November 1, 2015

Joshua, Be Strong and Very Courageous

Passage: Joshua 1 1-11 and Revelation 1: 1-6

Norman Vincent Peale was one of the gurus of the 1960's, 70's, 80's and even the 90's - if he had lived in the st decade he would have been the Dr. Phil - the darling of the talk shows - as he expounded his belief in the power of positive thinking based on Scriptural principles espoused by Paul -  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me and Joshua who heard the word “Be strong, be resolute, do not be fearful or dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”


Joshua was a man who could see the possibilities in strange places unlike many of the others who only saw the impossibilities.

When the Israelites came to the banks of the river Jordan for the first time, Moses sent twelve spies to investigate the land, to examine its strengths and weaknesses and to report on its resources.  They all came back with tales of the wonder of the land.  They brought back grapes, pomegranates and figs to show the people....but ten of these men spoke of the utter impossibility of it ever being theirs.  “The people are giants, the cities are well fortified, they said.  It will be impossible for us to take this land and settle in it.

Their attitude is typical of a vast section of the population today - both inside and outside the church.  They see and magnify the probelms until the impossibilities overwhelm the possibilities and they concede defeat before they have even started.  They make mountains out of mole hills....


The other two spies came back from investigating the land and confirmed all the stories of the other ten.  But their attitude was different.


This is a marvelous land.  It is over-flowing with milk and honey.  Certainly they were great, tall, strong people but...the taller they are the harder they fall.  Let’s get on with it.  Two for....Ten against....the people would hear none of it and so they turned back into the desert until a new generation would rise.  Joshua and Caleb...

This morning I would like us to learn just one thing about Joshua which is supremely important Joshua was a man of faith.  

He had the promises of God and he believed them.  Listen to them:  Be strong, be resolute, do not be afraid or dismayed for the Lord your God is with you where ever you may go (1:9)

This promise is not only for Joshua.  It is for all believers who trust in the Lord.  Listen to what God said to Isaiah:  Fear not for I am with you, be not dismayed for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.  (Isaiah 41:10)

Jesus said to the disciples after His resurrection:  Go into all the world and preach the Gospell....An d I am with you always, even to the end of the world.

These are the verses which we need to hold onto when we are undertaking new ventures, when we are considering frightening prospects or just when we lack confidence.  Crossing the Jordan was a great test of the faith of the people.  It was the eastern border f Canaan - the Promised Land.  Some have used it in hymns and in preaching to equate Jordan with death and Canaan with heaven.  But Canaan was not heaven - a land flowing with milk and honey - yes - but also a land of strife and blood shed and warfare - which it continues to be to this day.

Can you imagine his horror on the appointed day when he found that the usually placid river was a roaring torrent (3:14).  What should he do?  Put off the crossing until the river went down?  Common sense demands it.  But faith and common sense do not always go hand in hand.  After all, Paul says God chose the foolish of the world to confound the wise.  Joshua had a vision.  He had a positive outlook.

Much of what restrains us today is lack of faith. We are afraid to do something new, something different, something innovative.  When we have a vision - what do we do with itÉ  For years there were great slag heaps of spent shale surrounding our villages in Scotland.  Then someone had an idea - a vision.  And they went to the Scottish Oils and offered the 100,000 pounds - a lot of money back in the 70's - and that person then began to market the slag.  It was ideal for road beds.  A branch line was built from the Edinburgh - Glasgow railway.  Soon the bings were gone and he was rich.  A special gun was built to fire pellets of seeds mixed with fertilizer into the slag which could be reclaimed and now they have disappeared under grass and bushes and trees.  When we hear the voice of God saying ”Go and I will be with you” – we are not willing to take that step in faith and we are not always faithful to our calling as Christians.  We may sing “Be Thou my Vision”  but we do not want to act upon it.

Be strong, be resolute, do not be afraid or dismayed for the Lord your God is with you where ever you may go.

Joshua was no superman.  Listen to the promise:

Be strong - he knew weakness...

Be resolute - he wavered...

Do not be afraid - he knew fear....

Do not be dismayed - he certainly needed encouragement.

All his life had been a preparation for this moment when he would put the vision into action and make it a reality - just as Moses' life had been up until his confrontation with the Pharoah...Jesus spent 30 years in training, if you the home of Mary and Joseph...experiencing what it was to be truly human...Paul's learning and education...Joshua had learned to be a man of faith.  He chose the way of faith and having made his decision he marched the people down into Jordan.

The instructions were quite clear “when the priest who are carrying the ark touch the water with their feet the river will stop flowing....”  So what do you follow - faith or common sense?


I believe that God speaks the same words to us:

Be Strong.  We have the Holy Spirit - the Strengthener....

Be Resolute in your faith - have we ever known God to fail?"""

Faith is something very wonderful - it is Godès gift to you - not to keep but to share, to give away.

That is why it is so important to speak with God day by day, to consult with Him and take seriously the guidance we receive from Him.

Joshua 1:9 Be strong, be resolute, do not be fearful or dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

And especially to hear the words “Do not be fearful or dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”.

Remember also the words of God to Isaiah “fear not for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God.”

This surely is the crux of the matter "I am your God.'