A Hero’s Heart
Essential 100 Series
February 3, 2008
Have any of you heard of Alvin York? Sadly this amazing man has been all but forgotten by most Americans. Alvin York was a hero’s hero. On October 8, 1918 York was serving as a Sergeant in the US Army and single handedly captured 132 German soldiers. York earned the Congressional Medal of Honor. York was an example of courage and selflessness.
Even more importantly than the heroics on the battlefield York was a hero in his personal conduct. Let me show you what I mean listen to this quote from his diary
On July 1st, 1918 he wrote:
I carried a Testament with me. I have the Testament I carried with me
during all my fighting at home now. I read it through five times during my stay in the army. I read it everywhere. I read it in dugouts, in fox holes, and on the front line. It was my rock to cling to. It and my diary. I didn’t do any cursing, no, not even in the front line. I cut all of that out long ago, at the time I was saved.
A hero is someone who does much more than just an amazing thing. A hero is someone who reflects heroism in his life. A hero is someone who does heroic things because his character demands it.
Adapted from Portrait of a Hero by Keith Andrews
Biblical Examples of Heroism
David faced Goliath when no one else would
Daniel stood for his faith and ended up in the lion’s den
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they were thrown in the furnace
Esther risked her life going before the king
Stephen when he stood before the Sanhedrin
Ananias when he went to Saul following his conversion
After the death of Moses, Israel needed a hero and God delivered. God raised up a man named Joshua. I firmly believe that Joshua is one of the greatest unsung heroes of the Bible. So let’s take a moment to look at the situation Israel was in.
The Background for Israel
Israel was going through a state of change and transition. There were a number of things that would affect the entire history of Israel during this period of time.
A new beginning
The current position of Israel would mark a new beginning. The people were camped on the outskirts of the Promised Land and were preparing to enter Canaan. Israel was completing 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. The entire generation who refused to enter the land under Moses was now dead with the exception of Joshua and Caleb. Now Israel was back at the Promised Land waiting to conquer it.
A change in leadership
The Bible marks changes in leadership often as the beginning of new eras or times in Israel’s history. Moses was the greatest leader in the history of Israel and he would have been difficult to follow. Moses had just died and Joshua has assumed command of Israel.
A coming conflict
War was on the horizon for Israel and there was no way around it. God was giving them the Promised Land but they needed to conquer it. Israel already knew what to expect because they had been here before. They knew that the enemies were strong but they also knew that God was with them.
This was the atmosphere that Joshua was entering as leader of the people of Israel. What do we know about Joshua at this point?
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 strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or 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 strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:5-9
Joshua was indeed a hero’s hero. What does it take to have the heart of a hero?
A True Hero Lives with Courage (5-6)
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 strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.
Joshua was surrounded by the need for courage. The people of Israel were facing a superior enemy and insurmountable odds stacked against them. Now God was calling them to move forward and to take the land. Israel had been here before and refused to follow God. Forty years had passed and an entire generation died in the wilderness. Now the people were back and the choice would have to be made again either to live in faith or to live in fear.
Notice what God tells Joshua here. No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. This would have been incredible encouragement for Joshua. Do you understand what this means? No one and I mean no one was going to be able to even make a serious challenge against Joshua. God is telling Joshua that no one could ever defeat him. Talk about a pep talk this was it. God was building up Joshua’s courage for the task that was ahead of him.
A True Hero Lives with Character (6-8)
7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or 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.
God makes it clear that true success is not dependant on our abilities but on our heart. God tells Joshua that as long as his heart is right, things will go well. When we make the decision to follow God, we are deciding to be a success in God’s eyes. Israel needed to make the choice to follow God and do what He commanded.
What does it mean to be a success in God’s eyes?
This may seem overly simple but trust is a huge issue with God. Trust is lived out on a daily basis through the way that we follow God. We need to walk on the straight and narrow way. Jesus echoes this truth beautifully in Matthew 7:13-14
13 "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
There are many ways that we might be able to live but only by following God do we find true life. The heart of a hero is committed to living in a trust relationship with God.
Understanding God’s word is vital for Christian growth but all the understanding in the world won’t help a person who refuses to obey. This was exactly the problem in Israel when they first came to the Promised Land
2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
1 John 5:2-4
Over and over again John writes in his first letter about the issue of obedience and it’s vital role in the life of a disciple. Obedience brings us a share of the eternal victory of Christ Jesus. When we make the commitment to obey Christ, we win. We win the blessing of God Almighty. We win the power of the resurrection. We win with the presence of the Holy Spirit.
A True Hero Lives with Commitment (9)
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
God was giving a direct order to Joshua: be strong and courageous. Joshua had a decision to make. He had to decide if he was going to tackle the challenges facing him with strength and courage or if he would give in to his fears. He had to decide if he was going to follow God no matter where God led him. God was telling Joshua that He was about to move and the army of Israel was to follow to experience victory. There was no longer the option to wait; the time had come to move.
Joshua was to keep his eyes on God and follow. Joshua was to stay focused on God’s goal of delivering the land into the hands of Israel. Joshua was to keep leading the people forward and let God take care of the enemy. Joshua was to let God lead him and then lead the people where God gave direction. God was going to be their strength and they were to put their faith in Him.
There was no time to waste, forty years had already been lost and God wanted His people to follow without wasting another moment. The time for waiting was over and the time for action had come. Now was not a time for cowardice but a time for courage.
Notice that God gives Joshua one last promise, I will be with you wherever you go. Joshua would never have to face the enemy alone. He would never have to doubt that God was with them. He would never have to face a challenge without the support of God. Whatever Joshua was going to have to do; he would never have to stand alone. Each new day was another day for God to prove Himself and for Joshua to walk in faith.
Life Lessons from Joshua
We need to be courageous
Courage means to stand up even when it might cost you something. Courage is the ability to stand even when no one else does. Courage is the radical dependence on God to redeem and deliver us.
Courage is a great need within the church. We need to face the challenges awaiting us with courage and conviction. Many times Christians cower in the corner instead of standing up for what is right. We back down when others call us intolerant. We back down in times of crisis. We are called to stand.
We are meant to live with Character
The two key pillars of character are trusting God and obeying God. When we trust God we lay our lives in His care and when we obey God we follow His guidance for our lives.
The words of the old hymn come to mind here: Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey
We must make a commitment
Today, you have a decision to make, will you live your way or will you live God’s way? The issue is one of commitment. Who are you committed to? Yourself or God. This may seem simple but it’s not. This is the heart of being a follower of God, commitment.