Courage!

If we want to live life to the full, one indispensable factor is courage! A hundred things will arise today – inner doubts, criticism of others, sickness, confusion, evil, lethargy – that will conspire to cause us to retreat to the safety of our couch, losing ourselves in mindless diversions. It takes guts to overcome those things to stay engaged, to live against the flow.  

Courage is often seen in terms of warriors, heroes, people who do amazing things in the face of incredible danger.  Let me tell you this morning, you do not have to be a Navy SEAL or a decorated police officer to live courageously. Courage is not defined by the strength to intimidate an opponent.  It isn’t just on display in the fireman that charges into a burning house! Courage is shown by those who choose – day after day – to keep focused on the right course regardless of critics and in the face of circumstances that appear to have gone wrong.

Courage refuses to react, choosing instead to respond.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,

and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”    – Theodore Roosevelt

In Luke 19, we read about Jesus’ encounter with a man of short stature named Zacchaeus. Maybe you sang about him in Sunday School?  “Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he.” Well anyway, one day Jesus visited the town of Jericho and Zacchaeus, a local outcast because of his cooperation with the Roman authorities, decided he wanted to meet Jesus.

So, he climbed into a tree to see over the crowd.  Jesus took note of this guy in a tree, stopped to talk to him, and invited Himself to dinner at his house!  Zacchaeus was not just tax collector. The probability was that he was a a crook, collecting more than Rome wanted and pocketing the difference.

Here’s where we observe courage in this story.  No respectable Jew would associate with Zee, much less go into his house.  That would make you his accomplice, his tarnished reputation rubbing off onto you. But, Jesus did it courageously!  People mattered more to Him than approval of others, so when He saw a man hungry for God He courageously engaged him and that encounter changed that little man for eternity.

Even more remarkable about this little story in the Gospel is the fact that Jesus was just a few days from the Cross when He met the little man in Jericho!  He might have been ready to retreat to the quiet of some out of the way place, sought a place to ‘prepare’ Himself for the ordeal that would bring the redemption of humanity.  Suffering, rejection, horrific sorrow as He would carry the weight of humanity’s sin was less than a month away, waiting for Him in Jerusalem. He choose to courageously love the least and seek out the lost!

Life can be amazing and I pray that your life always is, but the fact is – troubles come to us all. People you love will fail you. You will make some mistakes and some poor decisions. Consequences are inevitable, but choice that flows out of real courage can make all the difference in the future.  Will you encourage yourself in the Lord and move ahead or collapse into misery?

In Hebrews 6 we find this assuring declaration, “we who have fled to him for refuge can take new courage, for we can hold on to his promise with confidence. This confidence is like a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.” (NLT) It is our privilege it is to rest in Christ Jesus, to put those things we did not foresee before Him, and to know that He will be our faithful coach, One who guides. 

Are you anchored in the unchanging Christ?  Settling ourselves in His Presence will keep us from reacting in panic when the things come at us for which we are not prepared.  Christians can run to Christ for solace and rest.  In Him, they find courage to take the measure of the day and to move ahead, living for His purposes. When the chaos of life threatens to overtake us, Christ offers to hold us secure, to give us a strong point to hang onto – His salvation, our hope! 

Take Courage, Christian. How?

  • Pray, even if only with sighs or quiet waiting, sharing the burdens of life with Jesus. 
  • Worship, not superficially, but from the heart, renewing faith in the love of the Father.
  • Inform your mind with God’s Truth. Reading passages of hope and affirmation will be an antidote to the toxins of fear. ( Suggested passages – Psalm 37, Ephesians 1, Romans 8) 
  • Practice good self-care.  Exhausted people are often fearful people. Even Jesus took time from ministry to rest and find renewal.
  • Choose to do one faith-filled, forward focused thing today.

The word from the Word points us to the example of Jesus. As you read it, my prayer is that you will ‘take courage’ and do the right thing, choosing the right path. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress.

And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven. Think about all he endured when sinful people did such terrible things to him, so that you don’t become weary and give up.” (Hebrews 12:1-3, NLT)   Consider Jesus! Take Courage! Finish well!

(Video of this blog at this link)

_______________

The Lord Is My Light

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation
Whom then shall I fear
Whom then shall I fear
The Lord is the strength of my life
The Lord is the strength of my life
Of whom then shall I be afraid

Though a host of men were laid against me
Yet shall not my heart be afraid
And though there ‘rose up war against me
Yet will I put my trust in Him

For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His tabernacle
Yea in the secret places of His dwelling
Shall He hide me
And set me up upon a rock of stone

Of whom then shall I be afraid
The Lord is my Light

Mary Frances Allitsen

Public Domain

One response to “Courage!”

  1. Thank you Pastor Jerry. My Husband is in scicu in baystate in bad way. I was just reading that same psalm.
    God Bless You and please keep David in your prayers.
    Mary

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: