Christianity 201

March 1, 2020

Courage to Face Fear

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:32 pm
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A year ago, I introduced you to Rev. Tonia Slimm’s blog Growing with God nothing that, “Not to many writers use The Voice Bible as their base text.” Actually, in today’s selection, she uses a variety of the more modern translations, which is a sentiment I share. She’s working her way through Proverbs 30, and I encourage you click through and read other devotionals in the series. To start, click the header below to read this on her site.

Take Courage – Proverbs 30:29-31

Proverbs 30:29-31 (NIV)
“There are three things that are stately in their stride, four that move with stately bearing: a lion, mighty among beasts, who retreats before nothing; a strutting rooster, a he-goat, and a king secure against revolt.

(MSG)
There are three solemn dignitaries, four that are impressive in their bearing—a lion, king of the beasts, deferring to none; a rooster, proud and strutting; a billy goat; a head of state in stately procession.

(AMP)
“There are three things which are stately in step, even four which are stately in their stride: the lion, which is mighty among beasts and does not turn back before any; the strutting rooster, the male goat also, and the king when his army is with him.” 


“So don’t be afraid. I am here, with you; don’t be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, help you. I am here with My right hand to make right and to hold you up.” ~GOD (Isaiah 41:10 VOICE)

We now find Agur listing four things that he feels are quite stately and majestic. He points out the lion, king of the beasts, the rooster, king of the farmyard, the male goat, in that time used to lead and guide sheep, and the king, leader of country and great armies.

“As always, the Bible uses many natural illustrations so that we can gain spiritual truths. What causes an animal like the lion to walk in such a stately step? He is known as one of the strongest beasts, but it is not just his strength that causes him to stride confidently. It is his lack of fear. He is known as “King of the Beasts” and his strength and prowess give him this advantage; however, his confidence comes because he is not afraid of any other animal and does not turn away for any of them. The spiritual truth that we can glean from this observation is that we also can be strong and unafraid if we walk with God and claim His strength and His confidence.” ~Ronald Nordman

“There are three creatures with majesty in their stride, no, make it four that move with grace: the lion, which is the strongest of the animals, does not back down from any other creature; the strutting rooster, the male goat, and a king as he goes out with his army.” -(VOICE)

We may wonder what the connection is between these four entities; what makes them stately and set apart? Each of these entities is courageous, tenacious, forceful and commands respect. Agur saw wisdom in their examples.

“There are three stately monarchs in the earth—no, four: the lion, king of the animals. He won’t turn aside for anyone. The peacock. The male goat. A king as he leads his army.” -(TLB)

What is it that Agur is trying to teach us in this passage? What bit of wisdom is there for us to learn?

It is this, that just as the lion, the rooster, the goat and the king; we too can have courage and confidence through the Lord. It is God Almighty that will help us to be strong and of good courage. Is that not what God instructed Joshua to do?

“This is My command: be strong and courageous. Never be afraid or discouraged because I am your God, the Eternal One, and I will remain with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9 (VOICE)

David knew what fear was and he knew who to turn to when he was feeling it too. In his time of panic and fear, David was fleeing from Saul, he wrote these words:

“Show mercy to me, O God, because people are crushing me—grinding me down like dirt underfoot—all day long. No matter what I do, I can’t get myself out from under them. My enemies are crushing me, yes all day long, O Highest of High, for many come proud and raise their hands against me.When struck by fear, I let go, depending securely upon You alone. In God—whose word I praise—in God I place my trust. I shall not let fear come in, for what can measly men do to me?

All day long they warp my words; all their thoughts against me are mangled by evil. They conspire, then lurk about. They eye my every move, waiting to steal my very life. Because they are wicked through and through, drag them out. In Your just anger, O God, cast them down! You have taken note of my journey through life, caught each of my tears in Your bottle. But God, are they not also blots on Your book? Then my enemies shall turn back and scatter on the day I call out to You. This I know for certain: God is on my side. In God whose word I praise and in the Eternal whose word I praise—In God I have placed my trust. I shall not let fear come in, for what can measly men do to me? I am bound by Your promise, O God. My life is my offering of thanksgiving to You, for You have saved my soul from the darkness of death, steadied my feet from stumbling so I might continue to walk before God, embraced in the light of the living.” -Psalm 5 (VOICE)

Remember, this strength and courage does not come through our own abilities, but through the Lord. Paul told the Ephesians:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, draw your strength and might from God.” -Ephesians 6:10 (VOICE)

Paul then goes on to instruct them about what their job was in this mutual relationship with God. Yes, God was going to be their strength and might, but they had something to do as well. Paul told them:

“Put on the full armor of God to protect yourselves from the devil and his evil schemes. We’re not waging war against enemies of flesh and blood alone. No, this fight is against tyrants, against authorities, against supernatural powers and demon princes that slither in the darkness of this world, and against wicked spiritual armies that lurk about in heavenly places.” -Ephesians 6:11-12 (VOICE)

My friend, learn from the lion, rooster, goat and king; do not let fear rob you of what God wants to do through you. Take courage! Do not be afraid! God will be your strength. He will use you for His glory, beyond your wildest dreams, if you will allow Him to.

“Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.” ~Moses (Deuteronomy 31:6 MSG)

My Prayer:
Almighty God, I need your strength to help me; especially in those times when I am afraid. Please, give me courage to face those challenges that come my way. Remind me that you are always with me and I have nothing to fear. Please bring to my mind your promises; so that I may grab hold of them. When I hear those whispers in my ear from the Enemy of my soul help me to speak forth a rebuke and speak your words of TRUTH. He is a liar and I do not want to fall into his traps. Fill me, Lord, with your wisdom and help me to walk in your ways. Thank you, Lord.

November 16, 2018

Just Because it Took Courage, Doesn’t Mean it was Good or Right

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
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Today we return to pastor and counselor Josh Ketchum who writes at the site Life in the Kingdom. Click the title below to read at source.

Don’t Equate Courage with Righteousness!

Christians value courage.  Americans esteem courage.  We seek to be courageous and teach our kids to be courageous.

So this has formed a natural link in our minds that courage is always right and good.

Being courageous isn’t necessarily right or good.  Just because someone has courage, in the sense that they do something that takes guts and bravado to stand up against a majority or perceived enemy, doesn’t mean it is a praiseworthy act.  Christians must not fall to the trap of branding every courageous deed a right and good action.  We live in a culture that is quick to praise courage.  Standing up against societal taboos or “going against the flow” is praised as courage, no matter whether the action is morally right or wrong.

For example, I can list numerous acts in the Bible and in history that required courage on the person’s part, but were not righteous or good acts.

Here are a few biblical examples:

  • Jacob deceiving his father Isaac when he was old and poor of sight.
  • Aaron leading the people to give their gold to build a golden calf to be worshipped while Moses was on Mount Sinai.
  • Samson visiting a harlot in a Philistine city leading to a trap, which required him to tear down the gates to free himself.
  • Absalom’s rebellion against David.
  • Paul’s persecution of Christians.
  • The actions of Diotrephes in opposing John the Apostle and putting people out of the church so he could have preeminence in the church.

Here are a couple from history.

  • John Wilkes Booth actions of shooting President Lincoln where viewed by many in the south as a courageous act.
  • The terrorist who commandeered the airplanes on 911 and flew them into various targets were courageous in deed.

Christians need to understand this truth.  We don’t need to just throw every supposedly courageous act in as being righteous and good.  We also don’t need to go into foolishness by saying it doesn’t take courage to stand up against the crowd.  But standing up for what is wrong is still wrong!

Let me give you a few examples from our current culture.

  • A young woman courageously decides to abort her unborn child.  She goes public with this decision and uses it as an opportunity to argue for the rights of women.  While it may be courageous, abortion is still morally wrong!
  • A person comes out with family and friends on social media as being  homosexual.  He or she describes their life as trying to live a lie, but now, they finally have the courage to come out and be who God made them to be.  While certainly courageous, homosexuality is still a sexual sin and lifestyle opposed to Scripture.
  • A celebrity chooses to pose nude for a magazine, or appear in filthy love scene in a movie, and is described as courageous for stepping out of her typical role and pushing the envelope.  Immodesty and lewd behavior is still sinful behavior, even if it takes courage to take your clothes off!

Each of these, and more, could illustrate the truth that Christian people must always openly consider the righteousness and holiness of an act by itself.  Just because it required courage or fortitude for someone to do the act, doesn’t make it a righteous act.  It may still be a sinful act, that is wrong in the eyes of God.

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”  (Isaiah 5:20)

June 21, 2016

Characterized by Courage, or Characterized by Fear?

Did your high school ever do a production of The Wizard of Oz? This one is from the UK.

Did your high school ever do a production of The Wizard of Oz? The one pictured here is from the UK.

Today, one of our past writers recommended a site, Love Everlasting Ministries, which in turn led us to the blog of Sarah Callen, Work in Progress, where we found today’s article.  Click the title below to read at source.

Courage, My Heart

The Wizard of Oz is a classic movie full of wonderful and memorable characters, one of my favorites is the Cowardly Lion. I love the irony of his character: a huge, ferocious looking lion who is scared of everything and severely lacking in courage. This lovable character spends his time with Dorothy in search of courage, understanding that his lack of courage is unbefitting.

I wonder how many of us are like the Cowardly Lion: we know we are to be courageous, but find ourselves crippled by fear. 

Lately, in my own quiet time with the Lord and in conversations with others, the word “courage” has consistently come up. Our lives, especially as Christians, require a great deal of courage. Trusting God, trusting that we’re hearing his voice, following God’s instructions, and living “on mission” all require courage. It takes courage to forgive, it takes courage to be kind, it takes courage to depend on God, it takes courage to love others. The life of a Christ follower requires courage at every turn. Following God is not for the faint of heart.

Courage n. mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty

One of my favorite Bible characters is Joshua. He was a man who had faith in God, learned to submit to his leaders and then led his people into the territory God had given them. His story is one full of faith and courage and he lived in a way that can inspire us today. In the book of Deuteronomy we learn that Joshua was the apprentice of Moses, he followed him around wherever he went and learned as much as he could from the leader of Israel. The next book, the book of Joshua, begins with the death of Moses and Joshua being appointed as the leader of the nation. Talk about pressure! I can only imagine the insecurity and fear that Joshua faced. The people rebelled and argued with Moses, a man who heard and spoke directly with God, if I were Joshua I would be completely doubting my ability to lead this unruly group. But God knew exactly what Joshua needed to hear to lead His people into the land that had been promised to them. Joshua 1:5-9 begins with God’s instructions to Joshua:

“…No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.

Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

In the span of four verses God commands Joshua to be strong and courageous three times… I think he may have been trying to make a point. Courage was necessary for Joshua and the people Israel, they could do nothing without courage. But I find the flow of this passage to be very interesting.

It takes courage to lead. 

The first “be strong and courageous” is directed specifically to Joshua, as Joshua would be unable to enter the promised land without it. During his time as the leader of the nation, Joshua showed immense faith and courage, resulting in the miraculous acts of God on behalf of his people. Joshua had the courage to listen to God, take him at his word and not budge, knowing that whatever God said would indeed come to pass. It takes immense courage to see the vision of God and not be dissuaded by circumstance or naysayers.

It takes courage to obey. 

Has God ever instructed you to do something that just scared you? Have you ever read a verse and thought to yourself, “I just don’t know if I can do that…”? I know I have. Obedience to God takes a great deal of courage. Read through the book of Joshua and witness the seemingly crazy instructions that God gave Joshua who in turn had to tell the people. It took courage to march around the city of Jericho for seven days instead of coming up with a plan of attack. It took courage to devote the entire city to God instead of keeping everything for themselves. It took courage to go up against giants and armies when Israel was vastly outnumbered. But every act of courageous obedience resulted in overwhelming blessing.

It takes courage to go. 

“Go” is the most expensive word in the Bible. It can be easy sometimes to focus on the cost, instead of summoning the courage to “go”. Courage is required to spread the love of Jesus, whether that means going to your neighbor or another country. But, when we summon the courage to go, knowing that God is with us the entire time, I believe great things can happen. When fear-conquering courage fuels faith-filled actions this can lead to changed lives and communities.

In what areas of your life do you need an infusion of courage? How can that spark of courage in your life lead to the benefit of others? It’s my hope and prayer that we will all be strong and courageous as Joshua was so that we can lead, obey, and go as the Lord instructs.


To read another article by Sarah which was our introduction to her writing, scroll to her June 14th article at Love Everlasting Ministries.