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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Right there beside you

6 "Be strong. Take courage. Don't be intimidated. Don't give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He's right there with you. He won't let you down; he won't leave you."  (Deut. 31:6)


Moses is now 120 years old as he gives this message from the Lord to the nation of Israel.  He has a clear understanding that the nation stands at the very threshold of what God has planned for them - the Promised Land.  It is now very clear to him that he will not cross over Jordan into the Promised Land with them - Joshua will lead them into the promise.  Joshua's name even carries significant meaning as we look at him as the leader of the Israelites as they enter the land.  His name means, "Jehovah is salvation."  What better guide could they have?


As Moses speaks with Israel, and to Joshua as the next leader of the nation's progress into Canaan, he speaks this message from God.  Be strong - take courage - don't be intimidated - don't give your enemies a second thought.  Wow!  If I was stepping up into a position of leadership, facing obstacles the size of giants, I'd want someone speaking these words over my life, wouldn't you?


Be strong - strength comes in many forms.  I don't think God's words to Joshua, and the nation of Israel, were simply focused on physical strength.  I think God knew that Israel would need the mental strength to face their enemies, as well.  More than anything, they were to be a nation that possessed great moral power. They were to be an example of the God they served to a world that had no understanding of who God really is.  They were to be effective in their entry and their possession of the land not because they were a great force of armed men, but because their God went before them as the might and power they'd need regardless the battle they faced.  That is how our God imparts strength in our lives - exactly what we need, when we need it.


Take courage - because they knew in whom their strength was found, they could stand in face of difficulty, danger, or pain without fear.  It is not by accident that he first charge given to Israel was to be strong.  When we know where our strength is rooted, we can easily stand fearless in the midst of the battle.  We can possess a boldness that otherwise would not be available within our own strength.  Look at the action word here - take.  Take courage - don't wait for it to somehow bubble up within, but step out in the boldness of faith that is offered to you.


Don't be intimidated - in other words, don't be stopped in your forward action by the things you see, hear, or experience.  They are not the things you need to fear - your God goes before you.  Timidity is not to be a pattern in our lives.  We are to be a bold people - God even tells us to come boldly into his presence, laying all our burdens at his feet.  Israel was being reminded that they were to be a bold display of the power of a righteous God to the nations before them.  Too many times as we face an obstacle, we timidly approach it.  God says to Joshua - don't be intimidated by what you see - it is NOT reality.  We see things through the eyes of "impossibility" - God sees only the possibility of his power.


When we know in whom we find our strength, relying on his power to make us to stand strong, we place fear in its right place.  Today, we need to remember that the enemy of our soul wants us to be intimidated by his puny attempts to put us down, disable our power, and to focus our thoughts on what seems impossible.  Let's show him who's really boss, shall we?  Be strong.  Take courage.  Side-step all those intimidating tactics of the enemy of your soul.  Don't give your enemy a second thought!  He's already been defeated.