As we were unable to record this sermon here are the notes from Pastor Fern’s talk at our Sunday Gathering on Sunday 15th October.

THE ENEMY WITHIN – DEALING WITH INTIMIDATION

  • Continuing our series on what makes a successful Church
  • We have looked at the need for:
    • Enabling people to encounter Jesus
    • Teaching and supporting people to commit fully to Jesus
    • Serving each other and our community
  • Today I want to look at intimidation and what happens when we overcome it
  • What is it – to frighten or threaten someone, usually in order to persuade them to do something that you want them to do or not do. Literally to make us timid
  • A successful Church will be a Church full of people that overcome intimidation
  • Was the early Church timid – is the Church in China, Indonesia, India, Pakistan today timid?
  • For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline – 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
  • So if God is not the source of this it can only come from one other place – the work of the enemy – rooted in lies
  • Be sure of one thing – of you are going to follow Jesus you will get intimidated – by what he asks you to do for him
  • Why? Because he needs us to live by faith and not by sight – 2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we live by believing not by seeing” (NLT)
  • Because he needs us to recognise the enemy within and displace it with the power within
  • When God asks us to do something or take on something how do we feel
  • In short – intimidated – because we feel out of our depth
  • So did the Apostle Paul – Ephesians 3:8 “And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ” (MSG)
  • Decide to be serious about following Jesus and intimidation becomes a daily issue
  • There is always something God is putting in front of us – somewhere new he wants to take us – a challenge he wants us to overcome
  • Our first reaction is often – I can’t do that
  • Here’s a surprise for you – GOD KNOWS THAT
  • He knows your limitations, your emotional state, your skills and abilities
  • He knows what you are brilliant at, what moves you, what fulfils you
  • MOST OF ALL he knows what potential you have
  • So when the Holy Spirit comes knocking on your door with a challenge remember who is asking and what he knows about you
  • There are several ways we can be intimidated but the purpose of them all is to stop us being effective in our work for Christ – to stop us witnessing to his power in our lives to others
  • Here are four of the common types:
  • Self-Intimidation – no need for anyone else to do it – we do it to ourselves – not good enough, strong enough, don’t have the resources, skills, experience. We compare ourselves with others – they would be better at it
    • Remember what God says about you – His masterpiece, unique, loved, equipped with everything you need to do the good works he has planned for you
    • There are people and situations in this community that God has you lined up for – things that you are uniquely equipped for – but we let our fear and anxiety intimidate us into inactivity
    • Reluctant heroes – Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, Gideon
  • Relational Intimidation – coming from others – not necessarily deliberately but through personality, language, attitude or simply by not catching the vision that God has given you
    • We allow ourselves to be convinced that we are wrong – choose you advisors carefully – listen to those who listen to God
  • Situational Intimidation – based on what is going in in our lives – lack of time, space, money, energy, capacity or simply our domestic circumstances can all intimidate us
    • Sometimes it is simply the atmosphere that we are living or working in
    • We see only what is in front of us and not what could be possible
    • Examples – rich young ruler, disciples going back fishing
  • Cultural Intimidation – complying with expected behaviours, fear of offending or upsetting, fear of rejection or humiliation or persecution
    • Holding back for fear of being seen as odd – look at how TV programmes portray Christians – arrogant, weird, obsessed, offensive, out of touch with reality
  • Intimidation of Christians is a key element in Satan’s plan to prevent the spread of the good news
  • He knows the good news and he knows what it can do for people so he will do all he can to stop us from being and doing what God has planned for us
  • Read 2 Corinthians 5:16-19 (NLT)
  • In these verses you have both the key to overcoming intimidation and the reason why we should
  • Verse 16 – How differently we know him now
  • The key to overcoming intimidation is in how well we know Christ
  • Paul says we used to view everything – even Christ from a human perspective – but as we got to know him that all changed
  • It is as we have been saying over and over – the quality and depth of your personal relationship with Christ that will change how you see things and how you overcome the intimidatory tactics designed to keep you rooted to where you are and ineffective
  • Verse 19 – God has given us this task
  • This is why we need to get a grip on intimidation and overcome it – we are here for a purpose – to share the good news
  • Giving in to fear and anxiety robs us of our chance to be people who reconcile others to God
  • God is wanting us to demonstrate his power to give us a new life by overcoming the things that hold us back – through faith in him and his ability
  • Faith and hope are similar but distinctly different. Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ (NLT)
  • Faith is more educational while hope is more emotional. Faith is related to miracles; hope is more about morale.
  • For our faith to grow we have to exercise it – feed it – test it
  • Faith is an unshakable belief in God and the promises of God. We’re expected to put such confidence in everything God tells us to do that we actually do it!
  • How do we do that?
  • Ask God for more faith
  • Focus on obeying – trust him
  • Fill your mind with his word
  • Not exercising faith is effectively telling God we don’t believe him and we don’t trust him
  • As long as we stay in that place we are giving control of our lives to intimidation
  • A live lived under intimidation is unfulfilled, and leaves us wondering what could have been
  • Don’t stay in the place of regret – make your life count for something
  • We have a commission from the king of kings and a promise that he will always be with us – so what’s not to like?