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Recognizing Our Choices When We Are Afraid

socialmedia@cityrise.org November 21, 2021 sermons, cityrise, Crosspoint Church - Bellaire, Fear Not, psalm, Roger Patterson, sermon, West U Baptist,

The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Dr. Roger Patterson on Sunday November 21, 2021 at our West U Baptist Church campus. To view the sermon in full, please visit our YouTubpage.

5-year old Johnny was in the kitchen as his mother made supper. She asked him to go into the pantry and get her a can of tomato soup, but he didn’t want to go in alone. “It’s dark in there and I’m scared.” She asked again, and he persisted. Finally she said, “It’s OK–Jesus will be in there with you.” Johnny walked hesitantly to the door and slowly opened it. He peeked inside, saw it was dark, and started to leave when all at once an idea came, and he said: “Jesus, if you’re in there, would you hand me that can of tomato soup?”

I love that!

We are wrapping up this short study of Psalm 118 and this call to not be bound up in fear. As we conclude our time together today, I want us to focus on verses 8 and 9, as they make clear to us that when we are afraid, we have a choice.

Let’s read Psalm 118:8-9.

Psalm 118:8-9

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in princes.

Friends, when you are afraid…you have a choice where you will place your trust.

Q: Now, why do I say that?

A: I say that because of the phrase, “It is better…”

David says it twice – “it is better…it is better.

When something is better, it means that there is also something that is worse.

Let me share this outline with you and then let’s walk through this together.

When fear comes, you have a choice where you place your trust…

  1. Choice 1 – In Others
  2. Choice 2 – In Government
  3. Choice 3 – In God

When fear comes, you have a choice where you place your trust…

I. Choice 1 – In Others

Look with me at Psalm 118:8.

Psalm 118:8

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in man.

Now, to best understand this, we must understand what it means to “take refuge.”

Definition: to take refuge means to run to something for shelter, protection, safety or peace.  A refuge is something that provides shelter, protection, safety or peace. It’s a place of sanctuary.

So, in times of fear we RUN to something

David knows this, and he points out that Oftentimes we run to people (man) for protection/peace/shelter/safety.

Children do this, right?  Especially little ones.

You can see this at Disney World, as kids stand in line with their parents for the autographs of the characters.

Chris DeArman shared with me that one time they were at Disney standing in line to get autographs from the characters, and his daughter apprehensively approached one of the characters and immediately ran back to him, crying because she was freaked out by Goofy!

She was scared, and frightened – so, who did she run to for safety, peace, protection?

Where did she go for refuge?  She went to her dad!

One summer night during a severe thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small son into bed. She was about to turn the light off when he asked in a trembling voice, “Mommy, will you stay with me all night?” Smiling, the mother gave him a warm, reassuring hug and said tenderly, “I can’t dear. I have to sleep in Daddy’s room.” A long silence followed. At last it was broken by a shaky voice saying, “That big sissy!”

David says, when fearful, don’t give in to the tendency to run to people for peace or protection/safety and shelter.

We do this, if we’re honest. We attempt to find refuge in people all the time – Try to find ultimate protection/shelter in a spouse, or in kids…or in parents…We attempt to find refuge in friends…We can even attempt to find refuge in a pastor – I can promise you at some point I will disappoint you, or one of our other pastors will, or all of us.

Don’t make another person your sanctuary because you are misplacing your trust. And David says this, not to speak ill of other people, but because he knows even the best of people are fallible, inconsistent, moody, and not always trustworthy.

Remember, you and I have a choices when we are afraid. Let’s look at the second choice we have.

When fear comes, you have a choice where you place your trust…

  1. Choice 1 – In Others
  2. Choice 2 – In Government
  3. Choice 3 – In God

When fears come, you have a choice where you place your trust…

II. Choice 2 – In Government

Notice Psalm 118:9.

Psalm 118:9

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in princes.

How much trust do you place in government?

In a recent publication of The Conversation, five experts were asked to talk about how the fear of the pandemic was impacting their respective fields of expertise.

Bruno Cautres, a political scientist wrote, “The management of fear has become a nearly permanent element of political action.”

Cautres continues:

Fear is a dimension of human and social life that is intimately connected to politics and power. An epidemic such as Covid-19 can trigger certain mechanisms, especially in the political sphere, which may cause people to fall back on fear as a political device.

Lyndon B. Johnson is credited as the first to use fear as a motivator to capture votes. Peter Stearns, author of American Fear: The Causes and Consequences of High Anxiety, says that LBJ was the first to use what has now become a proliferation of a politics of fear.

 Some of you may remember this ad. Take a look:


This was the first FEAR BASED Political Ad, and Peter Stearns says that, “Fear’s presence in American discourse has only increased since then.”

Barry Glassner, president of Lewis & Clark college and author of The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things, agrees with Stearns assessment of fear and he adds that… “Politicians, companies, and the media have played a big part in the change, figuring out how to trigger fear and using that knowledge more frequently.”

Teaching Point: Listen, our great temptation is to put our hope, trust and refuge, into our political leaders.

S. Edward Tesh says,

The term “princes,” represents the wealthy political leaders who are able to carry out their own will with a word or with a well-placed gift. We must not be tempted to trust in such powers, for it will both corrupt us and fail us in the end. Our choice is between this kind of corrupted human power, or the divine power of Yahweh.[1]

  • Here’s an article written in June 2020 says, “We need Joe Biden. America is in crisis, and our national security is becoming a casualty.”[2]
  • Here’s another article written in March of 2021 titled, “Dear Mr. Trump, America needs you.”[3]

People out there are fearful of what’s happening in our country, in our culture. What are they saying? Find refuge in Blue or Find refuge in Red.” This is what our country needs right now.

Charles Spurgeon helps us here when he points out the contrast between what we would expect of “princes,” that they be extremely noble and chivalrous, and what we actually get—people who are no different than the rest of mankind.

He says: When we put our hope in princes we are hoping for an ideal that they cannot possibly live up to.[4]

Remember, we have a choice…let’s look at the better choice now.

When fear comes, you have a choice where you place your trust…

  1. Choice 1 – In Others
  2. Choice 2 – In Government
  3. Choice 3 – In God

When fear comes, you have a choice where you place your trust…

III. Choice 3 – In God

Psalm 118:8-9

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in princes.

Why is it better to take refuge in the Lord?

That’s a great question.

Charles Spurgeon breaks down five different reasons:

  • It is wiser to do so. God is infinitely more able to help and more likely to help!
  • It is morally better to do so. It is the role of the creature to trust the Creator! To place our trust in anything other than him is a direct insult to his faithfulness.
  • It is safer to do so. If we rely on man we can never be fully assured of the ground on which we stand, whereas we are always secure in the hands of God.
  • It has a better effect upon ourselves when we do so. Confidence in God sanctifies our souls and produces a sacred quiet of spirit, whereas confidence in man tends to make us mean and more dependent on man.
  • It is better as far as the result is concerned. The human object of our trust, in many cases, fails from lack of ability, generosity, affection, or memory. But the Lord, instead of failing, does for us exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or imagine![5]

You see, God’s nature doesn’t change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

He is good in all of his ways toward us.

He is for us and not against us.

And he knows how to preserve us…shield us…cover us…provide for us…nurture us…protect us…encourage us…train us…and lavish us with his love.

He is a good Father…perfect in all of his ways.

And He is worthy of your trust.

The Puritan, John Preston, lay dying and his friends asked him if he was afraid of death.

“No,: he whispered. “I shall change my place, but I shall not change my company.”  Preston was saying, I shall leave my friends, but not my FRIEND, for he will never leave us or forsake us.

This is why we can take refugre in our God…even in death, we have Him.

During this series, we have sought to encourage you to not be bound in fear…but instead to worship God and fear Him above all things.

Oswald Chambers notes why we should live this way.  He says:

“The remarkable thing about God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”

  1. Stanley Jones is a bit more verbose as he says:

I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath–these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely–these are my native air. A John Hopkins University doctor says, “We do not know why it is that worriers die sooner than the non-worriers, but that is a fact.” But I, who am simple of mind, think I know; We are inwardly constructed in nerve and tissue, brain cell and soul, for faith and not for fear. God made us that way. To live by worry is to live against reality.

My friend, the way you begin to trust God is to take His Son, Jesus, as Your Savior.


A – Admit sin

B – Believe Jesus is God’s Son

C – Confess Sin to the Lord and ask for Salvation.

Lord, I choose to take refuge in you today and everyday.

To the Believer: Maybe you have chosen to trust in a person or in a politician when fear has come your way. And you know you have a misplaced trust.

Spend a moment in Prayer and turn to the Lord and tell him you are sorry.  Tell him you will put your trust in him for your peace, your security and your well-being.

Psalm 118:8-9

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in princes.




[1] S. Edward Tesh, Psalms, 366.

[2] https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2020/06/we-need-joe-biden/166033/

[3] https://theweek.com/articles/974724/dear-mr-trump-america-needs

[4] Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David.

[5] Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David.