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Be strong and courageous.

I've become a Bible freak. For years, I've had a pretty good daily habit of reading the Bible. This year, I decided to take it up a notch. I got a reading plan and decided to read through the whole Bible in a year. We created bookmarks so the whole congregation could join in. I was inspired by a colleague in ministry who has been doing this every year for the last ten years. He got infected with the idea by Wayne Cordeiro. This must be what Paul was talking about when he challenged us to “provoke one another to acts of love and kindness.” I just love how the Body of Christ works, when the Body of Christ is working well. What I learned from my friend (who learned it from Wayne) is that to read the Bible as Living Word, you need time for some of it to marinate. You need time to read through a section, choose a verse or two for further meditation, journal on it in the power of the Holy Spirit, and allow the Lord to raise up in you a personal application. That's what I've been doing. Which leads me to the title of this blog: Be strong and courageous. As I've been reading through Deuteronomy and Joshua lately, I've found this line over and over again. Moses is giving his final instructions to the people. He is 120 years old. Pick a situation — any situation — and Moses has been there and done that. The people of Israel are about to cross the Jordan and this is where Moses gets off the train. He won't be going with them, so he's loading them up with fatherly advice. “Be strong and courageous,” he tells them over and over. “Do not be afraid or terrified, for the Lord your God goes with you.” “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” “Be strong and courageous … and I myself with be with 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.” Clearly, these people are headed into a situation with a lot of question marks around it. If they were just heading over the river for a picnic, there would not be such a need for so much reassurance. Moses knows it won't be easy, and Moses knows what his people are made of (their track record for “strong and courageous” has been pretty thin up to this point). And yet, he gives them his best hopes and his best encouragement. He speaks destiny into their lives. He talks to them as if they are capable of greatness. “Be strong and courageous,” he says. How is Moses so sure they are capable of such strength, of such courage? Because that is the nature of the walk with God. The great and wonderful promise of our faith is that no matter how tough the situation, our God is greater. Our God is stronger. And if we will only trust in that truth, there is no ordeal so terrifying that Our God can not bring us through. And if you never read the scripture, you might never get that wonderful word over your own life and over your own daunting journey ahead. This is what I have heard through the Bible this week, and I believe it is a word not just for the Israelites but for all of us who need to know that our God is able. Over whatever great and terrifying situation you are treading through right now … over whatever seemingly hopeless situation … over whatever thing it is that has you feeling weak and inadequate, our God longs to speak a mighty and life-giving word. Be strong and courageous!