November 13, 2021
Joshua 1:7-9 (NIV)
7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 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.”
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
In all these readings and reflections on courage and encouragement I hope a few things have become evident. First, we are not talking about worldly encouragement. We are talking about the courage of God. Let’s remember who is speaking these words to Joshua:
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: Joshua 1:1
All of these words we have gathered around began here: the Lord said to Joshua
It is so easy to shift from the main thing to all the things. It is easy to slightly and slowly shift from “the Lord said to Joshua,” which is the main thing—to getting our focus on all the things of studying the Bible and reading, ruminating, rememberizing, and trying to pray more and then trying to be less busy and hurried and then someone says we need to be having a Sabbath day every week and then we get convicted about doing justice and caring for the poor and starting a discipleship band and before you know it we have just traded one set of habits and activities for another set of habits and activities. Then someone comes along and says we should read Brother Lawrence’s book, Practicing the Presence of God, and it then becomes less about all those things and more about just trying to think about God in all the things you are doing all day long and how this is what “praying without ceasing” means. It sounds good, but I’m not sure this is true to Larry’s work.
So friends, can we level-set here? We don’t have to throw out all the things, but we must ever and always be bringing it back to the main thing. So what is the main thing?
LOL, right?! Seriously, I’m not laughing. Jesus.
But it’s not Jesus as an idea or an ideal or a set of teachings or miracles or sayings or doctrine or theology or paradigm or practices or habits or disciplines or t-shirts. Just Jesus. The beautiful person of Jesus. And for the theologian types and the doctrine cops (whom I love), I’m not talking about Jesus without the Father and the Spirit, but without Jesus we have no idea of the Father or the Spirit. And for you beautiful biblicists out there ever battling the meddling Marcionites, I’m not talking about New Testament Jesus but Jesus of Nazareth—the Word from before the beginning of the Bible, who is its inspiration and author, its fire and fulfillment, and to whom every page points—the Word made flesh. Jesus, our God.
Courage is not the absence of fear, discouragement, or despair. Courage is the presence of Jesus. Jesus is all the courage of God in a human person. The main thing, my friends, is the right here, right now presence of the person of Jesus. It is not so much about practicing the presence. It is about presencing the person of Jesus.
the Lord said to Joshua
What did the Lord say? Be strong and very courageous.
How did Joshua know what the Lord was saying to him?
That’s where we are headed tomorrow.
[And by the way, I’m thinking and praying about leading a course in January on just this—Learning How to Read the Bible Better. If there’s enough interest, I’ll do it. If you are interested, Let me know here.]
Father, thank you for sending us Jesus without whom we would have no idea of you. And thank you for sending us the Spirit who makes Jesus known to us and brings him closer than our breath. How thankful we are to know you. Come Holy Spirit and help us to lift our hearts to Jesus, to set our minds on Jesus, to fix our eyes on Jesus, to focus our gaze on Jesus. He is our courage and to be with him is to be encouraged. Orient all the things into the thing of knowing Jesus, of presencing the person of Jesus—for our good, for others gain, for your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Are you seeing how all the things can get us off of the scent of the person of Jesus? Are you seeing how all the things can be brought into the service of presencing the person of Jesus? How are you seeing that?
P.S. THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR . . .
That lover of AMAZING BOOKS in your circles. We just got the Seeds in the SeedBarn on Timothy C. Tennent’s FOUNDATIONS OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH: A Resource for Catechesis and Disciple-Making. And. . . Oh. My. Gosh. Finally, an Orthodox Christian Wesleyan Reference Book for Catechesis and Disciplemaking. Want to bless your pastor this Christmas? Or your Bible Study Leader, or Sunday school teacher, or your favorite disciple-maker, or your Jesus-loving husband or wife, or anyone who wants to dig the well deeper on their faith? These are going to go fast so get yours today HERE.
For the Awakening,