What Scares You?
The beginning of Joshua’s leadership is a great example to the believer. In Joshua chapter 1, is where Joshua gets his marching orders from God. The scene is that Moses has just died and Joshua, who was his servant, his ace, his right-hand-man, and oh by-the- way, one of the 2 people who brought back a favorable report on the future territories of Israel, he’s about to take the lead.
Joshua is likely thinking to himself, “how am I going to lead such an emotionally fickle people!?” In chapter 1, God stretches out his desire of Joshua. In three verses, immediately, the Lord God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous, or to have courage. Courage is the ability to confront what scares you. Fear, danger, uncertainty, pain and intimidation are all things that fall under the word “scare.” For where the nation of Israel was to go (a war path obliterating their enemies), God needed a man with a spine of steel.
God tells Joshua he will be with him. Joshua’s story is full of battles that were won and internal conflict solved by the wisdom of the Lord. Before David, Joshua was that guy. If we were talking sports, he’s the Michael to your Lebron; the Sugar Ray to your Floyd; the Florence to your Allyson… you get the point.
He, being a God that does nothing without purpose, prepares Joshua by telling him three times to be strong and have courage. Three times to cement it in his spirit. (Mind you, this was before the Holy Spirit showed up on the scene). The word “strong,” translates from chazeq (khä•zak’), in Hebrew, and is used in many forms in the bible, as, to prevail, to repair, to hold (and to be strong). Courage ‘amats (ä•mats’) translates as, to harden, confirm, establish, fortify, steadfastly minded (and to have courage).
In three verses across the beginning of Joshua’s leadership, God gives him a lifetime of instruction. Likewise, God desires us to be strong and courageous – like Joshua! He desires us to increase over our circumstances. In doing so, THAT displays the power of the Lord. He has empowered us, through his grace to do so! Since God knew us before time, our circumstances, situations, pride, mistakes and short-comings of best efforts, DO NOT change the destiny He has for us.
Joshua was more than a man of war. He was a man of victory, obedience, vision and legacy. His life reflected the commission and blessing that God placed over him after the death of the previous leader, Moses.
What has God told you to do?
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
Oh to KNOW Christ!
Have you been burned? Had a migraine? Sinus headache? Been in love? Betrayed? Promoted? All unmistakable feelings, emotions and knowledge that once experienced, you would never mistake for anything else. We live in a physical, tangible world yet when we get into the most important relationship of our life – a loving relationship with Christ – we get deeply intellectual. We desire to know him, and we learn about him. We study him intellectually, but how many ways do we ask to know him experientially?
To experience God is to know him in a way that is unmistakable. There’s a song that says “if I never had a rainy day, I wouldn’t know that you could take all of my clouds away… I wouldn’t know you like I do” (thanks James Fortune!) But seriously, how many ways do you know God?
In scripture, He is listed as Our:
Advocate (Job 16:19), Comforter in Sorrow (Jer 8:18), Wonderful Counselor (Isa. 9:6), Strong Deliverer (Ps 140:7), Our Father (Isa. 64:8), a Sure Foundation (Isa 28:16), God who avenges me (Ps 18:47), my Help (Ps 33:20), my Guide (Ps 48:14), my Hope (Ps 71:5), Righteous judge (2 Tim 4:8), Lord of Life (John 8:12), Lord of the harvest (Matt 9:38), Refuge and Strength (Ps 46:1), Savior (Ps 42:5), a Support (2 Sam 22:19), Bread of Life (John 6:35), Friend (Job 16:20), Faithful & True (Rev. 19:11), a Hiding place (Ps. 32:7), Jealous (Ex 34:14), Head of the church (Eph 5:23), God of all comfort (2 Cor 1:3), King of Kings (1 Tim 6:15), Mediator (1 Tim 2:5), our Peace (Eph 2:14), Redeemer (Ps 19:14), my Salvation (Ex 15:2), a Good Shepard (John 10:15), the Good Teacher (Mark 10:17), and many other titles and names.
Experiencing God is knowing God and learning about him in a way that is as unique as your DNA. If you have never had a bad habit, then you may not know God as a deliverer, or a restorer. Maybe you have childhood situations with parents that prevent you from seeing God in those lights. In turn, it could cause you to only see your efforts in that situation as “God’s will.” Simply put – if God said it in His word, that this characteristic was Him, then it settles it. I’ll give you a great example: If your earthly father wasn’t a provider (or a good provider, and you had a strong mother who held it down for you/the family), it may be difficult for you to see God as a provider. So to compensate, you’ve done well to position yourself properly. Perhaps you’re a hard worker, or you have a good job and are always saving for a rainy day. While these activities are necessary for a successful adulthood, can you say you really experientially know God as a provider?
Testimonies spur our faith. Ask God right now, to reveal in your Spirit the areas he wants to show himself as YOUR _______. Also when you pray, ask God to reveal to you where He’s shut out, because of your past or through your own allegiance to self-efforts. He’s able to heal your heart and get you even closer. And remember, when you KNOW Him, there’s nothing more that can be said!
What does the voice of God sound like? Booming, thundering through the clouds? Maybe not. Everyone, seasoned or new, can relate to this question.
More often than not, people feel that “God’s voice sounds A LOT like mine!” Some believe that God’s voice sounds like our own so that we’re not alarmed or confused, etc. Whether we are new in Christ or experiencing high conflict in our spiritual lives (making it hard to hear God v. everything else), here are a few ways to know if a thought, direction or impression is coming from God.
1) It’s not breaking a rule/principle or promise of God or predicting evil. God is a God of principle, and never goes against himself. The 10 commandments, etc all serve purpose, so no direction from God will direct you against Christ. If these thoughts/directions come, the prayer for wisdom should happen. God could be leading you to pray about what you’re feeling/thinking (i.e. That car is going to get into a terrible accident, as you see them driving recklessly).
2) You’re completely sure of what to do but not because logically, it makes sense. God challenges us to follow Him and directs our pathways. Since that’s true, when we have full assurance that our next step is THAT step, it’s a good sign that you’re hearing from Christ positively. This does not always deal with the major life decisions, and could be as simple as being led to say something to or pray for someone. Often times, insight or revelation will fall into this bucket.
3) Your new direction/action is one that was not previously on your radar (AT ALL). Things that are “out of the ordinary” that we do, that result in positive effects for our lives can be attributed to God leading our hearts and taking our minds out of the equation. As you listen/follow more, the distinction becomes even clearer when it’s your own thought/voice/word versus God’s.
Remember, it’s a relationship that Christ wants with you. If you’re having a hard time distinguishing His voice, try getting back to the basics. If you’re experiencing His voice for the first time, trust that God has got your back — ‘cuz He does!
Territory – Boundary – Domain – Jurisdiction – Property – Control.
The territory of your life should be less like a NYC apartment and more like a continent. Physically, mentally, spiritually, in your work/social environments – what does your “land” look like? What areas is God attempting to upgrade you?
We pray for God to increase us (enlarge my territory – aka upgrade me), ask for financial provision (financial upgrades), for relationships to work out (upgrade my peace/love), etc. Are we intentional enough to know the extent that WE have to prep to execute what we’ve set in motion?
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. – Ephesians 6:12
The places you want upgrades in, are territories. Opposition exists against you “getting yours” because territories are guarded. Think: Everything is a system. A physical fight doesn’t take place when you want a promotion. You compete within the system of your work environment. Since you’re a child of God, there naturally are some dark forces that oppose you getting your bit of twinkle on! Sidebar –God desires your light to be closer to a supernova and not a single star but, I digress.
So what do you do?
Let’s talk strategy. Learn to recognize what happens when you’re infringing onto a gate. Why? Shouldn’t I recognize when I’m in the war?
Noah built the ark before the flood. Take a page from him. You need to yell “SQUAD UP!!” to your allies: Your prayer life, prayer partners, personal time with God and any mentors that you have in areas that you’re praying for an upgrade need to be aligned to do battle. For example: You pray for provision (after all, the world doesn’t need more resources – YOU do), so you begin to look at ways to save and perhaps build. In time, new opportunities come but you’re slow to reply to emails, get intimidated by clients you have to present to, the people you need to meet, or places the opportunity takes you. There may be mental noise like, “man… I can’t mess up. I hope I’m prepared. I bet they think… I sure hope…”
Negative mental chatter really translates to “maybe God didn’t orchestrate this right and I’m concerned or I’m about to fail (Read: God set you up to fail, aka, a trap).” That action/mental chatter is evidence of your arrival! The gate is protected, battle is beginning. God says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11
Recognizing that you’re approaching a gate, before the battle is LOST, helps you fight with God-given knowledge and power. Remember, you ALWAYS WIN.
Ready yourself and know without a doubt that you fight FROM victory, not FOR it.
“To those who believe, no explanation is necessary. To those who do not believe, no explanation will ever be adequate.”
How many ways are our lives and the things around us, explained?
We rarely force our doctors to explain how medicines work or ask an aeronautical engineer to unpack how a plane flies in the sky. Have we sat and talked with our relatives who have had joint replacement surgery to elaborate on how their body did not reject the new joint/limb? In personal circles, we rarely force a conversation with family members or friends who choose to live limited in their mentality, or with those who continually make terrible decisions.
When it comes to the simplicity of the gospel, we enter conversations to prove the existence of a God, who’s handiwork is evident. Someone please tell me where the wind comes from? Elaborate to me how the human body is able to fix itself, and, what single- celled organism developed fast enough (over the million? Billion? years – we can’t even agree to the age of the universe) to be the complex humans we are? What about eye movement and the source that causes us to have dreams? What about knowing what trigger causes the mother to enter into labor?
As Christians, we are placed in the earth to shine light into dark places. Before you jump into your next discussion about how to prove the existence of God, just ask them one of the questions above. And if they have no problem accepting the fact that something beyond their comprehension can be possible, ask them, for a moment, to apply that same philosophy to Christ. Their day may actually be brighter.
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! – Romans 11:33
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:9
Happy Witnessing & Cheers!