You afraid? Me, too.
JANUARY 8, 2024
You afraid? Me, too. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
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Thank you Matthew. I hope you guys had a great week-end. Hope your pastor’s sermon was as good as my pastor’s sermon. If you’re just joining us, we’re studying the Book of Proverbs, and it is a book of principles and not promises. In other words, the writers of these Proverbs are saying this is the way the world generally works. If you live by this, it’s going to be better for you than it would be if you didn’t. And it’s a very hard book to teach because there’s no outline. There’s no way you go line upon line and verse upon verse the way we usually do when we study Scripture. It’s just wisdom. Dripping with wisdom, and it is throughout the book. So, we’re talking about how to be street-smart Christians. And we’re going to do that after we pray. Father, we come into your presence and we are so thankful for your Word. It makes us wise. It reminds us of you. It lets us know about our redemption. It tells us that we’re forgiven and we’re acceptable. And we praise you for writing it down. Father, you know everybody who’s listening to this broadcast, the hard and the soft places, the tears and the laughter. Remind us that you’re sovereign, and you’re sovereign over everything. And because you are, everything is going to be okay. Father, as always, we pray for the one who teaches on this broadcast. Forgive him his sins because there are many. We would see Jesus and him only. And we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. As I said, we’re talking about different subjects in the Book of Proverbs. Which frankly, is the only way to teach this particular book. So, let’s talk about courage. Are you afraid? Me too. But we don’t have to be afraid, and Proverbs tells us why. Proverbs 3:24 through 26.
When you lie down, you will not be afraid. Yes, you will lie down, and your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes. For the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught.
The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run to it and are safe. The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his own esteem.
The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.
You know, one of the things going on in our culture that is really kind of scary. Christians are being intimidated, and because of our fear, we’re not speaking up. I remember a number of years ago, when a dear friend of mine, who walked on crutches, and we were at a denominational meeting, and some of the people in the denomination were talking about the inner city work that was going on. And my friend, with his crutches, walked to the front of the meeting and said, I’m glad to hear about what’s going on in the inner city. People need to be saved in the inner city. Now, you need to know that the denomination of which I was a part at that time, that was not something that one said. We believed in the social gospel. We believed in social justice. We didn’t believe that people needed to be saved and redeemed to go to heaven. But my friend went up and said that, and people laughed at him. And I didn’t laugh, but I didn’t stand with him either. And you know what I did when I drove home that evening? God convicted me, and he said, Steve, you’ve got to stand with your brothers. And I told God that I was going to do that. No matter how crazy they were, if they belonged to me and belonged to him, I was going to stand with them. I used that as a sermon illustration a number of years ago and a friend of mine sent me a letter and said thanks a lot. Let me tell you what happened to me. He said, I was on a bus and a man, no it was a train, subway. I was on the subway and a man was giving out tracks. And he was really, really weird. And I tried to avoid him, to pretend that I was reading the paper. But he kept giving out the tracks and talking about Jesus. And then I remembered what you said when you said, if one stands, you stand with him. And I said, Lord, not this time. But you know what I did? I went up to the front of the car and I put my hand around that man and I said, You guys listen to him, he’s right. Well, I made that pledge, in those days. And mostly for most of my life, when one brother or sister stands, I stand with them. We’re living in a culture where we feel we’re in a minority and we may be. It’s a culture that’s pretty scary and pretty intimidating, and Christians have decided to hide and to be quiet and to smile and be nice. Stop it. You don’t have to do that because God gives you courage, Proverbs 3:24 through 27. You don’t have to be afraid. And you say, well, what do I do? Well, you take the first step, and then God will take the second step, and by the time you get to the third step, you will know that it was God who took the first step. Say to God, Look, I’m scared. I don’t want to be rejected. I don’t want to be laughed at. But I know I belong to you. So, I’m going to speak. I’m going to speak gently and with love. But I’m going to speak and if Steve’s right you’ll take the second step and by the third step I won’t be afraid anymore. How to get courage when you’re afraid, it comes from him. I remember when I was in graduate school in Boston and Jesus had started doing some things in my life. And I thought that it would be a good thing for me to tell the people in my carpool what happened to me. And I didn’t. When we got back to Cape Cod, where I was serving at the time, I realized that I told God I was going to speak my witness to my liberal friends, and I had not done it, and I was ashamed. And I said, I’ll do it tomorrow. And I didn’t do it the next day either. And I can remember how I felt. I felt really down and really depressed. Jesus was doing so many good things in my life. And I wasn’t saying anything about it. So, the next day, I said, God, I’m going to fix it. Don’t let me look like a fool. So, we were driving from Boston to Cape Cod, and there were six of us. And I said, Guys, listen to me, I’ve got something to say. I want you to know, those crazy people, you know, the Bible thumpers, I think I’m one of them. And I think that God is changing my life and doing some neat things. And I remember one of my friends said, It’s just exam time, you’re looking for a soft place. But I didn’t care. I’d stood. And when we got back to my home on Cape Cod. And the carpool guys drove away, I practically started dancing and speaking in tongues. You don’t do that if you’re a Presbyterian. But it was such a relief, such a feeling that I had been faithful, even if hesitantly faithful. And so, as you read Proverbs, where do you get courage? You don’t get it because you’re so smart and so wise. You get it because you belong to God and you represent Him in the world and He has left you here to make a witness. That’s where you get courage. And if you’ll do it a little bit, you’ll do it a lot. If you’ll step out, you’ll take more than one step. If you’ll stand, He will stand with you. Do you know those invitations that we have sometimes in our churches? When an invitation to follow Christ is given and the preacher says, Turn to the person next to you and say, If you go forward, I’ll go with you. Do you know that’s what Jesus has said to us? You stand, I’ll stand with you. You speak, I’ll speak through you. You point to me, and I’ll use it in an amazing way. That’s where you get courage. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. That was Steve Brown, resuming our tour through Proverbs, a collection of principles, not promises. More of Steve’s wit and God’s wisdom tomorrow. Hope you will join us. Say, have you heard? The 2024 edition of Key Life magazine is here. We have reimagined the entire thing, and I think you’re going to love it. In this edition, Steve suggests we never take advice from anyone about a difficult matter, unless he or she agrees that it is a difficult matter. Chad West shares some wisdom about dealing with the snarling, barking religious types who threaten you with guilt. Alex Early offers a poem that beautifully reminds us of who Jesus is and isn’t. And if you can’t seem to find your calling in life, Kendra Fletcher delivers some timely encouragement. Claim your free copy right now by calling us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE that’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for the magazine, to mail your request, go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses. Again, just ask for your free copy of Key Life Magazine. And finally, if you find value in the work of Key Life, would you support that work through your giving? You could charge a gift on your credit card, or include a gift in your envelope, or pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950. And listen, if you can’t give, it’s all good, seriously. But, please do pray for us, would you? Always appreciated. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And Key Life is a listener supported production of Key Life Network.