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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Charles Stanley » Charles Stanley - The Positive Power of Courage

Charles Stanley - The Positive Power of Courage

Charles Stanley - The Positive Power of Courage
TOPICS: Courage

What do you fear most in life? Is it loss of financial security? Is it the loss of your health? Maybe a loss of your job, your vocation, the area in which you have worked all these years. Maybe it's a relationship or maybe somebody in your family, maybe your children, maybe the thing that you fear most of all is rejection or the fear of failure. All of us have those things in life that at times either overwhelmed us either for a moment, or some people live in fear all of their lives. They can always come up with something to be afraid of. And what they don't realize is that fear is like poison running through your system. Because when a person lives in fear, ultimately it's gonna take its toll on your health, on your emotions, on your spirit, that is, your relationship to God. God never intended for you and me to live in fear.

This is why Paul said to young Timothy, he said, "God has not given you the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind". I wonder what is it that you're afraid of? What is it that harasses you, gnaws at you? What is it that disturbs you and bothers you? What is it that you wake up with every morning, go to bed with every night? Somehow it just hovers over you, this anxiety, this fear. Well, when he says God did not give you that spirit of fear, then it must come from some other place. And if God did not give it to you, it must not be His will, then God has some other way to live rather than cloaked by fear. This is the third message in our series entitled, "The Empowering Emotions".

And today we talk about the empowering emotion of courage. And I want you to turn, if you will, to Joshua chapter one, a wonderful, wonderful chapter in God's Word, one of the most beautiful ones concerning courage. And just to remind you of what courage is, courage is the firmness of spirit, listen, courage is the firmness of spirit that faces danger and intense difficulties in life without flinching or retreating. It is the firmness of spirit that faces difficulties, extreme difficulties, hardships, trials in life without flinching or without retreating. And you'll recall in this particular passage, this is a challenge that God gives to Joshua concerning this matter of courage.

Now, I want you to listen carefully. If you will listen to this message and get this truth in your heart and let it sink, I'm here to tell you it's gonna help you year after year, event and challenge in your life after challenge if you'll just recall at least a portion of this message. So, let's begin in Joshua chapter one. "Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' servant, saying, 'Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am going to, I'm giving to them, to the sons of Israel. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun, will be your territory.'"

Now, listen to this. "No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I will have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written there in it; then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go".

What in the world would cause God to say to this man three times, "Be strong and courageous, be strong and courageous, be strong and courageous". I'll tell you why. Because just like you and I face challenges in life, Joshua was facing the greatest challenge of his life. He'd faced challenges before along with Moses because he'd been his general, had been with him, walked with him many, many years. And now here's what's happening. Moses is dead and God is saying to Joshua, "Joshua, I'm giving you the responsibility of completing the task, leading the nation of Israel across the Jordan into the Promised Land". He knew that Joshua understood the awesomeness of this responsibility. And naturally he would feel very inadequate, very insecure, and more than likely, very fearful. And so he says to him three times, "Be strong and very courageous".

And if you'll think about the position that he's in. Here, now he's in the position of leading some two million people or so, maybe more than that, over the Jordan into the Promised Land, to take a land that God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the whole nation of Israel. Not only that, God's greatest leader was now dead. And so naturally, Joshua had some thoughts running through His mind that probably caused him to shiver when he thought about it. Now he has the responsibility that Moses had. Not only that, he had asked himself this question: "I wonder if they'll follow me. They just got through mourning Moses's death for thirty days. Now are these people going to follow me? Suppose I fail in this task"?

Moses was one of the greatest men who've ever lived, and probably at that time who'd ever lived. "And how do I know they're gonna want to follow me? And having seen Moses and how God spoke to him and spoke through him and worked through him, who am I to follow in the footsteps of this great man"? And more than likely this must have run through Joshua's mind lots of times. Because you see, he, listen, Joshua was with him for forty years in the wilderness as they wandered in the wilderness. Joshua was with Moses when he watched him walk into Pharaoh's palace, the most powerful man on the earth at that time, and the only thing he had in his hand was a shepherd's staff, and he commanded Pharaoh to let the nation of Israel go. He was with him when he walked to the Red Sea and saw Moses lift that rod and the sea part right before his eyes.

And then to watch all the Egyptian charioteers drown in the water when they had all finished crossing. He had watched him as he had gone up to Mt. Sinai when God came down in fire and thunder, spoke to him face to face, gave him the law, gave him the commandments. He watched him come down from the mountain with his face so aglow that they could hardly even look upon the face of Moses because he'd been in the very presence of the glory of God. He watched this man, for example, get water out of a rock. He'd watched miracle after miracle after miracle, and now he had this awesome responsibility, this awesome challenge in his life to take up the responsibility that he left off and to move them into the Promised Land. I don't think any of us could possibly begin to understand the weight and the burden and the possible fear that must have gripped him when he thought it.

Now, the reason I know that God understands where we are is because He said to him three times, "Be very courageous. Take courage, Joshua". He knew what he was thinking. He knew what he was feeling. And you see, all of us face those times in our life when we have either those brief moments of fear when we fear failure in a given situation, or when we fear that someone is going to mistreat us, or when we fear, as we said, the loss of job or loss of health or whatever it might be, loss of loved ones, new job, new challenges in life. All of us have those moments, but you see, the problem is that most people live in fear. They live in fear of all different kinds of things that could possibly happen to them.

This is not the will of God. God intends for His children to be courageous, to be bold, to trust Him and to walk in life victoriously, not in defeat. If you are walking and living in fear, you are walking and living in an attitude that is absolutely, totally opposite from what God planned for your life. You'll never be able to enjoy the happiness. You'll never be able to enjoy contentment in your life. You'll never be able to enjoy the will of God as long as you are afraid and live in fear. Some people are afraid of God. Now, if you're living in sin, you have a reason to be afraid. But if you're a child of God, you have no reason to be afraid of Him. To fear Him means to reverence Him, to stand in awe before Him and to acknowledge the greatness of God. But one of the wonderful things about scripture is that God certainly wants us to realize that He understands why when we face certain challenges that even God gives us.

For example, let's say here's a young man and let's say he's in his thirties, doing well in his job, and God begins to work in his life, and finally he realizes that God's calling him to go to go into the ministry, and he has three children and therefore, he's to take his family, go away to school somewhere. How's he gonna make a living? What's his wife gonna think about this? How's his children gonna grow up? Who's gonna pay the bills? He's got lots of questions that would frighten and cause great consternation or frustration and anxiety to any young person, especially a young Christian.

And so, God understands that. He understands when we walk in the hospital room and we see the condition of someone we love. God understands why we have those fears, but He doesn't want us to live in it. He wants us to live courageously, boldly, confidently, trusting Him in every aspect of our life. So when you and I face difficulties, hardships, trials, criticism, rejection, failure, whatever it might be, what is God's Word to us? Be strong and very courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not be dismayed. Don't tremble before the circumstance, but rather be courageous and bold and place your faith and your trust in Almighty God.

Well, somebody says, "Okay, I understand that He has encouraged them, but what I want to know is how do I get this kind of courage"? Because there are lots of people, listen, if you've lived with fear and lived with fear and lived with fear for years in your life. Maybe something happened back there in your childhood somewhere, or maybe you've been hurt deeply or you have failed at one or more situations and circumstances in life, then you may feel like, "Well, you know, I have a reason to be afraid. Look at all the failures in my life".

Well, my friend, I want to tell you, listen carefully. If you will listen to this next point, if you will apply these simple four things to your life, God will enable you to overcome all fear, no matter what's going on in your life. What is the first principle, listen, for building strong courage? It is meditating on the Word of God. What do I mean by meditating on the Word of God? I don't mean by reading the Bible through once a year, though that's fine. I mean simply this. When you and I are facing some circumstance or situation in life, if you don't know a passage of scripture, you get back in the index of your Bible or concordance and you find whether it's about guilt or whether it's about your enemies or whatever it might be.

Find some passages of scripture that deal with what you are dealing with and begin to meditate upon those. That means to read 'em and to talk it back to God and ask Him to speak to your heart and open your heart and help you to understand what He is saying to you. You may have one passage of scripture you stick with a long time. It may be that He'll send you to several passages, but meditating on the Word. Now, He says, "Meditate on the Word," when? Day and night.

Now, listen to what this passage says. He says, "If you want to succeed in life, if you want to prosper in life, this is the way you do it". Now, here's what happens. We take a passage like this, and we categorize that and put it way back yonder several thousand years ago and say, "Well, that's what God said to Joshua". What God said to Joshua, He meant, listen, for every single one of us to hear and to understand. That's why we've got a Bible. God has preserved this awesome book for us. He says, "Now listen, you want courage"? He says, "Be strong and very courageous". He said that to him three times. But listen, if He'd have just said to him, "Be strong and courageous, strong and courageous, strong and courageous," and didn't tell him how, that would have been rather unfair.

How do you tell somebody, well, when you say to somebody, "Well, stop feeling that way"! Haven't you felt real bad about somebody, and somebody says, "Well, just don't feel that way". "Well, what do you mean, don't feel that, if I feel that-a-way, that's why I feel". "Well, just stop feeling that way". "Well, how am I gonna stop feeling that way"? Well, a person says, "I'm fearful". What do you tell me? Don't be afraid. Why not? Here's the reason. He says if you and I meditate upon the Word of God, you know what that's doing? Here's what that's doing. That's building into our mind the way God thinks. Now, what does God think? Here's what God says. "I will be with you and I will go before you".

When I'm reading a passage of scripture that says God will be with me and God's going before me and gonna take care of this situation, I don't have to worry and fret. I can be courageous and bold. What builds courage? Meditating upon the Word of God because here's what happens. The Word of God, listen, the Word of God begins to be imprinted in your mind, in your spirit. That's why the Holy Spirit can bring scriptures to your mind. In those fearful moments, listen, be strong and courageous. "Fear not, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest".

An awesome promise to every single one of us. The first time I ever remember reading that verse, my mother gave me that verse the night before I preached my first sermon. She knew I was afraid. It was in my home church, and this was little Charles, and so, you know, everybody comes to, for a demonstration. And so, it's the worst place anybody can start preaching is in your own home church where you grew up and they knew all the bad things you did. And so, my mom walked in the bedroom and she says, "I want you to", she says, "This is a verse of scripture the Lord laid on my heart," and she said, "I want to give it to you".

I memorized that verse before I got to church, and I remember walking up there and standing on the other side of the street by the light pole there and quoting that verse to myself and just reminding myself, "Now Lord, when I stand up to preach, don't let me think about who's sitting out there. Let me think about what You said. You would be with me". Listen, every single promise in this book that God has given His servants, they belong to you and me. That's what Paul said in Corinthians. He says these Old Testament events, he says these... why are these there? He says God has preserved them there in order that you and I may avoid the same pitfalls that they fell into. First of all, meditating upon the Word of God.

Listen to what He says now. Watch this. Look in verse eight. "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. Then you'll make your way prosperous, then you'll have success". What was He saying? First of all, if you want strong faith, you meditate upon the Word of God. Secondly, if you want strong faith, you obey the Word of God, whatever God tells you to do. Listen, nobody can tell me who's a Christian, that they can walk in total... not just total, just walk in disobedience to God and have strong courage or faith, because listen, disobedience short-circuits confidence. Disobedience short-circuits joy. Disobedience short-circuits faith. Disobedience short-circuits courage.

Listen, if we want courage, we must meditate upon the Word of God, find out what God is saying, and obey His Word. Does that mean you'll never sin? No, but it means when we do, we repent immediately, thank God for showing us what is not right in our life, move on to do exactly what God tells us to do. A third thing that is very important, and that is, listen, not only to meditate upon the Word, not only to obey the Word, but listen, know the promises of God in the scriptures, know those promises and claim them. Look, if you will, in Acts chapter eighteen for a moment. Back to the Apostle Paul because he certainly had his moments. The eighteenth chapter of Acts, and look, if you will, in the ninth verse. He's been in Corinth, and things are getting a little tough there, and lots of rejection and animosity and hostility.

Listen to what happens here. Verse nine, "And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, 'Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.'" Here's what I want you to notice. Every single time God calls us to do anything, He assures us, "I am with you". Now, who is this that's with us? Omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, mercy, greatness, power, in other words, you see, this is why I say to you over and over and over again, it's so important you and I know who God is, who is this God because listen, if He says He's gonna be with me, I want to know who's gonna be with me.

What does He have to offer? What can He do? Anytime you and I walk into any situation or circumstance of life, listen, we have the omnipotence of Almighty God behind us to back us up. We have, listen, we have the power of God going before us to make a way. God will make your way prosperous and successful no matter what. If you and I are meditating upon the Word of God, getting understanding of His will, obeying His will and, listen, claiming His promise. What promise? Just one. God's going with me. God's going before me. He says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". "My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory".

When I think about the promises of God, I can't even come up with a halfway decent reason to be fearful of anything more than just a few moments. And that'll be because it hit us on our blind side and weren't expecting it. So how does God build courage in our life? What's number one? What is it? Now, come on, you can do better than that. What's number one? Meditating on the Word of God. How often? Day and night. Secondly, doing what? Obeying the Word of God. And thirdly, doing what? Knowing the promises of God.

Now, there's one other that I want you to notice. There may be many others, but these are the four that certainly work in my own heart and life, and they certainly worked in the lives of these men, and that's simply this. And that is, listen, recalling God's past faithfulness and victories. Recalling God's past faithfulness and victories. And certainly, this is one of the ways that Joshua was strengthened as he thought back how God had worked through and in Moses year after year and miracle after miracle, and Red Sea and walking into Pharaoh and Mt. Sinai, and all these things, over and over and over again. The reason I know that was so important is because here's what God said to him.

He said to him in Joshua chapter one, verse five, "No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you". So all he had to do is remember, "How... well God, how were You with Moses"? And he knew how He was with Moses. He was with him. He was recalling past victories in his life. And you see this is why... listen, listen carefully. You listening? Say amen. This is why difficulty and hardship is so important.

You say, "Man, I don't want any difficulty and hardship". You know what, you don't have any difficulty and hardship and battles in life, then what happens? Then your faith is weak. And so what happens? God sends us enough trials and difficulties and hardships, listen, in small degrees. First of all, it's thimble size. We love those sizes, don't we? Thimble-size, we can handle that. And then sorta pint size, then quart size, half-gallon size, gallon size. I'll tell you what gets us, it's that fifty-gallon drum. That'll get us, won't it? When they come in that size and seem to be overwhelming. But you see, the reason difficulty and hardships and trials in our life are so important is because what they're doing is, listen, God gives us victory back there in something small, something a little larger, something even greater.

Then when the big battles, the crucial critical crisis, listen, life changing, life-threatening circumstances comes and we have to face those crises at the cross of the road and the fork of the road in our life. God, what shall I do at this point? You know I feel overwhelmed. What shall I do, dear God? Listen, it's in those moments that you and I have the difficulties, the hardships, the trials, the failures, the victories, the times of God's faithfulness in the past. Now what do they do? They surge through us.

As Daniel said, "God, when you said this, I felt strength in my body. I feel strong". It is God's past victories in our life. And the wonderful things that he's underpassed that makes it possible for us to face all kinds of circumstances. And I can tell you, I've been a Christian long enough. I've been to enough battles, trials, heartaches, problems, disappointments, difficulties, failures, you name it, and I want to tell you, one of the most empowering things that encourages my heart is to look back over the years and see all the times that not a single solitary time in all the years I've been a believer, God has never failed a single solitary time to walk with me, before me, and make me victorious no matter what. That is the faithfulness of God. Has nothing to do with me as a person. We're talking about how faithful God is.

Listen, you try to avoid the difficulties in life. You want to live a life of ease and comfort and pleasure, you're gonna miss one of the most awesome opportunities and blessings in life. Listen, when you get thrown in the, listen, when you get thrown in the lions' den, and everything around you looks like it's hopeless and their mouths are wide open, then what do you do? You want to climb up the bars? No! You trust the Living God. No matter what's going on, you put your trust in Him. Listen, when we meditate upon the Word of God, we think the way God thinks.

We think the way God thinks, we act the way God acts. We act the way God acts, what happens? Everything in heaven comes down upon us as a resource to face any and every circumstance of life, no matter what. And you know what happens? The unbeliever watches your life and says, "If she has that, that's what I want. Whatever they believe, I need a dose of that". Then, listen, they want to know the Christ who is sufficient. They want to know a Christ who's adequate. They know they need a God who can encourage them and strengthen them. The unbelieving world needs to see the lives of the people of God, living and walking in faith and courage. And I don't think you can separate those two very far.

Well, you say, "Okay, I understand that". Let's see if you do. Number one, in order to build courage, what's number one? Meditation upon the Word of God. What's number two? Obeying the Word of God. What's number three? Knowing the promises of God and claiming them. What's number four? Recalling past faithfulness and victories, God's past faithfulness and victories. Now, you say, "Well, all right. Well, how does that empower us"? Okay, let's look at this. It's certainly true here of Joshua's life. It'll be true in your life and mine. How does it empower us? Well, here's one of the first ways I think that it empowers us, and that is this. It enables us, listen, it enables us to respond to difficulty and hardship and trials, listen, without the thought of defeat.

You know when most people are defeated? They get defeated in their mind. They think, "Oh, there's no way in the world, God, I can ever handle this". You know what they do? They talk themselves right into defeat. Listen, when you and I, when you and I have God's courage, when God is building courage into our life, we're able to face difficulty and hardship without the thought of defeat. We think success. Why? Because I'm meditating upon the Word of God and I'm looking back and seeing how God has strengthened me in the past, given me victories in the past, enabled me in the past. Why should I think that God is going to fail me now? Can't come up with a good reason.

So first of all, very important thing is when you and I are enabled by courage in our life, we don't think defeat. We think victory no matter what. Now listen, here's what Satan will say to you. "Well now, just how do you think you're gonna manage this"? You know what, you just tell Satan that's none of his business because you don't even think it's your business. You don't have, listen, you don't have to figure out how. If you and I obey God, it's God's responsibility to work out the hows of what we do. And you know what? He will show you every day, listen, step by step, right for... you may have to walk through some things daily. You may have to walk through some things for years. It doesn't make any difference what. God'll show you exactly what to do. Therefore, I don't have to figure out: How am I gonna work this out? How's all this gonna unfold?

If my God is in control, listen, the sovereign God of this universe in control of your life and mine. If He's in control, why should I worry about how it's gonna work out? My God is gonna work it out perfectly. That's the only way He operates. Now, some things may not appear to be perfect to me and I think, "Well, now Lord, why don't You do thus and so"? You know what? God's in charge. He's in control. And listen, listen carefully, no matter what someone else does, you and I, we walk in obedience to God, God's gonna have His way in our life no matter what. Number one, very important you and I realize that we don't start thinking defeat and thinking failure, we think about who God is and what He's done in our life.

Second thing, very important, how does He empower us? And that is, when you and I are willing to exercise courage, here's what happens. When we're able to exercise godly courage, we're able to refuse the fearfulness of those about us. And sometimes one of the worst things that can happen to us is to ask somebody else, "What do you think I oughta do"? "Well, I don't know. I tell you, if I were in your shoes, here's what I'd do". Well, you know what, they're not in your shoes, so don't even ask 'em. Don't even ask 'em because, listen, most people live in fear. Most people, they don't even realize how much fear dominates their life. Don't ask your friends, ask the One who knows exactly what to tell you. Ask God!

Now, watch this. I'm not saying you shouldn't listen to godly counsel, but I'm saying, my friend, if you just go around seeking everybody else's opinion, because I've been through some difficult times in my life, and one not too long ago, and so, "Oh, you know what? Here's what's gonna happen. They've got this and they've got that and they've got the other and here's what's gonna happen. No, ain't no way in the world, mmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm". You know what I said? I said to this fellow, I said, "There's one thing you forgot". He said, "Well, what's that"? "God". It's just that simple. God. You see, you don't try to work out circumstances, you trust God. And so therefore, you and I are to be courageous and bold. We don't show any fear.

You may have, listen, you may have moments of it, but it needs to be brief moments of it. Something hit you on a blind side and you don't realize it's coming, I can understand that. But you don't stay fearful. Fearful is a destroyer. Destroy your peace and your contentment and your love and your joy and everything else. So what happens? You don't listen to that kind of stuff. You just trust the Lord and be courageous and bold. Now listen, if you've listened to this message, you've heard enough truth to enable you, strengthen you, build up your courage in your life to face any single circumstance no matter what. And you know what'll happen? It all hinges on this book.

Meditating upon the Word of God, day and night, obeying what He says, claiming His promises, and recalling His past victories. And you know what'll happen? You'll begin, listen, you'll begin to stack up some awesome victories in your life. And as the years go by, your faith becomes stronger, your courage become, listen, you become more bold. Listen, you'll have the courage to speak those things that you know need to be spoken. You'll have the courage to speak the truth when everybody around you believes something else. You'll have the courage to do what's right when everybody else around you is telling you to do something else. God is looking for godly, bold, courageous men and women to bear witness of the marvelous, wonderful truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, of His saving power, of His coming again, and of His willingness to forgive sin no matter what, no matter where, and no matter who.
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