Transforming Fear

Posted on 06/13/2010 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


Public Prayer Requests:


Please pray for my son. He’s going through rough times. Lost a good job to layoff, couldn’t pay bills, got depressed, got addicted to Xanax because of the depression, longtime girlfriend left him, etc. Please pray that God will lift the addiction and depression so he can get a job and get his life back on track. I know God is the answer. I have prayed and prayed. I know when God answers it will be greater than I imagine. I just want him to be happy and his old self again and find love again. I want him to find God. Thank you for praying for him. May God bless all that you do.
   -Kathy

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Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.

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MAKES ME WANT TO SHOUT

When I think about the Lord
how he saved me, how he raised me
How he filled me with the Holy Ghost
He healed me to the uttermost

When I think about the Lord
how he picked me up, turned me around
How he set my feet on solid ground

Makes me want to shout
Hallelujah, thank you Jesus!
Lord you're worthy
of all the glory
and all the honor
and all the praise!

REASON TO REJOICE

I have a reason to rejoice
I have a reason to clap my hands
I have a reason to lift my voice
and sing praises to the great I Am

I have a reason to move my feet
and take the Gospel into the street
I have a reason to lose my will
and let Jesus take full control


For you have set me feet to dancin'
You have filled my heart with joy
You have freed me from my passions
and filled me with the Holy Ghost

You have set my heart on fire
Fill my soul with your desire and
Melt me Lord 'til only you remain!

TO HIM WHO SITS ON THE THRONE

To him who sits on the throne
      and unto the Lamb
To him who sits on the throne
      and unto the Lamb

Be blessing and honor
      and glory and power forever
Be blessing and honor
      and glory and power forever

HOLY HOLY HOLY

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
      holy holy is he
Sing a new song to him who sits on
      heaven's mercy seat

Holy holy holy is the Lord God Almighty
      who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of Kings
      you are my everything and I will adore you

Clothed in rainbows of living color
      flashes of lightning, rolls of thunder
Blessing and honor, strength, glory and power be
      to you the only wise king

Filled with wonder, awestruck wonder
      at the mention of your name
Jesus your name is power, breath and living water
      such a marvelous mystery


*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***


You've probably heard the statement, "Let go and let God." Or the Bible quote, "The battle is not yours, but the Lord's."

People from all walks of life would agree that the hardest thing to achieve in life is balance. And that certainly holds true for our spiritual walk.

Do we fight, or do we do nothing and let God do it all? If we do fight, don't we have something to do with the outcome? Aren't we taking matters into our own hands? If we don't fight, aren't we abdecating our responsibility to do our part?

In Second Chronicals chapter 20, the Moabite, Ammonites, and other enemies, all teamed up together to fight against the people of God.

And as it says in verse three, the people of God were afraid.

Sometimes we feel fear. And it's easy to remember things God said throughout Scripture, telling us to "fear not," and sometimes we can feel condemnation; after all, if we are where we should be with God, we won't be afraid... right?

And yet, time after time, we see the people, men and women and groups of people, afraid of this or that enemy. But what we DON'T see is God judging them for that fear.

Now, you may remember the 40 years the Israelites spent in the wilderness because they were too afraid of the people in the promised land, and refused to fight. But did they really die in the wilderness because they were afraid?

So, Jehoshaphat was afraid. Verse three:

3 And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
4 So Judah gathered together to ask help from the LORD; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.

They could have been afraid and called a town meeting to make a battle plan. They could have been afraid and run the other direction. They could have been afraid and grabbed their swords and bows and gone out to battle.

But instead, they fasted and prayed, and sought help from God.

Let's continue reading, verse four:

4 So Judah gathered together to ask help from the LORD; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.
5 Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,
6 and said: "O LORD God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?
7 Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?
8 And they dwell in it, and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name, saying,
9 'If disaster comes upon us - sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine - we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.'
10 And now, here are the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir - whom You would not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt, but they turned from them and did not destroy them -
11 here they are, rewarding us by coming to throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit.
12 O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You."

That's quite a statement. "We have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us, nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You."

Yes, they were afraid. But their fear wasn't important; what was important was what they DID with their fear. And what they did was seek after God.

They knew they were powerless against their enemy. They knew without divine intervention, they didn't stand a chance. And so they remembered what God had done and what God had promised, and they chose to take their eyes off of their impossible situation, and instead turn their eyes upon God.

And verse 13 says,

13 Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the LORD.

They stood before the Lord. All of them. The men. The women. Even the children. They didn't send off their children to watch Veggie Tales while they sought after God. Instead, they all waited upon the Lord together. All of them. From the youngest to the oldest.

This suggests to me that our children can and should learn what it means to wait upon the Lord, to be silent and aware of what is going on around them, that they are not the center of the universe. And some of us tend to forget that about ourselves as well.

Maybe the fact they didn't eat processed white sugar, white bread, and tons of chemicals and preservatives made it possible to teach their children and themselves how to wait. But that's a topic for another time.

So all of Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the Lord.

We would insist on sitting. If you're waiting for any length of time before the Lord, you want to sit down. Your mind starts to wander. You start thinking about a million other things. You get hot. You get thirsty. You think maybe you have to go to the bathroom. You might cut out early and go home.

We don't know how long they stood and waited. All we know is they did.

And it paid off. Let's continue reading, starting with verse 13.

13 Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the LORD.
14 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel ... in the midst of the assembly.
15 And he said, "Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the LORD to you: 'Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.
16 Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel.
17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!' Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you."

Do you think they were still afraid? I'm sure they were greatly encouraged. But do you think every shred of fear was completely gone from every heart and mind?

The encouragement was, "Do not fear or be dismayed, for the Lord is with you." And I could say the same thing today -- no matter what you're going through, no matter how big the enemy is that has declared war against you -- "Do not fear or be dismayed, for the Lord is with you!"

And you might be encouraged. You might feel a surge of confidence in God, and a bright ray of hope that everything's going to turn out alright.

But then you step back into your situation. I hope and pray things would look different. And if you keep your eyes on God, they most certainly will. But will you never feel fear again?

I'm not so sure that would be healthy. Fear is a natural warning about a real or imagined danger. Fear might cause us to run away from a snake (at least I know I would run). It might keep us from making a lot of bad decisions, because we're afraid of the consequences.

Feeling fear is not the problem. And if you've been trying to remove all fear from your life, you're looking in the wrong place. The people of God were afraid. But they didn't hide in a corner. Instead, they sought the Lord, and waiting for him to answer. And then they did what he told them to do.

Fear is only a problem if you allow it to control you. But if you look it in the face and say, "I see you, I feel you, but my eyes are upon God, and he is greater than this situation! He has told me what to do, and no matter how big you are, you will not stop me from obeying the voice of the Lord!"... Then nothing, and I mean nothing, will be able to stand against you!


So we stand up to fear. But before we can do that with well-placed confidence, we need to transform its power. And I think you know what I mean by fear's power. You know how it feels. And you know how you react to it. You channel the power of fear into some sort of action or reaction.

I'm afraid of wasps, and of bugs, regardless of their size, that might happen to be crawling on me. When I feel something, or THINK I feel something, even if I think it's a wasp, I automatically brush it off. Of course that's the worst thing you can do to a wasp that's crawling on you. But that's how I channel the power of my fear of things like that.

Now, if a bug is crawling on you, stopping to pray about it is probably not necessary. Generally, you can just brush it off. But maybe your fear is that you will be abandoned. You find yourself distancing from someone you love, because you're afraid he or she will leave you. Maybe you even treat them badly to create a safe distance between you, or unknowingly to bring about the very thing you fear, acting as though your fear has already come to pass.

How can you channel the power of that fear? You can do what Jehoshaphat did. You can say, "You have promised to never leave me nor forsake me. No matter what happens in my life, I know that you are in control, and that you will work ALL things together for my good. Lord, I am powerless, or at least I feel that way. I can't and shouldn't control this person, and cannot keep them from ever hurting me. But MY EYES ARE UPON YOU! And I put my trust in you to help me with these things I cannot control. I will wait upon you, and I will do what you tell me to do, and what you have already written in Your Word."


Action overcomes fear, just as fear overcomes action. Have you ever had a bad dream in which you tried to run, but could not? You tried to scream, but no sound came out of your mouth? You were completely immobilized by fear. Fear overcame your action. In the waking world, people are frozen by fear every day. Their fear overcomes their action.

The reverse is true. Action overcomes fear. Sometimes God will tell us to do or say something that flies in the face of our fear. We can let fear overcome our action, so that we do not obey God. But, unlike other things in our life, the voice of God is stronger than ANY fear. If God has told you to do something, you will be able to act upon that Word, if you choose, regardless of how powerful your fear might be.

You can let your fear stop you. You can stand there paralyzed and powerless. Or you can say, "Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world! God has told me to do this, and no matter how afraid I feel, I will act upon the Word of the Lord!" And then do it. Your fear might vanish, or it might still be there all the same. But your eyes are no longer on your enemy, or on your fear; but they are on the Lord, and upon his Word. And nothing will be able to stand in your way.


20 So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, "Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper."
21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the LORD, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: "Praise the LORD, for His mercy endures forever."

So they were reminded that if they believe in the Lord, they will be established, they will have a firm foundation. And if they believe his prophets, they will prosper. The Holy Scriptures have not lost their power. If we believe in the Lord and in his holy Word, we will have a firm foundation, and we will prosper.

And then they began to sing praises. This says they praised the beauty of holiness. We tend to praise the beauty of grace, and leave holiness to the legalists down the road. But holiness is beautiful, and we are told to be holy for God is holy. It is to be our aim toward which God continues to lead us -- to be holy, set apart, every area of our lives, our relationships, our bodies, and our minds, sanctified and set apart as living sacrifices of worship, praising the beauty of holiness.

And they sang, "Praise the Lord, for his mercy endures forever!"

22 Now when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated.
23 For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.
24 So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.

Do you want to confuse the enemy so much that he destroys himself? Next time you find yourself in the midst of impossible situations, start praising the Lord. Worship him in the beauty of holiness. Sing praises unto the Lord, for his mercy endures forever!

And as you take your eyes off your problems, off your enemies, off your impossible situations, and place them on God, praising him, worshiping him, singing about his goodness and giving thanks and praise to his name, then things will begin to happen around you -- sometimes miraculously supernatural things, sometimes things that are more subtle -- and the Lord will wage war on your behalf.


25 When Jehoshaphat and his people came to take away their spoil, they found among them an abundance of valuables on the dead bodies, and precious jewelry, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away; and they were three days gathering the spoil because there was so much.

If we only knew what God had in store for us when we turn our eyes to him, and trust him alone; when we seek after him for help and deliverance, and then wait for his voice, and obey what he says; I think we wouldn't be able to believe it.

Here were the people of God, faced with an enemy who greatly outnumbered them. Three peoples had joined forces against them, and were coming to easily take them out.

Sounds familiar. The United States is even siding with Israel's enemies now. And she will be judged for this like we've been judged for nothing else.

But they went to the Lord. They waited upon the Lord. And they obeyed his voice.

And as they praised him, not yet seeing what he was about to do, not yet knowing how it was going to be done, not yet seeing any heavenly army or fire coming down from heaven or a great, miraculous sign... as they simply praised God for the beauty of holiness, the Lord began to work in his mysterious way. Invisibly. Inaudibly. It made no sense. It couldn't be measured in a laboratory. And they could have come up with some sort of explination why it happened. But every single one of their enemy lay dead at their feet, without their having to pick up a single sword or shoot a single arrow.

26 And on the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Berachah, for there they blessed the LORD; therefore the name of that place was called The Valley of Berachah until this day.
27 Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, with Jehoshaphat in front of them, to go back to Jerusalem with joy, for the LORD had made them rejoice over their enemies.
28 So they came to Jerusalem, with stringed instruments and harps and trumpets, to the house of the LORD.
29 And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel.
30 Then the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.

Rest. It sounds nice. We know we'll have it after this life is over, and when Jesus returns. But Jehoshaphat and his people weren't dead. And Jesus had not even come the first time. But they had rest, for God gave them rest all around.

Do you want rest? It can be hard to find in our hectic lives. And as much as we might try, we can't manufacture it, we can only come up with cheap and fleeting imitations. But God has something much better in mind.

Do you want peace and rest? Then seek the Lord, especially in the face of fear; wait for him, listen for his voice; and then obey what he says. Worship him, praise him, give him thanks and praise in the beauty of holiness regardless of how things appear. Set your eyes upon Jesus, and trust him to do his part as you simply do what he has told you to do.

And in his time, and in his way, he will win the victory over your enemies. He will bring riches of various kinds into your life, perhaps mostly or completely the kind you cannot measure with money. And he will bring you rest and peace.

You might need to fight. You might need to NOT fight.
You might need to speak. You might need to stay silent.

This passage we read is not a passage supporting pacifism, unless that's what God tells you to do; there are plenty of other times in which God told his people to take up arms and shed blood. Rather, this is a passage, just like all the other similar stories, about seeking after God for help and deliverance, about fasting, praying, and waiting for him to speak, about obeying what he says, and worshiping and praising his holy name, and about seeing him do the impossible in ways that are even better than we could have ever imagined.


Do you want to overcome fear? Then let that fear drive you to your knees. Cry out to God for help and ask him for direction. Set everything else aside to seek after God. Take the time to listen, both searching his Word and just waiting for his voice. When he speaks, obey what he says at the time he says, overcoming fear with Godly action. And praise and worship him in the beauty of holiness in and through it all.


I'd like the ministry team to come to the front now.


And if you believe God is speaking to you today, if you believe his Spirit is drawing you to your knees, drawing you closer to God, or speaking something into your heart, or if you just want to spend some time in prayer and worship, then you're all invited to get out of your seats and come gather at the front.

For those of you who need to go, I'll go ahead and dismiss you, and I pray that you have a week that finds you closer to God.

If you'd like someone to speak or pray with you, feel free to instant message me or another ministry team member. If you're not praying with us up here, you're still invited to stick around for awhile, as we'll be meeting in the room to your left after this alter time for a little bit of fellowship.

Let this time of seeking God be your statement of action, as you stand up in the power of the Holy Spirit of God, and as you overcome your fear with Godly action.

Come.