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Summary: Every one of us will face criticism and rejection if we start really doing something for God. Here are 5 steps to dealing with fear of men. *HANDOUT INCLUDED*

How to overcome fear of what people will think:

Read Acts 4:1-31. (Tell the story. . . review Acts 3 briefly)

One of the most natural things that humans do is be afraid of what other people will think. You may not think this affects you. . . you might not be a part of something like this:

The "Dependent Order of Really Meek and Timid Souls"? When you make an acrostic of the first letters of its name, you have the word "Doormats." The Doormats have an official insignia—a yellow caution light. Their official motto is: "The meek shall inherit the earth, if that’s OK with everybody!" Upton Diskson founded the society after he wrote a pamphlet called “Cower Power.”

But all of us are afraid at times:

I read this the other day:

"My great-grandfather rode a horse, but was afraid of the train.

My grandfather rode on a train, but was afraid of a car.

My father rode in a car, but was afraid of an airplane.

I ride in an airplane, but I’m afraid of a horse."

Well, here’s something we’ve ALL been afraid of at one time or another: WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK!

People face this who are:

- Worried about what the boss will think if they won’t lie for him.

- Worried about what their family will think if they follow Jesus.

- Worried about what their schoolmates will think if they don’t try that drug.

- Afraid of what dad and mom will think if they decide to go to Bible college instead of studying to be lawyer.

Now, criticism, etc. . . usually comes at moments like this when you’ve won a victory of some sort.

It’s easy to avoid criticism: all you have to do is say nothing, do nothing, be nothing. -- Aristotle

But if you start to actually do something, like stand up to your boss, or lead your family toward a Christian life, or break with the school kids over drugs, or choose a career that honors God. . . that’s when you’ve got to deal with the fear of what people think.

Here’s how to do that:

1. Determine you will obey God no matter what.

Acts 4:19-20 “But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."

Here are some guys who had already decided their course of action. There was no doubt about it.

The incredible thing is this -- Compare these guys to the way they were just a few days before:

Matthew 26:56 “Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled ...”

Matthew 26:73 And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, "Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you."

74 Then he began to curse and swear, saying, "I do not know the Man!" Immediately a rooster crowed.

One minute they’re scared to death, and running, declaring they don’t know Jesus. . . a few weeks later, they’re standing up to people who have power to put them in jail, beat them or even kill them like they did Jesus?

What can change a person THAT much? How can I find what they had so that I can stand firm in those moments?

There are only 2 things that we know that had happened to these men:

a) Jesus had risen again.

If they could kill Jesus, and he could rise again. . . do you realize how liberating that is? I mean – what can they really do to you? Kill you?

If Jesus is risen, we know we’ll rise again someday. . . we know we’re on the winning side. . . we know that we’ll never have

b) They had been filled with the Holy Spirit.

There’s something about being filled with the Holy Spirit that gives us power in dealing with our fears. I’m not saying you’ll suddenly become someone who leaps onto the table at a restaurant to preach fire and brimstone – I hope you don’t! But suddenly, you have a new power in dealing with the fears that used to paralyze you!

2. Find other Christians to help you.

Acts 4:23-24 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord...”

I love this about the early church – they didn’t try to face it alone. I love the phrase “with one accord”. . . literally, in unity. They immediately went to God agreeing on something in prayer!

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