John Hagee - The Storm of Fear
Why does God allow storms in our lives? To teach us that we need him every day and every hour of our lives. Storms don't just gradually, progressively come. Fox news does not put on a news flash, "Thus saith God, 'a storm is coming to you'". Storms happen just like that, like lightning out of a blue sky. But those storms come from God to demonstrate his power, his might, his majesty, his absolute control over all of the universe. God uses storms to shake us out of our comfort zones into a position of complete dependence upon God for our survival. God will get you to the place that if he doesn't come through, you're not going to make it. That's when you're discovering how really good God is.
In the text, the 12 disciples are on the Sea of Galilee with God Almighty in the form of Jesus Christ in the boat, and the storm comes up. It was no surprise to Jesus it was coming. He led them into the storm. He got in the boat with them to increase their faith. Listen to this. Every storm is God's seminar on faith for you. Listen to this today. You're going to see yourself in it several times. Read with me Matthew 8:23 and following. Ready? "And when he had entered in the ship, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea. In so much that the ship was covered with the waves, but he was asleep". See how disturbed he was. And his disciples came to him and awoke him, saying, "Lord save us, or we're going to perish". And he said unto them, "Why are you fearful"? And that's what God is asking most of you right now and those of you watching by television across America. You're in a great storm. Why are you fearful?
Father God, we've come to the house of the Lord today. I ask the Holy Spirit to help us recognize the spirit of fear in our lives and give us the courage to crush it, in Jesus' name. Amen.
Jesus asked his disciples, "Why are you fearful"? Say that with me. "Why are you fearful"? In my research of this sermon, I discovered something that shocked me: that America's number one fear is the fear of public speaking. That never crossed my mind. And then I went back to the age six where my mother's persistent guidance helped me face and conquer appearing in front of people. One Saturday morning, mother told me at breakfast, "You're going to sing a solo tomorrow morning at the main worship service". We went from the kitchen to the piano where mother taught me the song. Now mother always had a switch about that long on top of the piano. It was her motivational tool.
This is a song I'd never heard. I was going to learn all of it and sing it tomorrow, and with absolute perfection, "The one lost sheep". Was I afraid? No, because instantly I had a plan. Next Sunday morning, the next day, just before dad went to the pulpit, I walked up on the platform and got right behind the pulpit. The pulpit was a piece of wood about this wide and about this tall. You could just see my father from his chin up. My nose was about this far. I couldn't see anybody, and nobody could see me. And that was my plan.
However, my persistent mother left the piano, walked up on the platform, got me by the shoulder, drug me around to the front, and said, "Look straight out there". And then she whispered, "Stare at the clock". It was 11:15. We'll never forget. And I sung all three verses of that song. And when I sat down and was still alive, I was changed forever. I had faced a new fear. And thanks to mother's switch and her eternal persistence, there was a new day in my life. The essence of that story is you have to admit your fear and face your fear before you can conquer your fear.
When America was attacked by Japan on December 7, 1941, Americans gathered around the radio. And they heard the voice of president Roosevelt, saying, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself". And I assure you the nation was shaken, because we were not in one of the wars you've known where you go over and fight 12 months and come home. It was a war for our survival. Those boys were drafted for the duration of the war plus six. That meant we intended to have victory or we were going to be goose stepping. So we had a lot to be concerned about. You've never lived in a war like that if you've lived beyond the second world war.
We did not have fear. And the American people went to work. And we worked hard, furiously, because we had an enemy that we had to defeat so that we could still be the land of the free. Thank God for the men and women who served us then and now in the u.S. Military. If you repress your fear, you drive it into your subconscious mind where it festers and manifest itself years later in weird, compulsive, destructive acts and attitudes that destroy your life and the life of everyone that's around you. You don't ever get away from it until you whip it! Listen to the voice of God through king David. "I sought the Lord and he heard me, and he delivered me from all of my fear. I will fear no evil, for thou art with me".
When the fear knocks at your door, send faith to answer, and no one will be there. Isaiah wrote, "I will trust and I will not be afraid". Say that with me. "I will trust and not be afraid". The New Testament begins with an angel telling the virgin Mary, "Fear not: for thou hath found favor with God". Why should Mary fear? Because in the Bible, when a girl was found to be pregnant without a husband, she was stoned to death. She had a reason to be fearful. The New Testament ends with Jesus telling John on the Isle of Patmos, "Fear not", "Fear not", "I am the first and I am the last. I am he that was, and he that is, and he that shall be forever more". "I am the lion of the tribe of Judah". "I am the alpha and the omega, the first and the end".
Fear falls before the fortress of faith. Men fear men because they do not fear God. Don't let another person ramrod your life into the dirt! Be driven by the dreams God gives you for your life, not the opinion of other people! What are two kinds of fear? There's first, the emotion of fear. That's God given. And I see some of you macho, John Wayne types flexing your shoulders right now. That's not me. I assure you, if you're walking through the woods, and you step on the tail end of a rattlesnake, suddenly your John Wayneism will melt. You'll be very concerned about your survival.
Then there's the spirit of fear that comes from the prince of darkness. God has not given us the spirit of fear. What is the difference? God gives you the emotion of fear to help you. The problem is not how to get rid of it. The problem is how to identify it, to bridle it, and cause it to help you reach your objective. My first experience with this kind of extreme fear happened when I was eight years of age. My father had killed a panther behind our house about three miles down the river bottom. And he'd sit around the family table, telling family and friends about how that panther screamed, just before he shot it. And I'd heard that and it went into my brain like quick silver.
My parents left the house two nights later to go visit church members. It was night. Mother told me to go burn the trash. Boys and girls in the country, there is no trash pick up. You carry your trash about 50 yards behind the house, and there's a place where you burn it. I walked out to that trash dump, and it's surrounded by weeds, north, south, and east, and the house is behind me. And just as I'm getting ready to set it down, I hear... I thought, my God: I'm lunch meat. I don't remember my feet hitting the ground as I take off back for the house. I hit the door. It was shut, locked, by the way. Bang! I hit the pane and broke it out, unlocked it, went in and slammed the door.
And then it dawned on me, if that was a real panther, I'd have been done right there. And then I heard the sound of laughter coming from the weeds. It was my older brother. He had locked the door, slipped out the side, went out in the weeds, and got there. And when I got just right, ready to burn the trash, he scared the life out of me. Point: healthy fear can keep you alive. Healthy fear can keep you alive. Fear will save your life. This is a story told by a doctor of his 50-year-old, male patient. He said, you're in terrible shape. I'll move right along. You've got to do something about this immediately. You've got to stop being afraid of your overbearing wife, and tell her to get on a budget and live on it.
And she has to start cooking nutritious meals. She has to get your children off your back so you can relax and have enough hours to sleep. And you have to stop working 80 hours a week to pay for all of the junk she's buying. This is what the doctor's telling. You know some of you ladies are already looking at me like. Just settle down. The doctor continued, unless there's some major changes in your life, you're going to be dead in a month. The fearful husband said to the doc, you know this would sound more official if it came from you to my wife. So the doctor phoned his wife and told her the news. When the husband got home, the wife ran up to him, threw her arms around him, and said, oh, you poor man: you've only got 30 days to live. Point: I'm not changing. Good-bye.
Some pseudointellectuals say, and you'll hear this in the university, "If you don't draw us by love, you can't drive us by fear". Think about that. Is that really true? Let me ask you a question. Why do you pay the IRS? Because you love to send checks to the IRS? I don't think so. It's because you fear living in leavensworth, that's why. Why do you take out fire insurance? Because you love your insurance agent? I don't think so. It's because the fear of fire can wipe you out. God planted the emotion of fear in our mortal nature so to make us uneasy with sin. King David says in Psalms 119, "My flesh trembles for fear of you..". Hear that. "My flesh trembles for the fear of you: for I am afraid of your judgments".
Psalm 2:10, "Be wise, o kings of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and trembling. Kiss the son, lest he be angry with you and you perish". Why fear God? Because some day you're going to stand in God's presence. And if you don't keep his rules, you're going to a very real place called hell. It's there whether you think it's there or not. God is not a doting grandfather, sitting benignly in the heavens, looking at our bizarre behavior, and said, "Well you get a pass this week". This is the law of God all the time. He is Almighty. He is all powerful. He is the judge of the universe. And some day we must all appear before him and give an account of the deeds done in our body.
It's not a matter of if you're going to bow before God: it's just when are you going to bow, today or in the judgment bar? But you are going to bow at some point. Why are policemen being shot in the streets? Because there's no fear of God. There is no fear of God. They're not even afraid of the law. If a rapist truly believed he was going to face God in the judgment immediately afterward and be sent to hell forever, the rape problem in America would be over. Why is this nation saturated with drive-by shootings, anarchists in the street, corruption in the FBI, corruption in the department of justice? There's a shadow of government trying to overtake the legitimate government that was voted in by the people. There is no fear of God.
Why has the supreme court thrown out the Ten Commandments? Because the fear of man, when it's greater than the fear of God, always leads to ruin. We fear the ACLU, but we have no fear of God. The ACLU writes a letter and people tremble. But when God speaks in his word, we go to sleep, even in church sometimes. We've kicked the Prince of Peace out of our school. And now they have become a war zone of death and suffering. Why are some congressmen using a slush fund paid with your tax dollars to pay prostitutes and call girls? Why? Because there's corruption in the soul of America. And people will not call it corruption. Sin needs to be called sin! It will not just go away! It must be repented of and forsaken! Give the Lord praise in the house.
Now, consider the spirit of fear. "God has not given us a spirit of fear". Say that with me. "God has not given us a spirit of fear". Disease has killed its thousands. But the spirit of fear has killed its ten thousands. Your greatest crisis will come from the fear of trouble, not the presence of trembling. Hear that. Your greatest crisis will come from the fear of trouble, not the presence of trouble. The spirit of fear will break your spirit. It will destroy your defenses. It will disarm you in the day of battle. And it will bring terror to you on your death bed. Regardless of your profession of faith, if you live with the spirit of fear, you are a practical atheist.
If you live with the spirit of fear, you are a practical atheist. You don't really believe what God said. When you believe this, the spirit of fear is no more a part of your speech. It's no more a part of your life. It's gone! Some of you had your parents tell you, "Well you can't achieve greatness". Some of you had your friends tell you that. Why not you? Why not you? If God is God, and the Word of God is true, why not you?
One of the my favorite stories in history begins in 1519 when an extraordinary man set sail on the final leg of a voyage from the shores of Cuba to the Yucatan Peninsula. His name is Hernan Cortez. He had 11 ships, 500 soldiers, 100 sailors, and 16 horses. Their mission was to capture the world's richest treasure, a treasure of gold and silver, and Jewels, and artifacts that were truly wealth unmeasured. This treasure had been held by the same army for 600 years. Army after army, conqueror after conqueror, had tried to take it and failed.
Cortez got a group of people together. And half way through the voyage, many of the soldiers and sailors became fearful. They said to him, Mr. Cortez, we're not sure about this mission. This has been tried for 600 years without success. Whole armies have died out here trying to do what you're talking about. Let me transform that to church talk. Pastor, this project is too big. Maybe it's too ambitious. Maybe we should downsize this vision just a little bit. How many times have I heard that in 50 years? Back to Cortez. Cortez listened patiently to his followers. When they arrived at the Yucatan Peninsula, Cortez gathered all of his frightened men on the beach. They grew quiet waiting for their leader to speak.
They thought he was going to say, you're right men. You're fears are justified. We'll rest for just a few days, and then we're out of here. Not hardly. This is what Cortez said when he got them all together, "Burn the boats". What did you say? "Burn the boats". And they burned every one of them. And when they burned every one of them, he said, "If we go home, we're going home in their boats". You know what happened? Fear evaporated. Those soldiers fought furiously. And for the first time in 600 years, that treasure was taken. Why? Because their fears were cremated by those burning boats. Their only choice was to take the treasure and to win the fight.
So listen clearly as we close. When fear grabs you by the throat, send faith to answer, "Burn the boats! Burn your excuses! Burn your insecurities! Burn your lack of confidence! Get away from your negative friends! Break out of that negative environment! Burn the friendships of the frightened freddies"! If God be for you, who can be against you? Greater is he that's in you than he that's within the world. No fear! No fear! No fear! God is with you! Give him praise and glory in the house of God!
Stand. Stand. How many of you in this service, there's something in your life that causes you to have fear? Whether it's in your health, your job, your marriage, the fear of death, the fear of the unknown, 75 different ways to fear, and you want it to leave, you want it to get out of your life, out of your mind, and be gone forever. Pray this prayer with me those of you watching by television.
Heavenly Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I come before you today, and I'm giving my fear to you. Those things that have tormented me, that have haunted me, or a thing in my past, I am not going to think fearfully. I'm not going to speak fearfully. I'm going to act with the boldness of a lion, and accomplish the destiny God has for me. I am not a practical atheist. I believe that if God is for you, no one can be against you. And from this day forward, it's victory, victory, in Jesus' name: victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil: victory because that's where I'm going to live. Amen.