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Courageous Faith

Jesus wants us to be courageous in our faith. Per my previous blog (see below), this is something that he is emphatic about. It is debatable intellectually to consider whether faith without courage is faith. Still, it is very accurate that in our life and relationship with God, if we don’t live with courageous faith, we not only miss out on the big adventure that Jesus invites us on, but our faith actually shrinks.

In Matthew 14:22-23 - on a boat and in a storm - Jesus exhorts his disciples to “Take Courage” as they reach out to grab his hand and leverage his strength amid the storm. Through this story, I think Jesus offers several pointers about what it means to have courageous faith. We learn that courageous faith:

  • Begins in prayer (23) – Jesus retreated to pray to find the courage and strength to be the suffering servant rather than the people’s president.

  • Needs to be present in our lives, even if Jesus isn’t physically present (24). It is worth noting that the last time Jesus was in a boat with the disciples, he physically was with them and calmed things down. In this storm, he wasn’t initially present with them. The disciples were learning to have faith when Jesus wasn’t right there with them.

  • Is easier to find when we have a full revelation of Jesus (27). As Peter asks if the "ghost" he perceives is really Jesus, Jesus responds by saying, “I AM.” This is exactly how God revealed himself to Moses in Exodus 3. It is easier for us to take courageous steps of faith if we fully understand who Jesus is!

  • Is only real when we put it into action (29). Peter got out of the boat. Not putting faith into action is something other than faith!

  • Is always a risk… but Jesus keeps saving us (30). Peter was saved, had been saved, but when he takes his eyes off Jesus and begins to sink, he asks Jesus to save him (again). It is almost always better to risk and fail than to not risk at all.

  • Helps us trust Jesus deeper (33). Notice how the scripture concludes with the disciples “truly” acknowledging that Jesus was the Son of God, whereas earlier, they had questioned, “If you are” (28). Courageous faith takes from people who ask “if” to people who respond “truly.” Courageous faith is a bridge for us to get to know Jesus with greater certainty.

These are all great lessons, but perhaps the greatest lesson is that we must first hear from God to exercise courageous faith. All faith acts should respond to what He has invited us to do. Often when I am about to make a courageous step of faith, I have to stop and check myself, saying, “Is this a foolish or faith-filled decision?” Sometimes the same action can fall into either of those two categories depending on whether or not Jesus has invited us to do something.

Peter getting out of the boat would have been a foolish decision unless Jesus had invited him to “come” (29). But because Jesus first invited him to join him, Peter’s decision was faith-filled. The difference between a faith decision and the stupid, potentially dangerous decision is whether or not Jesus has invited us to make the decision.

As we study scripture, it is incredible how many of the big decisions we wrestle with Jesus has already spoken to us about! Courageous faith begins by hearing God’s voice.

What is it that God is inviting you to that you need to respond to with courageous faith?

Live courageously!

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