Rise Up: Pastor Tom Jones

Sermon Transcript

Good morning, good morning. How's everybody doing? Awesome. Awesome. Well, my name is Chip. I'm the pastor of the church. No. Not true. In case you're new and you don't know the difference between Pastor Chip and me, let me go ahead and give you a few little ways that you can tell the difference. One, I'm a little bit bigger than Pastor Chip. Just that way and all sorts of ways. And two, I am definitely sporting a lot better head of hair than the reverend. I mean, I've got swag follicle going on in here, man. This is good stuff. And the third thing, which is kind of obvious, is I preach better. So, those are the three – after that, this will probably be my last sermon, huh?

Oh my gosh. Last time I had the opportunity to preach, we were less than half this size. I mean, we didn't have that part back there. I don't think we had that over there and all these new people. This is crazy. Can you believe all the growth that we've had in the last year? Amen. Now that we're kind of bumping 1,000 people, it's starting to get cool because, everywhere I am in town, I run into Grace people. You know? I was at Wal-Mart the other day. I ran into some Grace people at Publix. I can into Grace people the other day. I was at Lowe's and I had to buy a toilet. Not a toilet seat, like a whole commode.

So, I've got one of those big wheely things coming out. There's a big toilet on my thing. And I bump into a cart and it's literally a Grace person. And they're like, "Hey, Pastor Tom. What are you doing?"

I'm like, "I'm buying a toilet."

Okay. That was awkward. Other than that, it's usually really cool to run into people. And it's also – I really shouldn't say this, but it's just kind of wild. We're getting big enough now that I'll be in restaurants and people I don't even know, they'll buy my meal. And I'm like, "This is crazy. I can't believe it."

Like the other day I was out with Pastor Chip. I think we were at Valentino's. The waiter came and said, "See that lady over there? She goes to your church and she covered y'all's meal."

I looked over there and she went like that and I went like that and I was like, "Wow. That was really kind."

Then the other day I was with staff at Chili's and, sure enough, there's four or five of us and somebody came over and said, "Your check's been taken care of by somebody who goes to Grace."

I said, "Who did it?"

They said, "It was that couple over there."

So, I looked over and they went like that and I went like that. I'm like, "This is just amazing."

And the other night, my wife and I really decided to go all swanky. So, we went to the Long Horn. I don't know if you guys have ever been there. We racked up a huge bill because my wife drinks a lot. No, that's not true. I'm so ashamed. I'm sorry. That's not true at all. But, it was a pretty big bill. And, sure enough, the guy comes over and says, "See those people walking out the door?"

I said, "Yeah."

They said, "Well, they go to your church and they covered everything tonight."

And, sure enough, right before they walked out the door they turned around and looked at us and they went like that and I went like that and I waited until they weren't looking and I turned to my wife and I'm like, "This is awesome."

So, recently I've been hanging out a lot at the Cadillac dealership. I can't get anybody to – oh, well. What are you going to do?

Alright, let's go ahead and try to get serious after I've wrecked it. Let's pray for a second.

Father, thank You for the ability to come in Your house and laugh and have fun. We just pray this weekend for Pastor Chip, that he just has a lot of R and R. He, Mindy and the kids, that Lord, You would literally just cover them in rest and peace and fill him back up to the full. We're so thankful for everything that he and his whole family does. And Lord, as we've turned the corner now and we start heading into Your Word, we pray simply this: That the Word of God and the presence of God would change our lives forever. We know it has the power to do that and it really just depends on us being willing to be open; to letting You change us.

So, God, let Your presence and let Your Word change us in such a massive way that we all walk out different than when we came in. It's in Jesus' name we pray, and everybody said, "amen."

Today, we're going to talk about rising above the cares and the anxieties and the worries of this world. And I know that's tough. As you know, there are many things in life that can beat us down. Especially in the year 2017. Can I hear an amen to that? I've been alive for 52 years and, I'm telling you, I've never seen anything as fearful and crazy and chaotic and stressful and divided in my life like the world is today. I mean, as you know, there are many things that can ruin our life.

But, in these uncertain times, perhaps the greatest wrecking ball that the enemy uses on God's people today is fear. I read an article the other day that said that doctors now have identified over 700 different active types of phobias that people struggle with today. And, besides the word fear, you know that fear has a lot of kissing cousins. We just call them by different names. Things like panic, worry, stress, dread. And I'm sure, again, that all of us, from time to time, have experienced some of these feelings.

But, I wonder how many of us would admit that even after we've become Christian, there's been certain seasons in our lives that these feelings owned us. You know? They controlled us; got the best of us. Let me give you a few examples in my life of times that I was afraid. And, as I do, my whole point to that is I want you to go down your memory lane and recall some times in your life that you've been afraid. Maybe you're going through a time now that you're anxious or fearful.

I remember all the way back to seventh grade. I was in P.E. and I just couldn't take the bully picking on me anymore. So, I finally said, "That's it, Andy. You and me, after school, behind the gym."

Which sounded like a great idea until 2:30 when the bell rang and I went, "I've got to go to the back of the gym."

And I was terrified. I also remember when I was 17 I got in a wreck that totaled 4 cars. And the policeman showed up and, no matter how much I tried to explain what happened, he looked at me and went, "Seventeen-year-old, three adults," and he wrote me four tickets and blamed the whole thing on me. And I knew I couldn't afford that and insurance would cancel me and I couldn't pay for all of those cars. My only hope was to go and battle it out in court. And I had never talked in public. I get there to traffic court and it's full and they have a podium like this and a microphone. And the judge looks like he's 50 feet high.

They call me up and none of them look like they're interested in my story. And they're like, "Alright. Go ahead and talk."

And, all of a sudden, I'm like, "My life's on the line here."

I couldn't breathe. I couldn't catch my breath. I was scared to death. I also remember – speaking of wrecks – when my sister got hit by a car. Now, she ended up being okay. But, she was driving our little motorcycle around by the street. I was about 30 or 40 feet away and I saw it happening. I saw her going across the street and a car smacked her going 45 miles an hour. I just remember the moment being so surreal, right? I just was like, "I think I just watched my sister die."

Thank God it didn't happen. But, I was terrified. I heard that smash for the next month or two. I would wake up in the middle of the night hearing the metal on metal crash. And I remember the time in college in my first year of school that I cheated on a take-home test. I felt real convicted and I had to go tell the professor about it the next day. And that sounded like a good idea until I walked in there and I sat down and I looked at the professor and I went, "Oh my gosh. I'm about to give him some information and he could throw me out of college forever. That really could put a damper on my future."

And, I tell you, I was scared. I remember when my dad walked out on our family, and that was a pretty bad day too. But, perhaps the worst day that I ever had, in terms of feeling fear and dread, was when my wife, Nanette, was pregnant with our second child. The doctor called us in and closed the door. And I'm like, "Okay. This doesn't look good."

The doctor said, "Nanette, you've got cervical cancer and we've got to operate right away. We've got to do a procedure on you right away."

And my wife said, "Well, can't we wait until the baby is born?"

And I'll never forget. He leaned over and he said, "Nanette, if you don't get this procedure done now, you're going to die."

And I remember at 26 or 27 going, "Oh my gosh. We've got one kid. I'm going to be a widower."

I was filled with fear. Now, look. We can go around the room today. And I'm sure many of your stories are a lot worse than man. As a matter of fact, I know some of you guys and I know some of your stories. All of us have had times, when we look back at our lives, that we're incredibly fearful and anxious. But, here's the thing, guys: Fear leaves a mark. That's the problem. Fear leaves a mark. And the truth is, those marks can mess up our lives for the rest of our lives.

But, here's why we're talking about this today. After 30 years of ministry, I know so many Christians, good people, come to church, serve, say their prayers, love God, they're going to heaven, but they're still bound up by fear. Good Christian people whose fearful marks from the past are going to keep wrecking their future over and over and over if they don't learn to rise up.

Fear, panic, worry, dread. These things paralyze us, guys. They destroy our abundant life and rob us of God's best for us. And, if you've ever seen those surveys where they ask people on their deathbed, "What are the biggest regrets in your life," have you ever noticed that when you look at the top of the list, most of those answers have something to do with fear? They say things like, "I wish I had worried less. I wish I wouldn't have been so anxious about how my kids were going to turn out. I wish I hadn't been so afraid to take risks, start the new business, ask the girl out."

Or they say stuff like, "I wish I hadn't been so afraid to fail. I wish I wouldn't have been so afraid to stand up to my dad or stand up to Uncle Bob or whatever."

I mean, fear, fear, fear. That's what people regret the most. Turn to your neighbor and say, "This is so sad. I wish I hadn't come today. What is he talking about?"

But, fear not. Alas, my friends. Good news is coming. I promise. Today, we will find our deliverance from fear in the pages of, perhaps, the most famous story in the Bible. There's nothing obscure about the story of David and Goliath. You know it. Even those among us who have spent a lot of time in church know it. Even those who haven't spent a lot of time in church know the story. It's the classic underdog story with so many leadership lessons and life advice and spiritual takeaways. We could preach David and Goliath for a whole month.

As you know, many bestselling books, not only Christian books, but business books, motivational books, team sports books, have been written around the theme of David and Goliath. Over the years, I've probably preached David and Goliath sermons 10 different ways. But, the true reason I chose this story to speak on today was that, for the first time in my life, I saw this passage in a brand new light and I really felt like, Lord willing, there was a word in season for all of us today.

Since we all know the story, I'll just be hitting a few highlights. So, strap in because we'll be flying in pretty quickly as we go.

1 Samuel 17:1: "The Philistines now mustered their army for battle near Socah. Saul countered by gathering his Israelite troops near Elah. So the Philistines and the Israelites faced each other on opposite hills, with the valley between them. Then Goliath, a Philistine champion from Gath, came out of the ranks to face the forces of Israel."

He was nine feet tall and he wore a bronze this and a bronze that, armor this and bronze this and iron. You got that. Lots of bronze and iron.

1 Samuel 17:8: "Goliath stood and shouted a taunt across to the Israelites. 'Why are you all coming out to fight?' he called. 'I am the Philistine champion. Choose one man to come down here and fight me! If he kills me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be ours! I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me a man who will fight me!'"

Look at 1 Samuel 17:11: "When King Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken."

Now, there's three quick points I want you to see about the introductory part of this text. First, the writer is trying to make sure we really understand that Goliath is decked out with a lot of metal. I want you to put that in the back of your brain, because we're going to come back to that in a second. Second, we see a different type of warfare going on today, don't we? It's called "representative warfare" or "the champion's battle," and this is where one person on each side fights on behalf of everybody they represent. And third, as I started reviewing this passage, I began to note all of the different references to fear not only during this passage, but even before this passage. There's so many of them. And I started to realize this is one of the biggest points of the text. There is a lot of fear going on.

You know, this is why I started today's message by telling you some sad stories so you could remember your sad stories. Because, I wanted all of us to have a fresh reminder of what fear really feels like, what it means to deeply – can't catch your breath, time stands still kind of afraid like God's people are in the middle of this story.

1 Samuel 17:16: "For forty days and nights, every morning and evening, the Philistine champion strutted in front of the Israelite army."

So again, not only fear, but prolonged fear. Every day. Every night. Forty days and nights.

1 Samuel 17:20: "David arrived at the camp just as the Israelite army was leaving for the battlefield with shouts and battle cries. So the Israelite and Philistine forces faced each other, army against army. As David was talking to his brothers, Goliath, the champion from Gath, came out from the Philistine ranks. Goliath began to shout his usual taunt to the army of Israel. As soon as the Israelite army saw him, they began to run away in fright."

Again, a note to fear. Okay, guys. It's really important that we catch this. For forty days and nights, Israel would run to the battle line with war shouts and battle cries. For forty days and nights, Goliath would come out front and center and curse and taunt God's chosen people. Then, for forty days and nights, the Israelite army would turn around and run away in fright. I once heard a pastor named J.D. Greear explain it this way:

For forty days and nights, Israel would line up and shout to the Philistines, "We've got spirit, yes we do. We've go spirit, how about you?"

And the Philistines would shout back, "We've got Goliath."

And all the Israelites would run away in fear. It would be funny, wouldn't it, if it wasn't so tragic? These guys are scared to death. Eighty times they line up and eighty times they run away. How many of you guys know that fear has momentum attached to it? The more we fear something and the more we don't face it, it gets bigger and bigger and bigger until it finally blocks out God. It made me think about this question: Can you imagine how big Goliath must have looked to the Israelites by day 40? He must have looked huge. And this is where God's people are in this story. They're massively marked by fear.

Imagine every day the first thing you think about and the last thing you think about when you go to bed is this giant named Goliath mocking your puny little army and your puny little religion and your puny little life and your puny little opportunity to get out of this thing alive. Now, the interesting little side note, to make matters worse as if they couldn't get worse. I actually found another Scripture right before the David and Goliath story that gives the Israelites even another huge reason to be terribly afraid.

Remember earlier how we talked about how Goliath was macked out in bronze this, bronze that, metal this? Well, all the Philistines were.

Check out 1 Samuel 13:19: "There were no blacksmiths in the land of Israel those days. The Philistines wouldn't allow them for fear they would make swords and spears for the Jews."

So when the battled, none of the people of Israel had a sword or a spear except King Saul and Johnathan. Well, I'd say that's a pretty big reason to be afraid too, don't you? I mean, the Israelites should be terrified. They don't have any weapons. And I think this is why King Saul decided to do a champion's battle, because there's no other place in the Bible that God's people do a champion's battle. But, I think he chose to do it because they didn't have any weapons. But, the problem is they chose to do a champion's battle and they don't have a champion either. And add to that Goliath is some nine-foot-tall freak of nature and you start to understand why God's people are so terrified.

There really is a no win situation going on here. Think about it. If they all fight, they die. If they accept the champion's battle, then Goliath is going to kill whoever they put out there and they're still going to die. Or, at the very best, the Philistines are going to rule over them; to plunder all their stuff; to take their wives and children and they're going to be slaves for generations all the way until they die. That's about the best that God's people can hope for right now.

Ah, but you and I both know that's not the end of the story. And I love how the writer drops this in. He's so poetic the way he does it. Because, up to this point, all we've heard is fear, fear, fear, death, death, fear, fear. Verse 12: Now David. I just love how he drops that in. Now David. Enter the hero of our story. And you know this part. David fights Goliath. David beats Goliath. David cuts off Goliath's head with Goliath's sword because he probably couldn't find a good sword in Israel. I wish I had time to really unpack all the really cool stuff about this story. But, I don't. But, I want to go down a quick rabbit trial; a quick side note because I've always found this fascinating.

Honestly, when you look at David's whole day, he had to actually slay four different giants that day. The first giant David had to slay was the collective fear of a whole nation. You know how the mob crowd can feel. When everybody's afraid, you're tempted to be afraid. And this is not just anybody. It's generals, commanders, officers and soldiers. They're all scared to death, and that's the first giant David has to overcome.

The second giant he had to slay was big brother Eliab. Now, we didn't read that part this morning. But, big brother Eliab is jealous of David. So, when David shows up on the scene, Eliab, in front of the whole army, starts to mock him and make fun of him and, "Where are those three or four sheep you're supposed to be babysitting?"

You know, that's enough to make a baby brother run home. It was a lot, because Eliab just kept embarrassing him in front of the troops.

The third giant David had to slay was King Saul, who, by the way, was too chicken to fight himself, but was loaded with plenty of advice to tell David how he needed to go out there and fight like him and use his battle armor and wear his helmet and wear his sword. And you know, back in those days, talking back or disagreeing with a king was not a good idea. So, again, the third giant is David had to go, "King, with all due respect, I can't fight your way. I've got to fight my way."

And man, by the time David gets to the fourth giant, Goliath, he had to be exhausted. There were four different giants that day. The Bible says right before they fight that there is an interchange. A mano a mano interchange between David and Goliath. And I like the word that the Bible uses. It says, "Goliath sneered at David."

He sneered at him and he cursed his name and he mocked his puny little stature and his puny little weapons. Then he shouts as he starts to lean in towards the battle, "Come here, boy, so I can feed your flesh to the animals."

Now, I'm just trying to put myself back in that moment, that David had to already slay three giants that day and now he's standing in front of this monster who is starting to lean in and say, "Yeah. It's on. Come here now. You're going to die now."

And instead of fear, somehow David rises up and he says this.

1 Samuel 17:45: "David replies to the giant, 'You come to me with sword, spear and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven's Armies–the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the wild animals, so that all the earth may know there is a God in Israel."

Wow. That's faith over fear, isn't it? Man. So, as we head towards our finish line, I have three power points or take-homes for you guys. Remember, the point of these take-homes are for us to, in context, remember what we're talking about today and to be encouraged to rise up past our fears and our worries and our anxieties where we become the people of God that God wants us to be. People of peace and confidence; people who are positive and don't let the cares of the world get into our bones.

Now, the first point is more of an observation than a personal take-home. But, I still think it's important for us to note, because it really does matter. Point number one is this: The David and Goliath story in the Old Testament is the Jesus comes to save the world story in the New Testament. It's the junior story of the Gospel of Christ. The David and Goliath story is the pregame show. The precursor, if you will, that leads towards the ultimate, bigger story; the big showdown of good versus evil. And no, young people, we're not talking about Star Wars. We're talking about the real showdown of good versus evil, and that's God's redemption story to save humanity. It's the Gospel.

Hey, look. David's a great king. But, Jesus is a king greater than David. David is great because he saved a whole generation of Israelites. But, Jesus is greater because He's the Savior of all. And so many other cool similarities, like both David and Jesus are born in Bethlehem. They're both called shepherds in the Bible. They both were about age 30 when they started their reign on earth. They're both referred to in Scripture as the King of the Jews. And David comes into this story not as some great and mighty warrior, but as some small, vulnerable little shepherd boy. Jesus comes into His story not as some great and mighty God, but as a meek and humble servant who washes feet.

For 40 days and nights, Goliath tempted the Israelites. For 40 days and nights, the devil tempted Jesus. David defeats Goliath by using Goliath's own weapon against him; the sword. Jesus defeats Satan by using Satan's own weapon against him; the cross. And finally, both David and Jesus engage in the champion's battle, where two individuals fight for the whole in a winner-takes-all showdown. And there's so much more between the two. I don't have time to unpack it. But, I love the fact that God is giving His people, in the Old Testament, a taste of the ultimate Savior that's coming in the New Testament.

The David and Goliath story is the Gospel of Christ. Now, let's get a little bit more practical here with our last two take-homes. Point number two: While the whole nation of Israel shrank in fear over their huge problem, it was only David who saw his God as huger. And this is the point, guys. Your view of God's size determines everything about your life. And I couldn't be more serious than I am now. Your view of God's size determines everything about your life, because I'm deeply persuaded, the more I follow Christ, that the way most of our lives turn out rises and falls on the answer to this humongous question: How big is your God?

A.W. Tozer said, "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us."


"Because, a low view of God is the cause of a hundred lesser evils, but a high view of God will be your solution to ten thousand problems."

See, guys, I really believe when it comes to rising above our giants and our fears and our doubts that the primary problem, if we'd all just be honest for a second, is that we are not convinced. We're just not. We're not convinced that God is huger than everything that comes our way. Listen, I'm not trying to be melodramatic here, I promise, but I believe this with all my heart. As Christians, there are dire consequences when we go through life with a shrunken view of God. Dire.

If I live with a shrunken view of God, I'm going to live in a constant state of fear and anxiety, because everything depends on me. And if I live with a shrunken view of God, then my mood's going to be governed by my circumstances, not some huge deity that I can actually trust. If I live with a shrunken view of God, I will find it unnatural – albeit, even foolish – to pray and really believe. Because, honestly, I'm just not sure God's big enough to do anything. And if I live with a shrunken view of God, I'm going to be a slave to what other people think about me or say about me, because I don't live in the security of a big God's acceptance of me.

Or, what if I face temptation to do the wrong thing? Perhaps lie about a situation in order to avoid some trouble? Or maybe at work I take more credit for a project that I don't deserve. Or maybe I have an affair or cheat on my taxes. Come on, guys. Why not? Why not do those things when I don't believe in a big God who sees everything done in secret and who will one day reward accordingly?

John Ortberg said it better than anyone when he said, "When human beings shrink God, they pray without faith, worship without awe, serve without joy, suffer without hope, and the result is a very bad life of stagnation and fear."

Today, guys, let's all trade in our shrunken view of God and exchange it for what we know is true: An all-powerful, all-knowing God who is huger than anything and everything life can throw your way.

Okay. As we head towards the finish line here, I want to give a shout out to Pastor Chip. Probably because I'm going to be fired after the things I said at the beginning. Because, a lot of the new, fresh perspectives, honestly, that I saw this time reading through the David and Goliath passage were from me trying to read the Bible the way Pastor Chip encourages us to.

Now, I have a master's in theology. I know how to read the Bible. But, our pastor has a very unique, fresh perspective and way he goes to the Bible. One, I know he's a lot more patient than me. He's a big believer of instead of you just reading the Bible, you let the Bible read you, and to slow down. And I tried to do some of the things he teaches us and he talks about. I tried to see the text as a story and I tried to first understand, "How would I have felt as an ancient Israelite reading this story? Like, what would have been my take-away at that point?"

Then I looked at how the small story fits into God's bigger story and I looked for patterns like the 40 day and 40-night thing. I looked for Jesus in the story. And finally, I looked for you and me in the story. And it really helped me see some brand new, fresh perspectives regarding David and Goliath. So, let's land the plane and go on to our third and final point.

There are so many different players in this story when we talk about who we can identify with. The truth is, if we're honest, we can probably find at least a little of ourselves in each and every main character of this story. I mean, sometimes we act afraid like Israel. Sometimes we act like we're better than others or we talk down about people to make ourselves feel better like big brother Eliab. Sometime we're know-it-all that give people the wrong advice at the wrong time like King Saul. And sometimes we simply intimidate and hurt people like Goliath.

And the truth is, most of the time, when this story is preached, the person we're told to identify with most over and over is David. To be like David, we hear. To be like David is the key. Overcome your fears like David. Slay your giants like David and get your rewards just like David. And guys, listen. None of that's bad. There's a lot of truth to all of that. But, that is not the main point of the text, nor is it close.

So, after looking at this story in a fresh, new way, it finally hit me, after all these years of ministry, I finally saw what I believe is the ultimate point to the story. In this story, we're not David and we're not even close to being David. In this story, we are the helpless, hopeless, terrified Israelite army in desperate need of a champion. That's who we are. And guys, I know, it's not sexy. But, that's who we are. That's us. We're not David. We're not the savior of the world. We're not even the savior of the story. We're the guys in massive fear. Up the creek without a paddle. That's who we are.

And if I could be grumpy, old preacher guy for a second, sometimes I think the church, universal in 2017 – sometimes I worry that, in an attempt to be cool and user friendly, we forget to remind and re-remind and re-remind and re-remind both believers and unchurched people that the monumental crux of Christianity is and always will be this one thing: We are all in desperate need of a champion. That is Christianity. And listen, if you're a spiritual seeker here today and you're thinking about crossing the line of faith and giving Jesus a try, I would tell you that's the place you start. You must concede. You have a desperate need for a champion.

And if you're a believer here today who's struggling with their walk with God, I would tell you to stop striving and doing everything in your own strength. Go back to the beginning and once again concede that you have a desperate need for a champion. If you're a person who's ready to lay down your fear and your worry and your anxiety today and trade it in for a life of supernatural peace and faith, then you must first cast your cares upon the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ and again concede that you have a desperate need for a champion.

It never ends, guys. Whether you're in this thing for the first day or you've been a Christian for 80 years. It never ends. We're always going to be in desperate need of a champion, and that's how we get our victory. Because, guys, we can't fix our sin. We can't right all of our wrongs. We can't repair the breach between us and God. We can't overcome our fears. And we certainly cannot defeat death, Hell and the grave. But listen, guys, here's the great news: We don't have to, because someone else has already done the heavy lifting.

Alright. I'll end with this. 1 Samuel 17:50. I love this part.

"So David prevailed over the Philistine giant with a sling and a stone. Then David took Goliath's own sword and cut off his head. When the Philistine army saw their champion was dead, they ran and the Israelite army rose with a shout and pursued with Philistines."

I've got to admit to you. This is when I wish I was one of those old timey, singing a song in vibrato. Because that verse, verse 52, needs to be preached. You know what I mean? It needs to be something like, "And the Israelite army rose with a shout and pursued the enemy."

I mean, that's some stuff going on right there. I mean, there's a moment and this is the coolest part of the story right here. But, let's be honest. At first glance, it's kind of embarrassing and sad that the Israelite army was so scared and unable to fix all their problems and conquer all of their fears. And, just like them, it's kind of embarrassing and kind of sad that we can't fix all of our problems and overcome all of our fears. But then we stop and we look at 1 Samuel 17:52 and we go, "It's okay."

It hits us finally. It's okay. We don't have to be the champion of the story because we already have a champion, and our champion has already won the war. I look at verse 51 and I just go, "What on earth causes a whole army of fearful, frightened, scaredy-cat pansies to all of a sudden, in the twinkle of an eye, rise up into this great and mighty pack of warriors who now, instead of running from their problems, are chasing their problems with some kind of newfound, fiery faith?"

What causes that? How does that transition happen? It's simple, guys. They knew their champion had already won the war. All they had to do now is to walk in the finished work of their champion. Is anybody hearing me today? That's all we have to do. That's all we have to do. Whatever your giants or roadblocks or your fears or mountains or whatever you're battling, I implore you to stop striving in your own strength and trying to fix everything in your own strength and rise up and walk in the finished work of your champion. When we walk in the finished work of Christ, we can achieve so much more victory in our life and we can especially slay the giant of fear.

And that's exactly what God tells us. It's not just in the story. Over and over and over in Scripture, He implores us to be people who get away from fear, who conquer fear, who are better than fear. He wants us to trust Him and walk a life of faith; not fear. And that's why He tells us in 2 Timothy 1, "I didn't give you a spirit of fear, but of power and love and sound mind."

And that's what He's trying to tell us in the 23rd Psalm. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because God is with me. That's what He tries to tell us in 1 John. He goes, "Look, you've got Christ and in Christ you have perfect love, and perfect love casts out fear."

And that's exactly what Jesus is trying to tell us in Matthew 10 when He says, "Why do you guys worry about your life? Why are you so anxious about everything? I tell you, a sparrow doesn't fall to the ground unless it's my Father's will. So, stop being afraid, because my Father loves you so much more than all the sparrows of the world."

And it's what Jesus tries to tell us again in John 14 when He says, "My peace I give to you, not the world's peace. My peace. A supernatural peace. A peace that passes all understanding. Therefore, do not let your heart be troubled nor let it be afraid."

And it's exactly, again, what God tries to tell us in Romans 8. We sang that song. It was the third song we sang tonight when He said, "Look, when you became a Christian, you received the Spirit of God."

And it says this: "You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave to fear. But rather, you received a spirit that makes you a son, that makes you a daughter, that makes you a joint heir with the Most High God where now you can run boldly into the throne room with no fear at all, crying out, "Abba Father, Papa God. God's my daddy."

And listen, if God's your daddy and if He is huger than anything and everything life can throw your way and He's already done the finished work through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I implore you people today, I implore myself today, why in the world are we afraid?

Listen, I don't care what the news tells us every night or our Facebook feeds with half of the Christians that we know – come on – talking about how the sky's falling, politics, we're all going to die. You can choose that. I can choose that. We can live in fear and worry about what's going to happen tomorrow and get all wound up and be just like everybody else in the world. Or we can choose faith over fear. We can choose peace over stress. We can choose freedom over bondage. We can choose victory over defeat. Not because we're good, great, strong and wonderful, but we have a champion who's greater and huger than anything life can throw our way. And all we have to do is rise up and walk in the finished work of our champion and we can slay our giants and we can be victorious and we can win the war on fear.

Let's pray.

Father God, I thank You for each person here. I thank You for Your Word that makes it very clear to us the kind of people You're calling us to be. We all confess, Lord, there's times in our life – and some of us are going through it right now – where we have been anxious and wound up and fearful over so many things. Lord, just like You used to fill the apostles, daily, with the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts, we ask right now together as the Body of Christ to fill us with Your Spirit afresh and anew. And it's a Spirit that makes us a son and a daughter. It's a Spirit that does not make us a slave to fear.

But God, every day when the enemy tries to whisper that we're not good enough, we're not strong enough, we aren't smart enough, God, You're calling us to be a disciplined people who get up every day and go, "Thank God I don't have to do the heavy lifting. All I'm going to do is walk in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. And if I walk in that, I can walk in freedom, I can walk in faith. I don't have to be bound up by fear and anxiety. I don't care what the rest of the world says. I don't care what half of my Christian friends say. I'm not going to buy into the mob mentality. I believe God has my back. And when God is for you, who can be against you?"

Now, Father, as we leave this place, I just pray that the power of God and the presence of God and the Word of God and the Spirit of God would do the work that only it can do, and that is deliver us from ourselves; deliver us from our bondage of fear. And if we will walk out of this place being the people of peace You've called us to be, not only will we have better lives, but we will live an attractive life in such a way that all the unchurched people in Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch will run to the house of God and say, "Whatever you have, I want it."

That's the life we want to live. In Jesus' name, and all God's people said, "amen." God bless you guys. Have a great week.

Chris PedroComment