Monday, July 23, 2012

Be Strong and Courageous

On some days while sitting outside at my house, you’ll hear and then see a stunt pilot. The plane is close enough to see that he or she is flying upside down or sideways, performing barrel rolls, stalling the plane’s engine, or perhaps doing loops.

Each time I hear the plane, I stop whatever I’m doing and simply watch the expertise of this pilot in the sky. Sometimes the pilot will linger for 20 minutes or longer. Other times it’s a quick five minute show. Regardless of its length, the display is a welcome sight.

Like this stunt pilot, we are encouraged as Christians to live courageous lives.

We see in the Old Testament God’s heartening words to leaders of Israel. Over and over, God spoke these words. “Be strong and courageous.” Here is a list of where this phrase can be found. Deuteronomy 31:6, 31:7, 31:23; Joshua 1:7, 1:9, 1:18, 10:25; 1 Chronicles 22:13, 28:20; 2 Chronicles 32:7.

Jesus spoke similar words on one occasion. The disciples had headed to the other side of the Sea of Galilee when a storm picked up. And in the midst of water and wind, Jesus walked toward the boat.

The disciples thought Him to be a ghost, but Jesus then spoke. “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27; Mark 6:50 – NIV).

I believe it might have been difficult to take courage in that moment, but Jesus wanted the disciples to have great faith that would pull them toward courage. After all, these men would need a deep courage before the end of their lives.

Courage is mentioned several other times in the New Testament.

Jesus appeared to the Apostle Paul in Acts 23:11 (NIV). Jesus said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify in Rome.”

Likewise, Paul encouraged others to be courageous. In 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NIV), Paul tells the Corinthian Church to, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.”

Paul also encouraged the Philippians Christians with these words. “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:20 – NIV)

The author of the book of Hebrews says to hold on to our courage. “But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” (Hebrews 3:6 – NIV)

In each of these passages, the recipient was called to an action. The action of being courageous. The ability to face any situation without fear.

These people were courageous. With God on their side, they had the ability to face their appointed tasks with undeniable courage.

You and I may not face great battles, raging storms, or persecution, but there are times where we must draw on this same courage.

Courage may simply be placing our trust into God’s hands and believing that He will bring us through whatever situation we might face. Maybe that is too simple, but I find that I can be more courageous if I live by these guidelines.

I don’t know who this pilot is and really don’t know how to find out. There are several small airstrips near my home and this pilot could be from any of them. I wish I could thank this pilot for the enjoyment I have received through the years. But until then, this is my “thank you.” Be strong and courageous. I think of you fondly.

Grace and peace be yours in abundance,


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