Courage Under Fire


Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

Moses, Noah, Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego, Ruth, Joseph, Daniel, Hannah, Samuel, Jonathon, Elijah, Nehemiah, Esther, David, Peter, Stephen, Mary Magdalene, Elizabeth, Paul, Mary the mother of Jesus, Deborah, Job, Jonah, the Roman Centurion, John, Luke, the thief on the cross, and of course Jesus.

What do all these people from the Bible have in common? They all over came fear and claimed Courage Under Fire.

Now, before I delve in to some of their stories I’d like to take a moment and define what fear really means, and what courage really means and the difference between the two.

Fear:

noun

  1. 1.an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

synonyms:

terror, fright, fearfulness, horror, alarm, panic, agitation, trepidation, dread, consternation, dismay, distress; More

verb

  1. 1.be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or threatening.

synonyms:

be afraid of, be fearful of, be scared of, be apprehensive of, dread, live in fear of, be terrified of; More

As some of you have heard, in some of my past talks, when I was younger, I really wasn’t scared of much. I would do a lot of stupid things without fear. Like climbing down a chimney of a backyard barbecue. Climbing 100-foot-tall pine trees, jumping off garages, riding rides that went super high, super-fast and upside down and my personal favorite, riding bicycles without seats. Sometimes having no fear is really a matter of stupidity or ignorance of the possible outcomes of one’s fearless actions.

However, as I grew older, that lack of regard for fear slowly faded away and the things that didn’t frighten me so much, have now smacked me right in the face with the cold hand of fear. For example, when we go to King’s Island the kids like to go to the top of the Eifel Tower. Not me so much. I know that when we get to the top, there are hundreds of feet between me and the ground. And I am not afraid of how high we are so much as how much it would hurt if I were to hit the ground if I were to fall from that height. More than that, I fear what would happen to my children and my wife. Because God knows, I’m the only perfect guy for Katie.

Please let’s not think that possessing fear is completely a bad thing. I know the definitions that I read to you express fear in a very negative light. But sometimes having fear is matter of respect. We are told to fear God. Not in a way that we are afraid of Him, but in a manner of respect for God. To be in awe of something greater than ourselves.

So, you see, having fear, can be a good thing and a bad thing.

Now, let’s talk about courage. Webster’s dictionary defines courage as:

Courage:

noun

  1. the ability to do something that frightens one.

  • strength in the face of pain or grief.

synonyms:

bravery, courageousness, pluck, pluckiness, valor, fearlessness, intrepidity, nerve, daring, audacity, boldness, grit, true grit, hardihood, heroism, gallantry; More

In my eyes there are two forms of courage: dumb courage and brave courage. And believe me, there is a huge difference. Remember before when I mentioned climbing down the chimney of the backyard barbecue… dumb courage. Riding a bicycle without a seat, just plain dumb, tight rope walking across the Grand Canyon, in my opinion dumb courage.

So, what is Brave courage. Great question.

Let’s talk about King Saul’s son Jonathan. We first meet Jonathan in 1 Samuel 13, but we read about his courageousness one chapter later. If you would like, I will be reading a bit from chapter 14, starting with verse 1. I’ll be reading from the New Living Translation here…

1One day Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “Come on, let’s go over to where the Philistines have their outpost.” But Jonathan did not tell his father what he was doing.

So let’s just stop here real quick. Here we see the first signs of courage in this story. Now is this dumb courage or brave courage? Let’s read on to find out.

2Meanwhile, Saul and his 600 men were camped on the outskirts of Gibeah, around the pomegranate tree at Migron. 3Among Saul’s men was Ahijah the priest, who was wearing the ephod, the priestly vest. Ahijah was the son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub, son of Phinehas, son of Eli, the priest of the Lord who had served at Shiloh.

No one realized that Jonathan had left the Israelite camp.

4To reach the Philistine outpost, Jonathan had to go down between two rocky cliffs that were called Bozez and Seneh. 5The cliff on the north was in front of Micmash, and the one on the south was in front of Geba.

6“Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”

7“Do what you think is best,” the armor bearer replied. “I’m with you completely, whatever you decide.”

8“All right, then,” Jonathan told him. “We will cross over and let them see us. 9If they say to us, ‘Stay where you are or we’ll kill you,’ then we will stop and not go up to them. 10But if they say, ‘Come on up and fight,’ then we will go up. That will be the Lord’s sign that he will help us defeat them.”

The type of Jonathan’s courage can now be seen as brave courage. Or as I like to call it, Godly courage. Even his armor bearer is showing Godly courage. I like how the New American Standard Bible translates the armor bearer’s response to Jonathon’s plans in verse 7: “Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.” That’s crazy to me. An armor-bearer was a person who carried the large shield and maybe some other weapons for a king, commander-in-chief, a captain, or a champion. In the Greek language it literally means the one carrying the armor. His main purpose was to protect his fighting companion during engagement and carry his armor.

Talk about Godly courage. Jonathan’s armor bearer was his servant, but loved Jonathon as a friend would and was willing to die for Him and alongside of Him for God.

Let’s continue…

11When the Philistines saw them coming, they shouted, “Look! The Hebrews are crawling out of their holes!” 12Then the men from the outpost shouted to Jonathan, “Come on up here, and we’ll teach you a lesson!”

“Come on, climb right behind me,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “for the Lord will help us defeat them!”

13So they climbed up using both hands and feet, and the Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor bearer killed those who came behind them. 14They killed some twenty men in all, and their bodies were scattered over about half an acre.

15Suddenly, panic broke out in the Philistine army, both in the camp and in the field, including even the outposts and raiding parties. And just then an earthquake struck, and everyone was terrified.

The NASB translates verse 15 stating that the earthquake was a panic sent by God. Panic – God gave the Philistines fear of Jonathon and his mighty armor bearer.

God gave Jonathon and the armor bearer courage to climb a rocky cliff face, then without being tired, fight off and kill 20 some soldiers that were armed probably more heavily than the two Israelites were. Jonathon only possessed the Godly courage that he needed because he completely relied on the Lord to help them win the fight. Not only did he have the courage to fight the Philistines but he had the courage to rely on God regardless of what the outcome might bring. How awesome!

At the beginning of our talk I mentioned several courageous people that lived for God.

Moses, Noah, Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego, Ruth, Joseph, Daniel, Hannah, Samuel, Jonathon, Elijah, Nehemiah, Esther, David, Peter, Stephen, Mary Magdalene, Elizabeth, Paul, Mary the mother of Jesus, Deborah, Job, Jonah, the Roman Centurion, John, Luke, the thief on the cross, and of course Jesus.

So what was so courageous about them?

Moses, showed Godly courage by returning to a place he had ran from to demand the freedom of His true people.

Noah showed Godly courage by listening to God and building an enormous boat while others laughed and scoffed at him.

Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego showed Godly courage by not bowing down to the statue of the King and fully relying on God when they were thrown into the fiery furnace.

Ruth’s showed courage to be obedient regardless of her circumstances.

Joseph showed Godly courage in translating dreams even in a foreign country. Daniel showed Godly courage by standing up for God even when thrown into the lion pit.

Hannah showed Godly courage by praying for a child even after being barren for so many years.

Samuel was given Godly courage to speak as God’s prophet.

Elijah had the courage to be whisked away in a Chariot of Fire without questioning God.

Nehemiah showed Godly courage by asking the King if he could rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

Esther showed Godly courage by standing up for her people to her husband King Xerxes and saving the life of her Uncle.

David showed Godly courage by killing Goliath.

Peter showed Godly courage by leading the first century church even though it meant being crucified upside down on a cross.

Stephen showed Godly courage to preach in the middle of the streets even though he knew he could be stoned to death.

Mary Magdalene showed Godly courage by taking the time to acknowledge Christ as her savior and washing his feet with her hair while he ate at the Pharisee’s house.

Elizabeth showed Godly courage to follow God’s plan to have a baby at age 90.

Paul who was Saul, showed Godly courage by preaching the Gospel even though he was once one of the head Pharisees that killed many Christians.

Mary the mother of Jesus showed Godly courage to not only bare the Son of God, but to share that this baby was not her soon to be husbands, which was a big no-no in those days.

Deborah showed Godly courage to be the only recorded female prophet and judge of God.

Job showed Godly courage by praising the Lord even during a time of such heartache, pain, and suffering.

Jonah even though he didn’t listen at first eventually showed the Godly courage to tell the Ninevites that they were in a lot of trouble.

The Roman Centurion showed Godly courage to ask Jesus to just say the word and his servant would be healed.

John showed Godly courage by spreading the Gospel and being exiled to the island of Patmos for it. Then on top of that he showed Godly courage by listening to Christ’s revelation, writing it down and sharing it with the world.

Luke, awe, one of my favorites. He showed Godly courage by being a gentile in a Jewish world and following Christ and His disciples and writing their story for the world to know.

And now I would like to take a moment to talk about the thief on the cross. We read his story, in none other than Luke 23: 32-43. Let’s read it now:

32Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him. 33When they came to a place called The Skull,23:33 Sometimes rendered Calvary, which comes from the Latin word for “skull.” they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left.

34Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”23:34a This sentence is not included in many ancient manuscripts. And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.23:34b Greek by casting lots. See Ps 22:18.

35The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 36The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine. 37They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38A sign was fastened above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.”

39One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”

40But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”

43And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

This thief, who knew he was going to die, showed the Godly courage to not only rebuke the other criminal, but to ask Jesus for His forgiveness right there on the cross.

And to finish the story, Christ showed the ultimate Godly courage to accept His mission to sacrifice himself on the cross for not just that thief’s sins but for all of humanity’s sin, past, present and future.

So how did they all do it? It’s in the term… Godly courage. All of these people and more throughout history, Polycarp, Martin Luther, William Tyndale, Joan of Arc, John Wycliffe all had Godly courage to share their faith in Jesus. Even if it meant losing their life.

Pakistani politician Clement Shahbaz Bhatti showed Godly courage as he was the only Christian to sit on the cabinet and speak out about Jesus Christ. He was gunned down after leaving his mother’s home being labelled a blasphemer against Muhammed.

Annalena Tonelli was a lawyer. At 25 years old, she moved to Africa to work with the Committee Against World Hunger, an organization she helped found. Later in her life she moved to Borama, where she founded a tuberculosis hospital. She brought HIV/AIDS patients to the Borama hospital because she believed they deserved to be treated like human beings and children of God. This move was not accepted well, and in November 2002, protesters threw stones into the windows of the hospital and chanted “Death to Annalena” On October 5, 2003, Annalena was shot in the head and killed while working in the hospital she founded.

The list goes on and on of those who showed Godly courage in times where most would cower.

The Godly courage that was and has been exhibited by Christ followers all over the world came out of fear. You see, courage only comes out of fear. Courage is knowing what you fear and over coming it and conquering it. Godly courage is asking God, asking Jesus Christ to give you the power to rely on them and not just yourself to over come what you fear.

In our world today, we need Godly courage more than ever before. As Christ followers we are being persecuted on a daily basis from every direction. And even though most Christian are not being put to death for their beliefs anymore, the enemy is attacking us in so many different ways. We are censored more now then in the past. We are being persecuted for standing up for our beliefs when those who we are called to love are oppressing us for those same beliefs.

We are facing trials daily. And that’s okay. Because we have the opportunity to gain Godly courage in our daily walk and overcome those who would stand against us by relying on our God, his son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

2 Timothy 1:7 ESV For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
John 16:33 ESV I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Psalm 23:4 ESV 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.
Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Isaiah 41:10-13

10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 11 “All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. 12Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. 13 For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

Ephesians 6:10-12 10A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Revelation 20:2-5 ESV And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
And he – being Jesus Christ seized the dragon. A dragon! The devil! This is not some Disney cartoon movie, this is the reality of the future. Christ will grab that dragon buy it’s neck and chain it up for a thousand years.
We have nothing to fear! God has given us not just courage but hope! All we must do is accept that Hope through Jesus Christ and we will gain such Godly courage that the world will not know what will hit it.
Some of us haven’t found that hope. We watch the news and hear the stories about school shootings, abortion, the poor and hungry. Our world has become a world that has lost it’s hope. Some of us have found hope but haven’t really acted upon it.
So, I want to challenge you right now. Right here, claim that Godly courage. Conquer your fears and be courageous in the name of Jesus Christ so that you too can conquer and have eternal life. If you haven’t accepted Christ as your personal savior now’s the time. If you have, but just have been hanging out waiting for something miraculous to happen I’m telling you today is the day. You may not see it, but God is doing some pretty miraculous things every day all over the world and all we need to do is fully rely upon Him so that we may experience His awesomeness!
What are you waiting for? Rely on Him, have courage and do not fear! Amen!

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