Is anyone here fearless? Did anyone leave their fears at home? In the Millennium there will be no fears.
[Leif Anderson] When I was a wee lad, there we go, I shared a room with my younger brother. The dangers for a five-year-old, as far as I was concerned, were everywhere. I found what courage I had diminish with the setting of the sun. I remember vividly hours under the covers imagination running wild. This much I knew that after sundown, there was no way I could touch the floor and live.
Now, you may ask, you know, what brings that on? Well, there's a backstory, I'm not going to get into that today, and it would pale next to what Mr. Suckling had to tell us with regard to his childhood. But nonetheless, I'm thinking about this. It may have been a premonition the next year as a six-year-old, I was struck down by rheumatic fever and a whole new set of worries settled on my mind, "Would I ever be able to walk again? Would I even make it to the age of seven?" But that's another story another time. Back to the bedroom drama, I possessed a finely tuned escape plan that I executed most days often to perfection.
And it was this after lying, what seemed like hours under the covers, and I don't know what the covers were going to do to protect me but that's, you know, I was a kid. So after hours under the cover, because fear does two things. Basically, fear does either paralyze you, or it propels you to action, right? Well, so after many hours, it seemed like hours, off came the covers onto my brother's bed. I tried to avoid as many of his vital organs as possible. As I flung open the door, raced into my parent's room and relief until I was sent back into the abyss.
Then it was as the saying goes now, "Wash, rinse, and repeat." Anyone here ever had similar experiences? Now, fortunately, I had a family who cared for me. It’s family day, so I've got to bring that in. They did care for me. And after about the 50th time, my parents would just look at me and, "Stay as long as you want." Because they understood a five-year-old had fears. In truth, I felt kind of alone until I met a man a few years ago, quite a number of years ago, he's a big, bulky construction worker. You think nothing would make him afraid. But he told me that childhood experiences that up until the day of his death, and that was a couple years ago, he went to bed with a light on, went to bed with a light on. Interesting. Interesting.
Is there anyone here who is fearless? Okay. Anyway in here who has left all their cares, their anxieties, their fears, even their phobias at home? That's pretty tough, isn't it? I think we come here and we expect and we are served precious words of life encouragement and strength along the way, but still, we're mostly human and the fears tend to cling to us. Now, when we think of the Millennium thousand year reign of Christ, images come to mind. Don't they? Like the classic... the lion, the lamb, and the child in Isaiah 11:6. Very familiar scripture to us all. “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child will lead them.”
It's kind of stuck in our mind for as long as we've been in the Church. At one time, it was part of the church seal as we recall. Now, this is not a cryptic, it simply and graphically pictures a world of peace and safety. That quite frankly would be unrecognizable to virtually every human being young or old who has ever walked the face of the earth. I believe the only way to describe our present world is fearful, filled with anxiety, apprehension, and even phobias. Extraordinary level of escapism we see around us every day, entertainment, drugs, so forth and so on, underscores this.
There's actually quite a list of phobias. I'm not going to go through them all, but I thought I'd list a few here, some of which have applied to me in times past. Achluophobia, fear of darkness. Okay. Now, this is a good one for a Minnesotan and I didn't know it existed, chionophobia, fear of snow. Go figure. Been there. And when we weren't in Texas for four years at Ambassador College, we were three years in Canada where they got a lot of snow up there too. Cyberphobia, I guess you can figure out that one, fear of computers. That's probably a healthy fear, actually. Sorry teenagers there's one for you, ephebiphobia, fear of teenagers. Who would have guessed that?
And we've got a daughter who is very much exposed to this one, this last one, ophidiophobia, fear of snakes. She goes catatonic when she sees one of those wiggly things. Anybody have that kind of phobia? I'm not a big fan of snakes but I don't go catatonic, I have to say anyway. Now, can you imagine a world without fear, where a child can go outside and play, even talk to strangers, believe it or not, and yes, go to bed without being terrorized?
A woman can feel safe walking into a parking garage, simply strolling around the neighborhood at night, or running alone on a trail during the daytime. No young man or woman marching off to die in some place few people can pronounce, let alone find on a map. And families, families never, ever separated again. Where Prozac and Ritalin are distant memories and removed from our consciousness altogether.
Yes. Can you imagine? Pretty sweet thought to think about. And we know it's coming, we're here as we know to both celebrate in advance and as difficult as it is at times to grasp it to prepare to assist our elder brother Jesus Christ to ensure reality throughout His, our 1,000 reign on this earth. Please, notice Micah 4:4. Micah 4:4 because this also is very symbolic of the time we are observing now, very familiar scripture. Micah 4:4 says, "But everyone… everyone shall sit under his vine, under his fig tree, and no one, no one shall make them afraid;” whereas the Hebrew indicates, "cause them to tremble, cause them trouble."
Satan is banished, as we know, we don't have to worry about governments, angry friends, neighbors, whomever, no one will make them afraid. And as we know, this is talking about Israel coming out of Jacob's trouble, but also in type about the whole world. And God then puts your signature on it. He says, "This time is coming for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken." Now, in the remainder of my allotted time, I want to talk about one aspect of the miracle God is working in each one of our lives, even as we sit here today, and how it ties into this particular verse into this festival period.
And again, I mentioned one aspect of the miracle because you see were referred to as, “jewels", “special treasure" in Malachi 3:17 by our Father and elder Brother. And like a fine jewel, there are facets and God is working as the master jeweler, if you will, to create in us a special place in His family. And we've heard so much about that, so beautifully put in this Feast so far.
Now that one aspect of God's miracle is what I call His fear reduction program or FRP or FuRP. We've got BuRP right in Bible Reading Program fondly referred to as BuRP. Well, this is FuRP. I haven't copyrighted that yet but I thought it'd be a little catchy anyhow. That one aspect is God's fear reduction program He and Christ have designed for each one of us, because they know precisely what you and I, individually, are going through every day, every fear, every concern, every anxiety, every phobia we might have, and they're sympathetic as we'll see. See one of the reasons we're here is to help us overcome our fears, so we can better help those pictured in Micah 4:4 when that time arrives. And I think Mr. Kubik’s extraordinary message touched on that a great deal on the Sabbath.
Now, we see this fear reduction program outlined beautifully in 1 John 4:17-18. 1 John 4:17-18 "Love has been perfected…” or more properly is in the process of being perfected “among us in this: that we may have boldness… that we have boldness” courage “in the day of judgment;” and of course, now is our day of judgment, is it not? Judgment is on the house of God. But God says He wants us to have the boldness, the courage, the confidence to come before Him at any and all times, in all circumstances, no matter what your age. If you're here, you're being worked with, it's as simple and challenging as that.
"Because as He is, so are we in this world." This is a remarkable statement. Anytime we're mentioned, I'm mentioned, you're mentioned alongside the name of Christ, that is a remarkable statement. And to think that we are joint-heirs with Christ literally blows our mind, or should. In verse 18, "There is no fear in love;” no fear, “but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.” And the Greek indicates here, a restraint. In other words, a lack of faith and trust.
The unhealthy type of fear shields faith puts a distance between us and our Father. And they don't want that at all. They're bringing us, they're perfecting us in love, “But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” So, we see it's a process. It is a process and a process with purpose. It takes a miracle as we know. So we are to go from being fearful to fearless. And it's interesting that this process, as does wisdom, begins with one type of fear, the unhealthy type, and ends up with a decidedly more healthy one that leads to eternal life.
Christ makes this clear in Matthew 10:28, where He begins to set the big picture for us in terms of our perspective and who we should be looking to at all times versus our surroundings, the physical. He wants us to be looking in the future as we are today, but also above continually to God our Father in Jesus Christ, our elder Brother. Matthew 10:28, "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him” reverence “Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Now, it's interesting that both times fear is used here, it's the same Greek word, phobos.
But the outcome is decidedly diametrically opposite. We're to fear nothing physical, and we're certainly not to fear the adversary. But we are to reverence and we are to love, grow to love, as we know the first commandment our Father and elder Brother with all our heart. But we're dealing with a seeming a contradiction here or conundrum on the one hand. Again, we're to learn to fear or reverence God one of the reasons why we are called to this Feast, on the other we're to fear nothing else, nothing else it's a tall order, thus the need for a miracle.
It's kind of an assignment, you don't know me that well but I'm already putting you to work. But if you'd like, you might take a look at Luke 8:22-56 in your spare time if you have any here or maybe post-Feast. There four miracles recorded in quick succession in this section of Scripture in Luke and there are parallels in other Gospels. But each of these four miracles demonstrate God's action in the lives of human beings, taking them from unhealthy fear to a reverence, to a love and a worship of God the Father in Jesus Christ.
Each one focuses on the fear of human beings and ends up in a very positive way leading us to that reverence that is eternal life saving for us. Interesting as well, the second miracle is kind of a metaphor for the time we're living in right now. So you might want to take a look at those again, some time, four miracles, rapid succession and they all start with unhealthy fear, phobias and end up in amazing love and reverence for God the Father in Jesus Christ. 2 Timothy 1:7, very familiar, it's a memory scripture. "For God has not given us the spirit of fear” an unhealthy fear, not at all, “but of power and of love and a sound mind."
That begins the miracle in most of our lives as we know. And I want to be perfectly clear here, we all have fears. Like I said, at the beginning, we're battling even as we sit here, some of us. It's how we handle those fears that makes all the difference in the world, and that's where God the Father and Jesus Christ come in. Now, one of my great fears has been and continues to be public speaking.
It was at one time actually a phobia, I would do anything, I would do anything to avoid getting up in front of a crowd, in front of my own family, as a matter of fact. I can distinctly remember my senior year at Ambassador College I was the Student Body President and Ministerial Trainee, and I know Mr. Sexton can relate to this. My very first sermon that was in front of the Big Sandy congregation, in the auditorium and I don't know there was at least a couple thousand people, maybe 50,000, I don't know. But I was shaking, yes, like a leaf. Thank you.
I had prepared, of course, you know, that's one thing fear does, it does focus one's attention, right? It motivates you, propels you to prepare, it really does. And asked God to calm me down and I needed to be calmed down, I really did. You know, I was nervous right up until my foot hit the first step leading to the stage. Now for the life of me, I can't remember what the sermonette was all about.
But 43 years later, I can distinctly remember God's mercy, when I put my foot on that step, I calmed down. And I was able to keep going without fainting. Very good. So, over the years, I progressed from phobia, to fear, to mere anxiety, to temporary nervousness and now it's kind of a giddy-like excitement when you know you're going to have to stand in front of God's family and preach to them.
Now, I can take a little credit for this. I have worked on submission of course, and that's what it's a lot about. But I can tell you this, I'm living proof. You talk about the donkey and Balaam, but I'm living proof that God can use even a leaf to teach. There's hope for all. It is said that courage is not the absence of fear, but the unwillingness to give into it. Mark Twain said, "Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear." And no less illustrious a gentleman than John Wayne said, "Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway."
Now, when I was a teen, I had the chance to meet a gentleman by the name of Eddie Rickenbacker, anybody... I know a lot of the older gentlemen and ladies in this room, probably are familiar with that name. Eddie Rickenbacker was a World War I flying ace, one of the first drivers in what would eventually become the Indianapolis 500, later on, President of Eastern Airlines, when that was an entity. And he almost perished in an airline crash in one of his own planes, but he did survive. And I remember, it was a book signing, I remember coming up to him and looking at him, and seeing a remarkable aura of calm, confidence, and courage, and I've never forgotten that.
Mr. Rickenbacker said, "Courage is doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared." Now again, we all have fears, like I said, it's important for us to know, however, sitting here as God's family that they know precisely what we're going through. And it's also important for us to know that our elder Brother, Jesus Christ battled fears when He was on this earth. He just never, ever let them keep Him from doing His Father's will.
In Hebrews 10... Or two excuse me, Hebrews 2:10 and then 14 and 18. This is an extraordinarily familiar scriptural area for us. I hope it's not too familiar because it says some remarkable things about our elder brother that are humbling, exciting, motivating, strengthening for us. I don't think you can ever read it too often or think about it too much. In verse 10 of Hebrews 2, "For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect” or complete.
Because, you see, He was qualifying for positions in God's family, government in God's family as we know. Prior to that, He had been the Word — Creator of all things, sustainer of all things. But He was in the process now, of course, of being trained to step into roles that were only theoretical prior to our creation, as our High Priest, King of kings, the Lord of lords, Pioneer of our faith, Captain of our salvation, Chief apostle of our souls to name just a few. So He was being readied.
In verse 14, "Inasmuch then as the children partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death” that's right, turn that right around, as only God can do and use that weapon against the source of death as we know, that “He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” We heard... We got an email this morning that Mr. Cafourek is having a challenging time of it.
I hope I'm not stepping on toes here by making this announcement. But he's going into surgery tomorrow and the odds right now, at least, according to human beings is about 40% to 50%. I would imagine there's a little apprehension in the home and obviously, they would appreciate our prayers as they've been giving them all along, I'm sure but particularly now. But no doubt they are reading scriptures like this taking hope, encouragement, courage.
"Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God,” in verse 18, "For that He himself has suffered, being [tested] tempted, He is able to aid those who are [tested or] tempted."
Hebrews 7:25 says, "He ever lives to make intercession on our behalf." Now I asked you, what in the human experience is more common than battling fear? I can't think of too many, I really can't. Can we imagine, can we imagine what our elder Brother when He was walking this earth as a human being what He went through knowing where He came from because He knew that.
At what point He knew that maybe at the age of 12, He was beginning to understand that more clearly. But as He progressed through teenage years and then approached the ministry no doubt He had a very firm idea of His past. Knowing what He was facing in terms of what was at stake as He lived His life, at stake for you and me, the family, that's what was at stake. And knowing the prophecies of what He would have to go through for us.
And we get a glimpse of this pressure in Hebrews 5:7 because He was doing it for the family for you and me, and all those who've been called in this age and will during this period and of course in the Eighth Day. Hebrews 5:7 This is the New King James Version, "who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears" vehement cries and tears. Now, I think we associate with this, you know, the three times in the garden, where He approached God and said, "You know if it's possible, take this cup from Me, but Your will be done, not Mine."
Those are the three we're aware of. But I would suspect there were many more over the course of that 33 and a half years when He walked this earth, “…with vehement cries and tears to Him who's able to save Him from death,” not the first death, "and was heard because of His godly fear,” as we know, no human being has ever had the pressure not even close to what our Savior and King had to go through to show us the way. He was being prepared for something great, and so are we. Part of that preparation process is overcoming our fears so we can help them many overcome theirs in the future.
King David was a man after God's own heart, in some respects, a type of Christ, not because he had no fears. You look through the Psalms, Mr. Sexton did a phenomenal job of walking us through the Psalms, those two days that he gave his message. And you look at the Psalms, and we know David had his share of fears. But because, or maybe despite those fears, he trusted in God and moved forward into battle anyway, everyday, everyday.
Psalm 34:1-10, “…I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Or on my lips, as was beautifully sung in special music few days ago, "My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it and be glad.” You and I. "Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together." David said, "I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from [some] of my fears." One or two, a few? No, he says, "all my fears."
"They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles." In verse 9, "Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints!” That's right, reverence, love, "There is no want to those who fear Him. Young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek the Lord shall not lack nothing that is good.” Including courage to face whatever we need to face.
Now as the word, Jesus Christ inspired David to write this and all the Psalms. He was after all the Word. In preparing for this message, I did wonder how many times during His sojourn on earth Christ thought on this Psalm and took courage, took courage. Brethren, we all have a battle, anxiety, fears, and even perhaps phobias at time, whether we're 5, 15, 35, 65 or 95. Still, we come here to be fortified, strengthened, His family.
We can take great comfort that our elder Brother has been through similar challenges and is able to both relate to and help us conquer our fears, He's the Captain again of our salvation, the Pioneer of our faith.
As we know, God did not call us to remain fearful. To the contrary, we've been called to become bold as lions, to join with the lion of the tribe of Judah to make the Millennium pictured in Micah 4:4 and elsewhere shining reality.
Our president, Vic Kubik, gave us an encouraging counsel in his September 13 pre-Feast letter to us. I'd like to read from that. “As we approach this festival season” and as I might add, as we move through it, “let us cast all our fears and cares upon Him.” He quotes 1 Peter 5:7 "Seeking refuge in Him and turning our challenges completely and confidently over to Him. And let us join with David," Yes, David. He quotes Psalm 34, "where we too will bless the Lord at all times. ‘His praise shall continually be in my mouth.’"
Brethren we're here as we've heard a number of times at our Father’s invitation believing that all this is possible. Our Father and elder Brother promised to make it so. We look forward to a time in which everyone shall sit under His vine and under His fig tree and “no one will make them afraid.” Because, because you and I are being nurtured now to the time when no one can make us afraid. It's marvelous to contemplate. The process continues, and our Father will complete it.