Joshua is one of the people I continually go back to study. And one of the things that stands out to me is how many times God told Him the same thing. DO NOT FEAR. BE STRONG. BE COURAGEOUS.
Joshua was the military commander under Moses, and then promoted to lead all of Israel into the Promised Land. Joshua KNEW first hand the issues that Moses struggled. He was one of the two spies who stood against the other 10 in front of all the people. And he saw the people choose fear over faith. He sat in the desert for 40 years as those people died off. THEN God says, “Okay, Josh. Take the people in.”
“WHAT? Why me? These people? Seriously!?”
Those would be my thoughts.
But as I have learned. The faith walk is not for sissies.
Before Moses (at the age of 120 BTW) stepped down and went to Mt. Nebo, he spoke to the people:
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 NKJV
Then he called Joshua to him in front of all the people and repeated it to Joshua directly:
“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.” Deuteronomy 31:7-8 NKJV
Then you roll on into the book of Joshua, and the first thing written is what God spoke to Joshua after Moses died is…(drum roll please)…Do Not Fear. Yes, the exact same message again.
“After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: ‘Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.‘” Joshua 1:1-9 NKJV
Why? Fear is a sneaky punk. And it’s relentless in it’s efforts to make you live a pathetic small life. But God is bigger than fear. His love kicks fear’s ass every time. You just need to do your part and be bold and courageous.
Point to ponder while you wander…Today. Right now. In the decision you are about to make… Remember one thing. God has personally gone before you into the place He’s asking you to go.
Fear holds you captive. It enslaves you to live a smaller and/or lesser life than the full and abundant life God intended for you to live. Fear allows you to exist but not actually live.
“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” Romans 8:15 NIV
Fear paralyzes you. It invites you to hide and avoid risk, rather than believing God.
“Even when there was no reason to hope, Abraham kept hoping- believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, ‘That’s how many descendants you will have!’ And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead-and so was Sarah’s womb.
Abraham never waivered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous.” Romans 4:18-23 NLT
Point to ponder while you wander… You can choose to live abundantly in constant awe of your awesome God. In hope. In faith. In belief.
You can choose to cower and let fear enslave you, paralyze you, and turn your abundant life into just blah ol’ existence.
“The thief does not come except to steal, kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 NKJV
I appreciate this passage because it involves real communication between Abram and God. It showed him asking God real questions about his doubts and concerns. And God’s responses to Abram.
“Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.’” Genesis 15:1 NLT
What happened in the sometime previous to this later? Well Abram went to war to rescue his nephew Lot. In doing so he reclaimed all the spoils those kings took from Sodom and Gomorrah. The first thing he did was to honor God by giving a 10th to Melchizedek. Then the king of Sodom asked Abram for his people back and told him to keep all the plunder for himself. But Abram was like…no way! Then you’ll get credit for making me rich instead of God. So he took nothing of the 90% of the remaining plunder. He asked to keep what his warriors had already eaten, and that his allies received a fair share, but gave the rest back.
Wow! That’s legit trust in God.
God’s response to Abram was to tell him that fear is a liar, and that his reward for his faith would be great.
You’d think that Abram would be celebrating that promise. But no. Abram had a father’s heart and mindset. What is the point of blessing and protection if it ends with me? If there’s no legacy, then Abram only needed enough for him and Sarai. Or he could even die right then.
But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.” Genesis 15:2-3 NLT
This wasn’t a woe is me attitude.
This wasn’t ungratefulness.
It was a father’s heart. A leadership mentality. He understood that he needed to pass on what he knew about God and set up the next generation to go further than he could.
Abram shared his heart with God, and God responded.
“Then the Lord said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” Genesis 15:4-5 NLT
That is a huge promise. Mind blowing.
“And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.” Genesis 15:6 NLT
The thing that stands out to me, besides the importance of open communication with God, is that Abram had no Bible to read or way verify God’s track record on promises. He simply believed God.
I have the Word. I know His track record of faithfulness and promise keeping. I want to simply believe like Abram did.
I have promises from God that blow my mind and terrify me to my very core. I want these promises to be fulfilled because they are the dreams and desires of my heart. And the thought of a life that doesn’t include those promises sounds absolutely boring and drab.
But for those promises to come to pass I have to do my part. Trust God. And comply with the small steps of faith He has asked of me. Trust and obey. Simple, right?
Should be but not for me lately. Fear has been attacking me worse than ever. I feel paralyzed and apatheic.
You know I hate fear (if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time). Fear is a punk and a bully and no match for God.
And yet, I find myself hiding and procrastinating. Procrastination is a symptom of fear. It is delaying until it’s too late so that you can say…”Oh I wanted to but I just don’t have time.” Or “I’m too busy.” Those are fear excuses.
I have enough time to do everything God has requested from me. I just need to choose to actually use the time to do it.
I want to comply. I want to desperately. But when I start doing it I am inundated with thoughts of how terrible my output is and fear of failure. Sometimes fear of success too. I’ve been so anxious lately that I’ve been breaking out in hives. That’s not God. God does not want that for me.
I asked for prayer yesterday from some trusted mentors and friends, and one declared this over me:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
It’s what I am standing on today and praying over all of you. Go forth in boldness my friends in what God has asked of you. Jesus believes in you, and so do I.
Point to ponder while you wander… Before Abram received all God promised, God changed his name from Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of many). So for an entire year everytime someone said his name, Abraham was reminded of his promise.
Remind yourself of God’s promises every day. Remind yourself of His track record. Talk to Him about what’s on your heart. And just believe Him.
”God’s love is meteoric, His loyalty astronomic, His purpose titanic, His verdicts oceanic. Yet in His largeness nothing gets lost; not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks.” Psalm 36:5-6 MSG
No one slips through the cracks, because His name is El Roi…the God who sees.
He received this Name from Hagar. She is most known for being Sarah’s Egyptian servant. But God saw Hagar independently of her title and position. He comforted her when she and Ishmael were cast out. Read Genesis 16 Genesis 21 from Hagar’s perspective, rather than Abraham or Sarah’s, to get a better understanding.
God called Gideon a mighty man of God, when Gideon was hiding. No seriously. Gideon was threshing wheat in a wine press to hide it from the Midianites when God spoke to him about leading Israel against the Midianites. Read Judges 6 to see where Gideon’s story began.
In the middle of the so and so begat so and so for the tribe of Judah, we find this blurb about Jabez: “Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called him Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain.’ And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested.” I Chronicles 4:9-10 NKJV
Jabez’s mother labled him because he was birthed in a whole lot of pain. A person’s name during this time and in this culture was a big deal, and he got saddled with Jabez. Jabez literally means sorrow or grief. But he didn’t want to be defined by that or have that be his legacy, so Jabez cried out to God, and God gave him what he asked for.
God saw Jabez.
God saw David too. His father put David in a back field with the sheep. But God saw his heart and heard his singing. And He annointed David king. Read I Samuel 16 to see the beginning of David’s story.
I love this verse…”But the Lord said to Samuel, Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him (David’s brother). The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7 NIV
I think that most of us get blinded by our own inadequacies and failures more often than we realize. We also tend define ourselves by what others have labled us.
But God sees differently. He has the ability to see who we are now, our character. He also sees where we are going and what we need to get there. And He is for us.
Think about the Apostle Paul. God saw him while he was Saul, a Pharasee of Pharasees. He was persecuting Christians at the time. He was anding out death warrants for people to be stoned. He held people’s coats while Stephen was stoned. But God saw who he could be, and literally blinded Saul with His light. Saul became Paul and wrote 2/3 of the New Testament.
When we seek Him like Jabez and David did, when we trust Him like Hagar and Gideon did, when we are willing to submit to course correction like Saul, God is able to take us where we could never go on our own.
Point to ponder while you wander…No matter how invisible you may feel in this life know that God sees you clearly! You are significant to Him. Jesus thinks you are worth giving His life for. You ARE loved. You ARE seen.
Ever wonder what “happy as a clam” meant? Me either. But I found the meaning and I’m sharing it just incase you did ever wonder. Because that’s what I do. I answer questions that no one asks. 😉
The full expression is “Happy as a clam at high tide.” At high tide, they’re safely covered in water. They are blissful, or the closest clams can be to happiness, I would imagine. But at low tide, people (& critters I would suppose) go clam digging. Then they are no longer happy & blissful clams.
Consider your unasked question answered. 😚
Point to ponder while you wander…Joy of the Lord is strength. Joy keeps you strong even when you aren’t situationally happy as a clam.
Let’s face it…some days just suck.
There are days when we wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Days when the traffic is not just bad it’s ridiculous and stupid. Days when your head is pounding or you stub your toe, not once, not twice, but three stupid times. Yes the exact same toe. Days when you didn’t get enough sleep and they won’t let you nap at work. Days when you lock your house keys in your house or your car keys in your car. Days where your dreams were dashed, or you realized the thing you were hoping for just isn’t going to happen.
Those are the days when you need to stand strong. Play your favorite worship song and dance like a fool until you smile. Better yet, declare outloud who you are and your promises until you are fully convinced! Remind yourself that you are the beloved child of God & He is for you not against you. Declare that He works all things to the good of those who love Him and are called by His name. If it’s not good yet, then God’s not finished yet. The Lord is faithful TO ME. He LOVES ME.
His promises can lay dormant until you declare them in your life. DECLARE TRUTH!
Point to ponder while you wander… You’ve survived 100% of the hard days you’ve previously encountered. Don’t let a rough day steal your joy, your peace, or your promises.
Here’s a little tune by Sugarland to help you Stand Back Up.
The term “maverick” means original, nonconformist, eccentric, an individualist. But it can also mean an unbranded calf or yearling. But why? Where did these meaning originate?
Well…These definitions come from an actual Maverick. No really. His name is Samuel Maverick.
Sam Maverick was a cattle rancher (also a politician and a lawyer) in Texas in the 1800’s who refused to brand his cattle. He said that branding cattle was cruel, so he didnt do it.
His rivals said that he didn’t brand his cattle so he could claim any cow found without a brand. But the truth is more likely to be that nearby ranchers were branding unmarked “mavericks” with their own brand, since Mr. Maverick was closely involved in interests outside of raising cattle.
Point to ponder while you wander… God created you to be you. Not to be a robot or a carbon copy of those around you. Jesus likes mavericks. ⏬ See Romans 12:2.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 NIV
We, humans in general, make things so complicated and convoluted. But God keeps things simple. Yes there are 613 laws in the Old Testament, but Jesus Himself says that every law is based in two simple all encompassing things:
“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40 NLT
Why should you reimburse a neighbor for killing or injuring their livestock? Because it’s the right thing to do based on the law of love.
Why shouldn’t you commit adultery? Because the law of love invites you to do the right thing and honor & respect your spouse.
Not complicated. Is it?
Paul repeated it in His letter to the Galatians in regards to true freedom…
“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.” Galatians 5:13-15 NLT
Point to ponder while you wander…God does ask us to give things up, and let things go so He can help us grow up and walk with maturity in what He has for us. But He doesn’t require us to literally sacrifice anyone or anything. What He requires is simple and straight forward:
”Should we offer Him thousands of rams & ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins? No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good & this is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:7-8
Christians, for the most part, want to impact the world for Jesus. We are well intentioned folks who genuinely want to help others. Unfortunately some end up hurting more than helping.
Why? Because we are hearers of the Word but NOT doers!
“But prove yourselves doers of the word [actively & continually obeying God’s precepts], and not merely listeners [who hear the word but fail to internalize its meaning], deluding yourselves [by unsound reasoning contrary to the truth].” James 1:22 AMP
I’ve known Jesus since I was 7, but officially received him at 16.
And promptly went about telling everyone they needed Jesus too. Did they? Absolutely! Was what I was saying true? You betcha!
But I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
I had never learned to apply my carefully memorized verses to my own life. I never internalized the Word.
I spewed the Word at people like a fire hose expecting that to clean them up and inspire them to come to church with me.
But that isn’t what happened. I got eye rolls and people closing up and shutting me out. I even stopped being invited to parties with one group of friends.
I had the exact opposite effect as I intended. I came across as judgmental. Bossy. Mean. Pushy. I was a hypocrite. I expected other people to submit to verses I hadn’t applied to my own life, and in some cases hadn’t even read.
Within one year of my salvation I was so frustrated that I rebelled fully and completely. I told God His rules were crap and I was going to life my way.
Why was I frustrated? 1. I focused on the rules and trying to be a perfect person. And it was exhausting. 2. Not one person was changed for the better, despite my preaching at them.
Jesus never asked me to do that. That was all me. Jesus just wanted to love me and heal me. But I was not open to anyone mucking around in my personal business. Besides Jesus has bigger things to worry about than me, right?
It took 8 years for me to come back to Jesus. Then 3 more years for me to begin to open up and actually let Jesus in.
And another few years after that to see that Father God wanted a relationship with me, and that He really loved me. He was for me and not against me.
So now about 25 years after I was “saved” I finally get it. I have a real relationship with Jesus, Father God, and Holy Spirit. And I understand the way to help others, obtain wisdom, and change the world is to internalize the Word in my own life. Let it heal me and change me. Let The Word shift my perspective until I see like Jesus sees, and to love the way Jesus loves.
Point to ponder while you wander…the Word is powerful. It doesn’t return void but accomplishes what the Father sends it forth to do. So don’t just skim it and forget it! Internalize it! Apply it! Live it! That’s what the prophets mean when they talk about eating the Word.
“When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear Your Name, Lord God Almighty.” Jeremiah 15:16 NIV