God calls on us to be courageous

Published 6:37 pm Friday, March 4, 2016

Bicycle riding has a much different meaning to me now than it did when I was growing up. When I tell Gale that I am going to ride my bicycle it means that I will mount an exercise bike and try to burn up a few unused calories, while never leaving the house—not because I enjoy riding it, but because it is good for my health (but I have to confess that it has been far too long since I have used the thing!).

In those days when I was much younger, riding my bike had nothing to do with health; it was all about transportation. Before I was old enough to legally drive a motor vehicle I recall getting up long before daylight and riding my bicycle to the place where I deer hunted.

I do not remember if I had a plan in place in the unlikely event that I shot a deer, but that was a factor that I never had to deal with. I suppose a teenaged kid carrying a high powered rifle up the road in the dark on a bicycle might cause quite a stir today, but nobody paid it any attention then.

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I also made many trips up and down an inclined section of a highway in north Georgia known to us as Brad Hill as I peddled to the general store operated by one of my great aunts. In order to get to the store, I had to ride by a place about half way up the hill where a dog often chased me.

I always dreaded seeing him coming toward me and after he nipped me on the behind one day I became even more uneasy. Nevertheless, my desire to get where I was going outweighed the fear of the dog and I kept up enough courage to keep making my frequent trips up and down that hill.

Courage is a trait that God has called all His people to put into practice when we face opposition. An example of courage can be seen during the reign of King Hezekiah as Jerusalem came under threat of war by the enemy nation of Assyria.

To encourage his people not to become intimidated and defeated by the army threatening them, King Hezekiah encouraged them with these words: ““Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him”” (2 Chronicles 32:7, New International Version).

The next verse gives the reason that they could have courage when they came under enemy threat: “”With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said.”

If we try to encounter opposition without courage, fear and confusion can hinder our success. Then instead of victory over whatever we are facing, we can become enslaved by it and convinced that improvement in our circumstances is impossible.

Thankfully we do not have to be defeated. Notice how King Hezekiah put his courage into practice: “King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to heaven about this” (2 Chronicles 32:20), resulting in the miraculous destruction of the army that had threatened them (verse 21).

By standing courageously with faith in God, we can trust Him to give us victory over the attempts of Satan to defeat us.