Fear is the next glass ceiling to talk about. I spoke last week about the glass ceilings we face in our lives, and how we are the ones who placed them there, usually as a result of the influence of others. God doesn’t place these limits on our lives, we do, but He has plans and hopes and dreams for our future far beyond anything we could even imagine!
Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV Strong's)
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.
We will hit glass ceilings every time unless we commit our lives to the Lord and let Him control and direct us.
Today, I want to compare and contrast 2 kings of Israel, King Saul and his successor, King David.
A TALE OF 2 KINGS…AND FEAR
Saul and David were in their time both anointed of God, and both appointed king. Both attractive, both charismatic, and Saul was probably the pick…
1 Samuel 9:2 (ESV Strong's)
Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.
Why did Saul fail as Israel’s king, while David succeeded? It all has to do with the glass ceilings they faced and how they decided to deal with them.
While David smashed many of the ceilings he faced, Saul’s attitude meant he kept bouncing off them and never penetrated them. Take a look at the similar paths the men traveled:
1. BOTH RECEIVED GODLY COUNSEL
Samuel, the last judge of Israel, anointed both men, and gave both godly counsel. When Samuel died, David continued to receive advice and direction from Nathan the prophet.
2. BOTH FACED GREAT CHALLENGES
Every leader faces obstacles, mountains to climb, tests and trials, and these 2 kings were no exception. In fact, Saul and David sometimes faced the same challenges. Take Goliath, for example: When the huge Philistine offered to fight Israel’s champion, both Saul and David heard the challenge.
Saul, Israel’s greatest warrior and leaders, hid in fear.
1 Samuel 17:11 (ESV Strong's)
When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.
But David, a mere boy, eagerly faced the challenge and won honour for God.
1 Samuel 17:45 (ESV Strong's)
Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
Same challenge, different response!
3. BOTH FACED CHOICES TO REPENT, CHANGE AND GROW
Saul and David reacted very differently when confronted by their failures.
Samuel rebuked Saul for making an unauthorized burnt offering to God, and then towards the end for keeping the spoils for himself and faking a sacrifice. When confronted the king didn’t repent but offered excuses, reasons why he’d sinned and tried to couch them in religious language.
1 Samuel 15:19-22 (ESV Strong's)
Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” And Samuel said,
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.
Evidently Saul stayed on the same course, lost the kingdom and his life.
David possessed an entirely different kind of heart. When Nathan confronted the king after the sordid incident with Bathsheba, David broke down and sorrowfully repented.
2 Samuel 12:13 (ESV Strong's)
David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Psalms 51:10 (ESV Strong's)
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
David chose to repent, to change and to grow, because he was a man after God’s own heart, but Saul hardened his heart and offered explanations why and excuses why not, instead of repentance. Today, as I share about this first glass ceiling, please don’t harden your heart, or make excuses, just do honest business with God, and let Him punch through the ceiling.
SAUL’S BIGGEST GLASS CEILING WAS FEAR
Saul faced many glass ceilings which limited his life, and today we will start with what to Saul was probably the biggest ceiling he faced, and is also probably the biggest we face, the glass ceiling of fear…
SAUL… A PRODUCT OF HIS OWN FEAR
1 Samuel 10:21-22 (ESV Strong's)
Saul the son of Kish was taken by lot. But when they sought him, he could not be found. So they inquired again of the Lord, “Is there a man still to come?” and the Lord said, “Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage.”
Pretty inauspicious start… Where is the anointed one? Oh, he’s nicked off and is cowering in fear. And this fear became a ceiling Saul never broke through! This same fear is seen all through his life, such as with Goliath.
What about you? What do you fear? Do you fear sickness, failure, financial collapse, loneliness or criticism? Fear is what gives most people glass ceilings, limits which they never break through because they cannot control their fears, the fears control them! But…
2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV Strong's)
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
FEAR- FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL
If fear is controlling you, if fear is placing that glass ceiling before you, then today I want to give you the chance to smash through that ceiling forever!
An anagram for fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. The vast majority of what we fear never actually happens, but this fear, even though it is not real or factual, actually enslaves us.
I remember doing an activity as a youth leader where we had to go to a dark corner of a graveyard at night and record a particular grave’s details. My group went through, terrified, but I saw the lights of the next group led by my friend, so doubled back and hid behind a tree. I jumped out and screamed, “Don’t be scared!” But their group were scared, not because I said something scary, but because their fear was heightened being in a graveyard… All in their minds.
Everyone experiences fear, just like Saul. It’s how you respond to the fear that counts. Saul let fear be a glass ceiling in his life, and this fear controlled him, he never broke through and ultimately robbed him of his destiny.
If you tolerate the glass ceiling of fear, it can even become a self fulfilling prophecy, and a Job said,
Job 3:25 (ESV Strong's)
For the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me.
Experiencing fear doesn’t mean your ungodly, but you need to realise that letting it control you robs you of blessing, while mastering it smashes through the glass ceiling!
SMASHING THROUGH THE FEAR GLASS CEILING
Saul faced the glass ceiling of fear, as did every Bible character, as do you and I! Fear is normal, but it is a ceiling begging to be obliterated!
Now not all fear is controlling and irrational, many fears are good and healthy.
Proverbs 9:10 (ESV Strong's)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
Fear of God is healthy. Fear of snakes is too, as are many fears. Fear of electricity, fear of massive surf, fear of upsetting your wife, these are rational and healthy fears that ensure survival. The problem is not that you have fear, the problem is when the fear has you and limits you.
Fear produces glass ceilings because it causes us to battle against ourselves. The rational part of our brain wars against the fearful emotional side, and the struggle causes anxiety and exhaustion within us. Fear costs you, in worry, lack of sleep, medical bills and, in Saul’s case, it can even cost your destiny and life!
Whether it’s fear of failure, or people, or consequences, or the future, what are the steps towards breaking through the glass ceiling of fear?
F- FACE THE TRUTH
Ignoring fear might seem to solve the immediate feelings, but it never works for long. Burying your fear causes it to grow strong roots and sprout! Fears that create glass ceilings in your life have usually been there a long time and never dealt with.
Saul would not face his fear of Goliath, so he hid. David looked at the same fear and said,
1 Samuel 17:26 (ESV Strong's)
who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
Today I’m going to ask you to face that fear which has become a glass ceiling in your life. Don’t run, don’t cower in terror, but we are going to look it in the eye and say, “Who are you to defy the living God!”
Our fears are based on experiences we’ve had. Children are often fearless, because they haven’t experienced the consequences of their actions. They dive into your arms, but us adults refuse to trust like that.
That glass ceiling of fear is there because you’ve reinforced it over the years by experiences. But experiences can also shatter that very ceiling. Look at David…
1 Samuel 17:37 (ESV Strong's)
And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
He’d seen God give him victory over smaller fears, so he could trust God for more.
Some of you are fearful of change. But if you don’t adjust, if you refuse to change, you will not break through the glass ceilings in your life.
And some people are just content with the devil they know. I know this fear is limiting and ruling my life, but I’m comfortable here. At least I know how bad it is. I can live with this fear, with this sickness, with this poverty. It might be worse on the other side!
Psalms 23:4 (ESV Strong's)
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Are you walking through a valley of fear, the shadow of death, or are you camping there? Have you set up a house there? Moving forward to your destiny involves change, it involves risk, but it involves you moving ahead. Is it a risk if you are walking through the valley of death with the good Shepherd?
We are so stressed out in our society, we worry about moral declines, finances, relationships, bills, life. We literally don’t have time to relax. It’s all go, go, go and activity drives stress and activity.
Isaiah 26:3 (ESV Strong's)
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
It’s time to step back from the worries and fears and stress of life and disconnect. It’s time to put our lives into flight mode. In flight mode on your phone, everything still works, but you don’t get all these messages and stresses from the outside. For a short time you do well to disconnect, relax and soak in God!
Psalms 46:10 (ESV Strong's)
“Be still, and know that I am God.
L- LISTEN TO GOD
You cannot hear God in the maelstrom that is your regular life! He will not shout above the noise, He patiently waits for you to get alone with Him.
Isaiah, after the triumph of Mt Carmel, cowered in a cave, full of fear that Jezebel would find him and kill him. He sought God, he needed to hear from God, and God met him in his hour of need…
1 Kings 19:11-12 (ESV Strong's)
And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
To smash the ceiling of fear, you need to relax, step back from the storm that is 21st century life, and connect with God. You need to listen, really listen for the still small voice of God!
You can pray all you like, you can live with your fear, you can share it with others, you can think and discuss solutions, but until you take action, until you enact God’s solution to break through the glass ceiling, nothing will change.
Today is the day to conquer that fear that has limited for so long, and to take any action required to make it so.
James 1:22 (ESV Strong's)
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
I know some of this talk makes you uncomfortable. My role as pastor is to challenge you, not make you comfortable, otherwise we will all sit under our glass ceilings contentedly miserable.
God has more for you. God has a destiny, but you need to enact it. You need to be obedient, not just hear, not just give mental assent, but do whatever it takes to shatter this ceiling of fear. To smash this ceiling you need to say, Yes Lord, whatever it takes. Are you willing, or are you content to live under the thumb of the devil who uses fear to limit your life?
S- SEE CORRECTLY
Perception is your version of reality. Fear distorts your perception, and like a warped price of glass, the glass ceiling of fear distorts everything you see through it. And what affects how you see things and your fears? Experience, especially bad ones.
Bad experiences thicken and warp the glass ceiling of fear. And some of you have had your share of bad experiences. King David, however, smashed though the fear ceiling by remembering what God has done in the past.
1 Samuel 17:37 (ESV Strong's)
David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
Take a chance, trust God and remember all the times He has brought you through. If you have none of those, start now trusting Him to build those fear destroying memories, because you can trust God!
S- SECURITY IN GOD IS THE ANTIDOTE TO FEAR
Psalms 27:1 (ESV Strong's)
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
When you know God, when you truly draw close to Him, you can break through the glass ceiling of fear, because you have the security of trusting the God of creation, your father who loves you and cares for you and has a plan for you. David also wrote,
Psalms 34:4 (ESV Strong's)
I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
Today is the day you can be delivered from all your fears. Finances, health, relationships, those glass ceilings that limit you, the fear that holds you back from all God has for you. And we are here to walk this road with you.
You can be FEARLESS in the power of the Lord. Decide today that that glass ceiling of fear has no power, it’s weak and about to shattered.
Today we hit it hard and smash it into tiny pieces.