Be Strong and Courageous

One of my favorite Old Testament characters is Joshua. For the record, I don’t like the word character here because characters are usually fictional and Joshua was real, but what else do I call him? Dude?

Anyway, Joshua was chosen to take over leadership of the wandering Israelites after Moses died. Can you imagine a bigger set of shoes to fill? I mean this is Moses we’re talking about, God used him to defy Pharaoh, not once but multiple times. Moses was the one who finally got the Israelites out of hundreds of years of slavery.
God used him to part the red sea! Not to mention the countless times Moses’ leadership was used to reign back in those Israelites who kept worshipping other gods.

Joshua was chosen but before he began his job as leader of God’s chosen people, God Himself gave Joshua a pep talk. Imagine that, God sits you down and encourages you, tells you his plan, reinforces that yes, you are now numero uno.

Four times in the first chapter of Joshua God says “be strong and courageous”” often followed by “for the Lord, your God is with you” God makes promises to Joshua as well, promises like “I will not fail you” and “I will not abandon you” and of course “wherever you go, and whatever you do, I will be with you” what an amazing and humbling pep talk that would be!

My wife and I were reading that the other night and it didn’t really sink in until right now, God Himself chose to encourage Joshua, but as you know from Peter Parker’s uncle, with great power comes great responsibility. Joshua was now in charge, but also responsible for the Israelites. God’s speech didn’t lack it’s fair share of warnings, “be careful to obey the book of instructions” and “be careful to study the book of instructions.” I couldn’t help but wonder how great that would’ve been to have God be the one to encourage me, and then I realized He did!

Okay, maybe not it an audible voice, at least not for me it wasn’t. But He does encourage us, the Bible is full of encouragement and promises. The Bible has encouragement for fathers, mothers and children. Since the Bible is God’s Word that means that God Himself has chosen to encourage and inspire us.

“Love your wife, the same way Christ loved the church”
that means, husbands that everything you have means nothing compared to your wife, love her like Jesus loved the church, that means if you must, you give up your life, for her. Love like Jesus, that’s a tall order to fill, I mean just look at what Jesus did for the church. He nurtured, He protected, He taught, healed and never neglected a single need, when the people came begging, He answered their prayers, when the people came crying He helped them through. Husbands, love you wives… like that!
For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her. Ephesians 5:25 NLT

Many people see this next passage as directed at children, and it is but it also talks to parents, albeit indirectly but it does. It also holds one of those promises I was talking about. On top of that it alludes to one of those warnings I was talking about, though Paul doesn’t come right out and say it, it’s there. Take a read and see if you can spot it.

Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.” Ephesians 6:1-3 NLT

Did you see it? Honor your father and mother and things will go well for you. So many people seeking the good life and God says the key is in how you see your parents. That’s also the warning, if life isn’t going well it may very well have something to do with that promise God made.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4 NLT

Back to fathers for a second, that is probably one of the hardest feats to accomplish, discipline them without making them angry. So often I hear the old “spare the rod” argument but what do you do then with this one? Is it possible that discipline can be done without that rod? I think so, and obviously so does Paul. I think that this is also how God disciplines us, He allows us to learn things the hard way when we need to, He doesn’t interfere unless we ask Him to, and He’s always right there willing to help.

Okay mama’s, I saved the best for last. You are so much more valuable than you know. In my research I found no less than 13 mentions in the Bible about your beauty, and I won’t list them all here but know this, your God given beauty is a gift! It says you are worth more than diamonds. Genesis says that it was not good for man to be alone, it was only after God created women that he looked at His creation and said it was good.

Godly women are loving, loyal, honest and strong. The book of Proverbs goes on and on about how special you are. Mothers are always thinking of others before themselves, no matter how soft a fathers hand is it is no match to the nurturing and loving hand of a mother.

All of humanity is fearfully and wonderfully made and God uses women to do this, for the image bearers of God are carefully crafted inside your womb.

You’ve got your very own warnings though, when Eve ate from the tree she was the one who convinced Adam to do so as well. When Sarah grew impatient with God, she was the one who had Abraham sleep with the maidservant. You have influence over your husbands and the example of Eve and Sarah is there to show that that influence can be used for bad but it can also be used for good. If you can convince a man to eat from the only tree you were both told not to eat from, then you also have the power to convince him not to.

Make no mistake though, mothers, wives and all women, you are very important and I know the Bible has more to say to men but don’t let that fool you into thinking anything less of yourself. People use Ephesians 5:21 and tell you to submit to your husbands without reading the verse right before it “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”

Yes it says the husband is head of the family, but there would be no family if it weren’t for you and as much as you ought to submit to him, he is to submit to you.

The encouragement given us by God Almighty may not be in the same way He gave it to Joshua, but He does encourage us. You’ve heard the saying that there is no instruction manual for life? Well that’s wrong, because there is one, and God wrote it, it’s called the Bible.

So don’t be discouraged men, women and children. God loves you, Jesus died for you and everlasting life is yours for the taking.

And now for those verses for you ladies….

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.
Proverbs 31:25 NLT

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies.
Proverbs 31:10 NLT

God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
Psalm 46:5 NIV

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
Proverbs 31:28 NIV

I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.
1 Timothy 2:9-10 NIV

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
1 Peter 3:3-4 NIV

Thanks to all of you for reading, you don’t know how much I appreciate it. Please share this so others can hear how much Jesus loves them and until next time, remember you are wonderfully and fearfully made in the image and likeness of God, no other being in the universe has that distinction.

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