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Jack Graham - Breaking Free from Fear

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    Jack Graham - Breaking Free from Fear
TOPICS: Unchained: Breaking Free from the Power of Sin, Freedom, Fear, Courage

We want to break free from the power of anything or anyone that would hold us or hold us back. And the subject today is in regard to fear and worry and anxiety; breaking free from the power of fear. Second Timothy chapter 1 and verse 7: "For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self control", or a sound mind. There's no place in the believer's life for a spirit or bondage of fear, to be crippled, chained by our fears. Now there are some legitimate fears. For one, we ought to fear God. The Bible tells us that we are to fear God. One of the great problems of this country and really the whole world: there's no fear of God. It used to be a compliment. You would say, "That man is a God-fearing man, a God-fearing woman". You rarely hear that today.

So we ought to fear God. On the other hand we ought to fear sin and the judgment, the consequences that come with sin. Sin is to be feared. Judgment is to be feared. Jesus said, Matthew 10:28 "Don't fear those who can destroy your body but fear the ones who can destroy your body and soul in hell". The Scripture says: Hebrews 10:31 "It's a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God". So I run just a little scared, trusting in God who gives me strength. I'm afraid of sin and you should be as well. But you know the fear that I'm talking about is more a generalized fear that just prevails in your life; a general anxiety that something bad is going to happen. So you live afraid of people, you live afraid of failure, you live afraid of the future. There are six general kinds of fears and a man by the name of Craig Massey listed these six general categories of the fears we face.

All of us face fear. "Courage," Mark Twain said, "is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of it". So we all will face fear. We need to learn how to master our fears. But here are six categories: poverty, criticism, loss of love or relationships, illness, old age and death. These fears are universal. We all have them. The fear of poverty, criticism, loss of love, illness, old age, death. And these fears can rob you not only of your happiness, but even of your health. I did a little research this week, some medical research on fear. And fear I discovered has been associated with a wide variety of illnesses and diseases including cardiovascular disease, heart disease, hypertension, digestive tract diseases, ulcers, head aches, even skin disorders. Studies demonstrate that fear can cause a decreased immune response which can lead to frequent infections and even the development of dread and deadly disease. Excessive fear and anxiety, worry can kill you. Jesus spoke in Luke 21, verse 26 of men's hearts failing from fear. So fear can cause a heart attack.

A time or two in my life I've been in the presence of someone who had a heart attack because of fear. Fear can lead to irrational phobias and unusually obsessions. It can crush your spirit, ruin your disposition along with your relationships. Fear can consume your mind, obsess your thought life and control your body. It can shut you down. Fear is a chain that can hold you back from becoming all that God wants you to be and to become. Jarrett Stephens in his message last night on this subject gave us these words. "Satan uses fear as a weapon against us, attempting to immobilize believers and prevent the advancement of the kingdom". Did you get that? "Immobilize believers and prevent the advancement of the kingdom". God is all about the advancement of the kingdom through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Fear is Satan's weapon to counteract the advancement of the Gospel. But God uses fear as an opportunity to grow our faith and to advance the kingdom. There are many biblical examples that show us this. For example, Noah had to face the fear of what people were thinking about him as he chose to obey God and build an ark even though it had not even rained yet as far as we know. And, yes, Mrs. Noah had to bear the brunt of all the gossip. You know, standing in line at the grocery store. "That's Mrs. Noah; her husband's crazy". Fears. Moses had the face his fear as he thought about his inadequacies. Barefoot at the burning bush and God, the great I AM is speaking to him and calling him to go back to Egypt. He'd left forty years previous. He's now eighty years old, a nowhere man in the desert. He'd tried before to deliver his people. Big failure, epic failure! He runs and hides in the desert for forty years out of fear of Pharaoh. And now God is telling him to go back? Moses said, "I c-c-c-can't, Lord! I don't speak so well. Send Aaron, not me". But Moses faced down his fears and the call of God compelled him to go and say, "Let my people go". And he towers as a man of faith this day because he mastered his fears by the power of God.

Abraham, think about Abraham, asked by God, commanded by God to take his son, his only son Isaac, the son of the promise, the son that he'd waited on so long, the dearest and best of his life. "Take your son and put him on an altar and sacrifice him to Me". Unthinkable! God didn't want Isaac the son, He wanted Abraham fully and completely. And God spared Isaac the son just the right moment because the faith of Abraham, the father of the faithful, the friend of God demonstrated that he was willing to lay down life's best to obey God. That was a fearful thing and yet he overcame his fears. I could go on and on. Esther and Gideon and Mary the mother of our Lord.

Think about Daniel who was told, "Don't you dare pray again to your God! Stop it, on penalty of death, execution! Stop praying"! So what's Daniel going to do? He's a young man in another culture, another country. He's living among the Babylonians. So, "okay, I'm at college now, I'm at the University of Babylon, I guess I'll do what the Babylonians do. I'll just adjust to the culture. I'll be like everybody else". But, no, Daniel purposed in his heart not to defile himself with the king's food, and ultimately with the king's command, and so he did what he always did. This wasn't new to Daniel. This wasn't emergency faith, SOS religion. He went and threw open the doors of the shutters of his window, not to be seen, just to pray like he'd always prayed. He opened up his heart and he prayed to God. And, yes, he was thrown in the lion's den and yes, he was preserved. But he had to overcome his fears in order to do that.

Jesus told a parable called the parable of the talents about a man who had a business and he was going to a far country, going away on business so he left his hired servants in charge and he gave them some talents. He gave them some money to invest. He said "Take this and invest it while I'm gone and take care of this business". And so he gave to three men. Two of them invested and had a great return. When the man came home he commended these two who took their talents, who took their money and poured it into an investment. They took faith risk and did it. But there was one man, one of the three who took what he had been given and he literally buried it in the ground, and, of course, it produced nothing. The business man was angry and he asked this servant, "Why did you bury your talent"? And the answer? Fear. He said, "I was afraid. You're a hard taskmaster and I was afraid that I couldn't do enough, that I wouldn't do the right thing".

Fear can immobilize you and paralyze you and keep you from achieving what God is calling you to do. For example, God is speaking to your heart and saying, walk across the hall in your office or walk across to that friend's locker at school or walk across the street to your neighbor's house and tell them about Jesus. Share your testimony. Just tell them what Jesus has done for you. You know God's calling you to share the Gospel. All of us are called but fear holds us back. What will they think? What will they say? What if I say too much? What if I say the wrong thing? You know, what if I run them off? I like what Bob Harrington said, formerly known as the chaplain of Bourbon Street about that excuse, what if we run them off? He said, "Where you going to run them to? Hell number two"?

Or maybe God is calling you to go on a mission trip, or even just here in the city to work in urban ministry or work in our church's community ministry, some kind of ministry that may be hard and you think, "I don't know if I could do that. I don't think I could relate, I don't think, I'm not gifted. I'm not a preacher. I'm not called". Yes, God is calling you. He doesn't call the equipped; He equips the called. If God calls you to do something, He will provide for your every need. The safest, securest place is in the middle of the will of God. So if God says go, go! Don't be afraid to go to do what God has called you to do. God's calling some of you to sing. "Woo, I would never sing"! I promise you God's not calling me to sing, but God's calling some of you to sing. You've got a wonderful voice. You could use your gift for the Lord. Or to teach a Bible class or to work with children. You're letting some kind of fear hold you back! I'm here to say in Jesus' name take the shot!

Don't be afraid to miss! Trust God to do what God has promised to do to protect you, to provide for you, to do what only God can do and that is to use you for His glory! Again, "God has not given us a spirit of fear but power and love and a sound mind". Zig Ziglar used to say, I loved it when Zig would talk. Zig Ziglar. He said, "Fear an acrostic or an acronym: F-E-A-R - False Evidence Appearing Real". That's my best Zig. Love Zig and miss him. But that's true, because fear distorts everything. You know how things get distorted in the darkness and you're stumbling around, and you can't? That's what fear does. When darkness creeps in or doubts creep in.

How many times have I told you don't trade what you know for what you don't know! But fear will cause us in the darkness as the perspective is changed, we get afraid. Some people are afraid of the dark. Things go bump in the night and your mind runs in the night. You can't sleep. And before you know it you're overwhelmed and obsessed with your worries and your fears and you just can't go. I'm telling you it's like sand in the machinery. You keep doing this, you're going to be immobilized, paralyzed. You'll be on the flat of your back. You're going to have some illness; you're going to have some problem that you can't handle because you're disobeying God in the area of trust and faith, because worry and fear, it's not just a weakness. It's a sinful problem. We're not trusting God! We're not believing what God said!

David Jeremiah said it this way. "Fear has been described as a small trickle of doubt that flows through the mind until it wears such a great channel that all your thoughts drain into it. Tiny fears almost unperceived can build up day by day until we find ourselves paralyzed, unable to perform". Is that true? Sure, it's true. You know it's true! And therefore we must overcome our fears. And the way to overcome our fears is in the exact way that the Apostle Paul tells us here in 2 Timothy 1:7. Don't be consumed, controlled, chained by a spirit of fear but overcome with "power, love and a sound mind". Power, not of a human spirit because the strongest of us will fail when faced with great difficulties and dangers, but with a Holy Spirit. The power of God, the enablement of God is in us and enablement equals emancipation. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty".

Don't confess your failures, don't confess your faithlessness. Faith wins in the power of God. Stop considering your circumstances and consider your God no matter how difficult or how dramatic or deadly your fears may be! You get a doctor's report; it goes the wrong way. You lose your job; fear sets in. Your kids are rebelling and you're afraid they're never coming to the Lord, they're never coming back to the Lord. And before you know it if you get consumed with these things and things like them, everything becomes negative and then doubt and fear and anxiety creep in, and you start focusing totally on your fears rather than living in your faith.

Did you know you can even invite certain things into your life through fear? In the book of Job, you know what Job went through. Now that was all in the sovereign plan of God but on one occasion in his conversations with God, Job said, "All that I feared is come upon me". Amazing, right? The very things that he feared, he invited them in. I personally believe. You know Satan can't read your mind. He's not omniscient like God is omniscient, but he can hear your words. And when you're constantly confessing your fears, talking about what frightens you and you're speaking words of doubt, Satan hears all of that and guess where he goes. Right for the jugular, he attacks you. And your fears invite in the enemy; they do.

So ask God to give you the power of the Holy Spirit to resist the temptation to dwell on your fears and have an unshakable faith. He is the great I AM which means "I am everything and anything you need. Fill in the blank. I am... whatever you need". Are you sick? "I am your Healer". Are you struggling financially? "I AM your Provider". Are you worried? "I AM your Peace". Are you lonely? "I AM your Friend that sticks closer than a brother". Are you in trouble? Are your kids in trouble? "I AM your ever present help in times of trouble". Are you weak? "I AM your Strength". Are you afraid? "I AM your Deliverer. I AM your Protector". Are you in a battle? "I AM the Lord your Banner, your Healer, your Defender, your Shelter, your Strength"! Are you bearing a burden? "I will bear your burdens"! Are you a sinner? Yes. "I AM your Savior! No need to fear".

It's said that there are over 365 times in the Bible where we are told "Fear not". It's the most often repeated commandment in the Bible. "Do not fear, do not fear, do not fear". So fear is overcome by the power of God, the power of His Spirit and then love. The Scripture says that "Perfect love casts out fear". That's 1 John chapter 4. "Perfect love casts out fear". That doesn't mean that we love Him perfectly or that we do anything perfectly. I don't do anything perfectly; do you? I certainly don't love perfectly. So it's not talking about our love for God when it says perfect love casts out fear. It's talking about the perfect love of God for us. Right? God loves you perfectly, eternally. Nothing will separate you from the love of God in Jesus Christ. He's got this! He's got you! He guides us, He guards us. He provides for our every need. He protects us in every circumstance because of His love.

And so if you know that you are perfectly loved by the God who loved you so much that He sent His only Son, who stretched out is arms on old rugged cross, saying, Jeremiah 31:3, "I love you with an everlasting love"! The God who took sinful man with one hand, Holy God with another, and in Christ brought together life and salvation. Paul said, Romans 8:32, "Don't you know if He loved you this much He will freely give you all things in Christ"? That's how much you're loved! Romans 8:39, "Nothing shall separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus Christ". Nothing! So the way to overcome your fear is power-God's power, God's love, His perfect sustaining, strengthening, solacing love, and one more thing, a sound mind which is self-control. It's an interesting word, the sound mind. It really means a stable mind, a steady mind. You know what makes the mind makes the man and the woman.

As a man thinks in his heart, as we think in our hearts, so are we. And so the way I think determines what I am, so God wants to give you a clear mind, not a lot of loose ends. Peter would tell us to gird up the loins of your mind. He's speaking of a day when men would wear these long robes and when it came time to run they would sort of tuck the robes in their belt and cinch them up real tight and run. That's the picture here. So don't have a lot of loose ends. Gird up the loins of your mind. Gear up for action in your mind. Get your mind right! And the only way I know how to do that is to fill my mind with God's promises, God's precepts, God's words, God's stories, God's truth!

We don't live by what we feel, we live by what we know and what we know is that God is control of the life of every believer! That's what we know! And that God is working together all things for your good and His glory. It that what it says? It says, Romans 8:28, "For we know that God is working together everything in our lives for our good, for His glory to those who are called according to His purpose". So we don't live by our feelings. We live by what we know! 1 John 5:13, "These things are written that you may know that you have eternal life". That's a sound mind. That's not a mind that's disrupted and distorted by the lies of the enemy and the fears and failures of life. So face down your fears with the power of God's Spirit-that means God is in you; by the love of Jesus Christ-that means God is for you; and by the enlightenment of a mind that is filled with God's word-that means that God is beside you. God is for you! God is in you! God is with you! There is nothing, Christian, that you should fear.
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