Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

Overcoming Fear

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Overcoming Fear

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Overcoming Fear

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Learn why you have fear, what you fear, and how to overcome it.

Transcript

{words missing at beginning of tape}…not just watching a horror movie on television or at the theater, but I’m talking about you and danger, you and your imagination, you and reality, think back. What was the most scary, frightening moment of your life? Perhaps it was, for our youth, it might have been something happening at school–a test, a very severe trial with a friend at school. For adults it might be something like a new job assignment, being fired from a job, or having a public speaking opportunity. They say there are two things we fear in life, and that is death and that is public speaking. Some say public speaking is worse. But think back of what fears you have or have been through in your life as an adult or as a young person. I mean, all humans experience fear from time to time, and I think some adults experience fear a lot in their lives. They live in fear. They have phobias. They have awesome mental, emotional struggles of one kind or the other. I can’t have you give us your story about when you were most fearful in your life, but I think we’d be very interested to hear that story.

As a youth, you know, we often were frightened by the dark, weren’t we? Anyone among us as a youth not frightened by the dark? Oh, there might be one or two; but I think you’re probably not telling the truth. I mean, I certainly was. I grew up on a farm. I remember that lonely farm of ours, way out in this desert area; and I heard coyotes at night. I mean, you’d have the window open for air during the summer; and you’d hear these coyotes go, “Woo woo woo woo woo.” Then there’d be a lightning storm, and you could see the shadows in the barn and the trees out there; and I was just sure the “boogeyman” was outside my window, just peering in. Every time I rolled over away from the window, I knew he was staring in at me. And a few nights I got so afraid, I ran screaming out of my bedroom, down the hall, and jumped in my parents’ bed. Anybody else have that experience? Am I the only one? Come on. Help me out here.

No, I think as kids we really do have a lot of fears. Just growing up we can be quite fearful of various things going on. I remember one time feeding horses my Dad owned. Behind our house we had four or five acres of pasture. I don’t know what I was doing that day, but I got home really late; and I always had to feed the horses every night. It didn’t matter the weather. You had to feed them, or I did; and I was so afraid. I was maybe eleven or twelve, thirteen years old; and I was so afraid of going outside. We had no lights out there, way out there at the end of the pasture. And so, I walked out there, thinking, “Oh, ghastly, I’ve got to feed these horses.” There were about twenty horses out there, so, you know, I almost bumped into these things going through the pasture. I’d feel hot breath. “Ah, that’s a horse.” I finally got to the corral, quickly opened up my knife and cut the string on the bales and took out the hay. I had a pitch fork, and I was just thinking, “Oh, yeah, there’s about a dozen ‘boogeymen’ in this straw stack or hay stack; and they’re about to get me.” So I was just throwing that hay out there as fast as I could. What really bothered me, though, were those houses in the distance across the creek. It was a bad section of town. A small town, but I said, “That’s a bad section of town. I’m sure there are some people in this area.”

Well, I fed the horses. I started to walk away from the horses; and they stayed there, of course, wanting to feed. Then I heard something behind me. “Crack, crack, crack.” Then I walked a little bit more and, “Crack, crack, crack.” I heard something behind me; and I said, “Oh no, there’s somebody behind me following me home.” I started to speed up my stride. I heard noises behind me. I didn’t have the courage to look behind me. I mean, I couldn’t see anything anyway. Pitch black. I heard some more noises, and I just tore out as fast as I could run. I ran all the way to the house, never having looked back. To this day, I don’t know what it was. I think it was up here. I don’t think it was a dog. I don’t think it was a horse. I don’t think it was a human being; but it was in my mind, my imagination.

So all of you have been fearful of something at one time or the other. I mean, to be human means you’re going to have fears. Well, brethren, did you know, though, that God’s people can become spiritually afraid in their lives; and they can let fear dominate them as a daughter or a son of God? Fear can paralyze God’s people. I have been so afraid a few times in my life that I actually froze, paralyzed in fear. I could not move. I didn’t want to move. Have you ever been that afraid? Probably have. As God’s people, sometimes we get so spiritually afraid, we freeze. We can’t function spiritually because we are afraid of things.

Now, it doesn’t mean we’re kids, and we’re not talking here about being afraid of the dark or being afraid of heights or being afraid of broccoli. We’re talking about spiritual fear. What do I mean, spiritual fear? What is that? Let’s talk about, what do you fear and why and overcoming fear, in the sermon today.

Sometimes, brethren, we’re afraid of overcoming. We’re afraid of confronting something in our lives, spiritually. We’re afraid, perhaps, of getting involved with people. I’ve heard the story for years. People say, “You know, I get along with people in the Church because I don’t get involved with people in the Church,” in the sense of deepening relationships. But that’s not how we really should confront relationship problems, is it? So that kind of person can fear getting involved in the sense of friendships, developing relationships within the Church. Some wife may be afraid of her husband because of emotional abuse. A husband or a wife, a man or a woman, might be afraid of the boss, being fired, because of something they haven’t done or because of keeping the Sabbath day. Youth may be afraid of a coach at school.

Now, I was desperately afraid of one coach. This basketball coach. Man, he just told me how high to jump, and I jumped! But he was always yelling out my last name, “Nutzman! You can’t do it right. You’re never going to amount to anything on this team!” And he was right. I never did. I mean, I was afraid of that man. He was the principal of the school. Man, he really…he had kind of the GI Joe kind of bark.

Some of you growing up, as I did, feared a school bully. Anybody fear a school bully? Every school has them. Sometimes you’d walk way out of your way. Knowing that bully was on that corner, you’d walk six extra blocks to get home so you didn’t have to confront him. I had that happen a few times. But I want to talk about fear today–why do you fear, what do you fear, and overcoming it.

Let’s start with one of the last scriptures in the Bible. It’s in Revelation, chapter 21 and verse 7.

This verse is about fear. Believe it or not, brethren, God says something about fear in the last pages of the Bible, something very important for us. But this is an encouraging sermon, I hope, because we can overcome our fears. Just like you overcame a fear of the dark and you overcame, perhaps, that school bully, you overcame other fears in your life. God is saying, “I want you to be an overcomer.” Notice in verse 7 of Revelation 21:

Revelation 21:7 Revelation 21:7He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
American King James Version×
— He who overcomes shall inherit all things…how encouraging, how marvelous, how absolutely mind boggling that is, but it says that he that overcomes will inherit the Kingdom, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

It’s interesting to me that verse 8 follows verse 7, and what does verse 8 talk about, specifically? Let’s link the two verses together. Overcoming what? I think God has a message here in verse 8 about things, brethren, of what we need to overcome. The very first thing that God says in verse 8 is the “fearful.” The fearful, brethren, do not overcome that in their lives. They remain fearful saints of God. Then it says “unbelieving,” and I’ll talk about that a little bit later in the sermon. But I want to talk about the fearful in the Church of God. What kind of fears is God saying you have to grapple with and overcome? Let’s talk about that today.

You know, brethren, we have God on our side. Better put, we’re on God’s side. I want to talk about that today. We’re not talking here about the fear of heights or the fear of the dark and we’re not talking here, if you’re young, the fear of girls or the fear of boys or the fear of dancing. I mean, a lot of us were fearful of dancing and the opposite sex, growing up. We’re talking here about spiritual fears.

First of all, brethren, fear is an enemy of faith. Fear is a huge enemy of faith. They are not compatible. They don’t get along. One or the other wins out. This is what God is speaking about, in part, in verse 8 of Revelation 21. Fear is an enemy of faith. You can’t go forward in overcoming because you don’t believe God can or will work in you. We have fear, and that sure hurts our faith. So this is why fear is such an enemy of faith. Fear hurts our relationship with God. Fear hurts our relationship with God. And we have more respect for that particular fear in our life than we do for God. We have more respect for that fear, than we do have respect for God. We let that fear, brethren, become, in fact, an idol to us. We grapple with it, but we don’t overcome it. We live with it. In fact, we can live with those fears for decades. And, yes, we can die in fear, too. So your fear, my fear, is greater at some times than our love for God, because we have put that fear before God. We obey that fear. We succumb to that fear. Instead of overcoming with God’s help and moving on, we let that fear overcome us. So that fear actually becomes an idol between us and God. Anything, brethren, that comes between you and God is, what? An idol. Now, I know, usually we don’t think of fear in these terms; but I’m just explaining it in a biblical sense.

How many have you heard over the years say, “You know, I was so depressed, I stopped attending church for a while.” Is depression a fear? It sure is. So what does stopping attending church really do for us? It makes us more depressed. So we don’t really deal with the depression. We deal with the effect of it. And it’s really a fear.

There can be a lot of fears in our life. Again, fear of relationships within the Church, of healing relationships, healing marital drifts and spats and problems, in that sense. There can be relationship problems between parents and their children. We fear those things, and then we let those things hurt our relationship with God and relationship with people. The fear of man brings grief, broken lives, and is a snare and a trap for us.

Now, I shouldn’t have been afraid of the dark, feeding those horses. Some of you are saying, “Oh, you should not have had a problem as an eleven or twelve year old. That’s old enough.” Yes, you’re right. I let the fear get the best of me. It overcame my rational mind. I probably ran from nothing, but it was the lights of the house, the warmth of the house, the smell of the house that brought me back to reality. Did I ever have to face feeding those horses again at night? I sure did. You know, the pay was so good–fifty cents a week–I couldn’t pass it up. But I had to face my fears. I had to go out there and do it again and again and again. Then I began to realize, “Look, the fear was far worse than the reality.” And that’s the way it is, brethren, as adults. We sometimes fear nothing but the chance for us to grow, the chance for us to face something and make some strides. God says in Revelation 21, the fearful…and if we let the fears overcome us and stop our growth, God says you won’t be in the Kingdom. He says this is the second death.

How utterly sad. Instead of letting God control us, we let fear control us. See, God, brethren, should control us in our lives. That’s good control. God’s Spirit should control us; but often, we let fear and other things come in there and, therefore, God is hindered in His ability to direct us, inspire us and guide us.

What’s the source of some of your fears? I’m asking you today, brethren, to think about some of your spiritual fears. Again, I’m not dealing with the fear of heights, because I have that, too. But, see, I just don’t get on high buildings. That’s how I deal with it. When I clean my gutters on the roof, from time to time, for ten minutes, that’s it. I overcome it, I get off, and then, that’s it. Now, we’re talking about things that we have to deal with. Is it insecurity? Are you a very insecure person? Do you fear that? Do you fear people and relationships? Do you fear job related issues, and why? Does someone threaten you at work? Do they kind of, basically, try to control you, manipulate you? Well, what about pride or vanity? Actually, pride and vanity can control us. Or unbelief in God and God helping us and inspiring us.

Let’s turn over to Proverbs, chapter 29 and verse 25. Talking here about the subject of fear and overcoming.

Proverbs 29:25 Proverbs 29:25The fear of man brings a snare: but whoever puts his trust in the LORD shall be safe.
American King James Version×
— The fear of man brings a snare…Isn’t that so true? It’s just absolutely true, what God states here. The fear of man brings a snare, it captivates us, it captures us, it eliminates the ability to really live God’s way more fully and joyfully. It goes on to say, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.

Brethren, do we really put our trust in God for these fears that we have? God says you’ll be safe, but if you fear man, if you fear people, if you fear situations in your life and let them control you, it is a snare. It takes joy out of your life. Now, I have fears in my life. I’m not going to tell you what they are. One is speaking at the Feast of Tabernacles. Someone asked before the Feast, “Do ministers ever get nervous speaking at the Feast?” I said, “I do. I know that.” Do I get nervous locally? No, I don’t. But it’s a different venue. It’s a different situation. We feel the right kind of pressure, brethren, to really serve God and honor His people at the Feast. You know how ready you are for the Feast, and you want strong meat in due season. God commands His ministers to have it ready to serve out. That’s a little pressure. I don’t fear, in the sense of public speaking, as much as I fear not serving God’s people with a good message. And most ministers know, after you leave the sermon and the stage, “Was that a decent sermon? Did that help? Did that serve God’s people? Did that honor God?” You basically know when you leave. Frankly, you know that as you give the sermon. And that’s some pressure. I don’t know if it’s called fear, but in a sense you could say, a fear of not doing a good job and serving God and his people. I guess you fear letting them down, letting God’s people down. I guess you could say it that way.

So, we all have fears. We all have things that we wish we could do better, have more joy in our lives, not worry about something. Well, we’re talking about that today. Don’t let the fear of man ensnare us.

How many marriages are ensnared by the fear of a mate? In the world, brethren, it’s very common. If you know anything about marriages today, almost one in two end in divorce. There’s a lot of fear in marriage. Some parents are very fearful parents. I wouldn’t want to be with them. I wouldn’t want to spend ten minutes with some of those parents, you know, that we read about. No, it’s the fear of man that ensnares us. God, brethren, does not ensnare us with fear. That’s from ourselves and that’s from Satan and that’s from people.

Let me tell you a story based on scripture. Back in Genesis 26. Let’s go back to the time of Isaac, one of the patriarchs of old. Genesis 26 and verse 11. Here’s a story about a man, brethren, who could have feared some things in his life and who faced the trials square on. He overcame what could have been terrible fear in him. He could have been paralyzed by these people. This is Isaac in Genesis 26 and verse 11.

Genesis 26:11-12 Genesis 26:11-12 [11] And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death. [12] Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundred times: and the LORD blessed him.
American King James Version×
— So Abimelech charged all his people, saying, “He who touches this man,” referring to Isaac, “or his wife shall surely be put to death.” Then Isaac, in verse 12, sowed in that land, and received in the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him. Well, God really blessed him. I mean, his crops were just growing and prospering.

Verses 13-15 — And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: for he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. For all the wells which his father’s servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth.

Of course, today we wouldn’t understand the value of a well as much as they would have. This obviously watered their flocks. Their flocks were their bank account. This is what they survived on; and if you didn’t have water for the flocks, you weren’t prospering. So water in this semi-arid area was very, very important. Your enemies filled in your wells. You could have feared your enemies, and the Philistines greatly envied Isaac and God’s blessing him.

Verses 16-17 — And Abimelech said unto Isaac, “Go from us; for you are much mightier than we.” So Isaac had to move. He had to literally pull up the tent stakes and move on. And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. You know, that could have been a fearful event, leaving this protector, Abimelech. Now he’s in a new area.

Verses 18-20 — And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them. And Isaac’s servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water. And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac’s herdmen, saying, “The water is ours.” And he called the name of the well Esek, because they strove with him.

This reminds me of the water wars out west. There was a report on the news recently that, again, California, with all of the demands of water there, is trying to get more water from the Colorado River, which supplies a lot of their water. Of course, people in Arizona and Las Vegas and other areas do want that same water, so there are water wars, in the west, especially. And Isaac was no different. He was having people very envious of his water and God’s blessing.

Now, in verses 21-22, And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah. And he removed from there, because, again, the strife, and digged another well; and for that they strove not…and so, it went well with him. God blessed him.

It’s very interesting here that Isaac could have been fearful of his enemies and fearful of his herds dying, for lack of water. He says, “Look, if God says he’s closing a door on me right here with Abimelech, I’ll move on.” And then the Philistines filled in that well that they had dug. He says, “Well, God will be with me. There’s more territory out here. What’s the big deal?” He didn’t fear. He went on and dug another well. That one was covered up; he went and dug another one. I think it’s an interesting story.

Brethren, when somebody tries to fill in your well, what do you do? How do you and I behave and act? Do we react, or do we act. Because there are people that are trying to fill in your well. It might be someone at work, it could be someone in the church. Someone’s always trying to fill in your well, aren’t they? Rain on your parade, make your life a mess, give you a hard time. So who do you fear out there who’s trying to fill in your well? The answer is, don’t fear anyone. That’s the answer. Don’t fear man. Don’t fear man; fear God. Fear God, and you won’t fear man. That’s my sermon today. If you fear God, you don’t have to fear man. That’s the subject of the sermon today.

But, brethren, when we say, “Oh, I actually fear this person or this issue or this trial more than I fear God,” that’s when we really run amuck. That’s when, in fact, we become a snare to our own fear. So when we fear God, brethren, when we put God in focus, our fears begin to fade away. In fact, they become quite often nothing. Nothing happens from our fears. They disappear. God takes care of them.

Please turn with me to the book of Psalms, chapter 5, and verse 7. This is a really interesting verse. It pertains to God’s Sabbath services, God’s festival days, commanded assemblies. So, Psalm, chapter 5 and verse 7, a psalm of David:

Psalms 5:7 Psalms 5:7But as for me, I will come into your house in the multitude of your mercy: and in your fear will I worship toward your holy temple.
American King James Version×
— But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy: and in Your fear will I worship toward Your holy temple.

Brethren, when we assemble before God on His Sabbath and His feast days, we are assembling before the Almighty God of heaven. And David said, “I worship You, Father, and I fear You. I am here to honor You. I am here to fear You and revere Your name.” That’s what a Sabbath service is. The songs, the hymns, are to honor God, aren’t they? Now, I rarely make good sounds when I sing. Any of you who listen to me singing say amen to that. God doesn’t enjoy listening to my off-key notes, in that sense. But, brethren, I try to honor Him with my heart. I mean, that’s what it’s about. Honor Him with your heart, your life. And God says, when we assemble before Him, we’re here to honor Him. Not to hear the latest gossip about somebody, not here to hear some doctrinal disagreement, the latest whatever it might be. But we’re here to honor God, first and foremost. And, then, you know, at Sabbath services, brethren, God throws something else in. It’s called fellowship.

That’s a wonderful extra blessing. But that’s really not why we’re here. Number one is to honor God and revere Him. Fellowship is extra, because God says, “I know you need it. I know you need to cling to each other, pray for each other, work with each other, laugh with each other, and, yes, cry with each other. I know you need that human contact, and My Spirit in you people will make you really fellowship in a special way.” It’s called fellowship in the spirit. Paul writes about that in the New Testament. Fellowship in the spirit. Brethren, the real reason that we’re here is to honor God. That’s what David said. David didn’t say, “Well, I’m here to fellowship.” No. He says, “I’m here to revere God and fear Him, honor Him.” So the other blessings, socials, pot lucks, other things are added in, fellowship certainly; but that {to honor God} is why we’re really here each and every Sabbath day.

James 4 and verse 7, I think, is a very important verse. Let’s link that in as well. Excuse me, verse 17. Verse 7 is very good, I noticed as I read that. It would fit in. But verse 17 is what I would like us to zero in on. James 4, verse 17. Here’s what James writes:

James 4:17 James 4:17Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.
American King James Version×
— Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.

Let’s talk about that. What does that mean? Well, brethren, if you fear something so much and you don’t do something that’s good, that could be wrong. That’s an interesting point. You say, “Oh, I don’t want to do that. I’m not that person. I don’t do that thing.” And we don’t do it and it’s a good thing…and I’m talking here about a good principle, a good service, and you don’t do it because of fear, that’s not right. That’s not right.

Fear, brethren, can absolutely paralyze a Christian. I can think of people I’ve known and my wife has known over the years–talking about physical fears–they’re fearful of getting out of their house. They don’t mix socially. I’ve known people like that, and if that mental illness–I think it is a mental illness–continues to grow, they don’t leave their house for years! That’s a real phobia. They’ve got all these names for these phobias. And you think, that person could overcome that to, at least, a degree, if not quite completely, if they really had help. So we, as God’s people, brethren, God doesn’t want us to sit in our homes, paralyzed by spiritual fear. He says, “Look. Fear Me! The rest is easy. You cling to Me. Let Me be the number one person in your life, and not these fears; and I’ll go to work for you.” When we put the fear of people or the fear of an issue or fear of a situation before God, we really ensnare ourselves.

A key verse I’ve been referring to is over in Matthew, chapter 10, and verse 28. Here is what Jesus said Himself on this subject, about fear. What kind of fear does a Christian want to have and what kind of fear does a Christian not want to have? Jesus addresses this issue in Matthew, chapter 10, and verse 28. Here’s what Christ said:

Matthew 10:28 Matthew 10:28And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
American King James Version×
— And fear not them which kill the body…now, let’s just talk about that before we move on. Sometimes we just read a scripture and then move on. Let’s analyze it. Christ said, “Do not fear them which can kill you.” Wow! Now, He is talking here very literally. Don’t worry about those who can take your life. That’s only physical. I’m not there yet. I’ll be the first to admit it. I would have fear if someone is about to kill me. I sure would. I’d do what I did many years ago, and that’s to get on my little high horse and run. But Christ is letting the challenge out to His people, saying, “Look. They can only take your life. They can only take your physical life. I’m your Maker. I’m your Creator. I’m your Savior. Hear Me, because,” He says in verse 28, and let’s finish the thought…but are not able to kill the soul, in other words, destroy you forever, but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in gehenna, or hell.

That’s what Jesus Christ says, brethren. Then He says in verses 29-31, Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear you not therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows.

You know, I could say right now, “Hello.” I mean, that is amazing, and it’s sure a struggle, though, brethren, to get there, isn’t it? Because I sure sometimes fear things in my life, and it’s just wrong. I shouldn’t do that. Christ says, “Look. I take care of you. I know even how many hairs you have on your head,” and that changes daily, if not hourly. Every time you comb your hear, it changes. He says, “I care for you. I know what you’re doing. I know where you are. I know you need a good Feast. I know you need a good Sabbath. I know you need healing. I know you’re hurting. I know you’re discouraged. Would you just talk to Me about it, instead of running away from those horses, because you’ve got to get a grip,” God says. You’ve got to just kind of take yourself sometimes by your lapels and say, “Look, stop letting fear grip your life, and don’t do that. Fear Me. Honor Me. Revere Me. I can change everything in your life; but if you’re running from Me, you’re pretty well hurting both.”

So, brethren, again, I’m saying this: if we revere God, we don’t need to be afraid. We don’t need to be afraid. Conversely, if we don’t revere God as much as we should, then we will have fears in our lives, things that we just simply can’t cope with because we don’t have God enough. Don’t revere man. Don’t revere a mate. Revere God. Don’t fear people. Revere and fear God. You see, that way people aren’t controlling you. There are people that love to control people, but we are not controlled by them. We are controlled and directed by God in heaven, letting Him and the reverence that we have of His Spirit in us, revere God and submit to Him.

A proper fear of God drives fear out of our lives. A proper fear of God drives fear out of our lives. God says that would happen. So are we so in awe of God, brethren, that we fear no man, no person, no mate, no situation in life? I can’t say that, but I’m striving for that. I want to be there. Because if you are not intimidated, overcome and paralyzed by events and people because you love God so much and, in fact, you love that person so much, you’re not going to be manipulated. You’re overcoming, you’re doing, you’re accomplishing. And you’re doing what you need to be doing.

Well, let me mention two simple points today. How can you overcome fear, and how can I overcome fear in our lives?

 

I. Do not live your life without God being first in your life.

That’s really what I’ve been saying the last half hour. It’s having the fear of God in us, of reverence or love of or respect and dedication to Number One, to God. Then those fears, humanly, begin to fall one after the other.

You know, the interesting thing about fear, as I mentioned earlier, fear will become first in our life, if allowed. I mean, it is jealous. It multiplies. It wants to control. Fear is that way. So we don’t want to make fear an idol to be worshiped in our lives. Either God wins in our life or we allow fear to.

Let me tell you a true story. Many years ago when our three children were very young, we had been to some brethren’s home late Sunday night. I noticed the gas gauge was well below a quarter of a tank, and this is Sunday night. This is in a rural area in the Midwest; and I thought, you know, I can make it up to the Interstate. I know that there’ll be a service station open, as there always is on Sunday nights along the Interstate exit. So I was heading up there, and that gas gauge just basically, brethren, dropped. I don’t know why, but it dropped. Pretty soon, that engine stopped; and I thought, “Steve, what have you done?” We coasted to a farm house, to the lane. I said, “Well, I see a light on in the farmhouse. God’s really taking care of us,” because we could have been stopped a mile or two from anywhere. So I went down the lane and knocked on the door, and I saw a shadowy figure through the curtains in the living room. This is what I said, something like, “Hello. I’ve run out of gas with my family out here. May I call triple A or the police,” or whatever I said, “or, in fact, borrow your gas in the back.” You know, in rural homes, farmers have their own gasoline tanks in the back, and I noticed one. So I repeated my message, “Hello. We’re out of gas. May I use your phone,” and I saw the light go off. The one light in the house, in the living room, went off; and then I think I saw shadows moving upstairs. There was enough light from the barnyard light. I said, “Oh, I’ve scared her.” I think it was a woman. “I’ve just scared her.” And so I went outside the house, off the porch, and I yelled upstairs the same message. Nothing. And I thought, “Oh, I’ve scared the poor lady.” So I went back to the car, and here are the kids in the back. They’re very young, and my wife’s there. I said, “Now, what do we do?”

I was really just put out with myself. Here I am, the head of the home, supposed to get us home safely, and I let us go out of gas out here, Sunday night, dark, no one’s around. And I said, “Here we are. What are we going to do. What are we supposed to do now?” Just kind of like that. And Melania says, “Well, we could pray, couldn’t we?” And I thought, “Boy, what a novel idea! I blew that again.” So we prayed for about one minute. “God help me, help us. Have mercy on us.” I talked about our kids in the back, “Amen.” Well, I got out of the car, went to the back of the car, and I saw four headlights in the back, just that fast. One minute prayer, went around the back of the car; and zip, around the turn were two sets of headlights. Do you know who they were? Two Illinois state troopers. “Wow! Do angels wear badges,” I thought, “and firearms?” But I could have kissed that trooper. And he says, “What’s happening?” I said, “I’ve run out of gas, scared the poor lady in the house.” He says, “Ah, get in.” He told the other officer, “You go on ahead. I’ll take this fellow up there to the Interstate,” and that was the end of the story. He got gas and came back and that was it.

God answers, but I feared. “Uh oh! We’ve run out of gas. What are we going to do now? Walk five miles to the exit?” God takes care. That’s a true story. Ask my kids. Ask my wife. And I did say, “Oh, I don’t know what to do now.” She says, “Well, we could pray, you know.” I did say that. So I’ve told that story many times over the years, but it’s an inspiring story for us because it happened. We were there. God answers. We don’t have to fear man. God takes care.

So that’s what I want to get across in this first point. Do not live your life without God being first in your life.

Notice in Revelation 21 and verse 8. Let’s go back to where we began. Revelation 21 and verse 8. We read as far as, “but the fearful…” And it does say here, “shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” But we have not read the second phrase. Who else is not in the Kingdom of God? Those who allow fears to grip them and paralyze them and dominate them in life. Yeah. Yeah, that’s a sad thing. God doesn’t want that. In fact, brethren, the word “fearful” here means “coward.” It means “coward.” Spiritual cowards. God says, “I don’t make spiritual cowards. I make heroes. I give courage to cowards, and they are no longer fearing people.”

He also says, “unbelieving.” What does that mean? Well, let’s look at that. Unbelieving, brethren, is, “I don’t allow God in my life, to take charge. I don’t pray about these things. I don’t expect Him to deal with me in this area. I’m out of gas in Illinois, Sunday night. I’ll walk five miles.” No. There’s no need to do that. Pray about it. God sent two state troopers. You talk about help! My! One would have been fine! You talk about protection. Ooh! I’m in an Illinois state cruiser. This is fun. I saw the radios and the gadgets. All right! And I did think, “Does God send angels with badges?” I’ll have to ask God some day about that.

But, you know, you’ve had many miracles in your life. Brethren, putting fear out, letting God work, is the key. So unbelieving means, “Oh, I don’t ask God for this. I don’t want to bother Him.” Well, that’s an unbelieving attitude. God DOES want to help. He does care. Let’s do that. Let’s put God in our lives, number one. So, not living a life of disbelief that God can help us. Belief becomes more powerful in your life than fear. Belief pushes fear out. “I believe God. I believe in Him. I believe He will act. I trust Him.”

Let’s turn over to Proverbs, chapter 14, verse 26. So I think “fearful” with “unbelief” are linked together when we don’t have a believing spirit in God for Him to take fear out of us and to accomplish good things and miracles in our lives.

Proverbs 14:26 Proverbs 14:26In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.
American King James Version×
— Notice here. In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.

So where do we run, brethren, when we have a fear? To God. We have confidence in God. We have a place of refuge. Years ago in the Church, one of the burning issues was, where’s the place of refuge? And, you know, it’s God. Here’s the answer. Isn’t that amazing? We were concerned about a physical place of refuge. Well, just where is that place? All the time, God was telling us, “Look in the scriptures. I’m your place of refuge. It doesn’t matter where the physical place is. I’m the one you need to depend on.” So I think we’re growing in that. We’re growing in about how to put God first. It says, In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence, but if we put a fear of man in our lives and a fear of an issue or a fear of a health problem or whatever it might be, that doesn’t give us confidence. Fear God. Look to Him. Revere Him. That gives us confidence in the Creator of the universe.

Let’s please go back to Judges, chapter 7. Again, I’m talking about this point of how to overcome fear; and that is, make sure we live our lives with God first in our lives. But Judges, chapter 7, this is what God orchestrated with Gideon. Judges 7 and verse 1. Gideon also had another name: Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, it says in Judges, chapter 7, verse 1:

Judges 7:1-2 Judges 7:1-2 [1] Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. [2] And the LORD said to Gideon, The people that are with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, My own hand has saved me.
American King James Version×
— Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. Now, the Midianites, of course, were enemies to the nation of Israel. And the Lord said unto Gideon, “The people that are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’” Now, God, of course, perfectly understands human nature. Well, how many did they have? Verse 3 says that.

Verse 3 — “Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying…” Now, remember, this is Gideon telling the soldiers God’s plan. “‘Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead.’” And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.

Now, brethren, in armies, you generally don’t do that. You don’t say, “OK, who’s scared today?

OK, you can leave town early. Get home, have a nice life. Right on.” You don’t do that in armies too often. So this is God orchestrating all this. Yeah, there are a lot of fearful men. Who can blame them, in that sense. Twenty-two thousand said, “Let’s get out of here. The general says to leave if we’re afraid, and we’re afraid.”

Verse 4 — So now they had ten thousand. And the Lord said unto Gideon, “The people are yet too many…” I wonder what Gideon was thinking at this point. Ten thousand are too many? “…bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for you there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto you, ‘This shall go with you,’ the same shall go with you; and of whomsoever I say unto you, ‘This shall not go with you,’ the same shall not go.”

Verse 5 — So he brought down the people unto the water, and God had a system here, really dividing them into a very small group. And the Lord said unto Gideon, “Every one that laps of the water with his tongue, as a dog…,” in other words, laps the water up so you can watch the horizon, you know. He says those are your people. But He says when they get on their hands and knees and just put the old face in the water, you tell them, “We can’t use you.”

Verses 6-8 — And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. That’s the normal way of doing it; and God, of course, knew that. So it pared down to three hundred. And the Lord said unto Gideon, “By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.” All the others left. So the people took food in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley.

You know the story. There were some other incidents, but they won. They won the battle with 300 men. Three hundred men. They started with 32,000. God said, “If you win with this, if I cause you to win, you’ll take the credit. I want you, brethren, to put Me first. If I’m not in your life, you’re not going to go anywhere.” These men and Gideon needed to learn that lesson. God wanted them to learn that lesson.

Notice in chapter 8 and verse 10, chapter 8 of Judges and verse 10, it mentions some folks, Zeba and others, and their armies with them, about fifteen thousand, all who were left of all the army of the people of the East, referring to the Midianites; for there fell one hundred and twenty thousand men who drew the sword. Now, this is an absolute miracle, showing God’s people for all time, “Put Me first, and I’ll work out the details.” We just have to understand how important that is.

 

II. The second thing, brethren, of how to overcome fear is, ask God for more love.

Doesn’t that sound all too simple to be valid? But it isn’t. Ask God for more love. Notice in II Timothy 1, verse 6. Let’s see what God says about His love in His people, what does that accomplish? Paul writes here to Timothy:

II Tim. 1:6 — Wherefore I put you in remembrance, I want you to remember, Timothy, what happened when you were given God’s Spirit, that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands.

Now, verse 7 — For God has not given you, Timothy, the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

The Greek word here for “fear” comes from a Greek word meaning “fright.” God, brethren, has not given us the spirit of fright. This spirit, brethren, is never given to us by God, a spirit of fear. The word denotes “cowardice” and “timidity,” and it’s never used in a good sense. God says, “I have nothing to do with that. I’d never give that to My people. That is alien to Me, and I want it to be alien to you. I don’t want you to fear. I don’t want you to be a coward. I don’t want you to have fright night, panic attacks, worried about things tomorrow morning, worried about next year.” He says, “I don’t want that for you.” So, brethren, what kind of spirit has God given to His children? The spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. So am I right in saying, ask God for more love, and that will eliminate fear? Absolutely!

We could also say, ask for more of God’s Spirit, because it eliminates fear. It drives it out. Perfect love casts out fear. So we have to understand, if I fear something, there’s something wrong here. It’s not God at work. I need to ask God for help. I need His Spirit. I need direction from Him. It could be a background problem. It could be our parents. It could be our nature, our human nature, our environment; but it’s not God causing that fear, you know. I know some folks who have said they almost drowned as youngsters, and they fear water the rest of their lives. Well, I can understand that. I never had that experience, but I could understand that could make one fearful. But we’re simply talking here about spiritual fears.

Brethren, maybe we need to get a little indignant with ourselves and say, “How dare I let this person discourage me like this and stop me from living the faith of God, the truth of God. How dare I let this boss, this husband, this wife, this person or this issue control me. I need to stir up God’s Spirit as Timothy was told to by Paul and remember what kind of spirit God’s Spirit in me is, and that is power and love and a sound mind.” Again, maybe we need to get a little indignant, in a positive way, with ourselves when we’re beginning to be gripped by fear in our lives.

So what do you fear right now, brethren, spiritually? Let’s turn over to Romans 8 and basically list here, as Paul does for us, what not to fear. He has a very long fear-not list in Romans, chapter 8, starting in verse 38. Paul writes here:

Romans 8:38-39 Romans 8:38-39 [38] For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, [39] Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
American King James Version×
— For I am persuaded, for I am persuaded…now, this is a challenge, and I admire Paul for truly being there spiritually; and I’m not, because I still have fear in my life from time to time. But Paul was persuaded of these things. He knew. He says that neither death, nor life…now, have you really thought about what he’s saying here? We often say, and rightly so, death can be a real struggle. But he also says, brethren, life can be a struggle here. Isn’t that interesting? We can understand the death part. What about life? That’s pretty amazing. He’s saying life can be hard and {be filled with} a lot of fears, but he says, “Look. I’m persuaded that even life will not separate me from God,” because…I’m jumping ahead to verse 38. Well, let’s go back to verse, excuse me, verse 39. Let’s go back to verse 38. I am persuaded that not even death and certainly not life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, like right now, what’s bothering us today, nor things in the future, nor height, in other words, trials that are huge, nor depth, perhaps depression, discouragement, the depths of those things, nor any other creature, whatever it might be, whoever it might be, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

That is powerful stuff. That’s hard, it truly is. Death, life, and all these factors. But he says, “I’m persuaded that none of these things will separate me, can separate me from the love of God.” If God’s love is that powerful in a Christian, you don’t fear life, you don’t fear death, you don’t fear any of those things that Paul is mentioning here.

Now, let’s drop up to verse 31. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? That’s the summary. Who is going to take God on and win? A boss? A mate? Someone in the Church? Someone outside the Church? Fear of public speaking? Whatever. You put it in there. Who’s going to separate us, brethren, from God? Put your biggest fear in there. What is it? Go home and list them, and just say, “OK, what fear is going to separate God’s love and me?” Well, he’s saying in verse 31, “What can we say? If God’s for us, then who can be against us? What’s the problem?”

Verse 32 — He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Jesus Christ has died for us, for the world. Nothing, nothing, brethren, is more important than that. Nothing stands in our way of letting God work with us.

Verse 33 — Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies. Who’s going to say you can’t be justified? Who’s going to say there are sins in your past that God won’t forgive? No sin can be too great for God to forgive, as we repent.

Verse 34 — Who is he that condemns? Who is he, brethren, that condemns you in your life? Who is it? Paul asks that question. It is Christ that died, yes rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. “Don’t forget the High Priest,” Paul is saying, “the Son of God.” So, who is condemning you? Then ask God for help, with the merciful office of Jesus Christ.

Verse 35 — Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Well, what would that be, brethren? Put your trials in there. He says, shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Of course, the answer is, nothing. Paul said, “I’m persuaded nothing, no fear, no person is going to separate me from God and His love for me.”

So it’s a very deep, personal thing, this second point of increasing God’s love in us. You fear God. You know He will take wonderful care of you. He is the one who controls your life. Not anyone else. You don’t have to be intimidated by life.

You know, John Wayne once said, “Courage is being scared to death, and yet saddling up anyway.” And God’s people saddle up the horse because the fear is gone. We saddle them up because the fear is gone, because God is in us. We fear God. He takes charge. We let Him do that.

Well, let’s conclude in I John, chapter 4, verse 18. I’ll read out of the New King James Version. It says:

I John 4:18 John 4:18For you have had five husbands; and he whom you now have is not your husband: in that said you truly.
American King James Version×
— There is no fear in love…absorb that, brethren, because it’s true. There is no fear in love, because perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. He who fears has not been made perfect in love.

Now we understand my second point, because perfect love casts out fear. And He says, “He who fears has not been made perfect in love,” and that’s me. That’s where I am. It’s a process. It’s called life in the Church of God, in the faith of God, with God’s powerful help. You say, “Why in the past did I fear that person or that issue so much?” Well, that’s where we were. I fled from horses, shadows, sounds. I shouldn’t have. I’ve done that even spiritually. You probably have, too, and you looked in past action and reacted that way. There was nothing there. Or if there was something there, I should have gone to God earlier, more direct, more faithfully. God says, “There’s nothing that you have to fear if you fear Me. If you revere Me and respect Me and put Me first in your life, and what that implies,” He says, “you won’t have fear, because fear torments. You don’t have to have that torment.”

God’s elect, brethren, in the final analysis, should not be afraid. We should live our lives each day in the fear of God, but not in the fear of man. We can and should be overcomers of those fears that shackle us and cause us great emotional and mental hurt. So what is it that you fear? Well, just ask God to make it right, make it whole. God says that His Spirit has given us the Spirit of power and love and a sound mind. But one thing God says we never have in our lives is the spirit of fear if we have the Spirit of God in our lives.

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