“God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love and self-control.” 2 TIMOTHY 1:7 
 What are you afraid of?  What scares you? What is your greatest fear?  What is your greatest dream?  
 I believe God calls all of us to dream great dreams and to have the courage to live them. Listen up!  Great DREAMS require great COURAGE.

To follow Jesus Christ is to choose to live in His adventure. How in the world could you ever imagine a life of faith that does not require risk?  Faith and risk are inseparable. It should not come as a surprise to us then that A LIFE OF FAITH IS A LIFE OF COURAGE.  While faith as a noun may be about belief, having faith is all about action. You cannot walk by faith and live in fear.
The history of God’s people is not a record of God searching for courageous men and women who could handle the tasks but of God transforming the hearts of cowards and calling them to live courageous lives. (Gideon)
Listen carefully:
Adam and Eve hid; 
Abraham lied; 
Moses ran and killed;
 David deceived and committed adultery;
 Esther wavered; 
Elijah contemplated suicide;
John the Baptist doubted; 
Peter denied; 
Judas betrayed. And those are just some of the leading characters.

One of my most startling discoveries in seminary was The Hebrew word RUACH. It is normally is translated “spirit,” “wind,” or “breath,” it also can be translated “courage.”  

When God breathes His Spirit into us, He not only gives us His power but, more importantly, His courage. When we read Paul’s admonition to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), we often translate it to mean “be filled with God’s power.” It would be far more accurate to understand it as “be filled with God’s courage.”

 What is the point of having God’s power if you lack the courage to actually use it?  
Only when you embrace God’s calling on your life will you need God-inspired courage. We often ask for God’s power to accomplish our small dreams; instead we should cry out for God’s courage to step out on His bold adventure and chase the dreams He has for us.

 Without courage we cannot live the life we choose—instead we choose to relinquish life. We conform to the path of least resistance and abdicate our freedom.

•    It was only after the death of Moses that God spoke to Joshua (Joshua 1:1-9). God made Joshua a bold, all-encompassing promise: “I will give you every place where you set your foot.” 

•    The second promise Joshua received was as revealing as it may have been inspiring: “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life.” 

A promise of conquest, yes, but not a promise of tranquility. Joshua’s enemies would not be able to stand against him, but they would try.

There would be two sides to the fulfillment of this challenge: 
•    GOD’S PART, “ I will never leave you or forsake you,”
•    JOSHUA’S PART, “Be strong and courageous.” 

This command was given to Joshua three times in the same text. It was God’s promise, but it was Joshua’s responsibility to bring it to pass. The people of Israel saw no stress between the sacred work of God and the significant role of men and women to do that work. It was both God and Moses. It would be both God and Joshua. God would lead Joshua, but Joshua would lead Israel. 
Listen!!  There’s something God wants you to do—and its not to sit back and  passively wait for Him to do it, but a calling that God waits for you to embrace, pursue, and fulfill.

God chooses to entrust His most sacred work to people just like you and me. 
God expected more from Joshua and His people than for them to passively wait for Him to secure the land for them.

The quest would require Joshua to be both a desperate follower of God and an extraordinary leader of men.

 It is not incidental that God exhorted him to be both strong and courageous; Joshua would have to lead the way both in conquest and in character. 

•    I believe there is a difference between momentary courage and moral courage.
The first energizes you to rush into a burning building and save a child trapped in a fire. The second empowers you to live a life worthy of being emulated. Both kinds of courage are important. Whether leading multitudes or just living life, we will find ourselves challenged to sacrifice what is right for what is expedient.
 To be strong is to be rooted and defined by what is true. God called Joshua to build his life on what He had already said. “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. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; 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” Joshua 1:7-8

How many times have we pointed to not knowing God’s will for our lives as the reason we are paralyzed from doing it?   Yet, as with Joshua, there is enough truth in the Scriptures to fill our entire lives.
•    The problem is not that we don’t know what to do, but that we don’t do what we know. 
When we submit our lives to what God has made known, the future becomes clearer to us. When we neglect to do what we know, we begin to live as if we were walking through a fog.
 If we are not careful we will find ourselves condemning God for being silent, when in fact we have condemned ourselves for refusing to listen. 
God calls us to live from the inside out. When we live by truth, we establish our integrity. Each “be strong” that God spoke to Joshua was followed by a call to be courageous. God was ordering Joshua not only to hold on to the good but to pursue it with passion. He was to move with urgency and purpose.
•    God sees not only who we are, but who we can become. 
 Listen up!   You were created by God to do more than just exist. 
We have redefined mediocrity as normal and far too often expect nothing more than that from ourselves, God will not accept it. He did not create us to be average but to be unique. Only God really knows the person you were intended to become. Only He sees the full measure of what is neglected or lost.
When courage is fueled by integrity and formed out of humility, it allows us to act without hesitation when the moment requires it. There is a direct relationship between courage and our ability to respond quickly. When God speaks, it requires immediate attention. 

If you respond to God’s call, you will be tested to the very core of your being. In fact I have found through personal experience God will not save you from the fire but will in fact throw you into it.
 The promise from God that He will be with you and never forsake you is both a promise and a warning. A divine journey cannot be completed without divine intervention.

Courage is the highest expression of humility. Courage moves us to risk ourselves for others or for a higher cause. Courage frees us from the fears that would rob us of life itself. It is here that courage and creativity come together. Without courage we become conformists. With courage we once again become the creative beings God designed us to be. 

The fear of God is not only the beginning of all wisdom but the place of freedom from fear. When we are free from fear, we are finally free to live. “To live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). 
God invites us to join Him on the quest to live a life of genuine courage. The way is clear: if we would just die, we can begin to live. This path is one where only dead men can go. Cowards are more than welcome, but you should know up front that how you begin the journey is not how you will finish it. Who you will become will surprise even you.


Pastor Rick

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