Week of June 23
Faith Manifested in Courage
Where do you find your courage? The strongest courage that we can possibly experience comes from faith in God. We find courage when we trust in His power, in His character, in His promises, and in His Word. When our faith is in the omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God, what should we fear?
Courage is one of the greatest manifestations of faith. Courageous faith is confident that God cannot and will not make a mistake. Courageous faith knows that God cannot be wrong. Courageous faith is confident that God can never be defeated. Read Hebrews 11:30-40. This section of the passage lists several biblical heroes who demonstrated great courage: "who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies" (Hebrews 11:33-34).
Sometime courageous faith leads to dangerous situations. The people listed in this passage did not always conquer the enemy without any injuries. "Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground" (Hebrews 11:36-38)
Even if we experience persecution or hardships because of our faith, we know that God has the ultimate victory. As this passage highlights, God gave His people the victory over the fortified walls of Jericho. He used the least likely people, including a pagan prostitute, to bring about His plans and victories. Gideon was greatly outnumbered, yet he conquered the enemies. Barak trusted in God's plan and he vanquished the enemy. Samson accepted God's call and delivered the Israelites from the Philistines. Jephthah trusted in the power of God, and God gave him the victory. David was able to defeat Goliath because he trusted in the one true God of Israel. Samuel fought the unfaithfulness of God's children and called a nation to repentance. Prophets like Daniel, who closed the mouths of lions, trusted God and triumphed.
None of these people would have experienced victory with a weak, ineffective faith. Each of them was courageous in their faith because they knew the enormity of God's power and trusted that He would follow through on His promises. They knew that if God commanded them to act in battle, then God had a plan for victory. God's plans may not always make sense to us, but if God is truly speaking, then we must follow in obedience. Can you imagine what Joshua must have felt walking in circles around Jericho? Or what Gideon must have felt facing a people described as "thick as locusts" (Judges 7:12). Yet they followed through with God's plan because they had courageous faith.
Only courageous faith will keep us going when we are puzzled by our circumstances, when we are suffering for our choices, and when we are going through the valley. Following God's plan will not always be easy, but we can trust that the all-powerful God will continue to equip us and guide us and strengthen us in our battles. We must always trust in the good and holy God who will never make a mistake. We must persistently believe in the sovereign hand of God who is working our behalves. We must continuously call on Him in prayer and follow Him with all our hearts. We must remember that even in our suffering we are victorious, because our eternal dwelling place is in heaven. No matter what situations or enemies we face, we can be confident because Christ has won the greatest victory—and that is a great foundation for courageous faith.
God may not be calling you to a dangerous battle or a life-threatening situation, but eventually we will all face calls to step out of our comfort zones. At some point, if we are acting in courageous faith, we will experience ridicule and scorn. Will you continue to follow God in obedience when your social standing is threatened? Will you follow God's plan when your friends and family refuse their support? If your faith withers in the face of fear, confess this to God. Seek His help in developing a faith so firm in God that you will find powerful courage to do His work.
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