Last week we began talking about what it takes to actually change the world around you – what it takes to not only have a dream for change but to begin that process of change. We talked about Nehemiah, a little known figure in the Old Testament, who not only had a ridiculously big dream for change, he worked the idea and recruited the masses to help him progress towards making that dream a reality. Today we finish the story as we catalogue the principles and techniques Nehemiah used to accomplish what seemed impossible. Not only did Nehemiah achieve something magnificent, he also left clues and tools along the way for us to pick up on and use to apply to the changes we want to effect in our own lives.
Everyone wants their world to be better. Everyone has dreams and ideas they see as transformative - even innovative - yet the vast majority of us never do anything about those dreams and ideas to bring them to reality. Why the lack of effort? Because it is hard, because it takes thought, energy and determination and most of us are not convicted enough by our dreams and ideas to be willing to commit all of that effort. Occasionally someone stands apart from this typical reaction and actually thinks, acts, leads and accomplishes their dream or idea. Today we will talk about a little known man in the Old Testament who did just that. His dream was laughable, his mission was ridiculous and his enemies were determined to stop him, yet he focused and fought with all of his being and changed his world in the process!
Two weeks ago we talked about Elijah and the incredible courage he had toward accomplishing God’s will. We saw him prophesy, take responsibility, wait, perform miracles, wait some more, appear before his greatest enemy and overwhelmingly conquer in a challenge to prove that God is in fact God over all. The next thing we knew, Elijah was running for his life – afraid and feeling alone. Turns out that all his heroics got him was more threats on his life. So, what happens to that courageous prophet of God now? He still must fight but in a different way for in this next stage of his life God is going to teach him submission. Submission – it does not sound like a characteristic that belongs with courage, but as we will see courage will burn you without submission and submission will burden you without courage.
Courage is perhaps the most underrated, under-appreciated and invisible virtue of our time. We are so busy complying with the status quo, with watching our words and with following what others say and do on social media that we seem to have forgotten the simple yet powerful virtue of courage. Courage is stepping up, stepping out and standing against the tide of darkness. Courage is being what you know you should be when it is unpopular with others. Courage is having the guts to listen when others only want to argue; it is reaching out to give when others are focused on taking and courage is leading by example when following in anonymity would be so much easier. Courage, when observed, incites others to stand, it provokes others to act and it plants hope where there is none. Yes, we need courage, but how do we find it and how do we learn to truly be courageous?
There are many accounts in the Bible that really run along the edge of reality for many of us here today. Think about it – Balaam’s donkey talks, the sun stands still for Joshua in a battle, Jesus rises from the dead and goes to heaven… These are fantastic and unbelievable to many. And then there is the story of Noah. Here is a man around 500 years old who builds a boat to save his family and the animals from a devastating flood! Now THAT is amazing! So, what is there about this story of Noah that rings true for us today? Is his experience a warning for us here and now?
When you begin to grasp the life and times of Daniel the Prophet, what you find in your hands is pure inspiration, integrity, faith and courage. Here is a man who lived out his entire life far from his home in Israel and who, by God’s grace, turned captivity to a pagan nation into an opportunity to reveal the greatness of the One God and eventually win over the King who made him captive. When we grow up, we should all want to be like Daniel! Stay with us as we continue his story!
Daniel was a good, righteous and deeply faithful man. From a very young age, he showed himself to be wholly keyed in on being in lock-step with obedience to God. God, in turn, blessed Daniel in many ways, from preserving his life, to granting him ability to interpret dreams, to elevating him in power, to bestowing upon him an incredible gift of prophecy. Oh yeah, and God also delivered him from the den of lions! Today, Daniel’s prophecies are among the most discredited scriptures in the Bible! Why? What is it about Daniel that makes so many afraid?
Several weeks ago we began to tell the story of a hero – not the kind of hero that rises up in courage to do a deed that changes the outcome of an event – rather, the kind of hero who lives his vision for a lifetime and changes the world as a result of his lifetime dedication. This hero is the Joseph of the Old Testament – dreamer, interpreter of dreams, man of wisdom, faith, integrity and mercy. Joseph was a true hero, the kind that appears only once in many generations. What can we learn from him?
We have all had experiences – real life experiences - that have triggered a bitter reaction in our hearts. This can actually be a very natural reaction. As we look at the harsh experiences of some we often say things like, “who can blame them” or “I’d feel the same way if that happened to me.” The big question for today is simple: Once we go through the initial bitter reaction in any experience, where do we go from there? Does bitterness move in and take over or do we leave it behind? Stay with us as we look bitterness square in the eye and figure out what to do with it…
Everybody loves a hero…someone who goes above and beyond the call of duty…someone who puts their own interests aside for the greater good…someone who does those things that others can’t or won’t. Usually these heroes are recognized as a result of a particular event or crisis and we laud their contribution. It is a rare thing to see someone who lives a heroic life and displays a heroic heart throughout their lifetime – one who becomes a hero for the ages. On this program we look at such a man to try and learn from the example of his heroic life!