Saturday, October 4, 2014

How to stay strong and courageous in a world full of fear

by Gregory A. Johnson
Tamme-Lauri oak. The oldest tree in Estonia. By Abrget47j (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

There is much fear in the world today. There is no safe place to live. Terror, the fruit of terrorism, grows and ripens daily. There are wars and rumors of wars. Natural disasters are frequent, intense, and brutal. Drought, famine, and disease are widespread. Pandemic viruses know no boundaries. As we live as sojourners in a world that grows increasingly out of step with the Gospel, I encourage you to be strong and courageous.

In the first chapter of Joshua in God’s Word, God is getting ready to take Joshua, and the people of Israel, on a journey out of the wilderness that they were in for forty years, delivering them to the Promised Land. It won’t be easy. They will face a lot of obstacles on the journey, but God tells Joshua repeatedly to be strong and courageous.

Likewise, Christ’s followers are on a journey. On our journey, we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2). Jesus is taking us out of the wilderness and into the Promised Land; it is a journey from earth to glory. We will face a lot of obstacles along the way, but Jesus encourages us to be strong and courageous.

In the midst of all that is going on in the world and in our life, how do we stay strong and courageous? Allow me to share the two ways that are revealed to us in the first chapter of Joshua.

First of all, we stay strong and courageous by knowing and obeying God’s written word. God told Joshua to know and obey his instructions (Joshua 1:7-8). Beloved, we are to make the Bible the authoritative guide for all of our beliefs and actions. It is so vital, especially in the day that we are living. God’s word is the only absolute truth that we have to stand on. As we know and obey it, we will obtain strength and courage for the journey ahead of us.

Secondly, we stay strong and courageous because of God’s abiding presence. God tells Joshua that he will always be with him (Joshua 1:5, 9). God does not tell Joshua that the journey is going to be easy. Instead, he tells Joshua that, though it all, he will never forsake him. On his journey, Joshua found that if God is with you, it does not matter how big the obstacle; God will get you through it.

What obstacles are you facing on your journey? What seems to be insurmountable? What is stealing your joy? What is seizing your peace? What do you lie awake at night thinking about? Know this: If God is with you, he will get you through it.

The moment that you decided to follow Jesus and accepted the work he did for you on the cross, the Holy Spirit set up residence in you. The abiding presence of God is within you. Allow his comfort to surround you, receiving his peace. Allow his joy to rise up within you, expressing itself in words of praise, thanking God for all the difficulties he has brought you through in the past, knowing that he will do it again.

It’s all because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. He suffered, bled, and died so that we can experience the abiding presence of God now and for all eternity. God dwells within us—in earthen vessels that are nothing but jars of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7). He will never leave us; he will never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He will get us through every obstacle on our journey from earth to glory.

Beloved, don’t be terrified. Refuse to live in fear. God is with you, and he has given you his word. God will give you the strength and the courage to be successful on your journey. Nothing, absolutely nothing, will prevail against you. No obstacle will hinder you. Jesus is leading you out of the wilderness and into the Promised Land. Be strong and courageous.

Know that you are loved,
gaj

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