Ok, so you thought this series on courage had ended, I did too truthfully, but yesterday my pastor picked up on this theme with the story of Joshua and I can’t deprive my audience of good teaching, can I?
And what an amazing story it is…Joshua 1 is a pep rally of sorts, the kind of thing that most of us need when it comes to a new year…you may not be on the cusp of a battle or an unclaimed territory but then again, you just might, so last night, I took a look at verses 1-9 one more time. I prayed and I ruminated and what stuck out to me was this: the “Do not” phrases.
The book of Joshua starts off with a command, an out with the old, in with the new kind of thing. Moses, their leader for so long was dead, their patient shepherd had led them, taught them, become furious with them, rallied them, had seen God provide for them and watched them complain in response. So patient. Behind the Israelites were 40 years of spinning their wheels as a result of continued disobedience, but Joshua, in his “newness” was about to lead his people across the Jordan River into the Promised Land– but not without some struggle.
Repeated in this incredibly fortifying speech by God is his promise to be with them wherever they go as well as these do nots:
#1 (vs 7b) Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do notturn from it from the right or to the left.
This is a tough one for me, if I discover a new pastor or teacher, I become slightly enamored. I gobble up their writings and their sermons and several months later take a breath, step back THEN evaluate what I’ve learned and where they are going with their teaching.
Don’t be like me.
Always, always measure teaching against scripture and if there is a writing or idea that makes you uncomfortable, scrutinize it, ask questions, don’t swallow it whole, examine it in the light of scripture. Pray about it and go back to James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask of God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. God wants us to search, but his also wants HIS word, HIS teaching and the work of HIS Holy Spirit to be preimminent in our lives.
#2 (vs. 8) Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth. I’ve been reading in Mark 7 about our hearts lately, how it’s not what what comes into our body (i.e. dirty hands, “unclean” food) but it’s what comes out, our words that make us unclean. So how do we clean up our words? We clean up our hearts, we speak the truth of God’s word out loud, we speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs we sing and make music in our hearts to God (Eph. 5:19).
#3 (vs. 9b) Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified. Fear. The very mention of the word can send shivers down one’s spine. About a year and a half ago, I think while still in divorce proceedings, fear had overtaken me. I would lay in bed at night with Little A as she tried to go to sleep and sing a simple chorus with the name of Jesus over and over again. That helped a lot–for both of us, but then when it came time for momma to go to bed, that was a whole other story. I finally had to post this sign on my closet door so my eyes could’t possibly miss it: FEAR NOT, FOR I AM WITH YOU! Yes, the God who appeared to Moses in a burning bush, who labeled himself I AM was the same I AM who calmed a raging sea, is the same I AM who is with me as I lay my head on the pillow every night.
These statistics, taken from here may be a little eye-opening for you:
8% of what we worry about actually happens. Of this percentage…
4% of our worries that happen are beyond our control. We cannot change the outcome. These worries may include our health, the death of a loved one or an impending natural disaster. Often times the reality of these events are more bearable than the worry.
4% of what we worry about we have some if not all control over the results. Basically…this is the consequence of our actions or inaction on the problems and challenges we face.
#4 (vs. 9c) do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Easier said than done, right? How can we beat discouragement? Honestly, I think that’s tied up in the first two do nots, the more emmersed we are in scripture, the more we can see that we are living, breathing Gideons, Davids, Ruths, Esthers.
We surround ourselves with encouraging people. I’m very fortunate to have an incredible close bunch of friends who will come alongside me and say “You are doing a good job. It’s hard. X is going to happen. I can see it, don’t lose heart.”
Lastly, stand on his promises, here are just a few:
-I will never leave you nor forsake you (Josh. 1: 5)
-For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you “Do not fear, I will help you.” (Is. 41:13)
-So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Is. 41:10)
-“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 19:11)
What are some of your favorite Bible promises?