A Courageous Heart
August 18, 2016
      A-Christians-Heart-A-Courageous-Heart-Dennis-Lee

A Christian’s Heart

“A Courageous Heart”

Introduction

A heart filled with courage possess those qualities that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, disappointment, despair, death, and whatever else life throws at them.

Courage is putting our faith in action. To have courage is to act in accordance with our beliefs. If we say we believe in something we should be able to stand for that belief no matter what comes at us.

So I think it’s safe to say we all need courage to face the future. We need courage so that we’re not debilitated by fear and paralyzed by anxiety, where we cave in and compromise our convictions due to difficult circumstances.

The Apostle Paul said that God has not given to us such a fearful spirit, but rather a mind that is sound, a heart that is filled with love, and a power to face our fears, 2 Timothy 1:7.

And when I’m talking about courage, I’m not talking about super hero stuff, but rather courage to face life’s everyday challenges. It’s these choices that show if we’re courageous or cowards. It’s choosing between what is right and what is convenient. It’s choosing our convictions over comfort.

The short version is that it takes courage to be a Christian. It takes courage obey God.

Unfortunately many believers come up short of the courage needed because they’re content with where they are never entering or enjoying the fullness of their inheritance as children of God.

It was such an act of courage and belief that saw the Apostle Peter boldly standing in defense of the faith before those seeking his death, the rulers and elders of Israel.

After healing the crippled man at the gate called beautiful, Peter said,

Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10-12 NKJV)

Remember this is Peter who ran away from these same authorities when Jesus was arrested, and who denied even knowing Jesus for fear of his life. But now he is standing in front of these very same men who filled him with such fear earlier.

Far too many don’t believe they can be such a courageous Christians like Peter, or those men and women of faith we read about in the Bible or in biographies of the church during difficult times and those times of reformation and revival.

Many believers see themselves more like Joshua and the way he felt at first, as the people were now ready to leave the wilderness behind and enter into God’s Promise Land.

Several times the Lord had to say to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous.” It would seem that the Lord was seeing a fear within Joshua.

In Joshua 1:9 The Lord said, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Could it have been that Joshua felt weak and incapable of this task? Could it have been that Joshua needed the strength and assurance to stand and take hold of God’s promises? Could this be the reason why God had to encourage him to fulfill his purpose and calling?

There’s a lot to be learned from Joshua’s life and God’s conversation with him that speaks to this topic of what a courageous heart should look like.

Speaking of courage John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” [1]

Winston Churchill said, “Without courage all other virtues lose their meaning.”[2]

Two young boys went to see the dentist. The first boy said, “Doc, will you pull a tooth right now? Don’t need no gas or Novocain, just yank it out.”

The Dentist said, “Sure, now that’s what I call being a brave and courageous lad. Now, which tooth do you want pulled?”

The boy then turned to his friend and said, “Come on Jimmy, show the Doc your tooth.”

Martin Luther King Jr. rightly assessed courage saying, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”[3]

Let’s then take a look at these qualities of a courageous heart. The first quality is…

  1. A Faithful Heart

Joshua was a faithful servant

“After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant.” (Joshua 1:1 NKJV)

Joshua realized long before this that God had called him to be Moses’ assistant. That was it., and Joshua was okay with that. Joshua was faithful to what God called him to be.

For 40 years Joshua faithfully served and never once did he rebel against God’s placement and God’s anointing as an assistant, as a servant. He never grumbled or complained about the hardships or what he thought that Moses was doing wrong. He faithfully served behind the scenes. This is the type of person God uses.

Speaking on the topic of which instrument was the hardest to play, celebrated composer and conductor, Leonard Bernstein, said, “I can always get plenty of first violinists, but to find one who plays second violin with as much enthusiasm, now that’s a problem. And yet if no one plays second, we have no harmony.”[4]

For Moses to fulfill God’s calling, Joshua needed to be a faithful assistant.

A courageous heart is therefore a faithful heart, because when we are faithful to His calling then there will be harmony in the church and in God’s kingdom here on earth.

God is looking for faithfulness on our part.

In the Parable of the Talents Jesus said that the Lord would reward those servants who faithfully handle what He’s so graciously given. Look at what He said and what we want to hear Him saying to us in the end.

“Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” (Matthew 25:21 NKJV)

We therefore need to be faithful in whatever God’s calling may be.

God gave strength to Joshua to possess the Promise Land because Joshua was a faithful servant, and God will do the same for us as we are faithful servants as well.

And so the first quality we see is a faithful heart. The next quality is…

  1. A Word-Filled Heart

We live in a microwavable world. We want everything quick. But there is no microwavable holiness. We can’t go to a drive up window at church and get an order of holiness to go. There’s no special formula or 5-step program to holiness. Holiness comes from time spent with God and in His word.

To have a heart of courage Joshua needed to have his heart filled with God’s word.

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.” (Joshua 1:8 NKJV)

The Lord tells Joshua that to have a word-filled heart three things were needed.

  1. Know God’s Word

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth”

To be able to speak God’s word we have to first know it.

Jesus was able to effectively thwart Satan’s temptations because He knew the Word. Jesus had an understanding of the Word and was able to use it effectively as a weapon against Satan.

This is at the heart of the Psalmist recommendation.

“Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:11)

This was the Apostle Paul’s recommendation to Timothy.

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV)

We need to constantly be in God’s word, ever learning what it says if we want to live effective and courageous lives.

  1. Meditate on God’s Word

You shall meditate in it day and night”

To meditate on God’s word means to ponder it, that is, to turn it over and over in our hearts and in our minds. A cruder analogy would be to chew on it the way a cow chews upon its cud.

This is what Mary did when told that from her the Messiah, the Son of God, would be born.

“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19 NKJV)

Mary continued to turn it over in her mind; she continued to chew on it.

When we ponder, that is, when we meditate upon God’s word that’s when we firmly entrench His word in our lives. It involves hiding God’s word deep within our heart so that we don’t sin against Him, (Psalm 119:11).

What’s interesting about this Hebrew word “meditate,” is that not only does it mean to go over a matter in our minds, but also it means that we go around muttering it.

And so to Joshua and to us the Lord is confirming that there is a direct connection between the mind, the heart, and our mouth.

  1. Apply God’s Word

That you may observe to do according to all that is written in it”

We need to obey and apply God’s word to our lives.

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22 NKJV)

This is the same thing that the prophet Samuel told King Saul when he transgressed the commandments by offering a sacrifice to God.

“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 heed than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22 NKJV)

We could say it like this; that either we start getting interactive with God’s word, or God’s word will start getting interactive with us.

If we want to enter into the promises of God then we need to start obeying and applying God’s word in our lives.

And so a courageous heart is a heart that is faithful and filled with God’s word.

  1. A Trusting Heart

“Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.” (Joshua 1:6 NKJV)

Joshua’s courage hinges upon his trusting God at His word.

God is faithful and will faithfully keep His promises. In verse three He said, “As I said to Moses,” and again in our passage, “I swore to their fathers to give them.” Joshua trusted that if God said it then He’ll perform it.

It was such a trusting and courageous heart that three young men possessed in the middle of a godless society. Their names were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

The King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, built a large golden statue of himself and commanded that everyone bow down to it. And when the music played everyone bowed, with the exception of these three young men.

When questioned and then threatened with death by fire they responded with courageous hearts, trusting God more than Nebuchadnezzar’s threats.

O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18 NKJV)

Nebuchadnezzar was furious and ordered the furnace heated up seven times hotter and threw these three young men inside. But when he looked into the furnace expecting to see three burnt bodies, he saw four men standing, and the fourth looked like the Son of God.

Jesus Himself was in the fire with them because they trusted God and His word.

God told to the Israelites, “When you go out to battle against your enemies…do not be afraid of them…for the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.” (Deuteronomy 20:1-4 NKJV)

If our trust is in God, no matter what the circumstances may be, then God will give us supernatural courage to face and overcome it.

Today, however, many find a compromise more to their liking. What’s happened is their courage has left them and their strength has been taken away, much like Sampson’s hair.

Conclusion

Our mission here at Living Waters Fellowship is to make a difference in our community for Christ, and it takes courage to make a difference.

There’s a war going on, an interior war, a war for our souls. It’s a war between our flesh, which is our sinful wants and desires, and the Spirit.

“Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” (Galatians 5:16-17 NKJV)

To fight this battle we need to have a courageous heart, and to have a courageous heart we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

To His disciples Jesus said,

Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” (Luke 12:11-12 NKJV)

When we become shaken by the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit, then we’ll become unshaken in our stand for God.

With a faithful, word-filled, and trusting heart firmly established then we can grow a courageous heart.

[1] (http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/13533)

[2] (http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/395356)

[3] (http://www.thekingcenter.org/blog/mlk-quote-week-times-challenge-and-controversy)

[4] (http://izquotes.com/quote/338102)

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