?December 13, 2009
Third Sunday in Advent
Isaiah 12:2-6

A minister in Texas found his new ministry would require him to travel all over the state. Since he would be away from home often overnight, he bought a little companion dog for his wife. They named the puppy “Fear Not.” One evening while the little dog was out, he disappeared from the yard. As night came on, the minister’s wife went out searching. Up and down the street and around the block she went calling, “Fear Not. … Fear Not.” She found the puppy, and they were glad to be reunited. The next day a neighbor remarked of her search, “I needed that!” Don’t we all sometimes?
Today’s text says, “I will trust and not be afraid.” With all the things to make us afraid, here is a verse to remember. These are days of economic strain and uncertainty. Fear stalks us. There are many who want to kill us because we are Christians or because we are Americans or both. We are prone to fear the next terrorist attack. I know senior citizens who look at the paltry interest rates on their life savings and fear outliving their resources. People are afraid of being poor. In 1878, Archbishop Williams of Boston circulated an address to his churches asking his people not to react to their fears by going to the banks to withdraw their money. John Kenneth Galbraith, the economist, said the appeal actually caused runs on the banks.
What in today’s Scripture reading will help us handle fear? Here are three wonderful promises to cancel fear.

I. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid (v. 2).
Paul and Silas could sing praises while their hands and feet were held in stocks in the prison at Philippi. They were able with joy to draw water from the wells of salvation. In Isaiah 50:9 the prophet notes, “It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me. Who is he that will condemn me?” This is the passage that the apostle Paul quotes in the more-than-conquerors passage of Romans 8. Call on God. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (See also Hebrews 13:6.)

II. I will trust and not be afraid; The Lord, the Lord, is my strength.  (v. 2).
Recall the story of Isaac in ever digging new wells and moving on from quarrelling neighbors. When he went to Beersheba where Abraham had a similar experience, the Lord appeared to him with the promise, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” He promised Isaac He would be his God as He was the God of his father Abraham (Genesis 26:24). Is He your Almighty God as well?

III. I will not be afraid: The Lord, the Lord, is my … song (v. 2).
Some people whistle a tune when they walk past a graveyard at night. Maybe it helps them keep their courage up. God’s people have a better plan. We do not sing to conjure up joy but to express the joy God gives. “Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy one of Israel” (vv. 5-6).
A mother sent her small son on an errand in their rural community. The light was fading, and shadows gathered. She felt he would be quite safe and old enough for the errand. He paused uncommonly long just outside the door and then came back inside.
“Mother,” he said, “you know, where you are asking me to go is pretty far. I’m not sure I know the way. I’m not really afraid, but if you could come with me for just part of the road, it would be great.” Mummy was not a dummy. She took him by the hand and said, “Mother will come with you all the way.”

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