The ingredients of courage

Joshua 1:6-9 6 “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 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 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; 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 terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

People who really love to cook have discovered the joy of creating.  It is more than eating to them, it is an art form.  Whether it is a new experimental dish or one that is tried and true, they can make it to perfection with a touch of personality.  Most of these people don’t follow recipes in cookbooks either.   They add a little of this and a little of that until the flavor rises to their expectations.  It is a skill, one that I do not possess.  I can make a mean Mac N Cheese, though… from the box.

But a dish is only as good as the sum of its ingredients.  If you leave out an important ingredient, your dish will be doomed.  Just ask the baker who forgot the salt or the chef who forgot the seasoning.  Failing to use all the correct ingredients creates a flop.  Those vanilla cookies might taste like vanilla, but vanilla bricks probably wasn’t what you were going for.  My wife and I were recently watching a baking contest (sounds exciting, huh?) and one of the guys forgot to add the shortening.  Result: the cake tasted awful.   Ingredients are what make up the whole.

Apparently courage has ingredients, too.  Here in Joshua 1, God tells Joshua to have courage.  Now if I were Joshua, I would be pretty stoked about this whole talk with God.  Basically God tells him, “you can’t fail, because I’m going to make it happen.”  These are words that will make any Christian giddy.  He basically says, “I said I would do it, now I am going to use you to do it.”  I love it!  He doesn’t have to be terrified or discouraged, because the Lord promised him that He would be there wherever he would go.  It’s interesting that God would even mention these words terrify and discourage.  Maybe He knew it was inevitable that those things would be thrown Joshua’s way.  But He gave him the heads up not to worry; instead be strong and courageous.    The real source of this courage comes from knowing that God is going to be right there pulling it off with you. It comes from knowing that you are in the center of God’s will walking out the promise that He gave you.  So God infused Joshua with courage that day.  That’s the first ingredient.

There’s another ingredient, however, that is often overlooked.  That ingredient is following the commands of the Lord.  You see, Joshua was promised the victory.  He was told by God that He was going to be successful.  But God also instructed Him to do what he was told.  “Don’t turn to the right or to the left,” God said.  “Obey my words and my law that I gave to Moses.”  It was when Joshua did those things that he was promised success.  It was upon that condition that he was promised success wherever he would go.  If he would have chosen not to follow the Lord’s commands, he would have been  foolish to have courage facing the battles that lied ahead. Both ingredients, obedience and God’s promises, were required for this courage.

The same is required of us today.  We are foolish to take courage in the Lord’s promises if we are unwilling to do our part.  We cannot say, “Lord hand me the victory while I take a nap.”  In the same way, we cannot follow the 10 commandments and expect the Lord to give us everything we think we want.  Instead, we need to seek Him and ask what His promises are for us.  In order to have real confident courage, we need both.  These are the ingredients of courage that God gave to Joshua that day.  Try them out for yourself and see how it tastes.

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