Sunday, March 9, 2014

Encouraging Words

Encouraging Words
March 10, 2014

Joshua 1:9  "'Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.'"

Joshua was a great leader who followed in the footsteps of Moses.  Recall that Joshua was an aid to Moses in leading the Israelites and he eventually became second in command.  When Moses passed away, Joshua took over as overseer and military leader of the Israelite community.  He wasn't quite a king, but for all intents and purposes, he fulfilled the role of a king over the first nation of Jews.  Both Moses and the Lord appointed him to this position.  He didn't apply for the job but was chosen by the Lord.  The Lord even appeared to Joshua and spoke to him about leading the large band of wandering Hebrews.  He encouraged Joshua that all would go well in his leadership role.  He encouraged Joshua that he could do it, re-affirming His selection of Joshua as chosen leader.

In fact, if you read the account of Moses transitioning power and authority over to Joshua, both Moses and the Lord said the exact same thing to him, encouraging him in his new role.  If the Lord appeared to me and said that I was the Lord's appointed leader for a task, I would need little encouraging because, after all, the LORD told me that I was the chosen one.  Joshua was the chosen one for that time-frame, but still needed encouragement.  He received encouragement from Moses and the Lord, both privately and publicly.  In fact, Joshua received encouragement three times over in the same paragraph.  In the Bible, when something is said three times over, it is like being chiseled in stone, becoming a cold hard fact.  It was a cold hard fact that Joshua should be encouraged in his leadership role.  But what is really fascinating is what was said to Joshua in the last part of the encouraging words.  In the last part of the encouragement the Lord said, "I will never leave you or forsake you."

You and I understand and receive this concept extremely well: the Lord will never leave us or forsake us.  That part of Scripture is set in stone for us, as it is repeated MANY times over in the Bible.  But seldom do we receive the first few encouraging words that Joshua heard, almost chiseled in stone.  The words are, "be strong and courageous, the Lord is with you."  Why would the Lord only say this to Joshua?  Was Joshua the only one who was to be strong and courageous in His lifetime?  Was the Lord with Joshua and no one else in history since that time?  The answer is a resounding NO.  If the Lord selected Joshua, then the Lord would be with Joshua.  If the Lord selected YOU, then the Lord will be with you!

If the Lord has chosen you for a task, then you need to be encouraged to stay strong and take courage while in the appointed position.  The Lord will be with you if He has asked you to be there.  The Lord will not leave you alone in this task; He will not walk away or turn His back on you while you are actively serving Him.  If you are walking in what the Lord has asked of you, then in this role you are the Chosen One.  Be encouraged just as Joshua was encouraged.  Keep reading the account of Joshua and you'll find he, in turn, encouraged the Israelites several times over with the Lord's SAME encouraging words.  Many years later, King David said the same thing to encourage his own son, Solomon.  More than a thousand years later, Jesus said the exact thing to encourage His disciples.

Let me say this to you three times over; chisel it in stone.  Be strong and courageous, the Lord is with you; He will never leave you or forsake you.  Be strong and courageous, the Lord is with you; He will never leave you or forsake you.  Be strong and courageous, the Lord is with you; He will never leave you or forsake you.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Deut 31, Josh 1:1-9, Josh 10:25, 1 Chron 22:13, 1 Chron 28:20, Mark 6:50

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