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“Why Not” Courage

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Matthew 14:25-31

We all have moments of courage. Peter had a moment of incredible courage. Just getting out of the boat in the middle of the water took great courage, but then he began to walk on water.

I’m sure all of us can find some rare moments of courage in our own lives. We may have “Why Not” moments, but that doesn’t mean we’re living “Why Not” lives. Anyone can have a moment of insane courage and then go right back to the way you were living before that.

“Why Not” courage isn’t about what we’ve done, but about what we have on the inside.

God’s Plan, Path, & Process

Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

Matthew 16:17-20 (NLT)

God’s plan is to transform us into men and women who are leaders. What kind of leaders? World-changers: people who will make a real difference with their lives. Jesus had a plan to change Simon into a man that would have impact on earth and in heaven.

How does God make us into leaders? First, he develops internal strength in us. Peter had to become a “Rock.” Internal strength comes from being spiritually strong and emotionally strong.

God allows the failures, challenges, and difficulties that hit our lives to shape us.

Epic Fails: Humble or Harden

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Matthew 16:22-23

When we fail we either become humble and see our need for help, or we harden our hearts. Hardening means you pretend that you’re okay. When you fall apart, do you show it on the outside or do you hide your discouragement and pain beneath your pride? Sometimes, when you choose to harden your heart to failures, you end up developing an over-inflated view of yourself.

The problem is that hardening your heart leads to a life of denial. What does denial look like for you?

Inflated View: Crumble Internally

Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
“‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.

Matthew 26:31-35

Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.
But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”
Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”

Immediately a rooster crowed.  Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Matthew 26:69-75

One of the tall-tale signs of internal crumbling is extreme arrogance. Do you have an insatiable need to prove yourself? Arrogance usually means you feel really lousy about yourself on the inside. Arrogance can fuel us to excel in certain areas of life to cover up the areas we are ashamed of.

Simon was like that. He felt terrible about himself because his failures stood out more than his moments of greatness. He reacted by thinking and believing that he was someone he wasn’t. The true test in life came when he realized the truth about himself… and it shattered him emotionally.

If you fall to pieces in a crisis, there wasn’t much to you in the first place.

Proverbs 24:10 (MSG)

What’s Inside of You?

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

James 1:2-4 (MSG)

What do the failures and challenges in your life say about you?

What does the real you look like?

Real life forces the condition of our faith out into the open. What have you experienced? The pain of the loss of a loved one? Heartache in relationships? The pressure of midterms and finals in school? The pressure of juggling school, work, and family? The temptation of parties, drugs, or alcohol?

When your internal life is exposed by pressure, that means that God is in the process of developing internal strength in you and is illuminating a path for your life.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

John 21:15-17

Peter had to be willing to face the truth of who he really was on the inside: the selfishness, the pride, the deceit… No one likes seeing their faults and weaknesses exposed.

Internal Strength: Let in the Light

Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

Psalm 51:6 (NIV)

What do you still need to be honest about?

Internal Strength: Water the Roots

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…

Ephesians 3:16-20 (NIV)

You will never know how much you’re loved until you know how much you’re forgiven. What do you turn to instead of God? When you turn to God and turn to the Bible, you’ll find God answer the desires deep in your heart. It takes reading scriptures to the point where you believe the Bible over your doubts and thoughts.

Internal Strength: From the Inside Out

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

Acts 4:13 (NIV)

What do you think it means to be with Jesus?

Internal Strength: “Why Not” Confidence

God, the one and only—
I’ll wait as long as he says.
Everything I hope for comes from him,
so why not?
He’s solid rock under my feet,
breathing room for my soul,
An impregnable castle:
I’m set for life.
My help and glory are in God
—granite-strength and safe-harbor-God—
So trust him absolutely, people;
lay your lives on the line for him.
God is a safe place to be.

Psalm 62:5-8 (MSG)

Written by

Brian Nitta

Before Brian was a minister for the Bay Area Christian Church, he was a world class judo competitor from San Jose State University. His experiences as a fighter and as a counselor have given him a unique perspective that he brings to his contributions to Inspire.