Summary: A sermon on confidence in the midst of trials and troubles (Material adapted from Daniel Overdorf's book, What the Bible Says About the Church: Rediscovering Community, chapter 14 Radically Perseverant, pgs. 347-357)
Confidence, I’m going to speak on confidence this morning. Lord, I think you have the wrong guy. Always struggled with having confidence
I was raised in a home where we were taught to excel at whatever we did. My brother operates his own landscaping business, one sister works with the US State Department, and my other sister works as a public school teacher in Louisiana. My parents are recovering perfectionists. I also am a recovering perfectionist. A perfectionist usually has low self confidence because they set unreasonably high standards for themselves. When those standards are not met, then they blame themselves. This seriously undermines their confidence because nothing they do is ever quite good enough and it never will be.
In 2008 I was let go from a preaching ministry at a church in NC. Because of my perfectionistic tendencies I blamed myself. After all some of the leaders said that I was not charismatic enough. I interpreted this as I was not good enough to preach there. The nation was going through a recession and so was I. However, my recession turned into a depression.
Started out as identity crisis. What actress Nicole Kidman one time said could have described me: “I don’t know who I am, or what I am, or where I’m headed.” From there it went further into a lack of confidence in my faith. Was I really a Christian? My confidence was shot both in my abilities and in my faith. This is bad. A good athlete who does not believe in his ability will sit on the sidelines. An excessively cautious driver who lacks confidence will be a highway hazard. A public speaker who does not believe in his message will not be effective. A certain amount of confidence is needed. If we are ever going to accomplish anything, we must believe in what we are doing and have some confidence in ourselves.
The author of Hebrews was writing to a group of Jewish Christians that were going through persecution. It was so bad that many were considering going back to the Jewish religion and abandoning Christ, some might have already done so. Notice what is said to them: “Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” Hebrews 10:32-35, NIV.
Throwing away confidence speaks of abandoning faith in Jesus Christ. Must begin here. Are we saved? Do we know that we are in Christ? If we are not sure, lack confidence in salvation then we will not share faith with others and we will not use gifts and talents for Him.
Thesis: Confidence brings...
Confidence brings boldness
“On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.” Acts 4:23, 24, NIV.
Prayer continued by describing God’s sovereignty in crucifixion. Then, “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” Acts 4:29.
The disciples began their prayer by addressing God as “Sovereign Lord”. This English title depicts one who has absolute ownership of, authority over, and responsibility for another. Negatively this term can be translated as despot, tyrant or dictator (we need to think of better things concerning God, He is a good God). When the disciples address God in this way, this word choice emphasizes their submission to and reliance on God’s absolute ownership and authority over them. In other words they look to God as their king, ruler, master, and provider. They trusted this relationship- resting in the assurance of God’s sovereignty.
God’s sovereignty (talk more about this tonight) provides His church confidence to remain bold in preaching, teaching and ministry. Throughout Acts we find the church’s bold willingness to face further imprisonment, persecution, and martyrdom, given confidence by their trust in the sovereign God.
Confidence brings obedience
OT provides a vivid picture of trust in God’s sovereignty through its depiction of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3. These 3, with Daniel, suffered capture and captivity at the hands of Babylon. While in captivity, they worked themselves into positions of authority in the Babylonian government. Any sense of security they had melted when they heard King Nebuchadnezzar’s decree- when the instruments played, everyone in the kingdom must bow to the idol or face a fiery furnace. When the instruments played, everyone except Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego bowed down. These 3 were left standing in their confidence.