In a few days I will be returning to Kansas to visit my parents. In that part of the country a tornado can move in with very little warning. Dark black clouds can appear on the horizon and within a few minutes be swirling over head, dispensing a massive force that rips buildings apart, slams vehicles and farm implements and destroys entire crops. It is nothing more than a hole in the ground with a few days’ supply of food and water, but a storm cellar is one of the few places to find safety.
The story is told of the Bogart family. One hot summer day Sally and Tom Bogart noticed clouds forming a few miles away. The winds began to intensify. The sky grew dark, and lightning streaked across the sky. It was clear this storm had the potential to be quite devastating. Quickly Tom and Sally gathered the children and sent them to safety, except three year old Kim was nowhere to be found. Mother and father searched every room, under all the beds and even in the closets. Finally Sally noticed two little feet sticking out from under curtain of the living room window. Not wanting to upset little Kim, mother slipped under the curtain and stood beside her for a moment. Just then a flash of lightening filled the sky. To which Kim turned to her mother and whispered, “Shhhh….Be quiet. God is trying to take my picture.”
Kim was oblivious of the impending danger. She was not aware of her parents’ frantic search, and certainly was not afraid of the storm. She was simply captivated by what she perceived to be a moment of God’s undivided attention. Healthy fear is a God given instinct for our survival. Used correctly it can be a great tool for both advancement and self preservation. But unhealthy fear can be paralyzing.
· What are some examples of healthy fear and unhealthy fear?
· Can you remember a time when you experienced healthy fear?
· Has there been a time when you experienced unhealthy fear?
For four centuries Joshua’s ancestors lived in slavery. An entire generation roamed the wilderness as sojourners, having no place to call their own, and now Joshua was being commissioned to lead them across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land. He was expected to succeed where his Moses had failed. With this new assignment Joshua had every reason to be afraid.
Joshua was just an ordinary man; the son of a slave. He had little military experience. His army was vastly outnumbered. A previous attempt at entering the Promised Land was a miserable failure. Joshua was just an ordinary man. But he served an extraordinary God. In the opening chapter of the book of Joshua we see how God prepared Joshua.
· What are the four promises God gives Joshua in chapter one?
· How many times does God tell Joshua not to be afraid?
· What commands does God give concerning the law?
· How many times does God promise to be “with” Joshua?
God said, “Joshua you are going to be ok.” I have called you to this task. I have promised that I will be with you. I have guaranteed your success. Simply trust me and pay attention to my laws. God did not divulge military strategy. He did not provide organizational charts. He did not ask Joshua to form a committee. He simply said trust me and do what I say.
The word fear is used over 250 times in Scripture. The command, “Do not be afraid”, is given 82 times. Read the following verses to discover a few reasons people were afraid.
· Genesis 3:9-11
· Genesis 18:14-16
· Exodus 3:5-7
· Matthew 14:29-31
· Matthew 4:39-41
· What fears do you have to day?
· Are these healthy fears that lead to good things?
· If they are not, what can you do to overcome these fears?
· In what ways can faith overcome fear?
· Read and memorize one of the following verses. Be prepared to use it as a reminder to live by faith instead of fear.
o Hebrews 13:6
o John 14:26-28
o 2 Timothy 1:7