Derek Smith, Lead Pastor LHBC

Joshua 1:1-9
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors 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.  Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; 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 afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

One summer morning as Ray Blankenship was preparing his breakfast, he gazed out the window, and saw a small girl being swept along in the rain-flooded drainage ditch beside his Andover, Ohio, home. Blankenship knew that farther downstream, the ditch disappeared with a roar underneath a road and then emptied into the main culvert. Ray dashed out the door and raced along the ditch, trying to get ahead of the floundering child. Then he hurled himself into the deep, churning water. Blankenship surfaced and was able to grab the child’s arm. They tumbled end over end. Within about three feet of the culvert, Ray’s free hand felt something–possibly a rock– protruding from one bank. He clung desperately, but the tremendous force of the water tried to tear him and the child away. “If I can just hang on until help comes,” he thought. He did better than that. By the time fire-department rescuers arrived, Blankenship had pulled the girl to safety. Both were treated for shock. Ray Blankenship was later awarded the Coast Guard’s Silver Lifesaving Medal. The award is fitting, for this selfless person was at even greater risk to himself than most people knew. Ray Blankenship couldn’t swim.

Courage. Every child of God is called to exercise it. In fact, in Joshua 1 the Lord commands Joshua to be courageous. It’s been said that courage is not the absence of fear, it’s the willingness to proceed in spite of it. Courage is born in us when the fear of God supersedes the fear of man. When what God says is more important to us than what man says, courage is born. It’s also been said that courage is not merely a virtue, it is the formation of every virtue when tested.  

It’s easy to read a book like Joshua and feel disconnected from it. I mean, what really does some nation conquering other nations thousands of years ago have to do with me? Remember, while these are actual historical events that took place, they are also symbolic of the Christian life now. In fact, the best way to look at the conquering of the Promised Land is not as a picture of entering heaven but as a picture of the Christian life. The children of Israel had great battles to fight and had some major failures along the way; this is not a picture of heaven, but of life. However, just as they found victory and ultimate rest in the land under the leadership of Joshua, so we too can walk in victory and find rest in following the Lord Jesus Christ. But, how do we do that? It takes courageous faith.

Pastor Rod Rogers once said,

“Cowardice asks the question: ‘Is it safe?’ Consensus asks the question: ‘Is it popular?’ Courage asks the question: ‘Is it right?’”

There’s always some seemingly good excuse for not sharing our faith. There’s often some compelling reason why we should not speak for Jesus, I mean it might cost us our job or that relationship. In the politically correct and tolerant society we live in it’s easy to rationalize our lack of courageous faith. People all around us are drowning in sin and brokenness. Whether you know how to swim or not, are you going to jump in the water? Today, let’s lay down our excuses, rest in God’s promises, and step out courageously and be a witness for Christ. What if all the Christians in the world decided to stay silent in the midst of opposition? Don’t remain silent. Don’t pass the buck. Stand on the Word and tell someone about Jesus.

Father God, I know You have called me to courageous faith. So, I lay down my excuses. I take full responsibility today for being a witness for You. I fear You above all else. Lord give me courage to boldly declare your gospel. In Jesus name I pray, amen.

Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.