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Jack Graham - The Courage to Stand

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    Jack Graham - The Courage to Stand

This is a time for courage, especially if you are a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. And we are beginning a series of messages this weekend called FEARLESS. And we're going to be looking at some of the great stories of the Bible; in particular stories in the Old Testament. And these stories are real stories with real people, with real problems just like you and me, but how they overcame obstacles and subdued kingdoms and destroyed enemies because they were fearless in the face of anything and everything that they faced. We need today a bold, confident, robust, muscular Christianity! Because there's no place for fear.

Fear is a bondage and we all feel fear from time to time. Fear feels like a prison, like a tyrant has locked us up and won't let us go. Fear will suck the life out of our soul. Fear will destroy our strength and take away our happiness. It's impossible to be happy and to be filled with fear at the same time. Fear will rob us of our joy and rob us of our happiness. It takes away the life in life. Yes, fear is an emotional and a spiritual bondage. We're held captive by our ravaged and anxious thoughts and worried minds. But can you imagine a life free of fear? Living in the freedom from this bondage that is so deadly? Can you imagine living in peace rather than in panic or pandemonium in your life? Can you imagine a life that is an inner calm rather than chaos? Is it even possible to live a life like this? And the answer is yes, yes, yes, and yes! Because God has told us again and again in the Scripture, "Do not be afraid"!

Again, over and over in God's Word. Multiple times, over 365 times, one for every day of the year: do not be afraid. Do not fear. God knows that we face fears and God knows that we have anxious hearts and minds. So He promises us that we can break the chains, the bondage of fear in our lives, that we can live in faith rather than in fear. He shows us in His Word how we can live a fearless life. We begin with the story of Moses, this man among men. A liberator, a law-giver and leader. The man who grew up in Egypt as the adopted son of Pharaoh. Though he was Jewish, a Hebrew. He was adopted into the family of the pharaoh, the king of Egypt, the most powerful man on earth. And yet at a certain time in his life, Moses made a bold, fearless choice, and that choice is described in Hebrews, chapter 11.

Let's read it, beginning in verse 24. It says: "By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible". He was not afraid of the wrath of the king or the power of Egypt and he stood fearlessly, courageously in the face of this king. And there came a day when he said, "Let my people go"!

This story of Moses strengthens our faith and reminds us that we can break every chain in our life, including the bondage of fear and live in the fullness and the promise of God. You see, God promised Moses and the children of Israel a Promised Land, a beautiful land where they would live in abundance. But they were in slavery in Egypt and God had a plan of getting them out. Now we need to start with the fact that Moses at first was an abject total failure and here's how. As a young man one day he walked up on a Hebrew slave being abused, mistreated by an Egyptian. Moses was so angry; in a fit of rage he killed the Egyptian. And then to cover up his crime and to hide his sin, he buried that Egyptian in the sand. But the coverup didn't last very long. It never does, does it? The coverup doesn't last very long.

The Bible says that "whoever conceals a transgression will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy". You know, when we try to cover our transgressions, our mistakes, ultimately, they come out of the ground and that's what happened to Moses. It all came apart. And Moses, the prince of Egypt, a man raised as the son of the king, now is a fugitive and he flees into the wilderness, into the desert, to the backside of nowhere in a faraway place, as far away as he could hide from the wrath of the king. Now someone said that Moses spent the first 40 years of his life learning to be a somebody and all the power and success of being royalty. And he was trained in the schools of the Egyptians and he was a powerful man. We're told in history that he was a military leader. That's the first 40 years of his life. But once this happened, once Moses committed the crime and covered it up, and it all came uncovered and he ran for his life, he spends the next 40 years on the backside of the desert as a nobody. He's now a shepherd. And one day he goes out to shepherd his sheep and he sees a bramble bush, a scraggly bush and suddenly, out of nowhere that bush ignites. It was as though it was nuked, and it began to burn.

Well, that's one thing; it wasn't just a flash fire, it continued to burn. It was a burning bush, and ultimately as Moses drew near to see what was going on with this bush, he heard the voice of God calling him to come near. "Take your shoes off, Moses. You're on holy ground". And there Moses at this burning bush encountered the living God, the great I AM which is the personal, eternal name of God. This is no generic god, just a god of anyone or anything. This is the God of all gods. One true God! And Moses now is called to go back to Egypt and to deliver, to be the liberator, the emancipator of the people of Israel, and to get them out. Moses didn't want to go. But God's call compelled him.

You know, when God calls you, when it's God's will for you to do something, He will equip you. He doesn't call the equipped; he equips the called. And Moses was prepared and, in many ways, now no longer powerful, successful. He's been humbled in the desert; he's been broken by this experience, but now he's full of the fire of God and he goes back to Israel I said that Moses spent the first 40 years of his life learning how to be a somebody, he spent the second 40 years of his life, by the way, he's now 80 years of old. He's an octogenarian but it's never too late for a new beginning. God still had a plan for his life. And so, he spends the next 40 years learning what God can do with a person who's learned the first two lessons, how to be a somebody, how to be a nobody, and how God can use us when our lives are surrendered to Him.

And so, Moses, the fugitive, now goes back to Egypt. It's a new beginning with the fire of God, the great I AM, the authority of God. And he walks right in to the court of the Pharaoh and he says "Let my people go"! Well, Pharaoh refused; he resisted. Who are you? And Moses reminded him who he was. That he was the child of the most-high God. He's no longer fearful, He's no longer afraid. He stands against the wrath of the king. He stands up in the authority and the power of God. Pharaoh began to harden his heart. In fact, it says many times as Moses confronted him with that demand of God: "Let my people go", that pharaoh hardened his heart, and ultimately, listen to this. It says that God hardened Pharaoh's heart.

Here's what happens. When a person resists and resists and resists the call of God, the word of God, when we resist salvation in Jesus Christ again and again and again, what we do often we get good at. And we begin hardening our heart. And we stiffen our hearts against God when we say no and no and no. And that's what happening to Pharaoh here. The Scripture says, God says, "My Spirit will not always strive with a man". And as Pharaoh is striving with Him and resisting God's word to let my people go, his heart is hardened. It's like callouses you get on your hands if you're working with your hands.

When I was a college and high school athlete playing baseball, we would go out early and begin to hit. And I can remember my hands initially they would bleed almost and turn red, and they were soft. But as we hit more and more, we practiced more and more, our hands stiffened, and there were callouses until you really didn't feel it anymore. Well, you know, you can get callouses on your soul as well. The Bible says in Proverbs 29 and verse 1: "He who is often reproved and hardens his neck will suddenly be cut off and that without remedy". The Bible says, "Today if you hear His voice do not harden your heart". Because ultimately God says, "Enough"! And He hardened the heart of Pharaoh. And the same thing can happen to us as we resist the Lord!

And so along came Pharaoh with a series of compromises. I believe that compromise may have taken more people down than any other sin in the world. Compromise, because it's subtle; it's often unseen and yet it is so powerful and so defeating. And four times pharaoh, like the devil, came with certain compromises. And we can find those back in the book of Exodus where we read the story. So just go ahead and take your Bible right now and turn back to the book of Exodus and chapter 8 and look at verse 25, because here's the first compromise. Pharaoh called to Moses and said: "Go sacrifice to your God within the land". But Moses said, "It would not be right for us to do so for the offerings we shall sacrifice to the Lord our God are an abomination to the Egyptians and if we sacrifice offerings abominable to the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not stone us"?

So, here's the first compromise. Pharaoh, like the devil today, comes and says, "Look, you can worship your God. You can have your religion but just stay here in Egypt". In other words, stay right here in the world. Do it here. The world, like Egypt, is filled with pleasures, powerful possessions and all the rest, and he said, you know, you can just stay, you can practice your religion right here. He's like the devil who's saying to so many people, "Have your religion but leave your life in the world"! Just stay compromised in the world. Sleep with the enemy, stay with the enemy. Well, what happens, they would still be in slavery, won't they? Be very, very careful about compromising with the world, the world system. Staying in the world, staying close to the world. The Bible says, "Come out from among them and be ye separate". The world system. Not talking about people in the world that God loves; not talking about the world of nature, but the anti-God, anti-Christ system that is in the world today.

The Scripture says that "We are not to be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds in Jesus Christ". We're to come out from the world. And if God is going to set you free, and He will set you free, but you've got to be willing to leave the world behind you. If you're going to follow Christ, you must be willing to turn your back on the world. So, Moses said, "No, no, no"! Mo said no to the compromise of staying in Egypt. So, more plagues came and the negotiation goes further. Pharaoh comes back like the devil who comes back again with another strategy. Look in verse 28 of this same chapter: "So Pharaoh said, 'I will let you go to sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; but you must not go very far away.'"

Now, that's a compromise! Pharaoh was saying, "Moses, okay, you can leave Egypt, you can go out into the wilderness, but don't go very far because you may want to come back. You don't want to go too far with this thing, Moses. Don't be so radical". And that's what the devil says to so many of us today. This is a compromise. We hear it all the time. We hear it in our hearts; we hear it in our heads. "Look it's okay to come out of the world and follow Jesus, just don't go too far with this thing. Don't be a freak, don't be a fool; don't be a fanatic. You can have religion. You can be a Christmas and Easter kind of person, but, you know, you're not going to commit all the way. You don't want to go overboard with this thing". And yet when we're called to follow Christ, we're called to go all in and to leave the world and go fully forward to follow the Christ courageously.

A third compromise, more plagues came and once again Pharaoh is ready to talk. Chapter 10, look at the beginning of verse 8: "So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh and he said to them: 'Go, serve the Lord your God.' He said, 'Okay, go. Leave Egypt, go serve the Lord your God but which ones are to go? Who's going?' And Moses said, 'We will go with our young and our old, we will go with our sons and our daughters, with our flocks and our herds for we must hold a feast to the Lord.'" You see what's happening here now? The devil comes along, like Pharaoh, and says to us, "Okay, leave Egypt, go, but don't go very far. But if you're going all the way, don't take your family with you, don't take your possessions with you, don't take your young, don't take your old. Just you, the men, you go"! Moses responded to that negotiation by saying, "No,". Said, "Our families are going with us. We're not going to leave our families behind".

Satan hates the family. He has always sought to destroy and to divide families, husbands and wives, and parents from their children. And we, of course, see that happening in our day. We see Satan attacking our children, our grandchildren. The heat is on. The suicide rate among teenagers is off the charts. Like something we've never seen before. And the media onslaught for the minds of our kids is full throttle ahead. And we must fight for our families! We must take our kids with us! Don't fall for this compromise! Lead your children to Christ! Lead your family forward, out of Egypt, out of the world and to follow Jesus with all your heart! Don't compromise! One problem we've got so often with our children is we've lived compromised lives ourselves. Our kids know, they can spot phoniness; they can spot compromise in our lives.

And so, the best thing we can do for our children is to live a godly life in the power of God's Spirit, so that they see Christ in us, so that they see the testimony, that what we say we believe, we actually believe; that we fight this good fight of faith! Our children do not expect perfection, but they do expect us to be real, to be authentic. And when we come out of the world, when we go all the way forward with God, our children see it and know it. But I'm challenging you today don't compromise with your children. Don't just take your children to church and drop them off. Once we get back to buildings and back to coming to the fellowship of the people of God, "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together".

Don't just drop your kids off and go somewhere else, drinking your coffee somewhere, but lead your children to church. Let them see Jesus in you. Take your children with you! Let's be a generation, coming out of this thing as we reset and as we rebound and revive spiritually, let's be the kind of parents and grandparents and family members which says we will not allow the world, the devil to have our children! More plagues come, and Pharaoh is ready to deal again. You know, he keeps hardening his heart every time. He says no. He hardens his heart. For in verse 24, Pharaoh called to Moses and said, "Go serve the Lord, with your little ones, take everybody, they can go with you. Only let your flocks and your herds remain behind". Leave your possessions behind. Leave your money behind. Leave your land behind, but not just your land, your livelihood, leave it all behind.

You know what Moses said, that great bold courageous non-compromiser, full of the fire of God? He said, "No, we're going. We're leaving Egypt. We're going to go far into the desert, far, far from here. We're out of here. We're going to the promised land ultimately". He said, "We're taking our wives, our daughters, our sons, our old people, our grandparents, every head, every hair and we're taking our possessions with us. We're taking the herd! We're taking everything"! You see, the temptation is: Follow Christ, but just leave your business back in the world. Separate your spiritual life from your secular life. Or leave your money in your pocket. Don't give generously to the work of Christ in your church. Just hold onto your money! God has called every one of us to love Christ and to love the work of Christ. Jesus established His Church and I want to challenge you not to leave your money or your business or your secular life back there in Egypt somewhere. But that as you follow Christ, you come with a full commitment.

And that is to say, "Lord, you have my life, you have my person, you have my possessions, you have my family, you have everything that you have given me, I give it back to you. I'm going, and I'm going all the way. Jesus, you are the Lord of my life, the Lord of my family, and I'm not holding anything back from you"! And when you live like that, the fear in our lives diminishes; it is destroyed. And we come out of bondage, we come out of Egypt, we come out of fear and the chains are broken and we live in the power of Christ! May God deliver us from the bondage of fear and any other kind of bondage as we live a bold, bodacious life for Christ! A non-compromised life! And say, "Lord, every nerve, every ounce and inch of me and what I have, it belongs to You". And Satan can't have me, he can't have our family! He can't have my money! He can have none of this because, Lord, I'm giving it all to You.
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