Courage is a Decision
Pause for Thought

Courage Brother

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“It took him a little more than two hours, but 9-year-old James Savage became the youngest person to swim round trip from San Francisco to Alcatraz Island. He struggled about 30 minutes in, but was able to complete the more than two mile swim with some motivation from his coach and mother.” San Francisco Chronicle June 2016

The “motivation” from his coach and mother was reinforced by a small flotilla of kayakers alongside him shouting “you can do it!”, and he later reported that was why he was able to keep going and complete the course even although he really wanted to give up! The encouragers made it possible for him to achieve what his emotions were telling him he couldn’t when he had only gone one quarter of the distance.

There is an old saying in business that “managers carry water so people can work” — that is, they are the “enablers” of those who have the capacity to complete the task.

We all need support systems —  which is why being in fellowship in a Christian Community (often called a “church”, not to be confused with a building) for those times when we feel that we are destined to fail or fall. 

There are a couple of great examples of enablers and courage in the Scriptures. For example:

“So Joshua and his men went out to fight the army of Amalek. Meanwhile Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill. And as long as Moses held up the rod in his hands, Israel was winning; but whenever he rested his arms at his sides, the soldiers of Amalek were winning. Moses’ arms finally became too tired to hold up the rod any longer; so Aaron and Hur rolled a stone for him to sit on, and they stood on each side, holding up his hands until sunset.” Exodus 17:10-12 TLB

Here Aaron and Hur are the enablers of victory. Without them the battle is surely lost and history would be altered.  And then there is a fascinating story in Acts 17 that I reproduce here in its entirety:

“When Paul and Barnabas learned of a plot to incite a mob of Gentiles, Jews, and Jewish leaders to attack and stone them, they fled for their lives, going to the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra, Derbe, and the surrounding area, and preaching the Good News there. While they were at Lystra, they came upon a man with crippled feet who had been that way from birth, so he had never walked. He was listening as Paul preached, and Paul noticed him and realized he had faith to be healed. So Paul called to him, “Stand up!” and the man leaped to his feet and started walking! When the listening crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted (in their local dialect, of course), “These men are gods in human bodies!” They decided that Barnabas was the Greek god Jupiter, and that Paul, because he was the chief speaker, was Mercury! The local priest of the Temple of Jupiter, located on the outskirts of the city, brought them cartloads of flowers and prepared to sacrifice oxen to them at the city gates before the crowds. But when Barnabas and Paul saw what was happening, they ripped at their clothing in dismay and ran out among the people, shouting, “Men! What are you doing? We are merely human beings like yourselves! We have come to bring you the Good News that you are invited to turn from the worship of these foolish things and to pray instead to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. In bygone days he permitted the nations to go their own ways, but he never left himself without a witness; there were always his reminders—the kind things he did such as sending you rain and good crops and giving you food and gladness.” But even so, Paul and Barnabas could scarcely restrain the people from sacrificing to them! Yet only a few days later, some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and turned the crowds into a murderous mob that stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, apparently dead. But as the believers stood around him, he got up and went back into the city!” Acts 14:5-20 TLB It would have been very easy for Barnabas and Paul to just “go along to get along” and not protest their new-found fame, but with courage they turned adulation into a murderous mob intent on killing them! Do you notice it was the local believers and encouragers who put themselves in harm’s way and surrounded the apostles to allow them to escape? If you read on a few verses you will discover that the apostles went right back into the hornets’ nest in Lystra, Iconium and Antioch “where they helped the believers to grow in love for God and each other. They encouraged them to continue in the faith in spite of all the persecution, reminding them that they must enter into the Kingdom of God through many tribulations.” Acts 14:22 TLB Paul and Barnabas felt it was essential to encourage the local believers. In my mind’s eye I can see them saying “you can do it!”, when adversity was literally knocking at the door. I am glad my local church still engages in the ministry of testimony and many of the reports we hear serve to further encourage other believers as well as strengthening the testifier. It takes courage to be a supporter and enabler of our fellow believers, but we should remember that if it were not for the courage of our spiritual forebears, we might never have had the opportunity to hear the good news! So we owe it to the generations to follow us to “[be] strong in the grace of the Lord”. SASB#948 My title this week comes from the opening line of a hymn written by Scottish minister Norman McLeod in the 1800s. It’s not sung much now but it would be to our benefit to take the words to heart: Courage, brother! do not stumble, though your path be dark as night; there's a star to guide the humble: trust in God, and do the right. Let the road be rough and dreary, and its end far out of sight; foot it bravely; strong or weary, trust in God, trust in God, trust in God, and do the right.

Perish policy and cunning, perish all that fears the light! Whether losing, whether winning, trust in God, and do the right. Some will hate you, some will love you, some will flatter, some will slight; heed them not, and look above you: trust in God, trust in God, trust in God, and do the right.

Simple rule and safest guiding, inward peace, and inward might, star upon our path abiding, trust in God, and do the right. Courage, sister! do not stumble, though your path be dark as night; there's a star to guide the humble: trust in God, trust in God, trust in God, and do the right. SASB #488

Indeed, let us continue to have courage to trust in God and do the right!  Encourage someone today!

Blessings on you and yours, Jim Black

Saturday October 15th, 2022
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Sunday October 2nd, 2022
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