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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Parnell

How to Live Without Fear in 2013 (Joshua 1:9)

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. —Joshua 1:9

Moses has passed the baton of leadership to Joshua. Could you imagine his thoughts on filling those shoes? Nevertheless, be strong and courageous. Those are his orders (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9). They are fairly simple: Be this and not that. Be courageous, don’t be afraid. And the motivation to obey is that the Lord is with him wherever he goes.

We Must Know Him

But what does that mean? Consider for a moment: the reality that God is with us can only be good news if we know who God is. How can God’s presence be a motivation for courage unless we know what He is like? God’s presence is a motivation for courage only if we know His presence means good for us despite difficult circumstances.

Joshua is to be the leader of Israel. And like the God-ordained kingship of Israel, his leadership was to be characterized by a devotion to the Scriptures. "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night" (Joshua 1:8, see Deuteronomy 17:18–19).

Embedded in the command to be strong and courageous is this foundational command to hold fast to God’s word—to remember God’s promises and covenant, to know who He is, that He is a God who works wonders, a God who saves (Psalm 77:14–15). Therefore, because Joshua knows the Lord—because he knows what He has done for Israel and promised to do for Abraham—he can trust the Lord‘s presence means good for him.

For Us Right Now

The same thing goes for us. Stepping into a New Year feels a little bit like a baton is placed into our hands. It isn’t the baton of leading Israel, but of leading our lives. We don’t know what the next 365 days hold for us. We can’t know. But the Lord says to us the same thing he said to Joshua: Be strong and courageous because I am with you. And we can be strong and courageous because we know who He is. Not because of the Exodus, or the Book of the Law, but preeminently in the person and work of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1–3).

Jesus came, lived, served, suffered, was crucified, was dead and buried, and was then raised victoriously on the third day. He has told us who God is. He has shown us His love. And because of this—only this—we will lead our lives being strong and courageous in 2013, because this God is with us. Amen.


For Reflection

1. How is God’s presence good news for Joshua? What about for you?

2. How does the Bible factor into our being strong and courageous?

3. What is our only hope for leading our lives with strength and courage?

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