Luke: Before you hit the panic button-03/15/20

Luke

Message: Before you hit the panic button 

Text: Luke 24:36-43

 

Introduction: PP: Pastor Michal Deutsch tells the  story of a photographer who was assigned to get photos of a forest fire. Because there was too much smoke, he hired a plane so he could fly over the forest. When he arrived at the airport, a plane was warming up near the runway. He jumped in and said, “Let’s go! Let’s go!” The pilot received clearance and took off.

The photographer looked out the window and said, “Fly over the north side of the fire and make three or four low level passes.”

The pilot asked, “Why do you want to do that?”
The photographer said, “Because I’m a photographer and I’m going to take pictures.”
PP: The pilot paused and asked, “You’re not the flight instructor?”

Now that’s the time to panic. But let’s make this a little closer to home.

PP: The coronavirus has hit the US and confirmed cases are on the rise.

Everyone is afraid that the person next to them who’s coughing has the virus.

PP: The stock market has lost 25% of it’s value. For those of you who have any retirement funds in the stock market… your hearts and minds are running rampant…

Will I have any money left to retire on? Will I have to work till I’m 90? Will the market, my 401K recover anywhere near what it was before all this happened?

PP: Schools close, day care’swill follow soon after that. What do working parents do with their children?

PP: Lines in the supermarkets are long and shelves empty.

No Hand soap, antibacterial gel and wipes, cleaners, TP, water.

PP: Large scale events are being cancelled or postponed such as: Professional sports, concerts,cruises and conferences.

PP: Next Slide

Panic, were in the midst of a world wide panic over the Coronavirus.

We live in a time of great uncertainty, of a deep fear of what the future, our future may hold.

Some, when they panic become unglued, others become withdrawn and feel powerless.

We FEEL theres nothing we can do; to not only change our situation, but get through it in a healthy and productive way.
Panic… will stop us in our tracts, immobilize us… even Christians.

But before we choose to hit the panic button, hear this:

The truth is… the world can only trust in the choices they make.
And when they choose panic, when they choose fear, theyfeel powerless, and theymake rash choices.

But listen to this closely:

WE ARE NOT THE WORLD!
And OUR GOD IS GREATER THAN THE CORONAVIRUS!

Instead of living in fear, in despair, in confusion and panic,

we can choose to trust in the power and presence of God.

Instead of running on our emotions that tell us that our situation is more than we can handle, we can choose NOT to trust our emotions, our feelings.

And instead choose to run to our strong tower, to the One who is our strength, who is our comfort, who is our deliverer.
We run to God, and we cry out to Jesus.

Listen, in Christ, we are never alone, we are never powerless, we are never w/o hope and yes, we can even choose to live inpeace… rather than choose to live in panic.

Listen to how the Psalmist put it: PP: Psalm 121:1-5, 8 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleepThe Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Christian, God infinitely loves you. You are His beloved child.

He is near, He is present, He is sovereign, He is active, He is compassionate, He is guarding, and He is keeping you close to Him.

Let that be the foundation of your peace!

Now.. with that said, we need to take some practical steps… Remember we are still in the world, but not of it.

Passing of the plates for Communion and Offering

In the Bulletin are some basic practical steps we all can do to stay healthy; individually and as a church community.

Please be sure to do what it says, so panic won’t spread here at CBC, but instead peace will reign.

Transition: Today in our text we’ll discover that we’re not the only ones prone to panic when the world around us just doesn’t make sense.

Open your Bibles to Luke 24:36.

1. Luke 24:36-37  Panic sets in

PP: As they were talking about these things, Jesus Himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit.

ILL: PP: There was a movie in 2002 starring Jodi Foster called ‘Panic Room’ where she plays a wealthy single mom with a teenage daughter. They buy a fancy brownstone in NYC that has a ’panic room’, a fortified hi-tech room in the center of the house where you can go if youre in danger. (Howard Chapman)

In other words, it’s a room in your house where you feel safe… from anyone outside who might want to do you harm.

That’s where we find Jesus’ disciples and some other close followers. BUT, is that where they should have been?

Do you know Christians have a place they can go when they’re afraid, when panic fills their heart and mind?

Look, these disciples knew Psalm 91:1-2 which says: PP: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most Highwill abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

In John 20 we’re told that the disciples were hiding out in fear of the Jews. The doors were locked, the windows were closed.

Perhaps they were hiding out until all the talk about Jesus fades away and it was safe for them to come out.
I wonder if they too hordedbread, milk and TP as they waited?

PP: Next Slide

Notice, that when Jesus appears to them, their fear turns to panic.

The text says they were startled and frightened, in verse 38 they were troubledand had doubts about Jesus.

These words, startled, frightened, troubled and doubting are all very strong words in the Greek.

In the modern vernacular, PP:they were freaked out! Make no mistake, the disciples were in panic mode.

PP: Next Slide

In a room full of people who were afraid, who were anxious, who were confused, who were in panic mode, what are Jesus’ first words to them?

Peace to you.

This is.. I don’t know how to describe just how huge this is.

Jesus could have harshly rebuked them for their fear, their anxiety, their doubt, their panicking… but He didn’t did He?

Instead, He said exactly what they needed to hear, what their hearts and minds so desperately craved… PEACE…

The assurance of wholeness,of forgiveness, of grace, of mercy…of stability in the midst of their crisis.

Yes, their crisis was real, their circumstances were overwhelming, but there was another choice, another option rather than panic… peace.

Here Jesus introduced the concept.
And in verses 38-43 He’ll show why they can have peace in the midst of panic.

Christian, are you hiding from something? Have you locked yourself away for fear of what someone might think.. even what Jesus might think?

It could be some failure, sin, doubt, anxiety, or worry.

That’s your panic room, where you feel somewhat safe, because you’ve shut out those that could see through your façade. Butlisten.. Jesus is there, crying out ‘Peace to you.’

2. Luke 24:38-40  Look to Jesus

PP: Luke 24:38-40 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Touch Me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.

After Jesus says Peace to you, He asks them why they weren’t already experiencing that peace? And He actually answers it: they were troubled and they had doubts about Him.

He was making how they felt… public. Because it’s only there that it can be properly dealt with.

In effect, Jesus is saying… look I know you are doubting Me… what I’ve said and promised.

But you don’t have to be afraid, you don’t have to doubt… I’m here, I’m really here…just as I said I would be.

Look at me… look at My hands and My feet. Open your eyes… and look at me.

Jesus was giving them not only proof that He was raised from the dead, but that He was actually present with them.

He wasn’t a figment of their imagination, He wasn’t a vision, He wasn’t a ghost or spirit.
He was real, and He was really present with them.

Look, Christian, Jesus loves you… infinitely and unconditionally.

And these verses assure us that His love for us… guarantees His presence with us.
And Jesus’ perfect love for usand the promise of His presence with us… will cast out all of our fear and doubt.

Folks look, we all have occasional doubts about Jesus, our faith and even God’s Word. But know that youre in good company:

The great reformer Martin Luther battled constantly with doubt and depression.
Billy Graham tells of a time of desperate prayer in which he wrestled with his doubts about the truth of the Bible.
Then there’s Abraham, Sara, Jacob, Job, Jeremiah, Jonah, Peter and Thomas to name just a few in the Bible who suffered with doubt. (Brian Bill)

Christian, God is not offended, threatened or even upset by your doubts. But, let me define doubt from a biblical perspective: PP:International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: “doubt does not indicate a lack of faith, but a state of ‘qualified faith”: it’s weakness, but not it’s absence.” (Brian Bill)

Doubt seeks to get more information… which is why Jesus told His disciples… I know you are doubting Me…

look at Me, touch me. I’m here, I’m alive. I am real!

In the midst of panic, Jesus wants us to look at Him 

3. Luke 24:41-43  Fellowshipwith Jesus

PP: And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and ate before them.

ILL: The phone rings. “Another telemarketer,” I grumble to myself. “Hello, Mr. Mills? This is Robert Jones with the Reader’s Digest. I’m calling to tell you that you have just won our $5 million sweepstakes!” “Yeah, sure!” Click! (Steve Cole)

Sometimes we feel that some good news is just too good to be true. Right?

Now, we might be excited, really excited,
But, until we put the check in the bank and it clears, we won’t believe it.

That’s how the disciples felt, when Jesus showed up in the room they were hiding in and spoke to them. That’s what the phrase

they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling

They were excited on the outside, but on the inside felt this was just too good to be true.

So, to help them stop doubting, He seeks fellowship with them… that’s the whole Have you anything here to eat? thing.Eating with them would serve two purposes:

First: To further prove it really was Him… a ghost, spirit wasn’t flesh and bones and can’t eat. He had been raised from the dead. It was Jesus.

Second, it also served the purpose to show that when we doubt Jesus or God’s Word, we need to spend time, fellowship with Him.

Remember from our last message, Luke 24:13-35: What was it that opened the eyes of the 2 men on the road to Emmaus to see Jesus?
They had a meal with Jesus, they had fellowship with Him.

You see, we usually do the exact opposite. When we have doubts about Jesus, faith or God’s Word, we stay away from Jesus and the Church.

All that does is fuel our doubt.

Jesus is telling us that if we truly want peace, if we truly want to rise above the fear, the confusion, the anxiety and panic around us…

we need to look at Him and to fellowship with Him, spend time with Jesus.

And we do that through God’s Word, through reading and studying the Bible, through prayer, worship and service.

And as an aside, I think it tells us that we can see Jesus when we spend time with each other… in worship, yes, but also in fellowship.

We talk to each other about our lives and how Jesus is impacting it…
it’s builds up our faith and reduces our doubt.

PP: Next Slide

Conclusion: So, are you freaking out? Are you living in panic mode? Are you…close? I’m really fighting it.

Our retirement is completely in Kathy’s 401K in an aggressive fund in the stock market. We were hoping it would make retirement a bit more comfortable.
So, yes, with the huge plunge in the market I’m worried. BUT, I refuse to panic.

God is bigger than our 401K, Hes bigger than the stock market, God is bigger than the Coronavirus!

And every day, now, I’m intentionally choosing peace, over panic.

I’m looking for Jesus around me.
I’m making time to fellowship with Him more regularly than before.

Because, to be honest, the alternative is just not acceptable.

I refuse to be held captive by my emotions and by the panic mongers in the world around me.

I’m placing my trust, my future in the very capable hands of my Lord, Jesus. And so far, while its a struggle everyday,

I am refusing to hit the panic button. And instead, I’m holding on to Jesus, and to His peace.

How about you?