Strength and courage
July 2, 2012
by Pastor Rick Messer, Howard Lake Christian Church, Howard Lake

When someone keeps telling you to “be strong and courageous,” you might suspect you are up against something big. And that’s where we find the Israelites – the Israelites were up against something very big.

They were about to enter the land that had been promised them 600 years before, and they had a giant-sized task awaiting them. Literally. Forty years earlier, their “RECON” team had come back and told the Israelites that the inhabitants of the land were so big, they felt like they were the size of a grasshopper in comparison.

Well, it didn’t take long for that to get out through their social media sites, and before long, the entire nation was gripped with dread. In fact, fear took them captive without a battle. The result was that God sent them off as a group to wander around in a wilderness to think about why it was important to walk by faith, and not by sight.

Rather than face their giants, they were relieved of their duties and sent away to wander in the wilderness. Each year, they would pass by the markers on the graves of those who did not believe God. Eventually, they wandered so long that those who had grasshopper-sized faith died out.

And now, 40 years later, their children were ready to take the land. Physically, they were no taller than their parents had been, and the enemies in the land were still as big. But the Israelites,’ during their wandering in the wilderness, had developed faith muscles unlike any other.

Joshua, one of the two spies who insisted on taking the land to begin with, was now the leader of the Israelites – and he was strong and courageous. God wanted to keep him that way.

So God told him three times, as stated in the first nine verses of Joshua, chapter one, “Be strong and courageous.” And then, He reminded him, “the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Friends, my guess is that some of you reading this devotion may be facing a few giants of your own. You are ready to enter into the land God has promised you, but standing in front of you, larger than life, is a giant.

What giant is it? Some giants are like uphill battles that appear insurmountable. Perhaps it’s a task demanding more than you think you have to give. Maybe you simply have one too many things on your “to do” list than you have the time or energy to do.

Perhaps unemployment is staring you down. Maybe the giant of depression has a grip on you.

Have giant bills raided your bank account and left it empty? Perhaps a giant illness hovers in your life like a menacing storm, and you’d rather just run and wander.

Friend, if that’s you, then let me encourage you by saying, be strong and courageous. “The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

As a Christian, I am fully aware that I have a leader who will lead the way. His name is Jesus, and He has promised to always be with His followers, according to Matthew 28:20.

Jesus knows how to lead you through battles. He had a few of his own while he was on this earth: Enemies attacking him with accusations (Mark 3:22); no home and no bed (Luke 9:58); crowds and expectations pressing in on him (Luke 8:45); the religious establishment eventually insuring he was sentenced to a brutal death (Mark 15:14).

Yet, he took on the most barbaric giant there is, death, and defeated it. And, He can help you do the same. So, be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God is with you.