Today our message is about Finding Courage. The dictionary defines courage as “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger or pain without fear.” When do we need courage? When we face difficulty, danger or pain. In life, God is going to allow each one of us to be tested by difficulty, danger and pain. God’s intention is not to hurt you or to punish you, but to make you stronger. He wants to prepare you for the future, just as He prepared Joshua in …
Joshua 1:9 (ESV) Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
When did God give these instructions to Joshua? When Joshua’s mentor and Israel’s leader Moses had just died. It was now up to Joshua to assume leadership of Israel and lead the nation to conquer the promised land. In this verse we see that being courageous is the opposite of being frightened. When a person is frightened about what they are facing, they often become paralyzed, not knowing what to do. Like a deer in the headlights. On the other hand, when you have courage, you are ready and prepared to move forward, not being bound by fear. This verse also provides the answer to how we can replace fear without courage. It’s by recognizing that God is with those who are following Him, as Joshua was. God is obviously not with those who are not following Him.
In case, you were wondering if courage was just for people in the Old Testament, let’s look at …
1 Corinthians 16:13 (NIV2011) Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.
Sounds pretty similar, doesn’t it. We must be on our guard, because there’s an enemy lurking, there’s danger out there. And God is calling us to be strong and courageous. As a believer, God has a promised land for you. Now heaven is the ultimate promised land, but God has a promised land for you on earth. The promised land for us is not a geographic location, it’s a place of fulfilled promises, it’s where you achieve God’s plan for your life. You’ll need courage to reach your promised land. Standing between you and your promised land is an enemy. If you shrink back in fear, you won’t get to your promised land. But with courage and faith in God, you can.
In the Old Testament, most of Israel did not make it to the promised land. Today, many believers miss out on fulfilled promises because of fear and a lack of courage. Today, we’re going to look at a little known Faith Hero named Caleb. Caleb and Joshua were the only ones who demonstrated the courage needed to get to the promised land. We’re going to learn how faith in God produces extraordinary courage. Faith and courage begins as we …
Numbers 13:2 (ESV) “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel. From each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a chief among them.”
God directed Moses to send 12 spies into the promised land, the land of Canaan. Notice that the Lord said that He was giving the land to the people of Israel. That was God’s promise, that is why we often call it the promised land. If God was giving the land to Israel, why were spies sent? They were to …
Numbers 13:17-18, 20b (ESV) Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan and said to them, “Go up into the Negeb and go up into the hill country, and see what the land is, and whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many, … Be of good courage and bring some of the fruit of the land.”
The spies were to get the lay of the land, which would be important for the military conquest. They were also so find out where the defenses were strong and where they were weak. Whether they were many soldiers or few. The purpose of the spying was not to decide whether they could conquer the land or not. God had already promised to give it to them. The purpose of the spying was to prepare for Israel’s part in seeing God’s promise fulfilled. It takes faith and action to see God’s promises fulfilled. Notice that Moses concluded by telling each of the spies to be of good courage. To not be fearful or discouraged by the difficulty of the conquest. But to be encouraged by the good fruit of the land, which God had promised to give them.
The spies came back to Moses and reported that the land was flowing with milk and honey. They brought back some amazing fruit of the land. All of the spies saw and experienced the same things in the land. Yet, now we’ll see that they drew two different conclusions. The first group of ten spies began to talk about how strong the people were, how heavily fortified the cities were and that there were giants in the land. Yet, one of the spies drew a different conclusion from seeing the same things.
Numbers 13:30-31 (ESV) But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.”
Caleb, in the minority, had faith to believe that what God had promised, He could deliver. He hadn’t lost courage at seeing the strength or the size of the inhabitants of the land, their enemies. The other ten spies concluded that since their enemies appeared stronger than them, they could not go in and conquer the land. They had lost courage to believe in God’s promise.
The first step in finding courage for your own life is to have a confident faith in God’s promises. A faith in a God who is far bigger than any enemy or difficulty you may encounter in life. The majority of people around you will be doubters, grumblers and complainers. Don’t listen to them, listen to God and people with courage, like Caleb. What promise from God’s Word are you seeking to hold on to today?
It might be a promise of physical healing. You may be battling an illness in your life that the doctors may have no answer for. God’s Word to you this morning is “do not be frightened, be strong and courageous. Believe in the Lord who is your healer.” Take a step of faith at the end of this service to come forward to be anointed with oil and prayed for. Maybe you have been prayed for in the past. Yet, Jesus told us to keep on praying until the answer comes. Take a courageous step and believe in God’s promise. Next …
Numbers 14:1-2 (ESV) Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!
Who did all the congregation of Israel listen to? It shouldn’t surprise us that they listened to the fearful ten spies rather than the courageous two spies, Caleb and Joshua. The majority is always right, right? Wrong. Usually the majority is wrong. The people believed these ten spies over the promises of God, over the leadership of Moses and Aaron. In fact, they know wanted to choose a leader to lead them back to slavery in Egypt. Why? Because they were so frightened of the enemy in the promised land, they feared they would all be killed in the attempted conquest. Somebody needed to step forward and speak boldly for God, someone needed to …
Numbers 14:6-8 (ESV) And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey.
Joshua and Caleb couldn’t believe what the people were saying. After the Lord had delivered them from Egypt and led them to the border of the promised land, they wanted to go back to Egypt? So they tore their clothes in sorrow and mourning at the people’s lack of faith. Caleb gave a good report about the goodness of the land. And the Lord would bring them into land and give it to them. He told the people not to fear the people of the land because the Lord was with them. At those words, the people began shouting to stone Caleb and Joshua. Suddenly, the glory of the Lord appeared and He spoke to Moses.
Numbers 14:22-24 (ESV) none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it. But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.
God noticed the vast difference between the fear and rebellion of the people and the faith and obedience of Caleb. The people twenty and older who had rebelled against the Lord would die in the dessert. Only Caleb and Joshua would be able to enter the promised land. Why? Notice the words that God uses to describe Caleb. Caleb was the Lord’s servant. He had a different spirit and follow the Lord fully. Not only would Caleb come into the promised land, but his children would also flourish there. God rewards courage.
At one point in their report, the fearful spies said “we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” Grasshoppers against giants, doesn’t seem like a fair fight. All the fearful spies saw was their enemies and themselves. What were they missing? They were missing God and His promises. They were afraid to speak boldly for God. What enemies are standing between you and God’s promised land for your life? Or this might be an enemy standing between a family member or relative and God’s promise for their life.
It might be an enemy of a besetting sin, an addiction of one kind or another that you can’t seem to overcome. Could be alcohol, drugs (illegal or legal), smoking, pornography or another sexual addiction? Or it could be something seemingly less bad, like overeating, anger or depression? God doesn’t want you to think of yourself as a grasshopper to your enemy. He wants you to be a giant killer who wins the victory with God’s strength. If you need help in any of the areas I’ve mentioned, you also can come forward for prayer. And I would strongly encourage you to get involved in our Living Free group on Thursday nights. Begin to think and speak boldly for God. Finally …
Let’s pick up our story of Caleb 45 years later. Israel had wandered in the desert for 40 years. All the adults over twenty had perished, including Moses, except for Caleb and Joshua. Caleb and Joshua were now in the promised land, winning the victory over the enemies their. Caleb begins to recount how he had got to where he was.
Joshua 14:7 (ESV) I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought him word again as it was in my heart.
The courageous and bold words that Caleb spoke to Moses and the whole of Israel were words that came from his heart. Caleb’s heart was filled with faith, so his words were filled with faith. Whatever is in one’s heart comes out in their words, for better or for worse. Caleb had fought with all Israel as they conquered the promised land. Now he was ready to receive God’s promise for his own life and family. He continued to remember how he had …
Joshua 14:8 (ESV) But my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the LORD my God.
The fear-filled doubting words of the majority of the spies sapped the courage of the rest of the people. Their hearts melted in fear, they didn’t have the courage to go against the giants of the land. Caleb did not listen to their words, he chose to follow God whole-heartedly in faith. People who follow God whole-heartedly will never be in the majority. But they will be able to …
Joshua 14:10-11 (ESV) And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming.
Caleb had followed the Lord for 40 years in the desert and fought with Israel for 5 years in conquering the promised land. God had sustained him through all those years and he was still strong enough to fight. So Caleb claimed his reward in the promised land.
Joshua 14:12 (ESV) So now give me this hill country of which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the LORD said.”
The other ten spies were afraid to go into the land because of the Anakim, the giants who were there. Undoubtedly, the giant Goliath was one of the last of Anakim from Gath. Caleb was not afraid at 85, because the Lord was with him. He believed that he would drive them out according to God’s promise. The land was given to Caleb and he drove the Anakim out, killing three of the giant sons of Anak in the process.
Caleb had believed and held on to God’s promise for 45 years. He could have believed his was too old to defeat the giants in the land, but not Caleb. He was as courageous at 85 as he was at 40 years old. Still following the Lord with his whole heart. Some people are fearful and not courageous because they think they are too young. thers think they are too old. Yet others think they are too weak or not smart enough. God has victories for you to win, enemies for you to conquer. Don’t count yourself out, don’t think you can’t receive God’s promises for your life. Believe in God’s promises for your life, not just for others or for Bible days.
Speak boldly for God, both to yourself and to others. Don’t listen to the grumblers and complainers. Continue to follow God whole-heartedly, even though you’re in the minority. Follow Him until you claim your reward in the promised land, here on this earth and in heaven.