Be strong and courageous


Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

How many times does God have to tell Joshua not to be chicken-hearted? In that one verse it seems that it is the same message repeated four times: be strong; be courageous; be not frightened; be not dismayed.

Be strong

This is about your ability. Paul says: be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Ephesians 6:10). In another place he said: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). Strength is about your capability. Philemon was told that he needs to acknowledge every good thing in him because he is in Christ Jesus (Philemon 1:6). That means that he should not allow himself to feel inferior, because he has been invested with some capabilities, with some potentials being part of the body of Christ.

To Timothy Paul wrote of the need to stir up the gift of God that is in him (2Timothy 1:6-7). He wants him to realise that is he not ordinary. He has innate spiritual ability that he needs to express, he does not to be chicken-hearted about his call but be bold; he doesn’t have to be apologetic, he needs to move on against all odds.

From the focus verse, we learn that God needs Joshua to have a strong will, a strong body and a strong mind. Joshua should realise that God is with him, and makes His own capability available to him. He should be strong in the promises of God, who assured the nation of victory.

Be courageous

Being courageous for Joshua is that he should have audacity; he should be able to take the initiative. To be courageous means that it doesn’t matter how ferocious the enemy is, you are fully focused on the fact that you will defeat them and you are preoccupied with that thought and nothing else. The call for courage is to have a sense of superiority to the opposition. Joshua was to approach a war situation saying: these people are cheap for us to tackle regardless of their clout, ammunition, experience and number.

David was courageous. At a very young age he didn’t think much about bringing down and cutting off the head of Goliath, a giant (1Samuel 17). Before he tackled him, he predicted that day would be Goliath’s last on the earth. That was courage. It was a new situation for him but he has a sense of superiority to the situation. He had a strong consciousness of the presence of God. That was why.

Courage helps you to tackle problems that you are unaccustomed to. It is the attitude that does not permit failure as an option in the thought process.

That would be possible if Joshua was focused on God, seeing himself as being a messenger of God, carrying out his sentence on the nations in Canaan. As God’s servant they (Israel, whom Joshua was leading) have the resources of God at their disposal, including angelic assistance. The angels are with them on the battlefield.

Joshua needed to be courageous, because what he says, how he acts, has an impact on the thousands of the others who are following him as the army of. The leader needs to be courageous to inspire his team.

Be not frightened

“Fear not, I am with you (Isaiah 41:10),” was the charge of God to his people. While fear wants to hold you down, faith wants to move you on. While fear wants to bind you, faith wants to free you, while fear seeks to confuse you, faith seeks to clear your thought processes.

Some people wanted to frighten Jesus. They said to him: Herod wants to kill you. He replied: “go tell that fox, I am on a mission and nobody can stop me (Luke 13:31-33).”

Nehemiah was on the assignment of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem and there were plans of people seeking to harm those working (Nehemiah 4). But they did not allow themselves to be stopped from their goal. Rather, they re-strategised. Nehemiah decided to refocus on his prayer. He refused to be frightened into a retreat.

Don’t let the fear of failure to stop you from taking the right step, from going from glory to glory, from experiencing the peace and power of God without measure. Fear will keep you from God’s best that is why God wants you to be free from it. The bible says that God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power, of love and of sound mind (2Timothy 1:6-7). The fearful cannot go on in the battle of the Lord.

The first set of people who were interested in following Gideon to battle against the enemy of Israel was 32,000 (Judges 7:1-3). The first weeding of that number was of the fearful. They were to go back.

Much earlier, when laying the statute for warfare in Israel, God said that the fearful among the army of Israel should be asked to go back home so that in the heat of battle (Deuteronomy 20:1-8), it is only those who are courageous that will go. This is because the fearful may discourage others, thereby causing unnecessary loss to the nation. That means your state of mind is important: either fearful or in faith.

Be not dismayed

That means: do not be confused. Don’t allow yourself to wonder if God is with you or not (God is with you); if the best will happen or not (the best will happen), if things are going to work out or not (it will work out); if victory is assured or not (it is assured). Joshua was supposed to move with confidence, having it clear in his mind that since God is for him, the battle is a non issue (Romans 8:31-32). Joshua was never to feel overwhelmed by any situation. He should stand in the stead of God on this earth and be the leader God wants him to be. So should you.

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