Summary: A New Year's Day sermon on pressing on during difficult times.
It was October 29th, 1941 Winston Churchill had been the Prime Minster of England for about a year. He came to the office in the darkest of times. Within days of his taking office England’s closest ally, France, fell to Germany. Much of the year was spent in the darkness of an anticipated invasion. But by the end of the year things had begun to turn. Germany had chosen to invade Russia, making a country that was once an enemy an ally. America had agreed to supply England with weapons and supplies. The times were still dark, defeat loomed as a possible outcome, but there was a flicker of hope.
On this day Churchill had been asked to come speak at the school he attended, the Harrow School. The speech that he gave that day against a background of war and looming defeat is ranked as one of the greatest speeches in history. The center of the message was these words. “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never.” These are words that we could all use reminding of sometimes, not just at the start of the New Year, but whenever times are difficult. When things look dark and defeat seems to be a possibility, we must stand.
Today we are going to look at what God said to a man faced with obstacles, faces with a difficult path ahead and doubts about the future. As Christians we look at these words and understand the message that God has for us. It is not just that we are never to give up, but never to give up because of who we serve and whose we are.
Joshua 1:1-9, “After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. No then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them-to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates-all the Hittite country-to the Great Sea on the west. 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. ‘Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 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. 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. 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.”
When I read this passage the thing that jumps out at me are those words, “be strong and courageous.” When God tells you something, it’s because it applies. In this case when God is telling him to be strong and courageous it’s because he’s going to need to be strong and courageous. This is a warning of hard times ahead. So God is giving him a warning, but His is also giving Joshua a promise that He will be with him.