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.
In this passage we can learn about how God moves in the world and how God wants to move in us. You see God has a plan for the world, but also for each person who desires a relationship with Him. God’s desire is to move in the world and to do so through His people. Let me get a little more personal. God’s desire is to move in the world around you and if you would call Him your savior then His desire is to move through you.
God had used Moses to bring His people out of slavery, through the wilderness and to the point that they were now ready to enter into the Promised Land. Now His desire was to use Joshua to lead the people into the land and take possession of it. This was a big task it was going to involve difficulty and challenges. It was not going to be easy, it was going to be hard, but God not only wanted to do it, but to use Joshua to do it.
It sounds like it might be a bad deal if you’re Joshua, but remember that when God requires a sacrifice, there is a greater blessing on the other side. In this case, God’s desire was to use Joshua and change him in the process. This is a picture of how God wants to work in our lives as well, and not just in our lives but in the world around us. Some would say that all you have to do is watch the news to see that the world is headed in a wrong direction, but all you really need to do is go to the mall and just people watch. Just look and listen to the people you see there. Listen to your some of the people that you know who don’t know Jesus or who aren’t living for Him. There are a lot of lost and hurting people out there. Life without Christ is a time of darkness. It is a time when imminent defeat is possible. Life without Jesus leads to eternity without Jesus. That is the state of the world today.