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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Follow the Instruction Book

“Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:6-9 NLT)

We are probably most familiar with the last verse of this passage, but I don't want us to miss several important points God covered with Joshua as he is about to lead the people of Israel into the Promised Land. We understand courage as the strength of MIND to carry on despite the presence of threat or obstacle. Strength is that matter of ENERGY to accomplish the task at hand. We can be full of great ideas and lack the energy to accomplish a single thing, right? We can have all the energy in the world and lack one solid idea of what to do with it! When it comes to giving instructions to Joshua, God tells him to possess both - don't miss that God told Joshua he needed to be VERY courageous. In other words, he has to have all the right thoughts behind the actions he is about to take in order to have his energies expended well!

You are the one: 
There are probably more times we look around for someone, anyone, to step up to the plate when a need exists. We might observe it just as much as the next fellow, but we want someone else to take the task into hand. We might even have ideas about how something might be accomplished, but we want someone else to exert the effort! It is truly a frightful thing for God to tell us very clearly and concisely YOU ARE THE ONE designed to take the action at hand. We need to be cautious about "handing off" to another what God calls (and equips) us to do.

Be careful to obey the instructions:
Probably one of the hardest things to do is to take action without letting our own ideas waylay us along the way. We get caught up in the "what if we did this" kind of thinking, rather than "the instructions say we do this" kind of obedience. That's probably not been working to well for us, though! The instructions are given for a reason - they aren't merely suggestions - they are the blueprint we are to follow to the letter! Energy is a good thing - directed toward one's own "methods" of accomplishing God's plan and all the energy isn't going to make a difference. The plans will somehow "fail" in comparison to what would have come about if we had just followed HIS plans!

Study:
We probably lack a little exuberance when it comes to "putting in the time" to study God's word on occasion. We get the general idea of what he wants us to do and then we head off in some direction, thinking we understand it all. God reminds Joshua to study the Word, not because God won't be telling him new stuff, but because the stuff God has already done and promised can give us insight into what we are about to face today. When we neglect the study of the Word, we can get waylaid by untruthful advice and "signs". We interpret things through our own "set of knowledge" and that isn't always all that trustworthy!

Don't give into fear or discouragement:
God never says we won't fear things that come our way, or get a little discouraged by the amount of time or effort something requires. He tells us to not give into that fear and to keep moving in spite of the discouraging reports! We might want to turn tail and run - don't. We probably don't want to go on when things get uglier or harder than we imagined - put one foot in front of the other and march! 

They seem so simple, but our mind has to catch up with our energy sometimes, and vice-versa. The mind can be very willing and the body very weak. The body can be raring to go and the mind just cannot possibly conceive the next steps to take. This is where we need to lean into God's teaching, rely upon his instructions, and trust him that WE ARE THE ONEs to accomplish the task at hand! Just sayin!