Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
There’s certainly a lot of courageous people in the Bible. After Moses’ death, God commands Joshua to take the Israelites into the promised land – not knowing what to expect. God reminds Joshua that with every step, He will be just ahead of Joshua paving the way.
The dictionary definition of courage is: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. But that doesn’t really do “courage” justice. There’s plenty of people who build up their courage to do really stupid things. And without consulting God on our next steps how can someone really “withstand” fear and difficulty?
Courage is one of those mysterious uniquely human gifts. A gift that is frequently used wrongly when the Holy Spirit isn’t involved. I find when I’m telling myself to be brave it’s a signal that I need to start praying.
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24
Awhile back I challenged a group of friends and acquaintances to embark on what I called The Boldness Challenge. I asked each of them to make a list of five things they’d like to accomplish. And then, they were to start working on each of them, reporting in occasionally. For some it was digging deeper into their faith. For another it was completing the John Muir Trail. From starting a business to learning to fly, the lists were incredibly diverse! One list included forgiving certain people in their lives. Each person had been putting off tackling a dream or a goal. All of them would need God’s courage to move forward.
I’m so thankful that when I know I’m going to encounter a difficult situation or embark on a new and scary adventure I can count on God for the mysterious courage. The Holy Spirit wells up inside me and gives me the strength to take that step forward.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
Early in our marriage my husband and I started a lifelong habit of calling each other at the end of our workday. We’d let the other know ahead of time if we would be late or what our ETA was. When we both worked it served as a way to talk about our dinner plans. After 32 years of marriage my husband still calls or texts me when he is on his way home. It was borne out of an incident when he didn’t call me. My first reaction was to think he’d been in a car accident. And as the time slipped by my worries grew. By the time he got home I was in tears from fear of his demise. He couldn’t understand why I was so upset. He’d just been out surfing after work with some friends.
So, while the habit of touching base became a good thing it also became a bit of a fear-based obsession with me. My husband spent many hours driving for his work. He frequently drove the more than 200 miles to and from Los Angeles. I worried constantly he would be killed in a car crash. I lost sleep over it. I fretted when he didn’t arrive exactly when he thought he would.
I finally realized one day my fears were a result of the fear of being left alone. I was certain if I lost him no one would ever love me again.
The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
We hear the words that God is with us always. A Christian friend, who was struggling with marriage and family problems, confessed that sometimes we need a real, physical hug. We need to feel like we are loved and belong. That we haven’t been orphaned. Frequently in my prayers for people I ask God to help them feel his hand on their shoulder. I realize it’s what I really need when I struggle – to feel and know His physical presence in my life.
Sometimes He will show Himself in the face of a friend. Sometimes it’s in words from one of my daughters. He shows Himself in a song that comes on the radio. And sometimes the Holy Spirit will burn inside me. When needed, I have felt His hand on my shoulder.
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
I was listening to a podcast the other day where the women spoke of this need to feel God’s love for them. They knew the scriptures and could easily quote them. But they acknowledged that just knowing them wouldn’t suffice. We need to repeat them and truly believe them. The devil is constantly looking for ways to tear us away from God’s love. So, when we feel that loneliness, that fear of being forgotten we need to refocus on God. We may need to cry out to Him. We may need to sit in quiet mediation to hear Him.
There’s been a few occasions in the last couple months where I’ve felt rejected by people who should love me. Thankfully, in my maturing faith, I’ve turned to Jesus more and more to remind me of the one who always loves me, no matter what. And He has shown up to comfort me.
Here’s some beautiful scripture to remember and soak in today for anyone who might feel alone. For anyone who might feel as though they have been left behind or forgotten.
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.Romans 5:5
But whoever loves God is known by God.1 Corinthians 8:3
Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!Psalms 66:20
Help me, Lord my God; save me according to your unfailing love.
No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.John 16:27
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”Psalms 91:14-16
I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.Joshua 1:9
Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who
trains my hands for war, my fingers
for battle.Psalm 144:1
I have a very strong personality. I’m a fixer and a doer. I’m a creative problem solver. So, for me to sit back and let God take control or direct me has been one of my greatest challenges. A few years ago, I was working in a school counseling office. There were two of us with essentially the same job. When my co-worker left for greener pastures, we hired a new, young woman as her replacement. She was fun and interesting. And then she stopped showing up on time for work. And at times not at all. Then she started spending what time she was in the office on personal phone calls or social media. The bulk of the work fell on me to accomplish.
I jumped into fix it mode. Trying to help her figure out a better work style. Talking with our supervisor about how to discipline her. Each morning as I headed into work, I created all the conversations I wish I could actually have with her. I became angry and bitter. I might or might not even jokingly asked God to take her out with a bus.
Fortunately, my faith was maturing. One morning during my commute, the Holy Spirit whispered to me: “This battle needs a different approach. Try praying FOR her.” And so, I did. For one week, every morning I prayed that God would intervene in her life to help her be more successful at work. And that whatever was happening in her home life would not deter her from doing a good job.
And after one week she stopped showing up completely. Two weeks later it was determined she had “abandoned” her job. Essentially, she had fired herself. And in the next hiring process I was able to recommend someone else who was amazing!
He is my loving God and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield,
in whom I take refuge, who subdues
people under me.Psalm 144:2
You see, I was fighting the battle all wrong. I focused on myself rather than God. It was an in-your-face lesson delivered by the Holy Spirit.
Since then, I have faced other battles. I’m remembering to pray before I enter the battlefield for God to direct me and protect me. Because I recognize that I can be a bull in a china shop with my “Miz Fixit” personality.
“When I release my weaknesses and blind spots to God, He uses them to help me grow up spiritually.”
I love the visual from 1 Peter 1:13 to “gird your loins.” The saying comes from the concept of tucking your tunic up into your belt so that it doesn’t get in the way while running.
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind,
be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the
grace that is to be brought to you at the
revelation of Jesus Christ;1 Peter 1:13
And in this verse, it specifically reminds us to pull our thoughts together and have a disciplined mind so we can rest our thoughts on the grace of the returning Christ. We escape from the perils of the worldly mind – trying to fix everything ourselves — with the teaching and guiding hand of God.
Before we make that difficult phone call, head into that important meeting, sit down with the wayward family member we need to “gird our loins” and seek God’s battle plan. Stand confident in prayer and listen to what He really wants you to say or do. For me, He reminds me I need to be silent at times and let Him do His good work.
Most of us are “can do” people. And when it comes to conflict or issues in our lives we so often want to take back command of the battle. But like Joshua before us we need to be fired up and bold in our faith that He will be our deliverer.
"Tell the priests who carry
the ark of the covenant: "When
you reach the edge of the Jordan's
waters, go and stand in it."Joshua 3:8
I was once asked by God to take on a year-long project. It wasn’t my idea. I hadn’t even been thinking about it. I recognized His request immediately as a test of my growth of faithfulness. What I have found is so many of us worry that we will look/sound silly, weird, or even crazy if we obey God’s directives.
Think about Joshua leading millions of Israelites into the promised land. He gets told by God to stand in the Jordan river with the ark of the covenant — which at that time of the year was at flood stage. The ark was their most valuable commodity and here was this “lunatic” telling the priests to go stand in the water with it.
What I have also found is that when, not only myself, but others obey God and set aside our pride, we don’t look foolish. We look victorious. We are victorious.
When I finally set aside my pride when it came to my relationship with my younger daughter, God smiled on us and created something I could have only imagined. We were victorious.
"But on Mount Zion will be
deliverance; it will be holy,
and Jacob will possess his
I want that victory for you. God wants to share in victory WITH you. So listen to His Word, hear His voice and step forward ready to win your battles.
What has God asked you to do that, well to be honest, sounds a bit uncomfortable, odd, or just downright crazy? . The Bible is a testament to ordinary people doing extraordinary acts in God’s name. Take Joshua for example. He had to tell his entire army to march around Jericho once a day for six days not speaking a word. On the last day at the sound of a trumpet they were all to shout. And then all the walls would fall down. Think of the work God had to do, not just in Joshua, but in all his priests, his army, and support staff. Without God, most people would’ve revolted. And then think what the Jericho army was witnessing. You would imagine by the second day they would’ve just killed all the Israelites as they marched around. But God was in control. . I once heard a member of a Bible study group ask, “Why doesn’t God speak like that anymore?” My response was, “Maybe we just aren’t listening. More importantly we aren’t obeying.” . What have you pulled back from on your Boldness List? You’re too (fill in the blank). Could it be that God has asked you to obey and you aren’t listening? Or you heard but just haven’t obeyed? Let’s take those steps of trust today and obey. Only then will we receive God’s full complement of gifts.