The Church of Courage

Vision 2020 Series Sermon #5
~ The Church of Courage ~
Tyson Graber, Herscher Christian Church 
April 3, 2011
Acts 3

Week one = HCC will continue to be a Church that Enjoys Life
ZOE =
John 10:10

Week two = HCC will continue to be a Church that Empowers People
Holy Spirit =
1 Peter 2:9

That will work in your everyday life.  Bring out the best in those you are close to.  Watch what happens.  Your kids will grow, you will likely advance and be blessed in whatever you do. 

Week three = HCC will continue to be a Church that Encounters God
Removal of Sin =
2 Corinthians 3:12-17

Week four = HCC will continue to be a Church that Exists to Share God’s Love

The world is in need of Christ now more than ever.  The world needs to know God’s love is real.

We are currently living in a time that many sociologist have called the age of fear.

There are large groups of people that fear anything and almost everything.  There are many that have a fear about economics, fear about fuel, fear about food supplies, fear about war, fear about earth quakes, fear about nuclear radiation,   and of coarse many are still living fear about the continued threat of terrorism.

With all of that said, I believe God wants us His Church to Experience Courage Through Him just as the early church did.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 
2 Timothy 1:7

Our sense of courage through God is so important because both fear and courage are contagious.

[VBS song]
12 Men went to spy on Canaan
10 were Bad and 2 were Good...
 Joshua and Caleb

Yet, there can be leaders like Joshua and Caleb that have the ability to inspire God’s people through courage.  I love to see those who have courage to stand up against what seems to be impossible odds.

How many have enjoyed the underdogs having so much success in this years NCAA tournament?  GO BUTLER BULLDOGS!

There is just something special about rooting for the underdogs and watching how their leaders have the ability to make their courage contagious.  That’s one of the reasons I love the movie “Hoosiers”  so much.  How many of you have seen the 1986 movie “Hoosiers”?  How many weren’t even born in 1986?

I feel that one the greatest cinematic leaders of courage in movie history was in “Hoosier”, but strangely enough, he only really had three lines.  His name was Jimmy. 

The scene was the Town School Board Meeting.  Whole town is there to get rid of their coach who is played by Gene Hackman.  On that night, here comes Jimmy, the star of the team who has decided not to play, and everyone thinks it is because of this new coach.  So, everyone want to get rid of the coach, and get Jimmy playing again because he is the real deal; he was an amazing player.

So Jimmy comes into the meeting with a ball under his arm and says,
“I figure its time for me to start playing ball again.”

CHEERS, and the reason they think he is coming back is because coach is getting fired.  Then he says his second big line of the movie, “But if the coach goes I go, I only play if he stays.”

Now, the school board, who was about to fire the coach, has the dilemma of keeping the coach to have Jimmy play.  The coach was saved, the coach of a young man who came to speak up for what he believed was right.

Then, Jimmy’s only other big line of the movie came at the end of the movie, At the end of the Indiana State championship game when the coach he has supported wants to give the ball to another teammate at the end because he believes Jimmy will be double and triple teamed.

[Show Clip]

We need Christians who don’t necessarily talk a lot, but have the courage to believe that through God they can do,  and who will say, “I’ll make the shot.  You can count on me.”

Jimmy did not have to be loud or flashy, he just had this confidence and courage that led by example.  But as Jimmy went, so did the team he was on.   Today, as we look at the early church in the book of Acts, as Peter and John led with courage through God’s power, so went  the church; it went forward along with them.  Make no mistake, the church went forward with courage from the beginning. 

Courage is essential.

Revelation 21:8
The cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars, they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur.

I believe this ‘cowardly state’ mentioned here is directly related to a ‘heart matter’ that reveals a lack of trust and faith in the Lord.  With those who fear the things of the world, it shows at the core, a distrust about what they believe about God.

God says in the Bible,

Hebrews 13 “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Do we believe that?  The early church leaders did, and it allowed them to lead in amazing ways.

Turn with me now to Acts 3:1

Together lets look to the examples of the early church leaders and the grand courage they experienced through the Lord and His presence in them.

“If God is for us who can be against us?”

Acts 3:1-7
1.  Courage to share with others how God can change your life!

What I see God sharing with us today is to have the courage to tell the world that God may not have what you want but He has what you need.

DO you have the courage to seek what God really wants for you? 

Talk about being a person of courage.  Will you pray that prayer today?  “God you are perfect and I know you want what is best for me.  What do you want?”  Peter was very good at that.

Acts 3:8-10

This was Healing, instant, complete, and there is a crowd that is gathering!

2.  Courage to speak up for Christ and the resurrection of the dead.
Acts 3:11-13

Peter turns this miraculous moment into an opportunity to talk about Jesus.  God gave an opportunity to seize the day for Christ and Peter had the courage to grab it.

Lets be looking for those moments.

 That’s why we have made available this car banner, the Christian Music Concerts, the Easter Worship at the school.  These things create opportunities, moments to seize for Christ.
Have the courage to claim those moments for Christ.

[French Toast Story]
There is a new business in Bourbonnais called French Toast.  We had business in the mall where it is located, and I had some time to waste, so I went in... then found out their specialties were breakfast sandwiches that were unique and didn’t sound particularly good to me.. So I asked if they could just fix me a simple egg muffin sandwich.  They said, “Yes, but it’ll take about 20 minutes.”  So I said, go ahead.   While I was waiting, I noticed a stack of Bibles, so I asked what they were there for.  The lady I was talking to was the owner, and told me she gives those Bibles out to customers who need them. She said she had a dream to start more shops like this one to not only serve food, but to reach out to others for Christ.  I encouraged her to hang on to that dream.
While I continued to wait, a man came in. He looked kind of down on his luck, unkempt. She greeted him like she knew him and visited with him, so I learned he had lost his banking job a couple years ago, and was getting disheartened.  But we encouraged him to keep up his dream of securing work, and to keep faith in God.

Do you see what will happen in a growing the Church for Christ?  God will lead the leaders through the Holy Spirit to take every moment captive for Christ and amazing things will happen for the sake of God’s Kingdom.

Read Acts 4:1-4
With this,  Peter had preached 2 Sermons  and 5000 people believed!

You might be thinking, “.. but I would never be able to speak up for Christ.  I could never lead 5000 to Christ in my life let alone a few days, I am too afraid to speak for Him.  Peter was a natural.”

Really?

Have you forgotten that because of fear just weeks before, Peter had denied Christ 3 times in just a matter of minutes.  Yet now, through God’s power and gift of courage,  Peter is leading thousands to the Lord.

To have that type of courage we need to decide ahead of time that we are going to speak for Him.

Will you?

When we decide to be this purposeful for Christ, we will come under opposition.  We will make the world uncomfortable; we will even make the current religious leaders uncomfortable, or even afraid themselves.

ACTS 4
Those leaders that tried to kill Jesus could not contend with the power of the Spirit and the boldness of the church leaders like Peter and John.

Acts 4:12
The current Jewish leaders were so fearful they tried to get the disciples to shut up.

3.  We need the courage to speak up and claim ‘Christ only’ for Salvation.

Our message is exclusive, we should not be. Christ is the only way to salvation, but he is the way for all who will believe... that is IN-clusive.
John 3:16

Acts 4:13
That’s what makes the difference.  Again, it is the presence of the Lord in us. 

My vision is that as we grow in the presence of the Lord, our courage through Him pours out.

The world, even current religious leaders, will try to get us to lose heart and stop speaking of Christ, but we must continue in Courage.

Read Acts 4:16-21

What is a key to this continued courage?

Acts 4:23-31

4.  Courage for Christ comes through Prayer.

We must be committed to seeking God’s power for ministry to be done.  We must be committed to seek  His protection and power through Prayer.  We will need the strength of the Lord and His boldness well beyond any of our plans.

After their prayer, the place was shaken!  They weren’t the same people as when they came in.

Make us bold and courageous!

Prayer is a key.

Finally, when we are bold we will be of one mind and one heart.  Unity comes to those who are faithful, first to God, and then to each other.