Summary: Part of a series on discipleship looking at how we can be Strong and Courageous because our strength and courage come from the Lord.
Be Strong and Courageous
Well, hello, it is such a blessing to be finally here! It feels like forever in the coming, but since I have been here now nearly three weeks it seems like nothing has stood still.
We have had moving, getting our eldest into school, going on retreat, ordination itself, leading a service at St Mary’s, funeral visits, baptism visits, funerals, meetings and more names than I can possibly remember!
And now here I am, standing with you, here to look at this particular aspect of discipleship...Being Strong and Courageous.
I have been listening to the other sermons in this series and it is just great to hear such talented and clearly gifted speakers talking about discipleship, what it means to follow Jesus and to live our lives more and more like him.
When I think about courage and strength I think of...[Slide 2] this person...can anyone tell me who this is? Superman.
Superman that’s right. Here is a little clip, from Man of Steel, one of the newer versions of Superman, pay close attention....there will be a pop quiz afterwords [Play clip].
Question 1: Can you tell me what Superman calls himself when he is ‘in disguise’?
Question 2: Can you tell me who Superman’s girlfriend is?
Question 3: What is Superman’s greatest weakness?
Question 4: this one is a toughie — What is it that gives Superman his powers?
The yellow Sun
So, we aren’t Superman, but I would argue that actually we are a lot closer to Superman than we think. Just like him, our strength, our courage, isn’t our own, it comes from something else, it comes from someone else. Our courage and strength comes from God, from Jesus and the Holy Spirit that lives inside you and me.
Jesus said “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” We know that he is with us, the source of our strength is with us. Unlike Superman, we always have the Spirit there with us as our helper.
Being Strong and Courageous often means being able to trust in and receive the strength and courage that God wants to give us. It isn’t necessarily some superhuman degree of strength rather than a supernatural god-given importation of strength that we need to trust God for.
But that trust can take practice...as we act on God’s strength, as we trust in God and act in courage, God has a weird way of providing for us.
Slide 3 — Joshua’s situation...
For Joshua on the banks of the Jordan, [slide 4] this meant being ready to receive the gift that God had already determined to give them and having the faith in God’s promises to step into that world.
He had a number of voices trying to tell him that this was a bad idea I am sure:
• The people had already been in this place, on the verge of taking possession of the land, before and had lost heart telling tales of giants;
• The great leader of the people, Moses, had passed away, leaving Joshua to pick up the mantle of taking possession of the land;
• They were a ragtag bunch of slave descendants who had been wandering in the desert, what did they know about conquest? And yet these people were to cross the Jordan and take possession of the land.
When John told me that I would be preaching this close to starting my curacy I said ... “OK” but deep inside my bones I have to admit I was more than a little terrified at the prospect. I had voices going on inside my head: “you don’t know what the place is really like, you don’t know what the people need to hear, you don’t know if you will be any good...you probably won’t be any good” I am not trying to garner any sympathy here. It is just the process we all go through from time-to-time when we are given a task to do.
But sometimes doubt can consume us, can’t it? What has God given to you to do? Are there voices even now that are telling you that you can’t do it?
God had a task for Joshua, to be the one who leads his people to take possession of the land. To lead his people into receiving God’s promises. Yet, God can also see Joshua is frightened. It is God speaking when he tells Joshua to be strong and courageous. He deals with each of Joshua’s concerns and he speaks directly to us through this too.
God reminds Joshua:
1. Who he is;
2. Whose he is; and
3. To put his faith into action.
1. Know who you are — Slide 5
Moses had gone, leaving Joshua, his assistant to lead the conquest. Joshua isn’t Moses, he is not the great ‘servant of the Lord’ that Moses was. He can’t do this can he?