Book Review: The Jesus You Can’t Ignore by John MacArthur

When you think of Jesus, do you think of a mild-mannered man who always got along?  If so, John MacArthur wants you to understand Jesus in a different way.  In The Jesus You Can’t Ignore: What You Must Learn from the Bold Confrontations of Christ, MacArthur examines the three year period of time in which Jesus battles with the religious leaders of his day.

This three year period was bracketed by the two times that Jesus cleansed the temple.  In between these events, you will discover that Jesus challenged the actions, teachings and even the thoughts of these leaders.  He challenged everything that made it difficult for people to find right standing with God.

Readers will find the familiar MacArthur writing style.  The basis for all of his arguments are firmly rooted in a careful understanding of the Bible.

The purpose for this book is to provide a call to today’s Christians to follow Jesus in confronting errors of our day that threaten the gospel message.  When people distort the gospel by either adding to it or taking away from it, this is when we should challenge these views.

I highly recommend this book to all who want to grow in their understanding of who Jesus is.  What you think about Jesus will enable you to more clearly look at the religious landscape and make clear distinctions.

What you think about Jesus Christ will thoroughly color how you think about everything else.

–John MacArthur

Disclaimer: This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Forgetting God

Calling to mind the works of God and living life to the glory of this God is the challenge we face.  The Bible uses the word “remember” to describe this activity.  To remember is not only to call to mind God and his works, but to act based on this remembering.  I have written several articles about this that you may want to reference:

But what happens when we don’t do this?  What happens when we either don’t recall God and his works, or we don’t act accordingly?  This is what we are calling, “Forgetting God.”  In the following verse, this idea is fleshed out:

But they forgot the LORD their God. And he sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab. And they fought against them.
(1 Samuel 12:9 ESV)
At the end of Samuel’s (who was judge, priest and prophet) life, he gathered the nation of Israel for his last words to the nation. He began by recounting God’s works for the nation.
Now therefore stand still that I may plead with you before the LORD concerning all the righteous deeds of the LORD that he performed for you and for your fathers.
(1 Samuel 12:7 ESV)
He specifically was pointing out how God had amazingly delivered Israel out of Egypt by using Moses and Aaron.  After all of these “righteous deeds” God had performed for them, how did they respond?  They forgot God.  What does that mean?
  1. Forgetting God indicates that, like Israel, we experience his blessings and then fail to worship and walk with the one who has blessed us.
  2. Forgetting God indicates that we serve other gods instead of the God who has cared for us.
  3. Forgetting God means to rebel against his commandments.
  4. Forgetting God is to turn aside from following the Lord.
  5. Forgetting God is turning to empty things that cannot profit nor deliver.

As Samuel spoke, the people realized that they had repeated this history.  They repented of their sin of serving other gods.  How could they trust God against their enemies when they were not honoring God.  Instead they were honoring their enemies’ gods. The result was that they were enslaved and in bondage.

Forgetting God always leads to enslavement and bondage.  Remembering God brings just the opposite – freedom.

Samuel then called Israel to remember God in this manner:

  1. Fear the Lord.
  2. Serve the Lord with all your heart.
  3. Obey his voice.
  4. Follow the Lord.

Concerning God, do you remember God this way or have you forgotten him.  If you have forgotten him, do as Israel did.  They repented and called out to God.

50 Years Ago: To Kill a Mockingbird

50 years ago today, To Kill a Mockingbird was published.  In this novel, Harper Lee penned a great story of  a white lawyer named Atticus Finch representing an innocent black man in a southern courtroom.  The story is told through the eyes of Finch’s daughter, Scout.

In 1962 the story was made into an award winning movie with Gregory Peck brilliantly playing Atticus Finch.  Whether you watch the movie or read the book, you will encounter the issue of race relations.  Here are a few of the lessons we learn from this great novel:

1.  Regardless of the color of our neighbor’s skin color, we must do what is right.

2.  Doing the right thing may have negative consequences.  Do the right thing anyway.

3.  Teach your children to do the right thing with your words and your actions.

If you have never read the book nor watched the movie, find one or both and get to it.

Book Review: Lead Like Ike by Geoff Loftus

One of the most daunting tasks of leadership in the 20th century had to be assembling and leading a force to put an end to the powerful German army determined to rule the world.  That task fell upon the shoulders of Dwight D. Eisenhower.  The consequences of his leadership would determine life, death and liberty for millions.

Geoff Loftus takes a look at how Eisenhower would lead the military forces of several nations to defeat Hitler and Germany in Lead Like Ike: Ten Business Strategies from the CEO of D-Day.  Loftus’ intent is for leaders of today to learn by observing Eisenhower.  In doing so Loftus names the Allied forces as D-Day Inc.  and presents Eisenhower as the CEO.  He then tracks Eisenhower’s actions from setting up an organization until victory is achieved.

Reading through this book puts the reader inside the command post of the Allied forces.  It is fascinating to see the interaction between the various personalities of WWII.  If you enjoy reading history, especially about this pivotal event, then you will enjoy this book.  If you are a leader, there are many lessons to be gleaned from observing Eisenhower.

One of the strengths is that not only does Loftus provide us with ten leadership strategies, but he interjects specific applications of theses strategies throughout the narrative.  At the end of each chapter, he also provides debriefing notes which focus on the lessons of the story.  In so doing the overarching strategies are fleshed out.

Although Eisenhower successfully fulfilled his mission using these strategies, the reader does get to see the times that this General failed.  The reader is able to learn from these failures as well as from the successes.

I was left with a greater appreciation for Eisenhower.  The manner in which he thought and felt about his soldiers is lesson enough for any leader.

Strategies:

  1. Determine Your Mission
  2. Plan for Success
  3. Stay Focused
  4. Prioritize
  5. Plan to Implement
  6. Communicate
  7. Motivate Your People
  8. Manage Your People
  9. Avoid Project Creep
  10. Be Honest

If you would like a copy of this book, you can order by clicking on the book image or find it in the P2P Bookstore (see tab at the top of the page).

Disclaimer: This book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson.

Flashback: Preaching in Guatemala City

Guatemala City Central Park

In the early 1990’s I had the privilege of traveling to Guatemala City in Central America to preach.  It was such a joy to be able to proclaim the gospel of Jesus to eager listeners in a country shackled by the effects of sin.

The setting:  I arrived in Guatamala City during a time of civil war in the country.  Thankfully, a lull existed in the fighting during the time that I was there.  One evening I remember hearing gun shots while in my room.  I looked outside to see mini fires burning along the streets and witnessing men firing guns into the air.  I soon discovered that I was watching the people celebrate “The Day of the Dead” or Dia de los Difuntos.  This was a holiday dating back to the Aztecs.  The Aztecs dedicated this day to the goddess, Mictecacihuatl.  In Guatemala they used this day to remember and pray for deceased family members.  This type of ritual is foreign to biblical Christianity in that communion with the dead and praying to the dead are involved.

Guatemala was also very impoverished by our standards.  It was a constant vigil to try and avoid food and drink that would bring sickness.  I did not avoid the sickness and spent one night in a sleepless fever and intestinal issues.  In spite of the conditions and the sickness, it was a very rewarding experience.

I spent a great deal of time with a Guatemalan family.  Both the husband and his son served as pastor of a church which met in their home.  Both of these men and the wife/mother treated me with such Christian grace.  I was honored when their hospitality which included a wonderful meal in their home.

During the day, the son would take me into local establishments and homes.  He would introduce me to the men and women.  I had prepared a translated version of the gospel and my testimony.  I would read the good news of Jesus to these men and women.  The son then served as an interpreter as I answered questions from the people.

In the evenings, the church and guests would gather in the home of this family for worship.  Through an interpreter I had the opportunity of preaching Christ.  It was amazing watching men and women of all ages pack themselves into a home to hear from this American preacher.  They sat and stood wherever they could find a few inches.

One memorable day was spent in Central Park in downtown Guatemala City (see picture above).  With other Christians, we gathered at a central point in the park and began singing hymns.  A few feet away a man also arrived with a burlap-type bag and a suitcase.  He would invite people to come look inside the bag.  I could not tell what was in the bag, but noticed the bag was moving.  As the crowd gathered around him, he took a huge snake out of the bag.  He invited people to touch it and was drawing a larger crowd.  Finally, he placed the snake back into the bag and made the women and children leave his area.  When he was surrounded only by men, he opened his suitcase to reveal a stack of pornographic magazines that he tried to sell to the men.

At this point, our growing crowd began to sing even louder.  I was asked to speak to them.  No doubt, many were drawn by the singing.  But since I was an American who stands 6 feet 2 inches tall, I was also something of an oddity to the dark skinned and very short people.  I was about a foot taller than almost anybody in the crowd.  I preached about being free in Christ.  In the midst of war, we can have freedom in Christ.  I also pointed to the smut-peddler and spoke of being free in Christ.  As I proclaimed the gospel, dozens of men and women began weeping and praying that Christ would grant them this freedom.  It was such a joy to see the power of the gospel at work.

Perhaps you find yourself in bondage to sin and at war with God.  Jesus, the Son of God, died for those sins and was raised from the dead to break the shackles of sin.  Pray that God would have mercy on you.  Perhaps he will turn you from being his enemy to being his child.

Our Home is like a Little Church

This past Sunday was Fathers’ Day.  Suzie and I travelled to Louisville, Kentucky to be with 3 of my kids and my 3 grandkids.  We had the opportunity of attending Sojourn Community Church East while we were in Louisville.  During the service, all fathers were recognized and given a copy of the book, Our Home is like a Little Church: Sojourn Community Church.  This is a short book written by Lindsey Blair and Bobby Giles and illustrated by Tessa Janes.  All are members of Sojourn.

The book is intended to be read by parents and children together so that they might discover God’s plan for worshipping him at home.  It is written in a poetic style with full illustration on each page.  On the left side pages, worship at church is described.  On the right side pages, worship at home is compared to the worship at church.

The basis for the book is from Deuteronomy’s instructions about teaching our children the ways of God.  It also takes a quote from Martin Luther as part of the foundation of the book’s teaching.

Abraham had in his tent a house of God and a church.  Just as today any godly and pious head of a household instructs his children…in godliness.  Therefore such a house is actually a school and church and the head of the household is a bishop and priest in his house.

–Martin Luther

Some may object to linking the church and home in this fashion, but I think it is a helpful application of the biblical teaching on the family.  The family does not supplant the church, nor should the church take the place of the home.  Each has a vital role with both similarities and distinctions.  When it comes to worship, teaching and training, both the church and the home are tools which God uses.

Others may object to the leadership role assigned to dads.  Women do play a significant role in the physical and spiritual nurture and shaping of children.  I pray that my daughter, Leah and my daughter-in-law, Amanda will continue to fulfill this role in shaping my three grandchildren.  But I do pray that they will find their husbands providing spiritual leadership for the household.  So I do pray for my son-in-law, Michael and my son, Carlton that they will be the kind of men who see their key function in life to lead their families to worship and know God.

Feature Friday

Christians who are maturing will almost always be reading good books and listening to good preaching.  With that in mind, I want to begin recommending a few more books and ministries to help you in this process.  We will call this “Feature Friday.”  Here is the format that I have in mind.  1 newly released book, 1 classic book, 1 historical book, 1 ministry and 1 photo.  Each of the books are in the P2P Bookstore.

Featured New Release

40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible (40 Questions & Answers Series)

The author of this book is Robert Plummer.  I know Rob.  We were fellow students doing doctoral work at Southern Seminary.  He is currently on faculty at Southern.  We have also attended church together as he is an elder at Sojourn Community Church in Louisville.  Rob is an excellent scholar with a heart for people.  This new book will help Bible students at any level get a better handle on interpreting your Bible.

Featured Classic

Knowing God

This classic work by J.I. Packer will help you not only think about God, but get to know him better.

Featured Historical Work

Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Hendrickson Classic Biographies)

This work by Roland Bainton is the definitive work on the life of the German Reformer, Martin Luther.  Read how God used this man to bring about the Protestant Reformation.

Featured Ministry

Francis Chan

I watched on-line to Francis Chan on Monday while he was speaking at the SBC Pastors Conference in Orlando.  Chan passionately preached about intimately knowing Jesus.  Until recently Chan was the pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California.  He has resigned believing that God is opening a new chapter for him.  At this point, he is not sure what that next step is, but is praying for direction.

Chan refreshing style, passion and confidence in God and the Bible make him a worthy resource for you.  To get info on his books and links to his sermons, go to francischan.org.

Featured Foto

Sunday will be Carlton's 1st Fathers Day as a Dad


Thumbs Up & Down: SBC 2010 – Day 1

It has been an interesting experience watching the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) on-line and engaging with other baptists on Twitter.  The only hitch was that the on-line feed went black at exactly 5pm.  Only problem was that the primary vote for this year happened between 5:05 and 5:10pm.

Much of the activity at the SBC makes me glad to be a part of this denomination.  Others things make me want to pull my hair out.  Now I don’t get riled by spirited debate.  That is part of being in a large democratic organization.  With any group that large, you will get some whacky statements and actions.  Instead of focusing on that, I am most interested in the statements of the body as a whole and of the leaders of the group.  So here are the things that I like.

1.  Approval of the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) report.  If curious you can go here to see the report (it has been slightly modified).  Hopefully, this will help the SBC be organizationally more functional towards what matters.

2.  I was pleased that the GCR Task Force toned down the rhetoric and acted much more diplomatically.

3.  I like that a new generation of SBC leaders are all about God’s glory and reaching our world for Christ.

4.  I am appreciative of the graciousness of President Johnny Hunt and team demonstrated when others might be tempted to smack a few folks.

5.  I am most thrilled that my heart has been stirred afresh for a global mission of reaching people from every tribe and nation.  Thanks to Jerry Rankin for his leadership at the International Mission Board.  He is retiring from that post.

Now, here are a few things that I did not like:

1.  Morris Chapman’s attempt to derail the GCR.  I don’t fault him for having a differing view.  I just don’t know what has happened to Chapman these past couple of years.  He seems so out of step with the denomination that he has been at the helm for 18 years (this is his last).

2.  I wish that opponents of the GCR proposal would have made arguments as to why they were opposed instead of trying to use methods to prevent a vote.

3.  What most frustrated me was the report of the ERLC (Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission).  The president of the ERLC is Richard Land.  I had Land preach in my pulpit when I was a pastor in the early 1990’s.  But Land sounds more like a pawn of the right wing of the Republican Party rather than a spokesman for biblical ethics and religious liberty.

I may not agree with the healthcare direction in our country.  But I know there are people who love Jesus who differ with me.  Why link ourselves with a political position that just isn’t the priority of biblical Christianity?  Land went even farther in his comments on U.S. immigration.  That’s not what I want my mission dollars being spent doing.

Now for some funny tweets:

JimmyScroggins: At biz @ SBC n Orlando. When the mics open, weirdos come out & the dumber the motion, the more Prez Hunt calls u “Dear brother.”

JimmyScroggins:  Morris Chapman is bashing the GCR & GCR task force @ SBC Orlando. Feels kind of like when your senile grandpa cusses u out

FakeJDGreear (Several):

Make no mistake. Every #GCR vote counts. And since we’re in FL, some of them count 4 or 5 times.

Humiliated. I was kicked off the @baptist21 panel because of my “old dude sellout suit.”

My book is better than @plattdavid’s, plus when you finish reading it you don’t have to sell your bass boat.

5ptsalt:  I love Al Mohler, but brethren, I do wish he would consider decaf

djword:  Southern Baptists resolve to expand their evangelistic reach by inviting Big 12 schools into the SBC

HannahBadgett:  I received a few strange looks when an “Amen” slipped out at work. Watching #sbc2010 live streaming.

jrbuchanan:  Morris Chapman is as out of touch as a homeschooler at the prom.

mattprivett: Where are the vuvuzelas when you need them?

DvdAlexandr:  Can we just skip to the world cup soccer game? Whose in charge of the big screen?

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly & The Funny at SBC Pastors Conference via Stream & Twitter

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is taking place this week in Orlando, Florida.  The SBC is taking full advantage of technology by streaming live the actual convention proceedings on Tuesday and Wednesday.  The same is true of the main pre-convention event – The Pastors Conference (PC).  I was able to follow much of the PC through the on-line stream and interact with participants and other observers via Twitter.  This article will present my take on what I thought was the SBC at it’s best.  I also will present some of my concerns.  I will offer a section of memorable quotes from speakers and the responses of twitterers.

The PC was not without a spirited debate about one of the speakers on Monday night.  You will be able to read some of the comments about that speaker’s presentation.  Finally, Baptists have some funny folks.  Several satirical twitter accounts offered some ways for Baptists to laugh at themselves.  The final section will present some of the comedy.

We will sum all of this up under four headings: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and The Funny.

1.  The Good

Most of this conference could be noted in this section as being good.  I will limit my comments to four items that stood out to me.

A.  Matt Chandler’s Sermon

Matt Chandler is a preacher that you should listen to whenever you get the opportunity.  He is a pastor in Dallas, Texas.  This past year has been some kind of year for him.  On Thanksgiving morning, he had a seizure resulting from a brain tumor.  He had surgery and then went through both chemotherapy and radiation.  All the while he has lived a powerful testimony to the person and work of God.  He fearlessly proclaims the gospel with clarity and power.

One quote from his sermon was tweeted repeatedly, and should be drilled into our hearts and minds:

Don’t simply try to control your sin, but seek to murder it.

B.  The Emphasis on and Example of Adoption

Dr. Russell Moore (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Highview Baptist Church in Louisville) preached a sermon on adoption.  He made biblical application to both the gospel (we have been adopted by God) and of caring for orphans.  He spoke of the adoption of his own children.  Later Kevin Ezell (also from Highview and President of the PC) introduced his family with both birthed and adopted children.  Finally, a pastor and his wife were aided by the PC in the adoption of a small baby, Jedediah.

C.  Francis Chan’s Sermon

Francis Chan has been until recently a pastor in California.  He is not a Southern Baptist, but Southern Baptists’ were enriched by hearing him.  While I watched and listened, I was captivated by his message calling us to have a compelling desire to intimately know Jesus.  Seldom have I seen such authenticity and spiritual power in the pulpit.  Here are a couple of quotes, but you really need to find a this sermon and watch it for yourself to get the full effect.

Would anyone say, “the day I spent with <you>, felt like I was walking with Jesus?

When people meet you, do they think, “Wow, I can see that he/she REALLY loves Jesus more than anything”?

D.  David Platt’s Sermon

David Platt closed out the PC with a sermon version of his book Radical.  I have attended years of PC’s, but not sure I have heard a more challenging and gospel strong sermon preached in all of those years.  Even Matt Chandler chirped in with this tweet:

MattChandler74: @plattdavid preaches like he’s in pain and I’m grateful to God for him.

Here are some quotes from Platt:

(Proclaiming the gospel) This is not the reason we have a convention. This is the reason we have breath

Jesus Christ drank every last drop of the wrath of God turned the cup over & said ‘It is finished’ & that’s good news.

1.6 billion people have a knowledge of God only enough to send them to hell. We must do something. We must tell them.

God help us if we cannot sacrifice plans and percentages when He has called us to sacrifice our lives.

2.  The Bad

A.  GCR Promotion

Let me begin by saying that I am in favor of the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) report which will be presented to the convention on Tuesday.  I just don’t like feeling that I’m being sold by high-pressure salesmen.  Having worked in sales, I would not sell furniture or hotel rooms with these tactics -much less a spiritual thrust.

Ronnie Floyd made an impassioned plea for acceptance of the GCR report.  I’m fine with that.  However, I am sure that godly and wise men are differing and will differ on the best way to move Southern Baptists ahead.  The rhetoric comes dangerously close to suggesting that if you don’t buy the entire report, you are somehow less spiritual and almost not spiritual at all.

I believe a greater day is coming. Tomorrow is about the gospel of Jesus Christ! – Ronnie Floyd

Tomorrow must be a day of change. Will you rise up? – Ronnie Floyd

Again, I favor the GCR recommendations.  But is it really a vote on the gospel?  When put in these terms, those who disagree are presented as being anti-gospel.  I would much rather see a thoughtful rational for the recommendations rather than this type of force feeding.

3.  The Ugly

Andy Stanley, son of Charles Stanley and a pastor in Atlanta, spoke in the evening session.  To say that he spoke to mixed reviews would be an understatement.  Stanley gave a leadership presentation.  He did not preach a biblical sermon.  That is the point of contention.  He brought a Bible and laid it on a table behind him (he didn’t use the podium/pulpit that others used).  Near the end of the sermon, he quoted one passage.  Here is a sampling of the tweets:

steveweaver: Thinks Andy Stanley should have contextualized and preached the Bible tonight.

steveweaver:  Oops, just corrected by one of my church members watching online. He did bring out his Bible and lay it on the table.

DrJoelB: Andy Stanley is great on leadership but let’s b careful what we call preaching, when the Bible is barely mentioned

bradbrisco_kc: A Stanley is a gr8 leader & communicator but is any1 else troubled by his talk @#sbc2010? It is all abt vendor of religious goods & servce

sjcamp:  Listening 2 Andy Stanley. So Weak. His axiom so far is: church should b better, better, better. How about: holy, holy, holy?

sjcamp:  Andy Stanley. All pragmatics – no Scripture! Here we go again: the biblical command is to “preach the Word!”

chadwickivester:  Is #AndyStanley the #RobertShueller of the SBC?

timmybrister:  I don’t think there will be a more stark contrast in content & delivery than Andy Stanley & @plattdavid back to bac

timmybrister:  We are about to go from customer service Christianity (goods & services) to biblical Christianity (Jesus & taking up your cross).

CurtTreece:  Wish Andy Stanley would just “walk our the door and come back in again” and preach an actual sermon from the actual word of God.

DChrisGarner:  Andy Stanley is the worst preacher I’ve ever heard at a conference I’ve attended.

scottsull7:  Andy Stanley just managed to tell us how to make church “better” without once using Scripture as a reference. Just sayin’.

bradthayer1:  “Last point comes from the Bible. I know that’s a relief.” wow!

These comments were met head-on by those who were enjoying Stanley’s presentation.

It wasn’t the prettiest example of Baptist life.

4.  The Funny

XIANITY: BREAKING NEWS: @ErgunCaner won’t be speaking at#SBC2010, the cost of fitting him w/ both a mic & polygraph was prohibitive.

PuljolsBio: Sitting in Busch Stadium, hoping both @albertmohler and Albert Pujols hit homers tonight.

cliffmathis: Kneeling at Mac Brunson’s urging, size-challenged SBCers struggle to get up. Lend a helping hand, please.

cliffmathis:  Thinks this prayer would be a bit shorter if Brother Brunson had to kneel as well.

SBCmessenger:  Andy Stanley is going to be preaching expositionally from a John Maxwell book tonight.

SBCmessenger:  Mediating on 2 Bible verses b/f bed: 1. Apart from me you can do nothing, & 2. God helps those who help themselves.

fakebp:  BREAKING: Embarrassment ensues when @drmoore attempts to adopt @francischan following Chan’s #SBC2010 pastor’s conference sermon.

Do You Want to be Strong and Courageous?

Do you find yourself at times wondering if you have the strength for what lies ahead of you?  How do you muster the courage to tackle what you must?  We can learn from the life of Joshua – how he found the strength and courage to lead the nation of Israel into the land promised to them by God.

Joshua was the successor to Moses.  That, in and of itself, was a daunting task.  Then he had to lead a nation into battle and establish a new nation.  So where did he get his strength and courage?  In Joshua 1, more than once Joshua is told to be strong and courageous.  Each time he is told this, Joshua gains insight into a different source of this strength and courage.  These same sources apply to you and me as face our future.

1.  Strength and Courage come from the Purpose of God for your life

Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.

— Joshua 1:6

God was at work in the nation and had a role for Joshua to play in that work.  Joshua was living according the purpose for which God had made him.  How did Joshua know this was God’s purpose for him?

  • Joshua had spent years near the presence of God.
    • Whenever Moses ascended the mountain to meet with God, Joshua was at the foot of the mountain.
  • Joshua had experience in trusting God.
    • Joshua was 1 of only 2 men who entered this same land years prior and believed that God would provide victory to Israel.  The rest did not believe it, even though God had promised them.
  • Joshua had prepared by “interning” under Moses.
    • Joshua was often at Moses’ side.  He was learning from this great leader.

We can discover the purposes of God when we get close to God, trust him and learn from godly people.

2.  Strength and Courage come from the Precepts of God in your Life

Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you.  Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful 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.

–Joshua 1:7-8

The idea here is that when we chew on and do the Word of God, we gain strength and encouragement.  This morning before the sun arose, I sat on my balcony looking at a darkened lake surrounded by the trees and hills under the canopy of the sky.  I prayed and read God’s word.  The quietness gave me opportunity to chew on who God is and how to relate to him.  In particular, I read of how Joshua and Israel were deceived.  They would not have been deceived had they asked counsel of God.  As I chewed on that verse, I was reminded of how God has given me insight for life when I have asked his counsel.  I was also reminded of how things have gone when I did not do so.  I have a fresh vigor to ask the omniscient one for counsel.

3.  Strength and Courage come from the Presence of God in your life

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

What separates Christians from others is that Christ dwells in us.  We have the presence of God.  Do you long for more of him in your life?

4.  Strength and Courage come from the People of God in your life

And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go.  Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses! Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.”

–Joshua 1:16-18

One our own, we can grow discouraged and weak.  But God’s people have a way of spurring us on to godliness.  We need one another.  It is interesting that later in the book of Joshua, he returns the favor to the people.  Like they encouraged him, he encourages them to be strong and courageous.  Strength and courage are a direct result of genuine Christian fellowship.  Who has encouraged you in your life?  Feel free to identify somebody who has done this for you in the comment section below.