Summary: Where do we get our strength? How can God work in our lives? Through Jesus Christ
Adrian Rogers tells about the man who bragged that he had cut off the tail of a man-eating lion with his pocket knife. Asked why he hadn’t cut off the lion’s head, the man replied: “Someone had already done that.”
Or what about the story of the little boy having trouble sleeping during a storm. You know what this is like, most of us have been there. After his Mother tucked him in bed, and as she was about to turn off the light, he asked with a tremor in his voice, “Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?” The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. “I can’t dear,” she said, “I have to sleep with Daddy.” A long silence was broken at last by a shaken little voice saying, “The big sissy.”
"Do not fear" or “Fear not” is a common phrase found throughout the Bible. In fact it is found over sixty times from Genesis to Revelation! Therefore, I believe it must be important!
Our Scripture reference is from the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy was written by Moses 1400 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. It is the fifth of five books penned by Moses, the first five books are known as the Pentateuch. (Penta – five; Teuch – book, or vessel.) It is a wonderful book written over the span of only a month. It is a compilation of speeches from Moses who lived to be 120 years old. At the end of his life, God appointed Joshua as his successor and our specific Scripture this morning are words of encouragement from Moses to the Nation of Israel and words of encouragement from Moses to Joshua.
We read from the 31st chapter of Deuteronomy verses 6-8. Isn’t it interesting that this very verse was selected by our youth group to be their verse of the week this past week. Little did they know it would be the theme for this week’s message…..but God did. We read; “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them (the enemies of Israel), for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel; be strong and of good courage for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it. And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”
So Joshua is leading a new generation of Israelites into the land God promised their forefathers, (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) into the Promised Land, the land known as Canaan. Biblical history tells us of the covenant God made with Abraham, the father of all nations. We read from Genesis 12 these powerful words from God where He says to Abraham, “Go forth from your native land and from your father’s house, to the land I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great.” And then in chapter fifteen God said again to Abraham; “Look now toward Heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them. So shall your descendants be.”
Abraham had never heard the voice of God before, he didn’t see God, yet God tells him to go, and he goes. Abraham had no doubt, he had faith. Abraham was not afraid, why? God said; “Do not be afraid Abraham, I Am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” So what would have been the biggest change from the world he knew and left to the world where he was going? The biggest difference would be leaving an area that was the core of civilization to a place that was just emerging. This new place was not the heart of everything. But because he went, it became the heart of everything. Abraham begins a brand new cycle ordained by God. He goes by faith into an unknown land. Joshua goes by faith into an unknown land. And in many ways, we too go in faith throughout our lives.
God spoke to Abraham and Sarah his wife, “Go to a place you do not know.” God told Moses to go to a place he did not know. And in the scripture we read this morning, God speaking through Moses told Joshua to go to a place he did not know.
Where is your place this morning? Their journey began with hesitation and with fear; and God said, “Go, and do not be afraid.” First hesitation, then fear, then hope. There is always hope, no matter what we are facing. “Be of strength and good courage”, those words spoken to Joshua as he was to lead God’s people to the land beyond the Jordan. Strength and courage are the foundation we need to set out…..to continue….and to ultimately complete our journeys.