This Preaching in Shorts sermon series is about Taking Your Stand based on Ephesians 6:12-18.
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Standing Against Fear
So far we have talked about Standing up to Evil and Standing Alongside the Broken. We have been using Ephesians 6:12-18 as our foundational verses for this series and we are memorizing them as we go. So far you should have memorized:
Ephesians 6:12-14 (NIV)
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
Today we are going to talk about Standing Against Fear. Our verse for this message is:
Ephesians 6:15-16 (NIV)
15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Last week we discussed how truth and righteousness intersect at Integrity. Today we will be talking about peace and faith, and I would suggest that the place where they intersect is point number 1 in your bulletin…
What is courage? Here are a couple of definitions that I found.
Courage permits us to face extreme dangers and difficulties.
Courage allows us to act in accordance with our beliefs despite criticism.
To me, courage is a place of peace and faith that allows us to Stand Against Fear. Courage is to be a people of encouragement in discouraged, fearful world that is fixated on bad news and more bad news. To be encouraged means to be in courage. To encourage someone is about helping them find that place of peace and faith in their own lives.
Does Standing against fear mean that we are never afraid? I don’t think so. Let’s look quickly at a situation that the Son of Encouragement (Barnabas) and Paul face in the midst of their ministry.
Acts 14:8-20 (NIV)
8 In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10 and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk. 11 When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker. 13 The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15 “Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” 18 Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them. 19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. 20 But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.
I would imagine that during this chaos Barnabas and Paul experienced a measure of fear. And yet, they were able to face extreme danger and difficulty and act in accordance with their beliefs because they were encouraged.
Let’s look at this verse:
2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)
7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
This verse speaks to me about our response to fear. Fear is initially a warning sign. Something isn’t right. Fear triggers the familiar “fight or flight” response, characterized by increased heart rate, breathing, and muscle tension, which allows us to escape from danger or defend ourselves against a predator. In this sense, the ability to respond to fear is a God given mechanism that helps us survive. A spirit of fear, which our verse in 2 Timothy tells us does not come from God, is different.
A spirit of fear is a scheme of the evil one that causes us to react in selfish and inappropriate ways. It causes us to become discouraged and it is against this spirit of fear that we must stand. The power, love and sound mind that come from God means that we can process fear with a sound mind, make sure that we are being motivated by love and not by the spirit of fear, and then know God’s power so we can respond courageously (encouraged). Being encouraged then is to be at a place of peace and faith and let’s take a closer look at that.
Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Worry is the anti-peace. As long as we are worrying about the what if’s of life we will never be able to rest in the peace of God. So what are we supposed to do? The bottom line statement to know peace is this:
Instead of worrying, pray.
Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12 starts out with a therefore, which means we have to relate what is following to what we have just read. In this case it is referring to Hebrews 11 which is known as the faith chapter. With faith in mind, we are to throw off entangling sin, keep our eyes on Jesus, and not grow weary and lose heart. Just like the statement we have for peace, “Instead of worrying pray”, for faith we have the following:
Always keep God in the equation
Luke 1:37 (NIV)
37 For nothing is impossible with God.”
When it comes to standing against fear, we need to be people of courage (encouraged), who to walk in God’s peace holding on to the shield of faith. To simplify this process, just remember to do our two statements:
Instead of worrying pray, and always keep God in the equation.