Robert Jeffress - Moving From Fear to Courage - Part 2
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Fear holds us back from achieving dreams and reaching goals. It makes us complacent and keeps us from living the way God intended, but gratefully with God's help, the mountain of fear can be conquered. Today we're going to look at the Israelites' cowardly response when God commanded them to explore the Promised Land and learn how we can overcome the obstacle of fear in our own lives. My message is titled, "Moving from Fear to Courage". As we continue our series "Invincible" here on Pathway to Victory.
Here's an important principle. How you see yourself is how others tend to see you as well. If you see yourself as powerless, incapable, weak, that's how other people see you. We hear a lot about self-esteem and I know there's a bad side to that concept, that it can be a humanistic viewpoint self-esteem but not when you see yourself, as God sees you. Yes apart from God, we're weak and incapable. But as Paul said, "In Christ, I can do all things who strengthens me". How you see yourself is how others see you as well. They were terrified of the giants here. What was the reaction of the Israelites to these two reports? The report of Joshua and Caleb, that, yes, the land is filled with obstacles, but we should go up and possess it as well as the 10 who said, "No, we can't overcome the obstacles".
Look at verse one of numbers 14, "Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried. And the people wept that night and all the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. And the whole congregation said to them, 'would that we had died in the land of Egypt, or we had died in the wilderness'". Even though they had been praying for 400 years for deliverance from Egypt, they said, "We'd rather be back in Egypt than to have to face these giants. We would have rather start the death in the wilderness than face this". So what happens? Verse six, Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes as a sign of sorrow and they delivered a pep speech to the Israelites.
They said, look at verse seven, "The land which we pass through to spy out is exceedingly good land. If the Lord is pleased with us, then he will bring us into this land and give it to us. A land which flows with milk and honey only don't rebel against the Lord. Don't fear the people of that land for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them. And the Lord is with us, do not fear them". Joshua and Caleb gave a great speech that day. A sermon entitled, moving from fear to courage. And the people responded how, not with faith. Look at verse 10, all the congregation said, "Let's stone them with these stones". They were not a receptive audience. They were ready to kill their leaders, replaced her leaders with somebody who wouldn't put them in parallel like this. And that's when God decided to show up. Verse 10 closes by saying, "Then the glory of the Lord appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel. God had had it".
And in his rebuke, numbers 14, he chastises them for their lack of faith. And he said, "I've had it with this people, I'm going to destroy the Israelites from the face of the earth. And I'm going to begin with the new people to show my glory through". If God had said that and I had been Moses, I would say seek them God give them what they deserve. Just remember me when you decide to raise up this new people, I want to be a part of that. But interestingly, that's not what Moses does. Instead he begs God to change his mind. In a great intercessory prayer, he says, "God, if you damn Israel and condemn them to eternal punishment, your name is going to be blasphemed among the gentiles. People are going to be saying you're a God who wasn't powerful enough to fulfill his own promise to his own people, don't destroy this people".
And God listened to Moses. Verse 20 says, so the Lord said, "I have pardoned them according to your word, Moses, I'm going to forgive them. I'm not going to damn them eternally, but indeed, as I live all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord. Surely all the men who have seen my glory and my signs, which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness yet have put me to the test these 10 times and have not listened to my voice shall by no means see the land, which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned me see it". "I'm going to forgive them Moses, but not one of them is going to enter into the Promised Land". In fact, he went on to say everybody, 20 years of age and older will die in the wilderness without possessing the land. They're not going to lose their salvation. But they'll lose the benefit of their salvation in this life. They shall not enter into my rest.
You say, why would God engage in such a severe punishment, kill everyone, millions of people in the wilderness, why would he do that? Because God understood that fear is not only destructive, it's contagious. We learn fear from other people and just like sometimes chemotherapy or radiation has to be utilized to kill off cancer cells in the body, God knew that sometimes you have to destroy the cancerous cells of sin. He knew that unbelief, fear is contagious and could be spread from generation to generation. And that leads to a discussion about what the problems of fear are. What are the problems of fear? Let me just mention four real briefly to you. First of all, fear distorts the size of our problem. It distorts the size of our problem. I read somewhere that a fog that covers seven city blocks has less than half a glass of water in it. Doesn't take much water, many drops of water to paralyze an entire city.
The same thing is true with fear. Fear has a way of stopping us in our tracks. Fear is like a funhouse mirror, did you ever use to go into fun houses at the fair and see yourself in a mirror and it distorted your image and it was sometimes frightening to see, you just thought you looked bad, why did you look into one of those mirrors? That can be a scary thing to look at. It's the same way, fear, distorts the size of our problems. And that's why it's so destructive. And that leads to number two. Fear utilizes the wrong standard for analyzing our situation. It utilizes the wrong standard for analyzing our situation.
I read this week that the tallest building in the world is in the Middle East, it's in Dubai. It's 2.717 feet high. That's one tall building, unless you're comparing it to mount Everest, that is 29.000 plus feet high. Then that office building is no larger than a mole hill. It's the same thing with analyzing our problems. How big are your problems? Well, if you're measuring your problems by your abilities, you're going to feel like a grasshopper. And your problem is going to feel like a giant and it is a giant. But if you measure your problems by the size of the God you serve, then it's your problem that becomes a grasshopper. Then be sure you utilize the right standard in analyzing your situation.
A third problem with fear is it forgets the power of our God. Fear forgets the power of God. I find it fascinating that in this story, all 12 spies had the same report. Land flowing with milk and honey, giants in the land. Nobody disputed that, but they came to two very different conclusions. The two spies, Joshua and Caleb said, yes, there are problems, but we can overcome the problem. The 10 said, we have problems, but they forgot the power of God. Which is amazing when you think about what they had experienced over the last year and a half. I mean the supernatural plagues that changed Pharaoh's heart, the parting of the Red Sea for the Israelites, the closing of the Red Sea that drowned the Egyptian soldiers that were chasing after them, the manna in the wilderness, the miraculous displays of God at mount Sinai, yet they forgot all of those things when analyzing their current problem.
It is so easy to forget what God has done in the past. Eight times throughout the scripture, the Bible says, nothing is too hard for God. You may want to jot some of these references down. Genesis 18:14, job 42:2, Jeremiah 32:27. In the New Testament, Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27, other passages, nothing is too hard for God. I had decided to spend a couple of hours doing a word study this week on that word, nothing. What did it mean in the Old Testament in the original Hebrew? What did it mean in the New Testament in the Greek language? What does the word nothing mean? And after a couple of hours of study, I got some insight. You know what the original meaning of nothing is? Nothing. When he says nothing is too hard for God, that's what it means, nothing, not a zilch is too hard for God. Fear forgets the power of God.
And fourth, fear destroys the promise of our future. E. Stanley Jones says, "Fear is the sand in the machinery of life and faith is the oil". Fear is like sand. It only takes a few grains of it to bring our life to a grinding halt. But faith is the oil that encourages us to move forward. What is the antidote to fear? Now you might think, I would say courage. The title of this message is, moving from fear to courage, but know the antidote to fear is faith. I want you to listen to this for just a moment, 'cause this is important in understanding. What is faith? Hebrews chapter 11 verse one, remember that passage, "For faith is the assurance of things hoped for, it is the conviction of things not seen".
Faith is both an assurance, and it is a conviction. I've given you this definition in our series on Hebrews 11, I said, faith is believing that God will do what he has promised to do and then acting accordingly. You see true faith involves first of all a belief that God will do what he's promised to do, but it's not just a belief, it's an action. That's what the word conviction implies. It is an action. It is acting on what you believe. And there's that long list in Hebrews 11 of people who had true faith, I mean, Abraham believed that God was going to give him the land, but he believed it so much he acted accordingly. He picked up his family and moved, headed to that Promised Land. Noah believed that God was going to destroy the world by a flood, he believed it so much, he acted with conviction, with courage, he built an ark. Rahab believed that God was going to give Jericho to the Israelites, she believed it so much, she risked her life by hiding the two spies.
That's what true faith is. It's a belief, but it is also a conviction, an action. If you're paralyzed, if you hear God speak but you don't move, you really don't have biblical faith. Courage is just another word for conviction. Moving in light of what God has promised to do for you. How do you develop that kind of faith? How do you allow faith and not fear to have the final say in your life? Let me give you three quick principles here for developing courage in your life. First of all, realize that fear is a normal reaction. I was leading people this week who said, oh, fear is sinful, no it's not sinful, if it's dealt with properly. There's a normal reaction. The key is to make sure it's not your final reaction.
Remember Psalm three, David, the man after God's own heart found himself in a threatening situation. His son Absalom was leading a rebellion against him. He cries out to God in Psalm three verse one, "Oh Lord, how my adversaries have increased? Many are rising up against me. Many are saying to my soul, there is no deliverance for him in God". The Jerusalem times was reporting, "David is finished. His kingdom is through". His own son is rebelling against him, many are saying, there is no deliverance for him in God. But remember verse three, "But you, oh Lord, are a shield about me, my glory and the one who lifts up my head. I was crying to the Lord with my voice. And he answered me from his holy mountain". David didn't minimize the fear that he felt, but thank God, his fear was his first response, but not his final response. Realize that fear is a normal reaction.
Secondly, reflect on the promises of God. Reflect on the promises of God. I gave you some verses just a few moments ago about nothing is too hard for God. Memorize a few of those. Recount them when you run into trouble, when you run into a fearful situation. In Psalm 34:4 David said, "I sought the Lord and he answered me. And he delivered me from all my fears". One way God delivers us from fear is to reflect on his promises. Somebody has pointed out that there are 366 commands in the Bible that begin with, fear not, fear not, fear not, 366, one for every day of the year, including leap year. God's trying to tell you something. He's trying to tell me something. Do not fear. And one way we keep from fearing is by reflecting on what God has already promised.
Number three, remember and recount God's faithfulness to you. Remember and recount God's faithfulness to you. I had you read Psalm 34 a little bit earlier in the service. It begins in verse one with, "I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth". David said, I'm continually talking about God's faithfulness, why? Because it strengthens me to remember God's faithfulness, but it's also a blessing to other people around me who may be facing their own giants. When they hear me recount of God's blessing, it encourages other people. Remember fear is contagious, but so is faith. Faith is contagious. And that's why as families, we need to have a collection of stories of God's faithfulness that we pass down to our children and grandchildren of how God has been faithful to us and allowed us to conquer giants that were in the land.
Do you have a group of stories like that? Stories you tell so often that when your children began hearing it, they roll their eyes and say, oh, not again. They may be rolling their eyes, but they're listening to you. As you tell those stories of God's faithfulness to your children and grandchildren. Remember, for hundreds of years, the Old Testament wasn't written down, the stories of Genesis were passed down through oral tradition, family to family, to family, to family, till it got to Moses, he wrote them down. We need to pass down those family stories of God's faithfulness. And by the way, churches need to have their own stories that they pass down from generation to generation of how God has sustained and protected and empowered their congregation.
I began the sermon today by giving you a case study in fear. It's the Israelites who failed to experience God's blessing because they allowed fear to have the final say in their life. In these final moments, I want to close with another case story. A case study in courage. And that case study in courage would be another group of God's people. You, the members of First Baptist Church, Dallas. God has blessed the ministry of this church here in Dallas. After a couple of years in being in our new campus, we add so many children and preschoolers and young adults and youth coming that we had to add two more floors onto that new facility, 90.000 square feet, $35 million to accommodate, the throngs of people coming to our church. And not only that, God blessed our broadcast ministry, Pathway to Victory, our church's broadcast ministry is the fastest growing Christian media ministry in the world today.
Pastor, why are you telling us that story? It's a story of faith that needs to be passed from generation to generation. But the reason I tell it today is this, as I was preparing this message, I already had it completed, had the story worked in there, it dawned on me Wednesday that today, May 2nd, 2021 is exactly the 11th anniversary of that day, May 2nd, 2010 when you, the members of First Baptist Church, Dallas came forward, major commitment and said, our church is going to be governed by faith not fear. Thank you church for being that kind of church. God has blessed you because of the same God, the same glorious, all powerful God who moved a mountain for us is available to help you and offers to remove whatever obstacle you're facing right now so that you can experience that abundant life he's promised to you.