Being Strong and Courageous in the Midst of the Storm

Dr. Steve Viars July 12, 2020 Joshua 1
Outline

3 ways God’s presence gives us hope

I. Rejoice in Your Place in God’s Redemptive Plan

Joshua 1:2 - Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.

A. This is the fulfillment of a promise that has been over 700 years in the making

Genesis 12:7 - The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him.

Joshua 1:2 - …arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.

Psalm 119:89-90 - Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations; You established the earth, and it stands.

Ephesians 1:11-12 - …we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.

B. God’s promises have always included the power of His personal presence

Exodus 3:6-9 - He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. The Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.”

C. Even when His people fail in unbelief

Numbers 14:19-21 - Pardon, I pray, the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of Your lovingkindness, just as You also have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now. So the Lord said, “I have pardoned them according to your word; but indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 11:25-26 - …This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

II. Embrace the Promise that God will be with You Too

A. The people and Joshua knew that God had been unusually present with Moses

Numbers 12:4-8 - Suddenly the Lord said to Moses and Aaron and to Miriam, “You three come out to the tent of meeting.” So the three of them came out. Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the doorway of the tent, and He called Aaron and Miriam. When they had both come forward, He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; With him I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant, against Moses?”

B. God promises Joshua and the people He would continue to be with them

Joshua 1:5 - No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.

Joshua 1:9 - Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

C. Followers of Jesus have even stronger reasons to celebrate this provision

Isaiah 7:14 - Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

John 1:14 - And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Colossians 1:27-29 - …to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

Hebrews 13:5-6 - Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”

1 Corinthians 2:2 - For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness

I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name

When darkness veils His lovely face I rest on His unchanging grace

In every high and stormy gale my anchor holds within the veil

His oath, His covenant, His blood supports me in the 'whelming flood

When all around my soul gives way He then is all my hope and stay

When He shall come with trumpet sound, Oh may I then in Him be found

Dressed in His righteousness alone faultless to stand before the throne

On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.

III. Let Your Love for Scripture Confirm Your Desire to Draw Nearer to Him

Joshua 1:7 - Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.

Joshua 1:8 - This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

James 4:8 - Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…

- Here’s a question for you…

- what do Sylvia Goldsholl, Phil Corio, and Mr. P have in common?...does anyone know?...

- would a hint be helpful?...how about I show you a picture of each of them?...

- does that help at all?...we would probably say – respectfully of course – well, it appears that they are each quite old…

- You would be right about that…what ties them together is that they all survived the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918-1920, and they each contracted COVID-19 and recovered…

- and we all know terribly sad stories of people who didn’t…and we don’t want to minimize the heartache in any way…but that’s what makes stories like these so amazing…

- Mr. P is from Italy…he was born during the Spanish Flu pandemic that killed 600,000 people in Italy and an estimated 30-50 million people worldwide…

- when he was diagnosed with COVID 19 in northeast Italy earlier this year…everyone one assumed he wouldn’t survive…

- Mr. Corio’s age makes Mr. P seem like a mere youngster…

- He’s 108 and lives in New Mexico…he tested positive for Covid and his testimony was…”it was about the same as having the flu” in his case…

- Mrs. Goldsholl

- that’s another area of the country hit hard by COVID 19…

- she too is 108 years old…the nursing home where she lives had to be on lockdown like so many other places in our country…

- and that’s when her family received the terrible news that she had tested positive and was in isolation…

- then they received another call several weeks later reporting that she had made a full recovery…

- she said that her family supported her the best they could through all of this and that “love helps you get through things…”

- the people around the nursing home refer to her as their “Big sister” because of her outspokenness and advocacy for other residents…

- her family members said…

- “She has always had a reputation for speaking up…”…“If she thinks something is unfair, she’ll make sure people know.”“…If she wants to mail a letter to the mayor of New York City, she’ll mail the letter,”

- a nephew observed…”I don’t know her secret to longevity but she’s very feisty.”

- being able to say that you survived the Spanish Flu and COVID 19 and all the incredible events that occurred in between those bookends is pretty amazing…we’d certainly call people like this strong and courageous…when you’re summary of COVID as a 108 year old was – it kind-of felt like having the flu…you’re a tough individual for sure…

- well, as admirable as that is…what about when we can say that about a person spiritually?...

- in the walk with the Lord, that individual is strong and courageous…

- we would all agree those are delightful characteristics…and as we consider what this second half of the year might be like…they are also attributes that are especially needed by the people of God…

- with that in mind, please open your Bible to Joshua chapter 1…

- this summer we’re studying the topic of Overcoming Fear and Worry

- aren’t you glad that God has given us all the resources we need to handle this pandemic, and handle an election cycle, and handle the social unrest that plagues us in so many ways…

- in Christ we don’t have to succumb to irrational fear, or paralyzing worry…and we’ve already seen that in multiple places in both the old and new testaments…

- our passage this morning is all about how to be strong and courageous…we can say that with integrity because that pair of attributes is repeated 3 times in one chapter…

- and please keep in mind – God never calls us to do something, or to be something….without also giving us the grace, and the strength, and the wisdom to fulfill His calling well.

- with that in mind, let’s read Joshua 1….read Joshua 1:1-18

- we’re talking this morning about Being Strong and Courageous in the Midst of the Storm…

- I think it’s fair to say that the next six months are going to be especially trying for man and women around this world…

- the pandemic’s not going away…

- schools are going to try to open in the next 4-6 weeks…

- businesses and employers are trying to stay afloat in uncertain times…

- governmental leaders are trying to figure out the best policies to keep us moving forward…

- then we have a presidential election and all that drama that goes along with that…

- hopefully we will continue to discuss racial tension and ways to contribute to a society that is more just and compassionate to everyone…

- you could undoubtedly layer on all sorts of individual and personal challenges as well…

- but what do you think our world especially needs from the church of Jesus Christ this fall?...

- certainly not people who are weak, and worried, and fearful, and defeated…

- what a great opportunity [I hope you’re think about the next 6 months like that]…what a great opportunity to be a source of hope and direction as we seek to be strong and courageous in the midst of the storm…

- and what this passage of Scripture teaches us is that strength and courage is available to the people of God because of our Lord has made a way for Him to be personally present with people like you and me…

- let’s think this morning about 3 ways God’s presence gives us hope.

I. Rejoice in Your Place in God’s Redemptive Plan

- It’s probably hard for people like you and me to understand the significance of Joshua 1:2…

- Joshua 1:2 - Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.

A. This is the fulfillment of a promise that has been over 700 years in the making.

- Genesis 12:7 - The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him.

- please think about where that was in biblical history…after the failures of mankind in the Garden, and in the Flood, and at the tower of Babel…

- yet God comes to this childless man and makes an incredible promise to him…

- and if you’re part of our church – hopefully you can list the threefold provision of the Abrahamic covenant before you can remember a lot of other things…

- land, seed, and blessing…no wonder Abram’s response was to build an altar and worship a God who would make promises like this…

- and now, 700 years later, God comes to his servant Joshua…[the same name as our Jesus…the Lord saves]…and says…- Joshua 1:2 - …arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.

- can we pause and worship a God who has an eternal plan that He is working out with absolute perfection and faithfulness?...

- the Psalmist said - Psalm 119:89–90 - Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations; You established the earth, and it stands.

- Paul told the Ephesians…Ephesians 1:11–12 - …we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.

- this fall, our world needs people who are strong and courageous because they believe God has an eternal plan…and we consider it an incredible privilege to be part of seeing it accomplished…part of the beauty of this is…

B. God’s promises have always included the power of His personal presence.

- do you remember how the Lord introduced Himself to Moses at the burning bush?...

- Exodus 3:6–9 - He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. The Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. “So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. “Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.

- and each time Moses had some sort of objection, the Lord came back with the promises – I will be you…

C. Even when His people fail in unbelief.

- humanly speaking, this day could have come 40 years sooner…

- but even when the sons of Israel abandoned the Lord and the leaders they had been given in Moses and Aaron…and instead grumbled against them and refused to go into the promises land…Moses prayed and said…

- Numbers 14:19–21 - “Pardon, I pray, the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of Your lovingkindness, just as You also have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.” So the Lord said, “I have pardoned them according to your word; but indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord.

- that means that even if you would say – I’ve blown some of my opportunities so far in this pandemic to be strong and courageous…is there anyone here who would say they haven’t?...

- but if God would still be faithful to His covenants to His people after all their failures in the first five books of the Bible…there’s forgiveness for people for people like and me as well…

- and that’s one of main lessons that comes screaming out of this first chapter…God’s makes covenants/promises with people – and He always keeps them…

- that’s why it was so important when Jesus raised the cup at the last supper and said…1 Corinthians 11:25–26 - …This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

- this already leads to some important questions…as we consider the way God is working out His redemptive plan by leading His children to the promised land…

1. what aspect of God’s redemptive plan is God seeking to work out in your heart and life in the next 6 months?...how is He trying to refine you and mold you into the image of His Son?

2. what aspect of God’s redemptive plan is He seeking to work out in the lives of your spouse, and your children, and your grandchildren?...and ho ware you going to be sure that opportunity is not missed or squandered?...

3. How is God seeking to work His redemptive plan at your child’s school?...at your place of work?...in your neighborhood…with your extended family?...

- God doesn’t just make plans – He keeps them…people who truly believe that are characterized by strength and courage…

II. Embrace the Promise that God will be with You Too

The people, and Joshua knew that God had been unusually present with Moses.

- you may remember the event during the wilderness wanderings when Miriam and Aaron became jealous of Moses and began complaining about Moses’ wife…

- its’ amazing how twisted up things can get with the people of God…

- do you remember what happened next?...

- Numbers 12:4–8 - Suddenly the Lord said to Moses and Aaron and to Miriam, “You three come out to the tent of meeting.” So the three of them came out. Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the doorway of the tent, and He called Aaron and Miriam. When they had both come forward, He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; With him I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant, against Moses?”

- the question now that Moses has died is – would God’s presence be lost?...

- that’s one of the primary points of Joshua chapter 1…

B. God promises Joshua and the people He would continue to be with them.

- Joshua 1:5 - “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.

- Joshua 1:9 - “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

- those words were music to Joshua’s ears….

- now, there’s no question the presence would be different….because at this point Joshua and the nation of Israel have God’s Word…and you see even especially in this text the integral relationship between God’s presence and God’s Word…

- but this commitment was all they needed to have strength and courage for the task before them…I will be with you…I will not fail you or forsake you…the Lord your God is with you wherever you go…

- were does that leave people like you and me?...

C. Followers of Jesus have even stronger reasons to celebrate this provision.

- Joshua was a great leader…but he was an imperfect one…several of his failures will be explained in living technicolor in this book…

- which is why today we rejoice in someone greater than Joshua…it’s the Lord Jesus Christ…

- the prophet Isaiah gave this incredible detail about the coming Messiah…’

- Isaiah 7:14 - Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

- and Bible students know what that name means…God with us…

- which is why Christmas is one of our favorite holidays…because we can celebrate how…John 1:14 - And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

- and when a person admits his sin and places his trust in Christ as Savior and Lord…we can say with amazement along with the apostle Paul…Colossians 1:27–29 - to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

- the writer of Hebrews affirmed this as well…Hebrews 13:5–6 - Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”

- friends – the promise of God’s personal presence was a source of strength and courage to the children of Israel in Joshua’s day – that should be infinitely truer of people like you and me today…

- so, what could and should this look like in practical terms in the next 6 months?...

1. Regarding our response to the virus…

a. Ask the Lord to strengthen you with His presence as you seek to respond to educational challenges this fall…

- we don’t know yet what’s going top happen when K-12 schools open in a few weeks…

- but it’s a fair to say that you and your children will be asked to do some things that you don’t like or understand…

- and its also highly likely that whatever the policies are on day one – will change soon after that and then change again…

- I want to call on every member of our church to be joyfully obedient to the authority God has placed in your life…

- teachers and administrators don’t need parents threatening them and criticizing them at every turn…

- and please remember this – your kids are watching you…and you have an opportunity to model what Christlike submission looks like even when it’s hard…Don’t waste COVID-19…and when it becomes hard, and it will…rely on and rejoice in the presence of your sufficient Savior…

- If I have Jesus today…then I don’t have to get my way about masks, or e-learning, or sports schedules, or bus routes…and on and on…

- I would encourage you to send a note to your child’s administrator and teachers saying – we’re praying for you, we’re behind you, and we will joyfully follow your direction this fall…

- the same is true when it comes to our prayers for and responses to what unfolds over at Purdue…

- we could be in for some very rough sledding this fall…this community needs Purdue to be as strong as possible…and they need to be able to count on the church of Jesus Christ to be strong and courageous…not whiny and fearful…

- we really need a unified community response to this pandemic…God’s presence can help us be strong and courageous…if we have abundant spiritual blessings in Him…we don’t have to get our way on everything…

b. it’s also true in our response to local businesses…everyone is trying to figure out the best way to stay in business right now…so let’s ask our ever-present Savior to help us keep our snark in check…

- I needed some parts for my chainsaw recently…so I went to one place and they were all in on safety precautions…mandatory masks, a roped off area that took you directly to a table 6 feet away from the counter…they yelled over and asked you what you wanted…they went and got it and held the item out to you on a six foot pole with grippers at the end…took your credit card the same way…gave you your receipt and wished you a good day…

- that store didn’t have everything I needed…so I went to another place…absolutely no restrictions at all…and the guy told me they just had one of the best months in their history…

- I don’t know who’s right – but I believe in this – the person who owns the store gets to make the rules…so the people of God don’t need to be whining and complaining…we need to be strong and courageous and sometimes that just means being thankful and encouraging and submissive…

2. What about the upcoming election…I hope the most important issue to you this fall is not whether your preferred candidate is going to win the election…I hope your greatest concern is whether your name is found in the Lamb’s book of life…and that you’re speaking and living and finding your source of strength and courage in Him so that others might want to come know Him…

- nobody is going to say at the end of their life that they wished they spent more time arguing with people they didn’t even know on the internet…

- perhaps we should say with the apostle Paul -- 1 Corinthians 2:2 - For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

- what gives us the strength and courage to live that way is being convinced in the personal presence of our Savior…

3. I personally hope that the discussions about racial equality don’t die out right away…there’s so much work to be done there…and always has been…

- I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I had tried to watch a couple of movies that had been recommended to me but even though we had Netflix…I didn’t even know how to use it…so I actually ended up watching the wrong movie…

- well, since then I’ve somewhat figured it out and have been able to watch a couple recommended movies that have been very challenging and helpful…

- then I decided the other night to watch one I had always heard about regarding another aspect of racial hatred…Schindler’s List, about the Holocaust during WW II…I realize I’m probably the last person to have watched that movie but it was deeply moving to think about the terrible racial hatred that has existed throughout history toward Jewish men and women…it reminded me how there’s nothing new under the sun…

- and I hope that your ultimate goal however you speak into these issues today will be to proclaim the new life that is available in Christ…without faith, it is impossible to please God…

- having strength and courage comes from being assured of the personal presence of the Savior…and for sin cursed people living in a sin cursed world…that presence is only possible through the finished work of Jesus Christ…

- that’s why we say with the hymn-writer –

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness

I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus name

When darkness veils his lovely face I rest on His unchanging grace

In every high and stormy gale my anchor holds within the veil

His oath, his covenant, his blood supports me in the 'whelming flood

When all around my soul gives way He then is all my hope and stay

When he shall come with trumpet sound, Oh may I then in him be found

Dressed in his righteousness alone faultless to stand before the throne

On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.

III. Let Your Love for Scripture Confirm Your Desire to Draw Nearer to Him

- this strength and courage was not going to come in a vacuum…

- Joshua 1:7 - “Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.

- Joshua 1:8 - “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

- I hope as you think about the next 6 months, one of your primary goals as we turn the corner on the new year (and won’t that be a happy day)…is that you have drawn closer to Christ because you know His Word better…

- we have a precious promise in the book of James about that… James 4:8 - Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…

- [develop – helping us think through the best way to provide Bible study to our church family at all ages in the next 6 months – especially if we have to revert to more on-line format…]

- [develop recent conversation about people who have raised kids or grandkids – it’s amazing how much comes down to this question – Is the Word of God going to be your source of truth…or is it going to be something else?]…

Dr. Steve Viars

Roles

Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation

Bio

B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video