Slaying Our Giants WORRY Part 2

The Cause and Cure for Worry

Worry, feeling uneasy or troubled, seems to plague multitudes of people in our world today. It’s human nature to be concerned about the bad situations in our world and in our personal lives, but if we’re not careful, the devil will cause us to worry beyond what’s reasonable.

Worry is the opposite of faith, and it steals our peace, physically wears us out, and can even make us sick. When we worry, we torment ourselves—we’re doing the devil’s job for him! Worry is caused by not trusting God to take care of the various situations in our lives.

Too often we trust our own abilities, believing that we can figure out how to take care of our own problems. Yet sometimes, after all our worry and effort to go it alone, we come up short, unable to bring about suitable solutions.

Last week we talked about how worry is:

  • Inconsistent
  • Irrational
  • Ineffective
  • PowerPoint (Mouse in the cage)
  1.  You need to system of Priorities

See first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Matt. 6:33

The prognosis of worry is a division of the heart. It’s a mistake to try dealing with the issues of today while dwelling on the questions of tomorrow.  We need all our energy and concentration for the here and now.

It comes down to priorities.  What is most important in your heart?

Those who base their lives on the acquisition of material things tend to be the ones saddled with anxiety.

Ill.  Cousin Ohio won the lottery.

Acquired a lot of things.  He spends all his time worry about them.

Jesus is saying in this famous verse, get your priorities in order.

Seek the things of God first.  Live a righteous life, and you be amazed how God will work things out for you in your life.

It’s important to step back from the complex tangle of your life and prioritize your life so that it’s in line to what God wants you to do.

  • When I work on my relationships in a God honoring way…
  • When I handle my money in a God honoring way by tithing, spending my money to help others, no spending it foolishly,

God will honor that.

The verse says, Then all the other things will be added unto you.

We put a lot of worry on our shoulders because of our foolishness.

We get involved in unhealthy relationships and then we worry why there is conflict. We are not content with what we have so we buy more on credit. All that does is increase the worry in our lives.

 You need a strategic program

You need a systematic strategy to week out your worry.  Jesus is saying something quite interesting:  You don’t sink under the burden of today’s crises, but tomorrow’s agenda puts you over the weight limit.

Have you ever tried to carry too many bags of groceries at the same time?  After cleaning up the eggs from your driveway you say to yourself,

I should have made two trips instead of one.

                Jesus tells us to carry today’s bag today and make a fresh trip tomorrow.

Living in the present tense is an art.  Stay focus in the moment because if you don’t, you will become preoccupied with absent problems

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Today has enough problems of its own.  Matt 6:34

There’s a reason God placed us within the moment, bracketed away from both the past and the future.  They are both off-limits to us and we need to post a sign that says, “No Trespassing” sign.

The past is closed for good, the future is still under construction.  But today has everything you need.

  1.  Cast Your Cares on the One Who Cares for You

First Peter 5:6-7 says, Therefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you, casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.

Since Jesus invites us to cast all of our care and worry on Him,

why do so many of us refuse to let go? Apparently, we’re not yet fed up with being miserable.

The only way to have victory in our lives is to play by God’s rules, and He says we must quit worrying if we want to have peace.

So when things come our way that cause us to be concerned, we need God’s help.

How do we get it? First Peter 5:6-7 lists two important steps:

  • 1) humble yourselves, and
  • 2) cast your care on Him.

That seems pretty clear and simple, yet some continue struggling because they’re too bullheaded to ask for help. But the humble get the help.

So if your way isn’t working, why not try God’s way? All of us would be better off if we’d learn to lean on God and ask for His help. But as long as we try to do everything ourselves, God will let us.

He won’t take care of our problems and worries—our cares—until we turn loose of them and give them to Him. Either we’re going to do it or God’s going to do it, but both of us aren’t going to.

So the cure for worry is humbling ourselves before God, casting our cares on Him, and trusting Him. Instead of making ourselves miserable trying to figure everything out on our own, God wants us to place our trust in Him and enter into His rest, totally abandoning ourselves to His care.

I know that when we are able to believe and say, “God, I trust You,” it will literally change our lives.

Look at Paul’s instructions in Philippians 4:6-7Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

If you’re a Christian who goes around burdened or weighed down all the time, something is wrong. You may have had faith in Christ for salvation, but you haven’t moved into walking in faith daily for the life that God has given you.

The Bible tells us that God is faithful—that’s one of His major characteristics. He can be counted on to come through for us, so we should trust Him totally and completely. When we do, we’ll be ready for anything that may come our way.

  1. Allow God to Give You Peace and Rest

In Matthew 11:28, Jesus said, Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Jesus wants to ease our burdens and give us rest.

The Message Bible says it this way: Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly (Matthew 11:28-30).

That sounds good, doesn’t it? I’ve had enough heavy stuff in my life, and I want to be free. It’s nice to know that we don’t have to figure everything out.

We need to get comfortable with saying,

I don’t have a clue, but I’m not going to worry about it because God’s in control. I’m going to live free and light!”

When we’re overloaded with the cares of this life—struggling, laboring and worrying—we need some help.

  • Our minds need to rest from worrying about how to take care of problems,
  • our emotions need to rest from being upset all the time,
  • and our wills need a rest from stubbornness and rebellion.

So we need to be humble enough to call out to God and say,

“I need help!” Your beginning doesn’t have to dictate your ending.

Get God involved in every area of your life and allow Him to lead you into rest.

  1. Worry or Worship?

Worry and worship are exact opposites, and we’d all be much happier if we learned to become worshippers instead of worriers.

  • Worry opens the door for the devil,
  • but worship is reverence and adoration for God that leads us into His presence.

God created us to worship Him, and I don’t believe we can walk in victory if we don’t become worshippers. Sometimes when we don’t have what we need or want, the enemy tries to discourage us and keep us from worshiping God, skipping church.

But when we know that God has our best interests at heart, we can worship Him regardless of our circumstances.

Remember, God is good even when our circumstances are not!

God doesn’t always give us our heart’s desire right away. He wants us to develop a deep, personal relationship with Him and an outrageous love for Him so much so that we can’t live without it. This kind of relationship and love brings the worshipful attitude that God wants us to have.

When we believe down to the bottom of our heart that God truly wants the best for us,

To worship means “to reverence,” or “to defer to.”

When are mind is set in worship God, it’s amazing how the worries just don’t take a life of their own.  I’m not saying they will magically go away, but I am saying when you focus on the power of God, the worries begin to dissipate, lose their grip on your heart.

We must realize that Christ, living in us, has come to lead and guide us into a special lifestyle of worship and victorious living.

When Satan throws worry on you, I challenge you to stop what you’re doing, get down on your knees before God, and begin praising Him. Worship is a spiritual weapon, a warhead or bomb you can use against the enemy.

Your prayers and worship will get you heavenly help, and you won’t have to fight your own battles. God’s grace and power can make things happen with ease that you can’t bring about no matter how much you struggle.

Don’t try to take on God’s responsibility. When we do what we can do, God steps in and does what we can’t. So give yourself and your worries to God and begin enjoying the abundant life He has planned for you.

LET IT GO.

Resources:

David Jeremiah:  Slaying the Giants in Your Life

Joyce Meyers: The Cause and Cure for Worry

July 2, 2017

For More About United Baptist Christian Church, CLICK HERE

Slaying Our Giants WORRY Part 1

Life Insurance 

A very nervous airline passenger began pacing the terminal when bad weather delayed his flight. During his walk, he came across a life insurance machine. It offered $100,000 in the event of an untimely death aboard his flight. The policy was just three dollars.

He looked out the window at the threatening clouds and thought of his family at home. For that price it was foolish not to buy, so he took out the coverage. He then looked for a place to eat. Airports now carry a good variety of eateries so he settled on his favorite, Chinese.

It was a relaxing meal until he opened his fortune cookie. It read, “Your recent investment will pay big dividends.”

We can all agree that when it comes to membership in the human race, worry is part of the package.  We also know that it’s a useless and unhealthy vice.

Corrie ten Boom used to recite a little couplet:

Worry is an old man with bended head

Carrying a load of feathers

Which he thinks is lead.

Worry lives in a future that can’t be foreseen.  It deals in what -ifs and could bes, speculation and possibility.

As long as we dwell on the worst-case scenario, we guarantee our own misery.

Jesus says, Don’t worry, three times, in this passage of Scripture.

The giant that we are going to talk about today and next week is worry. What are some principles we can learn from?

Worry is Inconsistent

Matthew 6:25

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

Worry is simply inconsistent.  This is an argument from the greater to the lesser.  Consider this:

God who has created you, has given you the miracle of life. With his hand he keeps the universe in perfect rotation.

With all the effort he put into creating this universe, creating you, knitted you together in your mother’s womb, do you think for a moment that he is going to be carleess about little things a bread, clothing, etc.

A God so TALL could never overlook something so small.

Jesus said, Isn’t life more important than these everyday things?

If you buy into a Creator God, you must buy into a Sustainer God -or you are simply inconsistent.  The evidence of His loving and timely care is all around us.

Worry is Irrational

Jesus’ first argument is irrefutable.  He who gave us life can surely sustain that life.  But Jesus anticipated the follow up question:

God CAN provide, but WILL provide.

Now he moves from the lesser to the greater – in this case, Birds to human beings.

Verse 26

26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Sometimes we make fascinating discoveries when we bring two separate Scripture passages together.  Consider this matter of the value of sparrow.

Take a side trip over to Luke 12:6, and you’ll find another market value:  Five sparrows for two copper coins.

                Put Matthew and Luke together and it’s two for a penny and buy four get one free.

By the way, a copper coin was worth one-sixteenth of a denarius. A denarius was one day’s wage.

So what Jesus is saying is this:

A copper coin gets you two sparrows; two coins get you five..

Not even a sparrow who has no market value, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing about it. 

He follows every movement, whether it’s bird or beggar or baron.

You are infinitely more valuable than a sparrow.

As a matter of fact he knows when one of your hairs falls to the ground. Somewhere he has a database tracks the very hairs on your head.

If He is so meticulous with the smallest, most incidental inventory items, won’t he also tend to your deeper concerns?

Once again, Jesus gives us an argument we can’t refute, this time from the lesser to the greater.  We can argue that worry is inconsistent and irrational.  But there’s another problem with it.

Worry is Ineffective

King James: Verse 6

Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature.

It’s interesting to note the units of measure in this passage.

Jesus uses a hair and sparrow and a coin and cubit.

A cubit, as Noah knew, comes to about 18 inches – a length of your forearm, since rulers and yardsticks were rare.

The fact is, who can sit back in a chair and worry himself a few extra inches in height?

Jesus was going a bit deeper.  Most commentaries would agree that Jesus was talking about days instead of inches.

In other words, most translations say, Who can add a single hour  to your life?

Of course no one can add a day, an hour, or even a flickering moment.

Here is the deal:

Worry divides the mind and multiplies misery.  It subtracts  from our happiness.  But it never adds.

What if we took a walk through the cemetery and we were able to put a magical gauge on the tombstone which indicates the years of life that person lost through worrying?  We might be amazed.

Many people take 5, 10, 15 years of their life because of the gravity of worry that was placed on their shoulders?

The fact is, worry is the most ineffective us of your time.

ILL.  Mouse on Wheel PowerPoint:

Worrying is like being a little white mouse in a cage.

In that cage the mouse will climb inside that big wheel and as he runs the wheel will just spin around and around.  It’s as if the mouse has this impulse to get on that wheel and keep running.   I’ve been told that some mice can run up to 9,000 miles on that wheel within its’ lifetime.

Imagine that, spinning that wheel and going nowhere.

That’s the way it is with worry – a lifetime of frantic running with no destination.  After a while you run out of the strength God gave you and you are still in the cage.

Worrying doesn’t rob tomorrow of its sorrow, someone said,

It robs today of its strength.

Do I ever worry?  Of course I do; I’ve raised 3 children to adulthood so that should qualifies me as an expert on the subject.  But for me, worry is a small town I pass through, not a place to hang my hat.

It’s a momentary phase, not a lifestyle.  For many people, worry becomes so ingrained in their personalities that once the old worries are gone, they search for new ones.  They’ve become dependent on worry as a lens through which to view life, and they’ve forgotten any other way to live.

Really now, do you want to be that type of person?  I know I don’t.

Jesus gives us an invitation by saying,

You heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

This morning God is saying to us, Rest, take comfort.  Every need you have is on God’s agenda.  Have you forgotten that I take care of everything?  Let your runaway mind come home and find rest.

Arthur Rank, early 1900’s British industrialist. Strong Methodist.

Beginning of the film industry, radio, television. In England had the largest film distribution center.  Criticized using films to promote his Christian beliefs through film.

What he decided to do was to do all his worrying on one day each week. He chose Wednesdays. When anything happened that gave him anxiety and annoyed his ulcer, he would write it down and put it in his worry box and forget about it until next Wednesday.

The interesting thing was that on the following Wednesday when he opened his worry box, he found that most of the things that had disturbed him the past six days were already settled. It would have been useless to have worried about them.

Huffington Post:

85 Percent of What We Worry About Never Happens – By Don Joseph Goewey 

 

Five hundred years ago, Michel de Montaigne said: “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.”

Now there’s a study that proves it. This study looked into how many of our imagined calamities never materialize. In this study, subjects were asked to write down their worries over an extended period of time and then identify which of their imagined misfortunes did not actually happen.

Lo and behold, it turns out that 85 percent of what subjects worried about never happened, and with the 15 percent that did happen, 79 percent of subjects discovered either they could handle the difficulty better than expected, or the difficulty taught them a lesson worth learning. This means that 97 percent of what you worry over is not much more than a fearful mind punishing you with exaggerations and misperceptions.

The stress that worry generates causes serious problems.  The stress hormones that worry dumps into your brain have been linked to shrinking brain mass, lowering your IQ, being prone to heart disease, cancer and premature aging, predicting martial problems, family dysfunction and clinical depression, and making seniors more likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s.

If we could get a handle on the worry that habitually, incessantly, and often unconsciously seizes hold of our mind, we would greatly increase the odds of living a longer, happier, and more successful life.

This article was updated in August 2016

Over two thousand years ago, Jesus says,

Don’t worry about the clothes you wear, or the food you eat, Your heavenly Father knows that you need these things.

Verse 33:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Write down the one worry that you have today, consuming you.

As you come up and take communion, drop it in the bucket.

June 25, 2017

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Slaying Our Giants-FEAR-Part 2

The Lord’s Covenant With Abram

15 After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:

“Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,[a]
your very great reward.[b]

But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit[c] my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”

Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring[d] be.”

Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

 The Answer is a Person

Abraham is beginning to express some fear.

Why is Abraham expressing fear?

Back in Genesis 12 God made a covenant with Him:

The Call of Abram

12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.[a]
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”[b]

Now three chapters later Abraham and Sarah they are not getting any younger. They are getting up there in age and there is no son.

How can you make a great nation when you have no heir?

Look how God answers Abraham, not in an argument or a formula.

Fear not. I am your shield.”

God himself is the final answer to every fear of the human heart.

Focus on giants – you stumble.

Focus on God – your giants tumble.

In Exodus 3 remember when Moses ask God at the burning bush his name.

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.[c] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

Think about this for a moment:  God is the essence of whatever you need at the moment.

“I am your strength.”                                     “I am your courage.”

“I am your health.”                                          “I am your hope.”

“I am your supply.”                                         “I am your defender.”

“I am your deliverer.”                                    “I am your forgiveness.”

“I am your joy.”                                                “I am your future.”

In short, God is saying to you and me, “I am whatever you need whenever you need it.” He is the all-sufficient God for every crisis.

This morning I want to give you four steps to how to move from

Fear to Faith

  1. Looking forward, not backwards

Think of Abraham. His only hope lay in the promises of God for the future. Whoever heard of having a child at the age of 80 and 90 years old.

As long as he looked back, he would never have faith to believe God.

Abraham’s only hope was to step out into the future, trusting that somehow, some way God would keep his promises.

ILL.

After the Civil War, in an incident recounted by Charles Flood in Lee: The Last Years, Robert E. Lee visited a woman who took him to the remains of a grand old tree in front of her home. There she cried bitterly that its limbs and trunk had been destroyed by Union artillery fire. She waited for Lee to condemn the North or at least sympathize with her loss. But Lee—who knew the horrors of war and had suffered the pain of defeat—said, “Cut it down, my dear madam, and then forget it.”

We have to believe that God is not a God who wants us to be stuck in the past.  Life is a process of always moving forward towards God.

What would happen if a child never goes to school because he is afraid?

A child never leaves home to start his own life.

Young man afraid to ask a woman out on a date?

Whenever there is growth there is an eliminate of fear.

Just like a parent telling Johnny on the first day of school, Trust me Johnny, it will be okay.

God is saying to us today, Do you trust me?  All things work out according to my plain and purpose.

 

  1. Faith means trusting in God’s timing–not your own.

So many of our struggles with fear start right here.

Deep down, we fear that God has somehow made a mistake in his dealings with us.

Like Abraham, we have waited and waited—sometimes for years on end. Even though we may have seen many remarkable answers to prayer, the one thing that means the most to us has not been granted.

Where is God? Why doesn’t he answer the fervent, heart-felt prayers of his people?

Of the many answers that might be given to that question, one answer must be that God’s timing and ours are often quite different.

Sometimes we are living in Eastern STANDARD Time and God works on ETERNAL STANDARD TIME.

Edward Dobson offers a helpful word at this point:

The issue is this: Is God in control, or is he not in control?

  • If God is in control, he is never early; he is never late. He is always right on time… God always operates on schedule. He on-time arrival schedule is perfect. Never early. Never late. He never forgets and is always on time.

Content with God’s Timing

The autobiography, Buck O’Neill tells of being a black man who played professional baseball before African-Americans were allowed to play in the all-white major leagues.

By the time the color barrier was broken in 1947, O’Neill was considered too old to play in the big leagues, as were most of his teammates. Many of his friends grew bitter about their missed opportunities. O’Neill writes:

At a reunion of Negro league players in Ashland, Kentucky, a reporter from Sports Illustrated asked me if I had any regrets, coming along as I did before Jackie Robinson integrated the major leagues. And this is what I told him then: “Waste no tears for me. I didn’t come along too early—I was right on time . . . I don’t have a bitter story. I truly believe I have been blessed.”

The title of O’Neill’s book reflects his cheerful optimism and his belief in the sovereignty of God. Despite missing fame and fortune, O’Neill chose to title his autobiography I Was Right on Time.

 

  1. Faith grows by believing God in spite of your circumstances.

Sometimes our circumstances make it easy to believe in God;

other times we have to struggle.

No matter what happens we are trusting in the Lord.” That’s biblical faith rising above its circumstances to lay hold of the eternal promises of God.

You have to settle that question right now in your mind. No matter what happens to me, even the worse of the worse

And I still willing to put my full trust in God believing that he is working out the best for me? When you are in the midst of crises that is NOT the time to be asking yourself, Do I really trust God?

Abraham made up his mind early on, that he was going to trust God period. If Abraham had waited regarding his decision to trust God.

 

  1. Faith is obeying God, one step at a time.

Abraham has a choice, he can either begin to doubt, or take a step of obedience. Abraham doesn’t have a clue and God doesn’t tell him a thing. But Abraham now has a choice. He can choose to obey God or begin to doubt the goodness of God. He can argue with God or decide to take matters in his own hands.

How often we stumble over this. We slight the near in favor of the far, shirking the duties of day because we are dreaming about some distant tomorrow.

But until we have done what God has called us to do today we will never be prepared for what he wants us to do tomorrow.

In the end 99% of life turns out to be humdrum, ordinary routine. It’s the same old thing day after day. Yet out of the humdrum God is weaving an unseen pattern that will one day lead us in a new direction.

Faith means taking the next step—whatever it is—and walking with God wherever he leads us. Sometimes it will make sense, other times it won’t. But we still have take that step if we are going to do God’s will.

What’s the number one fear in your life today?

You might not have an answer, what is one step that you can take in a positive direction.

Can You Trust God?

Here is the question you have to settle in your mind?

Can you, no matter what your circumstances is, can you trust God that he is working out the best in your life?

Everything I’ve been trying to say in this message comes down to one simple question: Can you trust God? Or better, Can God be trusted? More and more I am convinced that this is the fundamental question of life: “Is God good and can he be trusted to do what is right?” If the answer is yes, then we can face the worst that life has to offer.

If the answer is no, then we’re no better off than the people who have no faith at all. In fact, if the answer is no or if we’re not sure, then we really don’t have any faith anyway.

ILL. Many of you recognize the name of J. Hudson Taylor, who founded the China Inland Mission one hundred years ago. During the terrible days of the Boxer Rebellion, when missionaries were being killed and captured, he went through such an agony of soul that he could not pray. Writing in his journal, he summarized his spiritual condition this way:

“I can’t read. I can’t think. I can’t pray. But I can trust.”

There will be times when we

  • can’t read the Bible.
  • Sometimes we won’t be able to focus our thoughts on God at all.
  • Often we will not even be able to pray.

But in those moments when we can’t do anything else, we can still trust in the loving purposes of our heavenly Father.

God Always Watches

An old lady in England had stood the bombings with amazing grit during WWII. When asked the secret of her fortitude amidst such frightful danger, she replied “Well, every night I say my prayers and then I remember what the pastor told us, God is always watching. With that thought, I go to sleep. After all, there’s no need for two of us to lie awake.”—The Christian Century.

Fear not, FEAR NOT.

No one knows what a day may bring. Who knows if we will all make it through this week?

  • But our God is faithful to keep every one of his promises.
  • Nothing can happen to us except it first passes through the hands of God. If your way is dark, keep on believing.

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he cares for you.

May 20, 2017

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Slaying Our Giants -FEAR-Part 1

Bill Bouknight a retired Baptist Minister writes:

Many years ago when I was a young preacher, I noticed one day that a new family had moved into a neighborhood not far from my church.

So, I dropped by late one afternoon. I noticed that one car was parked in the carport. I went to the side door, the one opening onto the carport.

I rang the doorbell only once when I heard a deep, bass growl that sounded like the rolling of thunder. It was coming from the back of the carport and it made the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up.

I glanced to my left and there, about 20 feet away in a crouched position, was a huge German Shepherd with glowing, malignant eyes and pearly-white teeth. I could tell he wanted some of me.

I began backing slowly away from that door, in the direction of my car, all the while speaking words of pastoral comfort to the dog. The dog eased in my direction, keeping that same 20 feet between me and him.

It must have been a Baptist dog; I never saw a dog in my life have such a problem with a Methodist preacher.

Finally I reached my car, jumped in quickly and slammed the door, and offered a quick prayer of thanks for heavenly protection.

I wasn’t worth much good at work the rest of that day.

Fear had stolen my energy. I went home.

I did make one more phone call. I called my friend, the local Baptist preacher, and told him about this new family that had moved in, and that I was pretty sure they were Baptists.

 

Basil King, in his book The Conquest of Fear, points out that fear causes more misery than all the sin and sickness of our lives combined.

He writes, “We are not sick all the time. We are not sinning all the time.  But most people are afraid of something or somebody all the time.”

 

Ann Landers, the syndicated advice columnist, was at one time receiving 10,000 letters a month from people with all kinds of problems.

Someone asked her if there was one common denominator among all her correspondents.

She replied that the great overriding theme of all the letters she read was fear – fear of nearly everything imaginable until the problem became,

for countless readers a fear of life itself.

Yet fear is simply a part of the fabric of living.  God equipped us with it so we would be wise enough to protect ourselves from the unexpected.  Fear provides us with sudden bursts of strength and speed just when we need it.  It’s basic survival instinct, a good thing – as long as it’s rational.

 

But there’s also that brand of fear known as phobia.  A phobia is what results when fear and reason don’t keep in touch.

 

There was a young truck driver whose route takes him across the Chesapeake Bay bridge every day.  The thought entered his mind that he just might feel compelled to stop the truck, climb out, and leap from the bridge to his death. There was no rational reason to hold such a belief, but that fear took complete hold of him.  He finally asked his wife to handcuff him to the steering wheel so he could be fully assured that his deepest fear wouldn’t come true.

That’s exactly what fear does when it builds its power over us; it shackles our hands and keeps us from doing the routine things in life – working, playing, living, and serving God.  We give in to the slavery of terror.

One in ten people suffer from some sort of phobia.

Most of us might not suffer from some irrational fear, but we all wrestle with a garden variety of terror – those awful moments when life seems to come undone.  We all have faced times of an uncertain future.

  • Sitting in a waiting room in the hospital
  • Facing divorce
  • Death of a livelihood
  • Death of a family member

Fear has been described as a small trickle of doubt that flows through the mind until it wears such a great channel that all your thoughts drain into it.  Tiny fears, almost unperceived can build up day by day until we find ourselves paralyzed and unable to function.

Craig Massey details six general categories that most of us face:

  • Poverty,
  • Criticism,
  • Loss of love
  • Illness,
  • Old age
  • Death

 

WHERE FAITH AND FEAR MEET

But what about Christians?

The Bible does not paint a picture of a fear-free-life.  God’s people seem to be tormented by the same fear as everyone else.

  • Gideon
  • Disciples
  • Prophets

 

Mark Twain once said, Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.
It’s the place where fear and faith meet.

Perhaps the most notable of all stories regarding fear is about the delegation of spies who were sent into Canaan.   Remember the story? They were commissioned to go on a fact finding expedition into the unknown territory that lay ahead.  Out of the 12 men that were sent,     10 of them were scared to death.

Briefly I want to look at this story this morning and point out

Five principles that we can learn from the tyranny of fear and the freedom of fear.

Scouts Explore the Land

19 “Then, just as the Lord our God commanded us, we left Mount Sinai and traveled through the great and terrifying wilderness, as you yourselves remember, and headed toward the hill country of the Amorites. When we arrived at Kadesh-barnea, 20 I said to you, ‘You have now reached the hill country of the Amorites that the Lord our God is giving us. 21 Look! He has placed the land in front of you. Go and occupy it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you. Don’t be afraid! Don’t be discouraged!’

  1. Fear Disregards God’s Plan

God’s mandate was clear.

Here is your land.  Here is My gift to you.  Now go grab it!

This was like a beautiful present wrapped under a Christmas tree, they should have surged forward with joy.  This is the moment they had been waiting for.

They had come so far, having made it through the desert with its dusty despair, its hunger and thirst, they come to the point they had been waiting for and they couldn’t cross the line.

They prevailed over Pharaoh’s  army, over the high tide of the Red Sea, over the challenges of the journey, but they fell apart at the most crucial moment. Why?  Fear

You may stand at the threshold of God’s greatest promise for you, but you’ll never claim His blessings if you let fear dominate your life.

It’s because of our shortsighted fear that holds us back from receiving God’s best for our lives.

II Timothy 1:7, God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

            Power does not shrink back in uncertainty. A sound mind doesn’t deal in irrational speculation.

 

  1. Fear Distorts God’s purposes

Fear does one very predictable thing.  It distorts our view.  Fear robs us of our perspective.  Listen to Moses as he summarizes the attitudes of his people.

27 You complained in your tents and said, ‘The Lord must hate us. That’s why he has brought us here from Egypt—to hand us over to the Amorites to be slaughtered. 28 Where can we go? Our brothers have demoralized us with their report. They tell us, “The people of the land are taller and more powerful than we are, and their towns are large, with walls rising high into the sky! We even saw giants there—the descendants of Anak!”

Fear brings out the worst in us.

It ushers in complaining, distrust, finger pointing, and despair.

  • God had provided victory over the Egyptian oppressors
  • Give deliverance through the wilderness
  • He is now offering prime real estate
  • Opportunity to start a New nation.

Where are they?

They are in tent saying,

The Lord must hate us. That’s why he has brought us here from Egypt—to hand us over to the Amorites to be slaughtered. The people of the land are taller and more powerful than we are, and their towns are large, with walls rising high into the sky!

Fear does that.  When you talk to a terrified friend or family member you find yourself wanting to say, But that is silly.

It’s easy for us to see the irrationality and absence of clear thinking in other people.

Illustration:  Thursday phone call from Lewiston Police Midnight to 7:00 in morning.  Man fear, several guns locked himself in home threatening to kill his girlfriend and himself.

Fear cause the absence of clear thinking.

The spies brought back a distorted picture and they infected the whole nation with it.

There’s giants in the land.

In the Book of Numbers they said, We were like grasshoppers in our own sight.

Fear is an army of giants.  We lose sight of the promise that we can do “All things through Him who strengthens us

We lose the ability to see anything in its true perspective.

Fear, not the object of the fear, devours its inhabitants.

In the imaginations of the spies there were massive, fortified cities teeming with giants.  So great was their distorted perspective that they even made an evil giant out of God.

Why, He brought us all this way to make us food for the heathen”

Haven’t we said such things.

God is out to get me.  He’s brought me all this way to make me miserable.

The greater the fear, the weaker our reasoning.

Fear distorts our perception of God’s purposes.

It shows life through a fun house mirror without the fun.

 

  1. Fear Discourages God’s People

The third effect of fear is that it reaches it tendrils out to everyone around them.  Discouragement is contagious.  When you give in to your fears, you make the world around you an environment of discouragement.

That word, discourage, means to take away courage.  Fear causes us to drain away the vitality of people we care for.

Ten men out of 12 came back with what the Bible calls a breeds of hysteria.  Those 10 men infected an entire nation, not just for a week, or a month, but for a generation.

When the spies came home they brought a giant with them – one much more terrible than the mere man they and seen.

The giant of fear prowled through their camp and devoured the faith and courage of a nation.

If you don’t think fear is contagious, stand in the hallway and shout fire.  You’ll be successful in changing the moods and plans of many people in an instant.  You’ll also endanger everyone around you.

Fear is more infectious than any disease you can name.  It roams the landscape and discourages God’s people.

 

  1. Fear Disbelieves God’s Promises

29 “But I said to you, ‘Don’t be shocked or afraid of them! 30 The Lord your God is going ahead of you. He will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt. 31 And you saw how the Lord your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now he has brought you to this place.’

32 “But even after all he did, you refused to trust the Lord your God,33 who goes before you looking for the best places to camp, guiding you with a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day.

The challenge before the Israelites wasn’t something that came out of nowhere and demanded that they trust some mysterious untested providence.

  • This was the invitation of the God who had gone with them throughout their journey
  • This was a loving Father who had remained so steadfast by their sides and had provided every need
  • This is the One worthy of the same trust a tiny child would place in his loving parents.

God called them the children of Israel and carried them along as you would carry an infant.

  • He carried them along as you would carry an infant
  • He had led their steps provide their food, and done everything possible to nurture a loving and fully trusting relationship.

They had everything possible to pass this test.  They had a past that they could have built on.  The Israelites were able to look back and say, God has brought us this far; He will bring us home.

When the time came to enter the Promise Land they froze like a deer in headlights. There were giants in their headlights.  And those giants seemed so fantastically massive that they blocked out what God had done in the past.

FEAR DISBELIEVES GOD’S PROMISES.

 

  1. Fear Disobeys God’s Principles

26 “But you rebelled against the command of the Lord your God and refused to go in.

It’s a harsh truth but the reality is fear is disobedience, plain and simple.

There’s a little phrase in the Bible.  It goes like this,

Fear Not. That phrase, if you’ll notice is stated in the imperative tense which simply means it is a command. 

How many times must God command us not to fear?  The next time you find yourself overcome by fear, remember – along with all of God’s other promises to dwell in fear is to live in disobedience to God.

But you might say, I can’t help it!  I don’t want to be fearful, it’s out of my control.

God has given you everything you need to deal with you fear. He has given you principles of faith to help you live courageously. Disobedience is costly.  For the nation of Israel, it meant a lost generation.  The adult group of that time was forbidden to enter the Promise Land at the end of their journey.

For 40 years they were sentenced to a restless, nomadic life of wandering homeless in the desert, waiting for the last of that forsaken group to finally die.

Only two of them were permitted entry into Canaan:

Joshua and Caleb who had stood firm in their faith.  Imagine that wandering in the desert for 40 years, attending funeral services of their friends.

When the last person was laid to rest, the nation could finally claim it true home.

Illustration:

A large percentage of the things which we dread never happen. Probably, if a man could keep a register of his fears through

twenty-five or fifty years of life, it would show that a very small percentage of the things which he dreaded came to pass.

Thomas Carlyle (4 December 1795 – 5 February 1881) was a Scottish philosopher, satirical writer, essayist, historian and teacher.[1] Considered one of the most important social commentators of his time

In his house in Chelsea in London they show you the sound-proof chamber, a sort of vaulted apartment, which Carlyle had built in his house so that all the noise of the street would be shut out and he could do his work in unbroken silence.

One of his neighbors, however, kept a rooster that several times in the night and in the early morning gave way to vigorous self-expression.

When Carlyle protested to the owner of the cock, the man pointed out to him that the rooster crowed only three times in the night, and that after all that could not be such a terrible annoyance.

But,” Carlyle said to him, “if you only knew what I suffer waiting for that rooster to crow!”

There are a lot of people like that in life—harassed and suffering because they are waiting for something disastrous and unpleasant to happen.

Resources:

Slaying the Giants in Your Life, David Jeremiah

Facing Your Giants, Max Lucado

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