The End of FEAR - “Faith vs. Fear”
We continue today with our series on "The End of Fear." Fear in our lives is like a wall. Fear is a wall between us and God's best for us. Most of us have as sense that everything starts with the idea that God has a mission and calling for us. The Old Testament says clearly that God created us for a purpose. So, there is design and purpose for our lives but fear often stands between us and it. Because of fear, we can't see God's plan for our lives. The potential for fear will always be a part of our lives if we are engaged with life. If we spend our lives sitting on the sofa with the remote, we might escape having to deal with fear.
There are many stories that teach the lesson of how faith can speak through our fears. Our story today of Rahab does this. For those who are new to the Bible, there are two main parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the New Testament we have the book of Hebrews and the 11th chapter contains a list of Old Testament examples of faith and a short synopsis of each. Rahab is a part of this list.
Hebrews 11:31 says, "It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies."
Here we see a little bit of Rahab's story of faith. In Joshua, chapter 2 we will look at her story more fully to gain greater insight into how to handle fear. Her story will help us see more clearly how faith speaks through our fears.
1 - Faith Sets Us Free from the Fear of People
We already know that Israel had wandered 40 years in the wilderness and that now God is going to send them into the Promised Land. Joshua is going to lead them across the Jordan and into the land. Joshua knows that they must come up against a city at the outset.
Joshua 2:1-6 says, "Then Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove. He instructed them, “Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.” So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night. 2But someone told the king of Jericho, “Some Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” 3So the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab: “Bring out the men who have come into your house, for they have come here to spy out the whole land.” 4Rahab had hidden the two men, but she replied, “Yes, the men were here earlier, but I didn’t know where they were from. 5They left the town at dusk, as the gates were about to close. I don’t know where they went. If you hurry, you can probably catch up with them.” 6 (Actually, she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them beneath bundles of flax she had laid out.)"
I think we can all agree that it's tough to stand up to the king. Intimidation and fear are powerful things to contend with for people everywhere. The King's men bring the ultimatum of them or us. Bring them out. This spot for Rahab where either fear or faith will prevail, is a good place to rest for now. It turns out that faith sets us free from the fear of people. Faith allows us to see through the moment of intimidation and make wise decisions rather than bad ones.
Some of you remember back to your school days and sessions of Square Dancing. I remember the guys lining up and the girls picking who they would dance with. This was terrifying. You wondered if you would get picked and who would pick. You if there was an odd number of boys or girls you be the one left who had to dance with the teacher. Talk about fear. I skipped gym class for three weeks to get out of Square Dancing. Isn't that what we do? We skip things we fear and then we never get to dance and never get to meet that girl (who knows). Fear keeps us from finding the right people. It forces us to embrace the people who are at the door. The fear of people puts us on the spot and we cave in so that we turn our backs on the right people and we listen to the wrong people. Until you are set free and faith lets you see through fear, you don't know who to listen to. You cave in here and there. You are back and forth because of your fear of rejection.
Faith with out fear - what does it do for you? It allows you to think for yourself so that you see the mission God has for you. It allows you to see the other people - the people you really need. It allows you to stand alone. Having the ability and confidence to stand alone is special. Some of the most beautiful people are the ones who have a humble confidence. They may not have everything going on. They may not have everything put together. But, they have an overriding confidence that helps them stand alone. This is what faith does - it sets us free from the fear of failure.
2 - Faith Sets Us Free from the Fear of Failure
Joshua 2:8-14 says, "Before the spies went to sleep that night, Rahab went up on the roof to talk with them. 9'I know the Lord has given you this land,' she told them. “'We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror. 10For we have heard how the Lord made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed. 11No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below. 12Now swear to me by the Lord that you will be kind to me and my family since I have helped you. Give me some guarantee that 13when Jericho is conquered, you will let me live, along with my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all their families.' 14'We offer our own lives as a guarantee for your safety,' the men agreed. 'If you don’t betray us, we will keep our promise and be kind to you when the Lord gives us the land.'”
The hearts of an entire nation in an impenetrable walled city have melted because of fear. Something happens when we fear - our hearts melt. We are afraid to fight before we even fight. We are afraid of failure before we even face the moment when we could fail. We are trapped like the people of Jericho and like them we live in a prison of fear. Rahab was not not going to be trapped. Because she was not living in a prison of fear like the rest of her people, she was able to take action. Rahab recognized she didn't have to live stuck with a failing team. This is why she helped the spies from Irsael. She saw that the God of Israel was "the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below." So, it is as if she says it is time to switch teams.
How easy it is for us to sit in a comfortable space and go down with the ship. We are afraid to try something new and move out of the comfortable and familiar. Our fear of failure and our fear of being labeled a failure immobilize us. There is something about the person who can go forward in confidence. They do not trust in themselves but in God who allows them to switch and try something new.
I was sitting on our porch having a quiet time. I began to watch barn swallows flying around vigorously. Their boldness really stood out to me as they flew in and out of the porch area. Then I realized they were building a nest on my house. So now I wanted rid of them and thought I need to get me a broom. But because they were fun to watch I didn't. The boldness of these barn swallows caused me let them go about there work and to let them stay. Why? Again, because I liked watching them fly and I admired their boldness. It was if they had thought, why settle for a barn when we can have a house and live large.
Let's tie this in with the text and story. There is a bit of this with us and God. He loves to watch his creation fly. He loves to see us take the gifts and abilities he has given us and use them for his kingdom. So, let's do it - take what he has given and use it for him. Let's rest in his grace. Don't pretend we can manage on our own. Faith ultimately rests in God's grace and in his goodness. God is saying to us, "build a house here- use your gifts and abilities for my kingdom." Do not rest in the grace of others - your boss, your customers, your clients, etc.
Will you bow with me? It can be easy to take today's text and message and gear up to be strong and prevailing on our own. But it is faith that allows me to see what's on the other side. Our strength make take us a little way but not to the other side of our fear of people and our fear of failure. Faith allows me to pursue the things God is seeking to do in my life. Faith allows me to do something that is new. Faith allows me to change. Faith is resting in God. He is inviting us to build on his house.
Father, we do not want to be controlled by fear of people and failure. Keep us from turning our backs on the right people and listening to the wrong people. Grant me the kind of faith that allows me to think for myself, see the other people I need in my life, and help me to be able to stand alone and pursue in humble confidence all you have for me. Free me from fear of people and failure. Help me to leave behind the comfortable and familiar and go forward in faith with you. In Jesus' Name, Amen!
Posted on Sun, June 14, 2015
by Alan Porter