Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Joshua 1:3-6 (NKJV)
God gives Joshua a series of promises that are meant to inspire him to be courageous. What God promises Joshua here is that he will have absolute victory in his battles. Everywhere they walk they will be walking on land that God has already given them. God goes on to tell Joshua what the boundaries of the land will be. Then God gives Joshua a tremendous promise that no one would ever be able to stand before him in battle all the days of his life. God basically promises Joshua that he will be the greatest military leader the world has ever known.
After giving Joshua all these promises, God then calls Joshua to be strong and courageous to fulfill the task that God has given him. Joshua would be the man who would lead the people to conquer the land and then divide it up among them. God promised long ago that He would give this land to the descendents of Abraham. The time had come for God to fulfill this promise and Joshua would be the one to lead the people to the fulfillment of them.
There is however an important implication in this passage. The implication of this passage is that Joshua must move into the Promised Land. The land was theirs to take but first they would have to move in and take it. God would give them victory in battle but first they must go to battle. God would ensure that none could stand against Joshua and the Israelites but first Joshua and the Israelites must stand against these enemies. God didn’t give Joshua these promises to lull Joshua into a complacent state of inactivity. Instead these promises were given to him to convince him to move out and take the land God had promised him. Joshua’s courage would flow out of his confidence in God’s promises.
Like Joshua we have been given a great many promises by God and these promises are not meant to lull us into a complacent state of inactivity. Instead they are meant to convince us to move out and act on these promises. We must have faith in the promises of God. Our courage as Christians will flow from our confidence in God’s promises.
Confidence in God’s promises necessarily leads to acting on God’s promises. Confidence in God’s promises causes us to live and act as though these promises were true. It’s very important that we understand that it’s live, not say. When I live as if the promises of God are true I will live differently that I would otherwise. This takes courage. Our response to the promises of God is evidence of whether or not we really believe God.
Let’s take this back to Joshua for a second. Imagine if after God had given Joshua these great promises and Joshua said, “Whoo Hoo! Man that’s awesome. We are going to conquer the Promised Land.” Yet he never actually led the people across the Jordan River into the Promised Land. Would that be evidence of faith inspired courage or doubt inspired fear? The promises that God has given us are meant to build our faith and inspire us to be courageous. But we only demonstrate our faith inspired courage when we live as if those promises are true by acting on them.
Let me give you a couple of promises to think about.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (NKJV)
The promise here is that if we genuinely confess our sin that God absolutely will forgive us for our sins and cleanse us from our sins. I wonder how many mentally affirm this promise is true but live as if it’s not? There are almost certainly some that live beating yourself up over sin you’ve confessed and God has forgiven you for. This leaves you paralyzed with fear and unable to do anything to serve God. At some point you are going to have to go beyond affirming that this is true to living as if this were true. Confidence in God’s promise to forgive us gives us courage to live as though we were forgiven.
“Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:11 (NKJV)
To reckon means to count, to regard or to consider. So a part of what we see in this verse is that as believers we are to regard or to consider ourselves as being dead to sin and alive to live for God. Again, I wonder how many mentally affirm this promise is true but live as if it’s not? There are almost certainly some that live pretty much every day of your life defeated by sin. You have been defeated so long you have just decided that this is the way it will always be and it just won’t ever get any better. This leaves you paralyzed with fear and unable to do anything to serve God. At some point you are going to have to go beyond affirming that this is true to living as if this were true. Confidence in God’s promise to free us from slavery to sin gives us courage to live as though we were free.
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NKJV)
The promise here is that we will receive the power necessary to be able to share the Gospel and tell people about Jesus. Once again every believer would affirm that this verse is true. Yet the vast majority of believers will never share the Gospel and will never tell anyone about Jesus. They affirm it’s true but live as if it’s not. This leaves us paralyzed with fear of sharing the Gospel and unable to tell anyone about Jesus. At some point we have to go beyond affirming that this is true to living as if this were true. Confidence in God’s promise to empower us gives us courage to live as though we were empowered and share the Gospel with others.
Spend some time today praying for God to give you absolute confidence in His promises so that you can courageously live as though they were true.