Leon Fontaine - How To Develop Courage
A while ago, I did a series here at Springs and it was about cowards and champions. I remember going through what a coward was because we don't really talk that way anymore. If anybody acts cowardly, they've always got a reason that we just accept. That, you know, you weren't breastfed long enough as a baby or, you know, you were born in the wrong side of the tracks. There's so much trauma in your life that we just excuse that. But did you know that in generations' past, to be called a coward. I mean, in the old west they'd shot you. During any kind of war time, it would be a death sentence. It was such a brutal thing to call anybody a coward.
And today, we don't use that language and that's fine. But yet it's crucial to understand the courage that it takes to be an overcomer in life. And if you're not aware of what cowardice is and what it feels like, what it looks like, how to deal with it. You literally can live your life in a way that is cowardly. And so I want to look at this today. I remember in my father's church when I was working for him, and there was an elderly lady who came one day to our church with a couple of kids. And we thought it was kind of nice as grandma bringing your grandkids to church. But as we met her in the Sundays that went by, we found out that they, these kids, she was looking after them. Her daughter was out partying and looking after herself and ignoring the kids. And literally the grandma had to rescue them. They were in her home.
And this woman walked very slowly. You could tell that there was arthritis in her hips and back and her knuckles were swollen. And every time she made lunches for them for school in the mornings, you know, the pain that were shooting through those fingers. At the time when family should have been loving here and cocooning her and looking after her. Here she was and literally getting up early, walking these kids to school, picking them up, making their lunches, walking them to church, walking them home.
And I remember watching this month after month and then year after year. And recognizing that amongst us are incredible champions. Amongst us are courageous people that no one really understands. And I am glad that we have heroes who jumped into a burning building to save that person. But to live in courage, to live in a strength that causes you every morning to have to wake up like this grandma and roll out of bed in pain and know that there are years ahead of you to raise up these children. And you just face it and you endure, and you overcome, and you bring a culture of joy.
So today, I want to talk about developing courage. You are not born with courage or born without courage. Courage is something that you can develop. And I want to talk about this a little bit because I believe there are people listening to me right now in this one message your entire life can just change. A fine tuning switch will take place and you can walk right out of the incredible anxiety that holds you bound to your bed or holds you bound to your house or causes you to live in fear every day of your life. The Bible teaches us that fear has torment. So wherever there is anxiety, wherever there's panic, wherever there is worry. The root of that is fear.
Now, we often when we talk to, you know, as guys when we get together, we will tease each other or we'll say things like this, "Just man up! Be a man"! But the question is, what do you do when the anxiety that you live in, the fear that torments you, and I remember as a young man people telling me, "Well, just bind the devil. It's a spirit of fear. Bind that spirit of fear". And I remember trying to do what they said but I found that it was very temporary. I found that to, it was one thing to deal with kind of a fearful incidence. But to live in a constant courage.
Why is that important? Because life will continually bring storms your way. And you have to make a decision. Will I live the rest of my life as safe as I can and one day arrive at my death having been safe and not too many problems my whole life or do I want to take opportunities, to take calculated risk, to get up and to pursue a dream, to get up and help people, to get up and matter, to get up and make a decision to take that next mountain.
One of the guys that just makes me excited is Caleb in the Bible where it says that Caleb at 80 years old when they entered the promised land looked at Joshua and said, "Give me my mountain". He meant he had to take his family in there and kill giants. He had to take it acre by acre, town by town. The area that was apportioned to him. He said, "I am 80 but I am as young and vibrant when I was 40". There's something about people who refuse to retire inside. Oh, however you work your finances and retirement, use wisdom. But don't retire from this courage that gets up and says, "That I can do things with my life. The wisdom that I've got".
In Philippians 4: 13, it says, "I have strength for all things in Christ who empowers me". He says, "I'm ready for anything. I'm equal to anything". It goes on in the Amplified and says, "I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency, through Him, He infuses inner strength to me". Now, whenever I teach principles, you understand that I am not making, that this is the only problem. This is the only. I'm teaching a principle that you take that principle and you apply it to our life. I'm not telling everybody you're a coward and this is the reason. No, no, no. Just learn the principles because this one principle can help us out immensely. I want to continue to develop courage. I want to be able to and every season of my life regardless of what goes on around me to face life with a smile.
We as parents, we teach our kids to grow up. We teach our kids how to really live. And one day, we will teach them how to die. And so it's going to take courage. Is that hard? No! No. It's, there's something about learning to live our lives out of the overflow of what is going on in the inside of us. Now, in Matthew 24:12, it says, "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of many will grow cold". When you look around you too much and you see wickedness and evil and things not being fair and stuff going on and this world is not heaven. This world we walk in the kingdom of heaven because we're citizens of it while we're down here. And you've got to recognize that you don't want your love to grow cold.
Now, love is kind of a word I've never paid attention to. When I was a young man and a young pastor, I just, I wanted to learn about the power of God. God's faith. I wanted to learn about the gifts of the Spirit. I wanted to learn to help people. Then I'd read about love and I would just hurry up and scurry through the promises of love. I would scurry through it. But then I realize God's not talking about a love that is this emotional feeling. I love you. I love you. He's talking about He is love. If God is raw power and love and faith. Well then I need to understand this love. Because when Jesus is asked by brilliant men who knew the Bible about His commandments, He said, "Love the Lord your God. That's first, with all your heart, your mind, your soul, your strength. And then love your neighbor as yourself".
Your ability to love your neighbor comes from this love between you and God. This love I'm talking about is so great that the Bible says that perfect love kicks out fear, cast it out, removes it, peels it out of your life when you learn to walk in love. And I kind of went, "How does that even make sense"? Love, wimpy, little love? But the issue is deeper. You see, love according to the Word of God is a fruit of the Spirit. It is a strength. And if God has poured His love into you when you gave your life to Him. Then we've got to allow and learn how to get this love, letting it flow into our minds as we renew them into our lives, our relationships. And so if you do not develop love, you will be at war all the time. You'll always be fighting for every same moment. You'll always be looking at every storm. Oh, God. No, not another one. Because you haven't developed love.
We must first of all know that God loves us. That's why He's done so much for us. And I don't care if your daddy says you are unlovable. I don't care if no one in your experience ever valued you, complimented you, patted you on the head as a little child and said you were, I don't know what your background is, but you do need to know that the Bible says, "We love Him because He first loved us". There are people who are listening to me right now and whether you've placed that barrel of your gun in your mouth repeatedly trying to get up enough nerve. Whether you looked at that whole bottle of pills or whatever you've wanted to do to take your life to get out of the anxiety, to get out of the fear, to get out of the horror, the long.
Whatever it is, I want you to know that God is in love with you and that you can experience that love. And that when that love is experienced, that I want to show it to you here. That it pushes out the darkness. It pushes out the anxiety, the panic, the death, the deadness that so many people see. And we're living in a time when for some reason governments and news station's figure that we should pound the public with fear. Pound them and get them fearful so they'll finally do what we say. And you can't lead people with fear. Give them wisdom. Teach them about what's going on but give them hope and give them faith.
Now, I found as a young man that when I got up and I wanted to make my life count, that I can go through seasons of storms. These storms could be sickness against my physical body. It could be storm against relationships. It could be things going on. Life has storms. Now, when I was going through the roughest times, wasn't because the storm was bigger. It was because, here's what I would do. I remember one time just trying to work my way through and things were going on and I'm trying to, like you balance my life and I want to move forward. But then I realized, where's all this anxiety coming from? Why am I fighting just to get up and get my clothes on? Why am I fighting just to laugh and enjoy my kids and to have input into my marriage and my friends? And I realized that I was self-focused.
And as I began to deal with these issues in my life, I dove into the Word of God because there is no psychologist on the planet that can help you like the Word of God, from the God who created you. And I recognized that to begin to be self-focused, to get my eyes on me and what this might cost me, what I might lose financially, what I might lose relationally. That, you know, if I'm going to be in pain or hurt or die. And this self-centeredness is not love. And so when the enemy gets us to focus on what we might lose in the midst of storms which by the way are opportunities as well. That this fear becomes crippling.
Listen to me. Selfishness is the king of all misery. Selfishness is the king of all fear. Disobedience. If we do not deal with this simple issue of dying to self or picking up your cross daily means to stop focusing on you, and what might happen to you, and what's going on with you. And I might lose my house. I might lose my wife. And we begin to live in this constant fear. This choosing of life or death is not something you just do once. Every day that you wake up. You've got to choose life. Did you know that to choose life is to choose love. What do I mean? I mean you get up and instead of focusing on what you have to do and what you've got to go through and the problems you might have and the issues you might be going through and what you might lose.
You get up and today I'm going to love. I'm going to show God love. I'm going to Him and thank Him first off. And then I want to make sure today that what I'm doing and putting myself towards is to help others. Whether it's my career, my job, a phone call, a lunch, looking at somebody, meeting somebody. I want to be outward-focused and I want to show them the value or the love of God means the value of God. To get up and choose life is to get up and choose love. Now, if you get up and choose death, you've gotten up and you are selfish. You are self-focused. You've got your eyes on you. And so today, all you're going to do is trying to mitigate the damage. And what's going to go wrong here, what are they thinking about me, and where am I going here.
Listen to me. You're going to live such stunted life. Life is about love. Love is about outwardness. And first of all, it's about God. Do you know what Galatians 5:6 says? That faith works by love. When you dive into God's Word and see how much God loved you. The plan that He has for you. That you are an overcomer, born of God. This is the victory that overcomes the world. You'll recognize that love is not a feeling. I don't trust people who say, "Well, you know, we met last month, and we feel in love. Would you marry us"? My answer is no. Because if you feel in love, what happens the day you fall out of love? I don't want to fall into love. I want to develop love. Love can be developed line upon line. I mean, in such a powerful way. That as years go by you as a Christian are so in love with God. You've developed that love through getting into the Word, through experiencing Him in prayer, through reaching out and taking this Gospel of Jesus to the people around you.
You feel so purposeful. You feel so love. Until you learn the love of God and value. That hey, "He's in. He values me". And today, I want to challenge you. That if you do not develop this relationship with God, you will always struggle. You must get into His Word. Getting out to services like this where you can hear the Word, and then go over this message day after day. Study your Bible. Get to know especially what Jesus did in His death, His burial, His resurrection, His ascension to the righthand of the Father. Get to know why this is so crucial. When you take a look at fear, you'll understand that faith brings the unseen things into your world. Fear does that, too.
Fear connects you to what doesn't exist, but it brings it into reality. Fear allows the enemy to stay in your life. But this love for God. This love for what He's called you to, will cause you to love your spouse, love your family. It will cause you to love the church of Jesus Christ. You see, a church if it's going to grow, it's only going to grow as big as its arms can reach out and love the new people. A church is only going to grow as big as our ability to love the hurting, to befriend those who are lonely, to reach out and to volunteer, to pray, to make friends.
There is something about actively loving, reaching out, getting your eyes off of yourself. And then that the enemy has no chance in our world because you know the world isn't perfect, relationships are imperfect. But I'm going to get up and love and value and serve. And the day you get up and start thinking about you. Am I happy? What's going for me? Who's looking after me? Me, me, me, me, me, is an instant change in your life. If you want to take on every challenge. If you want to live your life with the sense of adventure. So that you go to your death one day not being afraid but I have lived and I'm so excited. Now, I'm going to spend eternity with Jesus.
Without faith, without this love that makes faith work. You won't see God's Word manifested in your life. So let's make this one decision. How do I develop courage? I get my eyes off me and I get my eyes on helping God and helping others, loving them, valuing them, encouraging them, being there for them, serving them. Even leadership, wherever you are in leadership. Servant leadership is what the Bible teaches, not dominating, manipulating leadership for yourself. So wherever you are in life, this one message today. Every day develop love, develop this outward focus. And I'm telling you, you will leave depression, anxiety. You leave it in the past because you're too focused now on being a child of the King.
People are more open today than ever before to know what brings you peace. What causes you to walk free from anxiety? What makes you laugh with your kids and look forward with hope regardless of what goes on around you, is that my hope is built nothing less than Jesus blood. His righteousness. When everything around me fails, I can put my hope in Him. Get up and build His kingdom. Get up and walk in His love and show the world around me that Jesus is the answer for the world today.
Father, I pray today for each person listening to me in this drive-in service. Those watching online around the world. I pray that something powerful will take place inside of them. That they will choose to love, and they will choose to develop every day, every week, every year. In every area of their life developing love which is so incredibly powerful. And Father, for those who don't know You, I pray that today they'll make that change.
If you're watching right now and you're saying, "Leon, I hate religion". So do I. But if you want an actual relationship with the God of the universe, then I can lead you in a prayer. And only you can make the decision to invite Christ into your heart, to become what the Bible says born-again where every sin is dealt with and you have a brand-new start. You won't understand it all but it's a choosing to believe on Jesus, to trust in Him. You've tried the government. You've tried your boss, your business partner, relationships, who have you put your trust in. Maybe they've let you down, but Jesus never will. Pray this with me. Just say:
Jesus, thank You for dying in my place, paying the price for all my sin. Come into my heart. I choose You. From today and on I'm following You. Teach me, help me to grow in love and in Your ways. In Jesus's name, amen.
Welcome to the family of God. That's the start. That's the amazing.