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Kingdom of Heaven (ACAD: Matthew 10)

Then Jesus[a] summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;[b] Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.[c] Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers,[d] cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!

“So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.[e] Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven;  but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.  Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

 


Source: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+10&version=NRSV

Footnotes

  1. Matthew 10:1 Gk he
  2. Matthew 10:3 Other ancient authorities read Lebbaeus, or Lebbaeus called Thaddaeus
  3. Matthew 10:7 Or is at hand
  4. Matthew 10:8 The terms leper and leprosy can refer to several diseases
  5. Matthew 10:28 Gk Gehenna

 

 

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Facing down bullies

Recently, I had a showdown with an office bully whose bullying status I had previously been unaware of. She’s a smooth manipulator and it’s only been in the past couple of months that I’ve been able to see her machinations. I don’t work in the dark and I don’t speak in riddles. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. And as often as it’s within my control (very often), my actions line up with my words. For this reason liars in both word and deed can escape detection for some time with me because I have a tendency to also take people at their word. (I truly don’t think there’s any reason to ever lie, so I do assume people are speaking their truth to me.)

This office bully, like many other bullies before her in my life, took my kindness as a weakness. She took my simple nature for ignorance. I used ask why people mistreated me. I used to wonder what people could have against openness and joy. How can people nonchalantly or viciously trample on offers of friendship and love? But now I know they are not attacking “LaShawnda the person”, they are attacking the Spirit housed within me. Truly, what fellowship does darkness have with light? They are fighting against everything in me that’s exposing everything they wish to keep hidden in them. I see too much. I hear too much. I feel too much. I understand too much. I offer too much. I am strengthened in all my senses by the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ.

I don’t back down from bullies. I have no intention of backing down from this one. I believe everyone and everything that even attempts to instill fear needs to be confronted. I needed this person to know I am not afraid of her. My kindness is not fear-based; it’s love based. I’m not a punk. The more anyone gets me twisted the more foolish they’re going to look. My career is not in her hands; she has no say over my future – she may think she does, because she’s putting stock in the hierarchy of the world. But I know who controls my life and my future. I know who favors and positions me. And I know that as long as I stand up for the truth that is the Spirit within me, the selfsame Spirit will guide and protect me. There is no fear in my body because I know whatever space I give to fear is multiplied by the loss of love.

I’ve been telling people for years: Whatever fear you have, simply shine a light on it. Fear cannot stand up to light. It’s the same with bullies. Bullies are cowards at heart. They are masters of hiding their hurts, pains, and insecurities from others while projecting the same onto others. They prey on the fears of people they PERCEIVE to be weaker than them. My solution? Change the bully’s perception. Stand up to him/her. Speak up. Fight back (this is not always physical). When you hold your ground, they will back down. Even if you lose the fight, you will win the war; because of the innate cowardice of bullies, they seek easy prey, they cannot handle resistance. Keep that in mind during your next bully confrontation.

Be blessed in the knowledge that what is for you is for you and someone can only take what is yours if you allow them to.

But David said to him, “You come to me using a sword and two spears. But I come to you in the name of the Lord All-Powerful, the God of the armies of Israel! You have spoken against him. Today the Lord will hand you over to me, and I’ll kill you and cut off your head. Today I’ll feed the bodies of the Philistine soldiers to the birds of the air and the wild animals. Then all the world will know there is a God in Israel! Everyone gathered here will know the Lord does not need swords or spears to save people. The battle belongs to him, and he will hand you over to us.”

So David defeated the Philistine with only a sling and a stone. He hit him and killed him. He did not even have a sword in his hand.  (1 Samuel 17:45-47, 50, NCV)

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Women in the Bible: WOMEN of FAITH

Women of Faith

from Grace Communion International.com, http://www.gci.org/spiritual/womenfaith 

Yesterday, Now and Forever

“God is not ashamed to be called their God.” This profound statement is found in Hebrews 11, the faith chapter of the Bible. Can you imagine your name being listed along with Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph and Moses in God’s list of the faithful?

But, wait, before we go any further, let’s look at that list a little more closely. Faith is not only a masculine virtue, we see. Sarah and Rahab and the women who received their dead raised to life again are also listed. And those courageous nameless people who “were tortured, not accepting deliverance.”

Let us take a new look at faith—from the point of view of women. Let us see how women of the Bible also used faith in their walk with God.

God’s choice

Deborah, the only recorded female judge of ancient Israel, is described in Judges 4 and 5 as the deliverer of Israel for 40 years from Canaanite oppression. Before we analyze how this extraordinary woman did this, think about what it might take for a female to become the spiritual, judicial and military leader of Israel. It was a time of anarchy. The Hebrew tribes had settled among the Canaanites and began to worship their gods. Israel failed to stand apart from its pagan neighbors, as God commanded them. Instead of being righteous examples to the surrounding cultures, they took part in customs loathsome to their God.

Though God made it plain that both mothers and fathers—women and men—are to be treated with equal respect (Exodus 20:12), in this degenerate disunited society, the rights of women were often overlooked. Women today complain about rights, but what do you think it took for a woman of that age to achieve what Deborah did? It took one major ingredient—a strong belief and faith in God.

God chose a faithful woman as Israel’s judge and prophetess. It was a woman who encouraged Barak, the son of Abinoam, to heed God’s call to duty and lead Israel’s army against Sisera’s 900 iron chariots. It was a woman who accompanied the troops to the battleground at Mount Tabor to fortify Barak’s wavering courage (Judges 4:8-9).

To be fair to Barak, when he looked at the odds against him, he clearly saw that unless God was on Israel’s side, he and his troops would be massacred. Being a practical man, he made sure God’s prophetess would be at the battle scene to provide divine insight. Barak is also on God’s list of the faithful (Hebrews 11:32).

Deborah knew, in spite of the circumstances of her time and culture, that in God’s sight, women were not second-class citizens, that God was not a respecter of persons. Her strong abiding faith gave this woman the conviction and courage to allow God to use her in a most unusual way.

How satisfying it must have been for Deborah to look down on the Plain of Megiddo, 20 miles of battleground, and see God miraculously deliver Israel’s army. “So let all your enemies perish, O Lord,” was Deborah’s battle cry. You can read in Judges 5 a stirring description of ancient Israel’s deliverance from Sisera’s oppression.

 

RuthMay You Be Like Ruth…

An Old Testament book with her name tells the remarkable story of Ruth, a woman of Moab. After the death of the husbands of both Ruth and her sister-in-law Orpah, their mother-in-law, Naomi, entreated them to go back to their families in Moab. Orpah tearfully did, but Ruth’s deep love for Naomi is reflected in her often-quoted words: “Wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16, New King James). It was a statement of loyalty and faith. In the years of living with her husband and being near her mother-in-law, Ruth grew in understanding of God’s way of life. She forsook her former Moabite rituals as she saw the benefits of worshiping the true God. Ruth’s relocation from Moab to Bethlehem took great faith. It shows us that sometimes we must also leave old ways behind to follow God. It did not take long for Boaz, a well-to-do landowner and kinsman, to become aware of Ruth’s sterling characteristics. Her faithfulness to God caused her to benefit from an ancient custom—one that was to shape her future. In Israel, when a man died childless, his brother or nearest kinsman was expected to marry the widow. Their firstborn child was considered to be of the dead husband and inherited his property. Boaz, being a just man, considered it an honor to fulfill his responsibilities. And, he was also greatly blessed by this union. Ruth brought much additional praise to him and his family, for all time to come. It wasn’t long before Naomi was also given new life and security in her latter years, as her daughter-in-law presented her with a grandson they named Obed. Obed became the father of Jesse, who was the father of David—Israel’s greatest king. Ruth, a woman of faithful dedication to God, to her mother-in-law, Naomi, to her husband and to a long family line, is worthy of praise. May we, as we follow God’s ways in our lives, also be.

Joan C. Bogdanchik


Hannah and a childHannah’s Gift

Hannah, the God-fearing mother of Samuel the prophet, displayed an extraordinary faith and courage during a time of spiritual laxity in Israel. Hannah, one of two wives of Elkanah, was unable to have children. Barrenness in a Hebrew woman disgraced both her family and nation. Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah, had several children, and often scornfully reminded Hannah of her failure to fulfill her duty as a wife and an Israelite. As the years passed, Hannah’s apparently hopeless situation and Peninnah’s constant taunting caused Hannah increasing unhappiness and distress. During one of the family’s yearly visits to Shiloh (as was the custom), Hannah went to the temple and begged God to give her a child. In humble, fervent prayer, she faithfully pledged her child to God in lifelong service. Nine months later, Samuel was born. Despite having waited so long for this child, Hannah willingly gave her son, when he was three years old, to the service of God at the tabernacle. She provided him with clothing and visited him throughout his childhood. So what importance does the story of Hannah have for us today? We often find it difficult to see beyond our particular problems. Our difficulties can seem insurmountable, and our situation grossly unfair. Doesn’t that describe Hannah’s situation? Yet Hannah did not give up hope. In faith, she depended on God to change her circumstances. In faith, according to her word, she gave up her only child to him, and God rewarded her with five more children. Because of Hannah’s trust in and commitment to God, she was given a son, who eventually became the last and perhaps the greatest of the judges. When times are difficult and remaining faithful seems too hard, take a moment to think of the story of Hannah, a woman of great faith.

Julie Wilson


EstherA Queen Risks Her Life

God’s unseen hand guides, directs and preserves his people by working out circumstances, often in the most unexpected ways. God gave Esther, a beautiful Jewish girl, special favor in the eyes of Ahasuerus, king of Persia, and the king chose Esther to become his queen in place of his previous wife, Vashti. You can read the story in the Bible in the book of Esther. Esther’s cousin and guardian, Mordecai, had a powerful enemy in the court—King Ahasuerus’ favorite prince, Haman. Mordecai wouldn’t bow to Haman each day at the city gate, and it made the prince furious. When Haman discovered that Mordecai was Jewish, he determined not only to destroy Mordecai but also his entire race along with him. As soon as Mordecai heard about Haman’s plans, he told Esther it was time to plead for the life of her people. She had not yet revealed to the king that she was Jewish. Esther said to her uncle, “Don’t you know that I’ve not been to the king for 30 days and those who approach the king without being called are executed unless he extends the golden scepter to them?” (See Esther 4:11.) Esther had reason to fear. The king was far from a model of virtue. Herodotus, a fifth-century B.C. Greek historian, says Ahasuerus was vain and sensual. Mordecai said to Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews…. Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (verses 13-14). Mordecai was beginning to realize that God had been working this out all along. Esther made a quick and brave decision: “Tell the people to fast three days and three nights and I shall go in to the king. If I live, I live and if I perish, I perish.” (See verse 16.) Then Esther put on her royal apparel and bravely went to the king’s throne room. As she entered the room, a hush fell over the royal court. They knew the king favored this woman above all others, but they also knew the king had not called for her. What mood would the king be in? As Esther began slowly to walk toward him, the king stretched out his scepter. It was a signal that her life was granted her. At that moment Esther doubtlessly said a silent thank-you prayer to God. To summarize the rest of the story, the king commanded that Haman be hanged for his presumptuousness. King Ahasuerus promoted Mordecai, and the Jews (including Queen Esther) were spared. God is always working behind the scenes. There are times when most of us have questioned events in our lives and wondered where God was. The story of Esther tells us he’s here for us. God’s hand is not only guiding his church, but also working out circumstances in our individual lives. So, when you get a little discouraged or you can’t understand why certain things happen to you, remember Esther.

Rahab saves her family

Back even before the time of Deborah and Barak, let’s look at another remarkable Old Testament example of feminine faith— that of the innkeeper Rabab. Some scholars believe she (like most female innkeepers) was a harlot, others deny the possibility. But one thing we do know: she is the only woman other than Sarah who is listed by name in God’s account of his faithful in Hebrews.

Rahab lived in the age-old city of Jericho during the time that Joshua was leading the Israelites out of the desert into the promised land. According to archaeologists, a double wall of brick protected the city. Rahab’s house was probably built over the 12-to-15-foot space that separated Jericho’s 12-foot-thick inner wall from its 6-foot-thick outer wall.

The city of Jericho was the most important city in the Jordan Valley. The Canaanites of Rahab’s time excelled in the arts and sciences. Morally, however, they were perverse. Their pagan religions were lewd and base, their civilization was decadent. Even though Jericho was heavily fortified, the Canaanite inhabitants of Jericho were understandably nervous about the Israelite hordes camped close by on the plains of Moab.

As they walked toward Jericho, two Hebrew spies sent by Joshua, Israel’s military leader, may have noticed Rahab’s house, with its window on the side of the massive outer wall of the city. When they entered the city, they were no doubt pleased to learn that this particular house on the wall was a place where two strangers would be accepted.

Rahab had heard about the miracles God had performed to rescue Israel from the Egyptians. She knew that the Amorites across the Jordan had been conquered. When the Israelite spies came to her house, she seized on the chance to save her family from what she saw as certain destruction.

Her neighbors had heard the stories, too. But, unlike her, they trusted in the thick walls of Jericho. Somehow, out of all these people, Rahab could see beyond the brick and stone of her familiar world and trust in the Hebrews’ God. It must have been difficult to decide to forsake all that she knew and was comfortable with.

Following the spies’ instruction, she acted on her faith and marked her home with a sign—a red rope. God respected her trust in him, and she and her family were spared when Jericho’s walls fell. One woman of faith out of a whole city. You can read the account of Rahab’s deliverance in Joshua 2-6.

Jesus and women

Jesus Christ constantly surprised his followers by the way he treated women. Women were real people to Jesus. Ignoring local custom, Jesus expected women as well as men to listen to and follow his teachings. Remember the account of Jesus’ gentle rebuke of Martha for criticizing her sister Mary because she chose to listen to Jesus rather than help serve the male guests?

“And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful, and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).

Jesus revealed the marvelous truth of his messiahship to, of all people, a Samaritan woman (John 4:21-26). The Jews despised the Samaritans and their religion. For a Jewish man to speak to a woman in public, especially a Samaritan woman, was unheard of at the time. Jesus’ disciples were astonished when they saw him so at ease with women, talking to them, teaching them and admonishing them, as he did men. Women were amazed as well—and appreciated his concern for them, expressed so openly.

Unrecorded heroes

The multiple hundreds of thousands of women of faith over the centuries go unrecorded for the most part. Whatever our backgrounds, wherever we live, we all, no doubt, have our personal Joan of Arcs to add to the list.

About 100 years ago, women weren’t satisfied with the world they saw around them and began to complain. Women campaigned against war, alcoholism, long work hours, low wages, child labor, high infant death rate, and filthy living conditions.

In the United States in 1909, Nannie Helen Burroughs gave her National Training School for Women and Girls in Washington, D.C., the motto: “We Specialize in the Wholly Impossible.” The National Training School, a model for many others, “offered young African American women a liberal-arts education and more….

“Mary Breckenridge of the Frontier Nursing Service sent nurse midwives riding on horseback through the woods of Kentucky in the 1920s. Jane Addams founded Chicago’s Hull House, one of the first and most important of the establishments of the settlement house movement, and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931” (“Smithsonian News Service,” Mary Combs).

Edie Mayo, curator in the Division of Political History at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., adds, “What is truly astonishing is the fact that they accomplished most of it without the power to vote.”

These few and far between examples from the past are fine, you may think, but what about now? Can today’s women expect God to answer their prayers? Can they have faith? Does God discriminate against women today?

God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34-35). He expects women, as well as men, to faithfully believe in him. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, New King James). God expects both men and women to actively express that faith by following him.

Why is active faith in God so important? To answer that question, we must first understand what faith is— and what it isn’t.

Faith is…

Here’s one definition of faith: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is absolute confidence in God’s will, God’s purpose, and absolute belief that God through his Son Jesus Christ will answer your prayers –all this before you see any physical proof.

Deborah knew before she called for Barak that God would grant Israel the victory. But how? Everything she could see and hear seemed to point toward Israel’s defeat. Sisera had 900 chariots; he had thousands of well-trained and well-armed troops. Barak had neither. From what could be physically detected, it was not logical (in human terms) for Deborah to expect to win. But Deborah had faith in God, and knew that he would help Israel overpower the mighty Canaanites.

Deborah’s faith was not an emotion. It wasn’t some kind of feeling she had worked up over several hours or days. Her faith was not just hope, either. Wishful thinking does not win battles against iron-tipped chariots and battle-hardened troops.

Deborah’s faith was the unwavering belief in the face of overwhelming odds that God exists and that he will do what he promises he will. This faith is based on experience of what God has done, knowing he will not change his great purpose for humans. It is the kind of faith that wins wars and, in Rahab’s case, saves lives.

The kind of faith that leads us to believe in and obey God is the only kind that pleases him. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6, New King James).

Those who believe don’t let circumstances cause them to doubt God. And God answers their prayers. “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavers is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (James 1:6-7).

Is faith out-of-date?

How strong is your faith? Can God look down at you as one he could add to his list of faithful servants? Or does faith seem to be an old-fashioned virtue, not as necessary in our modem technological world? Jesus wondered whether in the latter days of our civilization faith would be a scarce commodity. “Nevertheless when the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

Does having faith still matter? Yes, it certainly does. The gift of faith—true godly faith—is needed for our salvation. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8, New King James). To learn more about this kind of faith, click here.

God does not discriminate. Whether Abraham or Sarah, Barak or Deborah, Hebrews says that the world was not worthy of those faithful people. Male or female, let’s be sure we have the faith to make his list as well.

Sheila Graham

Leatha Jackson Faith, Hope and BBQ Sauce

In 1991, if you took Route 98 west through Columbus, Mississippi, crossed the Pearl River, continued to the second bridge over the railroad tracks, drove up the dirt road until you passed the Highway Department’s garage, and asked someone where Leatha’s is, then you could have found one of the best restaurants in the United States. There were no signs; it was nothing fancy. A ramshackle house, rickety tables and chairs, and an assortment of old plates, cups and flatware. But the steaks were thick, the chicken tender and cooked just right. And the barbecue sauce was prepared from a formula that only Leatha knew. You’d never forget it, nor Leatha herself. (The restaurant has moved to Hattiesburg, and as of 2003, 80-year-old Leatha still works there). Leatha Jackson is a grandmother with a simple formula for success—her secret recipe for BBQ sauce and an ironclad faith that God helps those who help themselves. She was raised in poverty. From age 5 to 25 she picked cotton. But her dream was to own and operate a restaurant. “In those days, a poor black girl in rural Mississippi with a third-grade education didn’t have too much chance,” she said. “But my father taught me to trust in God. When I got my first job in a restaurant, I didn’t even know how to split a hot dog bun and put a wienie on it,” she remembered. She learned cooking and food management by watching others. Then she took the plunge and opened a small restaurant in her home far off the beaten track. There was no money for advertising. “We couldn’t even afford a sign,” she said. “So I asked God for customers, and they began coming.” When her husband became ill, Leatha, who had always refused welfare and never owed anything, was forced to mortgage the property to meet the unexpected medical expenses. “We were $100,000 in debt. But I knew God would not put on us more than we could bear.” And she paid the debt off. Leatha has personal interest in each of her customers. In fact, she provided a service that few other restaurants could match. “When I have done all I can to serve them, I sometimes go to my room and pray for them. I thank God for each one. I ask him to help me give them good food, and to treat them right. Then I pray for their spiritual and financial welfare. I want them to be happy.” Leatha’s is a family business. There are jobs for her children and their families—”if they are willing to work,” she adds. She sees the business as a way to keep the family together. “It’s like a bundle of sticks,” she explains. “Separate us and we are easily broken. Together, we’re strong.” In a world of ruthless greed and cutthroat competition, Leatha’s decent, hard-working little enterprise is a reminder that “old-fashioned” values still work. Be fair, treat people right, give good value for a fair price, work hard, share with others and don’t be greedy. And above all, trust God to look after you.

John Halford

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Women in the Bible: DEBORAH

Judges: Israel Under the Judges

from Grace Communion International, http://www.gci.org/bible/hist/judges3#DEBORAH 

EPISODE ONE: OTHNIEL
CHAPTER 3:7-11

The story opens with the words, “The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord; they forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs” (verse 7). It may be hard for us to believe that Israel would substitute the worship of the great God for worship of pagan idols of wood and stone. But before we condemn them, we should remind ourselves that we are guilty of the same sin when we put other activities and priorities before our relationship with God. What are your idols? They may not be made of stone, but to God they are just as sinful.

For their idolatry, God delivered Israel into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim, king of Aram Naharaim (verse 8). Rishathaim is not found anywhere else in ancient literature, but it means “wicked.” The Israelites served Cushan for eight years. They probably paid tribute to this foreign king in exchange for their security.

When the Israelites repented and cried out to God for help, he raised up Othniel to deliver them. Othniel had a rich spiritual heritage. His uncle was Caleb, a man of unwavering faith in God (Numbers 13:30; 14:24). Othniel was also a brave soldier. In Judges 1:12-13, we read that he volunteered to lead an attack against a fortified city. Othniel’s leadership brought the people back to God and freed them from the oppression of Cushan. Unfortunately, it was not long after Othniel’s death that the Israelites fell back into their sinful ways.

EPISODE TWO: EHUD
CHAPTER 3:12-30

“Once again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord” (verse 12). This time, God sent Eglon, king of Moab, against Israel. Allied with the Ammonites and the Amalekites, Eglon defeated Israel.

The nomadic tribes of Moab, Ammon and Amalek lived near one another, southeast of Canaan. These tribes were notorious raiders who possessed great military skill. The Moabites were descendants of Moab, the son of Lot’s elder daughter (Genesis 19:37). They posed a constant threat to Israel. Jephthah, one of the later judges, reminded the Ammonites that they and the Moabites had refused to give Israel permission to travel through their land (Judges 11:14-17). When the Israelites were preparing to enter the Promised Land, they were seduced by the Moabite and Midianite women to participate in idolatrous practices (Numbers 25:1-18).

Ehud killing Eglon
“Ehud then approached [Eglon] while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his summer palace and said, ‘I have a message from God for you.’ As the king rose from his seat, Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly” (Judges 3:20-21).

After 18 years of Moabite oppression, God raised up Ehud to deliver the Israelites (Judges 3:14-17). The text here contains three seemingly irrelevant details: Ehud is left-handed, his sword is doubled-edged and 18 inches long, and Eglon is very fat. Since biblical narrative is usually sparse in descriptive language, one can assume that these details have relevance in the forthcoming plot. And indeed they do.

Because Ehud was left-handed, he strapped the sword on his right thigh. A movement with his left hand to his right thigh was less likely to be interpreted by Eglon as reaching for a weapon. The sword was short enough to be concealed, yet long enough to do its job. Eglon’s large, cumbersome body made him an easy target for Ehud. After killing Eglon, Ehud led the Israelites to a great victory at Seirah (verses 26-30). Ehud’s courageous faith brought peace to the nation of Israel for 80 years.

EPISODE THREE: DEBORAH
CHAPTERS 4-5

After Ehud died, the Israelites again sinned against God, who then gave them “into the hands of Jabin, a king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor” (Judges 4:2). Joshua had defeated an earlier King Jabin, and had burned the city of Hazor to the ground. But the Israelites had failed to expel all the Canaanites from the land, to their later cost. The city of Hazor had been rebuilt by the time of this later Jabin, who oppressed the Israelites for 20 years.

God responded to Israel’s cry for help and used Deborah, a faithful prophetess who was judging Israel at that time, and Barak, her military commander, to deliver the nation. This detailed story is told twice: once in skillfully narrated prose (verses 4-24) and once in a magnificent poem known as The Song of Deborah (Judges 5:1-31). This song resembles another victory hymn, The Song of Moses and Miriam, or The Song of the Sea (Exodus 15:1-18).

Deborah told Barak to raise an army and go to Mt. Tabor, for God would give Israel a great victory over the Canaanites. Barak agreed to do so only if Deborah would accompany him. Deborah complied but told Barak that because of his lack of faith in God’s promise of victory, the honor of killing Sisera, who commanded Jabin’s army, would fall not to Barak but to a woman (Judges 4:6-9).

Deborah and Barak summoned the Israelites from Kedesh. Not all the tribes responded (Judges 5:13-18). However, Barak was able to assemble some 10,000 men, chiefly from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun. Sisera countered by gathering his troops in the Kishon basin, relying on his 900 iron chariots to overwhelm Barak’s force.

But God decided the battle in Israel’s favor. He demonstrated his superiority over the Canaanite storm god, Baal, by causing an unexpected thunderstorm to transform the Kishon basin into mud, thus immobilizing the Canaanite chariots. Deborah roused Barak to attack, and he routed Sisera’s army. The Israelites would later sing, “The river Kishon swept them away, the age-old river, the river Kishon” (verse 21).

Sisera had managed to escape the initial onslaught of Barak’s army and fled to the tent of Heber the Kenite, a friend of Jabin. Heber’s wife, Jael, welcomed Sisera and gave him some milk to drink. Sisera, believing he was safe, fell sound asleep. Jael then picked up a tent peg in her left hand and a hammer in her right hand, and drove the peg through Sisera’s temple. This act fulfilled Deborah’s prophecy and immortalized Jael in Hebrew poetry (verses 24-27).

Shamgar, referred to in Judges 3:31 and 5:6, fought around this time against another enemy of Israel — the “Sea Peoples,” a group that included the Philistines. The Israelites eventually gained the upper hand over their enemies, and the land had peace for 40 years (Judges 4:23; 5:31).

Deborah

Deborah

Some have tried to understand God’s selection of Deborah by reasoning that he could not find any man suitable for the job, so he was forced to use Deborah.While this reasoning may serve to keep male egos intact, it ignores the testimony of Scripture. God is able to use whoever he wants. He does not appoint leaders by using human criteria.When Samuel considered Eliab a suitable successor to King Saul, God corrected Samuel’s limited perception: “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Some find it surprising that God used a woman as a judge of Israel. But we should not allow preconceived ideas or prejudices to get in the way of respecting those whom God appoints to lead us. Barak, a man of faith, loyally followed the individual God chose.The account in Judges reveals that Deborah’s personality drew people together. She was also a prophetess and led the people to obey God. God used Deborah to influence Israel to remain faithful long after the battle was over. Leaders inspired by God are concerned with the spiritual well-being of those they are called to serve. Deborah certainly was.

 

2002
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Women in the Bible: JESUS & WOMEN

Jesus and Women

Grace Communion International, http://www.gci.org/jesus/women

In first-century Palestine, the way Jesus treated
women was considered revolutionary.

woman with a child in a crowd listening to JesusWhen she became a teenager, her father made the arrangements. This was the custom of the times. Mary would be married to a carpenter, Joseph, the son of Heli. From birth, Mary’s role in life was set, for she was born female to a Jewish family. Yet her role in history was to be extraordinary. God chose her to be the mother of Jesus.

Woman of courage

When the angel Gabriel came to Mary, she was initially troubled by what the angel’s appearance might mean. The angel reassured her, explaining that she was the one chosen to be the mother of Jesus.

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. (Luke 1:34-38)

Though she knew she was facing shame and humiliation, Mary, in faith, willingly submitted herself to God’s will. She understood that it was possible that Joseph would not marry her. She would be considered damaged goods. Mary acted in great courage and faith.

Mary on a donkey, being led by
Joseph. Illustrations by Jody Eastman

“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea…. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.” (Luke 2:4-5) Illustrations by Jody Eastman

Though God protected her by showing Joseph in a dream that he should accept her in marriage in spite of her being pregnant, the story of her pregnancy was out. Nevertheless, Joseph faithfully married an already pregnant Mary. A legacy of raised-eyebrow, finger-pointing gossip would follow them and Jesus throughout their lives.

Jesus Christ honored his mother throughout his life and at his crucifixion. Mary was at the foot of the cross. When Jesus saw her there, no doubt in shock at what she was witnessing, he compassionately let her and John know how she would be cared for after his death and after his resurrection:

When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother. “Dear woman, here is ‘your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26-27)

Jesus’ honor and respect was not reserved simply for his mother. It was extended to all women—an attitude largely unexpected and unknown in his culture and time. Jesus, unlike the men of his generation and culture, taught that women were equal to men in the sight of God. Women could receive God’s forgiveness and grace. Women, as well as men, could be among Christ’s personal followers. Women could be full participants in the kingdom of God. Jesus offered full discipleship to women.

These were revolutionary ideas. Many of his contemporaries, including his disciples, were shocked. Women were overjoyed and grateful, of course, and many dedicated their lives to his service. Let’s take a look, from the historical narratives in Scripture, at a few of these women of faith and how Jesus dealt with them.

Mary of Magdala

In the early days of Jesus’ ministry, one of the most unusual examples is the devoted following of Mary Magdalene. Among the group of women who traveled with Jesus and his 12 disciples was Mary of Magdala (Luke 8:2). Mary is almost always mentioned first in a list of the female disciples of Jesus Christ. She may have been one of the leaders of that group of women who followed Jesus from the outset of his ministry in Galilee to his death and afterward.

The risen Jesus appeared to her first. It’s ironic that in a time when women could not be legal witnesses, Jesus Christ chose women as the first witnesses of his resurrection. As British writer Dorothy L. Sayers said: “Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man—there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronised: who never made arch jokes about them…who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension: who took their questions and arguments seriously” (Are Women Human?, page 47).

Mary and Martha

Jesus Christ taught that women were just as responsible for growing in grace and knowledge as men when it came to being one of his followers. This is clearly expressed in Luke’s account of Christ’s visit to the home of Martha and Mary, who lived in Bethany, a village about 2 miles from Jerusalem. Martha had invited Jesus and his disciples to her home for a meal. But while Martha was busily preparing to serve her guests, her sister, Mary, was listening to Jesus along with the rest of his disciples.

Martha worked while Mary sat listening to Jesus

“‘Martha, Martha, the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’“ (Luke 10:41-42)

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:38-40)

Martha seems to have been the older sister and head of her own house. Jesus didn’t chastise Martha for being busy serving, but he told her that her sister, Mary, was the one who actually had her priorities straight. “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (verses 41-42).

Jesus expected women as well as men to learn from him. Jesus did not feel that women’s work— or men’s work, for that matter— wasn’t important. He was not saying it is wrong to be diligent and careful about our responsibilities. Christ was saying we should get our priorities straight. Women were called to be disciples of Jesus, just as men were, and women were expected to fulfill their spiritual responsibilities, just as men were.

A daughter of Abraham

Another fascinating account is Luke’s story of the healing of a disabled woman—on the Sabbath day, in the synagogue, right in front of the synagogue ruler. The healing not only shows Christ personally contrasting his new way of life with the old legalistic, pharisaical restrictions, but it also shows his deep regard for women.

On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. (Luke 13:10-13)

The ruler of the synagogue immediately protested. He indignantly told the people there were six other days they could be healed. This was his means of chastising Christ for what the religious ruler considered as breaking the Sabbath. Was Christ intimidated by these words? Not in the least.

“You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” (verses 15-16).

Jesus Christ not only faced the wrath of the Jewish leaders by healing this woman on the Sabbath, he showed his regard for her by calling her a “daughter of Abraham.” “The idea of being a son of Abraham was common enough. Jesus used that term in reference to Zacchaeus a few chapters later in Luke. But Jesus with this one modification of the phrase—from ‘son’ to ‘daughter’—raises this formerly pitiful woman to a new status,” say authors Ruth A. Tucker and Walter Liefeld (Daughters of the Church, page 31).

Before his most venomous critics, Jesus publicly showed his concern and high regard for this woman, someone whom others had probably seen for years as she struggled in her affliction to come to the synagogue to worship God. Someone whom they may well have shunned because she was a woman and because she was disabled.

When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’“ (John 19:26-27)

Mary with John at Golgotha

Female followers

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The Bible doesn’t specify just how many women traveled with Jesus and his male disciples, but Luke records the names of a prominent few, and mentions there were “many others.”

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household: Susanna: and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means. (Luke 8:1-3)

Think about these remarkable words. Here were women not only associating with Jesus Christ and his male disciples, but traveling along with them. Also, notice that at least some of these women—possibly widows—had control of their own finances. It was out of their generosity that Jesus and his disciples were at least partially supported.

Although Christ worked with the cultural traditions of the first century, he ignored the limitations that had been placed on women by their culture. Women were free to follow him and to take part in his ministry to the world.

All are one in Christ

In Christ we are all children of God. As the apostle Paul wrote: “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-28).

Paul’s significant words, especially where they concern women, are bold even now, and certainly were astonishing in the time he wrote them. This was another of Paul’s transitional statements showing that a new covenant relationship through Christ had begun.

Now we have a new life in Christ. All Christians have a new relationship with God. Through Christ, we—both male and female—have become God’s own children and one in Jesus Christ. Christ is calling all—men and women—to repentance and a new way of life. Jesus showed through personal example that it’s time to put aside the old biases, the feelings of superiority over others, the feelings of resentment and anger, and to walk in newness of life with him and through him.

Many of you are striving to be women of faith. Many of you, like the bent-over woman healed by Christ in the synagogue, have to overlook some discrimination as you faithfully worship God and serve him. Don’t get discouraged and give up. Jesus Christ calls you equal in every way in his sight, and heirs to his promises. And, as you humbly follow him, Christ will use you in his service.

And, for those of you who haven’t taken that step, just as he freed that poor woman from Satan’s debilitating physical affliction on her, Christ promises to free you, and all his “daughters of Abraham” who repent and follow him. Jesus Christ wants you in his kingdom.


Additional articles about women:Woman, wife, widow
Women in ancient Israel
Women in church leadership: Biblical teaching and modern application
Women in leadership — a study paper
Women in the church: introduction
Women in the early church
Women in the ministry of Jesus
Women in the Gospel of Luke
Women in the teachings of Jesus

“A Heritage of Reaching Out”

Historian Ruth A. Tucker is a visiting professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Dr. Tucker has also taught at Calvin College and Fuller Theological Seminary. She holds a doctorate in history from Northern Illinois University and is a popular speaker at seminars and Christian conferences. Her books include Daughters of the Church (with Walter Liefeld) and Guardians of the Great Commission.

Question: You have said in several of your books that the Bible shows that Jesus Christ had an unusual sensitivity toward women.

Ruth Tucker: Jesus certainly did have a remarkable perspective and attitude toward women. He was the Messiah, and he had come to bring the kingdom of God. He had come to live and to die and send a message to the whole world. He needed to mobilize all of those who would believe, all of his followers, including women as well as men.

We read about the 12 men who followed Jesus, but there were women in his company as well. Mary Magdalene and the other Marys followed him and carried the message of who Jesus was. What these women did goes along well with Jesus Christ’s great commission that he gave before he died.

The men and women who followed Jesus had that great commission. It was not a commission that should cause people to rival each other in leadership or prestige or position and power, but rather a commission that calls for servitude.

The great commission is radical. It demands sacrifices and self-denial and calls for servanthood. Unfortunately in the church today, often following the management model in the world, we look for prestige and power, even as followers of Jesus. We may not intend that, but often that happens.

Q. Can any woman today— whether she is a young mother with several children, or perhaps a mother whose children have grown up and left home—serve Christ?

A. Absolutely. Any woman, and any man, should reach out to follow Jesus. We have such an incredible heritage of women reaching out in their communities. Often, when they have little children, they will involve the little children in their ministry. They will get their adolescents, teenagers, all involved in the ministry as well. This can be done in the family setting. It can be done in groups.

We have women reaching out, often in social service ministries, helping others, meeting the needs of others in the community, but bringing the message of the risen Savior at the same time.

Q. As you know, Paul refers to the older women teaching the younger women. How do you feel older women can serve the younger women in the church?

A. Older, more mature women in the faith certainly can teach younger women and less spiritually mature women in the church. This ministry should also include women who may not be closely associated with the church, but in the community, who may have an interest in knowing more of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Women working together to serve in the community have been a major factor in church growth through the generations. When women reach out to other women, to other families, they help and encourage them and also bring the gospel message at the same time.

Women, young and old, ought to see themselves as they read the pages of the New Testament, that they are there, and that they have been there through the generations, following the command of the great commission.

Often, women are the ones who carry on the faith. That may be partly because men have been secularized more than women. Men are out in the marketplace, out in the workplace and in the world. They are often challenged in their faith more than women. Women have traditionally been in the home. They are the ones rearing the children. They are the ones passing along the faith.

Women have to see themselves from New Testament times on through history in this role. God has especially used women, given them a gift of faith from the very women at the cross, for proclaiming the resurrection down through the centuries. We must continue that in our neighborhoods, not just in our homes, but in our communities.

Today, women are going out in the workplace; more and more. I am concerned that passing on the faith in the family and in the neighborhood may be getting left behind. As women are getting more secularized and involved in their own jobs and positions, they find their time more and more .limited.

As women, we need to hang on to our heritage, and encourage men also to be involved in bringing the gospel into the home and into the community, carrying on that great commission, to preach, teach, disciple and baptize.

Q. Yes, women are busy, but economic realities here and around the world have forced many women out of the home into the labor force. How can these women find time to serve?

A. I  think they need to serve the Lord wherever they are. I would challenge working women that the workplace is a wonderful place to carry out the great commission. When Jesus said to go out to all the world, certainly the workplace is one of those places to reach out and simply share the faith, even as Mary Magdalene did, telling others about the risen Savior whom she had encountered.

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COURAGEOUS – The best movie you’ll see this year!

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What a fitting finale to my COURAGE Study! And it wasn’t planned by me! Believe that! I have been studying courage for two months now. If you’ve been following along, we started with The Courage to Hear, See, Believe and Obey God. We moved on through additional courageous situations that built on to our foundational relationship with God. This build up took up to The Courage to Build, Maintain and Restore Relationships followed by The Courage to Trust God’s Plan.

On September 30th, I saw COURAGEOUS, a movie about men answering God’s call to Fatherhood. Who knew this is where the study was taking me – taking you? I didn’t. but I’m so glad I stuck with it. I hope you are too. See a couple of movie trailers below.


Courageous movie trailer


Courageous – Opening scene
Yes, folks, this is how it begins and it’s a pure emotional and spiritual rush from this scene on!


Courageous – “When did you first think of yourself as a man?”
I will note here that I first thought of myself as a “full grown” woman in my early thirties – when I began to focus on and follow the Word of God. Before then, I still thought of myself and referred to myself as “a girl.” I loved this question and discussion!


Courageous – “You are a rich man!”


Courageous – Finishing Well
I had a conversation with a cousin a month or so ago. She mentioned how she was not set up well in life – her parental models were destructive and debilitating. I told her I wasn’t set up well either, but that didn’t stop me from doing better. I intend to finish well and by the grace of God, I will.


Heart of Courageous – the making of the movie

For more information about the movie and the ongoing efforts of the writers and producers, go to their website: http://www.courageousthemovie.com/

On A Personal Note

This movie moved me enough to share the below message on the movie’s Facebook page. I’m sharing again because I know my situation is all too common – hence the need for such a movie and movement:

I absolutely LOVE this movie! Half-way through, I knew it was the BEST movie I’ve seen all year – one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. I’m single with no children (yet) and waiting on God to bring me my husband. I had a father who was abusive with his actions and childlike in his thinking. He didn’t love, he didn’t serve and he didn’t provide. I grew up thinking that men had no real value as husbands or fathers. It wasn’t a conscious thought but it was there. Over the past 12 yrs or so, God has been reworking my mind and my heart in terms of how I view men, relationships and marriage. He has gotten me to the point of being able to SEE what His true plans are for husbands/fathers, wives/mothers, the family unit and the relationships that bind them – starting with each person’s relationship with God. While I was watching COURAGEOUS, I KNEW I was watching a keepsake for my family. I knew I was watching a movie that I would share year after year with my husband and our children. God has blessed you with such a gift and opportunity – thank you for being obedient and following through and sharing it! Continue to walk in your blessings.       – LaShawnda Jones

Courage Studies by LaShawnda Jones on the My God and Me Blog

Study: Courage to Hear, See, Believe and Obey God

Study: Courage to Seek God, Follow Jesus and Receive the Holy Spirit

Study: Courage to Build, Maintain and Restore Relationships

Study: Courage to Trust God’s Plan

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Study: Courage to Trust God’s Plan

God created mankind to love and trust Him. From the beginning we struggled against doing just that. We want everything to make sense in our heads, not our hearts. We want to attribute reality to the things seen with the eyes and discount what our spirit is telling us. Trusting God completely requires letting go of our independence, our sense of superiority and our ego. We must become childlike and eager for the blessings He wishes to bestow upon us and the life He has outlined for us to live. It takes courage to let go of the hefty physical things of life and reach for the eternal spiritual elements of life. It takes courage to trust God, His Word and His plan for us – especially when He hasn’t shared the daily details of every situation. However, in trusting Him, the details that can trip us up cease to matter.

It takes courage to reason with God

God has a case against us. You may not know it, but you are born of the seed of the first man that disobeyed God and forfeited his right relationship with the Lord Almighty. As natural descendants of that man, Adam, we are heirs to his sin. In Isaiah Chapter One, God lays out his case against mankind – against His special people, Israel. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you are a spiritual heir to God’s promises. In verse 18 of Isaiah Chapter One, God invites us to talk to Him. To reason with Him. To present ourselves to Him. Even though our history says we are condemned and deserving of punishment, God’s Word says we can be cleansed, redeemed and restored.

Isaiah 1:18 “ Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “ Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; 20 But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword”; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken. (NKJV)

It takes courage to act — to perform God’s word in your life.

God is speaking to you. He’s telling you to do something. Don’t take His words lightly. Whatever action He is requiring of you, He will back it up with His performance. Believe that and act now! Don’t make the mistake of trusting someone else’s contrary word (something in direct opposition of what you know God has spoken to you).

Isaiah 55:10  Rain and snow fall from the sky and don’t return without watering the ground. They cause the plants to sprout and grow, making seeds for the farmer and bread for the people. The same thing is true of the words I speak. They will not return to me empty. They make the things happen that I want to happen, and they succeed in doing what I send them to do. 12 “So you will go out with joy and be led out in peace.

Jeremiah 1:11  Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see a branch of an almond tree.” 12Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am ready to perform My word.”17 “ Therefore prepare yourself and arise, And speak to them all that I command you. Do not be dismayed before their faces,  Lest I dismay you before them. 19 They will fight against you, But they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you,” says the LORD, “to deliver you.” (NKJV)

Number 13:1  And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.”

Numbers 13:30  Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” 31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” 32 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. 33 There we saw the giants; and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” (NKJV)

Matthew 1:18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. His mother Mary was engaged to marry Joseph, but before they married, she learned she was pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Mary’s husband, Joseph, was a good man, he did not want to disgrace her in public, so he planned to divorce her secretly. 20 While Joseph thought about these things, an angel of the Lord came to him in a dream. The angel said, “Joseph, descendant of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the baby in her is from the Holy Spirit.21 She will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus,because he will save his people from their sins.” 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the Lord’s angel had told him to do. Joseph took Mary as his wife,25 but he did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to the son. And Joseph named him Jesus.

It takes courage to see beyond our circumstances

It’s so easy to get caught up in the problems of the moment; the fears for your life, the concerns regarding your children. We are blinded from God’s promises and blesses by the daily circumstances that weigh us down. The Word doesn’t say that we shouldn’t have painfully consuming life situations, on the contrary we are to count all our trials and sorrows as joy. The Word tells us to keep our focus on Jesus Christ. To follow Him and be His disciple. In doing that, we will live a daily life that honors God and transcends our circumstances.

John 9:24 So for the second time, they called the man who had been blind. They said, “You should give God the glory by telling the truth. We know that this man is a sinner.”

25 He answered, “I don’t know if he is a sinner. One thing I do know: I was blind, and now I see.”

26 They asked, “What did he do to you? How did he make you see again?”

27 He answered, “I already told you, and you didn’t listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his followers, too?”

28 Then they insulted him and said, “You are his follower, but we are followers of Moses.29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but we don’t even know where this man comes from.”

30 The man answered, “This is a very strange thing. You don’t know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes.31 We all know that God does not listen to sinners, but he listens to anyone who worships and obeys him.32 Nobody has ever heard of anyone giving sight to a man born blind.33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

It takes courage to go where God instructs you to go

Abraham is someone I believe my life has been modeled after (during my thirties anyway). I, too, was told to go to an unfamiliar land and trust the Lord’s provision. I know friends, family and casual observers thought I was crazy for moving to New York City six years ago with no job, no contacts, no resources and no savings. I questioned my own sanity – for a couple of years! Now I know that God had (and has) a plan. He has His own way of working things out in me that will bring about the results He desire. I’ve grown so much spiritually in these years that I can’t even explain the upward arc with any detail. To God be the glory for all that He allows me to do and become!

Genesis 12:1 The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land I will show you. 4 So Abram left Haran as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. At this time Abram was 75 years old.5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, and everything they owned, as well as all the servants they had gotten in Haran.

Acts 9:3  So Saul headed toward Damascus. As he came near the city, a bright light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. 4 Saul fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”

5 Saul said, “Who are you, Lord?”

The voice answered, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 Get up now and go into the city. Someone there will tell you what you must do.” 8 Saul got up from the ground and opened his eyes, but he could not see. So those with Saul took his hand and led him into Damascus.

It takes courage to wait

Waiting is a painful. It sounds passive, but it’s really a way of activating your faith and keeping it engaged. When you wait on the Lord, you are saying that you know, understand and appreciate that whatever He has for you is what you want. You are telling Him that He and His blessings are sufficient and temporary substitutes have no place in your life (after all anything you can do for yourself is only temporary). God wants to bless us to the fullest of  our ability to receive.

Isaiah 30:18  The Lord wants to show his mercy to you. He wants to rise and comfort you. The Lord is a fair God, and everyone who waits for his help will be happy.

Psalm 123:1  Lord, I look upward to you, you who live in heaven. 2 Slaves depend on their masters, and a female servant depends on her mistress. In the same way, we depend on the Lord our God; we wait for him to show us mercy. 3 Have mercy on us, Lord. Have mercy on us, because we have been insulted. 4 We have suffered many insults from lazy people and much cruelty from the proud.

Galatians 4:4  But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. 5 God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. 6 And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” 7 Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child.And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.

It takes courage to speak

The power of life and death is in the tongue. God spoke the universe into existence and we have only to speak to form our own lives. Such power can be frightening! What if we get everything we speak of? No worries, if you are righteous because the blessings of the Lord do not come with added sorry and He will make sure you are able to handle what He gives you. Still scared? Then perhaps you aren’t speaking life. Talk to God and He will certainly clean up your speech to make your words more effective.

Jeremiah 1:4  The Lord spoke his word to me, saying: 5 “Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

6 Then I said, “But Lord God, I don’t know how to speak. I am only a boy.”

7 But the Lord said to me, “Don’t say, ‘I am only a boy.’ You must go everywhere I send you, and you must say everything I tell you to say.8 Don’t be afraid of anyone, because I am with you to protect you,” says the Lord.

9 Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth. He said to me, “See, I am putting my words in your mouth.10 Today I have put you in charge of nations and kingdoms. You will pull up and tear down, destroy and overthrow, build up and plant.”

Learn God’s Word and Learn More About Yourself

God is calling warriors who have the courage to Hear, See, Believe and Obey Him; the courage to Seek Him, Follow Jesus and Receive the Holy Spirit; and the courage to Build, Maintain and Restore Relationships. All in all, we need courage to Trust God.

Courage is needed for so much of life, this study is only a small portion of the scope of situations we need to be brave for. We are all warriors – we may not feel like it or look like it, but that’s what our God is calling us – Mighty Warriors, Men & Women of Valor, More Than Conquerors! There’s a reason for that – we aren’t intended to be passive wimps.

In looking for God’s warriors in the Bible, we learn that none of them look or sound like we think they should – like our Hollywood-influenced popular opinions. They are not able or qualified to do the required task on their own. That’s the beauty of God’s plan – it’s not about us! It’s not about the warriors, aka the workers. It’s all about God! Everything He calls us to do in the Kingdom of Heaven is for His glory – we do what we are told in order that others may come to know the greatness of our God! Hallelujah! We, the warriors, are only symbolic; God is the True Fighter. He has already won victory and has already made a way for His victory to manifest in our lives. When we struggle with impossible situations, circumstances, pains, betrayals, anger, hatred, bitterness, unbelief, lack of knowledge, etc… When we struggle with all that, we show the world (people who intersect with our life) where we are and where we came from. However, when we overcome all that, we show the world what our God does for us every day. And what He does for each of us, glorifies Him in the highest. It takes courage to trust God in His infinite wisdom. It takes courage to live in Christ.

Be courageous, mighty warriors – you Godly men and women of valor!

Other Courage studies:

Study: Courage to Hear, See, Believe and Obey God

Study: Courage to Seek God, Follow Jesus and Receive the Holy Spirit

Study: Courage to Build, Maintain and Restore Relationships

Study: Courage to Trust God’s Plan

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Courageous by Casting Crowns (music video)


“Courageous” is the first single from Casting Crowns’ upcoming album, Come To The Well, available October 18, 2011.

“Courageous” is also featured in the upcoming movie Courageous, in theaters September 30, 2011. For more information, visit http://courageousthemovie.com & http://castingcrowns.com.

 

We were made to be courageous
We were made to lead the way
We could be the generation
That finally breaks the chains
We were made to be courageous
We were made to be courageous

We were warriors on the front lines
Standing, unafraid
But now we’re watchers on the sidelines
While our families slip away

Where are you, men of courage?
You were made for so much more
Let the pounding of our hearts cry
We will serve the Lord

We were made to be courageous
And we’re taking back the fight
We were made to be courageous
And it starts with us tonight

The only way we’ll ever stand
Is on our knees with lifted hands
Make us courageous
Lord, make us courageous

This is our resolution
Our answer to the call
We will love our wives and children
We refuse to let them fall

We will reignite the passion
That we buried deep inside
May the watchers become warriors
Let the men of God arise

We were made to be courageous
And we’re taking back the fight
We were made to be courageous
And it starts with us tonight

The only way we’ll ever stand
Is on our knees with lifted hands
Make us courageous
Lord, make us courageous

Seek justice
Love mercy
Walk humbly with your God

In the war of the mind
I will make my stand
In the battle of the heart
And the battle of the hand

In the war of the mind
I will make my stand
In the battle of the heart
And the battle of the hand

We were made to be courageous
And we’re taking back the fight
We were made to be courageous
And it starts with us tonight

The only way we’ll ever stand
Is on our knees with lifted hands
Make us courageous
Lord, make us courageous

We were made to be courageous
Lord, make us courageous

[Lyrics by Mark Hall and Matthew West]

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Study: Courage to Build, Maintain and Restore Relationships

courage: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.

relationship: a connection, association, or involvement; an emotional or other connection between people

I think I’ve been working towards this study for a few years now. Looking forward to compiling it all summer. And I’ve been building it statement by statement for the last few weeks. Ultimately is formed from the prior “COURAGE” studies, however it encompasses everything I write about – RELATIONSHIPS.

Our primary relationship is with God. We have to know and understand His word in order to properly interact with Him. Once we understand the importance of “right relationship” with God, we pursue it continually. More immediately in our physical world, we have a proper working model of a “good” relationship. Our human relationships are to mirror our primary spiritual relationship. I hope this compilation of God’s Word helps you with your relationship with Him and with people.

Be blessed and live your life to be a blessing.

It takes courage to love

love: a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person; a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection

1 John 4:7-11 Dear friends, we should love each other, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has become God’s child and knows God.8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.9 This is how God showed his love to us: He sent his one and only Son into the world so that we could have life through him. 10 This is what real love is: It is not our love for God; it is God’s love for us. He sent his Son to die in our place to take away our sins. 11 Dear friends, if God loved us that much we also should love each other.

1 John 4:18 Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love drives out fear. It is punishment that makes a person fear, so love is not made perfect in the person who fears.

1 Corinthians 13:2-8 …if I do not have love, then I am nothing. 3 I may give away everything I have, and I may even give my body as an offering to be burned. But I gain nothing if I do not have love. 4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud.5 Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. 6 Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth. 7 Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures. 8 Love never ends.

The courage to commit

commit: to give in trust or charge; consign; to consign for preservation (to hand over or deliver formally or officially; to transfer to another’s custody or charge; to set apart for or devote to); to pledge (oneself) to a position; express (one’s intention, feeling, etc.); to bind or obligate; to entrust, especially for safekeeping; commend (to entrust; give in charge; deliver with confidence)

Proverbs 16:3 Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed. (NLT)

Psalm 37:3 Trust the Lord and do good. Live in the land and feed on truth. 4 Enjoy serving the LORD, and he will give you what you want. 5 Depend on the LORD; trust him, and he will take care of you. 6 Then your goodness will shine like the sun, and your fairness like the noonday sun.

Acts 20:32 “And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself.

John 15:13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

It takes courage to prepare

prepare: to put in proper condition or readiness; to lead up to by some preliminary action

1 Chronicles 22:5 David said, “We should build a great Temple for the LORD, which will be famous everywhere for its greatness and beauty. But my son Solomon is young. He hasn’t yet learned what he needs to know, so I will prepare for the building of it.” So David got many of the materials ready before he died.

Esther 2:12 Before a girl could take her turn with King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments that were ordered for the women. For six months she was treated with oil and myrrh and for six months with perfumes and cosmetics.13 Then she was ready to go to the king.

Esther 3: 13 Then Mordecai sent back word to Esther: “Just because you live in the king’s palace, don’t think that out of all the Jewish people you alone will escape.14 If you keep quiet at this time, someone else will help and save the Jewish people, but you and your father’s family will all die. And who knows, you may have been chosen queen for just such a time as this.”
      15 Then Esther sent this answer to Mordecai: 16 “Go and get all the Jewish people in Susa together. For my sake, fast; do not eat or drink for three days, night and day. I and my servant girls will also fast . Then I will go to the king, even though it is against the law, and if I die, I die.”

Matthew 25:1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to wait for the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise.3 The five foolish bridesmaids took their lamps, but they did not take more oil for the lamps to burn.4 The wise bridesmaids took their lamps and more oil in jars. 5 Because the bridegroom was late, they became sleepy and went to sleep.
      6 “At midnight someone cried out, ‘The bridegroom is coming! Come and meet him!’ 7 Then all the bridesmaids woke up and got their lamps ready.8 But the foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’ 9 The wise bridesmaids answered, ‘No, the oil we have might not be enough for all of us. Go to the people who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
      10 “So while the five foolish bridesmaids went to buy oil, the bridegroom came. The bridesmaids who were ready went in with the bridegroom to the wedding feast. Then the door was closed and locked.

It takes courage to build

build: to construct (especially something complex) by assembling and joining parts or materials; to establish, increase, or strengthen; to mold, form, or create; to base; found

1 Chronicles 22:11 David said, “Now, my son, may the LORD be with you. May you build a temple for the LORD your God, as he said you would.12 He will make you the king of Israel. May the LORD give you wisdom and understanding so you will be able to obey the teachings of the LORD your God.13 Be careful to obey the rules and laws the LORD gave Moses for Israel. If you obey them, you will have success. Be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid or discouraged.

Matthew 16:18 So I tell you, you are Peter. On this rock I will build my church, and the power of death will not be able to defeat it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; the things you don’t allow on earth will be the things that God does not allow, and the things you allow on earth will be the things that God allows.”

Ephesians 4:22 You were taught to leave your old self—to stop living the evil way you lived before. That old self becomes worse, because people are fooled by the evil things they want to do.23 But you were taught to be made new in your hearts,24 to become a new person. That new person is made to be like God—made to be truly good and holy.

Ephesians 4:25 So you must stop telling lies. Tell each other the truth, because we all belong to each other in the same body. 26 When you are angry, do not sin, and be sure to stop being angry before the end of the day.27 Do not give the devil a way to defeat you.

Ephesians 4:29 When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need—words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you.30 And do not make the Holy Spirit sad. The Spirit is God’s proof that you belong to him. God gave you the Spirit to show that God will make you free when the final day comes.31 Do not be bitter or angry or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. Never do anything evil.32 Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ.

It takes courage to acknowledge our sin

acknowledge: to admit to be real or true; recognize the existence, truth, or fact of; to show or express recognition or realization of

sin: any reprehensible or regrettable action, behavior, or lapse

Psalm 32:3 When I kept things to myself, I felt weak deep inside me. I moaned all day long. 4 Day and night you punished me. My strength was gone as in the summer heat.
      5 Then I confessed my sins to you and didn’t hide my guilt. I said, “I will confess my sins to the LORD,” and you forgave my guilt.

James 5:16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so God can heal you. When a believing person prays, great things happen.

It takes courage to hold others accountable

accountable: liable; obliged to accept responsibility; subject to the obligation to report, explain, or justify something; responsible; answerable; responsible to someone or for some action; answerable

Leviticus 26:40 “‘But maybe the people will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors; maybe they will admit they turned against me and sinned against me,41 which made me turn against them and send them into the land of their enemies. If these disobedient people are sorry for what they did and accept punishment for their sin,42 I will remember my agreement with Jacob, my agreement with Isaac, and my agreement with Abraham, and I will remember the land.43 The land will be left empty by its people, and it will enjoy its time of rest as it lies bare without them. Then those who are left alive will accept the punishment for their sins. They will learn that they were punished because they hated my laws and refused to obey my rules.44 But even though this is true, I will not turn away from them when they are in the land of their enemies. I will not hate them so much that I completely destroy them and break my agreement with them, because I am the LORD their God.

Revelation 3:19 “I correct and punish those whom I love. So be eager to do right, and change your hearts and lives. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and eat with you, and you will eat with me.

It takes courage to repent

repent: to feel sorry, self-reproachful, or contrite for past conduct; regret or be conscience-stricken about a past action, attitude, etc; to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better; be penitent

2 Corinthians 7:8 Even if my letter made you sad, I am not sorry I wrote it. At first I was sorry, because it made you sad, but you were sad only for a short time.9 Now I am happy, not because you were made sad, but because your sorrow made you change your lives. You became sad in the way God wanted you to, so you were not hurt by us in any way.10 The kind of sorrow God wants makes people change their hearts and lives. This leads to salvation, and you cannot be sorry for that.

Revelation 2:16 So change your hearts and lives. If you do not, I will come to you quickly and fight against them with the sword that comes out of my mouth.

Revelation 3:2 Wake up! Strengthen what you have left before it dies completely. I have found that what you are doing is less than what my God wants. 3 So do not forget what you have received and heard. Obey it, and change your hearts and lives.

It takes courage to forgive

forgive: to grant pardon for or remission of; to give up all claim on account of; remit; to grant pardon to a person;  to cease to feel resentment against; to cancel an indebtedness or liability of

Colossians 3:12 God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So you should always clothe yourselves with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Bear with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you. 14 Even more than all this, clothe yourself in love. Love is what holds you all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace that Christ gives control your thinking, because you were all called together in one body to have peace.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you should be in agreement, understanding each other, loving each other as family, being kind and humble.9 Do not do wrong to repay a wrong, and do not insult to repay an insult. But repay with a blessing, because you yourselves were called to do this so that you might receive a blessing.

Ephesians 4:31 Do not be bitter or angry or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. Never do anything evil.32 Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ.

It takes courage to restore relationships

restore: to bring back into existence; to bring back to a state of health, soundness, or vigor; to bring back to a former, original, or normal condition

2 Corinthians 7:11 See what this sorrow—the sorrow God wanted you to have—has done to you: It has made you very serious. It made you want to restore yourselves. It made you angry and afraid. It made you want to see me. It made you care. It made you want to do the right thing. In every way you have regained your innocence. 12 I wrote that letter, not because of the one who did the wrong or because of the person who was hurt. I wrote the letter so you could see, before God, the great care you have for us.13 That is why we were comforted.
      Not only were we very comforted, we were even happier to see that Titus was so happy. All of you made him feel much better.14 I bragged to Titus about you, and you showed that I was right. Everything we said to you was true, and you have proved that what we bragged about to Titus is true.15 And his love for you is stronger when he remembers that you were all ready to obey. You welcomed him with respect and fear.16 I am very happy that I can trust you fully.

It takes courage to continue and maintain relationships

continue: to go on after suspension or interruption; to go on or keep on, as in some course or action; to last or endure

maintain: to keep in existence or continuance; preserve; retain; to keep in an appropriate condition, operation, or force; keep unimpaired; to keep in a specified state, position; to affirm; assert; declare

Colossians 3:23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

James 1:2 My brothers and sisters, when you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, 3 because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience.4 Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do. Then you will be perfect and complete and will have everything you need.

James 1:19 My dear brothers and sisters, always be willing to listen and slow to speak. Do not become angry easily,20 because anger will not help you live the right kind of life God wants.21 So put out of your life every evil thing and every kind of wrong. Then in gentleness accept God’s teaching that is planted in your hearts, which can save you.

Ephesians 4:2 Always be humble, gentle, and patient, accepting each other in love.3 You are joined together with peace through the Spirit, so make every effort to continue together in this way.4 There is one body and one Spirit, and God called you to have one hope.5 There is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism.6 There is one God and Father of everything. He rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything.

Ephesians 4:13 We must become like a mature person, growing until we become like Christ and have his perfection. 14 Then we will no longer be babies. We will not be tossed about like a ship that the waves carry one way and then another. We will not be influenced by every new teaching we hear from people who are trying to fool us. They make plans and try any kind of trick to fool people into following the wrong path.15 No! Speaking the truth with love, we will grow up in every way into Christ, who is the head.16 The whole body depends on Christ, and all the parts of the body are joined and held together. Each part does its own work to make the whole body grow and be strong with love.

Ecclesiastes 8:15 So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.

See other COURAGE word and verse studies:

Courage to Hear, See, Believe and Obey God

Courage to Seek God, Follow Jesus and Receive the Holy Spirit

Seeing Your Enemies As They Are: David vs. Goliath

All definitons are from www.dictionary.comAll scripture is from www.biblegateway.com, New Century Version, unless otherwise noted.
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Study: Courage to Seek God, Follow Jesus and Receive the Holy Spirit

“Be strong and brave [courageous]. Don’t be afraid of them and don’t be frightened, because the Lord your God will go with you. He will not leave you or forget you.”  ~ Deuteronomy 31:6

It takes courage to seek God

Deuteronomy 4:27-31 The Lord will scatter you among the other nations. Only a few of you will be left alive, and those few will be in other nations where the Lord will send you.28 There you will worship gods made by people, gods made of wood and stone, that cannot see, hear, eat, or smell.29 But even there you can look for the Lord your God, and you will find him if you look for him with your whole being.30 It will be hard when all these things happen to you. But after that you will come back to the Lord your God and obey him,31 because the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you. He will not forget the Agreement with your ancestors, which he swore to them.

Deuteronomy 6:5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.

Psalm 119:9 How can a young person live a pure life? By obeying your word. 10 With all my heart I try to obey you. Don’t let me break your commands. 11 I have taken your words to heart so I would not sin against you. 12 Lord, you should be praised. Teach me your demands.

Jeremiah 29:11  I will give you hope and a good future.12 Then you will call my name. You will come to me and pray to me, and I will listen to you.13 You will search for me. And when you search for me with all your heart, you will find me!14 I will let you find me,” says the Lord. “And I will bring you back from your captivity.

Matthew 6:30-33 Don’t have so little faith!31 Don’t worry and say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’32 The people who don’t know God keep trying to get these things, and your Father in heaven knows you need them. 33 Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.

It takes courage to follow Jesus

Psalm 119:1  Happy are those who live pure lives, who follow the Lord’s teachings. 2 Happy are those who keep his rules, who try to obey him with their whole heart. 3 They don’t do what is wrong; they follow his ways.

Ruth 1:16  But Ruth said, “Don’t beg me to leave you or to stop following you. Where you go, I will go. Where you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.17 And where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. I ask the Lord to punish me terribly if I do not keep this promise: Not even death will separate us.”

Matthew 10:34  “Don’t think that I came to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 I have come so that ‘a son will be against his father, a daughter will be against her mother, a daughter-in-law will be against her mother-in-law. 36 A person’s enemies will be members of his own family.’ — Micah 7:6

37 “Those who love their father or mother more than they love me are not worthy to be my followers. Those who love their son or daughter more than they love me are not worthy to be my followers. 38 Whoever is not willing to carry the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.39 Those who try to hold on to their lives will give up true life. Those who give up their lives for me will hold on to true life.40 Whoever accepts you also accepts me, and whoever accepts me also accepts the One who sent me

Luke 9:23  Jesus said to all of them, “If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing to give up their lives daily to follow me. 24 Those who want to save their lives will give up true life. But those who give up their lives for me will have true life. 25 It is worthless to have the whole world if they themselves are destroyed or lost. 26 If people are ashamed of me and my teaching, then the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and with the glory of the Father and the holy angels. 27 I tell you the truth, some people standing here will see the kingdom of God before they die.”

Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me but loves his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, or sisters—or even life—more than me, he cannot be my follower. 27 Whoever is not willing to carry his cross and follow me cannot be my follower. 28 If you want to build a tower, you first sit down and decide how much it will cost, to see if you have enough money to finish the job.

John 14:19 Because I live, you will live, too.20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and that you are in me and I am in you. 21 Those who know my commands and obey them are the ones who love me, and my Father will love those who love me. I will love them and will show myself to them.”

It takes courage to receive the Holy Spirit

Luke 11:13 Even though you are bad, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more your heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Acts 2:2 Suddenly a noise like a strong, blowing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.3 They saw something like flames of fire that were separated and stood over each person there.4 They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak different languages by the power the Holy Spirit was giving them.

Acts 10:44 While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit came down on all those who were listening.45 The Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been given even to the nations.46 These believers heard them speaking in different languages and praising God. Then Peter said,47 “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we did!”48 So Peter ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

John 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey my commands. 16 I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he lives with you and he will be in you.

1 Corinthians 3:15 But if the building is burned up, the builder will suffer loss. The builder will be saved, but it will be as one who escaped from a fire. 16 Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person, because God’s temple is holy and you are that temple.

It takes courage to work

1 Chronicles 28:20 David also said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and brave, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, because the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or leave you until all the work for the Temple of the Lord is finished.

Haggai 2:4 But the Lord says, “Zerubbabel, be brave. Also, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, be brave. And all you people who live in the land, be brave,” says the Lord. “Work, because I am with you,” says the Lord All-Powerful.5 “I made a promise to you when you came out of Egypt, and my Spirit is still with you. So don’t be afraid.”

1 Corinthians 3:5  Is Apollos important? No! Is Paul important? No! We are only servants of God who helped you believe. Each one of us did the work God gave us to do.6 I planted the seed, and Apollos watered it. But God is the One who made it grow.7 So the one who plants is not important, and the one who waters is not important. Only God, who makes things grow, is important.8 The one who plants and the one who waters have the same purpose, and each will be rewarded for his own work.9 We are God’s workers, working together; you are like God’s farm, God’s house.

Romans 16:3 Give my greetings to Priscilla and Aquila, who work together with me in Christ Jesus4 and who risked their own lives to save my life.

Ephesians 2:10 God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing.

Philippians 1:21 To me the only important thing about living is Christ, and dying would be profit for me. 22 If I continue living in my body, I will be able to work for the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 5:12  Now, brothers and sisters, we ask you to appreciate those who work hard among you, who lead you in the Lord and teach you.13 Respect them with a very special love because of the work they do.

It takes courage to serve

Joshua 24:14  Then Joshua said to the people, “Now respect the Lord and serve him fully and sincerely. Throw away the gods that your ancestors worshiped on the other side of the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord.15 But if you don’t want to serve the Lord, you must choose for yourselves today whom you will serve. You may serve the gods that your ancestors worshiped when they lived on the other side of the Euphrates River, or you may serve the gods of the Amorites who lived in this land. As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

Psalm 100:2 Serve the Lord with joy; come before him with singing.

Philippians 1:18  So I am happy, and I will continue to be happy.19 Because you are praying for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ is helping me, I know this trouble will bring my freedom.20 I expect and hope that I will not fail Christ in anything but that I will have the courage now, as always, to show the greatness of Christ in my life here on earth, whether I live or die.

Romans 12:1  So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship.

Romans 12:9  Your love must be real. Hate what is evil, and hold on to what is good.10 Love each other like brothers and sisters. Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves.11 Do not be lazy but work hard, serving the Lord with all your heart.

1 Timothy 6:3  Anyone who has a different teaching does not agree with the true teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that shows the true way to serve God.4 This person is full of pride and understands nothing, but is sick with a love for arguing and fighting about words. …5… They think that serving God is a way to get rich.

6 Serving God does make us very rich, if we are satisfied with what we have.7 We brought nothing into the world, so we can take nothing out.8 But, if we have food and clothes, we will be satisfied with that.

It takes courage to stand

Exodus 14:13  “Don’t be afraid! Stand still and you will see the Lord save you today. You will never see these Egyptians again after today.14 You only need to remain calm; the Lord will fight for you.”

Matthew 10:32 “All those who stand before others and say they believe in me, I will say before my Father in heaven that they belong to me. 33 But all who stand before others and say they do not believe in me, I will say before my Father in heaven that they do not belong to me.

Ephesians 6:13  That is why you need to put on God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the whole fight, you will still be standing.14 So stand strong, with the belt of truth tied around your waist and the protection of right living on your chest.15 On your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong.        

I Corinthians 10:13 The only temptation that has come to you is that which everyone has. But you can trust God, who will not permit you to be tempted more than you can stand. But when you are tempted, he will also give you a way to escape so that you will be able to stand it.

1 Corinthians 16:13 Be alert. Continue strong in the faith. Have courage, and be strong.14 Do everything in love.

James 4:7  So give yourselves completely to God. Stand against the devil, and the devil will run from you.8 Come near to God, and God will come near to you. You sinners, clean sin out of your lives. You who are trying to follow God and the world at the same time, make your thinking pure.

Philippians 1:27 Only one thing concerns me: Be sure that you live in a way that brings honor to the Good News of Christ. Then whether I come and visit you or am away from you, I will hear that you are standing strong with one purpose, that you work together as one for the faith of the Good News,28 and that you are not afraid of those who are against you. All of this is proof that your enemies will be destroyed but that you will be saved by God.29 God gave you the honor not only of believing in Christ but also of suffering for him, both of which bring glory to Christ.

Galatians 5:1 We have freedom now, because Christ made us free. So stand strong. Do not change and go back into the slavery of the law. 

It takes courage to defend God

Philippians 1:15 It is true that some preach about Christ because they are jealous and ambitious, but others preach about Christ because they want to help.16 They preach because they have love, and they know that God gave me the work of defending the Good News.17 But the others preach about Christ for selfish and wrong reasons, wanting to make trouble for me in prison. 18 But it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that in every way, whether for right or wrong reasons, they are preaching about Christ.

1 Peter 3:15 But respect Christ as the holy Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have, 16 but answer in a gentle way and with respect. Keep a clear conscience so that those who speak evil of your good life in Christ will be made ashamed.17 It is better to suffer for doing good than for doing wrong if that is what God wants.18 Christ himself suffered for sins once. He was not guilty, but he suffered for those who are guilty to bring you to God.

Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the Good News, because it is the power God uses to save everyone who believes—to save the Jews first, and then to save non-Jews. 17 The Good News shows how God makes people right with himself—that it begins and ends with faith. As the Scripture says, “But those who are right with God will live by faith.”

It takes courage to fight

Jude 1:3 Dear friends, I wanted very much to write you about the salvation we all share. But I felt the need to write you about something else: I want to encourage you to fight hard for the faith that was given the holy people of God once and for all time.

1 Timothy 6:10 The love of money causes all kinds of evil. Some people have left the faith, because they wanted to get more money, but they have caused themselves much sorrow. 11 But you, man of God, run away from all those things. Instead, live in the right way, serve God, have faith, love, patience, and gentleness.12 Fight the good fight of faith, grabbing hold of the life that continues forever. You were called to have that life when you confessed the good confession before many witnesses.

2 Timothy 4:6 My life is being given as an offering to God, and the time has come for me to leave this life.7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

It takes courage to live in peace

Philippians 4:4   Be full of joy in the Lord always. I will say again, be full of joy. 5 Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind. The Lord is coming soon. 6 Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks.7 And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Romans 12:17  If someone does wrong to you, do not pay him back by doing wrong to him. Try to do what everyone thinks is right.18 Do your best to live in peace with everyone.

Hebrews 12:14  Try to live in peace with all people, and try to live free from sin. Anyone whose life is not holy will never see the Lord.15 Be careful that no one fails to receive God’s grace and begins to cause trouble among you. A person like that can ruin many of you.

 

2 Corinthians 13:11  Live in harmony. Do what I have asked you to do. Agree with each other, and live in peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.

1 Thessalonians 5:13  Live in peace with each other.14 We ask you, brothers and sisters, to warn those who do not work. Encourage the people who are afraid. Help those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.15 Be sure that no one pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to do what is good for each other and for all people.

16 Always be joyful.17 Pray continually,18 and give thanks whatever happens. That is what God wants for you in Christ Jesus.

19 Do not hold back the work of the Holy Spirit.20 Do not treat prophecy as if it were unimportant.21 But test everything. Keep what is good,22 and stay away from everything that is evil. 

“Be strong. Don’t be afraid. Look, your God will come, and he will punish your enemies. He will make them pay for the wrongs they did, but he will save you.”  ~ Isaiah 35:4

“You are my servants. I have chosen you and have not turned against you. So don’t worry, because I am with you. Don’t be afraid, because I am your God. I will make you strong and will help you; I will support you with my right hand that saves you.”  ~ Isaiah 41:9-10