Friday, June 30, 2006

Faith, Courage, and Opportunity

1 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: 2 “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. 5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe 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. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:1-9 (NKJV)

I was thinking this morning about opportunity. How many times do we have opportunity, and we fail to seize it? How many times do we see opportunity, and we think it's too much, and we fear, because it overwhelms us? Or how many times do we simply miss opportunity because we are out of position, not prepared, out of shape, or anemic?

I have had missed opportunities all my life, for all of the above reasons. All of a sudden though, here I am, almost 49 years of age, and God continues to lay opportunity before me. And all of a sudden, I realize my whole life has been a preparation for this moment. The book of Joshua opens with Israel, which had been in the desert for 40 years, at the doorstep of Canaan, the promised land. I'm not sure how old Joshua was - perhaps he was near my age, perhaps a little older. Nevertheless, God had prepared him for this very moment, as he had been in training as Moses' successor for many years. He was no longer the understudy or the assistant; he was now the leader.

I realize I am now in a similar position. I no longer have a manager or a leader, and I am now at the doorstep of my promised land. And there are giants in the land, and the people are strong - the cities are fortified and very large. The clusters of grapes are so large it takes two people to carry them. But I see a land I am able to take - one that is "exceedingly good" (Num 14:7), and one that the Lord will give me.

I find it interesting that the charge and promise God gave to Joshua, " strong and courageous... I will be with you...I will not leave you nor forsake you...," was given because God knew Joshua had already seen, and had previously declared, " not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread.. the Lord is with us. Do not fear them." (Num 14:9) Joshua already had faith; not in himself, but in the Lord. He was prepared - spiritually, emotionally, and physically. He was not intimidated by the size of the opportunity, the people, or the land. And he was not discouraged by everyone else's whining.

God honors faith - even more so, His faith meets ours and increases it exponetially. He allows us to do things others deemed impossible. He lets us see what everyone else declares too big, too overwhelming, or too strong, and declare it "exceedingly good."

Friends, I've made a decision - a choice - to declare the land in front of me as "exceedingly good," and I will not fear what others have reported before me. I will not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are my bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with me. I will not fear them.

Is there an opportunity before you right now? I can assure you, right now, you have either just missed an opportunity, or you are at the doorstep of one, or you are in the land, seizing the opportunity. I would encourage you, do not fear; the Lord is with you. Lay hold of that opportunity and enjoy what God has for you.

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

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