August 13th Sermon at our Red Deer church – Don’t be Such a Chicken Pt 2 – Pastor Chuck Roth
I really that, I really believe that God has a special calling for each one of us. And I also believe that God has a special calling for this congregation. And I believe what God has for us is not status quo, I believe what God has for each one of us will challenge us and what God has for us is exciting. In Jeremiah 29:11, Jeremiah prophesied, he says, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” And this was given to the children of Israel, not when absolutely everything was going wonderfully, this was given to the children of Israel when it seemed like everything was falling apart. God’s plans for us, not that everything’s falling apart here, but sometimes in life we struggle and we wonder if there is any hope for us. I want you to know that there is hope for you and God’s plans are for you.
God has plans of hope and a future for us, but to embrace the plans that he has for us we need courage. Do you realize that if you don’t have courage you can miss out on what God has for you? Last time I talked just really briefly about the tribe of Ephraim, and Ephraim lost their position of influence that God had for them because they lacked courage. It says in Psalm 78:9 it says, “The men of Ephraim, well-equipped with bows and arrows turned and ran on the day of battle.” We can’t be like that if we are going to enter into what God has for us to enter in. Rich going to Jamaica, he’s taking a step of faith that the finances will be there, he’s taking a step of faith that this is what God is calling him to do. And it’s not all about just having emotional goosebumps, he’s thought about this and he’s decided that this is something that God has for him. We need to come to that place where we understand that God has something special for us, and we need to head out so that we can attain what he has for us regardless of what the circumstances are. But to do that it takes courage; it takes courage. And you can lose your place if you refuse to have courage or faith to follow after God even when it doesn’t seem to make sense to you.
One thing that I never mentioned the last time when I was talking about the children of Israel, I don’t know if you realize this or not, but where Jacob first encountered God was at a place called Bethel. Bethel is in the territory of Ephraim. And God does things in such a way, God’s plans are always yes and they always will happen, but it depends on us whether we get to be a part of his plans or not. Ephraim didn’t rise up and be who they were supposed to be so God said this needs to happen, but I’ll choose Judah to lead. And I kind of wonder, bear with me a little bit, but I kind of wonder if Bethel wasn’t the original place and God said, “OK, if you guys aren’t going to do this then Jerusalem is going to be the place where I dwell.” That’s free, and please don’t meet me at the door afterwards and say, “It wasn’t 400, it was 300.” But, it’s really good to check what I’m telling you is true or not; it really is. Just don’t all do it at once. Anyways…
These guys lack courage, and what I want to talk to you about is an area that a lot of people struggle. Some of you don’t at all and some of you as I’m talking this morning will probably just want to fall asleep because you’ll think it doesn’t apply to you, and I just want you to know that there’s coffee in the foyer; actually there isn’t, Gerty keeps it locked up but… But it’s something, it’s an issue that I’ve had to deal with in my life as well, an area where it seems like it is really tough to have courage, And it kind of depends on the kind of personality that God has given you whether you struggle with this more or less. But for me I do anyways, and it’s the fear of man, and so I want to talk to you and I want to tell you not just to get over being afraid of people because that’s easy. But if I would just lecture you about how you’re not supposed to be afraid of people, I think we all get that. Sometimes fear of man keeps us from fearing God. What I’m saying is sometimes the fear of man keeps us from following God and doing what’s right even if we think it’s going to cost us. And so, I could just holler at you this morning, “Don’t be afraid of people.” But I want to give you a plan and I want to give you a strategy this morning so you don’t fear people.
To start with though I want to show you how important it is that we don’t let the fear of people keep us from being obedient to God. In Proverbs 29:25 it says, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” If you’re afraid of people to the point that it is causing you not to be obedient to God, you will find that this is a snare for you. I’m not talking about… when I’m talking about fear as well I’m not saying that that doesn’t mean you don’t get nervous sometimes, but it’s a whole different thing to get nervous sometimes and to have your heart race a little bit, it’s a whole other thing between that and then saying, “You know what God, I’m not going to be obedient to you. I’m just going to do what’s comfortable for me.” I’m not talking about being totally free of fear this morning, but I’m talking about being at a place where our fear doesn’t control us so we’re not obedient to God, makes sense?
Proverbs 29:25 in the New American Standard Bible, I like the way it puts this verse, but it says, “He who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.” Not just safe, but being exalted. And I really believe that if we can get over the fear of men it puts us in a place where God can use us to a lot greater degree than we can even imagine. Fear of people can be a snare for us. And this is incredibly serious what I’m talking about. Let me just give you a small illustration about what I’m saying. Do you know that the first king in Israel that God had ordained to be king was Saul? And God had in his plans, God was going to make a dynasty after Saul, so it would be Saul and his children and his children’s children that would be king. But Saul was afraid of people and so it caused him to act, his fear of people caused him to act in such a way that God said, “OK, I can’t use this guy, but I’ll go use this guy over here who is a man after my own heart.”
One example of this is when Saul first became king he attacked the Philistine outpost and he wins, and he knows that the Philistines are not going to be happy so he rallies up an army of a few thousand people. But the Philistines, they come with a huge army, and there are so many of them, the Bible describes them as being more…. the soldiers as being more than their grains of sand on the seashore. And they come with 30,000 chariots, just imagine 30,000 tanks, and then 6,000 horsemen, and I don’t know what to compare that to. But anyways, they come with this huge army and Saul’s few thousand men that he’s gathered together, they start to run away and they start to hide. The scripture says they start to hide in caves and cisterns and holes in the ground. And the prophet Samuel has said that in seven days time, or it’s been predetermined between Saul and Samuel that in seven days time Samuel is going to come and he’s going to perform a sacrifice so that the children of Israel would have the favor of God as they go to fight this incredible force. But Samuel doesn’t show up quite when he’s supposed to, and Saul’s men are starting to scatter, and so Saul is afraid of the Philistine army and he’s afraid of how things look, and so he takes matters into his own hands and he sacrifices… he himself performs the sacrifice. And just as soon as he’s done with performing the sacrifice, Samuel shows up.
Let’s pick up the story in 1 Samuel chapter 13. So Samuel asks when he shows up, he says, “What have you done?” Saul replied, “I saw the troops were scattering, you didn’t come when you said you would and the Philistines were assembling at Mishmash, so I thought now the Philistines will come against me in Gilgal, but I haven’t sought the Lord’s favor. I felt pressured into sacrificing the burnt offering.” “You did a foolish thing,” Samuel told Saul. You see, it was absolutely forbidden for anybody but the priest to sacrifice. The king was not supposed to sacrifice, only the priest could do that. “You did a foolish thing,” Samuel told Saul. “You didn’t follow the command of the Lord your God. If you had the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel permanently, but now your kingdom will not last. The Lord has searched for a man after his own heart and the Lord has appointed him as ruler of his people because you didn’t follow the command of the Lord.” Saul let his fear of people caused him to lose the anointing that God had for him. I just say this to you because we need to understand how serious some of this stuff is. Sometimes we just take it for granted, “Ah, it’s OK.” But, no. And then a little later on Saul lost again, I won’t get into that story, but a little later on there was another similar circumstance that arose, and Saul was not obedient to God and in verse 24 of chapter 15, when Samuel had confronted Saul and Saul told Samuel, “I have sinned by not following the Lord’s commands or your instructions. I was afraid of the people and listened to them.”
This is a huge snare for us. Fear of people is a crippling fear for us, and like I said it takes more than me just telling you to stop it. But I want to give you a plan and a strategy this morning to overcome fear of people. Back in the early days before I was in ministry, and I’ve been in ministry for about 25 years, but there was a guy who came and had a word from God for me, and the word simply was that you will never get over your fear of people until you know how much God loves you. And I’ve thought about that over the years quite a bit, so I want to show you some things from scripture this morning so you can have it cemented in your heart how much God loves you. And I’m not going to just preach the same stuff that you’ve heard before, because I think you know that stuff, but I want to take it in a little different direction this morning so you can know that God loves you. 1 John 4:18, “No fear exists where love is. Rather, perfect love gets rid of fear because fear involves punishment. The person who lives in fear doesn’t have perfect love.”
I want you to see how much God loves you this morning. Let me start this morning with one scripture that I know you’ve heard before, but I want to expound on a little bit. It’s Psalms 139, and I want you to realize that even though I think it was David that wrote this, I want you to realize that this applies to you, and he’s talking about you this morning. He says, “I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works and my soul knows it quite well.” He’s talking about himself. “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance, in your book were written, every one, of them the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts oh God, how vast is the sum of them. If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I am awake and I am still with you.” David recognized that even before he was formed God had a plan for his life. God made him to be special; David was special. And even before he was created God had made him to be special.
And that’s what I want us to see this morning, the first thing is I want you to see that you are an amazing creation. And when we think about this, we think ‘yes’, our physical bodies, if you study that, and I don’t, but if you study that you’ll find out that how your brain works… this I did, I spent a lot of time, maybe 32 seconds, and I found out that the average person theoretically probably has about 10 thoughts a second. But an average person probably has about 10 thoughts a second; isn’t that amazing? About 80% of those thoughts are subconscious thoughts. But an average person has about… I don’t know who count it, I don’t know if the study is right or not, but that’s pretty amazing. And if you look at how our body fights off disease, how our body heals itself… I’ve been to the doctor, this is the third time so hopefully shortly here I’m going to be really pretty for you guys, these spots on my face will be gone, I don’t have an incurable disease. The doctor wanted to burn some stuff off with liquid nitrogen. But I am absolutely amazed at how he can put that on in one day, and it does sting a little bit, and then in just a matter of a couple days it starts to heal up; isn’t our bodies amazing? It’s just amazing to me how our bodies are made. And I think when we go to this passage that’s what we think about, how amazing our bodies are. But it’s more than that, it’s a personality that God has given you. Do you know that the personality that God has given you is absolutely suited to the calling that he has for you?
When we were… when Joyce and I were at this pastors’ retreat, about a month or so before we went we had to fill out a couple of tests so they would kind of know our personalities and know who we were. And I get a real kick out of this stuff. One of the tests that we had to fill out was a Myers Briggs test, it’s a personality thing, and I won’t go into too many details, other than to say that they divide personalities into four categories with two parts in each category. And this helps us to understand how we make decisions, it shows us our strengths and it shows us our weaknesses, because with every personality type there are strengths and there are weaknesses. And I know you’re horribly interested in who I am, right? I’m an extrovert. Who said that? I love it, I love it, don’t feel bad at all. Let me describe, there’s… like I said, there’s different categories. People are either extroverts or introverts, they either use intuition or sensing, they use feeling or thinking, they use perception or judgment. And I’m an extrovert, I use intuition, I’m a feeling person, and I’m a perceiving person. Joyce, I thought it was really interesting, Joyce is exactly the opposite. When she filled out her test, her thing was exactly the opposite. The point I’m trying to make to you is it’s not just our bodies people, it’s our whole being; we’re fearfully and wonderfully made. And God has given us our personalities. You don’t have to think very hard to understand that it’s not just life that tells you who you are, but I think God imprints on us our personalities even before we’re born, because our personalities are there for a specific reason to help with the calling that we have. And one is not better than the other, each one of them, each one of us are very special and very unique. Sometimes we try so hard to change who we are, but we need to embrace and understand that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and you’re made perfectly. You’re made perfectly so that you can fulfill the calling that God has for you.
Sometimes we wish that we would be different. If you were made different you wouldn’t be perfect. I could list some of my character flaws to you – I wish I had hair, I really do. I wish my nose wasn’t so big. I had an operation on my nose a long time ago, I was in an accident (I don’t know why I’m sharing this with you) I was in an accident longtime ago and it kind of crushed part of my face, and so when they went to open up my nasal passages they wanted to know… before you have an operation they always ask you what you’re having your operation for. So my response was, “My nose isn’t big enough, they’re going to make it bigger.” But I wish I was more of a decisive leader. It’s hard for me sometimes to make decisions and I over analyze things and I think things to death sometimes; that’s who God has made me to be. And I can look at these things and “You know God, I wish you would have maybe made me a little bit different.” But the older I get, the more I realize how that stuff just doesn’t matter. The first time my brother-in-law made fun of me because he saw that I was starting to go bald, that hurt; now… I’ve got my wife, who cares?
But when we can come to accept who God has made us to be, when we can love who God has made us to be, and when we can understand that God didn’t make any
mistakes when he made us, we’re made perfectly to fulfill the calling that he has on our life. We’re made perfectly to fulfill the purpose that we’re supposed to fulfill in life. And we need each other. And I’m so thankful that Joyce’s personality is absolutely different than mine, because it helps us to understand things, and I don’t just see things from an emotional point of view. Joyce can point out, “Well Chuck, these are the facts.” Sometimes we think that it’s just God speaking to us through our emotions, well maybe. But I was thinking about this, I wonder how often we think… because those of you that are built like me we think that God is speaking to us because we have a feeling about something. But is that any more valuable than Joyce evaluating things? “Chuck, these are the facts. Yes, you want to buy a new truck, yes you want to buy a new truck and I mean… but you know what, this is what your salary is. Yes, I know you want to buy a farm way back when, and I know you’re planning and scheming, but Chuck…” Actually she learned to just be quiet and then she wouldn’t fight with me and after a week I’d come to my senses anyways. But I’m so glad that God has made us differently.
At this pastors retreat they taught us that the proper way to make decisions flies in the face of what any individual personality is. The perfect way that people should make decisions, none of us are built that way. And that shows me the importance of the body, because we need to all come together. I want you to see how special you are and how important you are in the body of Christ; you are. God has made you to be a very special, unique person. Stop wishing that you were something else, stop thinking that God made any mistakes when he made you, he never, you’re perfect just the way you are.
My second point is, and this is really amazing when you let it sink in, you’re made in God himself’s image. It says in Genesis that God made mankind as his image, and this likely refers to such qualities as reason, personality, intellect and to the capacity to relate to hear, to see and to speak. Some Bible scholars think it simply means that we have the nature of God. As I was studying this this last week I was amazed at how often scripture says that we are made in God’s image or we’re made in the likeness of God, James 3:9 for example. I was kind of surprised when I saw the basic premise of the verses, it simply says people are made in the likeness of God. So who are you? You’remade in the likeness of God. You’re fearfully and wonderfully made, and you’re made in the likeness of God. Leave the sarcasm out of it, and turn to the person beside you and point to yourself and say, “Wow.” That feels a little uncomfortable, doesn’t it? But that’s reality, and if you want to get over fear of man, if you want to get over fear of people you need to understand that this is who you are, you’ve got nothing to be afraid of, you’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. God has made you who you are. So oh my goodness, let’s just live and relax and enjoy life. Who cares that some guys are unfortunate enough to have hair? Do you know when I last you shampoo? Think of all the money I’m saving, and barbers, yes. Joyce gets to cut my hair once a week and she’s so blessed that she can do that. And it doesn’t take long and it doesn’t cost anything, a pair of clippers every few years.
My third point is understand who God has made you to be. In Psalms 119:73, and I just noticed this last week or the week before, never saw this before, but it says, “Your hands created me and made me what I am. Help me understand so that I may learn your commandments.” Give me a little bit of latitude here, but I believe I’m not taking things out of context. God has created me who I am, help me to understand who he’s created me to be so that I can serve him and I can follow him better. I think we spend so much time trying to be somebody we’re not, we spend so much time trying to convince people that were somebody we’re not, when all it does is lead us to a place of frustration, it leads us to a place of dissatisfaction with who we are. Understand who God has made you to be. You; understand who he’s made you to be.
If you look at the next number of verses, when you understand who God has made you to be and you’re just comfortable in who he’s made you to be, in verse 74 it says, “Those who fear you, those who fear God will see me and rejoice.” When you can understand who God has made you to be and you can be comfortable in that, people who fear God will see you and rejoice. You’re bringing God honor and glory when you can just accept who he’s made you to be, you understand that this is my role in life, I wasn’t called to be the Queen of England, but I’m just who I am.
And then if you jump down another few verses it says, “Let those who fear you turn to me.” This is about us, we need to understand who we are, and we need to not be ashamed that, “Hey, you know what, we’re special and we’re gifted.” This is not me trying to work on yourself-esteem, I’m not talking about trying to make you feel good about yourself. I’m trying to show you reality of who you are, each one of you.And you’re created in God’s image, and man I don’t know how much more I can say to help you feel good about yourself. Maybe I am appealing to yourself esteem, I don’t know. But I don’t know how much more I can say. We need to get this deep into our spirit. Let those who fear you turn to me so that they can come to know your written instructions. God wants to use us, and when we’re just comfortable with who we are it makes an incredible difference. What a better way to live. Just enjoy who God has made you to be. Society today, we’re on this thing that God has made us wrong; he hasn’t. God didn’t make any mistakes when he made you. You’re perfect and you’re just who you are. Sometimes we think men are supposed to act in a certain way and women are supposed to act in a certain way, come on. God didn’t make any mistakes when he made us. You know what? I’m kind of a feeling emotional guy, and I’m glad I am. And I can sit there and watch a movie and I can cry. And I’m proud of it. Well, sometimes I try to hide it from Joyce. Joyce never cries when she watches movies, right? I’m not sure to be honest. I’m so busy trying to keep the tears out of my own eyes.
I want us to get to the place where we’re comfortable where we are. When we understand how much God loves us, when we understand how special we are, the fear people won’t control us. When you know how much God loves you, fear of man won’t be a stumbling block for you. So I’m wrapping up, but this morning every eye open and everybody looking around because we’re dealing with the fear of people. How many of you would say, “Chuck if I’m perfectly honest I’ve let fear of people control me”? Good for you guys, good for you guys. How many of you want that to stop this morning? Yes. The first step to getting over something is to be able to admit where you’re at, and when you admit where you’re and you take it to the Lord and you confess it, he forgives you. He forgives you and he accepts you and he welcomes you, and he also will give you the strength and the power to get over that thing. And this is not something that you need 372 years of counseling to get over. Some of us may occasionally need somebody to help us through some stuff, if our parents have told us we were no good or something. But the basis of what I’m talking about here this morning is that you are a special person, and when you understand how special God has made you to be, when you understand how loved you are, other people won’t control you.
Father I thank you for each person here. I thank you Lord for a congregation that’s willing to admit where they are. Father I thank you that we can just be who you’ve made us to be. And Father I ask you that you would help each one of us here to be comfortable with who you’ve made us to be. Father if there’s anyone here who’s trying to be somebody that they’re not, Father set them free from that, set them free from that, deliver them from that Lord. And Father if there’s those of us here, and I’m sure it’s basically all of us, we’ve allowed what other people have said or how other people have treated us, we’ve allowed that to influence us more than what you’ve said about us. Father I ask that you would forgive us for that, and Father that you would set us free from that as well. And father I ask that this congregation, I ask Father. Father we’re coming to you as our daddy, and we ask Father that you would instill in us how much we’re loved and how special we are. And Father that we would get over the fear of people. Father I pray that we would always be obedient to you, and that would be what motivates us more than anything else. So we just praise you and we worship you this morning in Jesus’ name we pray, amen. Amen.
If you’ve never given your life to Jesus Christ, I would really encourage you to do that this morning. This isn’t complicated stuff, you just have to invite Jesus to come into your heart. And we’re going to close the service in just a minute, but there’s people who would love to pray with you and they would love to lead you into a place where you can experience this freedom that we’re talking about this morning. This freedom comes from being a child of God, that’s where it starts, and so you have to say yes to Jesus Christ, I want to give myself to you. And you know what’s so cool? The scripture says that Jesus never turns anyone away. So it’s here and it’s available for you today. Thank you so much for coming.
For more visit our website Victory Church of Red Deer.