I have been studying the life of Joshua and how he followed God with all his heart by obeying God's command into battle (he was leading a bunch of lazy and untrained Israelites into battle against great warriors and giants - to the world it was an impossible mission) and there's no doubt he had fear of failing. But God spent the first 9 verses of Joshua 1 giving Joshua encouragement, affirmation, a promise of His presence and faithfulness, and a promise of success! Wow! To me, it is so comforting to know that people like Joshua in the Bible needed to be reminded of God's presence, faithfulness, and success just as much as I do every hour of the day. Also, God said to Joshua in verse 9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you may go." And in Numbers 14:9 Joshua tells us "Do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them." It is neat how it went from God commanding young Joshua not to fear when he went in to battle for his first time as a leader, and now, at age 40, Joshua has had enough experience to see that God will never fail His children. So Joshua now commands us to trust God and not fear the future, the unknown, the "impossible" battles. God's presence was always with Joshua and will always be with us.
----------------------------"Therefore my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 15:58
Last week, I was flipping through channels and stumbled upon a showing of The Patriot - a classic in my book! Because of my dad, I have grown up with a love for history and war movies. Anyways, in The Patriot, Benjamin Martin is the colonel of the "untrained" local militia and father of seven children, the oldest being Gabriel. The scene that captured my attention the most is when Gabriel is killed by the ruthless Colonel William Tavington. Benjamin fell to his knees heartbroken, crying "God help me! Please help me!" over and over again.
You may have never lost a child, or you may not actually be fighting in a physical war for freedom, but living in this world bound to sin, we are constantly suffering, hurting, and in pain. And being believers and followers of Christ, we are constantly in a battle and fighting against the yoke of slavery to sin. And in our toils and suffering, we are constantly called to surrender our lives to Christ our Lord and cry out "Help me God! Please, help me!"
I love the phrase "God's work will never lack God's provision." But as much as we say this is true and want to believe it is true, do we really live and act on its truth? I know I have a hard time myself trusting that God will provide. I say that I know He will, but in my heart I sometimes have doubts - such as doubts that I will be able to raise the full $7,300 support for my opportunity to serve in Athens, Greece this summer. I know God wants me in Greece to serve and share the Gospel, but I have had doubts about the provision of financial need to get me there. But oh how He is faithful and oh how He provides!
So back to my story about the Patriot...
Benjamin Martin was hurt. He lost his beloved son and became dismayed. He was the leader of the militia and was about to neglect his duties because he became distraught about losing his son. Just as God told Joshua, He told Benjamin and He tells you and me, not to get depressed or become cast down. We have an option. We can refuse to be dismayed. We can determine not to be depressed.
When God told Joshua to "be strong," it was an order, something Joshua was to do. Such strength is not a fruit of the Spirit. And it's not something that comes automatically with salvation through Christ. And it has nothing to do with a believer's position in Christ. No, God was commanding Joshua to "be strong," to strengthen himself, to encourage himself, to harden himself, and to behave valiantly.
We are to move out in the battle and conquer the land on the other side of the Jordan River...whether he wants to or not, whether he feels like doing it or not, whether he thinks he can win or not, whether he's up for it or not. Joshua is basically told, "Just do it!" He's not to be feeble, fragile, or frightened about this command. He's to be strong and move forward. We have to step up to the challenge, stare it in the face, and then boldly step into it before we can cross it and conquer it.
Benjamin wavered in his commitment to fight, but later rejoins the Continental Army in a decisive battle against Lord Cornwallis. The American forces prevail over the British and Benjamin kills Tavington, and after a series of defeats, Cornwallis surrenders to the Americans. Cornwallis, like the enemy of God, will flee and hide in shame. They do not have the strength of the Lord and God's kingdom will prevail!
I challenge you to meditate on God's presence and faithfulness. I challenge you to fight the battle for our Father - you will be victorious! Be strong and bold and never give in to satan's lies to cast us down. Remember every minute of every day the grace and mercy of our God! He makes any challenge and mission possible. He gives us our strength and courage to stand firm through our toils and rejoice in His Marvelous Name.
To God be the Glory Forever!