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Courage to Conquer

A few years ago Betty and I were flying to Norfolk Island (of Mutiny on the Bounty fame) for a holiday. The plane we were on developed problems and we were instructed to don our life jackets. This was a scary few hours. Even when we limped into Norfolk Island the pilot aborted an attempted landing and was ordered to fly another hour onto New Caledonia. We made it...much to the relief of the very anxious passengers. During that experience I realised just how scared I was and bereft of natural courage.

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On a humorous note, many years ago I can remember a quip by the comedian, Bob Hope, “Heroes ‘run’ in our family!” After that flight, I identified.

Recently I woke one morning with the idea of courage on my mind. As I considered the word and looked at the scriptures on the subject I began to think that this is an important theme for the modern day church to consider.

The next day I was visiting our local Koorong book store and discovered that The Passion Translation had just released Joshua, Judges and Ruth as a trilogy. I was greatly taken with the subtitle on the cover, “Courage to Conquer.”

Now I was really getting the message that the Lord was speaking to me.

As I reread these books I was struck afresh of the need for courage among God's leaders.

Joshua was called to lead an army into battle for hundreds of cities across the Promised Land in order for the people to possess their inheritance. Every city was a battle. (Josh 11:18-19)

It takes great courage to win the battle for cities. No wonder God had to constantly encourage Joshua by saying “be strong and of good courage.”

The war for our cities today is no less intense. Great courage will be needed to see the gospel triumph.

The book of Judges is also a book of courage. This account reflects the dismal state of Gods people who constantly backslid into apostasy and idolatry then found themselves being over run by enemy forces.

This book tells of how God raised up twelve champion deliverers (judges) to call the people back to God and to defeat the enemy of the time. Many of these leaders were flawed people but God instilled sufficient courage into them to be His leaders for the circumstances they faced.

It goes without saying that the church and culture of our day is in dire straits. It takes, and will take, great courage for God's leaders, and especially His prophets, to have the courage to stand up, speak up, and point to a better direction. All “hell” breaks loose when the prevailing culture is confronted.

When I got to the book of Ruth in The Passion Translation (the third book in this little trilogy), I saw that the translator had subtitled it “Courageous Love.” This amazing story is about how even an outsider with no power, title, wealth or influence can flourish if they love enough to trust.

Ruth, a Gentile Moabite, married into a Jewish family that had emigrated to Moab during a famine. She suffered the death of her husband, brother-in-law and father-in-law, leaving only herself and a bitter, disillusioned and depressed mother-in-law, Naomi. Together they trudge back to Bethlehem hoping to somehow survive.

We know the story so well; love triumphed and Ruth was written onto the genealogy of Jesus. Ruth was indeed courageous to love and trust the way she did. And of course the sovereign God went ahead of her every step of the way.

In summary; Joshua displayed the courage of a fighting general, the twelve judges each in their own imperfect way had the courage to rise up against the back-slidden culture of the day, while Ruth, a nobody, had the courage to love and trust.

In each case God was honoured and His purposes were expanded.

Today these books have a lesson for us.

Joshua was leading the people into the new paradigm of conquering cities. Today we also need a new paradigm of church as we “conquer” cities with the gospel. It will take great courage to call the church in each city/town to a place of humble, sacrificial, and servant hearted unity. Without this posture there will be no victory. Courage "in spades" will be needed to pioneer the new paradigm and to enter into the spiritual warfare required to see our cities blessed by the gospel.

Judges reminds us of the battles we face when the culture of the day has so infiltrated the church as to make it almost indistinguishable from it’s surroundings. Courage is needed to call the church back to its biblical foundations as one church in every city, and its mission to bring love and light into every community.

Ruth reminds us again of the power of trusting love. Gods love is sacrificial and others focused. The greatest power in the world! Love triumphs and conquers even in the most adverse circumstances.

Courage to Conquer is a needed call today.

Ian Shelton is coordinator of Movement Australia and South Pacific.

Photo by Maja Kochanowska on Unsplash

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