Strength and Courage for 2019

Dear BPCWAians, Today is our first worship for the new year. For many of us as we look back on 2018, we often say to one another “how time has flown by”. Will it be such for us in 2019 in a peaceful way or will it be fraught with trials? Some in our midst are going through or have gone through major changes, some have been going through personal trials. Perhaps you ended off 2018 very differently from how the year started off. Now, you look at the new year ahead. Do you fear what 2019 will bring? I recap in my Pastoral today the Watchnight Service message, taken from Josh 1:7-9, to reinforce and prepare our hearts for whatever lies ahead of us.

Why would God give you such absolute assurances? Joshua was fearful as he faced what lay ahead after the death of Moses. But Joshua was not going to do it alone, for God promised that “as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (Josh 1:5). Joshua was promised that his work would prosper (v7), and that every place that his foot would tread upon would be given to him (v3). Again, the Lord reiterates that “the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (v9). The reason that God gave such strong promises of His presence with Joshua was that he was now to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land. “Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.” (Josh 1:6) The promised seed would come from the nation of Israel. Joshua wasn’t going out simply on his own conquests. He was going to do God’s purpose through the nation of Israel. Joshua would not fail, because his purpose was to do exactly what God wanted him to do. As long as that was so, God would be with him. Today, we have similar promises in Heb 13:5 “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” and Matt 28:20 that “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” How can we be absolutely sure and confident that God will keep these promises to us, personally and as a church? Our purpose may differ from Joshua’s, but the Lord is the same. The answer is that as long as we are set to follow and obey God’s purpose and will for us on earth, He will be with us. Conversely, if what we are planning to do is for our personal gain, our personal wealth or our personal glory, we cannot say that God will be with us to help us. God’s promise is for every believer who has chosen to walk in God’s will. The purpose for strength and courage is to do God’s will, not for achieving our carnal self centred ambitions and desires. Are you going to do God’s purposes and live for Him in 2019? If so, then He will be with you to help you.

What do I need strength and courage for in 2019? If we were asked this question, some may answer that they need strength and courage for exams, for their families, for their work, and to face health issues or loneliness. Joshua was going to war and to conquer. One would think that since Joshua was fearful, he needed strength and courage for battle. But instead, God told Joshua the area in which he needed strength and courage for. “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left.” (Josh 1:7) The strength and courage that we need when we are facing anything is actually in obeying God’s Word! We often think we need strength and courage to face and solve problems, but God knows that in every situation and choice of life, the area that we are most fearful of is actually in obeying God’s Word. Joshua was to focus on, and not be fearful of obeying everything God commands. We know what God expects of us in bringing up our children. But we fear that if we bring up our children as God wants, it will “disadvantage” the child in the world. We fear that if we are not worldly wise and pursue grades and skills at all costs, we may not get the job or promotion that we want. If we do all the law and not deviate in the slightest by giving ourselves excuses to disobey, we will always succeed in God’s purposes. God knows that there will be difficulties and that they must fight. Manna would stop after they entered the Promised Land. the Promised Land. They would have to work for the success that God intended them to have. Likewise, we may face problems even when doing God’s will. God’s promises do not negate human responsibility. In fact He gives promises to encourage us to act! 2019 may be fraught with difficulties as you seek to obey God and do His will. But as long as you put God’s kingdom first, do everything for people to know Him and obey Him in everything that you do, you will succeed. Strength is a conviction in your heart and mind, making a decision to go in a certain direction. It is when we know what kind of father, mother, child, worker, student we should be, we make up our mind to do what it takes to be that. Next then is faith. Even if we are afraid, we must trust God and go in that direction because we know it is God’s will. Obeying God requires strength and courage in our decisions and actions. Have you avoided choices and delayed decisions in obeying what God has made known to you because you do not have the courage to do what He says? Have faith in God as you obey Him in 2019.

What must I do to have strength and courage to the dot in 2019? Josh 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Joshua had to study God’s Word. God’s Word had to be on the tip of his tongue and in his heart. But studying and meditating is useless if it is not done. We must remember that studying God’s Word is for the purpose of obedience. Do not give excuses not to study God’s Word in 2019. Make it your priority to come for Fellowships, Bible Studies and sign up for FEBC classes. Otherwise, something else will take its place. If studying God’s Word is not your priority in 2019, you know by experience that many other things will easily become priority over it.

Will God be with me in 2019? Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. (Josh 1:9) If you will to do God’s will, live according to His Word in every area of our life, do not be dismayed. Do not panic. In the battles that will follow, there will be real sweat and real pain. But God will be with you in them to help you grow spiritually. May this be the testimony of your personal life in 2019. May this be the testimony of BPCWA in 2019.

Yours in our Lord’s service