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To be valiant is to be bold, to be courageous, to hold fast to the commitments in the face of adversity, to face your fear and wrestle with it and still deal with it anyway. God always sees what you could be. He sees what he's designed you to be. Paul said that at the end of his life. I've finished my course. I've run my race and a crown is laid up for me.
John Stephen Akhwari represented Tanzania at the Mexico Olympics and what he didn't realise was of course that the altitude would affect him so greatly. In fact because of the altitude of Mexico City so many of the athletes were affected that out of I think - how many started? I think there were 75 started, only 57 finished. The others dropped out of the race because of the high altitude and they did not have the stamina to see their way through about the 19 kilometres out of the 42 kilometres. About the 19 kilometre mark there was a lot of jostling for position and he got jostled and fell.
When he fell over he badly damaged his knee, he dislocated his knee and also damaged his shoulder and yet he got up and he ran. Many times on the remainder of the journey people tried to get him to stop and he just refused to quit. This is a man who finished the race. You could see there it was dark when he finished. All the others had finished. The earliest one was there over an hour, the awards had already been given out. The majority of people in the grandstand had gone and about an hour after the first had come in and been acknowledged and got their award there was a sound of sirens and there was the flashing lights of police bikes and cars and everyone stood up to see what was happening and this man, John Steven Aquari came in and he was the last to finish that day, in spite of all the pain, in spite of all the difficulty, in spite of the damage to his knee, the damage to his leg, the damage to his arm he finished the race.
I think the words that he said are absolutely the words of a valiant man; My country did not send me five thousand miles to start a race. They sent me five thousand miles to finish a race. It's just extraordinary courage and inner strength. That's a valiant man. He's valiant not because he went to the Olympics and he did great in the race. He went to the Olympics and he held on when there was every reason to give up. I think this is a sign of a valiant man. You know at any point he could have been persuaded to give up. There was every reason to give up. He had an injured leg, dislocated leg, he was hurt. He had every reason to give up. If he'd given up no one would have said anything against him, but he persevered, he refused to give up because he had a sense of purpose. His life had been leading up to this challenge and he had a great sense of purpose in his life. He refused to quit.
He remained loyal to the trust his country had put in him. He was the representative of the country - wasn't just coming as an individual. He was coming on behalf of the country so he's representing a country and he held in his heart a deep sense that I need to remain loyal and finish what I've started. I think that's a sign of a valiant man, a great and a valiant man. He persevered and fulfilled his commitment and I think just in seeing that you can see what a valiant man would look like. It's someone who has a purpose in their life. It's someone who understands that they're called by God to represent heaven in the earth, a person who understands that my life is here to make a mark, a person who doesn't swerve aside and give up when there's reason to do so, a person who doesn't quit when it's difficult or it's hard or they've been injured and hurt or set back in some kind of way, a person who determines I'm going to remain loyal to what God has called me to do and I will finish my race.
Paul said that at the end of his life. I've finished my course. I've run my race and a crown is laid up for me. There's another example of a valiant man and I believe that this man is a tremendous example of a valiant man. I looked up what happened to him after this. When he went back to his own nation he was awarded Hero of the Nation medal not because of his achievement on the track but because of his courage and stamina, his inner spirit, the character that caused him to refuse to quit when he had every reason to do so. The second thing I found out about him was a foundation was named after him to honour him and that foundation funds and helps the training of all athletes who are preparing for the Olympic Games in his nation. I also found out about him that when they ran the Olympics the following year he became the torch bearer that ran through the nation carrying the light. He symbolised what it's like to be a valiant man and a few years ago someone wrote a song and it was when the Olympics were held in China.
You'll remember they were not so long ago, but they wrote a song called The Hero and the song The Hero was based on this man's journey. What they did was they went and found him again and he's a father of six children, he's a farmer working somewhere in the backblocks of Tanzania and he became an honorary ambassador to China because he represented courage. He represented what it's like to be a valiant man and so they made a video of him as part of that song and they played it at the Olympic Games. What an amazing person, came from nowhere, no chance of winning but he refused to quit. What an amazing thing when it looks like you can't win and you can't succeed and you can't do what you thought you'd do, but you just don't quit. That's courage. That's a valiant man and I believe God is looking for valiant men.
I believe our nation's looking for valiant men. God is looking for valiant men. Throughout the Bible God looked for valiant men and the interesting thing is valiant men aren't always obvious. We have to actually pull out of a man or pull out of any person what God has put inside them and it's quite interesting to see how God treats men. Often in our culture men get criticised, run down, the faults are pointed out, so men live in a culture which is quite hostile to being valiant. Men struggle with all kinds of inadequacies and all kinds of different things, but when God deals with a man God treats men with a great deal of respect and I want to show you just a few people in the Bible and how God treated them. To be valiant is to be bold, to be courageous, to hold fast to the commitments in the face of adversity, to face your fear and wrestle with it and still deal with it anyway.
A valiant man is a person who's got moral courage, knows what's the right thing to do and does it, knows what needs to be said and says it. That's a valiant man. God is looking for valiant men, but what God calls a valiant man we wouldn't call a valiant man. We would look at criticise and find fault, but God always speaks to what's in our heart, what's in our potential. He always sees what you could be. Let me just give you a few examples. Here's a man in the Bible and this man was illegitimate. He was the son of a prostitute, born out of wedlock, born in an adulterous affair, but God raised him up and called him a mighty man of faith, a mighty man of valour. His name was Jephtha and he changed a nation. There's another man and this man was extremely fearful. In fact he was so fearful he was hiding. It was very difficult times and he was hiding himself and God spoke to him. God's words were to him, to this fearful man in hiding, you mighty man of valour.
God always sees what you could be. He sees what he's designed you to be. He's designed every one of us to be mighty men of valour and so that man's name was Gideon and he changed his nation. There's a man that you would know of by the name of Samson and Samson's generally associated with sexual sin and sexual failure, but in the New Testament God talks about him as a mighty hero of faith, a valiant man. God dismisses the failure, not that it wasn't important, but God's grace overcomes failures and turns ordinary people who've failed into great people. So Samson is acknowledged by the Holy Ghost in the Book of Hebrews as being a valiant and a mighty man.
There's another man in the Bible who had a real anger problem, followed him through all his life, actually never got the victory over it. He'd just have outbursts of anger and in fact one of his outbursts he actually intentionally killed and man and yet God calls that man a mighty man of valour and his name was Moses. He's known in the Bible in Hebrews 11 as a great man of valour, so why is it that God can see, God can speak and call a person a great man of valour when when we look at them we see someone who's fearful, someone who's failed, someone who's got all kinds of issues? Because God sees what we can be and when we respond to God, then we become the very thing He wants us to be.
There's another man in the Bible, quite a famous man really and this man was actually a coward, quite fearful. In fact when someone else thought his wife was very attractive and thought they might like his wife, he lied and said it was his sister and the man took his wife to be with him. That man's a coward and yet God calls him the father of faith. So we look at people and we see fearful cowards who have failed. We look around and we see all kinds of problems in people, but when God looks He sees a room full of mighty men of valour, valiant men. He sees you potentially as a valiant man. If God was to speak to you, God knows all our faults, he knows all our weaknesses, all our shortcomings, but when God speaks to you He speaks to what you could be, you mighty man of valour.
What about Peter? Peter was a vacillator, he was proud and he was boisterous and then when a woman came and challenged him he fell over and he ran away from Jesus and betrayed - just ran away altogether, but Jesus in His first speaking to him He says your name is Simon but I'm calling you Rock. See, God saw a mighty man of valour. He saw a man who would lay his life down one day for the faith. God doesn't see you like people see you. God sees what you could be and He sees a room full of mighty men and women of valour. The key is we must connect with God. In one of the Psalms it said through our God we shall do valiantly, God in your life is what makes the difference. It's the place you give God in your life and the one thing that was common with all of those men is they found a place of faith and rest and trust in God and they outworked what God had for them and God says that's a valiant man and wrote it down for us to hear, that valiant men are not without faults. Valiant men have learnt to trust God and live out their life according to the purpose that God has for them.
We've got lots of valiant people here and of course the greatest and the most valiant person of all that you read about in the Bible is Jesus Christ Himself. Let me just read you one verse, then we'll just close up. In John, Chapter 17, read about a valiant man. You may not have thought of Jesus this way, but when Jesus left heaven and came to the earth, left aside all His authority, all His power, left aside all His ability naturally, He lived by faith, depending on the Holy Spirit. In John 17, Verses 3 and 4, He said this is eternal life, that they may know You, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom You've sent. So eternal life is a relationship. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work You gave Me to do.
So Jesus, at the end of His life, said I have finished the work that You gave Me to do, then He laid His life down. I was thinking about some of the things that He did that made Him a valiant man. The first thing is He had a call in His life that He chose to fulfil. He remained true to the call right through to even giving His life up to die. The second thing I noticed is that He lived His life out of kingdom values. He remained true to the values of the kingdom of God. He never compromised to please people. A third thing I noticed about Jesus was He refused to conform to what other people expected of Him. He followed and was very true to Himself and to what the Holy Ghost spoke into His heart. He was a valiant man.
People have got lots of ideas about Jesus, but He was a valiant man. He refused to quit or to retaliate when people opposed Him, abused Him and spoke evil of Him. He managed to keep His nature under control, under management. A valiant man can manage their emotions. In the face of pain and death He went to prayer and in His place of prayer He poured out His emotions, not ashamed to show what He really felt but then he yielded to the will of God in spite of fear and concern about what was about to happen to Him. That's a valiant man. Then when He was on the cross suffering and dying He found grace in His heart to forgive people who had abused Him and were still abusing Him. That's a valiant man. And when He was on the cross and someone next to Him was in need, even though He was suffering and even though His own needs were overwhelming He helped that man and ushered that man into eternity. He showed compassion on someone. That's a valiant man.
When He was on the cross and He was dying He had concern for His mother and made sure she was provided for. That's a valiant man. When Jesus died He didn't have His life taken away, He gave up His life that you and I could be free. That is a valiant man. When you look at the life of Jesus Christ you'll never find anyone like Him who's such a valiant man and this is what Jesus said. This is a very great thing. This is amazing scripture. The Bible says to every person who received Him, made Him welcome, embraced Him into their life, receiving someone releases what they have to give to you. When you reject someone or find fault with them, you can't receive what they have to give to you. There were some places Jesus went where people couldn't receive what He had. There were some places He went He could do no mighty miracles because of disrespect and familiarity and they would not receive Him, but those who received Him He gives power, those who believed or put their trust in Him He gave power to become a valiant man.
The Bible's very clear. When you receive Christ, when you put your trust in Him and commit your life to Him, you have the ability to be like Him, to be a valiant man. It's interesting, I was talking to Bryden about the trees and the grafting of the trees and I said you have a lot of different tree roots but once you graft it in it just takes on the nature of that thing you've grafted in. We get grafted to Jesus. We come connected to Him to take on His life, so let me challenge you to think about your life. Do you see yourself as a valiant man? We're talking to men and women today. God sees you as a valiant man, a valiant woman. God sees you as a person who is called and has a mission, something you're called to accomplish with your life in the community, something you're called to do that no one else can do and if you will do that and see it through, you will be a valiant person. You're not called to copy me, you're not called to copy the person next to you. You're called to discover what God called you to do and if you'll do that and won't quit, you're a valiant person.
So you could be a valiant husband, a valiant wife. You could be a valiant person but you've got to link with God first and connect with His purpose for you, then determine no matter what happens you'll never quit. When I saw that video I was so inspired. I thought that is what a valiant man looks like. He came last in the race, so it's not what his performance was like. But he came last in a great way. He refused to quit. He had a valiant spirit and I think that could be true and it could be said of you, but the problem is your race isn't over yet. You're still in the middle of it, so where are you at in your race in life right now? Are you connected to Jesus Christ? How are you walking with Him? Do you know what you're called to do? Are you still going strong or has something caused you to quit and give up?
Are you still engaged in serving Him, building His house, advancing His kingdom, or has something gone out and you've found a reason why you could stop the race? One of the greatest tragedies I've seen over many years is many Christians for whatever reason just stop running their race and there's hundreds of reasons people can find but they won't count when you get to heaven, because just as that crowd was watching you know the thing I found was interesting? They stood and they cheered when the valiant man came in, long after the winner had taken his gold the greatest shout came to the valiant man who finished in spite of adversity.
There's a crowd of witnesses in heaven waiting for you to finish your race. Will they see you come in like he did, no matter what's happened I finished my course, or will you quit on the way? Why don't we just close our eyes right now. I just want to ask a couple of questions and you let the Holy Spirit just speak to your heart.
The first thing I want to ask is are you a Christian? Have you given your life to Jesus Christ yet? This is the most important decision because receiving Him into your life imparts to you a nature that makes you a valiant man. The first thing you could do would be to receive Christ today. There may be someone here today and you're separated from God, your life is lived without God, you're lost and have no purpose in life but God would give that to you today through relationship with Jesus Christ. To everyone who received Him, believed on Him, He gave power to become a child of God. If that's you today and you don't know Jesus Christ, would you like to receive Him today? To as many as have received Him, that's every person, I'd love you just to raise your hand and say I want to become a Christian, I want to give my life to Jesus today. I want to become a Christian. You know going to church doesn't make you a Christian, it's a relationship with Him. Would you raise your hand if you're ready to give your life to Christ today? Let me just see your hands.
Is there anyone here today, just let me see you want to give your life to Christ, you want to become a Christian, anyone here today? God bless dear. Anyone else, anyone here today? I wonder today just thinking about this, in your race have you stumbled and injured yourself? Are you using that as an excuse? It may be someone else's fault and that's stumbled you. Maybe someone let you down and that stumbled you. It may be someone you trusted and betrayed you and that stumbled you. It may be that something that you really were looking forward to never happened and that stumbled you, so you fell heavily and injured yourself. I want to know this; have you quit or are you still on your feet, determined to finish your race? If you've quit today you could get up again. You could just make that decision to get up again.
This is what I'd like to do, with all our eyes closed, all our heads are bowed. I'm not even asking you what the issue is, but if you felt the Lord speak to you clearly today you are a valiant man. You need to get back into the race. It's not over yet for you. If you felt God speak that way and perhaps somewhere, somehow you've stumbled and you're not running like you once did, would you like to stand right now, just stand where you are. I'm not going to ask you to come forward. You're standing - it's just an acknowledgement God, I'm standing up, I'm getting back in the race. I can see what's happened, I see what affected me, I'm getting back in the race. God bless, God bless, God bless. Anyone else today? Anyone - God bless, God bless.
Father, I just thank You for people today that have made that commitment afresh to follow You. Father, I pray You'll bless them, heal them, restore them, strengthen them and Lord, they will passionately pursue You. We pray for the power of Your spirit to come on them in Jesus' Mighty name. Everyone said Amen. Turn to someone and say you're a valiant man. You're a valiant man. Have a happy Father's Day today, have a great day today.
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1. Introduction: John Stephen Ackwon
· John Stephen Ackwon – a Valiant man
· Represented Tanzania in the Olympics in Mexico City in 1963
· Cramped up due to high altitude of Mexico City.
· Not trained in such a high altitude in Tanzania.
· At 19/42km position in the race there was jostling for position and he fell badly wounding his knee, dislocating the joint, and injuring his shoulder.
· He was repeatedly asked to quit the race but he refused.
· He finished last 57/75 that started. (18 did not complete the race).
· At 7 p.m. over one hour after the race was completed lone runner hobbled in – police sirens.
· “My country did not send me 5000 miles to start the race; my country sent me 5000 miles to finish the race”.
· He is a Valiant Man
· He refused to give in or be limited by personal injury.
· He refused to quit when others did and he could easily have done so.
· He remained loyal to the trust that others had put in him to represent the country.
· He persevered and fulfilled his commitment.
· He was a valiant man – not because of performance but moral courage.
· He is honoured and respected by his nation for his courage in adversity
· Awarded Nation Hero medal of honour.
· Foundation named after him to support Olympic athletes.
· Torchbearer for Olympian relay through his country.
· Goodwill ambassador for Beijing for 2008 Olympics – a video and song “The Hero” written for him.
2. God is looking for Valiant Men
· Our city and nation is desperately in need of Valiant Men
· Valiant = to be bold, courageous, strong in the face of adversity
= to carry out responsibilities with courage and determination
· Courage = begins within – battle against fear – never retreat from disheartening or difficult tasks – inspires others.
· God is aware of the flaws and faults in every man but sees potential.
· God treats men with respect! – calls forth their potential.
· Jud.11:1 Jepthah – Megitmantle, rejected – mighty man of valour.
· Jud.6:2 Gideon – fearful – valiant man
· Heb.11:32 Samson – secual sin – valiant man
· Heb.11:24 Moses – murder, anger – valiant man
· Heb.11:17 Abram – lied, fearful – valiant man – Abraham (Father of Nations)
· Mt.16:8 Simon – fearful flip flop – Valiant Man – Peter (Rock)
· God sees beyond the flaws to the real man within – the Valiant Man.
3. Jesus: Our Example of a Valiant Man
· Valiant = showing courage in the face of opposition, difficulty, pain
· Physical courage – facing fears, facing the unknown
· Moral Courage – saying and doing what is right.
· Jn.17:3-4 “I have finished the work you gave me to do!”
· Remained loyal and faithful to God given purpose.
· Placed the message and values of the Kingdom of God before all else.
· Refused to conform to the expectations of others.
· Refused to quit or retaliate in the face of opposition, rejection.
· Demonstrated courage in the face of pain and death.
· Forgave when abused on the Cross.
· Showed compassion to others in face of imminent death.
· Honoured his mother as he was dying on the Cross.
· Invested His life into others.
· Gave His life so we could become