To me, one of the most important declarations in the Bible was made on Joshua 25:15. Joshua, who was the leader of Israel, was reminding the people of all God had done for them. He told them of the blessings that were promised to those who followed God’s ways. He also spoke of the consequences of choosing to disobey His commands. After that he said, “As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord” (NLT).
Joshua couldn’t speak for everyone just because he was their leader. Each person had to make their own decision on how they would live. There’s only two ways really. One is in obedience to God’s ways and the other is disobedience. There’s not a half and half. No one else can choose it for you either. Each one of us have to come to the point in our lives when we declare our independence from our sinful nature and pledge our allegiance to God.
Galatians 5:17 says, “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.” Joshua understood this war that goes on in each one of us. He knew that he was susceptible to failing, that’s why he made the declaration.
Today, you and I fight the same battle. Some days we win. Some days we lose. When I lose, I fall back on Romans 8:1-2. It says, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” We have been freed from the power of sin, but not from our sinful nature. We must keep declaring, no matter how bad or how many times we fail, that we will serve the Lord.
Whenever I get overwhelmed by my circumstances, I search the Bible for God’s promises. I try to find people who were overwhelmed too. Some of the greatest leaders of the Bible needed encouragement as much as I do. They looked at their circumstances as well as what God called them to do and I can imagine their panic. We don’t always read that they were panicked, but we see what God said to them and can tell that they were. Joshua is a great example of this.
He had been to the Promised Land, seen the giants and declared that they could defeat them. In Deuteronomy 31 when Moses passes the torch to Joshua, the reality of that prediction fell on his shoulders. He said they could be victorious so God said, “Ok, then you get to lead the charge.” As Moses was passing the torch of leadership to him, he said, “Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated… He (God) is right there with you. He won’t let you down; He won’t leave you…Don’t worry.”
Those words weren’t recorded just for Joshua’s sake. They were written to remind you and me that whatever we face in this life, God is with us. We can be strong and courageous. We can be assured that God won’t let us down so we don’t have to worry. There may be an impassible river in front of us today, but God will part it. There may be giants in the land ahead of us, but God will give us the victory. We may see all the impossibilities that stand in our way, but we don’t have to be intimidated.
You and I aren’t the first ones to be lead into the unknown. We aren’t the first ones to have to face giants. What God has done for others in the past, He will do for us. The Bible says that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He does not change. We can fully trust that He will part the waters, knock down the walls, defeat the giants in our life and give us victory. What He requires of us is to have the courage to walk to the waters edge, circle the walls in our lives and face the giants that stand in our path.
When we do our part, He will do His. Our step of faith preceded His provision. He encourages us to be strong and courageous because we need that in order to step out in faith. Don’t let fear hold you back. Don’t be intimidated by what you see in the physical realm. Our God makes things happen in the spiritual realm that affect the physical realm. We have to trust Him completely and act in accordance with His Word and He will give the victory today. God won’t let you down or leave you, so don’t worry just believe.
My three year old son surprised me the other day. We were sitting down talking and he wanted to get my attention so used both hands to grab my face to look at him. He said, “Joshua 1:9, Dada.” It took me a minute to figure out what he was talking about, but then I remembered it was his memory verse a few weeks back. I thought for a second how they had taught him, then I recited it to him, “Do not be afraid. God is with you.” He smiled and said, “Yeah. God is with you. Joshua 1:9.”
What a great promise to us to hold on to. The full verse says, “This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” This was God speaking to Joshua before he entered a land of giants and walled cities that he was to conquer. It was 40 years earlier that he had been there as a spy and was outvoted 10-2 because the people were afraid of what they saw. I’m sure the ones who were scared told their kids what the Promised Land had in it. They might have been afraid of what their future held.
Like them, you may be looking at your future and are starting to feel scared. There are uncertainties, giants even huge walls up around the things you feel like God has called you to. When you look at those things, you may be wondering, “How can I accomplish that?” The path to it may be unclear. There may be huge obstacles in your way. But if God has called you to do it, there are no walls high enough that He can’t push down. There are no walls thick enough that He can’t break. There is no enemy strong enough to keep you away from all He has promised. He just needs you to step out in faith.
That’s the hard part. The scary part. When that fear arises that wants to keep you from doing what God called you to, go back to Joshua 1:9. God commanded us to be strong and courageous. He didn’t merely suggest it. He told us not to be afraid or discouraged by the obstacles in our way because He is with us. He doesn’t expect us to do these things in our own strength or abilities. He will do the work as long as we are willing to cross the Jordan and enter the Land of Promise. Our step of faith pushes back fear and activates God’s strength. Don’t hold back because of fear. Go and conquer all that God has for you.
My son always wants to help with whatever I’m doing. If I’m shopping in the store, he wants to be the one to get the item off the shelf. He says, “Here, let me help.” When I’m bringing in the groceries, he wants to carry a bag. Every once in a while he gets one that’s more than he can handle. He’ll say, “It’s too heavy. Help me, Dada.” I’ll reach down and carry the bulk of the weight, but still let him do his part. I’ve been in his shoes before. I’ve had baggage that was too heavy for me to carry on my own. I’ve just haven’t been as eager to ask for help as he has. I think there are many who are in the same boat.
In Exodus 17, the Israelites were traveling from Egypt to the Promised Land. On their way, they were attacked by the Amalekites. Moses had Joshua recruit some men to go fight the Amalekites while he stood on top of a hill holding the staff. As the battle raged on, Moses, Aaron and Hur noticed that as long as Moses had his hands raised, they were winning. When his arms were lowered, they were getting beat. They encouraged Moses to hold his hands up, but after a while he couldn’t do it anymore. He needed help.
It doesn’t say if Moses asked for help or not, but it does say that Aaron and Hur acted on his behalf. They saw a need and improvised to help him out. They grabbed a stone for him to sit on so they could hold up his arms. They stood there until the sun went down and the Amalekites were defeated. Moses named the place Yahweh Nissi which is God My Banner. God gave the victory, but it was won because two people saw another who needed help and lifted him up. They sacrificed their comfort for those who were engulfed in a battle.
If you look around at the people God has placed in your life, there are those who are fighting battles and they’re growing tired. They can’t hold their hands up anymore. They’re struggling and losing the war. God is looking for people like Aaron and Hur who will go to those who need help, hold them up in prayer and sacrifice until their battle is won. By helping them, in turn you are helping others that they are holding up. When Aaron and Hur helped Moses, they had a direct affect on the army fighting below. We never know how far our help really goes.
Whose arms has God asked you to hold up? Who in your life needs you to help them win their battle? It may not be easy for you, but If God is asking you to do it, you’re going to have to make the sacrifices necessary. You’re going to have to spend time holding their hand, standing beside them and lifting them up in prayer. Your role in their battle may not be glorious, but it is vital to their victory. They may not ask you to do it, so you may have to offer it. You also may have to improvise in order to get them through the day. Do your part in holding them up until God gives the victory.