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Author: Ron Graham

Challenge and Change

Be Strong and Courageous
—Joshua 1:5-7

The LORD said to Joshua, "I will be with you. I will not forsake you. Only be strong and courageous. Be careful to do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded" (Joshua 1:5-7).

In this statement, we can recognize three threads...

These three threads should be woven into our spiritual life and worship of Jesus Christ, and into our ministry. These threads should mark our service and faithfulness to him —that we rely on his providence, endure when things get tough, and do not deviate from his word in our own practice of it, and in our preaching it to others.

There are many situations to which these threads apply. I have chosen but three, because they are such common situations.

1 When numbers are small

Matthew 18:20

Jesus promises us that "Wherever two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in their midst" (Matthew 18:20).

It is encouraging to be among two or three thousand gathered together, as in the first church of Christ in Jerusalem (Acts 2:41-47). It can be discouraging to be in a church of only two or three.

However Jesus is just as much present with the two or three as he is with the two or three thousand. What counts is not the numbers, but faithfulness to his name and his gospel.

So even if you are in a small number, be strong and very courageous. Christ is present with you.

2 In the face of advancing years

Psalms 23:4

When we draw near to that "three score years and ten" (Psalms 90:10) or even as we pass it, we can look back on fruitless wasted years and wonder what happened to our dreams. However, our satisfaction is in the future, a fruitful eternity, a realization of that hope which does not disappoint (Romans 5:5).

We may soon walk through "the valley of the shadow of death" (Psalms 23:4) but our Shepherd Jesus Christ will lead us through the valley and into the hills of glory where we shall lie down in green pastures beside the still waters, until he gathers us home to heaven.

With this bright hope before us, let us be strong and very courageous in the face of death.

3 When sore trials come upon you

1Corinthians 10:13

Satan attacks everyone, you and me, just as he attacked Job. And God cares for everyone whose faith is tested. "God will not allow you to be tempted more than you are able to endure" (1Corinthians 10:13).

We can be tested in many ways, including sickness and afflictions of the flesh, financial loss, bereavements —all trials that Job suffered. Whatever troubles we have, God knows about them, cares about them, and helps us to endure them.

Confident of this promise, we can be strong and of good courage until all our troubles cease (Romans 8:18, 2Corinthians 4:17, Revelation 21:4).

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