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Anatomy of Courage

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Acts 21:18-23:35

Olathe Bible Church

Anatomy of Courage



Parallels between the sufferings of Christ and the sufferings of Paul.  We saw last week the similarities between their respective journeys up to Jerusalem. 

            Jesus and Paul...

            1. ...were rejected by their own people, arrested without a cause and imprisoned

            2. ...were unjustly accused and willfully misrepresented by false witnesses

            3. ...were slapped in the face in court (23:2)

            4. ...were the hapless victims of secret Jewish plots

            5. ...heard the terrifying noise of a frenzied mob screaming “Away with him”      

            6. ...were subjected to a series of five trials.

Five trials of Jesus and Paul :

Jesus                                                      Paul

Annas Crowd
the Sanhedrin the Sanhedrin
King Herod Antipas King Herod Agrippa II
Pilate Procurator Felix
Pilate Procurator Festus

Three times in the case of Jesus and three times in the case of Paul, the accused was declared not guilty in a court of Law.

I.          Courage in the midst of criticism (Acts 21:15-40)

Crowd - Court of public opinion

Months prior, paul wrote…

Romans 1:11-12 so that you may be strengthened (sterizo)

Romans 16:25  “Now to Him who is able to establish  sterizo you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ…”

The stability Paul longed to impart to the Christians at Rome is what he displayed in Jerusalem and Caesarea during the months of excruciating conflict.

Life is hard…some of the hardest stuff comes from within the family of God, from brothers and sisters. 

            Praises get written in sand, but criticism gets written in concrete.

            We forget the compliments, but we memorize the criticism.       

Read 21:15-24?

            Paul’s presence created a dilemma.

There are some real dilemmas in life.

Dilemmas-        Ill. Hub cap rolling into the parking lot of Bonita Flats Saloon.

Paul and James…

An old problem. The leaders should have silenced the criticism. “There is historic precedent in the Jerusalem Council set to squelch the criticism. `Enough!’”

            Paul was asked (i.e. “told”)to be the sponsor of four Jewish Christians who were taking the Nazarite vow in the Temple. The vow involved abstaining from meat, drinking wine, shaving one’s head as an outward sign of inner commitment to God and the Law. The concluding 7 days were to be spend in the Temple courts. A lamb offering was given as a sin offering, and a ram as a peace offering. 

Paul’s sponsorship meant that he would pick up the tab on all of this and it should have let people know that he was not disloyal to the Law and customs of Israel.  It took a special kind of courage on Paul’s part to be compliant to the leadership of the Jewish church in Jerusalem. 

II.                The courage of personal experience (Acts 22:1-24)

Paul, the 2nd time of 3 in the Acts, tells his faith story. Here is a dramatic “befoe and after” account.  It is the transformation of a human being. It is witnessing at its best.

            Ill. The best testimony? …yours! I do not tire of hearing how people came to faith.  Write it out. Take out the insignificant; just the pure truth (biblically informed) of what God has done in bringing you to Himself.

(read) v.22,23 - the mention of Gentiles puts an immediate stop to reason. Thee is a rush of blood to the head, the doors of the ears bang shut and the mind goes dark.

26 WAYS TO (infer) SAY SOMEONE IS (not too bright) STUPID :>

>1. Not the sharpest tool in the shed.>

>2. Light is on, but nobody’s home.>

>3. A few fries short of a Happy Meal.>

>4. An experiment in Artificial Stupidity.>

>5. A few cokes short of a six-pack.>

>6. Doesn’t have all his cornflakes in one box.>

>7. The wheel’s spinning, but the hamster’s dead.

>8. One Fruit Loop shy of a full bowl.>

>9. One taco short of a combination plate.>

>10. The cheese slid off his cracker.>

>11. Body by FisherPrice, brains by Mattel.>

>12. Has an IQ of 2, but it takes 3 to grunt.>

>13. Warning: Objects in mirror are dumber than they appear.>

>14. Couldn’t pour water out of a boot with instructions on the heel.>

>15. He fell out of the Stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down.>

>16. An intellect rivaled only by garden tools.>

>17. Forgot to pay his brain bill.>

>18. Her sewing machine’s out of thread.>

>19. His antenna doesn’t pick up all the channels.>

>20. His belt doesn’t go through all the loops.>

>21. If he had another brain, it would be lonely.>

>22. Missing a few buttons on his remote control.>

>23. Proof that evolution CAN go in reverse.>

>24. Several nuts short of a full pouch.>

>25. Skylight leaks a little.>

>26. Too much yardage between the goal posts.

It took a certain kind of courage to stay right there and minister up against such close-mindedness.

III.             The courage of knowing the Lord of Circumstances (Acts 22:25-30)


IV.              The courage of the Resurrection (Acts 23:1-10)


A.     Paul’s humanity

B.     Paul’s humility

C.     Paul’s hope

V.                 The Courage of the Lord’s intervention (Acts 23:11-35)

VI.              The courage of impelling truth (24:1-27)

VII.            The courage to face the future (25:1-12)

VIII.         The courage of Christ’s power before earthly powers (25:13-26:23)

IX.              The courage of Christ -esteem

II.  Spiritual conquest comes by strength and courage.

            v. 6, 7, 9 background of v. 18

            Deut.  31:23, where these words were first etched in Joshua's       mind.

                        strength and courage--courage and strength (two words-          -one concept)

                        synonyms--stout, alert, bold, solid, hard, confirmed,             severe

            Illustration:  Royal Terrace Nursing Home

                  "What is courage and strength?"  From the wheelchairs                     and the walkers                      

                         "Courage, it is an ability to fact what you have to               face; do what you have to do."

            Illustration:  Joshua's outstanding qualities were strength      and courage.  Num. 13, report from spying out the land--          "Grasshopper Complex" vs. with God we can succeed.

Where does courage come from?

            A.  Lessons of the past

                Moses had changes "Hoshea" to "Joshua"

                   "whose help he is" to "whose help is Jehovah"

                As you spy out the land remember, your help is Jehovah.

                Illustration:  My dad--"You can't learn any younger!"

                Skill saws, chain saws, bikes, mini-bikes, go-carts,               cars...long before I thought I could.  He thought I could

                --that gave me courage.  Courage builds our courage, I                    keep telling myself, "Can't learn any younger."

                The past gives courage for the future.  History of our                        church...

                                    -elders?                                                -two services?

                                    -building?                                 -staff?

                Because God has given such a glorious past, we've got to          grab hold of the future with both hands.

Where does courage come from?

            B.  From God's Word    v. 7, 8


                Joshua's strength did not reside in himself, but in              following the voice of God.

                Illustration:  Looking at the challenges that face O.B.C.              I don't get bold and courageous, I go limp inside then I        turn to His Word.  II Tim. 1:7, "For God has not given us          a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and sound              judgment."  (promise)  He is with us!


Illustration:  Prior to the '88 Winter Olympics, an event demonstrating courage based on dependency, downhill skiers (blind) challenged the slippery slopes of the downhill slalom.  Totally dependent on the commands of the one behind them.

As we challenge the spiritual conquest before us as a church may we utilize the strength and courage He gives us as we yield our lives to His every command.




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