When people use the phrase, “I’m a believer” it’s not real clear if it’s what they believe about Jesus – or if they believe in Jesus. I say that because it’s clear that all the demons believed stuff about Jesus.  Actually, they knew the truth about Him and it scared them half to death! Which is odd. It seems that if we truly understood who Jesus is and who we aren’t and the reality of the future – we’d be really interested in following the One who is Saviour, Lord of all, Judge over all creation and the One who loves us enough to suffer and die for us.  One day everyone will see Jesus for who He is and what His mission really was. They will see the miraculous things Jesus did and is still doing. They will wish that they’d have followed Him and been all in! If you know the truth about Jesus – you get to do that now!


Long before Jesus’ ancestor, David, came up with Psalm 23, the people of Israel were shepherds – a profession the Egyptians looked down on. It became a well-known metaphor used by the prophets – calling the people of Israel, “God’s flock.” I’m not sure why, except for the fact that sheep are notoriously needy and dependent. Put a herd of cattle in a field, and they’ll pretty much take care of themselves.  But not sheep. Sheep need ongoing attention – just like us.


Most people want to know if someone is using them or committed to them. In love relationships, it’s sometimes really hard to tell the difference, you know – between infatuation – or true love. And when you don’t know, you need to have the DTR talk. The one some guys dread – the Define The Relationship talk. The one that says, “Are we just having fun – or is this relationship actually going somewhere?  When it comes to our relationship with Jesus, He already knows where we’re at – but sometimes we don’t. And we need to know what we’re doing and where we’re going. Are we just fans of Jesus – or will we follow?


Here’s a rule of thumb that may help you; if you’re afraid of someone – find out who they’re afraid of! Most of you, and most people, actually – would say that they either respect or love Jesus. It would be a narrow fringe of people who would say, I’m scared to death of Him! When you look at the records of His life, it’s fascinating to find out that fallen angels, evil spirits – were scared to death of Him.  They begged Him to leave, to treat them well; they had to ask Him for permission to do things. There’s a reason for that, you know – based on Who He is – and what He came to do and reclaim and make right. To believe in Jesus, to love Jesus, to follow Jesus, to invite Jesus into your life – is to be His ally, His friend, His servant. And, believe me, that has huge implications about fear and all of it’s causes – and what it’s trying to prevent Jesus from healing in us!


Jesus once made the comment; “If you’re going to be afraid then fear God.” That’s actually what faith is; it’s fearing God more than whatever else you’re afraid of.” To fear God is to respect Him. That is, to respect what He’s said about Himself, what He’s said about His love for you and about His attention to detail – and what He’s said about what will happen to all of our enemies – including death! Fear is always an invitation to disrespect God. Faith is an invitation to trust God. For faith to work – it has to be EXERCIZED! That is, made to work, to sweat, to breath hard, to burst cells and build muscle! Like anything, without exercise, faith atrophies.


Don’t know if you’re up on pigs or not, but pigs are omnivores! Put it in front of them – bread, fruit, veggies, meat, garbage, tin cans, old car batteries, and they’ll eat them! Well, maybe not all that stuff… but most of it! Fear is an omnivore, too. Put your dreams, your emotional health, your future, your friendships, your time, the investment of your life in front of it – and it will be gone! Here’s the problem – specifically; feed an appetite and… it GROWS! Jesus made the comment, “Don’t feed your pearls to pigs!” Why?  Cause they don’t care. They’re pigs! Getting those pearls back is, well, messy! There are some things you never get back. Like the chance to live your calling!  


What creates fear in us is the perceived price tag on doing what is right – and what we know in our hearts God is asking of us. Our minds are very creative and create disaster scenarios in Sensurround – including sights, sounds, smells, pain, gore, shame, and defeat.  Where our minds are not creative is in understanding the price tag of giving into our fears and letting our imagination steal our future – instead of investing in it! Is there a price tag on doing what’s right – what seems so scary and dangerous? Absolutely! But then, there’s a price tag on anything worthwhile. AND there is a way bigger price tag on chickening out and making excuses.


As we’ve been saying all along since initial onset of COVID, caution is always something God advises. We see this from the health guidelines in the Book of Leviticus to the wisdom of Proverbs. But FEAR? Never. Our call is to respect the power and calling and love of God more than our fear. Honestly, doing what God wants will always take faith – faith that gives us courage when our hands are shaking and our stomach is hosting a butterfly convention. God never gives us a full preview of what He’ll do – He just says, Trust Me!  You’ll be glad you did! The giants we’re afraid of are real! Very real! They’re just not bigger than the God we serve!


If Jesus was right, and I really, really believe He was right – and is still right – the part of life we have after we exit this life is by far the most profound and most important part. What we do in this life is the set up for what happens there. You see this in every single thing Jesus said and in pretty much every story He ever told. The shocking reality for pretty much everyone in our world is that there is an exit interview scheduled for everyone – and we don’t know when it is – and Jesus is the One who interviews. For people who have experienced injustice, the fact that everyone is accountable brings comfort. For people who have undergone willing, intentional self-denial and put their comfort on the line so that others could be comforted – it’s amazing to think that God sees it all and the reward absolutely dwarfs the sacrifice! Your exit interview…my exit interview can be amazing. The promise of what Peter says here is that our lives can be productive and effective and useful! With the power of God, we can see the lives of people we love – and even people we don’t know, be changed for all eternity. When we cross the finish line, our welcome into the Kingdom – and the celebration of people touched by our lives can be astounding. Or NOT! We choose – and now is the time to make that choice!


I have never met a person who wants to wreck their lives, do a faceplant, go down, humiliate themselves, or get featured in tabloids. Those who do experience one of the most painful feelings ever: Humiliation; Regret. Regret is rear view mirror stuff. History. The great news of Jesus and what He’s done for us makes it clear that we get a do-over. Jesus called it being born from above.  Forgiveness and grace is a promise! There’s a promise that goes with that. God is able to keep us from falling. And Peter tells us what the building blocks for that kind of life are. It’s life where we finish well. It’s a life that impacts others – that, in some way, changes the world for the better! If that’s what you want, then you’ll need to search your life for these characteristics Peter lays out.