It Takes Courage, Part III
This morning we are continuing our sermon series called “It Takes Courage!” A couple weeks ago pastor Chip talked about Jesus giving us courage to stand up for what we believe in. And last week Paul talked to us about the courage of Job. Both of their messages were pretty amazing, so the bar for me today is pretty high!
So let’s dive into it then.
Imagine if you had been given the opportunity to sail over to America on the Mayflower. I’m sure you’d be excited about that, going to a new country, starting your life in a new land, building a new home. But you would have no idea about the long-term impact of that relatively small journey.
What I mean by that is this:
Nobody on the Mayflower could have imagined that what they were starting was the greatest and most powerful nation in human history. Nobody would have known that they were founding what Former President Ronald Reagan referred to as “A shining city upon a hill,” a country that Former President Harry Truman said was “built on courage, on imagination, and an unbeatable determination.”
This courage he’s describing, it’s the courage to follow your destiny.
Destiny is a tricky word. It can mean a few different things. Honestly this is the first thing I always think of when I hear the word destiny.
You see, we never get to see in advance the impact of our destinies. God doesn’t show us what our lives are going to do in the future or what impact they’ll have on future generations. But the bible tells us some things.
For instance, we know that the plan for your life is determined by God and that “destiny” is set when he decided both when and where you would be born and where you would live. The Bible says in Acts 17:26 that God determines the time set for each of us and the exact places where we should live. So God decided when you would be born and where you would be born, that determines a huge chunk of your life! But what about the rest of my life?
That’s the big question right? What is my destiny?
I used to struggle with this personally. The word destiny has a weird connotation for me. I’ll explain in just a minute.
First, I want to share one of my favorite verses of all time. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD, “plans of prosperity and not of destruction, that give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT).
So, God has a plan for my life, yeah? What does this mean?
You see, some people hear verses like Jeremiah 29:11 and think that that means every little decision they make has been decided for them already, that there is no free will.
Now I don’t want to get too far into the weeds on this, but I need to establish this before we move forward. God has a plan for your life, a plan far better than anything you or I can come up with. But this doesn’t mean that He is making our decisions for us. God gives us our own free will. We can in fact, mess up God’s plans for our lives.
For example, God has a plan for my life! It does not involve me committing murder! Let’s say I choose to commit murder then, I have sinned and also find myself in prison, perhaps on death row. None of this is what God wanted for me, my actions have very real consequences!
This doesn’t mean that God can’t still use me, perhaps I find my way back to God in this example and he uses me to help start a spirit filled prison ministry where people get saved.
That would be what Paul describes in Romans 8:28 (NLT). “And we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Does that make sense? God has a plan for our lives, every one of us, but WE still have to be the ones to make the right choices. WE have free will.
God never wants us to sin, to get hurt, to hurt others, to feel pain, but He is tolerating that here on Earth temporarily for the purpose of giving us free will.
This is because love isn’t love if its forced. He wants us to love him, to CHOOSE Him. That’s why He created us, to be a part of his family, and we need this free will to CHOOSE Him.
Often this choice takes courage. It takes courage to follow your calling. That’s why Paul says this in Ephesians 4:1 (NLT): “Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling for you have been called by God.”
That was a pretty long tangent so thank you for sticking with me, it makes the rest of this make a lot more sense.
You see, the Bible tells us clearly that God created you for a specific reason. You aren’t here by accident. The Bible says that every person has a calling, every person has a destiny, every person has a life mission. They’re all different. We all have a different calling. We all have a different task in life. We all have a different purpose. We all have a different ministry. We all have a different calling in life. But everybody is called.
Growing up I thought when I heard people said, “I’m called” it was like something just for priests or nuns or pastors or for missionaries. But the Bible says every person is called by God to do something in this world. God gave you a life mission. We’re all called to do different things because if we all did the same thing, a lot would get left undone. So, fortunately, God made us all different, He gives us different callings.
So, again, what is my destiny? What is my calling?
In Matthew 16:15 (NLT) Jesus said this: “…Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.”
Some of us are businessmen/women, some of us are teachers, some scientists, authors, architects. God has given us these different paths and different gifts, but through all of these paths comes one mission. Sharing the gospel.
This is what we refer to as the Great Commission.
This can be really hard sometimes!!!
Sharing the gospel takes courage.
Has anyone ever struggled to share their faith with someone? Maybe it’s a family member, a friend, a colleague, anyone.
I have found it is easier to share the good news, the gospel, when we are experiencing the joy of it ourselves.
The great joy in my life is that Jesus Christ has forgiven all the wrong things I’ve ever done. I didn’t deserve that; He just gave it as a gift. That’s great joy. The great joy of the gospel is that I have hope. Hope not just in this world but also all the way into eternity. Hope that puts into perspective whatever may be happening in my life right now.
The good news that’s for those of us who have become followers of Jesus Christ is that we can have a relationship with God now. Not just know that God is there. But have a relationship with Him. Talk to Him in prayer. Listen to Him through His word. Get directions for daily life. God sent His Spirit into our lives so we can have a daily sense of His presence. That is good news. That is really, really good news. That is good news worth enjoying, it’s worth sharing.
Psalm 107:2 (NLT) says, “Has the LORD redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.” First, I realize I’ve been set free by God. Because of that I tell the good news.
This is our calling. This is our destiny.
Sometimes it feels impossible to speak up, to share what Jesus has done to people. Maybe you’re afraid it will scare people away, or that they’ll think you’re weird.
Do you guys know what that is?
That is the devil trying to scare you into not sharing the good news of Jesus. It takes courage to stand up to him.
But I know you can do it because our God empowers us to. Jesus would never ask us to do something we aren’t capable of.
In closing, God does the heavy lifting, I promise. I have seen God dramatically transform people’s lives, people I knew 5-7-10 years ago that I never thought would come to Christ turned into people who set an example for me and my faith now.
Someone shared the gospel with them, they had the courage to do that. And because they were following the path that God set before them, lives were changed.
Look how many lives were impacted by this one courageous person! Someone spoke Jesus into the life of one person, that person changed, shared their change with me because they knew I was a Christian, and then I get up here and get to tell you all about it! The wild part is I have no idea who the person who shared Jesus with my friend even is! They are anonymous in this whole thing, and they may go their whole life without ever knowing that I’m telling a couple hundred people about them. That will be a fun story to share in heaven!!!
But that just goes to show you the power of courage. You must have the courage to follow your destiny, because this sharing of the good news is what we’re all called to do.
He does the work, He is the one changing hearts and minds, He changed my heart and my mind, and that my friends, is good news worth sharing.