Sunday, May 13, 2007

Be Strong and Courageous

When God called Joshua to lead the people after the death of Moses, He promised to be with him just as He had been with Moses. But He also told him several times that he must always be faithful to God’s law. He was to know it intimately, think of it constantly, speak of it always, and faithfully follow every word of it.

How does this compare with the way we live?

Maybe our distance from what was not just asked but demanded of Joshua is why so many of us feel we lead mediocre lives. Maybe that’s why it’s usually the same few people in our churches who do most of the work. Maybe that’s why most of our congregations lack fire. How are we supposed to make the world want what we have when we really don’t know ourselves?

It’s true that the law does not function in quite the same way as it did in Joshua’s day. Today there is hope to outweigh the condemnation. We need to know the law and ourselves well enough to know that we have fallen far short of what God demands. We need to come to a place where our sinfulness breaks our heart. When we know we have failed to live up to God’s perfect law and that there is nothing we can ever do to make us capable of that, we need to repent, accept the sacrifice made for us and ask Jesus to be our holiness.

How different would our lives be if we spent more time soaking in His Word? What if we knew it intimately, thought of it constantly, spoke it always, and faithfully lived it? We are not perfect and will never be perfect on this earth. But the love of God and the sacrifice of His Son make us as if we were. If we take the time to really understand His grace and let it permeate every area of our lives, we will glow with it and others will see and want what we have.

We have the answer to all of the world’s questions and problems. But we strip it of its power by not letting it reign in our hearts and lives. God may be all-powerful, but He will never force anyone to love Him.

How much better would this world be if we all lived the greatest commandment?

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31 NIV

And the other instruction given to Joshua? Be strong and courageous!

Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:6-9  NIV

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