Choosing Faith Over Fear ….
Life is filled with challenges for each of us regardless of our backgrounds, education, employment, finances, or our season of life. Perhaps the greatest challenge for us is to “choose” to go forward in faith and not fear.
In Joshua 1:9 we find the Lord telling Joshua (successor to Moses as the leader of Israel), “This is my COMMAND—be STRONG and COURAGEOUS! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Who would want to try to fill the shoes of Moses? He led them out of Egypt headed to the Promised Land of Canaan; God’s will and purpose for them. They’re at the Jordan River preparing to cross over to the Promised Land. Background – they were at the same place 40 years earlier and voted to not go forward due to the report of the 12 spies. Ten reported the land is full of milk and honey, but there are giants there. Have you noticed that a giant seems to always be between us and a promise of God? Two of the twelve gave the same report but declared that we (through God) can overcome the giants. Israel chose fear over faith and wandered in the wilderness for the next 40 years. Now, 40 years later, Israel is at the same location and God is commanding Joshua to “Be STRONG and COURAGEOUS! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Will Joshua choose faith over fear, or take another lap in the wilderness?
The Enemy Will Always Place a Giant Where God Places a PROMISE
Aren’t we like that today also? Challenges are obvious: Covid-19, upcoming election, riots, loss of jobs, marriage, family, etc. None of us can determine the future, but each of us can choose how we’re going to face the future. Our God is greater than our greatest challenge!
We all face CHOICES. God won’t make our choices for us. If He did, we would be robots. No, we’re created in His image and have a free-will. Deut. 30:19 says “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now CHOOSE life, so that you and your children may live.” Proverbs 16:16 says, “…CHOOSE understanding rather than silver.” Others can help us make decisions, but ultimately, we make our decisions. Question, if you don’t make your decisions, who will make them for you? Former President Reagan tells the story from his childhood of a shoemaker who was making a pair of shoes for him. The cobbler asked him if he wanted a round or square toe on the shoes. Regan couldn’t make up his mind and continually postponed making a choice. Eventually, the cobbler made one shoe with a square toe and one with a round toe. Regan said “When I looked at the shoes, they taught me a lesson. If I didn’t make my own decision, someone else would make the decision for me.”
We all make decisions. The only question is, will our decisions be based on faith, or fear? The Lord told Joshua “This is my COMMAND—be STRONG and COURAGEOUS! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Why? Joshua was facing real giants in the Promised Land. Whatever our giant is today, why not face that giant in faith… faith in God; that God is bigger than our giant. It’s a CHOICE.
May I share with you three principles that may help you to face the future in FAITH and not fear. First, MANAGE the choices we make. As we consecrate or devote ourselves in following the Lord, realize it’s not a one-time act or decision. It’s about a lifetime. I made a decision to receive Christ decades ago, but I’m still managing that decision daily. I made a decision to marry my lovely bride, Karen, 46 years ago and have been managing that decision ever since. I made a decision to tithe to the Lord when I was a new Christian in college at SEMO and working for minimum wage. I’ve been managing that decision ever since. Karen and I made a choice decades ago to walk by faith and not fear and are still managing that decision today. Life is a about stewarding or managing the CHOICES we make. Have we failed at times? Absolutely. Even though we’ve failed at times, it doesn’t make us a failure. God uses people who fail. How do you know that? Because there aren’t any other kind of people.
God Uses People Who Fail. Why? There Aren’t Any Other Kind of People
Second, Keep the WORD (Faith) in our Mouth. Joshua 1: 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.” Meditate means to think about; to roll over in our minds; to mutter or speak with our mouth. As we do so, the DNA of God becomes a part of us. Proverbs 18:21 says “The tongue has the power of life and death…” Our words can either build us up, or tear us down. The most important person we speak to daily (besides the Lord) is ourselves. Self-talk is what we say to ourselves. The average person can speak up to 150 words per minute. Some more, some less. Yet, we can internalize (self-talk) up to 500 words per minute. Too often, we allow our old nature, our selfish nature and society to dominate our internal self-talk. It’s normally negative and not positive, destructive, not constructive. Why should we allow God-talk to become our self-talk? Speaking the truth of scripture to self (Godly truth) brings freedom. Godly truth provides us the avenue to be “transformed” (Romans 12:2) to become more like God. That’s why our real daily battlefield is often in our mind; our thought life. Prov 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”
The enemy continually has a battle going within our minds. He’s called the accuser of the brethren, the father of lies, etc. When we listen to him, we walk in fear, not faith. Did you know the Bible tells us over 300 times not to fear? Why is that important? Because the enemy’s faith is called fear. When we think, meditate, speak or walk in fear it moves us “away” from God. When we think or walk in love, it draws us “closer” to God. Why? Because God is love. What’s your point? Our faith and our words are connected. Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). May I encourage you to identify God’s promises and begin to memorize, mediate and speak them over you and your family daily? We are not who we feel we are, because our emotions change more often than our Missouri weather. We are who God says we are. That’s a decision we make, but we learn to manage it in every season of life.
Our Faith and Our Words Are Connected
Third, REMEMBER HIS faithfulness (Memorial Stones). We find the story of God telling Joshua to build a MEMORIAL out of stones in the Jordan River in Joshua 4: 1-7. Why memorial stones? So, the Israelites could tell their children and generations following of God’s faithfulness. The memorial is not about us, it’s about God’s faithfulness to us in our past. It’s bragging about God-moments in our past. When we’re reminded of HIS faithfulness, it helps us to choose faith over fear for whatever our current challenge is. Can we identify some memorial stones in your past? Have we told those stories to our children and grandchildren? HE will be faithful to us in our future.
Our first year of marriage we attended a spiritual service in which Karen received a prophetic word which was in essence, “Daughter, I have charge over thee….” She’s a type 1 diabetic for 49 years. Numerous publications tell her that she will have parts of her body amputated, severe eye problems and a myriad of other health problems. She’s not in denial of the reality of her health condition. Yes, she has faced numerous challenges and manages her diet and exercise to the best of her ability. On several occasions when she’s faced a major challenge, she finds peace in the prophetic word received some 45 years ago. The Lord has been so faithful. Does she still have challenges? Absolutely, but she’s choosing to face the future in faith and not fear.
Whatever challenge (giants between you and God’s promises and will for your life) you’re facing today, may I encourage you to CHOOSE faith over fear!
“This is my COMMAND—be STRONG and COURAGEOUS! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1: 9