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Courage and Promises

The promises of God can give us courage.

Brave Heart (3)

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
Hebrews 11.8

Moving beyond our comfort zone
Is it possible to grow in Christian courage? I believe it is. In the power of God’s Spirit, and in line with the promises of His Word, we can overcome our fears, looking to Jesus, act out of a brave heart, and, in the process, grow into Christ and His image more completely.

Christian courage – the ability to go beyond ourselves in the face of danger, challenges, or other opportunities to serve Christ and seek His Kingdom – is a work of God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit works within us to make us willing and able to do what pleases the Lord (Phil. 2.13). He is able to do in and through us exceedingly abundantly more than we’ve ever dared to ask or think (Eph. 3.20). And He has the power to meet us as we act out of a brave heart, so that we do what pleases the Lord in every situation.

Christian courage comes into play when we move beyond our comfort zone into areas of uncertainty and even fear, where all we have to hope in is the Word of God.

The Spirit of God works in just such situations. Consider Abraham: God came to Abraham with a challenge sure to scare the wits out of most of us: Leave your familiar home and family, set aside your career, forget about the religion you’ve known since childhood, and go somewhere you’ve never been before, among foreign peoples whose language and culture you do not know.

Now that’s scary. But God moved Abraham to obey His call and to head out toward the land of Canaan, there to discover God’s purpose and plan for his life. How did God do that? What did He give the Spirit to work with to engender such courage within Abraham?

Exceedingly great and precious promises
He gave him promises.

God made promises to Abraham, and they were sufficiently compelling to create a new vision in Abraham’s mind, a compelling sense of mission, and the courage to leave his comfortable surroundings.

It’s interesting to consider that Abraham knew the promises of God even before he really knew God Himself very well. He would get to know God over time, and discover Him to be infinitely wise and powerful – a God to be feared, trusted, and even loved – a God in Whom he could rest all his hope. But it was the promises God made to Abraham which made the initial deposit of godly courage in his soul.

Peter refers to God’s promises as “exceedingly great and precious” (2 Pet. 1.4), and, indeed they are. The promises God made to Abraham included an intimate relationship with the living God, influence beyond anything he’d ever imagined before, provision for all his needs and protection against all foes, and the ability to channel the blessings of God to all the people of the earth, for all time (Gen 12.1-3).

Nothing in Ur of Chaldees, Abraham’s familiar homeland, had anything like those promises to offer. Those were indeed to Abraham “exceedingly great and precious.” And by focusing on those promises and moving within and toward them day by day, Abraham gained more than what the promises held out in and of themselves: He gained fellowship and friendship with the living God Himself.

Caught up in the promises
Abraham was encouraged to go beyond what was familiar and safe, to venture in new directions of obedience, because he was captivated by the promises God made to him. The Spirit of God worked in the mind of Abraham to make those promises a constant focus and a powerful impetus to vision. He worked in Abraham’s heart so that he desired those promises above all else. The Spirit lodged the promises of God in Abraham’s conscience, where they became the default choices in all the decisions of his life.

And as the promises of God thus filled his soul, Abraham acted courageously to lay hold on those promises, and to lay hold on God Himself. Not that he didn’t stumble, falter, or fear from time to time. He did. But as he returned to the Lord and remembered His promises, Abraham’s heart was renewed in courage, and he became the true friend of God.

We can grow in Christian courage when we understand and embrace the promises God made to Abraham as promises to us as well (Rom. 4.13-25). Study the promises of God. Envision them working out in your life – what each of them would look like in your daily experience. Pray that God will make His promises “exceedingly great and precious” to you. And as you do, realize that all the promises of God are “Yes!” and “Amen!” in Jesus Christ, so that the more we draw near to and trust in Him, the more we will realize the precious and very great promises He embodies.

As the promises of God begin to command your imagination and rule in your heart, you will find that your treasury of Christian courage is increasing, and you will live more consistently out of your brave heart toward those promises day by day.

For reflection
1.  Meditate on Genesis 12.1-3. Summarize the promises God made to Abraham.

2.  How would you expect to see each of these promises come to expression in your own life?

3.  Peter describes these promises as “exceedingly great and precious” (2 Pet. 1.4). What does he mean by saying these promises allow us to “partake” of God’s own nature? Is this what Abraham came to know? Is this what you expect for yourself?

Next steps - Transformation: Look at the promises God made to Abraham in Genesis 12.1-3. What would those promises look like if you were to begin realizing them in your own life? Then meditate on Romans 4.13-25. Make a list of steps you can begin to take today that will help you move more consistently – and with Christian courage –
toward the promises of God.

T. M. Moore

Focusing on Jesus
All the installments in this “Strong Souls” series are available in PDF by clicking here.

If you missed our ReVision series on encouragement, you can download all the installments of that study for free by clicking here.

How can we increase in the knowledge of God and the living hope of His glory? Our book, To Know Him, can help you become more focused and active in seeking the knowledge of the Lord. Order your free copy by clicking here. You can see Jesus more clearly by understanding what He’s doing in heaven at the right hand of God. Our book, What in Heaven Is Jesus Doing on Earth?, can help you to focus more clearly on our living hope. Order your free copy by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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