Courage for the Future

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Finding Courage for the Future

Joshua 1:1-17

-- Year ago people talking about the Y2K bug.

-- Driving home last New Year’s eve. Wondering about the car.

-- What’s going to happen in the future?.

            Marriage, Job, Children, Health, Church

SI: Through faith in God, we can face the future with courage.

-- Look 3400 years into the past to discover God’s plan for facing the future.

-- Israel, out of Egypt, forty years in desert, Moses dead, new leader, Joshua, right at the threshold of the PL.

[Read text.]

-- “Be strong and of good courage.” God says in 6, 7, and 9. In 18, Israel tells Joshua: “Be strong and of good courage.”

-- “Be strong,” firm up, be resolute and steadfast and brave.

-- Was the conquest of the land of Canaan going to be difficult? Yes. Would Joshua need every ounce of strength God could give him? Absolutely. But in the face of an unknowable future, God calling Joshua to take courage.

Three ways God encourages us as we face the future.

(1) God encourages us with His promises.

EX: vv. 3-4. The Land. Promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. Promised to Moses. Now a reality.

-- PL represents life of victory on earth.

AR: Dr. Everek R. Storms of Ontario spent a great deal of time studying the promises in the Bible. He counted a grand total of 8,810 promises in the pages of Scripture. Dr. Storms even classified the promises of God’s word. According to accounts:

·        There are 7,487 promises from God to man (about 85% of the Bible’s promises).

·        There are 991 instances of one person making a promise to another person.

·        There are 290 promises made by man to God.

·        There promises made by the angels, most of them in Luke.

·        There are nine promises made by “that old liar, the devil.”

·        There are two promises made by an evil spirit.

·        There are two promises made by God the Father to God the Son.

IL: Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian finds his pathway difficult. Climbs over a stile to walk in a bypath. Ground becomes soggy, covered with poisonous vines. Sky becomes black. Spends night huddled at the foot of an oak tree, caught in a downpour. Morning, Giant Despair captures him, beats him, and imprisons him in the dungeon of Doubting Castle. Castle grim, thick black walls. Tries to sing, but cannot. Beaten mercilessly by Giant Despair day after day. Finds in his cell a rope, a knife, and a bottle, the tools of suicide, and for a moment is tempted to end his misery. One evening about midnight he begins to pray and a little before day, he remembers a key he has on a chain around his neck. A key called Promise. He thinks to himself, “Surely the Key of Promise will open any lock in Doubting Castle.” And it does. Christian escapes from Despair and Doubt by trusting in God’s promise.

AP: v. 3. A two way proposition.

·        God makes a promises.

·        Faith believes it.

·        Hope anticipates it.

·        Patience awaits it.

·        And obedience claims it.

It’s good to stand on the promises; but it’s better to walk by the promises. At the point of obedience, the certainty of God’s promises becomes reality.

(2) God encourages us with His strength.

EX: v. 5. Canaan: cities; people; armies with technology vastly superior to that of the Israelites.

-- Crossing the Jordan was a declaration of war.

-- Secret weapon: the unconquerable power of God.

-- “leave” means to relax or to slacken.

-- “forsake” means to let loose or to abandon.

-- God was saying, “I won’t abandon you in the heat of battle. I won’t leave you hanging. You have my  power at your disposal.”

IL: Boy was waiting after church for his family. Pastor saw him standing around and struck up a conversation. Decided to ask him some questions to determine just how much the children were learning in SS. He said, “Young man, if you can tell me something God can do, I’ll give you a big shiny apple.” Boy answered, “Preacher, if you can tell me something God can’t do, I’ll give you a whole box of apples.”

AR: Hebrews 13:6 puts it this way: “We may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

AP: Nicolo Paganini began to play his violin and one string popped. Began to play again and second string broke. The same thing happened and the third string broke. Then all was silent as Paganini raised his hand to speak. He spoke and said, “Just one string and Paganini.” And on that one string he played some of the most beautiful music ever to be heard.

-- Yes, just you and God!

(3) God encourages us with His Word.

EX: v. 7-8.

-- Notice the word translated “meditate” in verse 8. Hebrew term suggests an almost inaudible murmur.

-- God was telling Joshua to chew, swallow, and digest the Word of God until God’s words became part of his own thoughts and actions.

-- v. 8, “For then you will make your way prosperous.”Would not fail.

IL: Difference between a strong and weak cup of tea. Same ingredients—water and tea. The difference is that the strong cup of tea results from the tea leaves’ immersion in the water longer, allowing the water more time to get into the tea and the tea into the water. The longer the steeping process, the stronger the cup of tea. In the same way, the length of time we spend in God’s Word determines how deeply we get into it and it gets into us. Just like the tea, the longer we are in the Word, the stronger we become.

AP: How much time do you spend reading the Bible each day. I challenge you to spend just 15 minutes a day, 15 good minutes, reading the Bible. If you do so, you will probably read the Bible through this year.

CONCLUSION: 660 people have ever reached the 29,000 foot peak of Mount Everest. Nearly 150 men and women have died trying to reach the summit. But Ed Visters [check spelling] of Utah has climbed to the top of Everest five times. Recently I watched a film of Ed making his fifth expedition up the mountain. He and his team ascended through miles of icefalls and snow slabs, pushing their bodies to the limit as they faced the cold weather, the steep inclines, and air so thin that it required three breaths to bring the same amount of oxygen to their bodies that one breath would deliver at sea level. In fact, the air is so thin that most climbers use oxygen tanks to give them sufficient energy to climb.

Finally, near the pinnacle of the mountain, Ed and the other climbers came to a forty-foot chimney across a rock cliff known as the Hillary Step. The Hillary Step is the one of the greatest technical challenges of the climb. While all the other climbers continued to use their oxygen packs, Ed took his off for the Hillary Step. He said, “For the final climb, I like it to be just me and the mountain.” I watched as he slowly climbed the Hillary Step, his climbers’ pick digging down into the ice, his body almost collapsing with each step. His mind was cloudy and his muscles were weakened because of  the lack of oxygen. At last, he made it to the summit. Just Ed and the mountain.

Maybe okay to go it alone when facing Mount Everest, but when facing the mountain of the future, we can’t go it alone. That’s why God wants us to draw encouragement from His promises, His strength, and His word..

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