How Do I Overcome Fear?
Thanksgiving baskets - wonderful opportunity
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua was undertaking a HUGE task - he was taking over for Moses - the man who had delivered the Hebrew children from slavery, split the Red Sea, brought water out of a rock, gone up a mountain and met God face to face and on and on.
And now he was being charged with bringing God’s children into the land that he had promised them - but there was only one problem - that land was filled with hostile people, some of whom were giants.
Joshua (and the Hebrew children) had every right to be afraid.
But here is God telling Joshua “don’t be afraid - I’m going with you”. Just think what could have happened if Joshua had let his fears get in way.
And that’s the thing about fear - it is one of the devil’s greatest tools to keep us from receiving the fullness, the abundance of life that Jesus came to bring to us.
Set up about fear - it comes to consume
We focus on the fear - and being afraid. But the enemy has another agenda in it. He wants to consume and deter us.
In other words - its not just about the fear - its about what fear does AND CAN do to us.
We all know those people who seem fearless - they don’t appear to be afraid of anything. But even those people - deep down inside - have something that they fear. And whether they want to admit it or not that fear can just flat out mess them up.
So let’s talk a little bit first about the:
The Mission of Fear
The Mission of Fear
Want to use a story out of the Old Testament today to illustrate what fear can do - how the enemy uses fear to box us in and limit our blessings from God.
You see, many times its not about being AFRAID, but its about what fear brings out of us. Its those things that limit God’s ability to bless us and give us peace in our lives.
This scripture is not in your notes, but it starts us out:
The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites.
Set it up:
Lord given Israel over for 7 years
Midianites let them plant then come in and take everything.
So Gideon is down in this pit trying to scrape out something to eat.
Fear kept him in the winepress - not necessarily fear for his life - but fear for something to eat, fear that his work would be for nothing, fear that what he had would be taken away . . .
And look what happened:
When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”
Kind of a “smart aleck” answer to God. He did say “Pardon me” - but the meat of the answer was “hey if you’re so with us why am I having to eek out lunch in this hot, dusty, smelly winepress?
Which points out the first mission of fear:
What is your first reaction when something startles you? When you recover, you get angry.
Anger is one of the devil’s greatest tools for deterring us. And fear is one of the best ways he can bring us to anger.
If he can get you angry, he can get you to quit thinking rationally. He can get you to by-pass the wisdom that God is giving you.
If he can get you mad, he get you to destroy relationships.
If he can get you angry, he can get you alone - very alone - where he has you all to himself.
Could I suggest something to you today: many of the “angriest” people you know aren’t really angry (pause) - they’re really just full of fear.
Fear of not getting their way
Fear of being found out that they really aren’t all that they project themselves to be
Which brings my next scripture and point:
The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”
God saw something in Gideon that Gideon didn’t even realize he had.
The Midianites and their oppression - the fear they caused - brought on Gideon’s:
God saw it in Gideon, but his fear activated his insecurities and rendered him helpless.
God was about to use Gideon in a very big way - and bless him tremendously as a result - if he could just get him over his insecurities.
Tell about recent request to preach at Encounter.
Turned out to be a tremendous blessing - BECAUSE I was able to put aside my fear and insecurity and let God do His work in me.
Let’s go a little deeper in our story:
The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”
Think about that - complete freedom, bountiful harvests all to themselves . . . man, I’d like to think that I’d be running out to take advantage of that.
C’mon, let’s DO IT!!
THAT’s what I would like to think that I would do. But look what really happened:
Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.” And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.”
God, I’d love to just pile into your power, your blessings, your provision - ALL that you have for me, but I’m AFRAID that it might cause me to give up my:
The exhilaration is in the sense of absolute freedom.
Fear of hurt keeps us from experiencing it.
Fear vs Faith
Fear suppresses - Faith blesses
Fear and the things it brings on in us strips us from being able to experience the greatest blessings that God has for us - that’s the MISSION of fear.
So, we need to find a way to come to the place where we have:
Over and over again in his word, God tells us not to be afraid - He’s got this.
I’ve come to understand one thing - if God called you to it, He will get you through it.
If we are going to live life to its fullest - to the abundant level that Jesus said he came to give us, we MUST learn to deal with fear. We have to break off the limits that fear puts on us.
One of the greatest freedoms you will ever experience is breaking out of fear.
I want to give you an Acronym - an acronym is where the first letters of other words or points make up a word themselves.
S - P - O - T
When you spot fear, here’s what you need to do:
1. Stand your ground.
Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
When fear, when anger, when insecurity, when you’re about to lose control - don’t run, don’t hide, don’t just pull the covers over your head and try to shrink into nothingness.
What so much of the Old Testament is about - over and over again God’s chosen people are given triumph against unbelievable odds through the power of God
Are you facing a mountain in your life today
Are you chosen today - YES
Do you have the Lord of creation on your side today? - YES
Then STAND - He will fight for you, he will deliver you, he will bless you
Here’s the next one:
2. Pray for peace.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Identify the Situation
Make your Petition
Thanksgiving for him doing it - IN ADVANCE!!
3. Object to lies.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
4. Trust in God.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
It is time to fight because my future is on the other side of my fear.