Month: February, 2017

Self-Control

Text: Matthew 5:38-42

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father…

Please pray with me…

A couple weeks ago, Cheryl started to participate in a health challenge sponsored by her work. Her challenge is to strictly follow the directions which include things like how much water to drink, how much fruit to eat, and even how much “me time” to take. When she told me about it I thought maybe we’d try it together.

Well, I got done at the church pretty late on Tuesday night and hadn’t had time to eat anything for dinner so I picked up some food at the convenience store on the way home. I hadn’t quite finished when I got home, so I continued to eat my sandwich, chips and a soda. Of course, as I asked her to do, Cheryl called me on it saying, “I thought you were going to stick to this plan with me.” I sheepishly walked away towards the living room and I am convinced God placed in her heart at that time to ask me the next question, what I was writing my sermon on this week. I say it was God because I’m sure He wanted to remind me that I was going to speak on self-control. Yeah, the timing couldn’t have been much better. Pastors and self-control….That reminds me of a story I read about concerning a stunt pilot selling rides in his single engine airplane. One day he got into an argument with a pastor who insisted on taking his wife along at no extra charge.

Not wanting to miss out on a chance to make some cash, the pilot said, “I’ll take you both up for the price of one if you promise not to utter a single sound during the entire flight. If you make any noise, the price is doubled! The deal was made and they climbed aboard the plane.

The pilot quickly proceeded to put the plane through all sorts of stunts and maneuvers designed to make even the bravest person tremble. But the passengers didn’t make a sound. Exhausted, the pilot finally landed. As the pastor climbed out the pilot said, “I made some moves up there that frightened even me and yet you never said a word. You must have incredible self-control.” The pastor thanked the pilot and said, “I must admit that there was one time when you almost had me.” “When was that?” asked the pilot. To which the pastor replied, “When my wife fell out of the plane.”

You know, I don’t think it’s just a pastor thing. I bet I’m not the only one who loses my self-control once in a while. Self-control is hard for us less than perfect people. It takes discipline and determination. It takes a strong “want to” attitude. That’s true when you’re trying to lose weight, and it’s vital in your faith life. While worldly self-control is hard enough, Christian self-control is a virtue that cannot be achieved but by the power of the Holy Spirit, that’s why it’s also listed as a fruit of the Spirit, one of only two that are listed in both places along with faithfulness.

At first glance, self-control can look rather selfish as if it’s something that I have to do on my own. It does say SELF-control after all. Without study, it looks like it’s something we must achieve on our own. It even makes sense somewhat when we’re honest with ourselves and admit that self-control is probably hardest when we’re all alone. If we’re alone, then it must be all up to us, right?

However, looking at it closer it becomes apparent that our self-control really involves every aspect of our relationships with others. If we stay under control others benefit. If we lose our self-control, many times others suffer also. In fact, we might even consider this last virtue the most important one of all because without self-control, the works of the flesh cannot be overcome and all the other virtues are negatively affected.

Aristotle once said, “I count him braver who overcomes his desires then him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is the victory over self.” Plato believed that our animal urges must be governed or else they will produce, “A feverish state in the soul, a city of pigs” which knows no limits.” In other words, if our life is out of control, it’s like a pigsty. Seems about right doesn’t it?

People might think of self-control as self-disciple or willpower or self-restraint or temperance as some versions of Scripture translate this. The Greek actually means, “One who holds himself.” To be in self-control is to be free from bondage and Christian self-control especially means to be free from worldly bondage. It’s more than just self-help. Paul speaks clearly on this in Romans 7:18 saying, “I know nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature, for I have the desire to do what is good but I cannot carry it out.” An even more complete meaning is found in our New Testament lesson for this morning in 1 Corinthians 9, Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

Paul is saying that the runner cannot afford any distractions because he has a clearly defined goal. When it comes to our Christian goal of finding the narrow gate to heaven, this kind of self-control is about a focus and determination to finish the race that only God can provide. We can then properly define Christian self-control as control of the self by the work of the Holy Spirit within us for the sake of the Gospel.

Ironically, Christian self-control then is different from worldly self-control in that we must give up control to achieve it.

Proverbs 25:28 gives us a great description of what the lack of this kind of self-control looks like. It says, “A man without self-control is like a city broken in two and left without walls.” Recently we just got to the part in our Jeremiah Bible study where Jerusalem is finally defeated by the Babylonians. Because they would not surrender as Jeremiah had warned them to do, their city and its protective wall were utterly destroyed and most of its people were taken into captivity. All that was left was ruin. To a city like Jerusalem, their wall meant everything. It protected them from harm. It clearly defined its borders. It even spoke to the power within the city. Without that wall, they were unable to resist the evil on the other side. A city without walls really wasn’t a city at all. Likewise, when we forfeit our self-control, it’s like the tearing down of our walls exposing the vulnerable, un-wise creature inside. These walls are different than the ones we build around ourselves so we don’t have to get out. These walls are built to keep the evil elements away as we focus on the goal at hand. Walls that help us to resist things that may pull us off the path that God has set for our lives.

Many people in Scripture suffered in this way from the lack of self-control. Samson and his weakness toward Delilah. King Saul and his pursuit of David and even David as he pursued, in a different way, Bathsheba.

And in the New Testament, I find it interesting that when Paul faced the Romans governor Felix in Acts 24, he emphasized, “Righteousness, self-control and the judgement to come.” Interesting in that Felix had no self-control and indulged in all kind of lustful and indulgent activities. He had no qualms about killing whomever he chose to kill or to engage in adulterous activity with whatever wife caught his fancy. In this way he was no different than many of the other Roman officials of the time. Scholars tell us that when ancient Rome was disciplined and controlled, it was a great nation, but when it became saturated in its own sin it lost its glory.

So here we are in another self-centered and self-seeking culture trying to be the perfect example of Godly self-control. It seems as if our own country hasn’t quite learned from the mistakes of others in the past concerning the selfishness that ultimately corrupts. What is one to do when all this self- governing and self-worship is all around us? Who will ultimately save us from ourselves? How will we seize our own self-control in a world that preaches self-centeredness?

Paul had this same concern as he instructed Titus. Now Titus is a pastor and Paul is educating him on how to lead his flock. Within his teachings, he speaks often to Titus about teaching his people self-control.

In 1:8 he tells Timothy that the church’s elders are to be men who are known for hospitality, good works, holiness, discipline and self-control. In 2:1 he is instructed to teach older men to be self-controlled. In the next verse he is to teach the older women to be reverent, truth-tellers and not addicted to alcohol and in verse 4 it’s the young ladies turn to be taught to love their husbands and children and to be self-controlled. Finally, in verse 6, he reminds Titus to teach the young men the same lesson.

Those lessons Paul taught Titus, he also gives to us. How do we overcome the sin of self-indulgence? In the end Paul says this to Titus,

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,

training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”

There is your answer. It is God’s grace that redeems us. It is God’s grace that reforms us, And It is only by God’s grace given through the power of the Holy Spirit within us, that we might overcome our want for worldly self-control. It is Godly correction through Godly grace.

It is God’s grace that rewards us in the end. We can be self-controlled because, as believers in Christ, we have been redeemed from the way we used to live. We’ve been transformed within so that we might be given the power to resist the evils that would take our focus off the goal of everlasting life. Instead of living for today, we live for what is to come. Instead of focusing on ourselves, we focus on getting others on the same path to paradise. This is in stark contrast to the pleasure seekers of the world who live only for this life. While we wait in hopeful expectation, we will be strengthened against the forces of evil around us because we will have discovered the powerful antidote to worldly lusts and passions.

Self-control might be listed last in the list of virtues, but it’s not because it’s the least important. I believe it’s listed last because that’s the one God wanted to be freshest on our minds. Together with Christ we can overcome anything, even the one thing that can prove to be the most damaging, the loss of self-control. Join me in trusting in Godly grace to overcome the challenges. Keep your focus on the goal so that you might win the race. Rely on God’s words, God’s sacraments and God’s people to strengthen and guide you. Let God free you from the bondage that destroys. Live a new life of freedom, the kind of freedom you can only find from surrender. God has great plans for us all, but it will mean that we practice self-control in all things.

One can only overcome the problems of self-control when they give up self-control. Give all you are, mind, body and soul to the creator of control. Amen

 

Bible Study: Self-Control

 

Bible Study Questions – 1 Corinthians 9:18-27

What is Paul’s reward?

Should Paul’s case be used to prove preachers generally should not accept support from churches? Explain. Verse 14

Why doesn’t Paul have a personal choice about preaching?

Will volunteer and bi-vocational Christian workers receive a greater reward in heaven than those who are paid here on earth? If so, why? If not, why not?

Explain the use of “free” and “servant” in verse 19 What is Paul saying about himself?

What are some examples in Scripture where Paul “became” a Jew? Acts 16:3; 21:23-26

Why was following Jewish custom so important to Paul’s ministry?

Who were discussed in verse 20? In what sense were they “under law”?

So, was he then under no law?

Does this mean Paul had to fudge some doctrine? 1 Corinthians 1:22-23 If not, what had to change?

Describe how someone might become weak to save the weak.

Why did Paul “become all things to all men”? What was his purpose? What is the difference between Paul’s chameleon ministry and mere role-playing?

Why do you think Paul uses the analogy of the runners and boxer? What does that have to do with our Christian faith? Try expanding on Paul’s explanation.

What place does self-discipline have in our effectiveness as Christian workers? How are we to use it in our daily lives?

The translation for discipline actually means to give someone a black eye. How might this change the verse?

Based on this Scripture, how does one keep their body under control? How does God work in the effort?

How might someone disqualify themselves in their Christian walk and work?

What are some thing you might have to give up so that you can reach the people God has called you to minister to?

What can we learn from Paul’s passion in this section of Scripture that might help to guide us in our own passion for Christ?

Prudence

 

Text:  Luke 14:25-33

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father…

Please pray with me…

In our weekly series of the seven virtues, we come to prudence. I have to admit, I actually had to go to dictionary.com to get the true meaning because it’s not a word we use a lot. I knew that to be prudent was somehow connected to being wise, but, if that’s the truth, then why not use the word wisdom, a much more familiar word.

Well, now I know that prudence, though it has much to do with being wise, is really its own word with its own definition. It is defined as being wise in practical affairs, to be cautious in making big decisions, to be careful in providing for the future. In short, to be prudent is to think before you act.

That is why I picked this section of Scripture on becoming a disciple of Christ for today’s sermon, because there can be no more prudent decision than to commit your life, body and soul, to the Savior of us all. It is the prudent answer to say yes at God’s request to follow Him.

Yet, making that first prudent decision is only the first of many more decisions to come that will require steadfast study and thought. Every day, new decisions will be asked of us in the name of Christ.

But being prudent takes discipline. It requires a commitment to daily thought and measured action. This is when the excuses begin.

To save ourselves from the arduous task of recommitting our lives to Christ daily, we make excuses. We hear the mantra, “I love the Lord and I am truly a Christian, but…” Are there any “buts” in Christianity? Is God only looking for as much as He can get from us?

When we are called to sacrifice, the sacrifice of our time, talents and treasures for example, many go to their favorite excuse. These excuses arise when we are called to fully surrender to Christ in sacrificial submission. They arise to replace the consistent walk and witness our Lord requires of us, to faithfully be present both in worship and service to our Lord.

Of course, excuses are nothing new. Rarely can any of us call all of our decisions for Christ prudent or well thought out. We are inherently selfish. Jesus dealt with this often in His teachings. For an example of this, we go to the parable that set up this whole talk of discipleship we are studying today. It begins right before our Gospel lesson beginning with verse 16:

But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many.  And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’

And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.'”

We learn from some of Jesus’ other parables that banquets were held to commemorate some sort of transition, the parable of the lost son for instance or the marriage supper for the Kings son in Matthew 22. A decision has been made that will change lives, and people are invited to celebrate, yet each has an excuse. If you notice, all of these excuses are rather flimsy, but to keep them from having to make the prudent decision, they all have their favorite excuses ready for such a request. They use the same excuses we do when it comes to fully committing our lives to Christ. The first used materialism, more concerned with his new possession then the banquet. The second used the work excuse, He was just too busy. The third was family, I have a wife now, I have no time for anything else.

On the surface, each excuse looks ok because we have all probably used them. Sometimes they are even legitimate. Yet, too often, the decisions are far from prudent and only serve to stave off commitment. If we say this, then we don’t have to do that.

Well, when it comes to being a disciple of Christ, our Savior is not very good with excuses. In fact, we hear it in the second verse of our text, verse 26, here Jesus says something quite shocking, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

Here Jesus is using hyperbole to make His point. He is saying that He has to be first in our lives so much so that it’s like hating the rest of our most prized possessions in comparison. He wants not just to be in your life, He wants to be your life. No excuses. No possession should hold more importance, no job should ever separate ourselves from Him, yes, and even family should not be held in higher regard. There are a lot of Christians who make a lot of excuses, even here at Redeemer. They say, “I love you Lord, but…”

Now, I’m not here to beat you up yet again with the truth but the truth cannot be ignored.

The early church father Jerome said, “If Christ should bid be go this way, and my mother did hang about my neck to draw me to another; and my father were in my way, bowing at my knees with tears entreating me not to go; and my children plucking at my skirts should seek to pull me the other way, I must unclasp my mother, I must push to the very ground my father, and put aside my children, for I must follow Christ.”

If I am hard on you it is because the message is that urgent. I know we all love the Lord but we must love Him so much that we see the importance in shedding our worldly excuses. We must hold in higher regard the commands of Christ, John 14:15 says, “If you love Me, keep my commandments.”

The Lord is this insistent because His love for you is that great. He wants you to love Him with all your soul and all your heart and with all your mind so that you might be with Him forever in paradise. He knows that if we focus on our earthly excuses, they will pull us away from Him and cause us to miss the banquet awaiting us. He wants you to cling to Him so tightly that you can’t let go. He wants you to love Him, not for His own gain but for yours. He wants to give you all your hearts desires, but He wants those desires to be pure and free from the sin that separates.

Jesus knows that, as it says in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and is desperately sick..”

Jesus knows that each day we will struggle to make the prudent decisions we must make daily in service to Him. He knows we could never go it alone. That is why he died for us. He won for you His righteousness and promises a share in His heavenly inheritance. He knows how glorious our lives can be. That is why He cannot be satisfied with the excuses we make.

There are many, many people who say they love the Lord, but their actions and their attitudes deceive them. Their actions and attitudes scream out that, not only do they not love the Lord but that they do not yet know the Lord. Matthew 7:22-23 tells us that many will say, “Lord, Lord,” But they will not truly know the Lord, let alone love Him.

Make the prudent decision for Christ. Let Him be your guide and your shield. Trust in Him to take you to the heights of your very being. Have faith in His desires for you, believe that He loves you enough to want to save you as if you were His only child. Come to Him in confidence apart from the world and with the hopeful expectation that He will do for you what He says he will do. Depend on Him for your whole life in the knowledge that He will never leave you or forsake you. Make the prudent decision for Christ every day. If you do, your reward will be everlasting. Amen.
 

Bible Study: Prudence

 

Luke 14:25-33 

Why is being a disciple of Christ a prudent decision?

How can a person who claims to be a Christian but who is not fully committed know if he’s really a Christian? Titus 1:15-16

Can a person be a believer and not a disciple? Why or why not?

Is discipleship distinct from salvation? Matthew 7:21-23

What does Jesus mean by telling us to hate our fathers, mothers, wives, children, brothers, sisters and even our own life? Psalm 16:11, 37:4

Is He saying then that we can treat those closest to us shabbily? Explain  Luke 11:11-13; 1 Timothy 5:8

How are the above questions about prudence?

The above question is an example of something called hyperbole. What are some other occasions when Jesus used this type of teaching? Matthew 5:29-30, 6:29, 19:4; Luke 6:41-42

What does it mean to bear your own cross? Luke 9:23-27; Romans 12:14-21; 1 Peter 4:19

How well do you think  you’re doing  at this? If your answer is, “not too well,” then how do we go about changing things in our life to live up to this command of God?

If we are to be this committed to Christ, why is it prudent to “count the cost”? Luke 16:13,         1 Corinthians 6:19-20

What does the parable of the tower teach us about this?

So, what is the cost of discipleship?

What are examples in the Scriptures of what costs others had to pay to follow Jesus?             Luke 5:1-11, 27-28, 18:22, 19:8

Why is it also prudent to count the cost of not following Christ?

What is there that keeps you from following fully? What must you commit to Christ’s cause so that you don’t come up short and are recaptured by it?

Write down any ways the Lord is prompting you to follow Him. Don’t be just a hearer. Go and do it!

 

(Bible study materials are gathered from various resources, i.e. Bible.org)

The Cross of Courage

 

Text:  Matthew 10:26-33

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father…

Please pray with me…

Two weeks ago I started with two stories involving past Russian premier’s, Breshnev and Khrushchev. It went over so well I thought I’d start this week the same way.

During His years as premier of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev denounced many of the policies and atrocities of Joseph Stalin. Once, as he criticized Stalin in a public meeting, Khrushchev was interrupted by a shout from a heckler in the audience. “You were one of Stalin’s colleagues. Why didn’t you stop him?” “Who said that,” roared Khrushchev. An agonizing silence followed as nobody in the room dared move a muscle. Then Khrushchev replied quietly, “Now you have your answer.” The point was well taken.

In Stalin’s time, fear was everywhere. Stalin was a madman responsible for taking millions of lives among his own people, some merely because they dared to disagree with him. He was responsible for many atrocities including 1 million imprisoned or exiled between 1927 to 1929; 9 to 11 million peasants forced off their lands; 6 to 7 million killed by an artificial famine in 1932-1934; 1 million exiled from Moscow and Leningrad in 1935;

1 million executed during the ”Great Terror” of 1937-1938; 4 to 6 million dispatched to forced labor camps; 10 to 12 million people forcibly relocated during World War II; and at least 1 million arrested for various “political crimes” from 1946 to 1953. Needless to say, the Russian people had every reason to be afraid.

I look at our current situation and I see anger and resentment almost everywhere, much of it from the fear of our own current leadership. People fear they’ll have their freedoms taken away or that they won’t be able to do some of the things they were able to do under the last administration. To make it worse, the media seems to be playing into this. Today, it’s hard to find any news source that doesn’t slant severely to the left or to the right hoping to boil up enough fear and anger that people will stay tuned in and thus give them bigger ratings.

Fear is a powerful motivator. It can cause some to do some pretty crazy and irrational things. It can control your every thought and your every action, even as we try to live out our lives in faith. Even amongst Christ’s disciples there was fear. They feared Christ several times as they witnessed the power in His miracles. They feared what would happen on their final trip into Jerusalem. Mark 10:32 reminds us, “And they were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. They were afraid of the unknown and afraid for their master.

Peter feared admitting he was a disciple of Christ during Christ’s trial. The disciples feared the authorities and huddled together in hiding until and even after Jesus had shown Himself after the resurrection.

Fear affects all of us at times. Even standing on the right side of the truth, we harbor fears. What will this person do if I ask them about Jesus? What will this crowd think if I stand up for my Christian beliefs? What will my friends think of me if I ask them to come to church? We harbor fears because we live in a volatile and, in many ways, very unchristian world. We fear the repercussions of our efforts. So, those who need to know the truth, never get the truth, because fear stopped someone from sharing it with them.

But we, as God’s adopted children, have been called to greater things than fear. We have been called to trust in the one true God who will protect us. We have been called to bear witness in a broken world. We have been called to boldness as servants of Christ. We have been called to courage.

So what is courage? Martin Luther said of courage, “It is, of course, the nature of our flesh and blood to be courageous and cheerful as long as there is no suffering and sorrow. I am, as the proverb puts it, not afraid of ten when I am alone.

But when the weather changes, and temptation and trouble come upon us and oppress us, then we have lost the precious promises, and the comforting thoughts vanish as if Christ had never spoken any promise or had left us no comfort whatever.”

Courage of the Christian is defined differently than the courage of those who rely on the world for their strength. Our courage comes from a different source. In the world we get our courage from self-confidence and power. Many times the size of our pocketbook determines the courage we have, sometimes it’s the fear that people have of us that gives us courage. But if you look at it closely, this kind of courage has no staying power. One mistake can evaporate that courage into cowardice.

But the comfort and the courage of Christians comes from a much greater source than ourselves. From pure love Christ sent His Spirit to instill within us all the courage we need to stay the course toward everlasting life. This kind of inspired courage is steadfast and motivated towards the good. Above all, it’s pleasing to God. This is the kind of courage that allowed the martyrs to face the lions. This kind of courage is the work of the Holy Spirit alone. And we have every reason to have this kind of courage. The one who believes fully in God, that holds in confidence the fact that Christ abolished death, sin, hell and the devil should rejoice and be courageous in all things.

This is the kind of faithful courage that moves mountains, that overcomes adversity and that tames the world. This is the kind of courage that leads to everlasting life even when all around we see mortal death and decay. Christian courage has staying power. It lets adversities come, confident in the ability to overcome them through faith in Christ. Christian courage turns tragedy into opportunity and failure into accomplishment. It turns the mistakes of others into forgiveness and the weakness of others into strength.

Yet, many of us are still stuck in the mud of our own making. We rely on the world to define our courage. We are more afraid of worldly reaction then we are confident in heavenly grace. When God needs us to counteract the anti-Christian movement we see throughout our country today, we slink back into our comfortable front rooms hoping that someone else will take up the fight. When we are called to be Moses confronting Pharaoh, we act more like the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz.

We were called to something greater than cowardice and we have behind us the power of the cross of Christ to give us strength. Because of what Christ was willing to do for us through His death and resurrection, we have inherited His strength in times of struggle and His courage in the face of adversity.

We have so much to look forward to, so much to live for, so much to place our courage in that it would be a shame if we missed even one opportunity to share it with others in confidence, without listening to the “what ifs” the devil keeps whispering in our ears.

You see, there really can be no Christian growth without Christian courage. Because we live in a world of sin, it takes courage for the Christian to take every step of faith. The courage we find in the cross gives us the extra power to move forward and take new territory for God as he sends us ever more opportunities to increase His kingdom.

As I was writing this, some news popped up on my cell-phone, thinking it was a message for me, instead I found this message, “Christian persecution seen in more locations across the globe, new report shows.” Frankly people of Redeemer, we have no more time for cowardice and fear. Our God is counting on us to grab the courage His only Son had to die to provide. We live in very troubled times that call for the action of the faithful.

We have too much to lose to be content doing nothing. God is calling on all His people to find the courage they have through faith by way of the Holy Spirit working within us.

And serving calls for society, not solitude. Courageously serving our fellow man, as Christ and His apostles did, doesn’t consist of hiding away forever in the safety of the box you’ve constructed around yourself. It involves the same kind of courage Paul showed as He could not help but to share the Gospel, even in times that were very scary indeed. Together we are a Spiritual body and each member so conducts itself for the benefit of the whole whether they be in Moscow, Idaho or Moscow, Russia.

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will he not also with Him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32). Things like courage and strength and commitment. All of these incredible gifts are yours in the asking.

Do you need courage? I invite you then to look to the cross of Christ for the courage you seek. Christ faced the most horrific suffering with courage and conviction. He asks for only a fraction of that from us in His defense.

You have the power of almighty God behind you and the promises won for us as Christ bravely faced His own death. Don’t seek cheap grace by doing nothing, seek the power of God by making a difference, using the courage only God could provide.

“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”

Amen.

 

Bible Study: Courage

 

Bible Study Questions – Matthew 10:26-33 – Courage

Who is Jesus telling them not to fear? Verses 16-17, 21-22

The Greek translates, “Do not even start fearing them.” How is this possible?

He repeats this command three times in our text (verses 26,28 and 31). Why?

What is Christ readying His disciples for?

What is it that is covered but will be revealed and hidden but will be made known? Proverbs 2:1-8; Mark 4:21-23; Luke 8:17-18; Ephesians 3:7-10; Colossians 2:1-3

Is God telling us and His disciples that we have nothing to fear? Isaiah 8:12-13, 51:12-16; Verse 28; James 4:12

What is Jesus really saying in verse 27? How can we do likewise today? Why aren’t we doing it more?

Who is it that can kill the body but cannot kill the soul?

*interesting note* “in hell” This was the Hebrew term “Gehenna.” It was a compound of “valley” and “(sons of) Hinnom.” This was a valley outside Jerusalem where a Canaanite fertility and fire god (Leviticus 18:21) was worshiped by sacrificing children (called molech). The Jews turned it into the garbage dump for Jerusalem. Jesus’ metaphors of eternal punishment were taken from this burning, stinking, worm-infested dump.

What is the point of Jesus’ comparison between a person and a sparrow?

What comes to mind thinking of a God who even has the hairs of your head numbered? 1 Samuel 14:45

What are some ways we might acknowledge Christ before men?

How does one deny Christ? Matthew 7:22-23, 25:1-13; Mark 8:38; Luke 13:24-27; 2 Timothy 2:11-13; 2 Peter 2:1

What are some evidences in our current world that Christ is being denied?

How possible is it for God to acknowledge us after we have denied Him? 2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalm 103:11-14; Isaiah 1:16-20, 38:17, 43:25, 44:21-22; Micah 7:19; Acts 26:14-18

What is the difference between worldly courage and Christian courage?

What does Christian courage look like?

Why do people seem to have greater courage for Christ when the dangers are greatest?

What are some ways this church body can show Christian courage?