enrich ourselves, promote ourselves? Can’t we dunk basketballs, bat baseballs, spike volleyballs? Aren’t some of us masters of comic irony? Other creatures don’t practice rocket science. We do.

And yet. Here we are, frightened by a thing so small it can’t be seen under most microscopes. It’s not even an animal or a plant. It’s a virus, a mere parasite, dependent on our own living cells to replicate. And yet it has shuttered our schools, cancelled our flights, and emptied our churches. It has consumed the attention of our leading scientists, wrenched our politics out of shape, dominated our conversations, and scared the daylights out of us.

We don’t want to get sick. And we don’t want to die.

We are afraid, O God. Afraid of a microorganism. Afraid of each other.

Great and quiet source of peace, quiet our fears. We are wary, uncertain, strung tight. Quiet our fears. We have no idea what the future will bring, but we do know you will be in our future to hold us there. We cannot quiet ourselves, O God. We cannot comfort ourselves, cannot heal ourselves, cannot help ourselves. All we can do is wash our hands and keep our distance. Our rocket science is no good to us for this threat.

O God, great and quiet source of peace, quiet us, your anxious ones, and let us cling for comfort to your suffering Son, Jesus Christ. Gather us under his wings. Remind us that he suffers with us, but he’s also the great physician. In him, let us not be afraid. Please, let us not be afraid. Amen.

“A Prayer to God in Anxious Times” by Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

 

Conversation Starters (after the service)

What blessed you in a special way during this service?
What word or phrase in the Scripture today was a source of comfort or challenge to you?
What was an aspect of today’s service that stretched you in an important way?
What aspect of God’s beauty and glory became clearer to you today?

 

Via: John Whitvliet