Cambridge, Dorchester County, Md.
by Pete Macinta
Luke 12:32Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
The following is a summary of a sermon originally preached to Eagle Mills Assembly of God on January 20, 1980. It was geared to bring comfort to the fearful, but is balance with the true fact that unhappy things will still happen to us from time to time.
From this comforting verse in Luke, we discover that the Good Shepherd wants us to receive three things: Fearlessness, Favor, Fortune (in the holy sense).
Fearlessness - Fear not, little flock;...
I have heard it said that fear is the opposite of faith. We should note though that that there have been many Godly people, both in the Bible and since it has been written, that displayed elements of fear, yet acted in faith instead. The point is not to have fear overcome us.
It, of course, is natural for us to fear when certain events occur. However, if we personally know Jesus Christ as our Savior, He desires us to permit Him to increase our faith.
We must accept this command of Jesus to fear not. Our Lord often spoke these words, especially after His resurrection. Akin to fear is concern. Concern is fine as long as we handle it the way our Lord would handle it. While pastoring at Flintstone A/G back in the 1980's, I became increasingly concerned about their bills. In addition to their bills, sections of the wooden building, decades old, would leak and some parts were rotting. I remember worrying and crying before the Lord about it. On one point I felt the Holy Spirit say, "Stop it! Grow up! Was I not with you in your first year of salvation and second year?" I have since quit whimpering. As time progressed, I learned to force myself to praise God. Things look a whole lot better when we do that!
We must permit fearlessness to increase. The main way that will happen of course is by God permitting fearful events to touch us.
For those of us that have trouble with fear, we should ask God to increase our faith. Operating by faith and not by fear displays our trust in God.
It is also good to keep in mind that many people in the Bible that we consider to be great saints, Elijah, Paul, Timothy, John, and more, had confrontations with fear.
Fear will cripple our walk in Christ and our ministry through Him. That is exactly what satan (I refuse to capitalize that) wants.
Favor - ...for it is your Father's good pleasure...
God indeed loves the whole world, but for those that commit themselves to Him in Christ, there is a special realm of love (agape) with favor. See passages such as Romans 1:7 and Jude 3, 17, 20 and 21. Many other passages reveal privileges, blessings, and holy honor, along with responsibility on our part.
His favor towards those who are in Him is full of love and joy. He sees our needs and meets those needs according to His plan and purpose for our lives. That includes both the manner and the timing of how He responds to our needs.
Keep in mind though, I speak of our needs, not necessarily our wants. Also, there are times we may genuinely consider something to be a need, but God knows it is not, or is not in His will for us.
The greatest need we have is to walk in Christ!
Before we leave favor, the word grace comes to mind. One aspect of grace is the unmerited favor that God bestows upon an individual. What many ministers, churches, authors, and others have done is to turn the grace of God into a magic wand, dissolving (theoretically) past marriages, results of sin, and more, along with ignoring the fact that though someone gets saved, they are still responsible to God and society for their past actions. Grace does not erase historical fact.
Fortune - ... to give you the kingdom.
A portion of what to expect is found in Romans 14:17 - "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." To elaborate on that portion would fill pages!
Note carefully though that we should not expect, despite what many say, to abound in the material realm. There are some Christians that do abound in both the material and spiritual ream.
The "prosperity Gospel" flourished in the 1980's. It bothered me, and still bothers me, that many who claim the Name of Christ fall into that error. The path to that error is the same the that the Sadducees took - they did not know the Word of God. The New Testament records that there were quite a few materially poor Christians, and some sick Christians in the days of the Apostles. Also, the prosperity Gospel sounds "good" in North America and parts of Europe, but would sound bitter in poverty stricken areas such as portions in Africa and Asia.
Always consider the spiritual before the material. Foremost in God's will is that we prosper spiritually.
As we see in Romans, the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy, in the Holy Ghost. Note the progression of those words.
Righteousness comes first. It must. We must be in right standing with God before we receive other blessings in Him. The only way to get righteousness is by making Christ Lord of our life.
Peace immediately follow a right standing in God. I remember one of many aspects of being saved, born again, on January 25 1970 was the wonderful peace of God. Among other things, I knew my sins were forgiven, God had a plan for me, and I felt a healing starting to take place in my beleaguered mind.
Joy follows! Not only happiness, but joy. The joy that God gives has been described by some as greater than happiness, and being present in event the darkest trials.
Note that all three are in the Holy Ghost. If we are the sons (children of God), then we should be led by the Spirit of God (see Romans 8).
The Kingdom includes the blood of Christ, the authority of Christ, the guidance of Christ, the comfort of Christ, the throne room of Christ, the throne of Christ, and a multitude of other blessings in Him.
With the kingdom comes duty and responsibility. Intercede. Rebuke sin. Win the lost. Serve God, and many more things.
With the kingdom also comes persecutions (Mark 10:30).
Regardless of what we go through, if we are truly in Christ, with His help we are to cast off fear and let His faith live through us.
Pastor Pete Macinta
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©1980, 2004 Pete Macinta
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Used with permission by Cornerstone Assembly Cambridge MD.