A Call To Courageous Living
A quote from Christopher Columbus: You can never cross the ocean, unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.
Two months ago I gave a lesson on separation, and isolation, how it was my total belief that none of you are here by accident, or bad luck, you are here for a purpose, and the purpose belongs to God. He is prepared to use you according to His grand purpose.
One month ago I talked to you about the curse of compromise, that as Christian men, and women, there is no room for compromise. I also told you in this lesson we would talk about what it means to be a faithful man (or woman) of God.
I have a purpose here, and that is to inspire you, and show you ways you can be evangelist here in this place.
This week I hope to encourage you to be evangelists and next month I will attempt to give you information that will help you, and in the meantime, between now, and then I am going to encourage you to spend a lot of time in prayer for a revival in this prison, and that God will use you in that movement, and that you will pray for inmates all over America, and the world for a great revival as well.
In Addition to that, I am asking people all over the country to join in prayer with us, and some have shared prayers that I will hopefully have time to share with you before we leave.
In the future, we will return to Apologetics.
Recently there was a movie released call “Courageous” and the message is so powerful I’ve decided to pattern this lesson on it.
Psalms 31:24 be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord. (NKJV)
We need men to man up. It’s time to call men to a higher level. We need men with the hearts of a warrior, ready, and willing to stand up for what’s right, and there is only one right and that belongs to God, so we must stand for what He tells us is right, and He doesn’t ask us to give an opinion on that, or judge it, no, our job is to do.
And, considering the condition of the world is there anyone here who would not agree that it is time to stand up, take responsibility and keep raising that responsibility to a higher level?
We need a new generation of men who don’t look to the world as a measure of success, but to the number of souls saved, and the word shared.
We desperately need men who find their value in faith, and you are that new generation, and thousands like you in prisons all over America who are turning to God, and when your work is done here, and you will go back to your homes, your work will begin there.
But for now that work is here.
We need to man up!
We need to be courageous!
We need to do it now!
Every one of you by your very presence here have demonstrated the courage to go your own way, and for everyone here, including all of us, that has for the most part been the wrong way, but now it’s time to go the right way.
The way you have chosen is not the point, the point is the natural courage you each have, and many may not have even recognized that in yourselves yet, but it’s there, and ready for God’s use and God is ready to use it.
The First Step: Get Going
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
― Lao Tzu
Gen 12:1 Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you.(NKJV)
Hebrews 11:8-10 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (NKJV)
Abraham was a risk taker, and “safety first” is not the motto of a risk taker, and I am going to repeat, that everyone in this room is here because they are a risk taker, those of you here voluntarily, and those of you here involuntarily. You have proven by your very lifestyle that you are risk takers.
Instead of cowering to the pressures of this culture, Christians need to become a force for positive peer pressure.
Boxes are designed for storage and shoes — not saints.
The heroes of the bible did not emerge from a cookie-cutter factory. They were all unique and distinctively different. They would not let the culture or the times define them. They refused to fit into ta religious box, even if it was an acceptable box for most folks.
So, What made them mavericks?
By faith Abel offered the acceptable sacrifice,
by faith Enoch walked with God, and this was during time like today, when evil had consumed their every thought, evil had overtaken the world.
By faith Noah built an ark.
By faith Abraham traveled to an unknown land.
Can anyone name a great historical figure from Ur? No one became great by staying home, but we do know one famous historical figure that Left Ur:
he trusted in God, and when called he got up and left his place of comfort, and went to a place of distress, a place of wondering, a place of fear, all because he had courage, and that courage came from his faith in trusting God’s promise.
Anyone can have courage when they have all the facts, but courageous faith obeys regardless of the situation.
Quote: We each have a choice: We can be average, or exceptional, and quite frankly, by your very presence here tonight, you are exceptional people. We can play at church, we can come here in the hot summer because it’s air conditioned, Or we can be radical, radical for Christ.
We can base our lives on what the world expects, or we can dig into the bible and find what God expects from us, and do it. I must ask: where are you headed? What is your choice?
The courage to choose or refuse
Deuteronomy 34:10-12 But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 in all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, 12 and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel. (NKJV)
Herbews 11:23-26By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward (NKJV)
You can’t talk about Moses without talking about his parents. At a time when being a Hebrew was dangerous; they rose above pressure and politics. They refused to cave in. Moses’ parents knew God, and believed Him for a greater purpose for their son. Though their obedience, God put a deliverer in the land.
And That is exactly what you are, you are deliverers’ in this land called Dick Connors
God knows each and every one of you, and most of you know Him, or are starting to know Him. He has a greater purpose for you than to be just another inmate at Dick Conner’s.
You live in a dangerous environment, but can trust in God, you can look danger in the face and know that you have the power of God behind you.
Moses had been brought up in the easy environment of the Pharaoh’s palace, as a son, yet,
Moses walked away from the easy life, from fame, fortune, power, and the pleasures of Egypt. “He refused”
In the same sense you must walk away from peer pressure, and that walk takes courage, but you must be men like Moses, men who “refuse”.
Like Moses we must choose to suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than join in with the pleasures, or protection of the world.
The Courage to Lead on All Levels
Joshua 1:9 have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (NKJV)
2 Tim 1:6-7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (NKJV)
Joshua was unwavering in his commitment. He was fearless in battle, and he was a godly man at home. Joshua was the total package, a man’s man.
This often reminds me of the man who assisted in raising me, my uncle, Gene Bond. In my eyes, he was the strongest, most fearless, hardest working man I had ever met, truly a man’s man. And, he was a preacher; he had the courage to share God’s word whenever, and wherever he could.
This is the kind of man we all need to be. Fearless in battle, and remember the battle is a spiritual battle, against the evil of the world, from within, from without, and fear is of Satan, not God.
The truly courageous man considers God in his calculations. He doesn’t forget God in his daily life, only to search for Him in a crisis. He lives with a constant awareness that “I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.” Our strength comes from standing on the promise of Christ.
And at some point we must move from calculation and contemplation to commitment.
Joshua was a great leader because he was a great follower. He understood duty and obedience. He knew there was an unseen hand guiding him and that God’s judgment and analysis were better than his own reasoning. Many people are too big for God to use; they are too full of themselves. Joshua’s ability to conquer resulted from having been conquered by God.
Faithfulness in little things will open the door for bigger things.
The landscape is littered with the lives of those who said they were going to do something great for God and failed to do it.
We must renew our minds and think on these things because God has called us to think differently than the world thinks.
We must long, thirst for victory, we must have a passion for victory like that deer that pants for water,
or as the drowning man thirsts for that one life saving breath of air.
We must be faithful in the small things first, in every little thought, every little action, all must be scrutinized carefully, in order to make sure we are in God’s will.
The courage to be a humble hero
1 Cor 1:26-29 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.
27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;
28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,
29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. (NKJV)
It seems leaders today are nothing more than the blind leading the blind. Unfortunately I also see it among God’s people. If we are going to see significant change in our lifetime, we must stop hiding in fear.
Most people we call heroes never view themselves that way.
Gideon was a young man who was totally convinced he was a “nobody”. Gideon didn’t run up and volunteer to lead an army.
He was hiding a coward who would, over the course of time, become courageous. Gideon responded with words of unbelief. Over and over he uttered words like if, why, where, but, and how.
Fearful people are often indecisive, and this seemed to be the case with Gideon. But God rises up people to achieve His purposes. God is not looking for talent or personality; he’s looking for someone He can trust with real responsibilities. He looks for those who will give Him glory.
Humility is not thinking poorly of oneself, but rather it means not thinking of oneself at all. Don’t let others tell you what you can be; Let God tell you.
- Fear focuses on the obstacles;
- Courage focuses on the opportunity.
- Fear sees with eyes of flesh;
- Courage sees with eyes of faith.
- Are you facing overwhelming odds?
- Courage is to face an uncertain future:
Ruth 1: 16-17 16 But Ruth said: “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. 17: Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.”
Mark 11:22 so Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.
Faith is fear that has said its prayers. The story of Ruth encourages us to be courageous. It should be a ray of hope in any difficult season.
You are going through a dry time right now, your life may be overwhelmed by drought and famine in this prison but take courage; Ruth reminds us there is hope in the darkest of times.
The selfless response of Ruth to Naomi is the hinge on which the door of this story swings. What might seem on the surface like two insignificant women and one insignificant decision became one of the most pivotal moments of redemption history.
When life slaps you with the unexpected you can choose to respond like Naomi or Ruth. Naomi felt God had treated her unfairly, and she pointed at Him with an accusatory finger. Although no blessings had been promised that she could cling to, Ruth refused to spend the rest of her life wallowing in grief and self-pity. Rather, she put feet to her prayers and works to her faith.
Faith demands courage. It takes risks and acts according to Gods Word. We can face an uncertain future or great loss or unexpected tragedy and grief with courage, knowing our heavenly father cares for us and brings life out of death.
The courage to make up your mind
1 Kings 18:21 And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word.
Matthew 12:30 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad
No one could be neutral as to the presence of Elijah. He was either a troublemaker or a problem-solver, depending on which side you were on. His impact was always substantial.
Where is the man of God that the world takes notice of today? God is on the lookout for men and women wholly surrendered to Him. The answer is either yes or no; there is no in-between.
Elijah was a man of action and a man of prayer. He never faced a situation when he did not believe that God had an answer. Before the showdown on the mountain, there was a season of praying. Elijah understood this was not about his being right, but about the Lord God of Israel being exalted. He had a backbone, but he got it from bended knees. To be effective in your work for God, and for your family, you have to be a person of prayer.
We’ve fought wars to maintain freedom, but we are in bondage to the spirit of compromise and complacency. Once you’ve prayed and have a word from God, stand on it. A man of courage will disturb the peace of status quo.
You can’t impact your generation if you aren’t willing to have a showdown and live with the consequences. Man up. The time is now to make up your mind Courage is the tenacity to bring about change: determination is the persistence to continue to see that change through to the end. Have the courage to pick a side. Who will be first?
The courage to face Criticism
Nehemiah 6:3 So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?”
God’s Everlasting Love
Romans 8:31 31 what then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
When I think of the courage to face criticism, my attention is drawn to Nehemiah. He pulled no punches, and he never backed down from a conflict.
Nehemiah was also a man of prayer. His public life was empowered by his private life. Prayer was fundamental, not supplemental. His work was bathed in prayer. He had a God-given vision, as the city needed walls if it was going to withstand enemy attacks. If Nehemiah had caved into critics, the wall would never been rebuilt.
Critics make three kinds of statements:
- It can’t be done:
- it shouldn’t be done;
- it won’t be done.
When you walk with God, you’ll anger those who don’t. The way you react to criticism will reveal if you’re courageous or intimidated.
Nehemiah met the opposition with prayer, but he also kept working. After you’ve prayed, go back to work. The greater the progress in the work; the greater the criticism. The more successful the work; the more intense the attacks. One of the great tests for a leader is the ability to persevere. Most of us quit too soon. Nothing troubles a troublemaker like seeing the work go on.
Critics want to convince you they have greater support on their side than you do. If you want to drive a critic crazy, keep doing what God told you to do.
You must have the courage to confront critics. My advice to you is simple: never let someone who has done nothing tells you how to do anything.
The courage to stir up fire
Ephesians 4:1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,
2 Timothy 1: 6 – 8 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,
I’m amazed that from the talent pool that was probably available to Paul, he would choose Timothy. Paul selected a young man in his thirties who wasn’t in the best health. The apostle reminded him to stir up the gift of god within him and not let the world intimidate him. The old apostle knew the fires of the early days of the church could go out if the next generation did not take seriously what had been entrusted to them.
Many of us have bailed out on God over less significant things than what Timothy faced. We allow the fear of man to extinguish our fire. We worry about what others think or how they will talk about us.
It’s time to stir up the gift, to jump into the arena. It’s time to demand a higher calling than playing games. The sides aren’t balanced; we are outnumbered. We must call people to the fire. The coals have been cold for so long that it takes time to stoke them and fan the flame again.
What will happen if we don’t call out this generation to stir up the fire and sell out to the Savior? What would happen if we took seriously the command to “keep ablaze the gift of God” and to invest in Timothy?
The courage to face persecution:
Acts 7:59-60 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,[a] for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
We may not live to see the days when we face severe persecution, but if our passion is to please God and to give Him glory, we will face growing persecution.
Stephen was not a seminary graduate. He wasn’t even a mature believer and had probably been saved less than five years. When brought before the religious leaders, Stephen did not tremble in fear. Although they saw Stephen as a problem, he saw them as an opportunity to preach Christ. It drove them crazy.
What made Stephen a courageous man? He was full of the Spirit. Stephen was also full of wisdom, faith, and power, able to make decisions and choices controlled by the Spirit. He didn’t run ahead of God or act on his own. Stephen could cut to the chase and see the real issues behind the facades. The Holy Spirit took what he knew and empowered him to communicate it clearly, concisely, and without apology. Stephen was a man who knew the Scriptures. He didn’t just have them in his head; he hid them in his heart.
Today Americans are biblically illiterate. If you just know a little here and there, you’ll come to the wrong conclusions. We need believers who know what they believe and why they believe it.
The American church is not ready for persecution. We are wimpy, self-serving, and self-centered, dining on Pabulum and watered-down Christianity. The cross demands more of us! We need boldness in this land of the bland.
Will you be the one to answer that call?
Moses, the great leader, the forerunner of Christ himself had five questions or statements to God when told to go to Egypt and deliver the people from the Pharaoh.
Who am I to go?
Who shall I say sent me?
They won’t believe me.
I do not have eloquent speech
Send someone else!
I know that I have asked those same questions, before we went into chaplaincy with Hospice, before I gave my first sermon, before I taught my first bible class, and before I came to my first prison.
I know many of you, probably all of you will ask those same questions as you enter into God’s fields of work, right here where you are.
So let’s take a look at God’s answers to Moses, to me, and to you.
Who am I to go?: I will be with you. this applies to all of us
Who shall I say sent me? I am who I am , God is God, He is the one who sends you, just as He did Moses
They won’t believe me. He gave him a miracle, as he does us, we have the miracle of conversion
I do not have eloquent speech: I will give you the words: , He will give us the words we need when we need them.
Send someone else: I will send Aaron with you.
We always have someone to come with us if we need it, even Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs, which is exactly how you should spread the word as well, go in pairs to people, and never pre-judge who might receive the word, that is God’s part of the job.
Prayers sent your way concerning courage and your time here in this place
Johnnie M: Look to the Lord for he will guide you, Liston to him and he will tell you what path he has for you. It all comes in Praying, I know you can turn your lives around if you just turn to him, and trust in him. I know personally that it can happen I seen it happen, my prayers will be with you. Just look to the Lord our God to guide you. Amen.
Cherie R: Jim, I would like to share the prayer that remains as my profile picture that I am sure most never read. But it is there as a DAILY reminder & inspiration to me. I pray that it will strike a chord in just one prisoner if not more. There is ONE important aspect they must UNDERSTAND and that is you have to turn your heart and face to God and TRULY BELIEVE, have FAITH and TRUST in Him!!
God, I may not understand how everything will work out, but I trust you. I don’t see a way, but I know you will make a way. I have faith that at this very moment you are touching hearts, opening doors, and lining up the right breaks and right opportunities. Things may look dark and bleak now but I have faith my dawn is coming! Amen
GOD BLESS YOU & JODY in your prison ministry!
Genie S: I am in prayer for prisons and the souls detained there, as well as the families. Being the mother of a prison inmate, this is a battle I will fight! Jim N Jody Carmichael, please say a prayer for my son when you feel led.
Terry M: Lifting up prayers now for all the prisoners, pray they will find God
Genie S :Father God, I pray that these men will open their ears and prepare their hearts for your message. Help them, Father, with their burdens and struggles. Please bless them and let them feel your love surrounding them. Let each one feel, and know in his heart, that you love them and gave your only Son to die for them so they wouldn’t have to. Let them see this prison they are in as a blessing to keep them from the evil that is waiting for them outside until they are strong enough in their faith to resist any temptation that Satan will throw at them. Bless their families, Oh God, that they may know how to be an encouragement and support for them. And Father God, if their family does not know you, then I ask that these men would be the light and the change that their family sees to know that you are real. That you are the Alpha and the Omega. That you are God. Father, give these men strength they need to get through the day, a love for their fellow inmates that would shine through the darkness, and a peace that passes all understanding. In your Son’s blessed and Holy name, Amen.
Maryann P: Father God, please grace Bro. Jim, touch him and prepare him to be a conduit of renewed life, new birth, a new circumcision on the hearts and in the Spirit that touches our brothers incarcerated. Open doors of loving forgiveness and bless sincere repentance and conversion with radical futures in their home communities, their families, to other brethren in prison in places we cannot fathom our and their influence, that all good, all growth, all transformation comes forward like a rushing dam to spread Your Glory, that we make an amazing blow against the enemy as co-laborers with Your Precious Son, Our Beloved Savior, Jesus Christ, in whose name and Blood we ask for covering, forgiveness, amazingly unmerited graces, cleansing. In Jesus’ Most Sweet Precious Name, we the brethren pray from all points. Amen.
Dwight H: Praise the Lord. My God, do a new thing today in the lives of your people. Holy Spirit have your way in all prisons. Jesus Thank you for each of them for they are yours. Be Bless Brothers and Sisters.
Susan B: Thank you for your ministry! May God touch many hearts and lives!