Joshua 1:9. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Three times in the first chapter of the book of Joshua he is told by God to be strong and courageous. Why? Why is courage so important? Because our fears are so real. And they will prevent us from living a life of faith.
Courage is not the absence of fear. No, God assumes our fear, like he did Joshua’s. And of course Joshua is afraid. He’s about to lead an entire nation into battle against pagan giants and walled cities. He’s about to go into the unknown. What will happen? Will he fail? Will he succeed? But courage acts even when we feel afraid. Courage moves us past our deepest fears and into a deeper faith. It is a strength of heart, a determination, that allows you to move forward even in the midst of all your unknowns.
In the Bible we see this word courage always connected to action. Joshua had courage and he led the nation into Canaan. Ruth had courage and she stayed with Naomi. Solomon had courage and he built the temple. Jehoida the priest had courage and he restored the temple. The Proverbs 31 woman had courage and then she went off to work. Courage moves. Courage responds. Courage takes the next step. Courage does the next hard thing.
Where do you need courage today? Where do you need to take the next step even though you may be terrified to do so? Where do you need to stand up for what is right and just? Where do you need to reach out and love? Where do you need to act even though nobody else is? Where do you need to leave something that is sinful behind? Where do you need to finish what you started? Where do you need to enter into a spiritual battle? Where do you need to embrace suffering and sacrifice in order for the kingdom of Christ to advance?
Are you waiting for the fear to subside before you act? Are you waiting for every question to be answered before you move? It’s true God commands Joshua to not be frightened, but notice that the command to be strong and courageous comes first. Fears can only go away when we face them and move forward in faith and trust. The waters will part when we walk into them. Not before.
OK, this has been a great pep talk, but how? How do we courageously move? How do we act in strength? There’s only one truth that can allow us to courageously move past fear and into faith.
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
This isn’t mere sentimentality. This is the greatest of all promises. The presence of the Lord God almighty. The God of angel armies, the God who provides all things, the God who fights for us and shepherds us, the ever present, all knowing, all powerful God is with us. He is our strength. He is our courage.
Isaiah 41:10. fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will give you courage, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Courage is never self-induced. It is never self-manufactured. Courage must be imputed. It must be sparked by an outside force. For us, courage comes by God entering into our lives from the outside with an invasion of his hope, love, and power.
This is the promise of our union with Christ. The outside power of God’s courage has entered into us through the life of Christ, the Spirit of Christ. His strength, his power, his love, his life are all now in us. And now he will be with us wherever we go. Our courage is now faith in the active, ongoing, eternal presence of God’s love and grace that allows us to face anything. Anything. Any trial. Any challenge. Any temptation. Any change. Any command. Any result.
No matter what anyone throws at you, you can still stand. Nothing in life can separate you from God’s love. Nothing in life can steal your treasure. Nothing in life can take your life. That’s “to live is Christ,” and “to live is Christ” is to live in courage.
Where do you need courage today?
You in Christ
How does knowing that you are in Christ give you the courage you need today to move forward?
Christ in you
What is one courageous thing that you can do today in Christ’s strength, even though you are afraid?
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