Monday, January 20, 2014

A Command for Courage - Part I

Are you ever afraid?  Are there circumstances in your life that make you doubt God...doubt yourself...doubt others?

This is a call to courage; a command to be brave, bold, and resolute in your faith and in the truths of the Word.  Like never before you and I must stand firm and not cower back.  This is our time to shine, to be strong and courageous.

Joshua 1

God was preparing Joshua for a battle; perhaps not really a battle, but more like a siege.  He was being called to take the hill - Jericho, that is.

Moses, the great leader of the Israelites had just died, and now Joshua was the go-to guy.  Joshua had inherited responsibility over two million people.  No small task for sure, but one of God-sized proportions.

He would have to lead them into a land that was unfamiliar and full of the unknown.  Sound like something you've done before?  Perhaps going somewhere in life you've never been?  A new job, a recent move, an unfavorable health diagnosis? 

The task of moving that amount of people and livestock across the Jordan River alone, would have caused one to scratch his or her head in overwhelming frustration.  The Jordan was 200 yards to 1/2 mile across, and anywhere from 40 to 150 feet deep without the modern day luxury of ferry boats or bridges. 

There were hostile people ,and then the city in question with its 12 feet high walls and a ditch encircling 27 feet wide and 9 feet deep.  Would Joshua turn back now in defeat or would he stand firm and trust in his God?

The same can be asked of us in our trials.  Will we stand firm in what we know to be true, or will we fall back and retreat; give up on God and everything else?  Will we fall to worldly pressure of conformity, or will we hold a death grip to the only true hope...Jesus?

Through all of Joshua's possible anxiety or fear, God reminded him 7 times between Deuteronomy 31 and Joshua 1 to "be strong and courageous," that He would be with him and go before him into the unknown.

However, with every calling of God, there were requirements.  Joshua had been called to lead the people into victory.  We are called to do something similar; to stand firm in our faith even when the battles are raging, and lead others to the One who can bring them life and hope.  It is our response to trials that speak volumes to those who are watching.  Our reaction to hard situations is crucial in leading others to seek out the source of our faith.

Beginning in Joshua 1:6-9 we find the following requirements for Joshua and for us as well:

1. Be strong and courageous.  Joshua was to become "hard" or "resolute" in his role and his faith.

Isaiah 50:7 reminds us, "Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced.  Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame."  

Joshua (and each of us) must be "hard as flint" in our faith.  We must not bend to pressures from the outside, but must stand firm in our convictions no matter the cost.

2.  Be careful to obey all the laws given to you.  Basically, he was not to turn to the left or to the right.  Too many Christians are waffling in their faith.  They are watering down the gospel so much that it is unrecognizable.  God's Word is true from beginning to end and we must not turn from it.  It has not changed, it does not grow obsolete with time. 

3.  Meditate on it (the Word) day and night and be careful to do what it says.  God gave Joshua (and us) His love letters and instructions.  They are given in order to provide direction and help in our daily walk.  We must devour it, meditate on it and do what it says.

4.  Do not be terrified, nor discouraged.  In other words, don't let your emotions get the best of you.  Oftentimes, we think things are much worse than they are.  Keep your focus on God and He will keep you at peace as we trust in Him to provide.

Popular author and speaker, Beth Moore, once said, "Fear is an emotional outburst of unbelief."  Simply put, we cannot have total trust in God and have fear at the same time.  

Whatever battles you are facing today or for the ones that will come, remember that nothing is too big for God.  Everything must go through His hands first before it ever gets to us.  We don't always like to think that God allows us to experience hard times.  You might ask, "Why did He let my spouse walk out?" or "Why did my child have to die?" or "Why would He allow a person to experience so much abuse?"

I don't know why.  You and I will probably never know this side of Heaven, yet I do know we have a good God who can take an awful circumstance and bring beauty out of it.  Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Know this...whatever battle you are walking through, God is right there beside you.  The Bible promises us that if we seek Him (cry out to Him), He will be found.  Call out for Him today.  He will guide you through the rough waters.  And, He will give you the encouragement you need.

Be strong and courageous!

Blessings,
Kristi


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