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Sermon Illustrations: Courage


When Julio Ruibal, pastor in Cali, Colombia received death threats from drug lords, said, "I am immortal until I?ve done everything God has asked me to do," he was right, and he preached gospel fearlessly till he was martyred.

In 1555, Nicholas Ridley was condemned to death for his faith. The night before he was to be burned at the stake, his brother offered to stay with him in prison. Ridley said that he planned to sleep as well as usual. The next day he encouraged another Christian who was being executed. "Be of good heart, brother, for God will either assuage the fury of the flame, or else strengthen us to abide it." They knelt and prayed next to the stake, talked a bit, then they were burned.

A successful insurance executive was sunbathing on the white sands of his private beach, his wife next to him. He was 54 years old and on holidays. Suddenly, he heard a tiny voice crying out for help. He and his wife saw a small girl floating on a plastic raft about 50 metres from the shore. She was being swept further out to sea by the current. The man ran into the surf and finally made his way to the little girl. He helped her back onto her raft and began to push her towards the beach. Suddenly, he felt a sharp pain. He gave the raft one final push and disappeared under the surface. Rescuers who swam to the 10-year-old girl, got her to shore safely. A few minutes later, they recovered the limp body of her rescuer; he had died of a heart attack. Do you know what really impressed me when I read that story? It was the man's last words. As the little girl glided away, he called out, "You've got to help yourself now to get yourself in. I'm dying." He knew. Yet his last thoughts were for her. He had courage.

Touch a thistle timidly and it pricks you! Grasp it boldly and its spines crumble.

In 1852 the troopship Birkenhead struck a sunken rock off the African coast. Along with the troops there were 124 women and children. There was only room for them in the lifeboats. The men, drawn up by their officers on parade, watched without a murmur as the boats shoved off. Major Seton gave the command, "Stand still, and die like Englishmen." And they did. 454 men. I wonder what those men felt as they watched the life boats pushing off. I wonder how many of them were tempted to race up to the major and say, "But major, I'm only 22 years old. Are you sure there isn't room for just one more?" They might have felt like it, but they didn't do it - as they went down with the ship, they overcame their fear with raw courage.

When Latimer was made bishop of Worcester in the reign of Henry VIII, it was customary for the bishops to make presents to the king on New Year's Day. He went with the other bishops to make the usual offerings, but instead of a purse of gold, he presented the king with a New Testament in which one of the pages had been folded down at a passage which read, "... adulterers God will judge."

When the ship Empress of Ireland went down with 130 Salvation Army officers on board, 109 of them were drowned and not one of the bodies that were picked up had a life preserver. The survivors told how when the Salvation Army officers discovered that there were not enough life preservers to go around, they took off their own and strapped them on other men saying, "I can die better than you." They found their courage in God. They didn't even need an officer-in-charge to keep them in line. But they willingly gave up their lives for others for one reason alone - they knew God in a personal way, and trusted Him.

The greatest act of courage this world has ever known is when the Son of God, Jesus Christ, went on His final walk to Jerusalem. The Bible tells us that even though Jesus knew that He was going to be crucified, He set His face toward Jerusalem. And He didn't flinch, because He had decided that even though He had to die to reconcile this world back to God, He was going to go through with it. He went knowing what was ahead. And let me tell you, it's here that we find the greatest motivator for courage: it's called love.

When my daughter was around 13 years old, she was talking to some of her friends and referred to her mother as "Mummy". One of the young guys in his twenties said incredulously, "Mummy?" She looked up at him and said, "Yeah, you got a problem with that?" The smirk disappeared, and he immediately backed down mumbling, "Er, no."

Early 20th century London newspaper ad by famous South Pole explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton: Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger. Safe return doubtful." The response was so overwhelming that Shackleton wrote later, "It seemed as though all the men in Great Britain were determined to accompany us." How many have the courage, and are just waiting for the opportunity and a leader with a vision?


Jesus didn't come to make us safe; He came to make us brave.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. Ambrose Redmoon

Boldness is to dare to do. Satan will always bluff you and try to scare you like a child draws a line and dares you to cross it.

Any old dead fish can float down stream, but it takes a live fish to float upstream.

Courage is like oxygen; you can't really live without out it.

True courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of fear. Mark Twain