11. Death is Swallowed Up in Life

spring sunsetGenesis 26:7  And the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, “She is my sister”; for he was afraid to say, “She is my wife,” because he thought, “lest the men of the place kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to behold.”

Like father like son, some might say about Isaac as they read about him following in the same pattern of his father Abraham, who also lied about his relationship with his wife.  This further illustrates the power fear holds over us when we yield to it.  Isaac had just had an encounter with God, who reiterated the covenant He made with Abraham.  Isaac obeyed God’s command to move to a new land, but when he got there, he became afraid for his own life.

God’s Word will not return void. (Isaiah 55:11)  Isaac could have just held on to God’s promise to bless and multiply him and his family, which would be hard to do if he was dead, but Isaac feared for his own life.  The fear of death is a crippling terror.  I have seen the fear of death overtake people and strip them of all the joy and vibrancy that life in Christ has.  Yes, I have seen born-again and even Spirit-filled Christians held in bondage by the fear of death.  This ought not be so.

1Corinthians 15:51-58   Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— (52)  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  (53)  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  (54)  So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY.”  (55)  “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING? O HADES, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY?”  (56)  The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.  (57)  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  (58)  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

1Corinthians 15:54-55 MSG  Then the saying will come true: Death swallowed by triumphant Life!  (55)  Who got the last word, oh, Death? Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?

Jesus died to set us free from sin and death.  1 Corinthians 15:56 tells us that sin is what causes us to have a fear of death, but God has forever dealt with sin in Christ Jesus. (Hebrews 9:26)  Jesus holds the keys of death (Revelation 1:18) and was raised from the dead so that all who believe in Him would have everlasting life. (John 3:16-17)  There is so much here we could talk about, but the bottom line is FEAR NOT!  If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, He lived a sinless life, was unjustly put to death bearing your sin, rose from the dead, is seated at the right hand of the Father God, and you’ve asked Him to be your Lord, then you have nothing to fear.  Eternal life is yours.  FEAR NOT.  What is there to fear?  The worst thing that could happen is you die.  Praise God!  Then you would find yourself with Him, which is far better.  So, FEAR NOT.  Death is swallowed up in triumphant life.

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10. God Hears and Answers

fist-pump-baby-thumbGenesis 21:17  And God heard the voice of the lad. Then the angel of God
called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, “What ails you, Hagar?
Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.

The Scripture is full of references of people calling out to God and Him hearing them.  In the 28th Psalm David cried out to God, lifting his hands to heaven.  The 6th verse records that David knew God heard his prayer, was strengthened by that fact, and began to rejoice and praise God.  Psalm 55 records, “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice.”   These are just two of the many Old Testament references of calling out to God and Him hearing our prayer.  Still, in the New Testament it gets even better.

1 John 5:14-15  Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  (15)  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

John 15:7  If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you,
you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

1 John 5:14-15 tells us we can have confidence (assurance, trust) in God that whenever we pray in agreement with His will, He hears us.  And, if we are praying His will, He will certainly accomplish and do it.  His will is His Word.  The Bible is full of God’s will for us.  Each of these can be received as a Word from God concerning our lives.  In John 15:7, Jesus said that if we abide in Him and His WORDS abide in us, when we ask for our desires, they shall be done (that means He heard you).

We serve a wonderful God who hears the prayers and cries of His people.  A Heavenly Father, who only desires good things for us:  joy, peace, health, financial freedom, etc…  He gave us His will for us in His Word.  By spending time in His Word, we discover the amazing wealth that lies within those precious pages.  God’s Word continues to transform our hearts and builds out confidence in God’s faithfulness.  So, FEAR NOT.  Open your Bible, His Word to you, and discover all the precious gifts and promises that God has given you and longs to produce in your life.  Just like God heard Ishmael crying out to Him in the desert, God will hear you.  Call out to God, based on His Word.  Not only will He hear you, but He will answer.  So, FEAR NOT.

John 16:23-24  “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.  (24)  Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

9. God Hears Your Cry

fear-of-water-picGenesis 21:17  And God heard the voice of the lad. Then the angel of God
called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, “What ails you, Hagar?
Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.

A rivalry rose between Sarah, the mother of Isaac, and Hagar her maidservant.  Sarah had previously given Hagar to Abraham to conceive a child (Ishmael) with in an attempt to fulfill the promise of God on their own before she supernaturally became pregnant a few years later.  The contention grew when Sarah caught 15 year old Ishmael, making fun of Isaac.  This ultimately led to Abraham giving some food and water to Hagar and Ishmael and sending them away.  The two wandered in the desert until their water ran out and their morale weaned.  Fearing the end was near for her son and herself, Hagar left Ishmael lying under a shrub in the desert while she went a short distance away so she wouldn’t have to see him die.  It’s not recorded whether the teenager called out to God in prayer or merely groaned with agony caused by the heat exhaustion and dehydration he suffered.  No matter the case, God heard Ishmael.

Although Ishmael was not the son God promised to Abraham and Sarah, he was still a descendant of Abraham.  As such, he had a promise from God.  Genesis 13:16  “And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered.”  In addition, God spoke a specific Word concerning Ishmael to Hagar before he was even born.  Genesis 16:10-11 “Then the Angel of the LORD said to her, “I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.”   And the Angel of the LORD said to her: “Behold, you are with child, And you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, Because the LORD has heard your affliction.”  When God heard the voice of Ishmael, He quickly moved on the basis of His Word and told Hagar to FEAR NOT.  God opened the eyes of Hagar to see a well where she could get the water to refresh herself and Ishmael, who did indeed go on to become a great nation.

You may feel rejected by family or like a social outcast.  You may feel like you are wandering in the desert and nobody cares or can even hear your cries for help.  You may fear like your circumstance is about to overtake you, but FEAR NOT.  One Word, one promise from God is all you need to be refreshed and move forward into all He has for you.  If you haven’t made Jesus your Lord, the greatest promise of all awaits for you (Romans 10:9-10, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8).

Jeremiah 29:11  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

8. Immunize Yourself From Fear

vaccine-in-vial-with-syringeGenesis 20:11  And Abraham said, “Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will kill me on account of my wife.

Abraham, who was called a friend of God, succumbed to the temptation to fear and lied about his true relationship with Sarah.  The temptation to fear is nothing new, but there is an answer.  Immunize yourself with the Word of God.  His Word will protect you from the effects of fear if you will simply trust in HIM.

In Genesis 15:1, God told Abram to FEAR NOT because He would be a shield and great reward to Abram.  God had already promised Abram he’d be the father of many nations.  Now God had changed Abram’s name to Abraham meaning “father of many nations” and reaffirmed His Word to Abraham by forming a covenant with him.  Then the Lord showed up and told Abraham and Sarah that within a year she would give birth to a son (Gen 17:21).  Even with a Word and Promise from God, which couldn’t be fulfilled if Abimelech killed Abraham and took Sarah, Abraham still feared the circumstances he found himself in.  The Scripture shows us that Abraham’s fear was based on believing Abimelech didn’t follow or have any reverence for God.  Abraham didn’t immunize himself, forgetting the promise he received from God.  He didn’t hold fast to the God’s Word and that allowed fear to creep in.

Thank God, He is a faithful.  God always does what He says He will do.  God wouldn’t let Abimelech sleep with Sarah.  He appeared to him in a dream and told him he had better give her back to her husband, Abraham and make it right.  You see, God knows how to get someone’s attention, even if they don’t follow Him.  So FEAR NOT.

If you have a WORD and/or Promise from God, you never have to fear because His Word will not return unto him void (Isaiah 55:11).  The promises of God aren’t contingent upon the cooperation of unbelievers, but many of them are contingent upon you knowing your covenant and having faith that God will do for you what He says.  It doesn’t matter the way the circumstance looks or who the circumstance entails, if you have a Promise or Word from God, then mind that Word; do what He told you to do, relax, take comfort, immunize yourself with His Word and FEAR NOT.  He will see you through.

7. Fear is Like an Airborne Virus

studyshowshumidityreducesfluGenesis 20:8 BBE  So Abimelech got up early in the morning and sent for all his servants and gave them word of these things, and they were full of fear.

Abraham and Sarah traveled down to Gerar encountering the King of Gerar, Abimelech, along the way.  Abraham feared that Abimelech would kill him and take Sarah to be one of his wives because she was very beautiful.  So Abraham told him that she was his sister.  That was partially true for Sarah was Abraham’s half-sister.  Sarah was 90 years old but she couldn’t have looked a day over 30, because this was the second recorded time that Abraham lied about being her husband afraid of being killed.

Thinking Sarah was Abraham’s sister, Abimelech took her to join his haram.  But God would not let Abimelech commit adultery and potentially ruin the promise and covenant He made with Abraham.  God appeared to Abimelech in a dream, revealed that Sarah was Abraham’s wife and warned him to return her to Abraham or him and all his household would die.  When Abimelech shared this dream with his servants, they were filled with fear.

Now the Lord God appearing to you and telling you that you had better get right or you and all your household will surely die should undoubtedly illicit fear in anyone with half a brain, but here is what I want you to see.  This verse tells us of the contagious nature of fear and how fear is spread. So Abimelech rose early in the morning, called all his servants, and told all these things in their hearing; and the men were very much afraid (NKJV).  Abimelech told people about his horrible dream.  Words are one way that fear is not just conveyed to another person but it can also be imparted.  Fear is an airborne virus that travels in words we speak.

In Numbers 13, when the 12 spies Moses sent out into the promised-land returned, they brought back reports of how amazing and fruitful the land was that it was “truly a land flowing with milk and honey… (Num 13:27).”  Unfortunately, they also told the children of Israel that they saw fortified cities, strong peoples, and some giants.  They painted a woeful tale of seeing themselves as puny grasshoppers compared to the peoples they saw.  The fear that 10 of the 12 spies quickly spread throughout all the peoples of Israel as they shared their opinion of what they saw, caused Israel to miss out on God’s plan for them at that time.

If the Spirit of God speaks to you about sin in your life, correct it.  Should God appear to you and you need to get something right in your life, do it now.  But, if others come to you with tales of woe full of fear, don’t let them steal God’s promise from you.  FEAR NOT!  You are a child of God (Rom 8:16).  When people come to you full of fear, spouting off about the sky falling, contradicting what the Word of God has said about you, do not listen to them.  Do not allow their fear to take hold of you.  Fear is contagious, but so is Faith.  So, surround yourself with people that speak life and faith about things going on around them and FEAR NOT.

6. God Desires to Fulfill His Promises to You

try-not-to-laugh-challengeGenesis 18:15  But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid.
And He said, “No, but you did laugh!”

Twenty-Four years have passed since the time God first spoke to Abram about making him a great nation (Gen 12).  God has formed a covenant with Abram to make him the father of many nations, changed his name to Abraham, and blessed him abundantly.  In the midst of this, Abram and Sarai attempted to fulfill God’s promise by giving Hagar, Sarai’s maidservant, to conceive with Abram because she was too old to have children.  Abraham is now 100 years old and Sarai, now Sarah, is 90.  The Lord appears to Abraham again and tells him that within the year Sarah would conceive and give birth to a son.  Sarah was listening in on the conversation from the other side of the tent door and began to laugh to herself, because of how impossible the words seemed to her because of their age and she was post-menopausal (Gen 18:10).  The Lord seemingly shocked by Sarah’s disbelief and lack of faith asks Abraham, who didn’t know she was eavesdropping, why she was laughing.  When Sarah was asked why she laughed, she lied.  She denied it because she was afraid.

Fear drives people to do all kinds of things:  steal, hurt others, etc. or in this case lie.  Sarah was afraid for she knew her laughter stemmed from mistrust and unbelief in the words of this kind stranger, who was the Lord, Himself.  When she was confronted with the reality of her inward thoughts and the condition of her heart, fear consumed her and she lied to her husband and to the Lord, which is a futile endeavor.  So, FEAR NOT!

When the Lord reveals attitudes you have in your heart, or things contradictory to His Word in your life, FEAR NOT.  Remember He is for you and not against you (Rom 8:31).  These attitudes, thoughts, or actions are things God is trying to bring to light in our lives so that we can grow more into the image of Him.  God is not trying to hurt us, so we don’t have to deny or justify these things. Instead, fearlessly examine our heart, attitudes, and actions.  Then apply the Word of God to them and begin growing and walking in the wholeness Jesus has provided.

Sarah’s fear was brought about by her mistrust and disbelief in the Word of God.  What is causing your fear?  Examine it in the light of God’s Word.  Do you believe His Word concerning you?  Or do you need to pray the prayer of the father who brought his demonized son to Jesus, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief! (Mark 9:24).”  Then FEAR NOT!  God’s only desire is to fulfill His promises for you and in you.

5. Your Reward Will Be Grand

cf4sviyueaahsycGenesis 15:1 NKJV After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”

 Genesis 15:1 MSG After all these things, this word of GOD came to Abram in a vision: “Don’t be afraid, Abram. I’m your shield. Your reward will be grand!”

FEAR NOT!  Your reward will be grand!

In Genesis 14:21 after Abram gave a tenth of all the spoil he obtained from pursuing and overtaking the captors of his nephew Lot, and after soundly defeating the King of Sodom and four other ally kingdoms, the King of Sodom approached Abram.  He asked for all the people who had been taken prisoner by the four conquering kings.

Genesis 14:21 NKJV  Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.”

Instead, Abram gives the King of Sodom and the other defeated kings all of their possessions, except for the tenth he gave to God, food his servants ate, and a small portion of the spoil that he gave to Mamre, Eshcol, and Aner.  They were neighboring allies who joined with Abram to rescue Lot.  Abram did not want people to think his wealth came from plunder or any other natural means.  He wanted the world to know that God was His provider and God was the reason for his blessing and prosperity.

I love that God showed up and told Abram, “FEAR NOT, I am your reward”.  Better than any gold or silver, God is our reward.  We never have to fear lack, for God is our provider.  If God asks us to give something away, even great riches, DO NOT FEAR, He is your exceedingly abundant reward and will take care of you.  So, FEAR NOT!

Deuteronomy 8:18 NKJV  “And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

 Psalm 23:1 BBE  The Lord takes care of me as his sheep; I will not be without any good thing.