A Time for Courage


We don’t always think about the courage necessary to be a follower of Christ.  Sure, we know the words that Jesus spoke: If you deny me before men, I will deny you before the Father.[1]  But we tend to view those words through the fear of being found wanting.

Fear is a bad motivator. I don’t think our tendency to be afraid of losing our salvation serves us very well.  Perfect love casts out all fear. God is looking for the courageous, not the fearful.

Jesus actually spoke those words in the context of fear.[2] And the message from Jesus is: do not fear!

Remember the parable of the talents?  The master chastised the servant who knew the master was a hard taskmaster, was afraid of losing the talents he was given and buried them instead of using them to produce more talents.[3] I think it’s safe to say that God doesn’t appear to favor fearfulness.

For one thing, fear demonstrates that we are in wrong relation to God or don’t really understand who God is.  God is our Father. If God truly is our Father, we should not be afraid.  A father loves his children.  What father, if his child asks for bread will give him a stone?[4]

To fear is to lack faith. And without faith, it’s impossible to please God.[5]  God has told us who He is.  He is our Father, and we are His children, if indeed we have been born again.  If our spirit testifies with (the same as) God’s Spirit, we will naturally see Him as Abba, our Father.[6]

If that is not how we see God, something is wrong with us.  Nothing is wrong with God because God doesn’t change.  We fail to perceive Him as He is if we fear Him.

Yes, fear of the Lord may be the beginning of wisdom[7], but there is no fear in love, perfect love casts out fear.[8]

Once we know God, not just in our heads, but intimately know Him, we must not lose sight of exactly who He is and who we are. We are exhorted not to shrink back, but to hold on and press on, not to be fearful of the difficulties that we may face, but to meet them with faith and endurance.[9]

God reward those who live by faith and do not shrink back. God takes no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.

Fear denies who God is, who God says He is and who God has revealed Himself to be.  Fear is the opposite of faith.

Fear may be one of our biggest obstacles to fullness of life in God and bearing the kind of fruit that God’s power and life in us should produce.  Fear denies the reality and power of God in us.

These times in the United States of America are not as difficult for believers as the 1st Century experiences of the people to whom Paul and John wrote.  Our tribulations are not of the same kind or magnitude of the brutality and repression that our brothers and sisters eperience in other parts of the world today. It’s hard for us to relate.

But these times are a changin’, as one erstwhile prophet of these times recently stated.  Are we ready for the cold wind that is blowing?

The apocalyptic presidential debates and formation of battle lines underscore the changes that have been coming for some time and are yet to come.  The times John saw in Revelations are yet to come, and even now are coming. The message from God to John that is preserved in the Book of Revelations is to those who conquer[10]. It is a call for us to endure and keep the faith.[11]

But more than that, God is getting ready to do something. The field is ripe for harvest.[12] The hour for God to reap has come.[13] A new heaven and a new earth are coming, and God will dwell there among men, wiping away every tear, and all the former things will pass away.[14] And all of this is for those who conquer:

“The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

As with Joshua when he was poised to enter the promised land, this is a time for courage.[15] It’s not a time to shrink back, but to step forward in faith. I say this to myself and to anyone who will listen. The kingdom of God is for those who will press forward in faith and will not fear.[16]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

[1] Matthew 10:33

[2] Matthew 10:26-33 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.  What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.  And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

[3] Matthew 25:14-30 The servant with one talent said to the master: “Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground.”

[4] Matthew 7:9

[5] Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

[6] Romans 8:14-16 “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God….”

[7] Proverbs 9:10; Psalms 111:10

[8] 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

[9] Hebrews 10:35-39 “But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For,

‘Yet a little while,
and the coming one will come and will not delay;
but my righteous one shall live by faith,
and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.’

But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

[10] Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21

[11] Rev. 14:12

[12] Matthew 9:27

[13] Rev. 14:14-16

[14] Rev. 21:1-4

[15] Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

[16] Luke 12:42 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

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