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A New Year Without Fear
Dr. Adrian Rogers
Would you take God's word and turn to Hebrews Chapter 13, and in a few moments we're going to read verses 5 and 6, which will be the basis of our study today. Actually today we're talking on this subject, "A New Year Without Fear." Most of us are afraid of the unknown. And we don't know what this year is going to bring. We really do not.
I heard of some men years ago who were on a leaky old ship, in the middle of a rough and stormy sea. And they were actually fearful for their lives. They didn't know whether they were going to sink or not. So one of them went in to see the captain and said, "Captain, are we safe?" He said, "Well, I'll put it to you this way." He said, "The boilers on this ship are very weak and may explode at any moment." He said, "Also, the ship is very old, and she's taking on water." So he said, "To be very honest with you, we may have an explosion, or we may sink." He said, "We may go up, or we may go down, but at any rate, we are going on." And that's the way we are as we face this new year dear friend. Jesus may come, we may go up. We may die, and go down and then up, but at any rate we are going on. Isn't that true. We're going on. We're facing a brand new year, and we don't know what it's going to bring.
You know the old map makers, before they had the modern instruments that we have, when they would draw maps, they would draw maps as far out as they had been, as far out as they had explored, and then when they reached the netherpoint of their exploration, they had not known what would be beyond. And you can see this on old maps, they would write on there, "Beyond this, there may be dragons." Now they'd never seen a dragon, but they didn't know what was out there. And so they would always think that what was in the future, beyond this there be dragons, because they're afraid of the future, they're afraid of the uncharted. They're afraid of the unknown. Beyond this there'd be dragons.
Well actually beyond this, there were golden beaches, verdant fields, and rivers of gold, and beautiful things. But so far as they were concerned, it was uncharted and unknown and therefore fearful. And that's the way many of us feel about the future. Folks I've never seen things change like they have this past year. You know, it's just incredible.
Never in history, so far as I'm concerned, in my study of history, has there ever been a year like the year we've just come through. Incredibly remarkable. And who knows what 1992 will bring.
With that in mind, look in God's word. Hebrews Chapter 13, verses 5 and 6, "Let your conversation be without covetousness." Now the word conversation there literally means behavior, "and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man shall do unto me." The Lord is my helper, I will, I shall not fear what man will do unto me. A new year without fear.
And in these two verses, there are four incredibly wonderful thoughts as I have applied as I face the new year, and I want you to apply them to your heart. And I would like you to face this new year by squaring back your shoulders, putting a smile on your face, and saying "The Lord is my helper, I will not fear."
Now first of all, and here's the first thought, we have the contentment of His provision, the contentment of His provision. Look, if you will, in verse five, Let your behavior, your conversation be without covetousness. And be content with such things as you have.
Discontentment is a disease, and it takes away your joy and it takes away your peace. And what is contentment? Contentment is not getting what you want, but it is wanting what you already have. You see, contentment will make a poor man rich. And discontentment makes a poor man poor. That's the one poor man said to a rich man, "I'm richer than you are." He said, "Why's that?" He said, "Because I have everything I want, and you don't." You see, no matter how much you have, if you're discontented, you're really poor. Sometimes we want things we don't need. Sometimes we need things we don't need. And we get all mixed up.
I heard about two tears who met themselves along the river of life. Said one tear to the other tear, where did you come from? Oh this tear says, "I'm the tear of a girl who loved a man and lost him. And where do you come from?" She said, "I'm the tear who found him and married him."
Now many times, we think we want something, we need something we really don't. We get our luxuries and our necessities confused. Now in the margin of you Bible, jot down this verse. We're talking about contentment. Our verse says, "Be content with such things as you have.
Our verse says, "Be content with such things as you have. Put this verse down, I Timothy Chapter 6 and verses 6 and following. "But godliness with contentment is great gain." Friend, let me tell you something, you are so rich today, if you know the Lord and if you're content. I am telling you, that is great gain. If you know Jesus Christ, and you have contentment. And then he explains it, "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. But having food and raiment let us therewith be content." If you've got something on your back, and something to eat, and you have Jesus Christ in your heart, my dear friend, you're blessed.
You see, material things can never bring contentment, and the reason they cannot bring contentment is that material things can never satisfy the deepest need of your heart. That's the reason the Bible says in Ecclesiastes Chapter 5 and verse 10, "He that loveth silver shall never be satisfied with silver." Either you can't get enough of it, or when you get it, you find out it doesn't meet your need.
Do you remember the story of the little boy who loved pancakes so much. One day his mother thought she would satisfy him, so she put him down to the table, and decided she would cook all the pancakes he wanted. She served him pancakes, and he ate the first ones with relish. And then the others, well not literally with relish, but with delight. And he ate maybe relish, and he ate the others and then some more, and then some more, and then some more, and she just kept cooking them and he kept eating them. Finally she asked him, "Johnny, do you want another pancake?" He said, "No mame." He said, "I don't even want the ones I've already had."
Now that's the way it is with silver. He that loveth silver, shall never be satisfied with silver. When you get it all, it doesn't satisfy, and if you don't get it all, you want more. You see, this round world, will never fit in your three-cornered heart. I cannot satisfy the deepest longings of your soul. Why is this? Why can't material things bring contentment?
Well Jesus explained it in Luke Chapter 12 and verse 15, He said, "Take heed and be ware of covetousness, for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesses." How true that is. Your deepest needs will never be met by material things. Nothing wrong with material things, they just simply cannot satisfy the deepest longing of your heart.
Do you remember with the Bible says in Psalm 37 and verse 4, I love it. It says "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desire of your heart." Now that doesn't mean that you'll have every surface need met, every whim, every fancy, every lust of your eyes, and your flesh satisfied. Oh no. It means when you find all in Jesus Christ, when you delight yourself in the Lord, what your heart has really been seeking for, it will find. That's what that verse means. Delight yourself in the Lord and you'll have the desire of your heart. What your heart really yearns for is God. Friends all around me are trying to find what the heart yearns for, and only in Jesus can those things be found. The deepest need of your heart can be met.
Now, he's talking here about living a life without fear. Do you know why we have fear? We have fear sometimes because we think our needs are not going to be met. Or because we think that the things we think are meeting our needs are going to be taken away from us. Well in this verse, he's going to tell us that God will never leave us nor forsake us, and godliness with contentment is great gain, we have something that can't be tampered with.
We're hearing a lot of talk today about the "r" word, recession. Back in 1929 and 1930 when the stock market crashed, there were men who jumped out of skyscrapers, committed suicide. Why? Because the things they were trying to satisfy their heart with, they lost. That's where the security was. Well friend, you better have your security, and your sufficiency and your satisfaction in something that can't be tampered with. In this, in this book of Hebrews, that we're reading from, Chapter 10 verse 34, talking to these people, he said, "Why you took joyfully of the spoiling of your goods..." Suppose today soldiers were to come in, go into your house, and carry out all of your material possessions. Could you still praise the Lord? If you're delighted in the Lord you could. "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He'll give you the desire of your heart." Be content with such things as you have. Do you know the word content literally means self-contained? It's used in Philippians Chapter 4 and Paul says in verses 11 and following, "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."
Now when Paul wrote this he was in prison. But he said, I've learned in whatsoever state I'm in, therewith to be content. I know how to be abase, and I know how to abound. Everywhere, and in all things, I am instructed both to be hungry and both to abound to be both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. And then he said, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." And that literally means, I can do all things through Christ who is pouring His life into me.
You see, learn a life of contentment. Have the contentment dear friend, of His provision. Christ himself, the deepest need of your heart can be met in the Lord Jesus Christ.
You say, "Preacher, that's just preacher talk." Well I'll tell you this much. You're looking at a rich man because I would not sell the contentment that I have in Jesus Christ, for any price that you can make, for anything. I am content in the Lord Jesus. That doesn't mean I'm satisfied with myself. That doesn't mean that I don't have any ambition. I am trying to tell you my dear friend, that I along with the Apostle Paul can say it gladly and surely, I can do all things through Christ who is pouring His life into me, and I have learned that whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. Now if you would face a new year without fear, if you want the source of your satisfaction and the source of your sufficiency and the source of your security, steadfast find it in the Lord Jesus Christ. And so number one, number one, if you would face a new year without fear, know the contentment of His provision. Look at it again, "Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have."
Second thing, not only the contentment of His provision, but know the companionship of His presence, the companionship of His presence. Continue to read. "Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." I don't know what I'm going to face next year. But there's one thing I know, I know He will never leave me. I know He will not forsake me. Isn't that wonderful! Isn't that wonderful? In Him I have all, and He will never leave me nor forsake me. This may be the most encouraging verse in all of the Bible. Now again, we fear because we're afraid we're going to have to face something we don't understand, and we're going to have to face it alone.
I've talked to some people over this holiday season who felt so alone. I went out on Christmas Eve to talk to a person who was hurting so much. And I said to that person, why don't you call a friend? They said, "I don't have a friend." I don't have a friend. Well, I said, "Oh yes you do." And I told her His name, and it is one who said, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." Dr. Abraham Maslow, famed research analyst said, "The truth is that the average American does not have a real friend in the world." That's what this psychiatrist said, analyst said. And psychiatrist Alfred Adler said, "All human failures spring from a lack of love," and then he named some of them: alcoholism, workaholics, depression, suicide. He said all of this springs from a lack of love. People need someone to love, and they need to be loved, and without it, their lives are filled with fear, and frustration. And so our verse tells us that we can face a new year with the certainty of His provision, and with His companionship in our hearts and in our lives. Now look at that verse. He says, I will never leave thee. Do you see it? Never.
Now, the Greek scholars tell us this sentence, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee," actually has five negatives in it. Now we say a double negative is bad English, but evidently it wasn't bad Greek. And here's what it literally says, "I will never, no not ever, no never leave nor forsake you." Let me give that to you again. "I will never, no not ever, no never leave you nor forsake you."
One preacher was visiting an old grandmother in his church, trying to give comfort in her old age. I believe she knew the Lord better than he did however. And he took out his Greek New Testament and was reading this to her, and explaining that there were five negative there. The old grandma said, "Well God may have to say it five times for you Greek boys, but once is enough for me." I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Oh my dear friend, there is the companionship of His presence. Look at the work leave nor forsake. Do you see that, "I will never leave nor forsake you." What it literally means is, I will not abandon you. It means I will not give up on you. And it literally means I will not leave you a helpless orphan. I will not forsake you. You will not be forsaken. I'm speaking today to some women whose husbands have walked out on them. I'm speaking today to some children whose fathers have forsaken them. I am talking today to some men whose wives have left them. Others who have felt abandoned and forsaken by whatever. But there is one, my dear friend, who will never leave you. And so what does that mean to me as I face a new year? When I'm discouraged, I know that He sees me through, because He's there.
This Christmas season, I've been quite a bit in the hospital. I've been with those who are dying. I've been with those who are facing heartaches. Been to funerals, as you have, and I have watched those who know the Lord Jesus Christ. And I have seen a difference my dear friend, in those who know Christ, and in those who do not know Christ. I spent some time in the hospital with a man who just in a few hours would step over on the other side. I held his hand. We prayed. I said, "Is everything right?" He said, "Pastor, everything is right." He said, "I am ready, 'For me to live is Christ and for me to die is gain.'" How do you answer that? My dear friend, by the word of one who has said, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.
Psalm 116 verse 8, "For thou hast delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling." When I am discouraged His presence sees me through. When I am lonely, His presence cheers me up. Now you can be lonely, I believe that the Holidays are the loneliest time of the year. People are told everywhere they're suppose to be happy and they realize they're not. They see everybody else acting happy, and they feel so lonely. Death and divorce and desertion, even travel makes you lonely. Success can make you lonely. You often hear it's lonely at the top. Old age makes you lonely. You can be lonely in a big crowd. You can be lonely in a mall. Loneliness, one of the chief maladies of our age, but Jesus has said, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." What I am saying, my dear friend, is when I am discouraged, His presence sees me through. When I am lonely, His presence cheers me up. And when, my dear friend, I am worried, His presence just calms me down.
Do you know what worry is? Worry is a mild form of atheism. It's acting like God doesn't exist. I was reading a report of David Livingstone, the great missionary of another century, who went to Africa and actually discovered and unlocked much of Africa. Took the Gospel to Africa. He lived a life of what some would call loneliness and what others would call danger. And he was there. He wrote this in his
journal January 14, 1856. He was there surrounded by hostile people, in the very heart of darkest Africa. They were beating the war drums like they were going to attack the next morning.
And this is what he wrote, "Felt much turmoil of spirit in prospect of having all of my plans for the welfare of this great region and this teaming population knocked on the head by savages tomorrow." Now he's sitting at his campfire, alone, in the heart of Africa. And he knows what's out there in the jungle beyond him. And then he says this, "But I read that Jesus said, 'All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth, go ye therefore and teach all nations, and lo I am with you always even to the end of the world.'" And then David Livingstone wrote in his journal this word, "This is the word of a gentleman of the most strict and sacred honor." So that's the end to it. He just simply said, "Jesus has said, I'll never leave you." And then he wrote this, he said, "I will not cross furtively as I had intended. Why should such a man as I flee? I shall take observations for latitude and longitude tonight, though it may be the last, I feel quite calm now. Thank God."
I'm so glad he wrote that in his journal. There's a man in the middle of the jungle, surrounded by wild animals and savage people who has felt the presence of the Lord Jesus. This is what he's saying. Look at it. "I will never leave you nor forsake you." When I'm discouraged, His presence sees me through. When I'm lonely His presence cheers me up. When I'm worried, His presence calms me down. And when I am tempted, and oh I'm going to be tempted this coming year, and so will you be, His presence will help me out.
You see, we need just to practice the presence of the Lord this coming year. You're going to be tempted, and my dear friend, you cannot close doors. There are no locked doors with God. The thing that I think helps keep us all straight is to know that Jesus Christ never leaves us, never forsakes us. And when the devil comes and knocks at our heart's door, we can just simply say, "Jesus, please go answer the door." The Lord is there with us to take care of us.
Now here's a third thing. Watch it. Dear friend, I want you to see it. His contentment, His contentment. I have the contentment of His provision. I have the companionship of His presence. And then I have the confidence of His promise. I love this. Now watch it. "Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have, for He hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." Now we're going to zero in on that little phrase "He hath said." Just underscore it. "He hath said." This, my dear friend, is the confidence of His promise. A promise is no better than the one who makes it. Again in the Greek language, this is an intention. And what it literally says is, "He, himself, hath said." He himself hath said.
Now who is it that says, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee?" It is the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, God. This is the confidence of His promise. And so His omnipotence answers to me, when I say, God I just don't have the strength for next year. He says, the omnipotent God, answers and says, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." And when I say, "God I'm afraid I have to go through the next year," the omnipresent God says, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." But when I say, "God, I won't know what to do." The omniscient God says, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." I am with you. And my dear friend, He himself hath said it.
Years ago when I graduated from seminary and was called to the first church after seminary, the first church I pastored, little Parkview Baptist Church, in Fort Pierce, Florida. On Mother's Day, after I preached a message on the Christian home, our little baby boy Philip died. It was one of those sudden crib deaths, just an infant. And he died on Sunday afternoon of Mother's Day. Joyce and I had never faced death before. We never had a brother or sister to die, father or mother to die, certainly not a child to die. And our beautiful, beautiful baby, and what an incredibly beautiful baby he was, died suddenly. Well we did the only thing we knew to do, that was turn to the Lord.
But as we left that church that Sunday afternoon to head to West Palm Beach where our parents live, our little church, which was absolutely right next door to the pastorium, decided they needed to meet and have a service, a prayer service. I can picture that in my mind's eye, as Joyce and I backed our car out and went past the little church that had already met to worship. They were singing a song. And I could see the light, the yellow light as it came through the windows of that little white church. And I can hear even now my brothers and sisters in Christ inside singing that song. "I've seen the lightening flashing, I've heard the thunder roll. I've felt sin's breakers dashing, trying to conquer my soul. I have heard the voice of Jesus, telling me still to fight on. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone. No never alone. No never alone. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone. He promised. He promised." And friend, He kept that promise to us. Joyce and I all the way to West Palm Beach were able to sing songs like "What a Friend we have in Jesus. All our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to Him in prayer."
This is what he is saying, look, there's the contentment, be content with such things as you have. There's the companionship, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. And there's the confidence for He hath said, He himself hath said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Friend, this is not just advice from a Baptist preacher. This is a promise from the word of God, the word of God. He himself hath said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Friend, put it down big and put it down plain and put it down straight, you can go into a new year with this kind of a promise.
And then last of all, you'll know the comfort of His protection. Because my dear friend, when you have His contentment, and you have His companionship, and you have His confidence, then you must have His comfort and His courage. Look in verse six, "So that we may boldly say, the Lord is my helper." Now, look at it, put it together. Verse five, "He hath said," verse six, "that we may boldly say." He hath said, He hath said, that we may boldly say, "the Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man shall do unto me."
So here, how do you face a new year without fear? Well you find your contentment in Christ. You find your companionship in Christ. You find your confidence in Christ. And then you'll find your comfort in Christ, so that we may boldly say, "The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." Now you're going face some things. These Hebrew Christians, these in the book of Hebrews, to whom this book was addressed. They faced some heartaches, some trials, I'm not trying to tell you that it's going to be all honey and no bees. Oh no. My dear friend, this coming year may be a very horrendous year for you. But I am telling you that you can stand upon the promises of the word of God and say boldly, "the Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man shall do to me."
Those to whom this was written were facing opposition from family, from friends, and from foes alike. They were facing mockery and brutality and robbery. And yet they could say, "I will boldly say the Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid." I hope you'll say that. I hope you'll say that. The Lord is my helper, I will not, I will not, by the grace of God, I will not fear. We don't know. We don't know what's going to happen. We don't know what this coming year is going to be. I just don't know. But I do know that I can boldly say, "The Lord will be my helper."
Alexander McLaren, was a great Scottish preacher, and in one of his sermons, he told about something that happened to him. He lived in Glasgow. He told about what happened to him when he was a boy about sixteen years of age. He had a job, away from home, the first time he had ever gotten a job away from home. Actually they lived on a farm outside of Glasgow really. And he went to Glasgow to work. And he didn't have a horse to ride to work, and he couldn't go back and forth, it was about six or eight miles from the farm. So he walked to his job.
First week away from home, and his dad said to him, "Alex, now when Friday comes, I want you to walk home because your mother and I will have missed you. This is the first time you've been away from home and so on Friday night when you get off work, we want you to come home." Between the city and the farm where they lived, there was a deep ravine. A chasm. And it was a bad place. It was dark and foreboding looking. And in there robbers and muggers were known to exist. And some people had actually been murdered down in that deep ravine. And as a sixteen-year-old boy, he could imagine other things that had never happened. And he knew that coming from the city of Glasgow to his home, he would have to go through that ravine Friday night. And he didn't want to walk through it at nighttime. So he said to his dad, he said, "Dad," he said, "I'll tell you what. I'll be tired Friday night, so I'll just spend Friday night and then I'll come Saturday morning." And his dad said, "No Alex, your mother and I want you to come home Friday night." He said, "Yes sir."
So Friday night when he got off work, he began to walk toward his farmhouse. His heart was just beating, thumping within his bosom because he knew he was going to have to go through that dark ravine, through that valley, and he said, that he began to whistle to make himself feel better, and that didn't seem to help very much. And then he said, he started talking to an imaginary companion, just you know, trying to make out like someone was there with him. But when he got to that ravine, and he looked down into that dark valley. He just paused there, and did not want to go down into that deep dark valley alone.
And then he said, he heard someone, something down there stirring. And he said, he was so frozen with fear that he could not move. And he said, out of that darkness, a form began to come toward him. And he looked and it was his own daddy, coming up out of that ravine. And he said, "Alex, I came to meet you. I was so lonely for you. I came to meet you, and I just thought we'd walk home together." And Alexander McLaren said, "You'll never know the difference that made." He said, "With my dad there by my side," he said, "we walked through that valley and" he said, "I had not a fear in this world, because my own dear father was there by my side."
Now friend, I don't know what you're going to have to go through this coming year. I don't know. I don't know what sickness, I don't know what heartache, I don't know what trouble, but I know that I know that I know that I know that you can say, "I can boldly say, the Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man shall do to me."
When you face this New Year, I want you to find your contentment in Jesus. I want you to find your companionship in Jesus. I want you to find confidence in Jesus. Then you'll find your comfort and your courage in Jesus.
With all of that in mind, listen to it just one more time. "Let your conversation be without covetousness, be content with such things as you have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. That we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, I will not fear."