The God of Courage
by Andy Cokayne 24 June 2020
On Sunday we considered how Jesus, during his earthly ministry, encouraged his disciples, after he had given them power and authority, not to be afraid. He knew what they, and we, are like, that so easily our fear stops us stepping out in faith. In this passage from the Acts of the Apostles, we see Peter and John amaze the Jerusalem Ruling Council, by their bravery. This was the same Peter, that only a matter of weeks previously had denied he even knew Jesus. The same John, who was known as ‘the disciple Jesus loved’, who with his brother James were nicknamed the ‘Sons of Thunder’, yet who when Jesus was arrested meekly melted away into the crowd, like the other disciples. Yet in this passage we read ‘When they (the Sanhedrin the Ruling Council in Jerusalem) saw the courage of Peter and John and realised that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.’ The difference was that they were filled by the Holy Spirit.
Does that mean that after we have been filled by the Holy Spirit we will never experience fear? The fact is that the Holy Spirit is not some sort of magic bullet that prevents us ever feeling afraid of anything that might happen in the future. Rather the Holy Spirit helps us when we need it. Corrie ten Boom told a story in her book ‘Tramp for the Lord’, where she illustrates this. She was very concerned as a child that she would never be strong enough to die for Christ. Her father used an illustration to help her see that, just because she was not brave enough now, that did not mean she would lack the necessary courage if she ever found herself needing it. He reminded her that he did not give her the ticket money for a train journey weeks in advance but just before she boarded the train. He explained that, similarly, God gives us the strength we need to cope with troubles at the time we need it and not before. This was certainly true for the disciples, when they really needed it, God gave them buckets full of courage. You can be sure he will do the same with us.
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