Be Bold and Courageous
Message from LaVerne Biel
Sunday, August 25, 2013
Some of you have known me a long time and some of you a couple years or less. Kent’s and I have always known that we like to squeeze and stretch ourselves personally, professionally, or spiritually whenever possible.
This last year God, Kent, and others challenged me in new and different ways. Now I see these challenges were really opportunities in disguise. One opportunity was to leave my home and possessions to strangers. In reflection this taught me to hold onto things lightly.
The next encounter was to run for political office. I really never saw myself as a political person. I held my beliefs closely. In fact I guarded them. What was the first thing I had to do? Field a question about my stand on abortion. Okay, I’m not sure how that relates to serving on City Council but I knew I had to answer the question truthfully. From there everything was a free fall. I ran as an Independent. For those of you who don’t know, running for political office consumes every waking moment of your life. From May until the primary August 6th I had knocked on 7,000 doors, participated in two debates, talked to the press, raised campaign money, and met lots of new people from all walks of life. I missed family dinners, and reunions only to lose the primary election. However, I didn’t feel defeated. I still don’t! I really believe that I followed God’s leading. When I think back to what I was doing or where I was at in my life. I was complacent and content. Right after the election God told me that moving forward I was to be “bold and courageous” (which is the opposite direction from complacent and content).
Joshua 1:1-9 has provided me with a guideline on how to be bold and courageous which I’ll share with you. I found three words that outline Joshua 1:1-9, Promise, Possession, and Persistence.
(My paraphrase is in quotations)
Let’s read: 1. After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2. Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them – to the Israelites. 3. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon and from the great river, the Euphrates – all the Hittite country to the Great Sea on the west. 5. No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, So I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6. Be (bold) and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7. Be (bold) strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the laws my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it (as a republican) to the right or (as a democrat) to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9. Have I not commanded you? Be (bold) strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
I found this a story: A philosophy professor was known to give difficult tests. Her next exam was going to influence a quarter of the grade and her students were nervous and apprehensive the morning of the exam. They quietly and reverently sat down at their desks. Sitting on their desks was a single piece of paper face down. The professor asked them to flip over the paper and start their exam. The exam was a single question. Many students fidgeted in their seats and stared at their paper. One student tapped his pencil on his desk a few times, scribbled something down. Got up and handed his paper to the professor and left. He got an A. The question was: What is courage? His answer was: This is!
Back to the passage of Joshua 1:1 – 9.
In verse 1 we read about the passing of Moses. Joshua was Moses’ replacement and I’m sure that the Israelites were apprehensive about Joshua’s leadership abilities. They knew that Joshua was Moses’ minister, a great military leader, and that he had already seen the promise land. However, knowing what we know about our natural tendencies, I’m sure there was lots of lamenting and grumbling. What did God do to quiet them? God spoke directly to Joshua to reassure him that God was going to fulfill his promise to Moses and to the descendants of Abraham. God’s promise is a gift not an obligation.
The promise listed in Deuteronomy 11:24 “Every place where you set your foot will be yours: Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the Euphrates River to the western sea.” God revealed this promise in Deuteronomy after the 10 Commandments and after a beautiful description of the promise land. We can estimate that there is a distance of at least 50 years between these promises. God comforts Joshua with this Deuteronomy scripture word for word. However, God’s word required some action from him. He had to extend himself. He had to be “all in”! Again, the passage reads, “where you set your foot” will be yours. Your foot! God made it personal. No horseback, no chariots, no decrees, no letters, no phone, no internet, no Facebook, and no Twitter. He was pretty clear that to take possession of the land then it required personal commitment and sacrifice. God tells Joshua that He will be with him and never forsake him while he stepped in an unknown territory.
God states this pretty clearly if you intend on possessing this land it’s going to require engaging your body, mind and your heart. It’s going to take your whole being. Verse 6 states “be (bold) strong and courageous. The Hebrew word in this passage for strong is “châzaq” (Khaw-Zak’) means obstinate, to bind, or restrain. To be obstinate is to be bold. The Hebrew word for courage is âmats (aw mats’). A primitive root: to be alert; physically or mentally. Why does Joshua need to be alert? This was necessary to lead them toward their gift and take possession of the land. Verse 7 again states to be (bold) strong and courageous by being careful to obey the Ten Commandments to be successful wherever you go. My best example of success was my grandfather. He was a farmer/machinist by trade. A jolly man who liked to play practical jokes, loved to horse trade, and was passionate about his faith and what he believed. I saw him treat every person that crossed his path with kindness and humility. When my grandfather died my dad talked to me about how my grandfather was successful. I have to admit at the time I didn’t see him as that. I remembered a man who gave me unconditional love. My dad pointed out that when he died all his bills were paid and he had $300 dollars left over. He gave his life to serving others to direct them toward God. God possessed his heart. He was successful. In order for God to possess our hearts we must be persistent in our faith.
Persistent faith permeates our thoughts. It consumes us. How can this happen? Verse 8 states that we are to speak the Book of the Law continually and to meditate on it day and night. I don’t know about you but this would require me to turn off the TV, stop playing computer games, and put down the novel I was reading. It sounds to me that persistence takes practice! I’m to shut off the outside noise, the events of the day, our culture, and focus on God by diving headfirst into His word and prayerfully mediate. In Verse 9, read for the third (for reinforcement) time God tells Joshua to be (bold) strong and courageous to not lose heart because God was going to be with him wherever he went. Persistence pays off by having God with us wherever our feet, heart, and mind are directed. It certainly sounds like a recipe for success.
Joshua fought his own battles with friends, enemies, and different cultures. In the end he knew he had to restate and clarify what the Israelites already knew. Joshua 24:15b, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”