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10th August 2014
God's people throughout the ages have been told to be courageous – from Joshua (1:7) through to Jesus' disciples (John 14:27), we are told not to be afraid but to have courage.
Courage can be defined as the ability to control your fear in dangerous or difficult situations or to be brave and confident enough to do what you believe in. Courage doesn't happen as a vacuum – it is exercised when fear strikes.
Our courage isn't based on our own abilities or circumstances, but on the fact that God is with us wherever we go; He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us; the God of the universe is with us and for us.
We might imagine that it makes no difference whether or not we have courage, but there are consequences when we do nothing. There was a responsibility on Esther's shoulders (see Esther 4), and there is a responsibility on our shoulders too. We are called and equipped to bring the good news of Jesus Christ, and to reflect His Kingdom on the earth now, being salt and light to those around us. Matthew 5:13-16 says we are to be salt and light. Isaiah 60:1-3 and 61:1-3 tell us we're called to bring a completely different order to the planet – bringing heaven to earth.
Just as Esther was in the right place at the right time, often we are too. God is sovereign and in control of all things. Acts 17:26 says God has determined the times and places of our lives. We might find our circumstances hard, but perhaps God has you where you are for a reason. Esther needed Mordecai to point this out to her. Likewise, we need good friends around us who will remind us that maybe we are here for a reason!
Faith is required for courage. Fear didn't drive Esther away from God; it drove her towards Him. She gathered a group to fast and pray. She trusted in God. When we are under intense pressure, the best thing we can do is pray, and fasting helps us to develop a deeper relationship with God too. There's no place among God's people to do things as a lone ranger. Like Esther, we need each other.
Esther exercised huge courage in 'death to self'. She put the wider concerns of her people above herself; she was willing to sacrifice herself for the sake of the nation. That's what real love looks like – when our agenda dies for others.
Christianity is a costly faith: it requires our whole lives. Courageous influence means being aware that there are huge consequences when we do nothing. It means understanding that God might just have us where we are for a reason. It means placing full trust and faith in God alone. Real courage means 'death to self', for the sake of others.
How can you exercise courageous influence today?
Download the 'Courageous Influence' sermon and life application questions here.
Posted by Santino Hamberis