The Bible and Church history are filled with examples of men and women who lived courageous lives—who overcame fears, faults, and failures to live lives of courageous faith.
Courageous faith sees opportunity in contradiction. It is a faith which deflects chaos and releases God’s peace in a turbulent world. Courageous faith provides hope and brings God’s love, light, and power to a dark and negative world.
To truly live the Christian life is to live a life led by the Spirit of God. To live a life willing to trust God completely, even when things are uncertain.
I was reminded of the movie Braveheart last week. In the film, actor Mel Gibson plays thirteenth-century Scottish leader William Wallace, in the Scots’ struggle for freedom against the English. The movie portrays Wallace giving a powerful speech to motivate his soldiers prior to the battle of Stirling Bridge in September of 1297. Here are a few words from his speech,
We all end up dead, it’s just a question of how and why. Every man dies, not every man really lives. I am William Wallace! And I see a whole army of my countrymen, here in defiance of tyranny. You’ve come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What will you do with that freedom? Will you fight?”
His words compel us today. We all are faced with challenges and problems. Some are spiritual; other problems occur due to living in a fallen world. So, what do we do? We are free to choose—fight the good fight of faith or accept spiritual defeat. Courageous faith is needed to face our world bravely.
Jesus our champion freed us from our sin, past, and failures. Don’t surrender your freedom to negativity, fear, hatred, jealousy, anger, greed, etc.—it’s not living victoriously. Rather, live from Christ’s peace, love, joy, faith, courage, and positivity while facing problems and battles—you will truly live!
You have been given God’s faith, God’s Spirit, God’s promises, and God’s authority! Expect impossible situations to change as you prevail in faith and prayer. When you have God’s promise on a matter, pray in faith and speak with confidence. Believe the promise is received and, on its way, —that’s faith and hope in what is not yet seen!
Biblical Admonitions to Have Courage
Moses charges the people and Joshua in Deuteronomy 31:6,
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear, nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the one who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” (NKJV)
Courage is from the Hebrew Awmats and means to be steadfastly minded.
A similar passage is found in Joshua 1:9 where God speaks to Joshua directly,
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (NKJV)
David uses the same statement to his son Solomon in 1 Chr. 22:13,
Then you will prosper, if you take care to fulfill the statutes and judgments with which the Lord charged Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and of good courage; do not fear nor be dismayed. (NKJV)
An angel to Daniel 10:19 exhorts him,
And he said, “O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong!” So when he spoke to me I was strengthened, and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” (NKJV)
Jesus says to Paul in Acts 23:11,
Be of good cheer (take courage), Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”
Dictionary Definition of Courage: the ability to do something that frightens one. The dictionary defines Courageous as: Not deterred by danger or pain; brave.
The Church is called to be a change agent in a broken world. This means we must live confident and courageously in Christ—willing to risk—not deterred and brave!
The Holy Spirit wants to make us a threat to the forces of injustice, apathy, and complacency that keep our world from flourishing. We’re a peculiar people, called to show forth the praises of Him who has redeemed us from the powers of darkness! We’re called to stand out, not blend in.
The Holy Spirit wants to lead you into a life of adventure. He will lead you into a dangerous world for God to tame.
Caleb – Give me My Mountain (Josh. 14:6-15)
Vs. 12 “Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke…”
Caleb was one of 12 scouts sent to explore the Promised Land when Israel left Egypt. When the scouts returned, 10 of them said the assignment was impossible and they should return to slavery in Egypt. Only Caleb and Joshua trusted God and said, “We can certainly do it!”
The Israelites were more content to wander in the wilderness than to trust God for the Promised Land. Many today are like this as well.
Because of Israel’s unbelief, Caleb spent the next 40 years of his life wandering through the wilderness. By the time the Israelites crossed the Jordan river, he was 80 years old. Another 5 years passed before the various tribes were assigned land to occupy.
As Caleb described years later, (Josh. 14:7-8)
I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the LORD my God.”
The negativity, unbelief, and fear of the 10 spies robbed the people of the courageous faith needed to possess what God promised.
Caleb, 45 years later, wouldn’t rest after a victory. No, he wanted another mountain. At age eighty-five, he wanted the mountain God promised him and he conquered Hebron despite its giants and fortified walls (Jos. 14:12-14). Caleb was free from a slave mentality and trusted God for additional territory.
Church, God watches over His word to perform it for those who live by faith. He is abundantly ready to bring heaven to earth in this hour. What promise are you believing for?
But negative thinking and lack of faith hinder us from inheriting God’s promises.
Heb. 6:12 says,
Do not become sluggish (lazy) but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (NKJV)
The Message translation of Heb. 6:12 says,
Don’t drag your feet. Be like those who stay the course with committed faith and then get everything promised to them.”
If you become spiritually lazy or lose the “edge” by drawing back from a hot pursuit of God, you will no longer look for bigger “mountains.” If you allow fear or uncertainty to rule, you will lose the courageous faith needed to live a life of fulfillment and victory. You were not created for mediocrity but for victory! It requires faith!
To Joshua the Lord said, “Be strong and of good courage!” It takes courage to face reality with hope and optimism. It takes courage to admit need, to commit to change, to make decisions, and to hold to convictions.
Courageous faith absorbs chaos and releases God’s peace in a turbulent world. Courageous faith is brave and provides hope to our world.
Jesus said, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23 NKJV, emphasis added). Notice the all in all? Truly, all things are possible with God at the center.
With Jesus, impossibilities are the atmosphere for faith to thrive. Impossible situations did not intimidate Jesus. He wanted His followers to look at situations with God’s perspective. Faith and expectation can change even the most daunting of circumstances.
Courage isn’t devoid of fear. Rather, despite the fear, it presses forward bravely. However, negativity, linked to doubt and unbelief, is cancerous and robs us of faith.
If you have a negative attitude and small faith when you are age 40, there is a good chance you will not have a negative attitude and a small faith when you are age 85 – because there is a good chance you won’t ever make it to 85!
Several years ago, Psych Martin Seligman studied several hundred people in a religious community and divided them into four groups, from the most optimistic, faith-filled, to those who were least optimistic.
He found 90% of the most optimistic, faith-filled people were still alive at 85. But only 34% of the most negative, pessimistic people made it to that age.
12 spies went out, but only Joshua and Caleb had faith. “We can do it!” they said. The other 10 spies, however, said, “It can’t be done. Let’s go back and be slaves in Egypt.”
45 years later, Caleb was as feisty as ever. Guess what happened to the other 10 by then? They were all dead! None of them made it to Caleb’s age. FAITH IS AN AMAZING LIFE-GIVER!
Story of missionary Evelyn Brand in India
When Evelyn was a young woman, she felt called by God to go to India. As a single woman in 1909, a calling like this required courageous faith and determination. She married a young man named Jessie, and together began a ministry to rural people in India, bringing education, medical supplies, and building roads to help the poor.
Early in their ministry, they went seven years without a single convert. However, a Hindu priest developed a fever and became deathly ill. Nobody else would go near him, but Evelyn and Jessie who nursed him as he was dying. He said, “This God, Jesus, must be the true God because only Jessie and Evelyn will care for me in dying.”
The priest gave instructions to have Evelyn and Jessie care for his children after his death, which became a spiritual turning point in that region. People began to examine the life and teachings of Jesus and began to follow Him in increasing numbers.
Evelyn and Jessie had 13 years of productive service together, and then Jessie died at age 50. Everyone expected Evelyn to return to her home in England, but she wouldn’t return – she was as feisty as Caleb!
She had courageous faith and knew what God had called her to. Evelyn displayed the truth of Dan. 11:32, “those who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” (NKJV)
Evelyn’s son Paul went to see her when she was 70, and he said this: “This is how to grow old. Allow everything else to fall away until those around you see only love.” The writer of Hebrews admonishes us to let everything fall away that hinders our walk with Christ,
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” Heb. 12:1-2 (NLT)
Toward the end of Evelyn’s life, everyone called her “Granny Brand.” She had spent her life in India, including 20 years of widowhood. At age 70 she received word from her mission’s office in England that they were not going to give her another 5-year term. They felt that she was simply getting too old – but she was stubborn. They threw her a party in India, to celebrate her time there, and she told them “I’ll tell you a little secret, I’m not going back home. I’m staying in India!”
Evelyn had a little shack built with some of the resources she smuggled in. She bought a pony to get around the mountains, and this elderly woman rode from village to village on horseback for 5 years to tell them about Jesus.
One day at age 75, she fell off and broke her hip. Her son, Paul, said to her, “Mom, you’ve had a great run. God has used you. It’s time to turn it over now. You come back home.” She replied, “I’m not going back home, God, give me another mountain!”
She spent another 18 years traveling from one village to another on horseback. Falls, concussions, sicknesses, and aging could not stop her. Finally, when she hit 93, she could not ride on horseback any longer.
So, men in villages, because they loved Granny Brand so much, put her on a stretcher and carried her from village to village. She lived 2 more years and gave those years as a gift, carried on a stretcher, to help the poorest of the poor. She died at age 95, but never retired; she just graduated!
No one wants to be the person who dies without truly living. There is more!
True living is found in Christ. He invites us to know Him, to grow in Him, and to live a fulfilled, abundant life of purpose in Him. From our life in Christ, we discover meaning in being a good friend, sibling, parent, grandparent, neighbor, coworker, and servant of Christ.
You can live courageously when you are confident in your life in Christ and in the purpose He has for you. Once you discover something to live for, you’ll live better.
Caleb and Evelyn didn’t look for comfort. They lived lives of courageous faith and were willing to risk until they passed.
Life isn’t about comfort, it’s about saying, “God give me another mountain!”
It might look like Granny Brand, it might look like Caleb, your life might be a story which is told, or it might not. No one may know your story but you and God—it doesn’t matter. The question is: are you willing to live a life of courageous, obedient faith?
Remember the words of William Wallace, “Every man dies, not every man really lives.”
Learn to trust God for things only He can do—that is faith. I once heard it said, “If your vision is within your reach, it is probably not God’s vision.” Do not be afraid to ask God for another mountain and more territory for His glory.
Living the adventure God planned, becoming the person God created you to be, is not one pursuit among many. It’s why you were born!
It’s worth wanting above all else. Go after it, ask God for your mountain and then dare to risk all to follow Him!
My prayer for you is that during these days of opportunity, yes opportunity, we will be empowered by God “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or image, according to his power…” to be courageous followers and leaders in our walk with God, in our relationships and families, and wherever God should lead us.
For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message, “Courageous Faith”