Bible Studies for Life Sunday School Lesson for January 1

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

By Tyshawn Gardner, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biblical and Religious Studies, Samford University

Courage in Place of Fear

Matthew 14:22-33

Earlier this year, I discerned the call to leave the church I served as pastor for 20 years to embark upon a calling and career in the academy. At the time, I did not understand why the Lord would lead me to leave a church where relationships were warm, ministry was vital, and where I was comfortable. However, I felt the tug of God and the unction of the Holy Spirit leading me to take a path, I had never considered. I was afraid and I started to question the voice of God. Through prayer, the Lord led me to courageously follow him. At last, I decided to take my first step.

Act on what God tells you to do. (22–26)

When the answers we desire elude us or seem unclear, we must act on what we know God is telling us. Obedience is the first step in having courage in the place of fear. Sometimes God does not choose to reveal the entire plan for our lives at once. We must act on what God tells us to do. What are you certain that God is saying? What information is crystal clear? What information gives you peace? Even when the entire picture is not clear, obeying God in small steps is better than procrastination and disobedience. When God fed the Children of Israel in the wilderness with manna, he told them to only get enough for one day. Even though they did not know how they would eat the next day, they trusted God with the daily information they did have. We are taught to pray, “give us this day, our daily bread,” not “give us this day our daily bread and next weeks’ worth as well!” The Lord knows how much information we can handle and how much instruction he can trust us with. When we act on what God tells us to do, we will find that God is always faithful to give us the next set of instructions and directions. Although I did not know where the Lord was leading me or how I would make it, I knew the Lord was leading me to leave the pastorate. When I decided to act on what God told me, the Lord begin to make every succeeding step clear. When we act on what God tells us, we will be able to see first-hand, God’s faithfulness towards us and His commitment to His word.

Fear sets in when you take your eyes off Jesus. (27–30)

Following the direction of God is not always easy. There were many situations where I was tempted to doubt my decision.  Familiarity is our default mode. We tend to resort to what makes us comfortable and to that in which we are most familiar. However, whenever our focus drifts away from Jesus, fear sets in our hearts. Keeping our eyes on Jesus means maintaining focus on what he is telling us, while we keep opposing voices out of our head and heart. Fear breeds disobedience, and disobedience always comes with undesirable consequences. Fear sets in when we take our eyes off Jesus, but courage fills us, when we maintain our focus on God’s Word and God’s presence.

Jesus is there when you return to Him. (31–33)

Jesus is faithful to us even when we return to Him from drifting off course. Just as Peter cried out to him as he began to sink, so can we cry out and reach for Jesus when we realize that we have taken our eyes off of Him. Jesus is there when we return to Him. I learned that we won’t always have the answers we desire when we follow God. Peace and faith can be more assuring than knowing the unknown. External distractions and outside noise will always attempt to place fear and doubt in our hearts, but Jesus desires that we have faith and that we follow Him so that He can use us for His glory.