Dear World Changer,
This past Friday I preached on courage and thought I would post my sermon up for all you wonderful people! Here it is!
When I was 5 years old my teacher made my class watch a video on what would happen if we got into a strangers car – at 5 years old I realized this world is risky.
When I was 7 years old I watched my best friend “date” a boy for a whole 5 days. She was convinced she was in love and then he dumped her because she didn’t have shoes that lit up when you walk. At 7 years old I realized love is risky.
At fourteen years old I tried out to be in a musical and got rejected. At fourteen I realized putting yourself out there and trying something new is risky.
When I was 17 years old I had a group of my classmates ask how many times I’ve had sex and when I said 0 they said they were going to drug me and change that – at 17 years old I realized standing up for what I believe in is risky.
When I was 18 years old and heard that whisper from God to stop my car and pray for someone I realized sharing my faith is risky.
Life is risky. We all know that. And most of us play it so stinkin safe that it’s preventing us from thriving/flourishing/succeeding – doing what God wants us to do.
We took three students to prodigy days over March break and the theme was courage. I was going to preach on something else tonight but God kept shouting COURAGE! And so tonight we are talking about COURAGE. Because to do something big for God it’s going to require just that.
We have a skewed view of courage. We picture courage like a super hero. Those who swoop in and save the planet. It’s those really strong muscular people who have no fear.
But courage isn’t about the absence of fear, it’s actually about fearing more (Definition by Jeremy Albrech).
Let me explain.
I watched an interview with Bethany Hamilton- the surfer who lost an arm from a shark attack – and the host asked “Weren’t you afraid of getting back in the water? Weren’t you afraid of encountering another shark?” And her answer was – yes but I was more afraid of not surfing.
BOTTOM LINE – it’s the definition of courage I just gave you; courage isn’t the absence of fear, it’s fearing something else MORE.
There are tons of courage stories in the Bible – David, Samson, Solomon, Moses. But all those men were already considered warriors and Kings. This story is about the lowliest of lowliest. A nobody. Someone who wasn’t defined by strength and leadership but was actually defined as weak. And that is Gideon.
Judges 6 (summarized)
God allowed the Israelites to be taken over by the Midianites because they had begun worshiping other gods. The Midians took everything – livestock, crops…everything!
So the Israelites prayed for God to deliver them. One day an angel of the God shows up under a tree where Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress. [So the Midianites are out there attacking the Israelites and Gideon is hiding in a pit!] And God looks at Him and says “The Lord is with you Mighty Warrior.” I like that part – God called him a mighty warrior before he ever did anything.
And Gideon says “Pardon me My Lord, but if you are with us, why is all this happening. Where are all your miracles and wonders our ancestors’ told us about? Didn’t you get us out of Egypt? But now you abandoned us.”
God said “Go in the strength you have” – super important. “And save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
Gideon: “Pardon me my Lord, but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest and I am the least in my family.”
God said “I will be with you, and we will strike down all the Midianites together.”
And then Gideon is like, umm one more thing. I want proof this is really you, I’ll go make an offering to God, and you light it on fire. And that is exactly what happened!! And that gave Gideon the courage to fight.
Later on in the story Gideon had gathered many men and God said the army is too big. So they got rid of some. Again he told Gideon the army is still too big. So they got rid of more and were left with only 300. And if you’re familiar with the story – Gideon and his 300 men defeat the Midians.
So here is what Gideon teaches us about courage. Here are 5 steps to have more courage.
1. Labels are TRANQUILIZING – Gideon was labeled the weakest clan and He himself was labeled the least in his family.
When people call you something over and over again, you believe it. You buy into the label and you become that label.
I got bullied in school. It was grade 6, the time when everyone is changing and people are insecure. And so everyone made fun of each other to get the spot light off themselves. I happened to be the target. Every time I spoke they all called me stupid. Didn’t matter what I said, they would laugh and call me stupid.
So I stopped talking. I figured getting called a mute or quiet was a lot better than being called stupid. And they called me a mute, they told me never to get a job public speaking. And I believed them. I believed I sucked at talking. I believed my words were stupid. Not only did I accept their label – I lived out that label… until my senior year.
I did a presentation and I got told I was an excellent public speaker. I went to Bible College and they told me I could preach. They gave me an award for preaching and suddenly I had the courage to rip that label off.
Let go of the words people are putting on you. Labels are tranquilizing. They immobilize you. They freeze the path God has for you. Imagine if I never tore off the label mute, sucks with words, cant public speak?
The labels people place on you and you place on yourself will stop you from achieving God’s plans for you life.
My brother Justin got a label put on him by doctors, ADHD, ADD, personality disorder, learning disability, wont be able to achieve anything he dreams of. And he believes it. So he quit his job, and hangs outside Canadian tire all day drinking beer and smoking.
Take off the label weak, stupid, unfocused, weird, drug addict, going nowhere in life, alcoholic.
Other times people place labels on us because of who our parents are…Oh you’re parents are druggies – you’re going to be one. Oh you’re parents didn’t graduate from high school – you’re not going to graduate either. But let me tell you – you’re not your parents. You’re not going down the same road as them. They may have given birth to you but the almighty God created you. You were born in HIS image, not your parents’.
For us to have courage, you have to rip off the label that’s stopping you from hearing what God calls you. God called Gideon a might warrior before he did anything. Gideon was a farmer, known as the weakest and the lowest of all the land. And once Gideon listened to God, he changed the world…he had courage.
Labels are tranquilizing.
2. The entourage – get rid of people who bring discouragement.
Gideon had his army all ready to go to defeat the Midianites and God said hold up, there’s too many. Tell all those who are afraid to turn around and go back. God said that because those with fear would discourage the rest. “Oh you know it’s too dangerous, we’re going to get killed, do you want to see your family again? Gideon’s gone mad, lets get out of here.”
Who needs the devil when you’ve got other Christians to tell you oh that’s not safe, that’s stupid, what are you doing.
Don’t allow those people to have a voice in your life. Sometimes God’s plan is going to look insane, unsafe, stupid and crazy – and you need solid discerning people to give you courage to run that race.
When I said I was going to Bible College – a lot of people looked at me with disgust. My grandparents for instance. You know the crazy ones I told you guys about? Yeah they said that girls can’t be pastors and I should make something useful of myself and go to business school.
But my Mom countered back later that day and gave me courage; you’re called, God’s got a big plan for you!
You have the power to give courage to people – encouragement. You also have the power to suck away their courage.
Gideon thought a larger army was the best way, but it was going to hinder him not help.
Don’t let people hinder you, and don’t be that person that hinders others. Are you that person that when someone tells you their dreams you’re like – okay good luck with that! That doesn’t seem very logic? Are you sure you want to waste your life? And sometimes we say things like that because we’re insecure. We’re not confident in what God has for us, so we don’t support those around us.
Give people courage not fear. But if those solid, God-fearing, discerning people in your life say hold up! Listen to them!
3. Is that the fear talking? Are you led by fear or are you led by faith?
Gideon said “Where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Where are all the wonders? You’ve just abandoned us God! Moses parted the red sea – why aren’t you doing that for us God??” And it’s because the miracles God wanted to do were in the places Gideon was avoiding.
See, Moses would have never parted the Red Sea if he hadn’t taken courage and fled Egypt with the Israelites. That would have never happened if they didn’t choose to have more fear about staying in Egypt than leaving it. They had to step out, they had to obey, then God showed up. God often shows up in the middle of our obedience.
What miracles are you asking for? What answers from God are you asking for? What prayers do you want answered? You may not be seeing them because you’re avoiding the place they are going to occur in.
STORY: I had wanted so badly to get into this gymnastics program. I went to the try outs and a few weeks later got a call of acceptance into the program. They sent a booklet in the mail outlining what the program would be.
The last time I received this acceptance letter, my parents said no because we couldn’t afford it missing my chance at making it far in this sport. If I said yes this time, it would be an awesome couple of years but I was already too old to do anything big in the sport. I was 15. 15 in gymnastics is like 50.
Fear crept in. I thought – I’m too old now for this, it’s going to be a really tough program, I can’t really go far at this point. I’m going to be so much older than the other girls, I’m scared of the hours I’ll have to put in.
I said no. My Mom turned to me and said “is this the fear talking?” In my mind I was like heck yes! But I still said no.
Let me ask you this question? Is the fear talking in your life? Are you allowing fear to dictate your decisions?
I had a great fear of Bible College but went anyways. If I said no, if I let the fear talk that time, look what I would have missed! I would have never been with you guys, I would have never been apart of the organization Tattered Tiaras, and most importantly I would have never met Kyle!
You never know whose on the other side of your courage!!
I’ve let fear say no way too many times. Don’t make the same mistake.
4. Go in the strength you have – God said to Gideon “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”
He didn’t say – go workout so you’re super strong and muscular, work on being more mentally capable, work on your capacity level and then go fight the Midians. No he says – Go in the strength YOU HAVE.
Something God taught me just recently is it doesn’t matter how big your capacity is, what matters it what you’re doing with the capacity you do have. It doesn’t matter how strong you are, what matters is what you’re doing with the amount of strength you do have. And God says He’ll take care of the rest.
What are you doing with what you have?
With that little bit of strength you have left – where are you putting it? With that bit of energy you have – where are you putting it? When you give God your 100% – whatever that 100% looks like – He will fill in your lack.
He told Gideon – am I not sending you? I’ve got you. You can do all things through Christ. Even if you are the strongest most talented, biggest capacity out there but you don’t have God – you wont accomplish even a tenth of what you can will little strength and Jesus.
Gideon asked for confirmation – he said is this really you talking Lord? If so, light this offering on fire.
Now, I wouldn’t recommend asking for that kind of confirmation, but do ask God for something!
I’ve asked for that multiple times. I moved around a lot and I always asked God to show me that I’ll be safe here. I always had a dream about the house we would buy.
In Bible College I was like – God- was it your voice that sent me here? And he would send professors to confirm my calling.
I was scared to get married after my past. But as I grew closer to God I said “God I want everything you have for me, including marriage. BUT if I’m supposed to get married, you better point this guy out in flashing neon colours.” And you know what he did? The day I met Kyle, he was wearing a bright orange neon shirt. If you don’t believe me, just look at his student card. We had student card photos the day I met him.
Kyle and I were scared that we made a poor financial choice by buying a car – and then we won a car! Confirmation.
And every time doubt and fear creep in – I go back to his confirmations.
Now that’s not saying he will confirm things every time. Sometimes we got to walk in faith.
ALSO – All my confirmations came after I had stepped out. After we had bought the house and moved in, then I had the dream.
After we had already bought the car we won another one.
After I had moved into dorms and begun classes had God confirmed that I was meant to be there.
Sometimes it will be the middle, sometimes after, sometimes before and sometimes not at all. But there is never a harm in asking him!
Confirmation may be through someone else, it may be a dream, it may just be this quiet whisper in your heart.
RECAP: So…Get rid of the label, get rid of those who discourage you, don’t let fear talk, go in the strength you have and ask for confirmation when you do.
If I was anyone in the Bible, I would be Gideon. I’m a scardy cat if I’m being honest. Courage doesn’t come naturally to me. When my world is falling a part my first thought isn’t lets go out and fight, my first thought is let’s hide. Courage is a choice…one that is worth making. And I pray that it is yours!