Be Strong and Very Courageous

In the movie Brave Heart, the Scotts are lined up across a plain from the army of the tyrannical British. The Scottish soldiers start to realize that they don’t want to die for greedy Scottish nobles and so they start to leave the battlefield. But then William Wallas played by Mel Gibson rides in front of the ranks and gives a stringing speech, encouraging the men to stand and fight. The essence of his message is that this is their one chance to win freedom! This type of scene is typical in movies. A rag tag group of fighters is facing an army on the battlefield and the hero gives an epic speech to make them strong and courageous. It makes for good television. 

In movies it seems like things always turn out alright for the heroes. But that is not the case in real life. In real life there are very real dangers and the heroes are not guaranteed to win. If you were standing with the soldiers of Ukraine near the border with Russia, what would you say to make them strong and courageous? If you were driving a relative to a surgery or to their first chemo treatment, what would you say to make them strong and courageous? If you were talking with a friend who lost their job and was about to lose their house, what would you say to make them strong and courageous? In these situations, there are ample reasons to feel weak and afraid. Things might not turn out alright. The Ukrainian soldier might get killed. The surgery or chemo might not be successful. Your friend could very well go through financial ruin.

Joshua had every reason to feel weak and afraid. Moses had just died and now the people looked to Joshua to bring them into the promised land. Joshua was supposed to take a rag tag group of Israelites and conquer the land of Canaan. The Bible tells us the Canaanites were huge warlike people, they had walled cities and iron weapons. How were a bunch of nomad shepherds with no military training supposed to stand up to that? Joshua had every reason to feel weak and afraid. And so God went to Joshua and gave him a rousing speech telling him to be strong and courageous. 

And it is very important to see why God tells Joshua he can be strong and courageous. God Tells Joshua, “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” – Joshua 1:5-6. God tells Joshua he can be strong and courageous because God will be with him. God promises Joshua that he will never leave him nor forsake him. And God gave Joshua a special promise that he would have success. Joshua could be strong and courageous because he had the Lord and his promises. 

Now we don’t have a special promise from God guaranteeing we will have victory when we face our trials and troubles. But we do still have God and his promises. And that is why we can be strong and courageous. God has promised us he is with us always. That means we can be strong and courageous because we are never alone. We have a powerful ally who is with us. God has promised us he will forgive all our sins. That means we can be strong and courageous when we face temptation because we are forgiven for the times we have failed in the past. That forgiveness motivates us to resist temptation in the present. God has promised us that he will give us eternal life. That means we can be strong and courageous even when faced with a trial or trouble that might take our life. God has promised he will use troubles for our good. That means we can be strong and courageous even when a trial or trouble weakens us or causes us to suffer. 

Be strong and courageous. Why? Because you have God and his promises.  


Have You Been Tossing and Turning?

Have you been tossing and turning? – Psalm 4 

When was the last time you were lying in bed tossing and turning because you couldn’t fall asleep? What were you thinking about? What was it that was causing you worry and distress? Were you worried because your child had not come home yet from an outing? Did you just get a bill and were trying to figure out how you could pay it? Were you thinking about your health or your career? Did you have some big event the next day that was occupying your mind?

Sleepless nights filled with worry and concern have struck nearly every human being at some point. I imagine King David was having such a night before he wrote Psalm 4. If you read the Psalm 4 you find out that David was in distress. He was concerned about the people’s worship of false Gods. He was worried about the people turning against him. He was worried about sin. He was apprehensive when considering the future, wondering whether the people of Israel would prosper or not. 

So, I imagine David was tossing and turning in bed thinking about all these things. Then, finally, he decides  to get up and pour his heart out to God. And when he pours out his heart to God he finally is able to find some peace. 

I just love the last verse of Psalm 4, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” David to finally able to get some sleep because he focused on the fact that the Lord alone caused him to dwell in safety. David had seen this first hand. God had preserved him when he fought the giant Goliath. God had preserved him when he was running for his life from King Saul. God had preserved him when his son Absalom was trying to overthrow him. It wasn’t David’s own strength or intelligence that got in through these situations. It was the Lord. The Lord alone. The Lord caused him to dwell in safety. And remembering this fact finally gave him some peace and allowed him to lie down and sleep. 

So again, what is it that is keeping you up at night? What is causing you to toss and turn? Whatever it is remember this. The Lord alone causes you to dwell in safety. And here are some proofs: God has preserved you up until this point brining you through every illness trial and trouble; God has provided you a savior to rescue you from sin death and the devil so you could dwell in safety with him forever; God has provided you with his word so you might know him; So that you would know he who watches over you, protects you, provides for you, and Loves you. So, in peace lie down and sleep. You dwell in safety.