Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Don't Surrender to Fear

The tasks God calls us to are often scary and overwhelming.  We know that if completing the tasks depended solely upon us then they will remain unfinished.  Joshua must have felt that same way when he was called to lead the people of Israel into the Promised Land.

Deuteronomy 31:7-8:
Then Moses called out to Joshua in the presence of all Israel, "Be strong and courageous, for you will accompany these people to the land that the LORD promised to give their ancestors, and you will enable them to inherit it. The LORD is indeed going before you - he will be with you; he will not fail you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged!" (NET)
Moses had been the leader of Israel for 40 years and he understood the difficulties that were involved with the task, so he urges Joshua to be strong and courageous.  Moses reminds Joshua that he can be confident in the task because God would go with him.

Deuteronomy 31:22, 23:
So on that day Moses wrote down this song and taught it to the Israelites, and the LORD commissioned Joshua son of Nun, "Be strong and courageous, for you will take the Israelites to the land I have promised them, and I will be with you." (NET)
Before the chapter ends in Deuteronomy Joshua is again urged to be strong and courageous, but this time the encouragement comes directly from God.  Joshua wasn't appointed for the task by Moses, but by God, and God tells Joshua that he can boldly lead the people into the Promised Land because God will go with Him.  What a great encouragement!

Joshua 1:6-9:
"Be strong and brave! You must lead these people in the conquest of this land that I solemnly promised their ancestors I would hand over to them.  Make sure you are very strong and brave! Carefully obey all the law my servant Moses charged you to keep! Do not swerve from it to the right or to the left, so that you may be successful in all you do. This law scroll must not leave your lips! You must memorize it day and night so you can carefully obey all that is written in it. Then you will prosper and be successful. I repeat, be strong and brave! Don't be afraid and don't panic, for I, the LORD your God, am with you in all you do."  (NET)
On the eve of venturing into the Promised Land God again comes to Joshua and affirms the promise that he had been given.  Joshua could be strong and brave because God went with him.  Yet we discover here that God gave Joshua some advice on how to be strong and courageous: to know and obey the law.  God had established a covenant with Israel, and as Israel's leader Joshua was charged with helping Israel to obey the terms of that covenant.  So it was essential that Joshua knew, obeyed, and ultimately modeled those terms to the nation.  It was Joshua's faithfulness to God, as demonstrated by keeping the terms of the covenant, that Joshua could be certain that God would be with him each step of the way.

2 Timothy 1:6-8:
Because of this I remind you to rekindle God's gift that you possess through the laying on of my hands.  For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me, a prisoner for his sake, but by God's power accept your share of suffering for the gospel (NET).
Timothy had been given a task to do.  It was based on the talents and spiritual gifts that God had blessed him with, but there was a part of him that wanted to hold back.  If he was to accomplish his God-given mission meant that he would face persecution and opposition.  Paul reminded Timothy that God's Spirit fills us with courage and boldness so that he can have the strength to accomplish what God had called him to do.

As followers of Jesus we are not to surrender to our fears.  We are to go forth in courage and do what we have been called to do, to keep the terms of the New Covenant: Love God and love people.  Yes we will face opposition, but when we surrender to God He will enable us to accomplish what He as called us to do.  He will give us the strength to be faithful to the end.

We can go confidently into the world because we know that God goes with us.  He has enabled us, through His Spirit, to be the strong and courageous people He called us to be.

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