Public Worship: These Times
Still, Strong, and Brave (Part III)
What These Times Demand
Rooted in stillness and infused with strength, we can be bold, brave, courageous and victorious. Like Gideon, the numbers don’t matter to us. Like David, giants may oppose us but they cannot stop us. Like Elijah, we can speak to the heavens and bring rain or fire. We also find the courage required for a different kind of heroics—that of the quiet life of integrity, obedience, and productivity.
1 Chronicles 28:20 NIV
David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work.
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you.
He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service
of the temple of the LORD is finished.
2 Corinthians 3:12, 17-18 NIV
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. … Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
It always takes courage to live for God.
In some times and places, more courage is required than at others. In the USA, our forefathers have, at great danger and sacrifice, provided us a favorable climate in which to serve the Lord.
- Our constitutional religious freedom is a precious gift that many of our God-family members in other lands do not enjoy.
- The church can exist wherever men and women call upon God. It is not dependent upon a constitution or a tax code.
History has also proved that when forced underground, the church grows underground. In our own lifetime, we have seen this in China and in Eastern Europe.
All of that said, these are challenging times for us.
- When one is faced with the choice of work or church in order to provide for our families, it takes courage to choose to be faithful to public worship.
- It takes courage to write the tithe check when there isn’t enough money to pay the bills.
- A financial beating on a house or an IRA is as painful to a believer as to a non-believer.
- The loss of a job or a career is as challenging to the believer as to anyone else.
- For a teen or young adult to take a Christian stand at school or university, or a business man at the office, courage is required.
We may not be facing famine and sword exactly, but we do face danger and privation. Courage is required. We must not only be still and strong, we must be brave. Not just a few of us—all of us must put on the whole armor of God and do battle with the enemy every day. (Eph. 6:10-18) We must go to our duty stations and do what we have been called to do. Jesus has made it clear that it all counts when it is done for Him, from the cup of cold water to the supreme sacrifice
Courage is the catalyst.
King David told his son, Solomon to “Be strong and courageous, and do the work.” (1 Chron 28:20 NIV) We are still before the Lord and strong in the Lord so we can “do the work.” Courage then, is the catalyst that makes all the separate ingredients into one dish.
- Plans remain only intentions until courage puts them to work.
- Strength is dormant until courage applies it to a specific task.
How many accomplishments fall into memory unfulfilled because no one had the courage to put a plan into motion and apply strength to the job. Courage brings hope to the fore. Leaders follow an internal vision because they have hope that things really can change. Those who follow them receive their vision and share their hope. Paul tells the Corinthians, “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold…” (2 Cor 3:12)
Encouragement is vital.
The wonderful line spoken by an angel in the opening sequence of Frank Capra’s classic film, It’s a Wonderful Life, says so much. Speaking of George Bailey’s life-crisis on Christmas Eve, “Is he sick?” Clarence asks, “No, worse.” Clarence’s superior answers, “He’s discouraged.”
To be discouraged is worse than being ill.
I believe it. Discouragement, despondency, depression seem to rule in a cynical climate of repeated disappointments. The news is depressing, the population despondent and the church is often discouraged. The ministry of encouragement becomes absolutely vital. When we function together as the community of faith, we encourage each other in the Lord. When you encourage someone you, in effect, pour courage into them. You supply them with the catalyst that makes things happen in the Kingdom of God—courage. On the other hand to discourage someone is to drain from them the very essence they need to function. True Worship encourages the believer. To hear the Word of God is to build faith. (Rom 10:16-17 NKJV) To join with the people of God in expressions of faith gives hope and, because we have hope in Christ, we can be very bold.
The courage we have is the courage of our Companion.
The prophet Isaiah brings us an amazing promise from the heart of God:
Isaiah 43:1-5 NKJV
But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;… Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored,… Fear not, for I am with you;
“Fear not!” the Lord says, “For I am with you! I have called you by name. You are mine! Neither flood nor fire will harm you. Fear not!”
No wonder we can be still and strong and brave! We are not alone. The King goes with us into battle. He walks with us through the fire and flood and we are not burned and neither are we drowned. We are brave.
Stillness. Strength. Courage.
These times demand these things. We are the people of God. We are simultaneously citizens of heaven and of earth. We live in this world by the principles of another. The pressures of life from outside of us are matched and overmatched by strength from the life inside of us, where the Creator, Himself, lives. We move through this earth as a mighty, healing stream winding our way to the sea enriching the land through which we pass. Where we find an abundance of sin, we bring an abundance of grace. Where we find war, we make peace. Where we discover fracture and division, we heal and unite. Darkness retreats before us for we are the army of the light. The gates of hell may strategize or lay siege or rush at us headlong, but they will never prevail, for we are the Church Christ Jesus is building. Before Him we are still. In Him we are strong. With Him we are brave.
© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved