Sunday, May 29, 2011

Facing 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?

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 new found freedom that will lead to a personal assurance that we are living life to its fullest.  Now I know that some of us are still living by fear even though we want to live by faith.

Together we can turn our fear into faith.

To begin with it will be helpful for us to understand that:


In my next post I want to give you five steps on how to take risks in faith. But, first, 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 Pharaoh 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 Moses was leading the people away from Egypt and to get away from Pharaoh’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, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?" -- Exodus 14:11 (NIV)
  • 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, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?"    

This says to me - Why did you make us leave?  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 verse 12, they said, Didn't we say to you in Egypt, 'Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians'?”

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, (verse 12) “It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

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 .

And you know what? Many people today are living the exact same way.

They would rather live in the bondage of their own sin, rebellion, and guilt, than be set free by risking it all for Jesus Christ.

Actually, I don’t think that they really prefer living in bondage, they are just so afraid to let go and let God that they really don’t know what else to do.

Perhaps some of you have been living in fear for so long that you really don’t know what it means to live by faith.

I want us to just think on these things for the next few days.  Then I will post about replacing FEAR with Faith.  In order to make change, we have to acknowledge that change needs to take place.  It would be easier to give the second part of the post right now, but that does not encourage us to take a stark look at ourselves to find those areas in our lives where we know that we are walking in fear rather than experiencing freedom.

My prayers go out to each of you today.  May many blessing be bestowed upon you.  God loves you and so do I.

Pastor Jim