FACING YOUR FEARS
FACING YOUR FEARS
INTRO - Who do you think of when you here the name Ananias?
■ Do you think of a liar? In Acts 5 we read of a man named Ananias who along with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and gave to the common fund of the church part of the purchase money, pretending it was the whole.
■ Do you think of a priest? Towards the end of Acts in 23-25 we meet with another man named Ananias who had become high priest. Like the liar, he too was a bit of a hypocrite.
■ Do you think of a disciple? In Acts 9 we meet another man named Ananias. He is called a disciple that lived at Damascus and Paul later tells us that he was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there.
If you’re like me, when you think of Ananias, you usually think of a liar, never a priest and rarely a disciple. This morning I would like to think about the disciple for he had to do something for God, something that would have him facing his fears
I. MEETING THE PERSECUTOR - When we first meet up with Ananias we find that he is with no special distinction in the church, yet for the time being he became one of the most important persons in sacred history. Let’s look at his story.
A. The Vision - Ac 9:10 - I sometimes wish Jesus would speak to us today in such a manner as he spoke to Ananias and others in the Bible - In visions and in such a way that like Ananias, we would know it was Him speaking
B. The Command - Ac 9:11-12 - Once he had said “Here am I!” Jesus gave him his orders in detail. He is told exactly where to go, exactly who to see and exactly what to do. Have you ever wished God would so direct us with such exact commands?
C. The Fear - Ac 9:13-14 - We may be afraid to have to speak to any somebody, but Ananias was being asked to go to the most notorious persecutor of the time. I think he had reason to be afraid.
1. Saul’s trip to Damascus - Ac 9:1-2 Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, ...
2. Sauls words on his past - Ac 22:4 "I persecuted this Way to the death, ...
3. In more detail - Ac 26:9-11 "So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus...
4. Despite what Saul had done, Jesus told Ananias to go - Ac 9:15-16 And go he did.
D. The Obedience - Ac 9:17 - We do not see any delays in Ananias’ obedience to go. How often do we respond with such speed? His obedience was as exact as Jesus’ command: Ac 22:12-16
E. The Outcome Ac 9:18-20 - The results of Ananias’ obedience was immediate; for Paul received his sight at once, and was comforted at once, and baptized at once, went out preaching Jesus. Furthermore the church had peace. Ac 9:31 The work that Ananias did that day has gone on to impact millions of people.
II. FEAR - I don’t know about you, but I would probably had been scared to death to carry out God’s orders. It can be hard enough to go to someone who isn’t set on putting you in prison, harming you, or even having you put to death.
A. Fear Is Real
1. The man who doesn't know the meaning of the word fear probably doesn't know many other words either. - Phillips' Treasury of Humorous Quotations
2. It is reported that the newspaper counselor, Ann Landers, receives an avenge of 10,000 letters each month, and nearly all of them from people burdened with problems. She was asked if there was any one of them which predominates throughout the letters she receives, and her reply was the one problem above all others seems to be fear. People are afraid of losing their health, their wealth, their loved ones. People are afraid of life itself. - The Bible Friend, Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations
3. One day in July, a farmer sat in front of his shack, smoking his corncob pipe. Along came a stranger who asked, "How's your cotton coming?" "Ain't got none," was the answer. "Didn't plant none. 'Fraid of the boll weevil." "Well, how's your corn?" "Didn't plant none. 'Fraid o' drouth." "How about your potatoes?" "Ain't got none. Scairt o' tater bugs." The stranger finally asked, "Well, what did you plant?" "Nothin'," answered the farmer. "I just played it safe." - Illustrations Unlimited
B. The Affects Of Fear -
1. In the Bible
a. Fear sent Adam and Eve into hiding
b. Fear kept Israel from the Promise Land
c. Fear kept Israel from fighting Goliath
d. Fear almost took Israel back to Egypt
e. Fear had David killing to cover up his sin
f. Fear had Elisha hiding in the wilderness
g. Fear kept the disciples in the upper room
h. Fear .....
2. What fear does
a. Fear can tie up our thoughts focusing them in the wrong direction. Always thinking about what can go wrong can lead to...
b. Fear can keep one from getting out and doing things, from interacting with others, it secludes us and we lose....
c. Fear can affect our motivation and enthusiasm and as a result cripple our ability to influence others for the good and bring boredom to self. Without motivation...
d. Fear can cause us to procrastinate keep us from doing things especially things that take us in to unknown territory.
e. Eventually Fear can than lead to godlessness because it opposes faith. and can eventually turn into ungodly behavior.
f. Left unchecked, fear leads to health problems.
g. Fear at its extreme can bring about ones death. Not only does the stress brought about by fear wear down the body and shorten life it can keep you from getting medical treatments, or worse yet it can kill you outright.
C. Fear Can Be Overcome - One summer night during a severe thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small son into bed. She was about to turn the light off when he asked in a trembling voice, "Mommy, will you stay with me all night?" Smiling, the mother gave him a warm, reassuring hug and said tenderly, "I can’t dear. I have to sleep in Daddy’s room." A long silence followed. At last it was broken by a shaky voice saying, "The big sissy!"
1. Admit - One of the first things to overcoming fear is to admit we are afraid. Ananias wasted no time in telling Jesus that Saul was trouble. Denying we are afraid will accomplish nothing. We need to be honest with our selves about our fears, honest with God about our fears and we need to be honest with those around us.
2. Examine - How often do we look back at in hind sight and think “I was afraid of that...” How often have we told some one “there’s nothing to be afraid of.” I remember a time when a black mark on a chair terrified a little girl because she thought it was a bug. Often times, when we see things from a different perspective, when take a closer look at what we are afraid of, we realize there is nothing to fear or there is hope, a light at the end of the tunnel. It may be that the things we fear and want to avoid are there for our good. Jesus told Ananias He had different plans for Saul and he was already taking care of the problem at hand.
a. 2 Co1:8-9 so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God
b. 2 Co 4:11 so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested
3. Overcome - An important truth to remember when facing fear is that we are not alone, God is with us and He has made some promises to us that we can hold onto. With Jesus assurance, Ananias went to Saul. Here are some promises to us to help us on our way to overcoming fear.
a. Mt 10:24-31 ... "So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
b. 2 Tm 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.
c. 1 Jn 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,...
d. 1 Pt 5:7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
CONCL - Ps 118:8-9 - The late President Roosevelt once said in a now famous radio address: "There is nothing to fear except fear itself." Mark Twain, has been noted for saying, "I . . . have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.". The same can be said of our fears. I’m not going to say there will never be a real reason to fear but when we do fear we need to take a look at the fear that besets us and turn them over to the Lord.