Courage for the New Year.
I've heard people say, 'Thank goodness 2020 is behind us - its a New Year!' In my mind, I think, 'What has really changed, having turned 2020 to 2021?' Not too much. The fact is, to live each day well, we need courage. And so I pick up my Bible for examples of great courage:
~Noah trusted God when in obedience to God he built an ark when there had never been a recorded flood.
~Abraham showed great courage when he trusted God with his long-awaited son.
~Moses believed God that he would give him the words to speak to Pharaoh to get the Israelites—the Jewish captives—out of Egypt.
~Esther courageously fought for her people, the Jewish people, when it could have cost her very life.
~David, a mere shepherd boy, courageously stepped forward to fight Goliath, the behemoth Philistine.
~John the Baptist preached repentance and courageously told of the Savior who was soon to come on the scene.
Jesus Christ courageously faced down the devil in the desert with the Words of God.
The apostles of Jesus boldly spoke the truth about the life, death and resurrection of the Messiah, though it cost them everything.
Paul took the gospel on the road as the first missionary, writing letters back to the churches he formed, thereby giving us the doctrine we love.
From the start, as simple men and women of God sought to live in obedience to God, it took courage that he alone could supply them. Consider what God said to General Joshua,
“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.”1
One by one, these heroes of our faith, (and many more of them)2 left footprints that we can study, learn from, and follow. Often it is obedience to God that requires our courage. The song says, ‘though none go with me, still I will follow…’ courage, fortitude, confidence in God alone. Yes, sometimes obedience to God is a lonely trek, as folks turn away ~ but God promises to go with us wherever we go.
The old Scottish preacher, George MacDonald, really ‘got’ the importance of obedience. He believed that all of life’s truth could be discovered as part of an extremely simple, two-step process: realizing who God is, then obeying him.3 Here is his poem entitled simply “Obedience.”
I said: “Let me walk in the fields.”
He said: “No, walk in the town.”
I said: “There are no flowers there.”
He said: “No flowers, but a crown.”
I said: “But the skies are black;
There is nothing but noise and din.”
And He wept as He sent me back –
“There is more,” He said; “there is sin.”
I said: “But the air is thick,
And fogs are veiling the sun.”
He answered: “Yet souls are sick,
And souls in the dark undone!”
I said: “I shall miss the light,
And friends will miss me, they say.”
He answered: “Choose tonight
If I am to miss you or they.”
I pleaded for time to be given.
He said: “Is it hard to decide?
It will not seem so hard in heaven
To have followed the steps of your Guide.”
I cast one look at the fields,
Then set my face to the town;
He said, “My child, do you yield?
Will you leave the flowers for the crown?”
Then into His hand went mine;
And into my heart came He;
And I walk in a light divine,
The path I had feared to see.
Courage comes from God!
When do we need courage? We need it when life seems overwhelming and the future terribly uncertain. We need courage when we feel God is leading us one way, but it is difficult. We need courage daily in order to ENcourage those around us--those we love, work with and influence.
In my morning prayer, I ask the Lord to refill me with the Holy Spirit; after Paul taught, 'Keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit'.4 So if I am lacking courage, maybe I have not accessed the power that is in me through the Holy Spirit of God, or taken God at his Word … or maybe I have moved away from God, from the power that is mine in the Holy Spirit. [think about that]
“Draw us near to you, Lord – for in you we have the will to obey and the courage to do so. Amen.”
Be courageous! No more fear.
1 – Joshua 1.9
2 – Have you looked at Hebrews chapter 11 lately?
3 – Knowing the Heart of God - where obedience is the one path to drawing intimately close to our Father. George MacDonald, Michael R. Phillips.
4 – Ephesians 5.18