Sermon for the Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost
(Confirmation)

Text: 1 Peter 3:15a
Honour Christ and let him be the Lord of your life.

 

Being Courageous

Friends,

I want to start by thinking about the word ‘courage’. What does that word mean?  Well, we could use other words to help us understand its meaning – words like bravery, fearlessness, audacity, or something like, ‘the guts to stand up to trouble or to stick to your convictions’.

Courage can be described as a human emotion or quality that anyone can have but today I want to talk about
courage that comes from the Holy Spirit;
courage that arises out of trust and faith in Jesus;
courage that begins with the amazing and spectacular love that Jesus has for us.

A story will help us understand this godly courage.
Jesus and his disciples were in the temple and were watching the people as they put money in the offering bowls.  These bowls were made of metal and open at the bottom so the money could fall into a chest underneath.  Only coins were used and made quite a noise as they were dropped in the metal bowl.

Jesus noticed that there were lots of rich people who came with very large purses of money.  They made sure that there was a lot of noise when they dropped their coins into the bowl.  The larger the value of the coin the bigger and heavier the coin and the more noise it made as it hit the metal bowl and slid down into the chest.  Of course each coin was dropped in separately for the benefit of those who might be nearby. 

Then along came a widow.  In those days depended a women depended solely on her husband but when her husband died and she had no family to care for her, her only option was to beg.  This widow dropped in two small coins (coins of the lowest denomination) and as they fell into the bowl they made hardly any noise.  She could have put in just one coin and kept one for herself but she gave both, all the money she had. This woman and her two small coins were so insignificant no-one took any notice except Jesus.

Then Jesus said something very strange, I tell you that this poor widow put more in the offering box than all the others” (Mark 12:43). How can this be?  Didn’t this woman only put in two small coins while the rich people put in loads of money.  Jesus went on to explain.  The rich people had only given a small bit of their wealth.  The woman had given everything.

She was generous – generous to the point of giving everything she had. 

She was courageous.  It took courage to do what she did.  I can imagine standing there with my coins and saying to myself, “Will I?  Won’t I?  Will I? Won’t I?”  Not quite sure if I could make such a courageous act of sacrifice.  This woman showed the kind of nerve that relied on God as to how things will turn out in the future.  She had no more money. 
Where will she get her next meal? 
How will she pay her taxes? 
If she had kids, how will she take of them? 
She had the courage to do what she believed was the right thing to do and trust God for the rest. 

This is no fairy story.  I have known people in real life who have done just that.  They had the courage to make a sacrifice, and amazingly without anyone knowing what they had done, out of the blue, help came in some form.

Jesus needed courage as he faced the cross.  The disciples wanted him to run away from Jerusalem.  They knew how dangerous it was for him to go there.  Jesus trusted the Father in heaven and his plan to save all people and courageously and generously gave his life for us all.

The disciples later faced lots of people who opposed the Christian message.  They trusted God and courageously stuck to their guns and bravely faced their enemies.

It takes a lot of courage to “honour Christ and let him be the Lord of your life” to use the words of the text I have chosen for this message today.
“Honour Christ” – that means to respect him, place him first, give him top priority but more importantly honour him with our lives. 
Honour him with how we love God. 
Honour him with how we treat others. 
Honour him with how we live good lives – respecting those in authority, other people’s property, sex and marriage, being helpful and caring, showing kindness and compassion and understanding to those who different to us.

“Let him be the Lord of your life” – Jesus has saved you with his precious blood.  He has brought you into his family through baptism. 
He has made a holy agreement that he will always be your friend and helper.  This is the ruler of heaven and earth who has done all this for you graciously and generously. 
He knows all your needs.  He understands your feelings.  He wants to help you, guide you and walk with you to give you the strength and the power overcome all things including death.

It takes courage to believe that the Bible is God's Word and that Jesus is real when there are so many who ignore Jesus and the Bible;
It takes courage to worship Jesus when the everyone else is saying it’s a waste of time or it’s better to do something more exciting. 
It takes courage to let Jesus guide you; to let your choices, your values, your morals be directed by the holy life that Jesus gave you through his saving death. 
It takes courage to listen to the Holy Spirit and to say “no” when everyone else saying “yes” to something that is clearly not God’s way.
It takes courage to trust Jesus when it seems everything is stacked up against you and the worst seems to be happening.
It takes courage to honour Jesus by sticking up for the people when everyone else is putting them down; by helping people everyone else looks down on and don’t care about.

M, E, S, S and C, clearly it takes courage to “honour Christ and let him be the Lord of your life”. 

And yes, we aren’t always going to be as courageous as we would like to be. 
We will back down. 
We will be quiet when we should speak up. 
We will doubt when we should trust. 
We will look the other way instead of standing up for the unloved. 
We will go along with the crowd when we know so well that the crowd has got it so wrong. 
We will give into our human feelings and instincts even when we know that we will be letting down the God who made us, as well as the people who love us.

M, E, S, S and C when you become disappointed that you aren’t as courageous a Christian as you would like to be, there is good news. 

Remember the story about the disciple Peter when he was challenged in the High Priest’s courtyard during Jesus’ trial, “You’re one Jesus’ disciples, aren’t you?” and immediately Peter’s courage evaporated.  Not just once but three times.  Big brave Peter was afraid to say he was a friend of Jesus. 

He was so upset about that.  And so was Jesus.  Jesus died for just those moments when we are like Peter and our courage to honour Jesus and let him be the Lord of our lives disappears like a morning fog.

So how do we stay courageous and faithful followers of Jesus?  The answer comes from this verse.  “Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end” (Hebrews 12:2).  Don’t let anything distract you.  Be made strong and brave through God’s promises in the Bible.  These are words spoken by God for you to give you courage.
Be reminded of what Jesus promised you at your baptism and encouraged by his love for you. 
Be refreshed and renewed as you eat his body and blood in Holy Communion. 
Be encouraged when you come to worship. 

M, E, S, S and C, today you are saying “yes” to Jesus.  “Yes, I will honour Christ and let him be the Lord of my life”.  In fact, this is something we can all say as we listen to the confirmees stand before us.  Where we have lacked courage before, we pray that we will be courageous in our faith in the future and trust Jesus to the degree that we too, like Peter, will be able to walk on water when trouble threatens to overwhelm us. 

This is a verse for all of us today -
“Honour Christ and let him be the Lord of your life”.

 

© Pastor Vince Gerhardy
1st November 2015
E-mail: gerhardy65@hotmail.com

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