Faith Church

GAME CHANGERS – Overcoming Fear | Sermon from 1/6/2019

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If we want to make 2019 our best year yet, we need to introduce some game changers into our life.  A game changer is a newly introduced element or factor that changes an existing situation or activity in a significant way.  A game changer helps us see life differently, embrace new ideas, and take new risks which, in turn, helps us live life differently.

It is only in living life differently that we will find something better.  For the next few weeks we are going to look at some concepts that could be game changers in our own lives.  If we can introduce these ideas and practices into our daily living, 2019 can be better than any year we have experienced before.

The first game changer is perhaps the most powerful one because what holds most of us back in life is fear.  Fear keeps us from taking risks and trying new things.  Fear keeps us in the status quo, which keeps us from a better life.  In 1980, it was fear that kept me from auditioning for the spring musical of my senior year.  We were doing the musical Godspell and I knew the soundtrack by heart.  The irony is that I wanted to try out for the part of Judas because he got to sing my favorite song in the show, but I was too afraid.  Fear kept me from crossing over into a better life.  Fear kept me from an adventure and an experience to remember – whether I got the part or not.

Fear holds us back in life and keeps us safe in our comfort zones.  Fear keeps us from new relationships that can bring love and joy.  Fear keeps us from better finances because we miss new jobs and new opportunities.  Fear keeps us from fulfilling our dreams and God’s plans because we are never willing to step out in faith.  Fear keeps us from serving God more fully and experiencing the blessing of that service.  Fear keeps us from crossing over
from what is safe to what is satisfying,
from what is comfortable to what is courageous,
from what was predictable to what we are passionate about.
So how do we make this change?  How do we cross over and experience a better life?  The game changer is to overcome fear and the disciples show us how to do this.
Matthew 8:23-27.

The disciples are crossing over the Sea of Galilee when a storm hits their boat.  Storms often came up quickly on the sea and this one was terrifying.  It was literally ground shaking for the disciples, the word for storm here is seismo, which is where we get the word seismograph which registers what?  Earthquakes.  This was a massive ground shaking storm that brought fear to the hearts of the disciples and it was Jesus who helped them not turn back to where it was safe but continue to cross over the sea.  Jesus can be the one to help us cross over to a better life – even when we are afraid – if we will learn to do what the disciples did, and the first thing they did was to follow Jesus.   Matthew 8:23.

Jesus is the one who got into the boat first.  He is the one who was leading them to a better life, but there was risk involved.   While Jesus always wants to lead us to a better life, there is also an element of risk involved because leaving the status quo behind always carries risk.  Jesus always called people to something bigger and better.  Jesus called fishermen to become fishers of men and women and work to lead people into the kingdom of God, but they had to leave behind what was secure, like their families, homes, and jobs.  Jesus called tax collectors and prostitutes to become children of God, but they had leave behind their lives of sin to embrace this new life.  Because sin is often where we are most comfortable living, it is difficult to leave it behind, but can we leave what is safe so that we can experience a life that is more satisfying?  Following Jesus always means crossing over from where we are to where God wants us to be – and sometimes this is a scary journey – but we can find strength to overcome our fear if we will look in the right places.

When the storm came up for the disciples, they were looking in the wrong place, they were looking at the storm.  They were looking at the wind which was whipping all around them.  They were looking at the water that was crashing over the sides of the boat ready to sink their ship.  They were looking at the strength of the storm and saw that the storm was greater than they were.  When they wake Jesus up from his nap, they are still looking at the storm.  Notice what they say, Matthew 8:25 – we are going to die.  They can only see the power of the storm and the danger of the wind and waves.

This is living a fear filled life.  When all we can see is that the storm is greater than we are, we will live in fear.  This is where the disciples are living and if they had their way they would have quickly turned back to shore, but Jesus shows them another way.  Jesus calms the storm, and in that moment, the disciples suddenly see things from a different perspective.  Jesus is greater than the storm.  If we are going to cross over to a better life, then the game changing concept we need to hold onto is this: Jesus is greater than the storm.

Whatever storm we think might hold us back in life or keep us down, Jesus is greater.  Whatever fear we have that keeps us from stepping out and trying something new, Jesus is greater.  Whatever it is we think is going to shipwreck our lives, Jesus is greater.  If I had known this in High School, maybe I would have stepped out onto the stage to sing, because no matter what happened, Jesus is greater than the storm and when we focus on him and follow him we will find a better life.

The game changer that helps us overcome fear is knowing that Jesus is greater than the storms and our fear, but just knowing Jesus is greater, is only half of the equation, the other half is this, Jesus is with us.  The disciples were not alone in the boat – sleeping on a bench in the midst of it all, was Jesus.  Knowing that we are not alone, that Jesus is with us, can also give us the courage to cross over from what is predictable in life, to what we are passionate about.

Think of all the people in the bible who stepped out in faith because they knew that God was with them.  Moses set out to free God’s people because God told him that he was not alone.  David went up against Goliath because he knew that God went with him.  Daniel remained faithful to God even though he knew it would send him into a lion’s den because he knew that when he was tossed in there, God would go with him.  The disciples set out with the message of Jesus because they knew that God, through the Holy Spirit, was with them.

We need to learn from the disciples that the power of God is always with us.  It doesn’t mean we will always find success and that the future we want, will be ours, but it does mean we can keep crossing over from fear to faith and from what is safe to what is more satisfying.  I may have never gotten that part in High School, but I would have been more satisfied if I had at least crossed over from my fear and tried for it.

Overcoming fear is a game changer that we can develop.  Fear doesn’t go away just because we want it to, we need to learn how to become fearless by understanding that Jesus is bigger than the storm.  This is the game changing perspective that we can develop by doing 3 things.

1. Stay in the scriptures.  Reading God’s word helps us see the power of God.  From creation, to the power we see in Jesus, to the power and love of God seen in the book of Revelation, we see the power of God by reading God’s word.  But God’s word doesn’t just open our eyes to who God is and what God can do, it shapes us.  God’s word is living and active and it shapes our attitudes and perspectives.  God’s word can breathe into us courage and strength.  If we feast on God’s word daily, it will strengthen us and help us cross over from fear to faith.

If you are not doing the 5×5 we talked about last week, I want to invite you to join us.  The 5X5 is reading God’s word 5 days a week and praying for 5 minutes a day.  It is not too late to start and you can pick up the reading schedule in the lobby.  This can be a game changer in your life.

2. Start small.  We need to learn how to take small steps away from what is comfortable.  The disciples spent three years with Jesus before they were sent out in ministry.  They took small steps with Jesus and learned to trust him day after day.  What small step of faith can we can take to teach us how to trust God?  What small risk can we take to learn that God is bigger than our fear and that God is bigger than the storms around us?  What one small step can we take in this new year to cross over from fear to faith?

3. Stand on God’s promises.  If committing to reading the Bible in a year seems too big a step to take, how about spending the rest of this series standing on one of God’s promises every week?  For every fear that tries to hold us back, God provides a promise to help us overcome.  If we are afraid of being alone, God promises to be with us always.  If we are afraid of public speaking, God promises to give us words to speak.  If we are afraid that financially we will not have enough for tomorrow, God said that he will provide all we need.  If we are afraid of death, God said, that if we trust in him, we will have everlasting life.

For every fear we face, God has a promise to help us overcome that fear, and if we stand on that promise – we can find the courage to cross over to a better life.

Overcoming fear is a game changer that can make this year our best ever.  We may not always get the success we want, we may not always get the victory we are looking for, but we will get a stronger faith, and we will experience the fullness of life that God wants for us.  It won’t always be easy, but it will be an adventure, and it will be our best year yet.

Next Steps
Game Changers – Overcome Fear

Game Changing Concept – Jesus is greater than the storm.

1.  What fears keep you from crossing over to a better life?
What risks are you afraid to take in your relationships, job, finances, and faith?

2.  Stay in the scriptures.
If you are not already reading the Bible daily, consider doing the 5×5 and read through the Bible this year.  Reading plans can be found in the lobby.

3. Start small.
What small step can you take to get out of your comfort zone?  What step can you take to connect with God and others, serve in and through the church, and grow in your faith?

4. Stand on God’s promise.
For every fear we face, God has a promise to help us overcome.  Use these promises to help you overcome fear during the next four weeks.

• Fear of the future – Psalm 56:3-4, Proverbs 3:5-8, Jeremiah 29:11-14, Matthew 6:33-34, Luke 12:22-28
• Fear of failure – Joshua 1:6-9, Psalm 23, Psalm 46:1-6, Romans 8:31-39
• Fear of being forgotten – Isaiah 49:15-16, Luke 12:6-7, Lamentations 3:22-24, Philippians 1:3-6
• Fear of fatigue – Isaiah 40:28-31, Isaiah 41:10, Jeremiah 17:7-8, Matthew 11:28-30, Philippians 4:19

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