“RENEW MY COURAGE, LORD”
1. The value of courage may be observed from Psalm 27:13,14 – “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” (ESV)
2. The strength that comes from courage is much needed “for the living of these days” (as one of our songs puts it).
a. It takes courage to be Christian in this culture and to be confident in the face of numerous uncertainties.
b. Any family will meet circumstances which require courage.
c. The well-being of the church calls for individuals who will courageously rise up to “bring in the day of brotherhood and end the night of wrong.”
3. Because courage is so much to be desired, and because the demands upon it are so many, we can easily echo the words we have sung:
“Renew my courage, Lord, it needs restored,
My cup is empty, refill it, dear Lord,
Replace all doubts and fear with faith so bold.
Renew my love, rebuild my faith, O restore my soul.”
1. The first step toward this kind of renewal is understanding the nature of the quality the Bible calls courage.
a. Even our English word suggests that there is something more to courage than the absence of fear.
i. One dictionary says courage is “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.” (Merriam-Webster’s Tenth Collegiate Edition, 416)
ii. Another defines it as “the attitude of facing and dealing with anything recognized as dangerous, difficult, or painful, instead of withdrawing from it.” (Your Dictionary.com)
b. The terms the Scriptures use are, if anything, even more meaningful.
i. The main O.T. word means “to show oneself strong.” (New Bible Dictionary, 239)
ii. The key N.T. term means “to dare, or to bear, something terrible or difficult,” or “to be confident, or bold” enough to venture to do something which involves some risk. (Vine, 137-138)
iii. Whether it gets translated “take heart” or “be of good courage,” this word describes the confidence that is proper to a person who is sure of his ground. (NIDNTT, Vol. 1, 365)
c. A couple of examples may help us understand the Bible’s concept of courage.
i. Mark 15:43 – “Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.”
ii. Acts 7:31-32 – “When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and as he drew near to look, there came the voice of the Lord: ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and did not dare to look.”
iii. Courage doesn’t mean never being afraid. It isn’t being rash and reckless. It is the “I can do all things I ought to do through him who strengthens me” approach to the practical demands of life.
2. The second step in renewing courage is appreciating the forms courage will take in everyday Christian life.
a. Courage shows itself in patient endurance.
i. Some have the readiness to dare but not the ability to endure. That isn’t courage.
ii. George Patton said, “Courage is fear holding on a minute longer.” It would be better to say, “Courage is hope holding on.”
iii. Hebrews 3:6, 14 – “...And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope....For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.”
b. Courage shows itself in moral steadfastness.
i. It seeks to do what is right in spite of opposition, and it resists temptation to do wrong in spite of enticement.
ii. It isn’t just stubbornness; it is continuing to bring yourself in line with the mind of the Lord. Sydney Harris wrote, “I am tired of hearing about men with the ‘courage of their convictions.’ Nero and Caligula and Attila and Hitler had the courage of their convictions – but not one of them had the courage to examine his convictions, or to change them, which is the true test of character.” (Bits and Pieces, Oct. 91)
iii. A courageous person lives in the world and walks in the light regardless of what the darkness thinks, threatens or offers.
c. Courage shows itself in spiritual fidelity.
i. That is, it remains faithful and true to the Lord and his ways.
ii. Acts 5:29 – “But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’”
iii. The longings of a courageous heart are gathered up in this prayer:
“Grant, O God,
That we may never lose the way through our self-will, and so end up in the
far countries of the soul;
That we may never abandon the struggle, but that we may endure to the
end, and so be saved;
That we may never drop out of the race, but that we may ever press forward
to the goal of our high calling;
That we may never choose the cheap and passing things, and let go the
precious things that last forever;
That we may never take the easy way, and so leave the right way;
That we may never forget that sweat is the price of all things, and that
without the Cross, there cannot be the crown.
So keep up and strengthen us by Your grace that no disobedience and no
weakness and no failure may stop us from entering into the blessedness
which awaits those who are faithful in all the changes and the chances of
life down even to the gates of death; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(William Barclay, Prayers for the Christian Year)
3. The third step in this process is doing the things that actually renew courage when the cup is empty and doubts and fear need to be replace with faith.
a. Find your place in the promises of the Lord.
i. Hebrews 13:5-6
ii. Deuteronomy 31:6 – “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”
iii. That last phrase means literally “I will not drop you.”
b. Recall your best days.
i. We’ve all had days when we weren’t as courageous as we wanted to be.
ii. Don’t dwell on them. Don’t feed that monster which would lead you to think there’s no use for you to keep trying.
iii. Hebrews 10:32-36
c. Keep your whole armor on.
i. Remember that we’re called to be strong but we’re not asked to stand on our own power.
ii. Ephesians 6:10 – “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”
iii. Ephesians 6:13-17
1. One of our songs has these lines to the God of grace and glory:
“Lo! The hosts of evil round us Scorn Thy Christ, assail His ways!
Fears and doubts too long have bound us, Free our hearts to work and praise.
Grant us wisdom, Grant us courage, For the living of these days,
For the living of these days.
Set our feet on lofty places; Gird our lives that they may be
Armored with all Christ-like graces In the fight to set men free.
Grant us wisdom, Grant us courage, That we fail not man nor Thee!
That we fail not man nor Thee!
2. God answered that plea with a small band men who had new courage some fifty days after the resurrection of our Lord – and what a difference they are still making!
3. Does your love need renewed? Does your faith need rebuilt? Does your soul need restored?