- Colossians 1:3-6 – Hope Laid Up In Heaven – audio Richard Dillon
- Matthew 5:43-48 Love Your Enemies – audio Richard Dillon
- Hebrews 06:17-18 The Unchangeableness of God – audio Don Treadway
Text: Joshua 1:9
A. The most interesting stories in Reader’s Digest are those of the heroism of “average” people in life threatening situations.
B. Most people have more physical courage than they realize.
C. But the man who would not hesitate to risk bodily harm to save someone’s life will often be unwilling to risk ridicule to save someone’s soul.
D. Moral courage is rarer than physical courage — but it is much more important.
I. MORAL COURAGE SOMETIMES REQUIRES PHYSICAL COURAGE.
A. True and deep commitment to the Lord is not without its physical dangers – Hebrews 11:32-38
B. Our very lives may be required of us – Revelation 12:11
C. Paul’s attitude serves as a good example – Acts 20:22-24; 21:10-14
D. It is not impossible that such courage might be required of us today.
II. MORE OFTEN, THOUGH, WE ARE THREATENED BY INTANGIBLE DANGERS
A. Peter, the physically courageous, shows that it is possible for a person to have considerable physical courage and still lack moral courage – Matthew 26:33; John 18:10
1. Peter denied the Lord three times – John 18:15-18, 25-27.
2. And years later, he showed a similar lack of courage in the Gentile controversy – Galatians 2:11-16
B. Satan knows very well the kinds of things we are most afraid of:
2. Being “labeled”
4. Minority status
5. Loss of social esteem
C. Knowing our personal fears, Satan threatens us at those points, knowing that we will do nearly anything he says to avoid suffering those things.
D. If we give in to such pressure and deny Christ, we place ourselves among those who confess Christ only when little is at stake.
1. But Christ asks us to lead a life, in word and deed, which confesses Him regardless of the danger – Luke 12:8-9
2. We are not to hide the truth about our identity any more than He did – John 18:3-9
3. To be ashamed of Christ is to be lost – Mark 8:38
III. THE COURAGE WE CAN HAVE IS GROUNDED IN THE TRIUMPH OF GOD OVER EVERY EVIL
A. It is through Christ, and only through Him, that we can “do all things” – Philippians 4:13
1. John 14:27-28
2. John 16:33
B. There is no need for fear – 2 Timothy 1:7
C. It is a victorious Savior whom we follow – Revelation 19:11-16
A. It is the overcomer through Christ who will enjoy heaven – Revelation 21:1-7
B. But cowardice can damn our very souls – Revelation 21:1-8
C. If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31; 35-39
D. We are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us”- Romans 8:35-39
E. There is more joy in one moment of integrity and moral courage than there is in a lifetime of bowing to the pressure of evil.
F. The softest pillow upon which we may rest our heads at night is that of a courageous conscience.
G. What is there in your life today that requires courage?
Kepler spent many years of his life trying to prove a hypothesis
Johannes Kepler was a German astronomer, born in 1571. He lived in a time when astronomy and astrology were merged into a single field of study and he excelled prolifically, in both disciplines. From the time of his boyhood, he was educated to be a member of the Lutheran clergy, but instead he found work as a teacher. During one of his classroom lectures, it occurred to him that the orbits of the six planets (only Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn were known at the time) were spaced in just such a way that there seemed to be a geometrical relationship between them. He thought of the five “regular” or “platonic” solids (discovered by ancient Greek thinkers, like Pythagoras and Plato) whose sides were regular polygons and theorized that these were the invisible support structures for the solar system.
Kepler spent many years of his life trying to prove his hypothesis. He labored for countless hours to construct three dimensional models of the spheres of the six planets nested within the five regular solids, but it was all for naught. He was not able to make his theory work mathematically with the available data on the orbits of the planets. He sought the most precise data available in his time from Tycho Brahe, a Danish nobleman, who was the Imperial Mathematician in the court of the Holy Roman Emperor, but even the most precise observations of the motions of the planets did not help. His problem was that he, along with every other astronomer of his time, assumed that the planets orbit the sun in a perfect circular motion. After many more years of painstaking observation and calculation, Kepler discovered that the orbits of the planets are elliptical, rather and circular.
He had the courage to admit when it was proven to be false
The thing about Johannes Kepler that impresses me is that, even after he had committed the majority of his professional life to one specific idea, he had the courage to admit it, when it was proven to be false. As a gospel preacher, I talk to numerous souls about all kinds of matters pertaining to religion. I have found that most everyone I talk to has their own ideas about God, the church, salvation, and so forth. But, few people have the courage to admit it, when their own pet theories about religion are proven wrong. People will cling to false doctrines and practices, like a drowning man clinging to a piece of his shattered boat— afraid to let go and grab the lifeline rescuers have thrown him. What a tragic situation!
We must not fear the truth
We must not be afraid of the truth, no matter what the truth may be. If God’s Word says something that contradicts what we have always believed, we must abandon our false beliefs post haste, lest we fall victim to vain religion (Matthew 15:13). Whenever I begin a new study with one who is not a member of the church, I usually say something like this: “At some point in our studies together, we are bound to encounter something in the Bible, which contradicts things that you have always believed. At that point, you will have to make a decision: are you going to do what you think is right, or are you going to do what you know the Bible says is right?” People of the modern era have a problem accepting the authority of the Bible. Most of the time, that is the first thing you have to discuss with them.
Another thing that impresses me about Johannes Kepler is his general attitude toward scientific discovery. He was not an atheist, like many modern scientists, but rather he believed the Biblical account of creation and he saw his mission as a scientist as being one of seeking to understand the mysteries of God’s creation. In his Mysterium Cosmographicum, Kepler wrote, “We do not ask for what useful purpose the birds do sing, for song is their pleasure since they were created for singing. Similarly, we ought not to ask why the human mind troubles to fathom the secrets of the heavens…The diversity of the phenomena of Nature is so great, and the treasures hidden in the heavens so rich, precisely in order that the human mind shall never be lacking in fresh nourishment.”
Do we pause to give God the credit for our blessings?
Kepler went on to calculate the elliptical pattern of the orbits of the planets and establish three laws of planetary motion, in the waning years of his life. Although some viewed his work as heretical, Kepler viewed his discoveries as being guided by the providence of God. What a wonderful attitude! How many times do we pause to give God the credit for all the blessings we have in our lives? Kepler thanked God for the privilege of making the discoveries he made in his lifetime. Let us not neglect to thank God for all of the great that we have done with our lives. As Paul put it, in his sermon on Mars’ Hill, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). It is a worthy goal for us to strive for curiosity, courage, and conviction, in this life.
Text: Galatians 2:6-19
1. Paul’s defends his apostleship in Galatians by recounting
a. His limited contact with the other apostles, in particular Peter – Galatians 1:11-24
b. Two episodes when he met with the apostles, especially Peter – Galatians 2:1-21
2. The relationship between Paul and Peter has often been misrepresented
a. That Peter had primacy over Paul (Catholicism)
b. That they had doctrinal differences (Criticism)
3. The Biblical evidence shows otherwise. Both in Galatians and elsewhere in the Scriptures, we note their equality and respect for one another.
I. PAUL’S VISIT TO JERUSALEM
A. THE OCCASION
1. Paul, Barnabas and Titus had gone to Jerusalem by revelation – Galatians 2:1-2
a. Likely the visit to Jerusalem described in Acts 15:2-4
b. Though some think it may have occurred earlier - Acts 11:29-30; 12:25
2. Paul withstood pressure by false teachers – Galatians 2:2-5
a. In a private meeting, he spoke with those “of reputation” (Peter? James? John?)
b. False brethren sought to compel Titus to be circumcised
c. Paul refused to yield to their demands
3. Paul met with Peter, James, and John, who “seemed to be pillars” – Galatians 2:6, 9
B. THE OUTCOME
1. With those “who seemed to be something” (James, Cephas, John) – Galatians 2:6-10
a. They added nothing to Paul (made no demands, gave no instructions or authority)
b. They saw that Paul had been given the gospel to the uncirmcumcision
c. Paul recognized God’s effective work in Peter’s ministry and Peter’s apostleship to the circumcision
d. James, Cephas (Peter) and John perceived the grace given to Paul
e. They extended the right hand of fellowship to Paul
f. They asked only that Paul remember the poor, which he was eager to do
2. Of the meeting together with all the apostles and elders at Jerusalem - Acts 15:6-29
a. Peter related his preaching to the Gentiles, and their salvation without circumcision
b. Paul and Barnabas related their ministry and God’s working among the Gentiles
c. James offered scriptural support, and then a letter to which all agreed
d. The letter confirmed the ministry of “beloved Barnabas and Paul”
3. Paul’s visit to Jerusalem certainly illustrated that he and Peter were in doctrinal agreement regarding the gospel they preached.
II. PETER’S VISIT TO ANTIOCH
A. THE OCCASION
1. Peter played the hypocrite – Galatians 2:11-13
a. He had come to Antioch (some think this was during Acts 15:1; others think it was later)
b. At first he ate with the Gentiles
c. After certain men came from James, Peter withdrew and separated himself
d. He feared those of the circumcision
e. His actions encouraged other Jews to be hypocrites, even Barnabas
2. Paul confronted Peter – Galatians 2:11, 14-19
a. He withstood Peter to his face, because he was to be blamed
b. He rebuked Peter before them all, showing him to be inconsistent
c. Paul’s gospel (justification by faith in Christ, not by the works of the Law) vindicated by Peter, who normally lived like a Gentile himself – cf. Peter also, in Acts 15:7-11
B. THE OUTCOME
1. Paul’s equality with Peter demonstrated – Galatians 2:11,14
a. Paul had the authority to withstand him to his face
b. Paul had the authority to charge him with hypocrisy before all
2. Peter’s respect for Paul undiminished – 2 Peter 3:15-16
a. Peter later described Paul as “our beloved brother Paul”
b. Peter acknowledged the wisdom given to Paul
c. Peter recognized Paul’s epistles as “Scriptures”
3. Peter’s visit to Antioch was not a happy occasion, but it did provide an opportunity to illustrate the equality of Peter and Paul, and that despite Peter’s momentary lapse, his overall life demonstrated that his gospel was the same as Paul’s.
III. LESSONS FROM PAUL AND PETER
A. THE COURAGE OF PAUL
1. We note the courage manifested by Paul in Jerusalem and Antioch
a. Refusing to concede to pressure by false brethren
b. Standing alone with even your closest brethren are led astray
c. Having to rebuke a respected brother in Christ
2. Paul’s courage was motivated by faithfulness
a. Faithfulness to the Lord whom he served
b. Faithfulness to the gospel of which he was not ashamed – Romans 1:16
B. THE HUMILITY OF PETER
1. We note the humility manifested by Peter in his last epistle
a. Not holding a grudge against Paul for his public rebuke
b. Willing to publicly acknowledge Paul’s wisdom given by inspiration
2. Peter’s humility was motivated by love
a. Love for a brother in Christ
b. Love consistent with what he himself taught others - 1 Peter 3:8-9
1. The relationship between Paul and Peter illustrates the power of Christ
a. To turn persecutor and persecuted into coworkers for the gospel
b. To help brethren at odds work through their problems to become brethren beloved
2. While Paul and Peter had a different focus in their respective ministries
a. They served the same Lord, preached the same gospel
b. One was not superior to the other, they were fellow-apostles in the kingdom of God
3. Rather than trying to find some perceived ‘rift’ between two faithful apostles, may we use their examples to motivate us in our service to the Lord and to one another
Text: 2 Timothy 1:3-7
2 Timothy 1:3
Paul emphasized serving God with a pure conscience, just as his forefathers did.
In Acts 23:1, he admitted to serving God with a pure conscience until that day. Even when he was persecuting Christians he did it with a good conscience.
When he later learned what the Lord wanted him to do, he turned his life around (Acts 7-9).
He then began to worship the one true God that existed in the beginning, as God required of Him (Acts 24:14-16).
2 Timothy 1:4
Paul had a great relationship with Timothy (see verse 2), and longed to see him again. No doubt Timothy was weeping, longing to see Paul.
2 Timothy 1:5
Paul recalls the faith that Timothy’s mother and grandmother had.
They passed it on to Timothy, and Paul is convinced that his faith is genuine also.
Paul already reminded him that the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and sincere faith (1 Timothy 1:5); thus, he encouraged Timothy to instruct others in it as he followed it himself (1 Timothy 4:6-7).
2 Timothy 1:6
Paul encouraged him to use the gift he has received to glorify God and edify others.
In his earlier letter, he said, “do not neglect the gift that is in you (1 Timothy 4:14)…” If one doesn’t use what God has given him, he’ll lose it (Matthew 25:14ff.)!
2 Timothy 1:7
Perhaps the most popular reason that a person does not use his gift is because of fear.
Paul reminds Timothy that God does not give us a spirit of fear, but rather of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Paul also reminds the Romans that they did not receive the spirit of fear, but of adoption (Romans 8:15).
If we love God, love the truth, love His Son, and others, we will become His son by obedience to the gospel (Galatians 3:26-27), thus clearing our conscience and allowing our faith to work.
When we become a Christian, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit even as those on Pentecost did (Acts 2:38). Jesus told His apostles that the Holy Spirit would come upon them with power, and He did on that day (Acts 1:8; 2:1ff.).
Text: Matthew 21:12-13
1. Jesus went against the culture of the day. He was not “politically correct” in His actions, but He was correct in the eyes of His Father.
2. How do we measure up to the courage of Jesus? – 2 Timothy 1:7-11
I. His courage among His friends
A. Jesus did not stoop to the level of human habits but encouraged them to His level. Jesus stated many times that man should not fear this world, but overcome the world. – Luke 12:4-5
B. Are we walking like Jesus in the presence of our friends? Do we have the courage to turn away from “friends” who would lead us to sin? – Ephesians 5:8-14
II. His courage among His enemies
A. Jesus faced Satan:
1. at His temptation – Matthew 4:1-11
2. the Jews at His arrest – John 18:4-9
3. the cross without fear – Luke 23:26-31
B. Are we standing up to the enemies of the cross?
1. Ephesians 6:10-17
2. Philippians 1:1-17
III. His courage among false teachers
A. Jesus never hesitated nor retreated. He attacked the hypocritical and was uncompromising and fearless. – John 8:44
B. Too many today will not call sin “sin”. They call it “a mistake”. Do you stand courageous against false teachers and their doctrine?
1. Acts 4:13, Acts 4:18-21
2. Galatians 1:6-10
3. 2 John 9-11
1. It takes courage to live the Christian life.
2. Let Jesus be your great example.
Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. He truly desired God’s work and people prosper, seeking God’s help in prayer and trusting in Him as he obtained permission from the King.