We have nothing to fear when God is with us.
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation.
Talking “No fear” today. Anyone remember the “No Fear” shirts they used to have back in the day?
They would always have some sort of cheesy statement like:
Second place is the first loser…NO FEAR!
Give Blood. Play Hockey. NO FEAR!!
All I can remember was I always felt dumb that I didn’t own a “No Fear” shirt.
Ironically, I was too fearful to go out and just get one.
Fear can be a crippling. It can stop us from doing a lot of things.
Think of all the different phobias people have.
And phobias, in one way or another, are almost always limiting
You have a fear of heights…well, you probably aren’t ever going to get to sky dive, or go to the top of the Sears Tower, or you name it.
Or, for example, my dad has a fear of biking over rivers. Well, that’s a limiter. It limits what routes he can go on.
Or maybe you’re like me, and you have a fear of trying new foods. Well, that’s a serious limiter. You end up looking like a loser a lot when you order off of the kid’s menu.
Fear is always a limiter.
And in Christianity it’s no different. Being afraid of something God is asking you to do, will always be a limiter to what God can do in and through you.
We are currently studying the Book of Acts, which is the 5th book of the New Testament. It’s the story of how Jesus’ followers started and spread the church after Jesus ascended.
(Acts 18:1-8) – NIV
1 After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3 and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. 4 Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. 5 When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. 6 But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” 7 Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. 8 Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized.
Paul has now moved on from Athens (where he was when Jon Vaala spoke last week), and now is in Corinth in Southern Greece.
Corinth was the 3rd largest city in the Roman empire at the time (next to only Rome and Alexandria), and it had a population of around 200,000.
Paul’s friends finally catch up with him from some of the cities they were previously in, and they begin reasoning with the Jews in the synagogue
Which is how they usually start in each city. Telling the Jews about their messiah first.
But after some of the Jewish leaders become abusive, Paul moves on to the Gentiles
Paul has really gone though a lot in the last few cities. Beaten, stoned, imprisoned, had to escape in the dark of night, you name it.
And you can sense that he’s gotta be starting to lose his nerve here.
Get a little fearful.
Any other human being would have probably given up a long time ago.
And then God sends him a message. Check this out.
(Acts 18:9-17) – NIV
9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” 11 So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God. 12 While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews of Corinth made a united attack on Paul and brought him to the place of judgment. 13 “This man,” they charged, “is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law.” 14 Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to them, “If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. 15But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law—settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things.” 16 So he drove them off. 17 Then the crowd there turned on Sosthenes the synagogue leader and beat him in front of the proconsul; and Gallio showed no concern whatever.
We’re actually going to read verses 18-22 in House Groups this week, which will conclude Paul’s second missionary Journey and also our time in Acts for the fall.
So…The Lord speaks to Paul in this vision, and what does he tell Him?
Do NOT BE AFRAID. Don’t fear. No fear. Keep on speaking. I’m w/ you.
No Fear. Why? I’m with you!
Don’t fear. Why? God’s with you!
Why should you NOT fear in your life?????? God is with you.!
WHY WE’RE AFRAID
So why do we still live in fear, almost every day??
For one, many of you have grown up in a world that has taught you to be fearful.
I, in a way, pity the next generation of kids.
50 years ago, kids biggest fears:
Animals, being in a dark room, high places, strangers, loud noises
Divorce, war, kidnapping, etc.
Many of these things crimes haven’t even increased over time (our awareness of them has), but they haven’t
But our kids are going to grow up in a world where they’re afraid of their shadow.
And like I said, fear is crippling. Fear keeps you from being a world-changers.
Think of the people who have changed our world: Billy Graham… Martin Luther King Jr… … You name it.
Fearful or Fearless?
But, we’re only teaching our children to be afraid of each other. Watch the evening news with your kids and then ask them what they think of the world?
Think of watching that through their eyes and their reasoning
One of the greatest talents of Americans is the art of fearmongering.
Our media makes money off of it and our politicians get elected off of it, and the common person does nothing but build bigger fences with bigger stone throwers
So we live in fear.
Even as Christians.
We live afraid of people’s “loose living,” their wild ways, their crazy ideas, their ridiculous worldviews. Christians live in fear of our culture being butchered and ruined by those not like us.
And ironically, it’s like the only response to a changing culture we have in our arsenal is a cowardly one.
We sit behind our walls and our keyboards, and we launch grenades at the “idiots” who are ruining our culture
But maybe we’re the idiots. Because maybe, we’re the cowards.
Because let me tell you something. We’re afraid to do the courageous thing.
The courageous thing is to get out there and love people.
To get out there like the Apostle Paul…and RISK love.
It’s to go to the people you know far from God and tell them about Jesus.
The cowardly, & easier act is always to throw a stone from afar
The action that actually works is to get out there…love people…and tell them how God loves them.
But why do we often choose the other? (not like all throwing stones) But sit in our homes & Bible studies and shake our heads at“unbelevers”
It’s because we’re afraid.
And it’s not a fear of evil. It’s not even a fear or anything bad. We’re afraid of doing something good.
Afraid of talking about something, or SOMEONE we love
And yet, when we find a new restaurant we like or new website or tv show, we share quite willingly.
Yet not so, when it’s about this Jesus we love. .
Often, we use that as an illustration and just leave it there. All feeling guilty.
But here’s why I think that apparent dichotomy exists.
When I share about my love for Culver’s with you, and you respond by saying, “Yuck! Culver’s is gross!”
It’s water off my back. I’m not married to Culver’s. I don’t have a relationship w/ Culver’s.
If you don’t like Culver’s. That’s your problem. I might think you’re dumb. But I don’t really care.
But when I share with you about Christ. Someone that I spend every day talking to. Some person, some relationship that I’ve oriented my entire LIFE around, and you say, “That’s stupid.”
You’re just questioned my entire life.
And I don’t want to experience THAT form of rejection.
So I’ll just stick to being a Culver’s evangelist and instead of a Jesus evangelist.
And that’s how we reason. Out of fear.
Just the other day, I was reading an article about faith online. And even though I know it’s never healthy for me, I went down and read the comments below.
The most liked comment said something like this: “Faith is personal. It’s my own business. Don’t tell me what to do or what to believe! Keep your faith to yourself! It’s personal!”
And that’s a super common belief in America.
Lots of people would agree with that. Partly because our culture is foolishly drunk on tolerance.
Even a lot of Christians would agree w/ that statement.
They might say, “I Love God a lot. But I’m not going to tell anyone else what to believe! That’s personal.That’s their thing!”
And whenever I hear that, it always surprises me. Always.
Because 1 of 2 things is happening.
A) The person saying it is just not a Christian.
B) They do not understand the basic message of Christianity.
And the basic message of Christianity is this:
Jesus came and died on a cross to die for our sins. If we believe in that, we will be completely forgiven and will spend eternity in heaven.
If we refuse to believe in that, and want to try and get in our own way, thereby rejecting God’s offer of sacrificing his son, we will spend in eternity in hell.
That is THE most plain thing the Bible says.
And it says it hundreds and hundreds of time.
That’s Christianity 101.
And it’s exactly why Paul traveled the known world telling people about Jesus.
And He did it often with out fear.
Because if he didn’t. They were going to hell. To hell.
Let me ask you something. If you spot your neighbor’s house on fire, are you going to go, “Hmm…you know…I’d like to tell them to get out. But I can’t tell them what to do… That’s not my place.”
No, you’re gonna run over there and say, “You’re house is on fire! Move!!! Get out of there!!”
“I honestly believe we can trace back the decline of the American church to this issue almost more than any other.
We’ve ironically become afraid of THE Core truth of our faith.
Jesus came to save people from hell.
It’s THE POINT of Christianity.
And as soon as we downplay the core of Christianity, then evangelism…is stupid.
So maybe you’re thinking…I do want to be more bold. I want to talk to my neighbor. My mom. My brother. My coworkers. I want them to know Jesus and life. And not hell.
And I think a lot of us are kind of in that middle ground. We want to.
It’s not that we don’t WANT to…but we’re still stuck in fear.
Stuck in fear.
But have no fear. DO NOT FEAR as God said to Paul in our passage!
One of the most important things you can do is just simply expect adversity.
“While Paul is most likely experiencing a period of discouragement in Corinth, he probably had some time to look back at his last few stops…stops we’ve covered this fall.
In Philippi, he was flogged and jailed.
In Thessalonica, they started a riot over him, got “bad characters” to go after him, and he had to sneak out of the city
And in Athens, he was dismissed and made fun of for his “silly ideas”
Even in Corinth today, Paul had to go through a number of obstacles.
He has to work part-time at first as a tent maker, just so he can make ends meet to go talk about Jesus on the weekends.
The Jews were abusive to him.
He gets kicked out of the synagogue once again!
He’s taken to court.
You’d think Paul would start to get gun shy.
Think about this: Most of US are gun shy because of a “Hypothetical” rejection. We’re afraid of something that hasn’t even happened to us yet, but it COULD happen if we said something! J
And when we do, and we do get rejected, we ascertain, “Oh, God’s not moving.” I should stop.
But was God not moving for Paul when he was flogged? Was he not moving for Paul when he was in prison? When he had to flee entire provinces?
So what that a person turned down your invite to church?
Are you going to let the devil stop you with just that?
Good thing we weren’t threatened w/ a flogging!
So Paul perseveres….and God KEEPS MOVING. And whole families are reached…and a church is started in Corinth that still exists there 2,000 years later.
Friends, listen. We’ve absolutely got to fight through the “Fear-wall” when it comes to evangelism.
80% of us are just stuck at “hypothetical fear.”
We haven’t done it, and the fear of doing it is crippling.
It’s like this. Ever been to an amusement park? I saw this scene play out many times the last time I was on vacation.
A young kid is waiting in line for a rollercoaster w/ their parents. And they start freaking out. Getting nervous. And they decide, “Nope! Not going on it!”
And if their parents agree, often that kid will go the next few years never going on a rollercoaster. And they won’t go on one even when they’re a teenager and their friends start making fun of them.
But, every once in a while, children are encouraged…”Give it a try!” I know your afraid, but just fight through that fear wall!” Try it!
And 9 times out of 10, when they actually get on the rollercosaster, they get off, and go, “WHOA! That was fuN!!!”
And right now, the vast majority of the American evangelical church is sitting in line for the roller-coaster.
We kind of want to go on…we’re sure they’re probably are good. But, we’ll just keep getting in line…backing out…and getting in line…backing out
And our fear is crippling God’s movement in our country.
Think of the scarecrow.
A really, really wise bird knows that scarecrow is actually just an advertisement.
In fact, it ANNOUNCES that some VERY juicy and delicious fruit is to be had for the picking.
All the best gardens go through the extra work of putting up a scarecrow.
A wise bird, should therefore look at the scarecrow as an invitation.
Will it be a little scarier for the bird? Sure. But will the food be amazing. Oh yeah!!
And that…that is fear.
And that is faith. Faith is a bird which loves to perch on scarecrows.
Because scarecrows are often just signposts that God’s richest blessings are near.
And this is incredibly true in evangelism. Don’t let the scarecrow get you here. It’s probably just a sign that if you can get past the scarecrow, you are REALLY going to see God move!
GOD IS WITH YOU
And we have no reason to fear. Our mission is clear.
Why are soldiers usually willing to sign up and potentially die in a war?
Because they believe in the mission.
We need that sort of belief in Jesus.
What if we even die telling people about Jesus? People all around the world take that risk every day.
WE do it anyway. Because as Paul says, “Where O death is your sting?”
And Jesus says, “They can take the body, but they can’t take your soul!”
And what is fear anyway?
It’s an emotion that is afraid of the future. Afraid of danger. Afraid of what may come.
But I do NOT need to fear if I know God loves me.
Because whatever will take place in this world cannot undo the love that God has for you and it cannot and will not override it.
I know that even if I miserably fall flat on my face and say the wrong thing….that God still loves me…
(1 John 4:18) – NIV
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
And it’s why God says what he does to Paul in our passage:
Do not be afraid. I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you. I have many people in this city.
Don’t be afraid! God is with you!
Yeah. Adversity may come. God’s not guaranteeing you a walk through the lilies
But guess what?! IT doesn’t matter.
People going to war know that it’s not going to be a cake walk, but they go anyway because it’s worth it.
Is saving our friends from hell worth it?
I can’t think of a single thing that’s more worth it.
There’s no need to fear. God is with you!!
If there’s ever going to be a time in your life where God is going to lean into the conversation you’re having and give you the words to say, don’t you think it’s going to be when you talk about Jesus to people?”
Don’t fear! The God of the universe…is with you!!
REACH THE UNREACHED
William Booth, who started the salvation army,…once took his 12 year old son on a walk, and decided to bring his son into a saloon. The place was crowded w/ drunk men and immoral women. The son was visibly uncomfortable, but his father said to him,
“Son, these are our people. These are the people I want you to live for and bring to Christ.”
Years later, his son wrote, “The impression never left me.”
See, it’s not only us, but our children. Our children need us to help them see their mission…not just for us to build protective walls around them.
Paul started the church in Corinth, which along with Casearea Philippi ( a city we talked about this summer) was one of the most immoral places on earth.
In fact, “Corinthianize” used to mean to be sexually immoral.
They had a temple there for Aphrodite that house one thousand sacred prostitutes. This was not a “focus on the family” city
But Paul set-up shop right here. Starting reaching people in THAT city.
Next week we are starting a new series that God put on my heart almost a year ago.
It’s simply called, “Despite…”
And the idea is that “DESPITE,” rebellion, despite failure, Despite hypocrisy, jealously, adultery, addiction, you name it… despite ALL THAT…God still loves us.
And sent his son Jesus for us anyway.
And I think there are a lot of people in this city and the surrounding cities that need to hear that message.
So your marriage is broken. So you committed adultery. So you’re an addict. So you’re whatever, God still loves you and wants to forgive you.
We are going to be talking RADICAL grace.
I want this whole city to know that God is an incredible God of forgiveness.
And we want to reach people far from God.
Not just more church people.
That’s why we’re here.
On a given Sunday, only 15% of people in this city are in church.
But we have to bring the good news to people far from God.
Sam Shoemaker, who was an Episcopalian bishop, summed up the situation this way: “In the Great Commission the Lord has called us to be—like Peter—fishers of men. We’ve turned the commission around so that we have become merely keepers of the aquarium. Occasionally I take some fish out of your fishbowl and put them into mine, and you do the same with my bowl. But we’re all tending the same fish.”
That can’t be us. That can’t be Renovation Church. IT can’t be.
We have to be about 85%. About having the 85% walk through our doors, not the 15% who already know Him.
SO HOW DO WE DO IT
So how do we do it?
Objective number one: Get over our fear.
Leave fear and embrace faith.
Do not fear…you walk with God at your back, the Holy Spirit on your lips, and Jesus in your heart.
We get so nervous and fearful about it that we forget how simple it is.
For those of you in this room that are Christians, if I asked you if you know what a Christian is you would look at me like I’m an idiot.
Of course you know what a Christian is. Duh.
That’s my point. You KNOW what it is! And explaining to a friend what a Christian is shouldn’t be as complicated as we make it. Forget the formula. Tell them about your life and what Jesus did!
God will give you the words.
I hope many of you feel challenged to have some bold conversations this week.
But there’s another place you can start in your journey of forsaking fear and embracing boldness.
Maybe just start this week with asking a friend to come to church to our Despite series. It’s a simpler ask at first than starting a full conversation about it.
And maybe this will lead to a conversation later.
In fact, I want to challenge each and every single person in this room to invite someone for next week.
Yes, all of you. If you don’t have someone in mind, this is one of THE most important things you can possibly be praying about
And as always we want to give you tools to do it.
On the way in, you were each handed 2 invite cards… and there’s more in the hallway if you want more. (and different types of invite cards as well)
We give this to you because it’s always easier to start a conversation this way.
There was a postcard on your chair as well. I CHALLENGE you to send a postcard to your friend early this week.
There are A LOT of ppl at this church because they got a postcard
It’s an out of the box way to invite…and it works.
We’re also going to be sharing an amazing promo video on facebook this week, so share that with your friends as well.
Here’s the deal… Next week starts a time of year in December where people are just generally more open to church than they are almost any other time
This week is such a great opportunity for you to invite a friend to come hear about the INCREDIBLE forgiveness of God.
So be bold. Embrace faith. Abandon Fear. And trust in our God.
And maybe God use us…a messed up people like us…to be a people being changed by God…to change the world.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.