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 - Joshua 1:9 (NKJV)
Whose playing in the football match this weekend?
Where will we spend our family holiday?
What kind of cuisine shall we have for dinner tonight?
People give attention to short-term issues of today and tomorrow, but seem to give little thought to the long-term future. Why is this the case? There are several reasons, but one of the key explanations is that people think the future will be unpleasant. If people are struggling to balance their budget or handle their teenage children, how can they cope with the notion that the world is being turned on its head - or going out of business altogether.
If we are going to achieve the worthy goal of becoming ‘future ready,’ we need to understand what the future is about. One means is to keep well informed by reliable, truthful, and balanced news sources.
More importantly, it is important to understand Bible prophecy. Yet amazingly, despite talk of ‘wars and rumours of wars,’ ‘antichrist,’ ‘harlot of Babylon,’ ‘seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments,’ there is a very clear prophetic call from God to His people: ‘Fear not.’
God does not want you to be afraid of anything. The phrase ‘fear not’ is used 63 times in the Bible, ‘be not afraid’ 26 times, and the word ‘peace’ 429 times. The only fear you should have is the ‘fear of the Lord’ (Proverbs 9:10) and it has the divine ability to cancel all other fears.
Read Joshua 1:6-9 and amazingly God commands the man Joshua three times to be ‘strong’ and ‘courageous.’ Despite the fact that he stood at the backdoor of Canaan, where seven nations (another name for people groups) awaited Israel’s invasion. Some of these nations had tall giants and even taller walls. Yet God shows the possibility and necessity of being strong and courageous in the face of all challenges.
In the Book of Joshua, the basis of courage and fearlessness comes from three sources:
1. A Decision to Hear and Obey God’s Command to be Strong and Courageous;
2. Putting God’s Word in Your Heart;
3. The Presence of the Lord;
Yes, the challenge of conquering Canaan is softened greatly by making a decision to be strong and courageous. Yes, strength and courage are a decision you make to obey God and He will do the rest.
The command to be ‘strong and courageous’ is not just for Joshua - it applies to every believer. Twice in the psalms God promises the psalmist that if he will be of good courage, God will strength his heart (Psalm 27:14; 31:14). Preceding the command to be courageous is to ‘wait on the Lord.’
Practically speaking, in order to obey the command is to believe it, affirm it, and confess it.
Second point is to put God’s Word in your heart. This comes from devotion, study, and meditation. With the Word in your heart, faith levels arise. You become more aware and attentive to what God says. From the fullness of your heart, you will be strengthened and encouraged to do what God says.
Finally, understand that God’s presence with you and in you will be a source of tremendous courage. The promises of Scripture are clear: God is with His people. He promises to never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Jesus says to His great commission obeying disciples that He will be with them always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).
How can we forget the reality of the Twenty-Third Psalm, Verse 4:
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
David the psalmist had every good reason to fear in the natural. The wilderness where he tended the sheep had wild animals, venomous reptiles, scarcity of water and food, and it was easy to get lost. Yet he says that even in the ‘valley of the shadow of death,’ he will fear not evil. What is the basis of his fearlessness: For you art with me.
When God is with you and for you, no one and nothing can be against you.
It is like the story of the 12 year old student. For him, recess was not a time of fun and games but of torment. Why? Because a 14 year old school yard bully was waiting in the playground to taunt and harass. A dark cloud hung over his head and a knot tightened in his stomach as the bell rang. Yet, the time came when he could go into the playground and the bully could not touch him. Why? Because the student’s 16 year old brother accompanied him there.
If an older brother can keep us safe from schoolyard bullies, how much more will the promised presence of God keep us fearless despite the uncertain and tumultuous times in which we live.
Remember that true courage is not the absence of fear; it is the mastery of fear through the tools God has given us. So if we are to be ‘future-ready,’ hear and respond to God’s wonderful call to fearlessness. It will open all kinds of wonderful doors for you.