God asks us to endure hardness as a soldier so we need courage that we aren’t born with. We have to choose courage.
II Timothy 2:3-4 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
God didn’t give us the spirit of fear. Fear comes but God asks us to choose courage over feelings and trust him with all our heart. A soldier on the front line of the enemy isn’t concerned with things of this life. He’s in the battle with his whole heart.
II Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
To have courage, we have to be sure we have our full faith and confidence in God.
- Courage is the ability to do something that frightens us.
- Courage is feeling fear but choosing to override fear (Jehoshaphat feared but set himself to seek the Lord, II Chronicles 20:3).
- Courage is training ourselves to manage our emotional responses.
- Courage requires taking a risk and not going by our feelings.
The teacher told about when she was 3 years old and memorized a verse to recite before others. When it was time to recite the verse, she froze and couldn’t say anything. Her sister came and whispered “you can do it” and held her hand, so she was able to recite the verse. God wants us to be ones who encourage each other.
Moses encouraged the people to be strong, of good courage, and to not fear the enemy because God would go with them. God has had ones throughout time who instructed his people to be strong and of good courage.
Deuteronomy 31:1-6…I am an hundred and twenty years old this day…the Lord hath said unto me, Thou shalt not go over this Jordan. The Lord thy God, he will go over before thee, and…destroy these nations…and Joshua, he shall go over before thee, as the Lord hath said. And the Lord shall do…as he did to…the Amorites…whom he destroyed…Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord…doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
God specifically instructed Joshua through Moses to be strong and God would go with them.
Deuteronomy 31:7-8 And Moses called unto Joshua, and said…Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the Lord hath sworn…to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it. And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.
Everyone of us has been discouraged at times and God always had a message to be encouraged. David encouraged himself in the Lord when he was discouraged after Ziklag was destroyed, the wives and children carried away, and his men threatened to stone him. He prayed to ask God what to do. God instructed him. They all took courage in the Lord so they recovered everything. When God says to be strong and of good courage, he’s telling us he’ll help us fight our battles.
- Courage is to keep doing what God wants. It is taking one step after another (even outside our comfort zone), not stopping or turning aside. If we don’t feel like getting up or doing anything, courage helps us get up and take one step at a time.
The song “Keep On” says: Are you tired and distressed, weary saint in need of rest, There are storms you must walk through, they won’t last, they never do. (chorus) Keep on, be brave, hold fast, have faith, pray hard, fear not, stay strong, keep on. (verse 2) Do not turn left or right, but straight ahead the cross in sight. He will guide you safely o’er to where troubles come no more.
- Courage is choosing to forgive, it’s coping with a disability, it’s being overwhelmed with a situation.
- Courage must be renewed every day. We can’t live on yesterday’s courage, so it’s important to read and pray every day.
We have to meditate right or we’ll be discouraged and feeling sorry for ourselves. Listening to the news all the time will not encourage us. Joshua said 3 times to be strong and they’d have courage by meditating day and night on God’s word. It’s a commandment to be strong, of good courage, to not be dismayed or fear because God won’t fail or leave us.
Joshua 1:5-9…I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage…thou divide for an inheritance the land…Only be thou strong and very courageous…do according to all the law…that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law…meditate therein day and night…then thou shalt make thy way prosperous …Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid…God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
Hezekiah was the son of a wicked king – Ahaz, but he chose to serve God with all his heart so he prospered.
II Chronicles 31:20-21 And thus did Hezekiah…wrought that which was good and right and truth before the Lord his God. And in every work…in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.
He trusted God with all his heart so he was able to encourage the people to be strong, courageous, and not afraid. He said there were more with them than with the enemy. One man with God is a majority. If we’ve got God, we’re on the winning side. With the enemy is the arm of the flesh, but with us is the Lord to fight for us. There’s no army who can overtake us. God wants us to rest on the word that says be strong and of good courage because he has everything under control.
II Chronicles 32:1-8…Sennacherib king of Assyria came…into Judah…to win them for himself. And when Hezekiah saw …took counsel…to stop the waters of the fountains…saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water? Also he strengthened himself, and built up all the wall…And he set captains…over the people…spake comfortably…Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude…there be more with us…With him is an arm of flesh…with us is the Lord…to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah…
The Israelites didn’t have to fight in the battle when they prayed. God is in control. He sent an angel to kill the enemy (army of 185,000). Sennacherib was killed by a relative at home. He honored them for trusting him with all their hearts.
II Chronicles 32:20-21…Hezekiah the king…prayed and cried to heaven. And the Lord sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men…of Assyria. So he returned with shame…And when he was come…they…of his own bowels slew him…
Joshua died and God had judges rule the people. When the judge Ehud died, the people turned to idols and did evil. God let them be ruled and oppressed by Jabin king of Canaan. Deborah was judge and the Israelites came to her for judgment.
Judges 4:1-5 And the children of Israel again did evil…when Ehud was dead. And the Lord sold them into the hand of king of Canaan…the captain of whose host was Sisera…Israel cried unto the Lord: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed…Israel. And Deborah…judged Israel…Israel came up to her for judgment.
Deborah asked Barak the captain of Israel’s army if God hadn’t told him to go fight the enemy. Barak didn’t have courage or confidence in himself, but trusted in Deborah’s confidence in God. If she would go, then he go. He was relying on someone else for his courage. God wants us to rely on him. When the battle seems great, we sometimes rely on another who is trusting God. God didn’t condemn Barak but Deborah told him he wouldn’t be honored for winning the battle but a woman would. Sisera had 100,000 men and 900 chariots. Josephus the historian said lots of rain and hail disordered Sisera’s army. Some were killed by their own swords and chariots. The Israelites took courage that God was helping them.
Judges 4:6-16 And she…called Barak…said unto him, Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded…take with thee ten thousand…? And I will draw…Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots…I will deliver him into thine hand. And Barak said…If thou wilt go with me, then I will go…And she said, I will surely go…notwithstanding the journey…shall not be for thine honour; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah…went with Barak…And the Lord discomfited Sisera…that Sisera…fled away on his feet. But…host of Sisera fell upon…the sword…there was not a man left.
Jael, Heber’s wife, drove a tent stake through Sisera’s temple when he hid and fell asleep in her tent.
Judges 4:20-22…Jael Heber’s wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples…into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died. And…Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came…and said…I will shew thee the man whom thou seekest…Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples.
Isaiah tells how everyone encouraged his brother. We need to be encouragers after we get our own encouragement. When we fear or feel discouraged, God encourages us to be of good courage and to encourage each other.
Isaiah 41:6-7 They helped every one his neighbour; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage. So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith, and he that smootheth with the hammer him that smote the anvil…
Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
(Notes from the Mature Class Bible Study, teacher Edith Tolbert)