Monday, August 27, 2012
After Moses died, Joshua was preparing to lead the Israelites across the Jordan river; to fulfill God’s promise began 40 years earlier when Moses led them out of Egypt. It was all up to Joshua: cross the river or wander the rest of their lives in the desert. No doubt Joshua was more than a little afraid of his new responsibility. So God assured him, saying: "Be strong and courageous." (1 Joshua 6)
After God told Joshua to be strong and courageous, God then told Joshua, "Be strong and very courageous." (1 Joshua 7)
Finally God told Joshua once more, "Be strong and courageous," adding, "Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (1 Joshua 9)
Three times God repeated His encouragement to Joshua to be strong and courageous. God knows how much easier it is for us humans to be timid and fearful.
Throughout the Bible, whenever God sent his messengers, often the angel’s first words were: "Do not be afraid." Angels know that as wonderful and lovely as they are, seeing one show up can turn us humans into screaming scaredy pants. Angels, too, know that fear is a natural part of our lives.
Paul, however, reminded us that …
God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:7)
The point about courage is not that you have no fear. The point about courage is that you do what is necessary in the face of fear. You do it even though you are afraid.
In Philippians 4:13, Paul says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Paul isn’t saying he’s strong just because he’s a believer. Rather, Paul means he can do all things because the Spirit of God empowers him. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, Paul now has the Holy Spirit. It is God’s Spirit who makes Paul strong.
And this Spirit of God that made Paul strong? It’s in each believer, living, waiting, available to strengthen us, too.
Our spirit of weakness, timidity and incapacity does not come from God. What comes from God is a spirit of power, love and self-discipline because it is God’s own Spirit; His Holy Spirit, living in us.
Every time we remind ourselves that God’s strong and courageous Spirit is in us, and step out in faith, we experience the courageous power of God in us and become stronger and more courageous, both for now and for the next time we are faced with the choice of fear or courage. It usually begins with the small stuff—not angelic visitors; not leading a million people into a promised land; not birthing a famous baptist minister like John. Sometimes it simply begins with an attitude of submission to God’s will and a trust that He is in charge of everything—for our good.
Each time we shut our ears to fear and open our hearts to the power of God’s Spirit, we let courage expand and become a more natural part of who we are and especially—who we are in Christ.
If an angel ever comes to visit me, I hope he says, "Fear not. Be strong and courageous, because you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you."
NOTE: This is a reposting from www.WeUsed2BU.com where our theme for August was "fear."