Sunday, October 8
Greetings! This week we are going to be looking at the life of Joshua and the often-repeated refrain in his life – BE STRONG & COURAGEOUS! Just as strength and courage was needed in the days of Joshua as he led the Israelites into the Promised (but Occupied) Land; so too, Christians today are living in a land occupied by evil and Godlessness and a large dose of strength and courage is needed to effectively stand against Satan’s schemes.
Our memory verse this week comes from Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” It is easy to become terrified or discouraged when we see evil and lawlessness alive and well. But the world doesn’t need any more terrified or discouraged Christians whose God is too small. It is our opportunity – just as it was Joshua’s – to step out in courage to show our world a great big God who can do more than we could ever hope or imagine.
Before jumping into the book that bears Joshua’s name – we need to begin this week in Numbers 13 & 14. Here we find the Israelites who had recently been miraculously delivered from Egypt on the front steps of the Promised Land. Go ahead and read these quick chapters. They provide such a great parallel of terrified and discouraged versus strong and courageous.
In Numbers 13 (as in life today, perhaps), the large majority is definitely panicked and defeated. They have seen a scary reality and they quickly forget what God has already done for them. Rather than concentrating on their great big God and the blessings he has in store for them just over the next hill; they crumble. They “spread … a bad report about the land” (Numbers 13:32), they weep and grumble (Numbers 14:1&2), they blame others and they blame God (14:2-4) and they are even on the verge of great violence towards God’s faithful people (14:10). They allow fear, discouragement, self-pity and negativity to overflow and it quickly becomes evident that their view of God was much too small.
Meanwhile, the faithful two – Joshua and Caleb – who had seen the same scary looking giants and large fortified cities – ALSO saw the land flowing with milk and honey and a great big God who could deliver His people. They plead with their terrified and discouraged countrymen: “If the Lord is PLEASED with us, he WILL lead us into that land …Only do NOT rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land.” (Numbers 14:8,9). If only the people would have listened. They could have saved themselves from 40 years of wandering and early death. They could have reaped the blessing instead of the punishment but they allowed their fears to reign.
Where are you right now? What is your view of God? Are you remembering all the good things He has already done for you or are you actively blaming Him instead? Are you too busy spreading a bad report and grumbling to pursue a courageous act of following God? Are you allowing a scary reality to shrink your view of God? How can you spend time today magnifying your view of God to remember His greatness and the power He makes available to those courageous enough to put their full trust in Him. Pray for eyes and a heart like Joshua and Caleb’s that will see not only the giants and fortified cities ahead, but also the exciting direction that God would have us go – the plan that requires that we be Strong and Courageous with a great big view of God.