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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Foundational Courage

Moses prayed that the LORD would provide his successor just before he ascended a mountain to die (see Numbers 27). His burden was for Israel even up to the time of his death. He also realized that God would need to do what he could not. Joshua is the answer to Moses’ prayer (see Joshua 1). It is a passage that teaches us the importance of knowing and believing the promises of God, obediently keeping the precepts of God, and staying in close proximity to God. These three imperatives provide a foundation of courage for the believer.

Courage is built on the promises of God. Joshua 1.5 offers a flurry of promises that were very welcoming to Joshua during the transition of leadership: 1) no man would prevail over him and his leadership of Israel; 2) God’s presence would be with him as it was with Moses; 3) God would never leave or forsake Joshua. He faced fearful times ahead of him. God’s promises instilled courage. Courage flourishes in a climate tempered by the promises of God. Realize that circumstances and people cannot thwart God’s plan for your life. This is all you have, and it is all you need.

Courage is built on the precepts of God. The Lord provides rules of conduct for Joshua. He was told to go forward with the congregation into the Promised Land filled with all kinds of obstacles (1.2). He was told to be strong and of a good courage (1.6, 7, 9) – a command he could not obey without the promises of God. He was told to observe and do what God had revealed in the Law (1.7). He was told not to deviate to the right or the left, but to press on (1.7). He was told to keep the Book of the Law on his lips and in his heart (1.8). Worry, fear, and weakness don’t dissipate because you obey a list of rules. However, God provides direction, tells you how to get there, and in time your obedience provides peace and joy. Weakness and fear cannot take root in a heart that sees adversity from God’s perspective. If God is for you, who can be against you?

Courage is built on the proximity of God. The Lord promised Joshua His presence (1.5, 9). God is with believers like you and me – wherever we are …wherever we go. If you are obediently living by faith out of the promises made to you by God, then know that you will be comforted by Immanuel (God with us). If you ignore God by purposefully forgetting what you know to be right in order to do wrong, then know you will stand convicted. God is a very present help not an absent, transcendent help. God is in you as a believer. The Holy Spirit enables courage in our lives.

We can do what God has called us to do. We simply believe the promises, obey the precepts, and practice the presence of God.