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Expository Sermons, Preaching Outlines,  Bible Studies, Illustrations by Various Authors

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“Be strong and of good courage . . .”

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A Serious Call to
Spiritual Leadership

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey

While returning some books that I had borrowed from Rev. Alvin Sullivan, his wife, Delores, who was my sixth grade teacher at Greystone Christian School in Mobile, Alabama, came out to greet me.  After a hug she quoted from memory a verse that came to her mind, “ . . . Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”  I sensed that this was a word for me from the Lord.  After making my way to the car, I quickly found the verse was Joshua 1:9, which I read several times and meditated on it all the way home.  As Solomon exclaims, “A word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (Proverbs 15:23)

The occasion of Joshua 1:9 is when Israel experienced a change of leadership.  Joshua, a lieutenant under Moses, becomes the human leader of the people after Moses’ death.  Suddenly Joshua finds himself thrust into a position that will be most demanding and dangerous.  As he stands on the threshold of this new assignment he is solemnly charged, “Have I not commanded you?” (v. 9a).  This phrase serves as a premise to the rest of the verse.  God is reminding Joshua of a previous command.  Oh, how He often graciously repeats His commands!  It is indeed heartening to realize that God’s commandments are His enablements. 

In Joshua 1:9 we move from this reminder of a divine injunction (command, directive or order) to the reiteration of a divine instruction.  The practice that is commanded is stated positively “Be strong and of good courage . . .” (v. 9b) and then negatively “ . . .do not be afraid nor dismayed . . .” (v. 9c).  In the words of a popular song Joshua was to “accentuate the positive” and to “eliminate the negative.”  Moses gave this same instruction to Joshua at his inauguration recorded in Deuteronomy 31:6-7,23.  God told Joshua three times to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:6-7,9,18), which reminds us that in the heat of battle it is easy to forget the orders from headquarters. 

Marion Robert Morrison also known as John Wayne reportedly said, “Courage is being scared to death – but saddling up anyway.”  There are over 300 instances in the Bible where God says, “Do not be afraid” or “Do not fear.”  We should remember, when a man is under God’s orders and protection he has no reason to fear anything.

Finally, Joshua received a promise, “ . . .for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (v. 9d).  This phrase is the reassurance of a divine intervention much like the words of Hebrews 13:5-6, which says, “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’  So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?’”

During a message at the 47th Moody Founder’s Week Conference, Vance Havner shared, “I heard a missionary say the other day, the trouble is that too many folks are singing ‘Standing on the Promises’, when they are just sitting on the premises!”

In his classic titled The Disciplines of Life, Dr. V. Raymond Edman explains, “the discipline of daring [is] to discern one’s duty, to do God’s bidding, to delight in His presence, to depend upon His promise, to discover His power as we obey His word . . .”  

The New Testament counterpart to the book of Joshua is the book of Ephesians and it is here that we receive our commission to conquer our Canaan and to possess our possessions in a spiritual sense.  Daily God issues a serious call to spiritual leadership.

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor
First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort
P.O. Box 7111
Spanish Fort, Alabama 36577
(251) 626-6210
© July 16, 2005
All Rights Reserved


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