Summary: Facing our Fears
FACING YOUR FEARS
An Arab chief told the story of a spy who was captured and then sentenced to death by a general in the Persian army. This general had the strange custom of giving condemned criminals a choice between the firing squad and the big, black door.
As the moment for execution drew near, the spy was brought to the Persian general, who asked the question, "What will it be: the firing squad or the big, black door?" The spy hesitated for a long time – It was a difficult decision – He chose the firing squad. Moments later shots rang out confirming his execution.
The general turned to his aide and said, "They always prefer the known way to the unknown. It is characteristic of people to be afraid of the undefined. Yet, we gave him a choice." The aide said, "What lies beyond the big, black door?" "Freedom," replied the general. "I’ve known only a few brave enough to take it."
How brave do you feel this morning? Today God brings to each of us a choice – we can live by fear or by faith. If we choose fear we will live our entire lives never fully experiencing the great satisfaction of taking a risk for God. If we choose to walk in faith we will experience a newfound freedom that will lead to a personal assurance that we are living life to its fullest.
Now I know that some of us here today are still living by fear even though we want to live by faith. I want to try to help you turn your fear into faith today. To begin with it will be helpful for us to understand that:
1. FEAR IS A FORMULA FOR FAILURE
In a few moments I want to give you five steps on how to take risks in faith. But, before I do, I want us to look at an example of people that should have been living by faith, but instead they gave into fear.
The book of Exodus tells us about the Israelite people leaving the bondage of Egypt for the freedom God had planned for them. They have just seen God’s hand work in a mighty way. They have witnessed the ten plagues; they have experienced the first Passover; they have just been released by Pharoah after 400 years of bondage. You would think that they will be filled with faith, but instead they are crippled by fear.
I think you will remember when Charlton Heston, I mean Moses, was leading the people away from Egypt and to get away from Pharoah’s army they would have to cross the Red Sea – that’s where we’re going to pick up the story. We’re going to let the Israelites stand as an example to show us what fear can do to us if we let it replace faith in our lives.
1. IT MAKES US SKEPTICAL
Then they turned against Moses and complained, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves in Egypt ? - Exodus 14:11a
When we are afraid, we begin to doubt. We doubt ourselves, we doubt God, we doubt other people, we become skeptical. Studies have shown that cynics, at the root, have basically a problem with fear. We often ridicule what we’re afraid of.
2. IT MAKES US SELFISH
When I’m afraid, the only thing I can think of is myself. I don’t think about you, I don’t think about God, I don’t think about anybody else, I’m just focusing in on me.
Let’s look at the rest of v. 11 -- Then they turned against Moses and complained, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves in Egypt ? Why did you make us leave?
What are they saying? Look what you’ve done to us!" When we’re afraid, we accuse others, we excuse ourselves, we pass the buck, we blame other people, we run from responsibility.
3. IT MAKES US STUBBORN
We resist change when we’re afraid. In v. 12a, they said, “Didn’t we tell you to leave us alone while we were still in Egypt ?” In other words, they were saying to Moses, "Don’t rock the boat. Don’t upset the status quo. We’ve always done it this way before."
And fear keeps people from growing, it keeps businesses from growing, it keeps churches from growing, because it causes us to be stubborn. God is ready to set them free from 400 years of slavery and the Israelites say, “Leave us alone!”
4. IT MAKES US SHORTSIGHTED
When the Israelites were confronted with the Red Sea , they said, (v. 12b) “Our Egyptian slavery was far better than dying out here in the wilderness.” They wanted to go back to the "good old days" in Egypt. They wanted to return, they wanted to retreat, they wanted to go back. They had so little faith that God would come through for them and grant them freedom that they preferred to return to bondage in Egypt .