Bible, Main, News, Persecution, Religious, Teaching, z79
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What Christians need today — courage


Credit: SAITOR/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: SAITOR/Flickr/Creative Commons

YouVersion Bible App was created in 2008, since then over 295 million people have downloaded the app for use on their phone, Ipads and computers.

According to this year’s stats, so far this year the app is being downloaded 1.4 times every second of the day. In the same time frame, people are also sharing ten verses with friends.

But YouVersion also provides the most read verse of the year and in some ways this provides an insight into what believers are facing around the world.

Outside of North America, the most read verse is:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NASV)

In America, the most read verse is similar but with a slightly different twist:

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28 NASV)

The verses portray how things are changing for Christians. For years, many have been able to live their faith without much persecution. But recently in Muslim countries the persecution of Christians has been ramped up.

And even in non-Muslim countries such as India and China, the persecution of Christians has rapidly escalated over the past few years.

Many Christians are facing death or imprisonment because of their faith.

Though the most popular verse in North America is slightly different it nevertheless reveals increased resistance. In North America, Christians are facing the potential of severe fines and even loss of business for their faith.

So what do the two most popular verses on YouVersion reveal. They tell us that the one thing Christians need today is courage.

Christians are facing very real adversaries. But the Holy Spirit does not want us to overcome our adversaries, but rather to overcome our fears.

An ancient proverb says “fear and courage are brothers.” You can’t have courage, unless fear is present.

Feelings of fear are very real. We don’t gain courage by dismissing or downplaying what we are facing. We must face our fears head on and become victorious over our fears through courage.

How do we do that?

1. Trust God

Unfortunately, it has become a bit of a cliche, but trusting God is critical.  Throughout the Bible we see God continually confronting people’s fears, and often the Lord provided an antidote to the fears they were facing.

In the verse in Joshua, God tells Joshua not to fear “for the Lord your God is with you.”

When Abraham was facing the prospect of rescuing Lot from Sodom and Gomorrah, God told him not to fear because “I am your shield” (Genesis 15:1). When Mary became pregnant with Jesus, the angel told her not to fear because she had found “favour with God” (Luke 1:30).  Zechariah was told not to fear, because God had heard his prayers (Luke 1:13).

Through this understanding, believers overcame their fears and were able to move into the next step and conquer their adversaries.

2. We face our fears by accepting the inevitable

But there are times our adversaries will still have the advantage. In the early chapters of the Book of Revelation, God warned the believers at Smyrna:

10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10 NASV)

God was telling Christians that they would suffer. Some of them would be thrown into prison and others would die. So how did believers conquer their fears during such evil times?

We are given the answer to this later in Revelation, when it tells us that they overcame the evil because “they did not love their life even when faced with death” (Revelation 12:11).

Simply they accepted death.

During World War II, bomber crews flying over Germany faced horrific casualties. For every 100 men that took to the air, 45 died, six were wounded and eight became prisoners of war. In one way or another, there was nearly a 60% chance of something very serious happening to them.

To deal with this fear, some commanders told their bomber crews on particularly dangerous bombing runs to write their wills and accept in their minds that they were already dead.

3. Be filled with the Holy Spirit

When I became a Christian in the 70s, we were involved in a hippy church. The men had long hair and beards and the women long hair and hippy dresses. Being filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues and spiritual gifts was a major emphasis in our church.

It was preached from the pulpit. People were encouraged and regularly prayed for to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

It is something that needs to be re-emphasized today.

For the first Christians the infilling of the Holy Spirit was emphasized repeatedly in the Book of Acts. It was a major and necessary need because the Holy Spirit power was the source of their courage:

31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31 NASV)

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