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  • Writer's pictureJohn Cox

Are you looking forward to what the new year will bring, or are you concerned, anxious, or maybe even fearful? Experience power, courage, and confidence instead! Read on and discover how!

Updated: Jan 2

2024 is here, and many of us may be carrying fears and uncertainties into the new year. God has not given us a spirit of fear but one of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV). This promise empowers us to walk courageously through every challenge. Let's delve deeper into this fact and how it can change our lives.


This piece is a retelling of one of my favorite sermons from my favorite pastor, Dr. Charles Stanley.


But first...


Why is the Late Dr. Charles Stanley my Favorite Preacher?

Dr, Charles Stanley had a unique way of preaching straight from the Bible. His sermons were always practical, teaching how god's word could be applied to our everyday lives. One of the principles he emphasized was the concept of courage, especially as it is described in Joshua 1:1-9.

2024 is here, and many of us may be carrying fears and uncertainties into the new year. God has not given us a spirit of fear but one of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV). This promise empowers us to walk courageously through every challenge. Let's delve deeper into this fact and how it can change our lives.

This piece is a retelling of one of my favorite sermons from my favorite pastor, Dr. Charles Stanley.


But first...




Understanding Fear and Courage

Fear is an internal alarm that goes off within us when we're facing imminent danger, feeling threatened, or feeling helpless to avoid or change a situation that is going to cause us harm. Conversely, courage is the quality of mind or spirit that enables us to meet danger or face opposition or the challenges of life with fearlessness, calmness, and firmness.


Joshua's Courageous Situation

After Moses died, God gave Joshua the task of leading His people into the land He'd promised to give them. Despite the fear and immense challenges that lay ahead, Joshua remembered God's past faithfulness and the way He fought for His people, providing hope and courage.

 

The Basis for Courage


The Lord's promises were the basis for Joshua's courage. Today, our courage as believers comes from our relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Although our situations certainly differ from Joshua's, the principles and promises revealed in the Book of Joshua are true for us as well.


God’s Promise and Joshua’s Responsibility

God promised Joshua that He would be with him and would not fail or forsake him (v. 1:5). This promise is also true for us. God lives within us through the Holy Spirit and walks with us through every fearful situation. Our responsibility, like Joshua’s, is to be strong and courageous and to do all that God commands in His Word.


The Key to Courage

The key to courage is daily meditation on God’s Word. It includes reading, believing, absorbing, applying, and obeying God’s Word. This is the same blueprint for victory that God gives us. We are to do what He says, when He says, and how He says to do it.


God’s Warning to Joshua

Just like Joshua, we must trust the Lord and courageously obey no matter what He may require of us. As we focus on Him and move forward in obedience, we will be sufficient for everything He calls us to do.


Fear, Terror, Apprehension - What’s in YOUR Heart?


So, what do you fear most in life? What part has God’s Word played in how you have handled your fears in the past? If you have made meditation of Scripture a vital part of each day, how has it helped you obey the Lord? If not, what can you do to make time for the Lord and His Word in your daily schedule?


As we step into 2024, let’s hold on to God’s promise of power, love, and a sound mind. Let’s face our fears with courage, knowing that God is with us. Let’s meditate on His Word daily and strive to live a life of obedience, reflecting His love and power to those around us.


His Power in Action

This piece wouldn’t be complete without an example of this from my life – all provided by God through my relationship with Jesus and indicating what God told Joshua thousands of years ago, applied to me in 2023.


About a month after having my sweet Lizzie put down after a battle with lymphoma, I began my search for another Golder Retriever. I prayed and prayed and asked for God to help me find one.


I checked local shelters, but no Goldens. I expanded my search to other shelters and Golden Rescue organizations in the state. They had them, of course, but their adoption fees were crazy expensive.


This went on for a few days and finally, at the very end of the list of dogs available for adoption in Durango, was a picture of a scared-to-death little Golden mix, from the Southern Ute reservation. She didn’t have a cute little bio like all the other dogs on the website. I felt sorry for her, but she was 4 (I wanted another older Golden.), and she was a mix. Not what I wanted.


I expanded my search and looked every day for well over a week, going back through the ones I’d looked at already, looking for the dog I wanted. Every time I looked, that scared little Golden mix was still there, the last dog on the list, still with no cute bio.

I can be a rather stubborn guy, and when I decide what I want, that’s what I want. And I wanted an older, preferably female, full-blooded Golden Retriever.


But every time I looked at that scared Golden mix, I could feel that stubborn case locked around my heart softening. One day I woke up and just knew, perfect or not, that little scared Golden mix was waiting for me.


The shelter itself threw up procedural roadblocks and when I finally got to meet her – she was still scared to death – I was told she couldn’t be adopted because she wasn’t “socialized” enough.


I didn’t throw a fit because I didn’t have to. But I did calmly, but firmly explain to their trainer (She was only following their rules.) why that was about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard and long story (sorry) short, while the trainer was carrying her out to my truck, she asked me what I was going to name her. I answered, “Grace. For God’s grace.”


God was right. He answered my prayers and provided me with the love, courage, and certainty in my mind that was required for the situation.


If you’re not a dog person, you may not understand why I chose this particular example to share. I have others, from surviving being off work for months due to an injury to some really specific financial issues. Those might resonate with a broader audience, but they don’t include the emotions of adopting a pet. Love is more important than money to me.


And by the way, Gracie adores her dad and the feeling is like-wise.


Thank you, Lord Jesus, I couldn’t have done it without You.



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