Summary: We have far too long sanitized the act of 'followship' in the Christian life! We are called to deny ourselves, take up the cross and follow Him! That means nothing less than giving to Christ EVERYTHING of who we are...
Date Written: October 29, 2010
Date Preached: October 31, 2010
Where Preached: Oak Park Baptist Church (AM)
Series Title: Reaching Our Community – TRUE Fellowship – Sermon 5
Sermon Title: Courage – The FUEL of TRUE Fellowship
Sermon Text: Luke 9:23-25 [ESV]
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
Courage! What is the definition of courage…
Webster’s tells us that courage is the ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty, or pain without being debilitated by fear or deflected from a chosen course of action!
When we think about courage, we think about those who are willing to serve our country… I can remember the day I stepped into that processing center on December 16, 1982 and I had raised my right hand and I repeated an oath…
I, Robert A Stults, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
I don’t claim to be a man of great courage, but I can tell you that I believed in that oath and was willing to fulfill it at any moment, regardless of the outcome! That oath let others know I was serious about loving and protecting my country.
It lets others know that you are willing to do whatever it takes to defend this country. In basic training the thought and concept of giving our life for our country was reinforced and driven home.
Even to this day, I believe that I would put on my uniform (if I could fit into it…) and I would fight for this country…why? Is it because I am the bravest man in the room? NO that is NOT why; it is because I have a deep and abiding love for my country. I love our way of life and the freedoms we enjoy and would fight and die if needed to protect them!
I can remember another time when ‘courage’ was on the line for me as a man. Michelle and I were eloping and starting a life together at ripe old age of 19. I can remember as we stood in the pastor’s office the evening of Oct 28, 1981 at FBC of Butler, AL.
I stood there with Michelle, both of us scared out of our heads, but we did not waver! Was it because we were the bravest or the most courageous… probably not… it was because we had an abiding and deep love for one another and we knew that regardless of what came our way, we would do what it takes to protect that love and this relationship! This past Thursday, Oct 28th we celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary!
Along with the vows I spoke on that night I have ALWAYS believed it was my solemn duty to protect and shelter Michelle and my family… with my very life if it was necessary. Regardless of what happens to me, I WILL protect my wife and family. Does this make be brave? No it does not… it makes me committed to my wife and the relationship God has provided!
Now you may ask what do those things have in common… or how do they apply to our message today? I would say that both of these actions on my part had 2 very basic things in common, first there was a firm commitment to the oath or vow I was making! The 2nd thing is that I believed in my heart that that oath of enlistment and that vow of marriage… I believed that they are not conditional vows, but I have always seen them as firm and solemn commitments to be lived out by my actions!
But a commitment that is NOT grounded in something is a empty promise that will FAIL. For someone to live up to the unconditional commitment of serving your country or making a marriage work… One must possess something that carries them forward into the difficult times when that service and commitment seem unbearable! That something I speak about is a love that fuels the needed courage or boldness to keep one’s commitment!
Let me try to explain what I mean… I love my wife, and because I love my wife my actions toward her are intentional and regardless of the situation, I will be strong and courageous in my actions of love toward her.