Strong and Courageous

Here are the sermon notes from 8/11.

I.  Joshua:  Joshua 1:1-9

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

We remember Joshua for a number of reasons.  He was one of the twelve men who had been sent into the promised land to spy it out shortly after Israel had been delivered from Egypt.  All of the spies agreed that it was a rich land, but that it had numerous strong people, fortified cities, and even giants.  Joshua was one of the two men that believed that Israel should invade, the other ten said that they should not invade, the people would be too strong for them.   Israel believed the report of the ten and God punished them by making them to wander in the wilderness for forty years while that generation died off.

In these verses he is charged with leading the children of Israel in conquest of the promised land.  He is told three times to be strong and courageous.  The Hebrew word that is translated as strong here is sometimes used to mean encouragement, or sometimes obstinate.  I believe that it is a reference to our attitude.   We are not to give up in the face of difficulty.  We are to forge ahead with what God has charged us to accomplish.

The same word translated as strong is used in the name Hezekiah, which means strengthened by the Lord.  This is important because the source of Joshua’s strength was not his own ability but the fact that God was with him.

Joshua is promised that the Lord would be with him.  That was the source of his strength, and why he could be strong and courageous.  This promise should sound familiar to Christians because Jesus told His disciples that he would be with them always, even to the end of the age.  (Matthew 28: 20)  In Hebrews the author quotes from Joshua when writing to Christians that God will not leave them or forsake them.  As Christians, we can claim the promise that God will be with us, and by that promise we too can be strengthened and take courage.

We should recognize that even Joshua, as close as he was to God was still told to remain in the Word, to meditate on the law and to be obedient to the law.  That God’s blessing was connected to obedience.  As Christians we have been set free from the Mosaic law, but not from the moral commandments of the Word of God.  We cannot rightfully claim the promises of the blessings of God if we are knowingly living in disobedience to the Word or Spirit of God.

II.  Caleb: Joshua 14: 6-14

Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him: “You know the word which the Lord said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the Lord my God. So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’ 10 And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. 11 As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. 12 Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.”

13 And Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as an inheritance. 14 Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel.

Caleb was the second spy who had been faithful to believe God.  God had rewarded him by preserving both his life and his strength.  Here it is, forty five years later, and he was still ready to take the mountain.  He believed that if God was with him, then he can do it.  God rewarded his faithfulness and blessed his actions.

Some dreams may take a long time to fulfill.  We are to continue to be strong and courageous, doing what God has called us to do.  We may retire from our regular employment, but there is no retirement from our service to God.  The nature of our service may change, our work may become less physical and more spiritual, but we continue to serve.  As long as we are upon this earth, God has a reason for us to be here.

Be strong and courageous and fulfill the mission that God has for you.

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