Summary: Courage is not the absence of fear. Biblical courage is facing your fears with the power of God's word and the presence of God's Spirit. These are applied to our lives to give us freedom.
Intro: One summer night during a severe thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small son into bed. She was about to turn the light off when he asked in a trembling voice, "Mommy, will you stay with me all night?" Smiling, the mother gave him a warm, reassuring hug and said tenderly, "I can't dear. I have to sleep in Daddy's room." A long silence followed. At last it was broken by a shaky voice saying, "The big sissy!"
That is funny but fear is a reality. God wants us to walk in courage not wallow in fear. If you follow Jesus close enough and long enough eventually you will come face to face with people, situations and problems bigger than you. Often things that appear beyond our ability to deal with cause great fear. What was it that kept the children of Israel out of the Promised Land? Numbers 13:31-33 (read) because of misplaced fear they wandered in the wilderness instead of walking into God’s promises.
Fear is not bad or unprofitable. In fact we are told to fear the Lord. The word fear in Hebrew means terror, tremble, respect, reverence. There are often painful consequences for multiple generations when we fail to fear God. I believe that I and other preachers too often downplay the fear of God. Exodus 1:17 the midwives feared God and obeyed God rather than Pharaoh when they saved the lives of male Hebrew children. In comparison God brought great judgment on Egypt because Pharaoh did not fear Him. Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:28 “Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
So courage is not the absence of fear! Courage is fearing the correct thing. The devil wants us fearing the world, and situations and people that come from it. If we fall to this type of fear we are afraid of temporary things. People, situations, no money, no job, no husband, no wife, no child, no retirement, no ______ you fill in the blank.
Jesus very clearly said in Matthew 10:28 “Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Courage is fearing God. Having an awe and respect for god that leads us to love and obey Him!
I. Courage comes from the power of God’s word.
The fiery dart of fear was first forged when Adam and Eve distrusted God’s word in the Garden of Eden. Fear at its core is not trusting what God has said. Faith is taking God at His word. Fear is a tool of Satan that causes us to believe in things that do not exist. We must realize that fear is real but it may not be based in reality.
The importance of knowing God’s word is getting God’s version of reality that we often cannot see because of our limited senses. Joshua was getting ready to lead the children of Israel against some overwhelming enemies in the Promised Land. But remember It was Joshua and Kaleb that said we can defeat these enemies. They had already accepted what God had promised that He would give them the land.
God had given Joshua a powerful rhema. A specific, special, powerful word so that Joshua could lead His people.
What causes fear then?
1) When we replace God’s revelation with our imagination
Numbers 13:26-33 “They are stronger than us. We seemed like grasshoppers in their sight. Instead of remembering the word of the Lord they rehearsed the strength of their enemy. The word of God tells us that we don’t face anything in our strength.
Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.
“Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom
2) When we replace God’s revelation with our understanding
God was going to tell the Israelites to cross a river at flood stage that could have been a mile wide by it drying up. God was going to tell Joshua to instruct the warriors and priests of Israel to walk around Jericho 7 times for 7 days and that would give them victory. Our confidence cannot be in ourselves or our own understanding of situations, problems or people we face.
In 1853, when young Hudson Taylor was making his first voyage to China, his vessel was delayed near New Guinea because the winds had stopped. A rapid current was carrying the ship toward some reefs and the situation was becoming dangerous. Even the sailors using a longboat could not row the vessel out of the current. "We have done everything that can be done," said the captain to Taylor. But Taylor replied, "No, there is one thing we have not done yet." There were three other believers on the ship, and Taylor suggested that each retire to his own cabin and pray for a breeze. They did, and while he was at prayer, Taylor received confidence from God that the desperately needed wind would be sent. He went up on deck and suggested to the first officer, an unbeliever, that he let down the mainsail because a breeze was on its way. The man refused, but then they saw the corner of the sail begin to stir. The breeze had come! They let down the sail and in a short time were on their way! W. Wiersbe, Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers, p. 240.