Courage comes from Encouragement - 10/27/19

The Big Idea

Courage comes from Encouragement

What does scripture tell us?

Romans 5:1–8
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

What do we know?

Who likes to be told that they are going to fail? No one. That would be lame if you had a friend that always did that? You’d want to tell that person, “Thanks for being in my life but how ‘bout you keep your fail to yourself!”

The gospel doesn’t tell us we are going to fail. It does the opposite. It tells us we will have eternal life because Jesus already did the work. When He was on the cross and said “It is finished”, He meant it. Teaching you the truths Jesus proclaimed is my primary goal so you can have the courage to go and share the same truths. He’s told us to do this, hasn’t He? He said so in Matthew 28:18–20, which we know as the Great Commission, which tells us, “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Who knows what courage is? The definition I found to best fit is the ability to do something that you know is right or good, even though it is dangerous, frightening, or very difficult. Does sharing the gospel sound frightening, especially if you are shy? It sure does. But is it the right thing to do? Jesus says so, so we say so too. Let’s remember though, Jesus will be the one to change the hearts of the people we tell and it is not us that does it. We talked previously about the parable of the sower in Mark 4. The seed (the gospel) we spread will fall on all types of ground and not all will take root and grow. But, the seed that falls on good soil will produce and increase much, much more.

How do we get courage? We like to think that we can always develop courage on our own and maintain that courage, but that’s just not true. We can have our own courage but we need courage from the encouragement people in our lives give to us. Look at the spelling of encouragement. Encouragement is when someone gives you the courage and confidence to do something. One of the values we have is graciousness. Encouragement comes out of the graciousness we have because we have been given grace and encouragement from a holy God.

We are talking about courage from encouragement because at times in our lives will be the encouraged or the encourager. You may think you are not old enough to be an encourager and these are adult things. You aren’t! This is not an age-related thing. When it comes to being a Christian, we are all called to encourage no matter our age.

Three ways we are encouraged we are covering are hope, joy, and strength.

Hope

The first thing I want to say about hope is that hope is not wishful thinking. It’s not wishing for something and “hoping” the wish comes true. When hope is used that way it cheapens it and becomes much less that what hope truly is; what the Bible says it is.

Hope is confidence in what God has promised. It is the confident expectation of what God has promised and its strength is in His faithfulness.

Romans 15:4 tells us that our hope comes from Scripture. “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” How does scripture, words that we read in a book, give us hope? We first have to identify who gave us the words, the scripture. If they were only words from a regular person like you or me, they would only be words. God gave us these words through many people and the teachings and story that we are given connects over thousands of years. And when Jesus says to trust in the scriptures, that’s what we work to do. Our trust in what Jesus has declared to us gives us hope.

1 Peter 3:15 tells us to be ready to explain the hope that we have. “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”. If hope was just wishful thinking, how would you explain this hope with confidence? We couldn’t. It would be the same as telling someone how hopeful your favorite team would do in the game if they had a losing record. We can be confident and have courage with the hope we have because unlike our favorite team our Savior is undefeated. He will always be undefeated!

Joy

Like with hope, I want you to have the proper perspective on what joy is. We tend to talk about joy like we talk about happiness. Happiness is a great emotion but it is temporary. A great dinner can make you happy. A good movie can make you happy. Your parents buying you something will make you happy. But we also know that parents will do something or make you do something that will make you mad. So again, happiness is temporary.

Joy, biblical joy, is constant. Joy lets us look forward to something where we cannot wait till we get it. 1 Peter 1:8 tells us, “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory”.

I think one of the most challenging encouragements we can have is joy and this has to do with us and having a selfish nature. Joy, to me, is Jesus constantly being on our minds and on our hearts. Remember what the greatest commandment Jesus told us was? Love God with all our heart, soul, mind (Matthew 22:37). If we are doing that then He is always at the top of our list and focus. But that’s not what we do. School, sports, activities, etc. fill our time. Have you ever considered in all that you do you do it for God’s glory? Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

James 1:2-4 tells us that we should treat our times of challenge as joy. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Think about that. Have joy when times are hard because that is God working on you.

Strength

What kind of things come to mind when you hear the word strength? Muscles? Steel?

How do you get strength? Read through these passages and see what is common across them:

  • Psalm 46:1 tells us that God is our strength in times of trouble.

  • Exodus 15:2, The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him.

  • 1 Samuel 2:31, Behold, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father's house, so that there will not be an old man in your house.

  • 1 Kings 19:8, And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.

  • 2 Corinthians 12:9–10, But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

  • Ephesians 3:16, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being

When we talk about strength in the Bible, we generally speak about the strength of God, the strength God gives or takes away. If we were to go through all scripture that mentions strength or strong or some variation, we will find that the large majority has to do with God and not us. Where people are mentioned, they have seen the strength of God or God has given them strength or taking it away.

Stories we have read outside of the Bible have created what we think about strength. I bet you can think of some recent movie characters that have great strength and power. The ones I'm thinking of get their strength unnaturally, meaning it comes from and external source (say a suit) or they are not from this world.

Now what?

We’ve talked about hope, joy, and strength individually but I bet you saw they were connected. You saw that God connected them all. Hope comes from the confidence God has promised. Joy builds when we look at what Jesus has accomplished and will accomplish, for you and through you. Strength is given in the times that we need what only the Holy Spirit can provide.

These things are given freely when we love and worship Jesus. Your hope/joy/strength may look different than my hope/joy/strength because we have a Christ who sacrificed for people. And knowing who we are and the challenges we face, He will shape our lives and lead us to where He wants us.

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LessonsShannon Stephens