Devotion 2 in a series of 5
Joshua 1:6-9 (NIV): 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.
Outside my school the speed limit is 55mph, but during school hours, it is 35mph. Not too many people obey this law. If I’m outside with the students and someone is driving too fast, I might hold up eight fingers for them to see (3 & 5). It hasn’t slowed anybody down yet, but I hope it makes them wonder why I’m holding up eight fingers.
When the phrase “Be strong and courageous” is used throughout Scripture, it is usually preceded or followed by, “Obey the law.” David advised Solomon: “May the Lord give you discretion and understanding when he puts you in command over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the Lord gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.” (1 Chronicles 22:12-13, NIV) Paul says, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13-14, NIV) David and Paul are essentially saying, “Be strong and courageous, and obey the law.”
Sometimes, what is expected of us can seem unbearable, but we’re reminded to lean on our Lord, to be strong and courageous. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. (Isaiah 40:29, NIV) Paul writes, “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV) Sometimes, the phrase, “Everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten,” makes a lot of sense. (It’s ok, you can sing along…) “Jesus loves me this I know, For the Bible tells me so, Little ones to Him belong…”
They are weak, but He is strong. His power is made perfect in our weakness. We don’t have to be strong. We belong to Him and He is strong.
Matthew 22:34-40 (NIV): Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Be strong and courageous, and obey the greatest commandment. To love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind requires us to have a relationship with our Lord. We need to spend time with the One we love. You can’t be in love with someone you never talk to. The song we just sang told us where to find Him: in the Bible. If we spend time in Word, sacraments, prayer, fellowship and worship, the Lord can reveal Himself to us. God does not want us to be alone. This is most clearly seen in Jesus’ loving sacrifice. He repaired our broken relationship with the Father. God has also given us the Holy Spirit to go with us throughout our lives as we share the Gospel with others, if only by the example of our lives.
He makes us strong and courageous to obey Him. He gives us the ability to follow Him and to share His love with others. May we surrender our sin, fears, and insecurities to God. In our weakness, He will fill us with His strength and courage, so that in obedience, we can share His love with the world around us.