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12th July 2015
There should be no intimidation in the lives of Christians, nor in the church. Yet it’s amazing how easily we succumb to intimidation – worrying about how people see us or about situations we face.
We see this in Numbers 13:27-33, where God’s people were exploring whether they could take the land flowing with milk and honey that God had promised to them, but most gave a report based on intimidation. Their account was based on the size of the opposition and how they saw themselves by comparison. Only two of them said, “We can do it!”
There are four things we can learn here about how to overcome intimidation. Firstly, we need to know who we are. Joshua and Caleb knew who they were – they hadn't forgotten their identity. There’s nothing special about us and we won’t overcome obstacles or opposition by our own strength, but we are children of God living in His authority, and that changes everything! It has dramatic repercussions for the rest of our lives.
Secondly, they knew who the opposition was. They knew the reality that these people were not the people of God and that it doesn't matter who is against you if God is for you! We need to know who our enemy is – that he is defeated and no match for Jesus!
They also knew that God was with them. We need to know that God is with us too, and that nothing can stand up against His power. We can do remarkable things, not through our strength, but by knowing God and knowing that He is with us. Jesus promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us.
We also need to know the promises of God – He has the power to do everything He has promised and He is completely faithful to keep every promise He has made! Believing His promises sustains us through every intimidation thrown at us.
We all face, all the time, all kinds of things that can intimidate us. We have another example in the story of David and Goliath, where the people of God were intimidated and afraid, but along came David with an utterly different perspective. David knew who he was and who was with him.
The Bible says that Jesus was tempted in every way just as we are. The good news for us is that Jesus overcame every intimidation that was thrown at Him. In Mark’s gospel we read a succession of events that could have intimidated Jesus. He could’ve been intimidated by creation (the storm), the devil (the man full of demons who no one can help), sickness (the woman who had been sick for many years) and death itself (Jairus’ daughter). But He calmed the storm, set the man free, healed the woman and brought the girl back to life! He overcame every intimidation.
It’s interesting to see that Jesus didn’t use a lot of words in any of these situations. He knew the authority and power that His words had.
There is One who has gone before you who has faced every intimidation that you face, and overcame them all, even the intimidation of a brutal death on the cross.
As Christians and churches that are sometimes so intimidated, maybe we’ve forgotten who we are, or who the opposition is, or who God is, or what He has promised us. How do we overcome opposition? In Jesus. How do we have the authority? It’s His authority. What if the problem is too big? The One who lives in you is greater than any other!
We overcome because He is in us and with us. We live in Him and in His power. The potential for fear, this side of heaven will always be with you. Fear is an intimidating barrier that we need to overcome. We sometimes think we will be courageous when the fear has gone, but courage is walking through the fear and being courageous despite it.
In what area are you intimidated? One of the keys of for King’s Church Hastings to make a bigger impact on this area is individuals empowered by God and overcoming intimidation, so that corporately we know who we are, we know the nature of the opposition, we know who our God is and what His promises are.
Posted by David Holden
26th April 2015
"I learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it." (Nelson Mandela)
So often in life we can be more aware of our fears than we are of courage. Fears can fill our minds in the middle of the night. Sometimes when we see fears start to stir, all hope of courage feels lost. We can mistakenly believe that courage and fear don't co-exist. But actually the seed-bed of fear is a great place for courage to grow and for us to prove God in the circumstances of our lives.
When people do something courageous, it's catching. It causes us to step a bit further than we've gone before. That's what happened in Acts 4, when Peter and John were bold and courageous. When people lead by example, it stirs courage within others.
We know that Peter wasn't naturally bold. We know that last time he was accused of something, it was by a little girl, and he ran away! So now, in Acts 4, before the high priests, what hope would Peter have of being bold and courageous? Peter and John were uneducated, common men who were standing in front of not just one high priest but three! Fear would be a natural thing here. Yet Peter and John are full of boldness and courage. They don't hold back!
There wasn't necessarily an absence of fear here. But they triumphed over their fear with incredible courage. They were and are an amazing example. What was the source of their courage?
Peter and John had spent three years with Jesus. When you spend time with Jesus, it's noticeable. The reason we encourage you to read your Bible and to pray is because we want you to encounter Jesus. It's why we come to church meetings. It's why we give Him our best in worship. My ambition for all of you is that day by day you will encounter Jesus. You cannot encounter Jesus and remain the same. Peter and John started to look and sound like Jesus. When we spend time with Him, the same happens to us!
Christians don't grow more mature over the passing of the years; we increase in maturity by spending time with Jesus. But for Peter spending time with Jesus wasn't enough – as shocking as that might sound! Peter spent three years with Jesus but still ran away when challenged by a servant girl. The difference between then and this account in Acts 4 is that Peter had been filled with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is the source of our courage, but the Holy Spirit empowers us to be courageous. So how do we step into courage? It's something we can grow in – it's not a static thing. In Acts 4:23-31 we find some helpful things to help us become more courageous. One of the first ways to overcome obstacles of fear is to share them (verse 23), either by telling someone else or by taking someone with you to do something you need courage to do.
Secondly, the followers of Jesus remembered (vv24-28). They filled their minds with who God is, not their fears. We need to be men and women who know how to preach to ourselves – we need to remind ourselves of who God is.
They also prayed. They asked God to fill them with boldness and to perform miracles (vv29-30). We keep praying and we keep seeking God; we pray and push in and take courageous steps and see what He will do.
They were filled with the Spirit, too (v31). Not just once, but again and again. We need to be continually filled with the Spirit so that we can be increasingly courageous.
Finally, they stepped out and acted (v31). We can do all the previous steps, but we do, in the end, need to step out and go for it!
All of us experience fear, but Peter and John have given us this incredible example of courage. A few chapters in the Bible later, we're going to find such fierce persecution that the Church is scattered. But as they went, they witnessed. They had grown in courage and it prepared them for what was coming.
It was the same for Jesus. He is our great example of courage and faith. He courageously went to the cross on our behalf. Jesus is the ultimate example as well as being our source of courage. He empowers us by the Holy Spirit so that we can triumph over our fears with courage.
Posted by Paul Mann