Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Overcoming Fear - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Overcoming Fear - Part 1

Allen Jackson - Overcoming Fear - Part 1
TOPICS: God Is Moving, Fear

It's good to be with you again. I've just returned from Israel. I had an opportunity to be in the southern part of Israel really standing on the border of Gaza and to be in the villages where the terror attack took place. It's an important time to be praying for the peace of Jerusalem and understanding what's happening in the world. And we're gonna unpack that a bit in this lesson today. Get your Bible and a notepad, but, most importantly, open your heart to what God is doing.

We've been working through a study under the general title of "God is Moving". And I believe that; I believe God is moving in the earth in an unprecedented way, certainly in an unprecedented way in my lifetime. There is such abundant evidence of that. There are expressions of ungodliness and wickedness and evil that are unparalleled. Every time, when we come up with a new technological breakthrough that can improve the quality of our lives, we pervert it and use it for evil and destruction. What I would encourage you to do is stay more aware of the benefits that come than focusing on the wickedness that people choose from those things. God is moving in the earth.

In this session, I wanna talk a little bit about what's gonna be required of you and me. I feel like my assignment is to help the people of God that he's given me to serve, to do the best I know to help you be prepared to cooperate with what God is doing so that you can flourish in the middle of what God is about. So, in this session, I wanna talk about overcoming fear because, when God moves, change comes. And typically one of our first responses to change of any sort is, "It's frightening". No matter whether we say that or not, we respond that way. "Well, that's not how we do it". "Never seen that before". "That's not how me and my people are". Or whatever your response is. "Not sure that's a good thing". "Never seen that before".

All of those can be descriptions of what God is doing. So we have to know what to do with the anxiety, the fear, the reluctance to go forward, that temptation to hold on to the familiar, the comfortable, the habit, the routine. We have all kinds of excuses. Oh, we got a long list of those, and they are excuses for not going forward. It's not new. The Exodus generation, 400 years of Egyptian slavery, God supernaturally provides deliverance and the leadership they need, and a few days out of Egypt, their response is, "We had a better menu when we were slaves". If we don't guard our hearts, we will allow fear and anxiety about uncertainty and what's in front of us to keep us from saying yes to the Lord and moving. I don't want that to happen.

So I'd like to start with this notion of when God is moving. The questions are pretty simple. What should we anticipate when God is moving? You need some imagination for that. What will it look like? What can we learn from the biblical narratives about times when God moved? He moves in more than one way. He moves in different ways, different plans. How does God heal? In a myriad of ways. Sometimes Jesus spoke to sickness and disease. Sometimes he spat in the dust and made mud and smeared it on people's faces. I hope you're not called to that ministry. You'll have to learn to fight. You know, there's not a one size fits all, and we can learn from the narrative of scripture.

What can we glean from the history of the church? We've got almost 2,000 years of experience of God's people standing in a variety of cultures and civilizations and different seasons and pressures. What can we learn from our own experience? You know what it is to be both godly and godly. Think about it; recognize the differences; know the motivations you had when you had momentum towards ungodliness. Understand the motivations you had when you were stuck in neutral and you were ambivalent and indifferent. Think about the motivations you had when you were pursuing the Lord. If you take your own experience, how would you evaluate your spiritual momentum right now? Don't answer that. Think about it; ask the Holy Spirit to help you.

You see, when God moves, you and I have to choose to move with him. We have to choose. The Hebrew slaves, their last night in Egypt was marked by the Passover. They're preparing to celebrate Passover. I promise you, not all the Hebrew slaves put the blood of the lamb on their doorpost. It wasn't just a blanket invitation; if you're Hebrew, you're good. They got instructions from Moses. Every family was to take a lamb, and there were specifications for the lamb that would be selected, and how to prepare it, and what to do, and what to do with the blood. You couldn't just do it any way you wanted to. You couldn't say, "Oh, Moses is always telling us what to do. I'm not a part of group think. I'm an individualist". Well, then you would have been an individualist with someone dead in your home.

Not every Hebrew slave participated. Please don't imagine that, because you attend a worship service, you sing along with Crowder, you can quote a Bible verse, that it means you'll say yes to the Lord. You have to choose every day. "Well, Pastor, I'm born again. I've been baptized". I'm happy for that; it's very important. If that's never happened, tonight would be your night. But, if you've done that, tonight's the night to say "yes" to the Lord again. I'm not suggesting you earn your way to heaven. I'm suggesting to get off your good intentions, and stop showing me your pedigree, and show me the fruit of your life.

The American church has been an inert church long enough. We have soaked in our ambivalence, and our fruit has been a lengthy nap, and God is giving us an opportunity. God is moving. There's some lessons we can glean from Israel, and I'll do this in some more detail in the next session. But, for tonight, I wanna read Zechariah chapter 12, in the first 3 verses. I think they are helpful for what we're watching on the screens and our televisions. I've been visiting Israel since I was a boy. My parents took my brother and I when we were young boys, not; we've been in and out of the land of Israel from that day until this.

So it's not, actually, I'm so young, it's a very short sample. Nevertheless, it's my sample. And I've never seen Israel like I saw it this week, I've never seen the heaviness that I saw on the people. And I've been there in some pretty difficult times. I've been there when wars were breaking out. I've been there during the intifada. But it was different this week. There's an openness to the Lord I've never seen, but there's a heaviness on the people I've never seen. And Zechariah chapter 12, I think is appropriate, "This is the Word of the Lord concerning Israel. The Lord, who stretches out the heavens, and who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the Spirit of man within him, declares..."

Let's pause there just a moment. That first verse is important. It says, "This is the Word of the Lord concerning Israel". And then he makes three statements that I would submit to you, from my vantage point, God is presenting his credentials for having the authority and power to declare what he's about to declare. So, if you want to know if God has the juice, if he's got the ability to follow up, this is how he introduces himself; this is his curriculum vitae. He said, "I'm the Lord who stretched out the heavens. And I'm the Lord who laid the foundations of the earth. And I'm the Lord who forms the Spirit of man within him". Now, I grew up in a barn in Tennessee. So help me, let me interpret. He said, "I made the heavens, and I made the earth, and I made you. Now let me tell you what I'm gonna do".

With that authority, let's listen to what he says is coming to Israel. He said, "I'm gonna make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding people's reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day when, all the nations of the earth are gathered against her. I'll make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. And all who try to move it will injure themselves". He made five statements; I'll tag him for you just real quickly. It's a declaration of intent. If you prefer, and I think more accurately, it's an expression of God's sovereignty. He said, "I'm going to do this, and I don't care what the United Nations think. I don't care what the Secretary of State of the United States thinks. I don't care what the Security Council votes on. This is what I will do".

We should pay attention. I'm not always the brightest bulb in the box, but I have discovered it is better to cooperate with God. And, on this topic, I think that is especially true. He said these five things. "I'll make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling". It's the imagery of somebody that's had too much to drink or at the very least has lost their balance. If you're inebriated, or for some reason you've lost your balance, you're not making great quality of life decisions. You're not charting a steady course; you'll do destructive things; you can't do simple things. And he said, "That's the impact I will cause Jerusalem to have". They'll do things that are not in their best interest that will bring destruction to them. And he said secondly, "Judah and Jerusalem will be besieged".

In spite of that, they're gonna be encircled by their enemies. That's true, literally, if you look at a map; the nations surrounding Israel are all united in their intent to bring destruction. But it isn't just that, those immediate surrounding nations; Israel has been isolated in the global community in a way that's unprecedented since the modern state of Israel was born. They were forced last week by our nation, by our nation, to withdraw from Gaza. Hundreds and hundreds of Israelis were brutally murdered on October the 7th in a terrorist attack by Hamas. I watched the videos; it wasn't human what was done to them. They took hostages back to Gaza, and not just the Hamas terrorists in their wanna be uniforms.

The citizens of Gaza poured through the breaches in the fences, I saw it, dragging women by their hair into the back of pickup trucks, the citizens taking them back to Gaza. And we forced the Israelis to withdraw, and the hostages were not released. Listen to what God said, "Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. And on that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations". The nations will gather against her, but it will not change God's purpose. The one who formed the heavens, and the one who formed the earth, and the one who made you is standing guard over that city. And then he said, "All who try to move it will injure themselves".

The English is a little more sedate than the Hebrew. The Hebrew says, "All who try to move Jerusalem will rupture themselves". A rupture may not be fatal, but, if you've got one, the days of heavy lifting are over. And I believe what God said has been supported by history. The nations that picked up Jerusalem to impose a solution upon them in opposition to God's purposes forfeited their authority in the world stage. And I think our nation stands at the precipice of that tonight. It's worth your prayer.

There's some lessons from Gideon, that's really where we started this little series. Gideon is one of the judges in the Hebrew Bible, not somebody who sat on a bench in a courtroom, but a leader of God's people. Twelve tribes, no central government, no capital city, when there's a challenge, God is their overseer. It's a theocracy; God is leading the tribes of Israel, for 400 years. Arguably the most fruitful season they knew. But, when there was a common threat, God would raise up a leader. Samson was a judge. Deborah was a judge. Gideon was a judge. We began this last weekend, but in Gideon's chapter, Judges chapter 6, I'm sorry, I'm new to this job. It's Judges, chapter 6.

Do you remember the narrative with Gideon? Do you remember the story? Well, Gideon has taken the group that God selected. He's down to 300 men, and he, it says, "He took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. Because he was afraid of his family and the men of the town, he did it at night rather than in the daytime. In the morning when the men of the town got up, there was Baal's altar, demolished, and the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar! And they asked each other, 'Who did this?' And they carefully investigated, and they were told, 'Gideon, he did it.' And the man of the, the men of the town demanded of Gideon's father, 'Bring out your son. He must die, because he's broken down Baal's altar and cut down the Asherah pole beside it.'"

God willing, I'm gonna give you the three Os of participating when God's moving. I needed three something; the Os will work, just bear with me. And it's not, "Oh my, oh me, and oh my goodness". Remember Gideon, now, Israel has been handed over to their enemies by God. Did you know God will do that? If you choose not to serve him, you shouldn't think you stand under his protection. If you won't honor God in your life, in every aspect of your life, why do you imagine God should provide protection for you in every aspect of your life? Do we imagine we can sit in church and sing along and nod appropriately, and then go live like the devil and live with the protection of God?

Folks, it's a false gospel; it's deception. If we're more invested in the things that we want than the things that God wants, you have to understand, we walk out from under his protection. Please don't do that; please don't. The people cried out to God in humble repentance, and God recruited Gideon. He didn't recruit a warrior. He didn't recruit a soldier. He has no history of military leadership. There's nothing in Gideon's résumé that suggests he would be a great leader except God recruited him. And then God directs Gideon to winnow down his force of available fighting men to 300 people that are selected. Doesn't sound like a big deal except the adversary has tens of thousands. And God keeps saying to Gideon, "Your force is too large," until he's down to facing an enemy of tens of thousands with 300 men.

So here's the first O: we've got to learn to overcome fear. I read you a bit of Gideon's narrative. It says God told him to tear down the altars in his town, in the place where he lived. And Gideon said he would do it, but Gideon did it at night. And the book of Judges says that was because he was afraid. We're not going to be able to pursue God unless we acknowledge the places we're afraid. We have a whole menu; we have a whole litany of language that excuses the fact that we're afraid. "Well, I don't believe that," or "God just hasn't made that real to me," or "That's not a burden I carry," or "I don't have children in that school," or "I don't work in that", whatever. It's mostly language for why we don't have to respond because we're afraid. If we weren't afraid, we would have a voice and a willingness to express it and a willingness to stand.

So, what I would submit to you is, if we're going to move with God, we're gonna have to learn to overcome our fear. Gideon worked at night. He was rightfully afraid, and that's important to note. His fear was not based on something mythical. It wasn't some psychological quirk within him because, when he had finished the assignment, they wanted to kill whoever was responsible for what Gideon had done in obedience to God. Are you willing to move with the Lord if it puts you on the wrong side of an angry mob? It's a very important question because we have been engaged in an expression of Christianity now for several decades in this nation that said our primary goal is to go along and get along, to be bridge builders, to be peace.

We want the wicked and the immoral and the ungodly to know how much God loves them. And it's true, he does. But we've presented that message with such persistence, in such an articulate way, that the people of God have been lulled into believing it's not necessary for them to be godly. Because, after all, God loves the wicked and the immoral and the brazen and the rebellious. So why should we be anything other than that? Folks, we gotta wake up. Gideon was willing to stand on the wrong side of this. He did the right thing fully aware of the threat. He was prudent, but he wasn't brash. We don't need to be arrogant. We don't need to be condescending. We don't have to be violent. But, in order to move, Gideon had to overcome his fear, his fear of personal harm, the fear of the consequences for his family.

Please do not hide behind your family as an excuse for condoning ungodliness. You're not protecting them; you're making him vulnerable. It may not seem apparent in the moment, but, if you condone wickedness imagining that you're protecting your family, providing for them a better future, whatever your rationale is, it's wrong. Gideon had to overcome his fear of failure. There was absolutely no reason in the narrative or from the circumstances described for Gideon to have believed that, when he did that, it would bring significant change to his community or to his nation.

And, in fact, he was right because the next morning they wanted to murder whoever did it, and they wanted to replace the idols that he had destroyed. So don't think that you would have the courage if you knew that your action would bring about sweeping change. The question is, will I have the courage to do what's right even if I think it simply puts me in harm's way and it may not have an impact? You see, the enemy will silence you with the lie that your decision to honor God doesn't make a difference. His decision to stand in opposition to God cost him his place in heaven. I promise you, a decision to honor God is more powerful. We don't know what outcome God will choose. We have to choose to honor the Lord when it seems like nobody is watching.

We have to stand up for what we know to be right when it seems like there will be no applause. Most people would do it if there was gonna be great applause and you knew the outcome. The question is, will you have the courage to overcome, when the fear is palpable? Psalm 56 in verse 3 says, "When I'm afraid, I will trust in you". "When I am afraid, I will trust in you". Please understand, the people of God throughout the narrative of scripture, and I would add, throughout the history of the church, have been willing to move forward in obedience even when they're afraid. It isn't the absence of fear that lets us choose to serve the Lord.

Trust is the antidote to fear. The objective of fear in your life is to paralyze, to render you inactive, if fear can just immobilize you. It's throughout creation, they talk about the fight or the flight syndrome. When you're frightened, you stop. And there's a whole host of evaluations that begin, some beyond the conscious level, whether you're trying to decide whether it's more prudent to fight or to run. But what fear does, at that moment of recognition, is it paralyzes you. We've talked about a deer caught in the headlights.

If you're from the city, ask some country person to explain that to you. Well, fear's intent in your life is to paralyze you. You can do courageous things while you're battling fear, if your trust in the Lord is greater than your fear and anxiety. The evidence of overcoming fear in your life is not another Bible study. The evidence of your overcoming fear is activity in serving the Lord. If you're neutral, if you're silent, if you're indifferent, if you're immobile, fear has occupied a place that isn't helpful.

Deuteronomy 31, in verse 8. One of the assignments I have suggested that we pick up, as a part of our preparation for what's ahead of us, is memorizing some scripture. I'm not bringing you a verse every week; I don't think we'd keep up. But, from time to time, I would like to bring you one. I brought you one tonight. And when I bring you the memory verses, I wanna give you a proclamation, which is a declaration of what that verse says and its application for your life.

Let me read the verse first; it's Deuteronomy 31, in verse 8, and, yes, I'm asking you to commit this to memory. You're not too old, you're not too young, you're not too busy, you're not too clever. Put the Word of God in your heart. There are times in front of us when you will be very, very grateful you have taken the time and made the effort to put the Word of God within you. Deuteronomy 31:8, "The Lord himself goes before you and he will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged".

There's a principle of biblical interpretation I've shared with you before. If the Bible tells you what to do when your ox gores your neighbor, it's because somebody's ox gored their neighbor. If the Bible says, "Do not be afraid, and do not be discouraged," you can be certain that the audience addressed is two things: frightened and discouraged. So let's make that a proclamation over our own lives. If you've got notes, you can read it with me. If you don't, they'll put it on the screens. Yes, they will. Can we say it together? You're outdoors; can you use your outdoor voice? All right, together, "The Lord himself goes before me. He is with me. He will never leave me nor forsake me. I am not afraid. I am not discouraged. Amen".
Are you Human?:*