Wednesday, June 10, 2015
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I was 12 years old when I was baptized. And I thought getting in that baptismal tank at our church was hard! Well, my wife was nine years old when she was baptized, and she grew up in the Ozarks where they baptized folks the John the Baptist way - in the creek (or crick).
Well, her Mom helped her get this white baptismal gown on, and then my wife (little girl then) stood on the bank as the pastor prepared to baptize her. She didn't move. The pastor thought maybe she was having a spiritual struggle over getting baptized. That never crossed her mind. What did cross her mind was the only other time she had been in a creek like this. She'd been swimming and encountered the little beady eyes of a poisonous water moccasin snake. Now, when she contemplated going into that water for Jesus, she couldn't help but also contemplate the possibility of those little beady eyes.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Why You Don't Have To Be Afraid."
Well, did she or didn't she? She did! Here's how my wife tells it: She says, "I decided that if I could trust Jesus to save me forever, I guess I could trust Him to protect me from the snakes." She knew God wanted her to step into that water for Him. She also knew the danger that could be there. All of us have moments like that. Maybe you're at one of those "faith versus fear" crossroads right now.
Our word for today from the Word of God, Isaiah 43:1-3, and it starts with the ultimate answer to the fear that could be holding you back right now. "Fear not" God says, "I have redeemed you. I have summoned you by name. You are mine." See, my wife moved into that scary water because she decided she could totally trust the One who had redeemed her.
God says, "You belong to Me. I paid for you with the life of my Son. Do you really think I'll let you be hurt by obeying Me?" Then He goes on to say, "When you pass through the waters I will be with you. 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, for I am the Lord your God, the holy One of Israel, your Savior."
Notice it says here, "When you pass through the waters and the fire." There's no exemption from going through the deep waters or the fire. It doesn't say "if you do". It says, "when". But a promise from the Lord is here, from your God, your Savior, that you will not be overwhelmed by them or destroyed by them. You may get wet. You may get hot, but you won't get drowned and you won't get burned up.
As David was hiding in a cave from a king who was trying to kill him, he made this amazing statement in Psalm 34:4, one that has answered my wife's fears and my own fears so many times. Psalm 34:4 - "I sought the Lord and He heard me and He delivered me from all my fears." Wow!
You could put your fear in there. "He delivered me from my fear of ______." Maybe today you're standing on the bank, knowing God wants you to step in but you've been focused on the risks of obeying Him. As long as you focus on the dangers and the scary possibilities, fear is going to be your master. But like a little girl learned on the banks of an Ozark creek, if you focus on the One who rescued you from an eternal hell, the One who holds you in His strong and loving arms, then faith will win. If Jesus is strong enough to take you to heaven, isn't He strong enough to take care of the snakes?
You know, David said in the famous 23rd Psalm, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for You are with me. I wonder if you have that kind of an intimate and personal relationship with the God of heaven? Because with Him, you can even walk through the valley of the shadow of death - the most fearful stretch of all - and say, "I know that Jesus died for me. I know my sins have been forgiven, for I have put my life in His hands."
If you've never done that, would you do that today? Go to our website and find out more about how you can be sure of this relationship. It's ANewStory.com. And trade your fears for the peace of Christ.