Joshua 1:6-9 (ESV) Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful 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 courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
As I have openly and honestly shared previously, I have been dealing with fear head on lately. Just last week the Lord revealed that my heart was in a stronghold of intimidation that I have since sought the Lord to remove, studied His Word to rebuke, and prayed earnestly for His Spirit’s Assistance. I have “prided” myself on being brave. Note the word “prided” – I honestly felt unstoppable as God’s Unprecedented Favor has covered my life. Well, we all know that pride comes before the fall and fall I did. I fell into fear. It was an unlikely downward trend that was slow and calculated, but maybe you can relate. The suck-it-up mentality developed through childhood difficulties, a parent’s addiction and other less-than-stellar moments seemed to be serving me quite well. The Lord brought us through the healing journey of our son beautifully – beautifully broken that is. I had no idea that in all the rejoicing I was dealing with a shattered heart that could never be put back together the way it once was. Fear crept in at the thought that my strength would invite another traumatic trial. The risk was too high. I put down my sword and backed slowing into the darkness of complacency as not to draw the attention of the enemy again. It worked for a while…in fact, it held me back for years.
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. – Mark Twain
There is no such thing as absence of fear. The counter force to fear is courage. Courage is born completely of confidence in God. He is Sovereign. The Lord is our victory. We read about it, sing it and may even dare to speak it but do we really believe it? What is your worst fear? Are you are worrier? Does anxiety keep you awake at night? Are you a nail biter? It is an anxious habit. See the enemy gives us little opportunities to fear but our fear is directly a hit against our faith because it reveals the heart and mind’s conviction that God is somehow incompetent and Christ impotent.
Moses would not enter the Promised Land and Joshua was now thrust into leadership. The words of Moses to Joshua and the Children of Israel in Deuteronomy 31. Be strong and courageous. Why? God is with you. God has gone before you. God has delivered the enemy to you. God will never leave you or forsake you. God is faithful. Go God! It all sounds fantastic until a giant gets in the way or the enemy attacks. Words fall short if there is no foundation to stand upon. Where is the invisible God in the face of adversity? When the problem is tangible but faith intangible? God will be our courage and strength but it will mean reinvesting faith, trust and dependence from natural things into the spiritual realm. It is not easy. It is always worth it.
Daniel 10:12; 18-19 (ESV) Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.
Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”
I have always loved Daniel 10:12 because it is God’s Response when we pray. The Lord tells Daniel “from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God – your words were heard.” God hears us. Every word spoken in prayer, conversations and even to ourselves, He is privy to them all. Daniel was completely overwrought by the Presence of God around him. But look at what the Lord does in the following verses. He strengthens Daniel. I believe that the key to gaining courage from the Lord is to set our heart to understand His Ways and humble ourselves before Him. This is not a posture of prayer but positioning of our life. There will be trials, tragedies, and temptations. However, those who continually press into the Presence of God will gain new strength. This strength becomes our courage as dependency with God becomes more complete.
Psalm 37:3-7 (ESV) Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision. – Sir Winston Churchill
Daniel had many experiences that could have led him into captivity of fear. In fact, he lived in captivity to the king. He watched three friends get thrust into a fiery furnace and come out alive and well. He was thrown into a lion’s den yet came out unscathed. Fear is a reaction. Courage is a decision. For those who are believers, fear is a reaction born of a lack of faith. Courage comes when those same people decide to trust God.
Trust in the Lord. It is an action not an attitude. It means not responding to life but the Living God every day not just when things are going well. Do good. The Word of God and His Spirit give clear direction how to live a godly life. Christ empowers us to do so even in our weakness by His Grace. Dwell in the land – no need to live life on the run. God will prosper you right where He has placed you. You will grow if you sow. You will harvest what you plant. Befriend faithfulness. Oh how I love that! What a beautiful image of our friendship with God. He is faithful. He rewards even the tiniest act of faith on our part. Delight in the Lord. Find joy in your salvation. Live a life of worship. Thankfulness. Commit everything you do, everywhere you go, and every act you commit to the Lord Jesus Christ. Do it ALL as unto Him. Trust Him. He will act upon your trust and begin to pour out blessings you did not even expect! Courage allows us to be still and wait on the Lord because we believe that He will come! Every fear must be replaced with a seed of faith to harvest courage in our life.
Psalm 27:13-14 (ESV) I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His Wonderful Face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the Light of His Glory and Grace. – (Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus – Helen Howarth Lemmel)
Courage changes our perspective from impossibilities in life to every possibility in the Lord. There is no battle too difficult. Trial too hard. Fire too hot. Sickness too terminal. Disaster too overwhelming. That the Goodness, Grace and Glory of God cannot and will not overcome! We turn from our fears and embrace faith with both hands. Our eyes must become fixed on Jesus who is our Example. The author and finisher of faith who will surely establish Himself in every area of our life surrendered to Him. Hope tells us that the Goodness of God is not reserved for death but in the land of the living, too! Wait for the Lord! Be strong in your faith! Let your heart take courage…make it! Decide that fear has to go and ask God to fill you with courage and confidence in His Plan for you. Wait on Him to act before you go running off on your own. The enemy is in pursuit of your heart and mind so he can thwart God’s Plan to bless, prosper and fill your life with all the good things that He has for you. He uses the lie of fear to put you in a self-imposed stronghold. Tell the devil not today! You’ve got things to do. People to see and influence. Destiny to pursue. Be strong and courageous, friend. God is with you. He will never leave you or forsake you. He is faithful. He can be trusted. He will do all that He has promised to do in His Time. He will make beauty from ashes. Give you joy for your mourning! Praise for heaviness! This is the life of the courageous who sacrificed fear on the altar and took up courage instead.
Psalm 31:23-24 (ESV) Love the Lord, all you his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!