The Call of Courage

January 6, 2017

Hello Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I pray that your year is off to a good start as you strive for the holiness without which no man will see the Lord.[1] I am personally grateful for times like these when I can reevaluate the past year and make the needed adjustments in my ongoing pursuit of godliness.[2] How easy it is for all of us to become lazy, complacent, distracted from, and undisciplined in our walk with Christ and with one another.[3] Sadly, far too many professing Christians spend their days in the pursuit of personal pleasure and prosperity instead living in the hot pursuit of the praise of the Lord. This manifests itself in a life marked by serving self rather than sacrificially serving others in the footsteps of Christ.[4] If we are honest we must admit that, apart from God’s grace, self-centeredness is the natural propensity of all of our hearts.[5] How many homes have been divided, and how many marriages have been destroyed on the altar of selfishness?[6] How many communities have been strangled by self-promoting leaders, and how many churches have suffered in the cycle of mediocrity because of self-exalting pastors in the pulpit[7] and self-absorbed people in the pews?[8]Here we stand, at the precipice of another year with an opportunity to realign our perspective with God’s Word in order to move forward in the joy of knowing Him and making Him known both here in Bowie and beyond![9]

Last Sunday we considered 4 steps of biblical courage seen so clearly in Joshua 1:1-9 that will strengthen the walk of every faithful follower of Christ. These marks of biblical courage should be the steps of every one of us as we seek to live for the glory of God[10] and serve for the exaltation of Christ[11] and the encouragement of one another[12] in 2017. I want to repeat those steps over the next few weeks because they help recalibrate our understanding and reset our trajectory for another year. The call of courage for Joshua is crystal clear as he was commanded to be strong and courageous three different times within nine verses.[13] Thus, the text helps us see that if Joshua was ever going to have courage he needed toRecognize the place of problems.[14] Joshua was standing next to the Jordan river facing an insurmountable land barrier with the river at flood stage,[15] a massive leadership void to fill since Moses was now dead,[16] an innumerable people to move,[17] and a heavily fortified land and people to conquer.[18] Would Joshua allow the fear he faced to remove the blessing God wanted to give? This is one reason courage is so critical to the life of the follower of God, as difficulty is often the road we must travel as we pursue the delight of knowing and serving God. If Joshua was going to be faithful to all that God had for him to do, then he must have courage which is a decisive decision of resolute determination to move forward by faith in the face of fear, no matter the cost.

Here are a few practical lessons we can learn from this to strengthen our walk of courage as Christians. First, we see that problems are inseparably linked to the call of courage. Suffering, difficulty, obstacles, crises, and trials are the soil from which courage springs. Thus, the New Testament calls us to have courage[19] because we will face problems, hardships, and barriers in our life and ministry so those must be expected and planned for.[20] Notice Joshua was going into enemy territory, but we live in the enemy’s territory and under the continual attack of the evil one and his schemes.[21] Second, notice how problems must be confronted, not ignored. “Yes Joshua, Moses is dead, but you must still get up and go, because there is a land to be taken, a people to be moved, and a river to be crossed.” God is the ultimate problem solver as He came and dealt with our greatest problem:  sin,[22] and praise the Lord for His willingness to confront it and not walk away from it. Our lives are in large part about confronting problems as we regularly repent of sin,[23] defend the faith, evangelize the lost, comfort the hurting, and exhort the wayward. How different the story of Joshua would have been if he had walked around or even away from the problem, versus confronting it by faith as God required. How much more our personal lives! Lastly, Joshua needed to recognize the place of problems by seeing them under the sovereign hand of God. The Lord was orchestrating everything from the flooding river, the leadership void, and the actual place of their crossing that would put them right in front of Jericho. God was controlling and instigating everything to deepen Joshua’s faith,[24] to direct Israel’s trust in their new leader,[25] and to ultimately display the glory of God before all.[26] This is why God often does His greatest work amidst our darkest days, because it yields the deepest impact![27]

May this encourage your heart and prepare your steps to face the river of problems that God may have for you to cross in 2017. O that God will give us courage that flows from recognizing the place of problems in our lives for His ultimate praise and glory. I look forward to seeing the men and boys in the morning for breakfast, and I am excited to consider with you the awesome responsibility we have as fathers, as men, and as a church, to train for godliness and to seek to do our part to pass that on to the following generations. This Sunday we return to Ruth[28] where we will be encouraged by God’s unbelievable protection and provision given through Boaz to the desperate and destitute women, Ruth and Naomi. This text will further demonstrate the godly example of Boaz, but more importantly the wonderful faithfulness of a great God to care for normal and needy people. May our Lord bless you as we prepare to praise Him together on this Lord’s Day!

For His Glory and Future Generations,

Pastor Matt

 

[1] Heb 12:14

[2] Phil 3:12-14

[3] Rom 12:11; 1 Tim 4:7; Titus 2:11-14

[4] Phil 2:1-11; 2 Cor 8:9

[5] Jerm 17:9

[6] Mt 19:7-9

[7] Rom 15:17-18

[8] 2 Tim 4:1-5

[9] Rom 12:1-2

[10] 1 Cor 10:31

[11] Phil 1:20-21; 2:9

[12] 1 Thess 5:14

[13] Josh 1:6,7,9

[14] Josh 1:1-2

[15] Josh 3:15; 4:18

[16] Dt 34:10-12

[17] Josh 1:2

[18] Josh 12:24

[19] Eph 6:10; Jn 14:27; 1 Cor 15:58; 16:13

[20] 1 Tim 3:12

[21] 1 Jn 5:19; 1 Pet 5:8-9

[22] 1 Jn 2:2

[23] 2 Cor 7:9-10; 12:21; Rev 2:5, 22; 3:3, 19

[24] Josh 1:9

[25] Josh 3:7;4:14

[26] Josh 2:8-11

[27] Js 1:2-4; Rom 5:3-5; 2 Cor 5:21

[28] Ruth 2:14-23

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