“Do not be afraid!”

Do Not Be Afraid
Hebrew Bible Reading: Isaiah 6:1-8
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings; with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew.
And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
Then one of the seraphs flew to me holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth wit it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.”
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”
Gospel Reading: Luke 5:1-11
Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret and the crowd was pressing in on hem to hear the word of God, hew saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of boats, the belonging to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon. “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.”
When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

“Do not be afraid!”

I learned, in our Wednesday morning Men’s Bible Study that “Do not be afraid!” is the most often repeated command in the Bible.

Do Not Be Afraid.

What would your reaction be if you found yourself in the physical presence of the Almighty God?

Awe? Reverence? Love? Fear?

I come from a hugging family, so I’d like to think that I’d hug him like a brother. However, I think I would be like Peter and drop to my knees! In fear with the realization of my sinfulness. I’d like to think that I’m a good man. I’d like to think that I’m a good Christian. However, standing in the presence of the Christ would HE be able to see the Christ in me?

Do not be afraid!

Suddenly, you realize your unworthiness to stand before the Lord God of creation.

Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, God was always approached with a mixture of Fear and Love.

The temple priests worked on a rotating schedule when they entered the “Holy of Holies” or the most innermost section of the temple/tabernacle. This is where man went to commune with God. It was an honored position. It was also a frightening one. Much preparation was made before the priest went behind that last veil. The last thing the he did was tie a rope to his ankle. Once he was behind the curtain, other priests listen for the tinkling of the bells sewn to the hem of his garment. If the tinkling stopped for too long of a time, they would know he had been found unworthy and died. They then used the rope to pull him from behind the curtain.

Do not be afraid!

It isn’t really the holiness of God that is feared, it is our unholines.

In Isaiah chapter 6 he says, “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

And again. In Luke chapter 5 Peter says, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!”

Peter was still reacting to God in an Old Testament way.

God in the New Testament is revealed in a new way!

Christ Jesus was totally approachable. People reached out in crowds to touch and be touched. He rebuked his disciples when they tried to keep the children from coming to him.

Remember the story of the paralytic man who was lowered through the ceiling by his friends? In the gospel of Mark it is recorded that HE, Jesus was at home when this happened! That means that the roof that was torn off was of Jesus’ own home. Jesus didn’t react the way I would if someone destroyed my home. No. he said to the paralytic,” Son, your sins are forgiven.”

God who from the beginning has sought fellowship with mankind was separated by man’s sin. God in his perfection was fatal to sin. And thus man had to be kept at a fearful distance. God the incarnate, Jesus Christ, had taken on the flesh of a sin-free man so that he could once again enjoy that perfect fellowship he desired.

Do not be afraid! May be the most often issued command however I’m sure that the next most often command is “Go!” For no one comes into the presence of God and is not issued his marching orders.

From the beginning God has partnered with man to do His will.

Adam and Eve were told, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it”

Noah was told to build an ark and fill it with creatures to be saved.

Abram was told “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to land I will show you.”

God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to bethel, and settle there.”

In Egypt, Joseph revealed to his brothers, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.”

Isaiah was told to deliver God’s words to His people.

God spoke to Joseph husband of Mary, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Peter, James, John & Andrew were called by Jesus to become fishers of men.

We have been saved by grace from our sins.

Our home eternal has been provided!

But we’re not just saved from sin, we are also saved for service.

Everyone!

There are people who love to quote all the promises that God has made in ages past. Promises of wealth, and health. One of the difficulties with this “religion of prosperity” is that these were promises made to specific people for specific purposes. And always the abundance was to be passed on as a blessing to others.

If God has blessed you with abundance in money, time, ability, etc. it is because he expects you to use it.

This is a very active church.

We participate in many outreach and community service programs like:

2 worship services each week.

Sunday School for all ages.

UP Kids Wednesday after school program.

Vacation Bible School in the park – open to everyone

United Methodist Women and all of their various programs

Camperships

Camping and Conservation Club

Computer Training

Job Search and Resume help

Weight Loss

Spanish Language GED Classes

Men’s bible study

Food Pantry

UMCOR

Emergency Food & Gas assistance

Mitten Tree

Family and Children’s Urban Ministry

Dog Show

Safe Harvest

Concert Series

Easter and Christmas programs

Work with Bidwell

And Redbird Mission

Volunteers In Missions

We’ve partnered with: United Way

Women at the Well

Voices to be heard support group

Gamblers anonymous

Other Union Park Churches

Other United Methodist Churches

These only begin to show the activities of this congregation

and there are even more things in the planning stages.

You are amazing! Give yourselves a hand!

Now … Give God a hand!

He needs workers!

The harvest is ready but the workers are few.

If you are not actively engaged in service to God and the church, I encourage you to do so.

We need prayer warriors,
inviters,
hand-shakers,
mentors,
carpenters,
electricians,
liturgists, ushers, greeters,
UP Kids workers,
cooks, cleaners,
readers, listeners,
marketers, artists,
painters, planners,
drivers,
planters, weeders, mowers,
flower arrangers, communion helpers,
carpet cleaners, window washers,
baby sitters, shut in visitors,
singers, musicians,
audio visual helpers,
envelope stuffers, general office workers
and the list goes on and on!

Do not be afraid!

Are you too old, too young, too sick, too healthy, too busy, too tired, too much time, too tall, too short, too thin, too fat, too hairy, too bald, too sinful, too holy?

Stand before God and give Him your best excuse! What would He say?

God has used righteous men and women, He’s used courageous men and women.

He’s also used murderers, liars, cowards, prostitutes, thieves and more.
There is no limit to what God can do in partnership with a willing heart!

God can use your inabilities as well as your abilities.

When you are asked to be of service, please say yes. If no one asks you, volunteer.

Here ends the lesson.

Amen

©Thomas E Williams 2019

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