Courage for the New Year

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. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:6-9.

Joshua had just taken over the reins of power from Moses. However, this is not necessarily a promotion that Joshua wanted or desired to have. This was not going to be a cakewalk. There were so many people and they had proven in the past to be a rebellious people. At least their parents were. Joshua knew he had to protect these people and at the same time conquer a land filled with strong cities and people. For many it would have been an impossible task and God knew Joshua would need courage. We need courage too.

The last several years have been difficult for my family and me with our parents growing older with more and more health problems. However, last year provided perhaps the greatest challenges for us. The year started out with my Dad having another stroke being hospitalized and from there being placed in the same nursing home with my Mother. He passed away on May 24th. We also had the tornado, which hit our community damaging our church on May 5th. During this time, I was trying to take care of my parent’s affairs and cleaning out their home so someone could move in and live there. During the summer, we cared for foster children who are children of friends. The boy, Malachi, had a relapse of his cancer and his care was a great challenge for us (He is doing much better; please continue to pray for him.). My mother-in-law had a heart attack and my Mother passed away Dec 3rd.

We realize that we have been fortunate in many ways by only having minor health problems ourselves. We also realize that the courage and strength necessary to go through the last year did not come from within.

Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”

The Wordsmyth English Dictionary-Thesaurus defines courage as “the quality of will that enables a person to confront fear or danger regardless of the consequences; bravery.”

The Wiktionary defines fear as “A strong, uncontrollable, unpleasant emotion caused by actual or perceived danger or threat.”

Fear is an emotion; however, courage is an attitude that will enable us to take action. Fear immobilizes you. Courage activates you. Everyone will experience the emotion of fear but not all will have the attitude of courage when they encounter fearful circumstances.

Courage can be valor demonstrated as the soldier or others face death. Courage, however, can and must be demonstrated to live the Christian life. John F. Kennedy once said, “Without belittling the courage with which men have died we should not forget those acts of courage with which . . . men have lived.”

Much of what God calls on us to do, as His child requires courage. It requires courage for us to take seriously the Great Commission. It requires courage for us to live out the Sermon on the Mount. It certainly requires courage to follow in the steps of Jesus. Sometimes, however, we are called on to face what may seem to be an impossible task. We may face our own Jericho, as did Joshua. Will we have the courage? Can it be done?

Where did Joshua’s courage come from? His courage flowed from the Word of God as God commanded him, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.” Joshua was to speak the Word, meditate on the Word, and He was to do all the Word of God commanded. If we want courage, we must do the same.

Whatever courage I have had or have now I know flows directly from the Word of God. Whenever I neglect the Word, I have a lack of courage. If I want to have the courage necessary to face the challenges of this New Year, I know that I can only have that courage through the Word of God. For the Christian our courage flows directly from His Word. Make this New Year be a year that you live courageously by reading, studying, meditating on, memorizing, and living the Word of God.

(During this New Year we will face challenges and those challenges will require courage to meet and overcome them. Where will your courage come from?)

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