New Hope Notes
Continuing In Faith
Pastor Jon Burgess
Continuing in Faith is today’s subject in the series of the Fear Project. One of my favorite scriptures is 2 Timothy 1:7, “God has not given is a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind [disciplined thinking].” Disciplined thinking is clearing all the cobwebs out of the attic of our minds by allowing God to direct our thoughts. Instead of letting fear direct our thoughts, replace the faulty thinking with faith thinking by facing the fear with the truth.
My greatest fear was spiders! When I was about six years old in Kona, Hawaii, I happened to walk through a spider web. In a short while, I began to feel its legs crawling over my skull, heading towards my face, and I froze! That fear left some cobwebs of faulty thinking in my head for many years so I decided to meet with an entomologist who specializes in spiders to help me conquer my fear of them. As he walked me through the truth (as opposed to lies) about the good things that spiders do for the ecosystem in Hawaii, I learned that spiders love to eat ants and roaches! He brought me up close and personal with a spider and I was able to touch its leg! That experience helped change my faulty thinking with the truth. The way to conquer fear is to just…
1. Show Up: Trust The Lord’s Track Record.
God wants to help us conquer our fears by remembering the many times He led us through difficult places—His track record! I believe this is where the Israelites were when God instructed them in Exodus 14:1-4 NIV, “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites to turn back…and encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think the Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.’ So the Israelites did this.”
They are finally free from slavery in Egypt so why would God tell them to turn back to Egypt? Sometimes the best way to continue in faith is to just show up. The Israelites did the opposite of the logical, which was to go forward; instead, they followed God’s instructions to turn around and go back! They were about to watch the greatest miracle in all of history—God destroying their enemies! Sometimes we won’t see the face of God until we face our fears! The Israelites could trust God’s track record because He had just led them through ten amazing plagues in Egypt. They were also given a pillar of fire by night and cloud by day to follow. They knew they could trust God even if it didn’t make sense, and they turned back towards the enemy and faced their fears!
What is God asking you to trust with Him and His track record? Where have you been resisting God’s request that you show up in your life? That may be the very place where you will conquer your fears of rejection, misunderstanding, etc. God’s instructions can be trusted even if it does not make sense because He has never led us astray! Fears are conquered when we show up and face our fears! Christ in you is the hope of glory!
2. Slow Down: Pausing Brings Perspective.
Slow down and get God’s perspective on the situation. When the Israelites were told to turn back, they were “between a rock and a hard place.” They had Pharaoh and his armies coming towards them from behind and the Red Sea in front. Their reaction was panic!
Exodus 14:10-12 says, “As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, ‘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? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, “Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians?” It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!’”
Fear makes us say the strangest things. When we think God has left us high and dry, we turn against Him on a dime! They had just seen God gloriously deliver them—miracle upon miracle—but as soon as they saw Pharaoh’s army coming, they turned against God.
You may be thinking, “My life was just fine until God began messing with it. I wouldn’t be dealing with all these relationship issues.” Fine to us is slavery to sin, addictions, struggles, and pain. We say life was better even with these issues because it’s a familiar place. However, God is leading us to something new, but we will not see it until we leave fear behind. In order to see through God’s perspective, we must slow down even when our normal reaction is fight or flight!
What issues are you certain are about to take you over in your life? Is it finances, relationships, night terrors, or someone you need to confront? And you are terrified? Don’t fight or run from it. Face it with faith and watch what God does.
Exodus 14:13-14 says, “Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.’”
When we do not stop to remember how God previously rescued us, our perspective will cause us to panic. God wants us to slow down so He can give us His perspective. What seems big and frightening to you is nothing to Him! When you find yourself between a rock and a hard place, just stand on the Rock and make Christ your hiding place. Don’t let the tyranny of urgency move you forward into destruction. Let God inform you what is factual and what is false; what is true about His promise and what is lie straight from the pit of hell that has held you captive for years.
God gave us a pattern to follow in order to bring perspective into our lives—Push the Pause button called The Sabbath. Get into God’s rhythm of working six days and resting one day in order to Pause, Reflect, Recreate. This one command will help you obey the other nine.
The following are strategies that I use on the Sabbath:
God gives perspective on The Sabbath—grow from there. Instead of resenting the Sabbath, you will enjoy it because you planned for it. It’s in solitude that God gives His marching orders. If God rested on the Sabbath, we probably should too!
3. Step Out: Obedience Leads to Deliverance.
Exodus 14:15-16 says, “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.’”
Exodus 14:21-22 says, “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.” The winds of God’s power will hold the waters back!
If you have been waiting years on God for Him to do something, He is saying, “I’ve been waiting on you to take the first step. It’s the step that starts the miracle.” Every miracle that God does, we must participate in it.
Last week, Pastor Wayne Cordeiro said, “Courage isn’t moving in the absence of fear it’s moving in spite of it.” It is the courage to trust God in the middle of your “valley of the shadow of death.”
The enemy may have been trying to convince you that you are stuck; but God is saying, “No, you’re stepping into victory, one step at a time.” It’s so interesting how God uses a man with no legs to show us how to walk by faith. I love how Nick Vujicic (Life Without Limbs Ministry) says it, “The victory is not when I stand up. The victory is when I realize that I can’t do it on my own.” Vujicic also said that fear is more of a disability that not having arms and legs.
Maybe it’s been a long time since you experienced victory. The Israelites experienced a tremendous victory when they surrendered their plans and showed up even when it didn’t make any sense; they slowed down so God could speak to them and they got His perspective; and they stepped out in faith. Even if your step looks small, you know it’s a place of Victory! God is setting us free from being disabled to being able, to do all things through Christ who strengthens us. God is leading us to days of deliverance. Fear has no place in us anymore!