“Be strong and courageous…the Lord Himself goes before you"
My testimony… A Word that God has been revealing to me over several months:
- Revelation in my understanding
- A Word that God is also working out in my life….
Four words that summarise this revelation:
§ Weakness & fear
running like parallel tracks through my life
§ Strength & courage
Prompted to believe that this is not just a Word for my life but also a Word for us as a church.
- God continually adding to this Word….new insights and revelations.
- Last week…Peter Garrett spoke so much about courage…this very much links in with what God showed me.
God knows exactly how weak and vulnerable we feel sometimes. 1 Corinthians 2v1:
“When I came to you brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God…I came to you in weakness and fear and with much trembling…”
Yet God tells us to ~
“Be strong & courageous…the Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you” Deut. 31
The reality check…
As Christians, we all experience weakness and we all experience strength. Some Christians are good at projecting an image of themselves as being strong and some can give an appearance of being weak/vulnerable. The “image” that we project to others is related to how we see ourselves. In God’s eyes every person is weak in his/her humanity and yet strong because of the power of God at work in us.
Disciples… Thomas..known as “doubting Thomas”, yet he also showed great courage when he said let us follow Jesus & die with him.
Peter…commended by Jesus when he acknowledged “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” yet 5 verses later Jesus says “get behind me Satan”.
We are just like them… weak in our humanity and strong with God’s power at work in us.
Today I will talk about:
- Jesus..The Lion & The Lamb
- Strengthen ourselves & others
- Be strong & courageous!
- God is with you
- THE LION & THE LAMB
Jesus also experienced strength & weakness.
The Lamb..Isaiah 53v7&8. Led like a lamb to the slaughter… as a lamb before it’s shearers is silent…John 1:29-36 “Behold the Lamb of God”.
The Lion..Rev. 5:6 – The Lion of the tribe of Judah.
2 Corinthians 13v3
“He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. For to be sure He was crucified in weakness (769 – “without strength”) yet He lives by God’s power.
Jesus has experienced being without strength and so He is able to relate to us when we are weak.
Jesus relates to both our weakness and our strength…
2 Corinthians 13v3 – (continues from above) “…Likewise, we are weak in Him, yet by God’s power we will live with Him to serve you.”
1 Corinthians 1v27 – “God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong”.
- LWCC meeting – praying for people. Tim “If you feel able to pray for these people, SIT DOWN”!!
God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.
We can feel weak in all sorts of situations in life…
- How we “perform”.. at work & in other situations
- But also the pressures of life that come with finances, relationships etc.
2 Corinthians 1v8 – “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure… this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but God”. v11 “As you help us by your prayers”.
BOASTING… God tells us to boast about our own weaknesses (it’s the upside down Kingdom!) but also to boast about God’s strength.
2 Corinthians 11v30 – “If I must boast I will boast of the things that show myweakness”. (the motive here is to bring glory to GOD).
Jeremiah 9v23-24 – “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength, but let him who boasts boast about this… that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the Lord.”
We are wise people when we boast about God’s character & who He is.
- STRENGTH.. strengthen ourselves and others
Power – “Dunamis”
“Duna” – Being able/capable.
“Dunatos” – “one who has ability”
God strengthens us…
2 Thessalonians 2v16-17
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word”.
Strengthen ourselves… We can learn to draw strength from God… we need to dosomething to make this happen..
1 Samuel 30v6 – “David was greatly distressed… but David strengthened himself in the Lord…”
- Prayer, worship, reading God’s Word, fellowship with other Christians..
Are ways in which we can draw strength from God.
We have a responsibility to strengthen one another
Isaiah 35v3 – “Encourage the exhausted and strengthen the feeble…”
Luke 22v32 – “strengthen your brothers..”
- Build relationships with each other
- Find out what is happening in one another’s lives
- Offer support…practical, emotional, prayer etc.
Sometimes life feels very difficult. God strengthens us & helps us, we can strengthen ourselves and other people can support us too. However, there are also times when, even with all of this, we still have to face situations that we fear and that we wish we could escape from…. to get through these times we need courage.
Jesus…in the garden of Gethsemane…Father if it is possible, take this cup from me. Again, we see that Jesus knows how we feel when we desperately want to escape from a situation but we cannot.
Fear can be a very powerful force:
- If we allow it to, fear can take hold and become like a stronghold in our minds.
What do people fear?
- Not having enough money
- Loss of relationships
- Not feeling significant/of value to others.
During a difficult time in my life recently, a friend sent me a text message that said:
Quote: “It takes courage to keep walking a hard road”.
I have often remembered this….”a hard road” speaks of a prolonged period of difficulty in our lives.
Courage is what we need when we feel afraid.
Isaiah 35v3 “Say to those with anxious heart take courage, fear not”.
Psalm 27v14 “Let your heart take courage”.
We have to take courage… receiving courage is not a passive thing ~ it is something that we have to determine to do.
There are many times in the Bible when we are told (even commanded!) to be “strong & courageous”… strength & courage go together like salt & pepper or like fish & chips!!!
Deuteronomy 31v6 “Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel ‘Be strong & courageous.. do not be afraid, do not be discouraged’”.
Joshua 1v6 “Be strong and courageous”.
v7..”Be strong and very courageous”.
V9 “Have I not commanded you ‘be strong and very courageous… do not be terrified, do not be discouraged”.
Sometimes we have to be very courageous because we feel very frightened.
One tactic of the enemy is to try to frighten us so that we will be ineffective in serving God… sometimes we need strength and courage to enable us to do the work that God has called us to do.
1 Chronicles 28v20 “Be strong and courageous and do the work”.
Nehemiah 6v9 “They were all trying to frighten us, thinking ‘their hands will get too weak for the work and it will not be completed”.
God has called us all to “work” in His Kingdom…we have an enemy who wants to frighten us and stop us from being effective. Be strong & courageous!!!!!
- GOD IS WITH YOU… this is the key to us finding strength & courage.
Our strength and courage come from the revelation of God’s presence being with us, not from our own ability to be strong or to be brave.
Joshua 1v9 “Have I not commanded you.. ’be strong and courageous.. for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go…’”.
Deut. 31v6 “Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel..’be strong and courageous…the Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.’”
Gideon…Judges 6v12… (God’s Word to me when I went to London….GO Team) The question.. if God is with us.. then why…?
“When the angel of the Lord appeard to Gideon he said..’The Lord is with you mighty warrior’. ‘But sir, if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened?” The Lord said ‘Go in the strength you have.. am I not sending you?”. ..my clan is the weakest.. and I am the least in my family”.. The Lord answered “I will be with you”…and you will strike down the Midianites..”
What lessons do we learn from Gideon?
· God told Gideon that He was with him.
· Gideon looked at his circumstances and concluded that, because things were so difficult, it must mean that God was not with him.
· God told Gideon to go in the strength that he had…”Am I not sending you?” ..
· Gideon looked at his own weakness and concluded that, because he was weak, it must mean that he could not go and he could not do what God was telling him to do.
· God’s response to this was to tell Gideon again that He was with him and that, because of this, Gideon would be successful in defeating his enemy.
· In our lives… finding ourselves in difficult circumstances and/or finding ourselves in a place of weakness are not reasons to hold back. At all times, God is with us… this means that we can always obey God and do the things that He is telling us to do.
2 Chronicles 32v7 “Be strong and courageous.. do not be afraid or discouraged.. for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles…And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the King of Judah said.”
God gives us strength and courage for our own personal benefit but also to enable us to be effective in serving Him in His kingdom. God is with us…to help us and to fight our battles!!
God’s presence with us…a tangible reality that we can experience in a variety of ways in our lives. To be fully “understood” God’s presence has to be experienced, rather than explained. When we experience God’s presence, we can find strength & courage…because He is with us.
- with God (He knows anyway!!),
- with yourself and
- with other people…when it is appropriate
Admit to your weaknesses & your fears…don’t pretend or put on a brave face. If you try to hide your weaknesses and fears you will become isolated and vulnerable. Walk in the light with God and with each other.
But also believe that
- In God’s presence there is strength & courage… we can choose to take hold of strength & courage from God despite being aware of our own weakness and fear.
LWCC – 6.3.2005