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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Overcoming Fear - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Overcoming Fear - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Overcoming Fear - Part 2
TOPICS: God Is Moving, Fear

It's a privilege to be with you today. You know, we're talking about God moving in the earth. It's happening with such intensity and such frequency, it's easy to miss. Middle East is in turmoil again, Israel is being besieged by the court of public opinion throughout the earth. It's an important time to understand the biblical perspective on what's happening. We're looking at that today through the Word of God. Grab your Bible and a notepad. Enjoy the lesson.

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 resume 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 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 them 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'd 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's 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, where 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 and 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 and 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. I said three "Os".

I got ten minutes, no problem. If we're gonna go with God when God is moving, we need to understand we are dependent upon outcomes beyond ourselves. We're gonna have to have outcomes that are beyond ourselves. You're gonna have to overcome fear because you're gonna recognize you need an outcome you can't deliver. If you can deliver it, you don't need God. If your response to whatever is in front of you is, "I've got this," you're not cooperating with the Lord enough. God invites you to places where you understand you are dependent upon him, outcomes beyond ourselves. Often, we're afraid to consider the reality of our circumstances.

I've come to this conclusion that oftentimes we hide, we pretend not to notice, we remain silent. We don't want to make the effort to be informed, because if we're informed, we might have to do something and we prefer ignorance to preparation far too often. We're afraid to consider the reality of our circumstances because we know the implications, that if we actually acknowledge what is going on or what has gone on or what we failed to do or when we fail to speak up, then we're forced to face our own inadequacies. We might have to repent, we might have to humble ourselves. There might be a course correction and we don't really want to change courses. Or there's uncertainty. Maybe there's just a lack of confidence in God.

So we don't wanna think about what's happening. We wanna sit on the deck of the "Titanic" and play shuffleboard. "What crashing noise? I don't like the hors d'oeuvres, do you"? I have a bit of that sense amongst us that we don't really want to look at the uncomfortable things that are happening and have dialogue about it because we would like to pretend we didn't hear the noise and we don't see it because we would prefer to maintain momentum in the direction we're going. God is moving. The safest place, the most fruitful place, the greatest opportunities, are moving with God, I promise.

Outcomes beyond ourselves. We'll have to be willing to walk towards God-directed outcomes. Gideon did. Outcomes that are beyond not only ourselves, they're beyond our strength, they're beyond our ability, they're beyond our experience. We've never seen that before. Our track record doesn't suggest it could happen. It seems improbable. There's probably not a big choir of people going, "Oh, absolutely. That makes sense to me". You need godly friends. You shouldn't expect the ungodly to encourage you to be godly. If you spend your discretionary time with people who don't have momentum towards God, guess what you will cultivate? It's important.

Judges chapter 7: Gideon has winnowed down, from thousands of people who volunteered, he's down to 300 men. God selected but 300 men. The enemy's numbered by the tens of thousands. Gideon is not only outmatched by military strength, he's so totally outnumbered, it's a ludicrous proposition to begin a conflict. And he attacks. He takes his 300 men. He splits them into groups of 100. He gives us some very critical military instruction. It's in your notes. It's Judges 7: "Gideon and the hundred men with him," there's two other companies of 100, "reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they changed the guard. And they blew their trumpets and they broke the jars that were in their hands". That's their strategy. Toot your horn and crack your pot, yeah.

God said, "I wanna use you to rout an enemy that has been plaguing your people for years. And here's the strategy: Just get a few men and, at the most critical point, tell them all you're there and break a pot". Oh, sure. Do you think Gideon talked to the Lord about that at all? I promise, I promise. "The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. They grasped the torches in their left hands, holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, and they shouted". Oh good, this is gonna make all the difference. "'A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!' And while each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled. And when the three hundred trumpets sounded, the Lord caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. And the army fled".

Gideon and 300 men, with a horn and a pot, routed an army of tens of thousands because God directed the outcome. I wanna ask you to begin to say to the Lord, "God, I want you to direct the outcome of my life". Now, in order to say that with any credibility, you'll have to be able to say, "God, I don't wanna direct the outcome. I wanna follow you. If you're moving, I wanna move with you. If you're doing something, I wanna participate, so that my goal isn't to maintain the status quo, to do what I've always done, to be where I'm always supposed to be on Sunday morning at whatever hour. But the rest of the time is mine. God, I wanna move with you".

Outcomes beyond ourselves require a second thing. It's required to fulfill our assignment. Without God's help, we can't do it, folks. If you're not engaged in the pursuit of an outcome that you can't fulfill, you shouldn't imagine you're trying to complete God's assignment for your life. I'm sorry. I'm sorry that someone has told you that if you're born again and you've said the sinner's prayer, you don't really need to think about God anymore. I'm not diminishing the significance of that. I believe in the new birth. I believe in the absolute necessity of conversion initiation. But I assure you, it's a false gospel that says there's nothing beyond that. That is the beginning point. It's as misleading as saying that the point of conception is to give birth: that after you've given birth, there's nothing beyond that.

Life is finished, just ride it out. We all understand the promise of a child is the hope of a future. And the promise of your new birth is the hope of a life given to the Lord. We wanna live for outcomes that require God's help to fulfill our assignment. Hebrews 11 describes a whole menu of these people. And as the chapter concludes, it says, "Through faith they conquered kingdoms, they administered justice, they gained what was promised; they shut the mouths of lions, they quenched the fury of the flames, they escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength". That's where I'd like to focus our attention. Participating with God means our strength is not enough, that we acknowledge in the light of the circumstance, I'm weak.

In light of the assignment, I can't do it. And we've usually got a track record that says we can't do it. And God says, nevertheless, we can. We have not been prepared to depend upon God. It's a change we have to make. We've been dependent upon the government, our education, the fairness of the systems we were in, whatever. But we have not been trained to depend upon God. He is preparing us. It is a biblical concept. Look at Luke 23, this is Jesus on the cross. His physical strength is just about done. And it says: "He called out with a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.'" And he took his last breath.

Jesus was dependent upon the Father to complete his assignment. News flash: So are we. If you don't imagine that you're dependent upon God in order to finish the race to which you were called, you've been asleep. There's a third component if our outcomes are gonna be beyond ourselves. And that's to acknowledge his power is at work within us, not just to forgive us, not just to help us get our way, not just to help us get our children into the school we want them to attend. Not just to change the label in the clothing we wear. I'm not opposed to any of those things, but I don't believe the one who formed the heavens, the one who established the foundation of the earth, and the one who created you and me, stays up at night, figuring out how to improve the label in my clothing. Agreed?

Ephesians 3 and verse 20: "To him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us". That's written to a church. Jesus made a statement on the cross. I can read you passage after passage from the Hebrew Bible. But I want you to understand the church has a similar acknowledgment that the same power that brought Jesus out of the grave is at work within us, to do more than we could ask or imagine. It's beyond us. We've been coached to go sit in church and be polite. Fool the pastor for a little bit of time and then get on with yourself. I'm inviting you into the kingdom of an Almighty God to take your place in our generation, so that when those people look back upon this season in the history of the church, they will say, "That generation stood in the authority of Jesus's name. When the enemy came in like a flood, they said, 'God, use me to raise up a standard against it: Take your hands off of our children, get out of our homes, stop dictating ungodliness and immorality.'"

Folks, it's up to us to say, "In the name of Jesus, let the truth be told". Are you willing? Are you willing? I brought you a prayer. I brought you a prayer, if you'll stand with me. I'm gonna invite you to pray with me. And then if you're here to be baptized tonight and there's several dozen of you, I'm gonna invite you to start to make your way to the pool, after we pray. God is the healer of our bodies. He delivers us from the sins that beset us. He can change your heart. A businessman in Jerusalem this week told me the story, a 26-year-old woman called him and told him a bit of her story. She'd had a very difficult life, far from God, and she came to the end of herself. She's Jewish and she said, "I'm gonna go to Jerusalem and put a prayer in the wall, in the Western Wall, the Wailing Wall".

And she said she wrote on a little piece of paper. If you've ever been there, you see them all stuffed in the wall and blowing around in the wind. But she wrote on the prayer: "Jesus, if you're real, reveal yourself to me". That's not a prayer often prayed there. She said, "I put the prayer in the wall and I turned around to walk away," and she said, "As I walked through the streets of the Old City, somehow I knew Jesus was real". And she said, "I'm different," and she called my friend. She said, "Somebody gave me your name and said that you helped people like me," and he was gonna connect her with some believers. But I'm telling you, God is moving in the earth and you don't want to miss it. You don't want to miss it. So I want to invite you to say this prayer with me, not as some rote recitation to end the service and get on with it. But as a conscious yielding to God. Let's pray:

Almighty God, we cry out to You for help. You are well able to deliver Your people from every oppression. Forgive us of our stubborn pride and our refusal to cooperate with You. We acknowledge our own sin, our rebellion, and desire to be independent. Look now upon us with mercy! Raise up men and women to speak the truth so that our children may live with Your blessings. Grant us understanding hearts and the courage to cooperate with what You're doing in the Earth. In Jesus's name, amen.

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