Dr. Ed Young - Fear-Less
Jack was almost 6'4", weighed about a smooth, oh, 265 pounds, ex-marine, big, strong, bombastic, personality just everywhere. If you knew Jack you liked him, he was a man's man, he was everybody's friend, he loved life, and he expressed life fully and completely. He was the Bubba, he was the Redneck, but he was warm and real, but he had problems. His job was he drove a candy truck in three counties and he's sold candy to all those little grocery stores as he traveled day by day, but also he his life began to deteriorate, married, had a daughter. His life began to deteriorate, he became a womanizer, he loved to gamble, cards, dice, didn't make any difference. He owed some money, he was profane, you name it but you liked him, he was just that kinda warm, contagious personality.
But I met Jack years ago and I had a chance to introduce him to Jesus Christ and I did it boldly, and he responded with tears, and he said, "That's what I needed. That's what I have to have". And Jack turned his life over the Lord Jesus Christ, it was one of those radical conversions. When he walked down the aisle, the church you could hear a gasp and when he went out into the community where he was well-known because he traveled all that area for so many years, when they heard about his new life they gasped.
A lot of people said you know, it won't last. All that gambling, all that womanizing, credit that he owes, he's taken advantage of people, but Jack went out and made restitution as best he could, he got into a brand new relationship with his wife, his young teenage daughter, he spent time and they became almost inseparable. When we had church Jack was there, in Bible study he was discipled, and before long, about two or three years later, he was a powerful, dynamic witness for Jesus Christ. I don't know how many people he led to Christ; his whole gang, his old crowd. It was an amazing thing to be a part of.
One day in conversation I said Jack, what is it about the Christian life that's really changed? And he could mention all the immoral things he turned away from, and how he prayed and read his Bible, but he said, you know something you'd never guess. He said, "I get up in the morning and I'm no longer afraid". I said what do you mean? He said, "I carried a gun". He said, "I was afraid some husband would shoot me". He said, "I was afraid some creditor would come and embarrass me". He said, "All day, every day wherever I went, I was afraid, afraid, afraid". But he said, "Now in Jesus Christ, that fear has been taken away".
Let me tell you something, sin always carries with it fear, have you noticed that? You see it all the way through the Bible and we see it all the way through our lives, sin leads to fear. In Genesis, start right there, Adam and Eve sinned, they ate the fruit God told them not to eat and then God came in the cool of the evening to talk with Adam and Eve. What a what a fabulous thing, Almighty God coming and meeting in that pristine garden with Adam and Eve, but he went this afternoon and he couldn't see them. He said, "Adam where are you"? Adam says, "Lord, I'm hiding". He said, "You're hiding, why are you hiding"? He said, "I'm afraid, I'm naked, and I hid".
That's what sin does to us, fear. I'm afraid to be in the presence of God, I want to hide from God, and I'm fearful of God; that's what happens with sin. God knew immediately what Adam and Eve had done, they'd eaten of the forbidden fruit, they had moved away from being responsive to him; Sin always leads to fear. Right there in the beginning and all the way through, but we find no better illustration of this than God's man David; David the harpist, the military hero, slayer of Goliath. I mean the Bible says that David was the apple of God's eye.
In God's eyes, they said David's was so close to the Almighty, God looked through his eye and he saw his servant David, and was so proud of him. King, warrior, writer of Psalms, a man of prayer, a man seeking God's wisdom, a man discipled by Nathan, what a fabulous story, what a wonderful story of a man who lived for the Lord God Almighty. The Psalms tell about him, he wrote many of them, and we know even the messiah came through the lineage of David, a special, great individual. But there was a revolution and the revolution was led by all people, Absalom, David's most gifted son Absalom.
When David would go in to counsel people and make big decisions about the government, Absalom stayed outside and David would side with one group and when they would go out, the other group that he doesn't agree with, Absalom would say you know if I'd been king, I'd been on your side. And this went on for a period of months and years until finally the younger people said boy, we wish Absalom was the king, and this led to a revolt, a coup d'etat, a sudden and violent overthrow of the government.
So Absalom had his army, they ran his father David out of the palace, on the streets, all the way across the valley, all the way across the river, and now here is David with his little congerie of men run out of the kingdom, hiding in the wilderness. And now we see what David was going through with a great fear that he had in Psalm chapter number 3, look at it. It says, "O Lord," verse 1, "How my adversaries have increased, many are rising up against me". What's he saying? He's saying there are thousands after me and they want to kill me, they wanna hang me, they wanna embarrass me, they want to shame me, they want to punish me. He said thousands are after my life, that's one kind of fear. It's bodily fear that we have, the fear of health, something like of what we experienced with this virus.
So many are just overwhelmed with fear, young people especially I've noticed, more than even older people who are more susceptible to it; fear, fear. David was fearful of his body. He said there are thousands of people hunting me down, they want to kill me, slaughter me, punish me. That's one kind of fear, is it not? Bodily fear, health that we have, well-being, dangerous times, it's that fight or flight kind of fear that comes over, it's a good thing, but look at the other kind of fear he says. Verse 2, "Many are saying of my soul," that's his personality, who he is, "There is no deliverance for him in God".
What does that mean? It means David, you've got so far off track and you're such a rebel, and you become such a scum as a leader, God won't even listen to you, you've turned your back on God, so you're nothing. And Shimei, you read closely, when David was leading Jerusalem, Shimei was over there, ah David, you're getting what you deserve. You're like Saul, you've lost the kingdom, you're immoral, you're scum, you're an embarrassment, you can't lead, and they were hassling David. Think about it, being booed, being forced, a revolution, and now he's fearful for his body and now he's fearful inside. You know that kind of fear? Of fear inside, you can't sleep, nobody knows about it, you have that fight or flight emotion going on all the time, and it will eat anybody up.
That happens when sin begins to reign in a life, a secret sin, unknown sin, a deadly sin, and that's what David was feeling. He said oh, my soul, my personality. I, me, mine, mine, who I am as a human being, it is being attacked viciously. That's the trial he was in. Now I want you to look in the same chapter here at David's trust in the middle of all of this, fear for his body, fear for his own soul, his own sanity. And then it says, "But you, oh Lord," David is praying. "'Are a shield about me, my glory, and the one who lifts my head.' I was crying to the Lord with my voice and he answered me from his Holy Mountain. 'You, O Lord,' David prayed to the Almighty, 'Are a shield for me.'"
You know what kind of shield was this? You know they had round shields they would hold and they would fight hand-to-hand with little round shield, but this shield was not a little round shield, it was a big shield about the size of a door, and the interesting thing, it was a shield that would wrap around you. This was a shield that would be used when they were storming a fortress and they would take this big shield, and the captain would lead and they would follow along with this big shield; and then we see the fiery arrows would come and the spears would've been thrown, and they take the hot burning pitch and pour it on 'em or hot water, and said keep on moving forward.
As long as you had this shield in front of you and you were moving forward, it may mean your death, but God would shield you, but if you turned around, you had no protection, no protection from the back. It's a shield we use to charge and move out in life, and David is saying in the middle of all of this, I am going to move forward. Oh Lord, you are the one who shields me, protects me, defends me, as long as I'm moving forward for you. And then that little phrase there, you have to watch it, he said, "And you are my glory and the one who lifts up my head". See remember David's flat-down praying, he said, "But you are my glory".
What does that mean? Evidently something else had been David's glory, had it not? And there's a change that's taking place here, now David is saying "Lord, you're my glory, you're my glory". The word glory in the Bible means weight, it means to be weighty, it means to be heavy. So David said, Lord you are my glory, you are the one that I rely on, you're the one who makes me feel worthy, you're the audience to whom I'm playing. Now if there is a change here, before this, what was the glory of David? It wasn't the Lord, the glory was upon himself. Now he's moving from himself and self-glory unto relying on the glory, the weightiness of God, God becomes his audience and not an audience of old David, what was the glory he had before?
Well I'm a powerful king, that was his glory, not anymore, he'd been thrown off the throne. Well I have a strong family, not anymore, one of your son is leading this revolution, none of your children are with you, not your family. Well the people, the people like me, I'm popular. Not anymore, take the polls David, most of the half the country has turned against you. Oh, but you know, I'm a good man. No, no David, that won't work. Everybody knows about your adultery, everybody knows about your murder, everybody knows about it. No, you're not a good man, you don't have that anymore David. I'm a military hero. Oh, they've forgotten that David, look you're not a hero now, you're running, running from an army to save your own life.
You see, what David had put glory in and what was weighty in his life wasn't there anymore, he lost all that, none of that was available, what he'd counted on wasn't there. And now David, flat of his face, said, "Lord you are my glory," and he says, "You're the only one that can lift up my face;" you're the only one you can let me stand tall again, David. What a picture we have here of fear and the answer to fear, flat of our face, all that we'd relied on had been put to one side, and now the glory is given only to God himself. Turn now to Revelation, I hope you're already there with your Bible, I put a little mark in my Bible so I can find it rather rapidly.
Now this passage in Revelation is also written in the midst of fear. What was going on? This is written by the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos, all the other apostles had been martyred, they were dead. John was an old, old man hiding in a cave because all the Roman emperors, Domitian, Nero, all of them had been slaughtering Christians systematically. They would tie them to horses and one horse tied to this arm, one to this arm, they'd be ripped apart; they were boring holes in their head; they were being burned at the stake; they being fed to various wild animals; they were obliterating the Christians.
And so here is John hiding in Patmos but the Lord gives him a vision, in the midst of all the fear he had for himself, for all of Christianity, God gives him a vision here and I won't read it but it's right there, a vision of Jesus Christ. It's sort of parallel to a Godly vision in Daniel but this vision, it pictures Jesus Christ. It says, "His hair was white as snow as was his head, and his feet," this vision of Jesus, "was burnished bronze, like his feet were on fire themselves, shining so brightly". And he says, "His eyes were like lasers of fire," in this vision of Jesus; and he says, "His voice was like the roaring sound of many waters;" And he said, "His faith shone like the sun," the sun. And in this vision, John here said, "He fell down as if he were dead and Jesus," in this vision, "Came and put his hand on him and said, 'John, don't be afraid.'"
Don't be afraid. And then he proceeds to say something very, very profound, see it there in your scripture? Jesus says, "I am the first and the last". Jesus says, "I am the alpha and the omega". You say well, what in the world does that do about fear and all that we're going through of my job, of our nation, of our economy, of the future that we have, and my own family, man, oil prices are down. How does this help? Jesus says I am the alpha, the first, I am the omega, let me take exactly how it helps. You have to have a firm doctrinal understanding of life, a place to stand. When Jesus says I am alpha, he's saying I am the first. He's saying before me that was not anything or anybody, there's nothing before me; I came and brought into existence every thing that does exist.
That is a firm foundation, that is a basic principle, a theological doctrine upon which the church and individual Christians have to stand. Jesus says, "I am first". We understand that when we try to find out who we are. Some people have the idea, well I want to find out who I am, I'm going to look at myself, that's the place to begin, just look at number one and you'll discover about yourself. The cart said, I think, therefore I am. The Bible goes a totally different direction to, no-no, you're never gonna define who you are, I'm never gonna define who I am if I begin by myself. You see, I'm too close. This Bible, I would hold it up to my eyes and if you held it close and I'd never seen it, I see a little bit of red, but I wouldn't know what that is, but I put the Bible over to one side at a distance, I get perspective.
You never can discover yourself by only studying and looking at yourself; Freud, Sigmund, was totally wrong. Well if you find that you were toilet trained too early or if you find out that your mother. No-no-no-no, we never discover ourselves by looking at ourselves, we have to back off and see things from a distance. I lived 20 years of my life in Laurel, Mississippi. Man, I've ridden my bicycle all over those streets, I've been all over that town many many times and I would have told you, man I know Laurel, Mississippi, like the back of my hand. I know trees and alleys, and people, I know, I lived there 20 years. But you know what, I didn't know my hometown until I'd been away from it for a number of years, then I could really understand and see my hometown a lot better.
People who moved out of the United States, they moved to other nations and live there for a while, they said I learn and understand America now more after living abroad than I ever understood America when I lived there. You see we get too close, we can't see ourselves, but when we back up we begin to see ourselves maybe as God sees us, and maybe that gives us understanding of ourselves. We have a whole perspective of life when we start with the Lord Jesus Christ. He says, "I am the alpha, I am the beginning," and then he says, "I'm the omega. I'm also the end".
Do you see it there in your scripture? I am alpha, I'm the first. I'm the omega, I am the last. And that's where we really look and we find some meaning, I am the last. Most of us tragically, begin our walk with the Lord by thinking that, well God, Christ will be a means to an end and we'll say, you know I'll be in the church, and I'll have associations, I'll be in the church, and man God's gonna forgive me. This is a means to finding myself but along the way we discover that God is not the means, God must be the end; that God is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. And we realize God isn't a means to some point that is out here, he is the point.
I wanna ask you something, do you have your head down? All this closed-in experiences we've had, does somebody have your head down? A lot of us do, we're defeated, and David started off with his head down, he's running. He's running, he's lost everything but he took all of those points in his life that he'd spent so much time and energy building and he turned away, and said now I glory only in God and God has come and God has lifted up his face. When a little child is crying, what do we do? We go there and if they're on the floor, we get down with them or we pick them up and we just lift up their face.
That's what God wants to do with you, that's what God enjoys doin' with us when we're down and out and broken, and when sin, whatever form it takes, begins to deteriorate us inside. And the Lord Jesus Christ comes and he touches us, he said don't be afraid, and he lifts up our face. He said look, I'm the alpha and the omega; I'm all the middle in between; I'm not a means, I'm an end in and of myself; get on my team, follow me. And guess what? The Lord Jesus Christ, when he rules in your life and he rules in my life, he will come regardless of how low we get, regardless of how far away we wander, he will bend down and he will say don't be afraid, and he will lift up your face.