2019-01-14 A Coward By Nature?

Good Morning!

We’re halfway through what is supposed to be the coldest month of winter. So far, we’ve had it easy in Central Minnesota. I am hoping for a little snow.

Fear. We looked into this in detail on Friday in our examination Jesus’ calming the storm. I’m not sure if I know anyone who doesn’t need some radical work done in this area. I hope you take Jesus up on his offer. There is a book that I started last fall that I am going to take up again. I recommend it to you – “The Christian In Complete Armour, Volume 1 – A Modernized Abridgement Of The Puritan Classic By William Gurnall.” In Puritan style, it is hard-hitting. It is meant to greatly disturb your life. The way I look at it, Satan greatly disturbs my life already, why not turn the tables and really get into the game. Here’s his opening volley:

The apostle Paul had a discerning heart. In writing to the early Christians at Ephesus, he knew he had to prepare them for unprecedented hardship. But first he longed to encourage and comfort them, so he reminded them of the Lord’s strength: Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might (Eph. 6:10). Page 23.

He then goes on to make a distinction between cowardice and bravery. We don’t really use these terms today. Maybe we should. The idea of being a coward stirs something inside of me. I don’t like to consider that. On the other hand, I like the idea of being brave. This appeals to me. Yet, would I consider myself brave in terms of my Christian faith? I think that is exactly what we all are called to be. Gurnall goes on to write:

Let this exhort you then, Christian, to petition God for the holy determination and bravery you must have to follow Christ. Without it you cannot be what you profess. The fearful are those who march for hell (Rev. 21:8); the valiant are they who take heaven by force (Matt. 11:12). Cowards never won heaven. Do not claim that you are begotten of God and have His royal blood running in your veins unless you can prove your lineage by this heroic spirit; to dare to be holy in spite of men and devils.

Look, Christians are not cowards. God re-wired us completely at our conversion. At that moment, we were given everything we need. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places….” (Ephesians 1:3) That’s past tense, my friends. God has already made us brave. We are not cowards. Our job is to wake up and not ACT like cowards. There’s a big difference. God isn’t asking us to be something we are not; he is asking us to realize the person he has already made us to be.

Yet being brave is not the end result of God’s work. It’s a means to an end. More and more, I am convinced that our primary purpose is to cooperate with God so as to be holy.

Revelation 19:6-8 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters, and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exalt and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure” – for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

We see this same theme again from Paul:

Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

Peter also points this out:

1 Peter 1:13-16 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

We’ll need bravery if we are to realize our objective. Let’s not confuse things. Yes, those of us who are born again are deemed holy and righteous by God’s act of mercy. That was a gift that we did not earn or have anything to do with. That’s irrevocable. However, even though our sinful nature has been changed so that we no longer practice sin, we still sin. Still, for some of us, you would be hard-pressed to tell if there was an actual change by God or not. I would venture to say there are some who truly aren’t saved who claim to be. Still, there are plenty to are who do little to rid themselves of sin. There will come a day when God will complete this work, and I recommend that we do the majority of it before the day we stand before Jesus. As Paul writes, “If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:15) He hits this again in his second letter, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:10) See also Hebrews 9:27 and Matthew 12:36.

So, folks, we will need to be brave. There are lots of resources available to help us examine our lives and make changes. None of these will do any good unless we determine in our mind, spirit, will, and body to heed the Spirit and obtain strength, endurance, encouragement, and bravery from our Father. Remember, Jesus tells us to wake up and stay awake. The devil is a prowling lion looking for someone to devour.

Father, make me brave. Please. I desire to be holy. Please cleanse me and prepare me for meeting Jesus face-to-face. Amen.

Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers

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