Strong and courageous, part two

Last week I began this look at God’s repeated instruction to Joshua in Joshua chapter 1 to be strong and courageous. Today I want to continue by looking at the definitions of these words. I’m a big fan of definitions of words. I think we get so used to words that sometimes we lose a full connection to their meanings. So I looked up the definition of the word strong and I just want to share some of the definitions they have for the word. As you read these, think about God telling Joshua to be strong. Think about God telling us to be strong, and really look at what God means when he says that word.

Having the power to move heavy weights or perform other physically demanding tasks.

Able to perform a specified action well and powerfully.

Likely to succeed because of sound reasoning or convincing evidence.

Possessing skills and qualities that create a likelihood of success.

Powerfully affecting the mind, senses, or emotions.

Able to withstand great force or pressure.

Not easily affected by disease or hardship.

Not easily disturbed, upset, or affected.

Showing determination, self-control, and good judgment.

Firmly held or established.

God didn’t mention this word in passing. It wasn’t some fleeting suggestion that may or may not be useful for Joshua. This was a thrice repeated command directly from the Lord to Joshua. And as I studied this, I just felt God saying it directly to us as modern believers as well. Seriously, look at that list of definitions again. This is what God is telling us to be. It’s not just physical strength that’s represented in this word, it’s mental strength, strength of character, and it’s hardiness. The ability to weather storms, to endure hardships. Be strong.

The word courageous doesn’t kick back an exhaustive list of definitions, but that doesn’t make it any less important. The word is defined as “not deterred by danger or pain; brave.” Or you know, boldness. There’s a danger I could lose my job if I looked for ministry opportunities while out on assignment with the newspaper. There’s the possibility of emotional pain if longtime work acquaintances and friends turn on me if I try to talk to them about Jesus. God is telling me to be courageous, to press on despite the possibility of danger or pain.

Like I said in the previous post, I know this is a strong word for me, but I hope it’s something that’s helpful to some of you as well. God doesn’t speak lightly. So first off, when He talks in the Bible, it’s important. Secondly, if God’s repeating something, take notice. Be strong and courageous. Be strong and very courageous. Be strong and courageous. Three times, followed by a reminder from the people of Israel to be strong and courageous. Four mentions in 18 verses tells me that this is something very important and something we really need to take to heart.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Now there’s something that just thrilled me as I got a little deeper into the book of Joshua. Joshua has been leading the people of Israel into the promised land, seizing the inheritance that the Lord promised to these people back when they left slavery in Egypt. They’re fighting battle after battle, defeating kingdom after kingdom. It’s in the midst of one such situation when Joshua shares something with his men.

Joshua 10:25 And Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous. For thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.”

It put a huge smile on my face when I read that verse. Isn’t it incredible to see Joshua’s command to his men? “Be strong and courageous.” If you’re reading the entire book of Joshua, you know that he didn’t come by those two words lightly. It’s not just something he picked out of thin air because it sounded nice. These are two important words, mighty words, and he knows that because there was a time when God thrice repeated those words to him.

I was really moved by this because it illustrates such a beautiful progression to me. First, God instilled the need to be strong and courageous into Joshua. He drilled it into him, repeated it enough that Joshua had to know it was extremely important. And as you read the book of Joshua, he’s a man who is both strong and courageous. He heard from God, took the words to heart, and lived them out in his life. And then, God used Joshua to instill these same two words into his men. Joshua had to get it first, and then he was in a position to pass it along.

As I was studying that I was really moved by it and it really spoke to me on a practical level. We need to make sure we’re not hiding and internalizing the things God teaches us. God may need you to really grasp something so you can turn around and equip and empower others with that very thing. I’m not saying we’re all destined to share some grand sermon in front of thousands of people, it could be much simpler than that. Maybe you’re meant to share something God taught/revealed to you with just one other person. The thing God reveals to you and teaches you in your life could be the very thing someone else needs to hear and learn. Never forget that God uses people. He shared the command to be strong and courageous not with everyone, only with Joshua. Then God worked through Joshua to see that command be transferred out to many more people.

PRAYER AND CLOSING

Father God, I want to be strong and courageous for you.  People need you, and I need to have the boldness to be someone who shares you with those who don’t have a relationship with you.  Lord, I ask you today for a flood of boldness in my life.  Grant to me strength and courage unlike any I’ve ever possessed before.  Light a new fire in me, one so mighty that it can never be put out.  I want to be a participant in this age, Father, someone who is actively working on behalf of you.  I ask that you grant all of your believers in this age the heart of a participant.  Grant us boldness, grant us strength, and then drop us in situations for you.  Danger is just a word when you’re working for the Lord.  Father God, may I be so lucky as to find myself in danger for you some day.  Your word tells me that blessed are those who suffer in your name, and so if that’s where my strength and courage lead me then I will count it as a source of joy.  Give me opportunities to act on my boldness, Father, give me divine appointments with people who need to hear about you.  I want to tell people about the love of Jesus.  I thank you for the transformation you’ve worked in me.  It’s been a little over a year since you drew me back into church and yet it feels like a lifetime.  I don’t even recognize the man I was before this period in my life, and I’m glad for that.  Continue to work in me, continue to transform me and grow me in my faith.  And Lord, thank you for loving me so deeply and so completely.  Your love for your people is incredible and amazing and undeniable.  I feel it every day, and I’m so thankful to you for that.  Help me be someone who helps others feel your love.  I pray all of these things in the precious name of Jesus, amen.

When you start your week off in prayer it just makes things better.  I’m feeling great about this week and I hope all of you are as well.  God’s doing amazing things, people, and my prayer is that we can all be participants and not just observers.  Pray that over yourself today and start looking for opportunities to be a participant in what He’s doing.

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