The Influence of the Conduct and Character of Courage
August 2, 2020
Open your Bibles to Philippians 1 and 1 Kings 18
Philippians 1:27-30 NKJV
Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.
Unity in courage. Living life in a way that looks like Jesus.
God Hijacked my message “Things Your Mom and Dad Said that Stick”
- Because I said so
- Life’s not fair – the fair is in Dallas
- Your face is going to freeze like that
- If everybody jumped off a cliff would you too?
- Be on time
- Make your bed
- If you tell somebody you’re going to do something you do it.
What is influence? John Maxwell says, “Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Mr. Webster says Influence is “The capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others.”
The reason so many things stick that your parents teach you, is number 1 relation, but I want to tell you another reason that most people would miss.
Environment, Atmosphere and Culture
Your parents, positive or negative, for better or worse, consciously or unconsciously are the shapers of the the environment, atmosphere and the culture of the house you grew up in.
God has designed the world so that whoever leads the environment, the atmosphere and the culture has the greatest influence.
Environment: the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates.
Genesis 2:15 ESV
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
In order for God to build a perfect relationship with a human being that would develop, grow and produce of the fruit of the HOLY spirit, He had to place him in an environment that needed help in development, growing and producing.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
The environment goes hand in hand with the influence.
Jeremiah 2:7 ESV
And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination.
God expects us to be stewards of our environments
Atmosphere: the pervading tone or mood of a place, situation, or work of art
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Culture: “The way we do things around here.”
Culture is defined by whoever sets the values
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked rules, the people mourn.
Environment Atmosphere and Culture
Courage: the ability to do something that frightens one; strength in the face of pain or grief.
Famous quotes about courage include:
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt
“Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.” – John Wayne
“Fear is actually a healthy thing and not a sign of weakness.”
The word courage appears in Scripture 28 times – 28 is the number for times and seasons
11 of those times we read the words
“Be strong and of good courage.”
11 is the number for heroes rising. It’s also the number for judgment over disorder.
In God’s economy, strength and courage go together. Not only that, God actually calls courage “good.”
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
The other thing we see in scripture is the phrase “take courage” or “took courage.”
In these instances, it seems courage is something God has and we need to grab hold of it just like Joseph of Arimathea did at the death of Jesus.
The universally famous empty tomb
Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
LET’S LOOK AT AN EXAMPLE OF GREAT COURAGE IN THE MIDST OF FEAR
The story of Elijah is in 1 Kings 17 and starts out this way:
1 Kings 17:1
And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.”
Elijah literally comes out of nowhere on the pages of scripture, and when I say nowhere, I mean nowhere. He’s a Tishbite, meaning he’s from Tishbe, but nobody really knows where the actual city of Tishbe was.
In other words, Elijah is an “every man” – he’s just like you and me. He no marvel comic superhero. He’s just a guy that God decides to use in a really big way.
So, Elijah walks onto the pages of scripture boldly confronting evil King Ahab with a stern warning of judgment from God. He tells him, “It’s not going to rain until I say so.”
Ahab’s entry into scripture isn’t pretty either:
1 Kings 16:30
Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him.
Even though evil was Ahab’s calling card, this brother was a major pushover. Spoiled and spineless, scripture shows he sulked and threw fits when he didn’t get his way – and he was a grown man!
Ahab was deeply religious, but the problem is, he’s worshipping the wrong god. He’s so weak that he makes a political alliance with the King Ethbaal of Sidon for protection. Notice his name is Eth-Baal. That means he’s not only the king, but the high priest of Baal worship. Ahab seals the deal by marrying the king’s daughter, Jezebel.
Jezebel is something else. She’s cunning, controlling, manipulative and power hungry. Ahab is no match for Jezebel and before he knows what to do with her, she’s running the show. The high priestess of Baal, she moves 400 false prophets into the palace and throws the Northern Kingdom into the depths of Baal worship.
She is in total charge of the environment, the atmosphere and the culture in every way and she’s demonic. Its all about Fear and control
She’s so evil, she massacres the prophets of God. She was so evil and murderous that Ahab’s servant, Obadiah, a man who fears God, hides 100 prophets in a cave. They were that scared of her!
Enter Elijah. When all the other prophets are dead or cowering in a dark corner, he’s declaring a drought over the land that lasts for three years. Everything died!
At the end of three years, Elijah shows back up on the palace doorstep.
1 Kings 18:7-11
Now as Obadiah was on his way, suddenly Elijah met him; and he recognized him, and fell on his face, and said, “Is that you, my lord Elijah?”
8 And he answered him, “It is I. Go, tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’ ”
9 So he said, “How have I sinned, that you are delivering your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me? 10 As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to hunt for you; and when they said, ‘He is not here,’ he took an oath from the kingdom or nation that they could not find you. 11 And now you say, ‘Go, tell your master, “Elijah is here!’”
Elijah’s not stupid. He knows Ahab has sent assassins after him. He knows Jezebel will rip him limb from limb if she gets her hands on him. Is he scared? Yes! He’s just spent three years in hiding in a widow’s house in Zarephath, but he “takes courage” because God tells him to go to the palace.
1 Kings 18:17-19
Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?”
18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and have followed the Baals. 19 Now therefore, send and gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”
And Ahab, instead of killing Elijah who is standing in his palace without an army to protect him, does what Elijah says! He’s the king for crying out loud and he just caves and goes. He follows orders.
Now we all know what happens next. Elijah tells the 400 prophets of Baal to build an altar to Baal and put a bull on it. Elijah then builds an altar to God and not only puts a bull on it, he douses the bull and all the kindling with water.
It’s 400 against one and Elijah tells them to pray to their god, Baal, and if he answers by fire and burns up the sacrifice, he must be god. Check out what happens next:
1 Kings 18:26
So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, “O Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made.
27 And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them. 29 And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.
These crazy prophets of Baal are armed and they out-number Elijah. Is he scared? Of course he is but there is a cause greater than his fear.
When it’s Elijah’s turn, he prays. He just gets down on his knees in all humility and prays. Now remember, HUMILITY IS THE CURRENCY OF HEAVEN so my brother Jamie Galloway says – and he’s right because God answers.
1 Kings 18:38-40
Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!”
40 And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let one of them escape!” So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the Brook Kishon and executed them there.
While it seems that Elijah is all boldness and swagger, he truth is, he’s not. He’s afraid. He knows he’s outnumbered. He knows Ahab has been hunting him and Jezebel wants him dead. He’s been in hiding for three years, so yes, he was scared. How do I know? Check this out:
1 Kings 19:1
And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” 3 And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.
Elijah was TERRIFIED. THE MAN OF GOD WHO JUST CALLED DOWN FIRE AND KILLED 400 PROPHETS OF BAAL RAN FOR HIS LIFE!
Remember, courage is not the absence of fear. It’s the knowledge that there is a cause bigger than that fear.
There is a reason to rise up and “take” courage – to grab hold of it and call it “good.”
THIS ANCIENT STORY IS BEING PLAYED OUT RIGHT BEFORE OUR EYES IN THIS DAY.
The false god of Baal is behind abortion and human trafficking right here in this nation. Baal is a fertility god. He’s all about prosperity, money and greed as well as child sacrifice.
The Spirit of Jezebel has infiltrated our halls of government and justice. It runs the media and the mob. (THE LEFT)
Half of our leadership is under the spirit of Ahab. (THE RIGHT)
This is what the word has to say about left and right:
A wise man’s heart is at his right hand,
But a fool’s heart at his left.
BUT HERE’S THE WORST PART – A GREAT BIG PIECE OF THE CHURCH HAS BEEN SILENT THROUGH ALL OF THIS MESS.
CHURCH LEADERSHIP HAS EMBRACED THE SPIRIT OF AHAB AND IS LETTING JEZEBEL RUN ROUGHSHOD OVER THEM AND OUR NATION.
YOU AND I NEED TO MUSTER UP THE SPIRIT OF ELIJAH AND CALL DOWN THE FIRE OF GOD INTO THE HEARTS OF THE LOST.
IN THE ABSENCE OF LEADERSHIP, YOU AND I MUST STAND AGAINST THE EVIL OF THIS DAY, CALL IT OUT AND CAST IT DOWN.
Be strong and courageous! Take courage!
The way God moves when you take a risk is different from the way God moves when you play it safe.
Philippians 1:27 (The Messsage)
27-30 Meanwhile, live in such a way that you are a credit to the Message of Christ.
Philippians 1:27 (ASV)
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ:
Philippians 1:27 (AMP)
Only [be sure to] lead your lives in a manner [that will be] worthy of the gospel of Christ
Philippians 1:27 (CSB)
Just one thing: As citizens of heaven, live your life worthy of the gospel of Christ
Philippians 1:27 (TPT)
Whatever happens, keep living your lives based on the reality of the gospel of Christ, which reveals him to others.