I have had many moments of overwhelming fear in my life. In my childhood, some Saturday nights when my parents were out late, my brother and I would stay up and watch horror movies after the eleven o’clock news. We would watch movies like Werewolf and Frankenstein with Boris Karloff. Although these same movies are not scary to me now, as a kid, they would frighten me to death. My parents would want me to walk across the alley where we lived and get the newspaper – but I was too afraid to go. At that age, those movies did a number on me.
Later in life, my fears became different. I would think, what if something happens to my daughter? What would happen if I were in an accident and was no longer able to provide for my family? What if I lost my memory or contracted Alzheimer’s disease?
Eight minutes – that was all it took to preach all four of my sermons!
I remember other fears in my life, like my first time on an airplane and preaching my first sermon. In his book “Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham,” Billy Graham said that when he was first called to preach, he decided to prepare some sermons. He wrote out 4 sermons and placed them carefully in his Bible. When he was invited to preach for the first time, he preached all 4 sermons in 8 minutes!
There are just so many things we could fear!
When we fear…God’s plan is disregarded vv. 19-21
The mandate is clear. Here is your land; it’s a gift. Now you are to take it; it is yours. The Israelites had come so far and yet the finish line still seemed so far away. It wasn’t far away; it was right there, but the only thing that kept them from claiming it was their fear. They had seen what God could do. God had given them victory over Pharaoh’s army. He had parted the Red Sea and provided for them in the wilderness. Yet, that final obstacle was their fear.
Romans 8:14-15 says, For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
These verses teach us that we do not face things alone. The Hebrew word often translated Abel is the word yakal [yah kal]. It indicated capability, but it is complementary. It has the idea that we can’t, but He can.
Job concluded, I know your God can do anything Job 42:2
The Psalmist said, This extraordinary knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it. Psalm 139:6
God has a plan. To be a Christian and fearful means that you have disregarded His plan.
When we fear…God’s plan is disregarded!
When we fear…God’s purposes are distorted v. 27
Fear brings out the worst in each of us. The Israelites grumbled in their hearts. They played the blame game – it’s all God’s fault. They became victims of the devil’s deadly “D” of discouragement. They were afraid of the Anakims who were believed to be relatives of Goliath.
We saw the descendants of Anak…We seemed like grasshoppers, and we must have seemed the same to them Numbers 13:33
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
Fear is really the only monster we face.
Fear shows life through a fun house mirror—distorts without the fun. David Jeremiah
When we fear…God’s purposes are distorted!
When we fear…God’s people become discouraged v. 28
The word discouragement means dis [or take away] courage. Fear is a drain and it’s contagious. Here are some examples in my life:
We had a fellow on a trip with us one time who was afraid of flying. He was so afraid, he had everyone else on the trip scared to death. We were boarding the plane in Texas and he said to my wife Regina, “Well…if it goes down, it won’t leave me a cripple.” Regina said, “Will you be quiet. I am not planning on dying on this trip.”
We were at Busch Gardens some years ago when my daughter Angie was a cheerleader for Summit Junior High School. There were tornado warnings that day, and the announcers kept warning us of the approaching storm. At the park, there was a train with a smoke stack that hauled people around and it would pass nearby our seats. Everyone had been schooled that a tornado sounds like a train. Around the track comes the train, and one of the ladies standing by shouted, “There it is!” People became so frightened, they were jumping over chairs looking for shelter.
All it took was 10 men with a bad report to scare the daylights out of the entire nation of Israel! Believe me, fear is contagious.
When we fear…God’s people become discouraged!
When we fear…God’s promises are disbelieved vv. 29-33
What we find in God’s Word is…
- He called His people.
- He carried His people.
- He watched over His people.
- He led their steps.
- He provided their food.
- He nurtured them.
Now it was time to test them…learning involves testing. They had what they needed to pass the test. They had a rearview mirror.
Want to know what God will do in the future? Look to see what God has done in the past.
The truth is, God has brought us this far; He will bring us home. The problem is that like the Israelites, we do not utilize our rearview mirror. We have a giant in the headlights and he is massive. So massive he has blocked our view. I can’t see what God has done in the past, I can’t see what God is doing in the present, and I can’t see what God says in His Word about what He is going to do in the future.
When we fear…the promises of God are disbelieved!
When we fear…God’s principles are disobeyed v. 26
For it is a sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it. James 4:17
Fear is disobedience! God has given us everything we need to be able to walk by faith. Scripture instructs us over and over to Fear not. It is an imperative [command]. When you allow fear to dominate your life – you disobey God.
But you might say, “But I can’t help it.” Then you, my friend, have forgotten what God has given to you to help you overcome your fears. God longs for you to accept wonderful gifts from His hands. For some…a new opportunity for ministry, a new career direction, the kind of relationship you have always wanted, a new direction for your life. But you say…
- What if I make the wrong decision?
- What if I choose the wrong mate?
- What if my business venture fails?
- What if I get homesick on the mission field?
- What if they fire me for becoming a Christian?
- What if I join the church and they won’t accept me?
- The list of “What ifs” could go on forever.
When we fear…God’s principles are disobeyed!
How do we face our fears?
Don’t be a Jonah and run. Be a Joshua and Caleb – take a stand. Admit your concern.
Confront or identify it, then confess it. Repent. Take the steps that lead to victory.
Claim the promises
He will not leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom should I be afraid? Psalm 27:1
The Lord is for me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? Psalm 118:6
The fear of man is a snare, but the one who trusts in the Lord is protected. Proverbs 29:25
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
Cultivate a closer relationship with God
The Bible says of Caleb and Joshua, They followed the Lord completely. Numbers 32:12
Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. James 4:8
Commit your life to Jesus.
Some of you are afraid to die. Does death hold terror for you? Have you been running away from the open arms of God?
Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could He die, and only by dying could He break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could He set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. Hebrews 2:14-15
There are giants in the land and one of them is called fear. But praise God – next to our Jesus, they’re nothing but a bunch of grasshoppers!