Thursday, December 29, 2016

Boldness


 
 
God has called us to a life of action. There are all to many of us who want to sit on the side lines and wait for Jesus to come back and rescue us from our hardship, without being the faithful tenants that Christ talks about in the gospels. Often times this is an attitude we take when we are overcome with fear of other people. This is a time in History that especially calls for action on the side of the church. If it’s not apparent yet, no amount of wishing that the world won’t get darker and darker, well we listen to our worship songs and sip our coffee and have someone talk about how bad the world is, will amount to a hill of beans. God might hear every one of our prayers, but He is much more interested in us doing what He says. If any of you have children you should understand this thought. Do you want your children telling you how hard there life is and that you should really not ask them to be obedient if you loved them? I’m glad God is more patient with me than I deserve because it certainly gets my blood boiling when the same line of logic is tried on me. Any good parent gives boundaries and structure for the benefit of their children. If you don’t discipline your kids in love, it’s them who it costs. 

We talk about godliness in many Christian circles as if it’s something that we achieve by not acting. It’s the thought that God finds pleasure in our avoidance of sin. We don’t smoke, don’t swear, don’t drink, and don’t fornicate. I’ll tell you that God doesn’t care and the Devil doesn’t tremble because of all of the things that we don’t do. I have also seen a great counterfeit for boldness in our modern day Church. Our boldness for Jesus has to be more about God’s desires, then our sinful need for self-assertion. I have been at a few Christian ministries, where the leadership is hiding the sinful attitudes of domination and manipulation with “god words.” It doesn’t count. You can’t classify that as what God considers boldness in the scripture. If it’s not in line with God’s desires, or is presented in a way that is not fitting for God’s desires it doesn’t count. Think about Moses in the case of striking the rock, out of turn (exodus verses). God did not have kind words for His sinful exertion of power.            

One of my greatest struggles of life is being bold and taking action when the time calls. I can recount dozens of times that I have failed in this area. I think God has placed me in situations time and time again; where I must take action, say something or do something, and I have fallen short. My lack of boldness is something that God is using difficult situation upon difficult situation to help me grow through. To be honest I feel allot like Gideon in Judges 6 who was threshing wheat in a wine press at night so the Amorites didn’t hurt him or take his grain. I love that after God visits Gideon, the first thing he told Gideon to do was to smash up his father’s alter to Baal and to cut down the Ashura pole beside it.  It was a great call to boldness for Gideon. God called Gideon to trust him in the midst of great fear. God called Gideon as a judge to save Israel from there oppression.

I can’t say that my fear is entirely unwarranted. I have been bold in situations that have cost me. I have stood up to sinful leadership, and been ostracized for it. I have said things that are unpopular but true, and labeled as a trouble maker. I have stood by the little guy and lost friends.  There are other times when I was just doing something nice for someone out of a kind heart and they took offense to my kindness. It weighs heavy on my heart because this happened on several occasions. There were times in my life when got half of a story and really tried to be a help and somehow offended or upset people in the process. People misread my kind hearted actions as malicious. Until I met my beautiful wife who spent allot of time telling me what God thought about me; I felt like some strange cross between Mr. Bean and the 1950s Frankenstein’s monster. All of that can make a person gun shy when making decisions. It is something I greatly want to overcome.

 For others though, this problem is not a paralyzing thing. For me, on a regular basis it is all to paralyzing. The reason I am going into so much detail is just to say: I have some negative experiences which don’t offer much light. I do however have the Bible which is always true even though for me this is still a necessary area of growth.

 

One of my favorite verses in scripture is Proverbs 28:1. It says, “The wicked flee, though no one peruses, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” I love this verse because, people that share Gods heart are immovable in objects of right and wrong. They are steadfast, regardless of the cost. It is an attitude I desperately long to have.  

I also love these verses in acts. I love that in spite of the opposition the disciples faced, they prayed for boldness. How many of us instead of boldness to continue on, would pray that God would make all of the hard stuff go away.

 23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:

 

“‘Why do the nations rage

    and the peoples plot in vain?

26 The kings of the earth rise up

    and the rulers band together

against the Lord

    and against his anointed one.[b]’[c]

27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

 

31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

A great example of Godly boldness is listed in 2 Samuel Chapter 7.  King David, out of a compassion for God, realizes that He is living in a Palace, and the Ark is in a tent. He wants the representation of Gods house to be bigger, and nicer than His own. It was something that God didn’t expect from David, but came from David’s compassionate heart. David was taking a righteous initiative, not out of any expectation from God or others. Simply from kindness and compassion. I would like to have that kind of heart myself. The heart of giving with no obligation.

After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2 he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.”3 Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.”4 But that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying: 5 “Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? 6 I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. 7 Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’

God commended David’s boldness for God on a few occasions. He was looking at God’s heart and glory, being more important than His own life. In 1 Samuel chapter 17, he took on Goliath, through faith in God. He knew that God was bigger than any giant.

It is important for us to be bold. We have to look at life through the eyes of faith in God. Don’t be discouraged by the odds. God plus 1 is always a majority. The interesting thing about people as that a negative view of things can keep us from being affective. That is exactly what the Devil wants. He wants to keep us discouraged, because God choses to use us. If we are active about God’s work, the plans of the Devil get thwarted at every turn. Let us be positive about the things that God wants to accomplish. He doesn’t need us, He just wants to include us. Caleb knew this and was bold for God in the face of opposition. He also was looking at the size of God rather than the size of the problem.

 Numbers 13:30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

 

31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

 

God’s encouragement to Joshua was to be strong and courageous in spite of the enemy. The took the land, by faith in spite of impossible odds, because it was God who did it.  

Dueteronamy 31:

31 Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel: 2 “I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not cross the Jordan.’ 3 The Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua also will cross over ahead of you, as the Lord said. 4 And the Lord will do to them what he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, whom he destroyed along with their land. 5 The Lord will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you. 6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Here are a couple more that have been an encouragement to me to.

Ephesians 3:11.

11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

Hebrews 4:14-16.

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[f] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 10:32

32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

A life that pleases the Lord, demands our faith in Him despite our obstacles. It sees Him as the answer to our hardships and obstacles. God asks for our boldness and trust in Him. He gives us God sized problems so that He can be the solution, He never leaves us in any of it but we must boldly trust Him with the eyes of faith.