11 ‘Now, my son, the Lord be with you, and may you have success and build the house of the Lord your God, as he said you would. 12 May the Lord give you discretion and understanding when he puts you in command over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. 13 Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the Lord gave to Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.
I was so struck by a number of things
- He has provided all we need, we just have to get on with the job (v14, [not quoted above])
- Getting on with the job involves simply doing what He has already told us to do, and has said He would enable ("as He said you would", v11)
- Getting on with the job involves keeping our hearts on Him and His way (v12). But the Lord is the one who grants us the discretion and understanding to do so!
- We've got to "Be strong and courageous." Above all, and this is clearly emphasised: "Do not be afraid or discouraged."
Yet, clearly God knows our hearts. We're so easily put off by the task, so easily down-heartened, so easily distracted, so easily pulled away in our walk, so easily overwhelmed. The difficulty of all we face so easily dominates our vision and plagues our minds, and we lose heart.
But God's call is clear - remember that He has called us to this work of His Kingdom, remember that He provides all we need, remember that it is His strength than enables us to walk the way, and so Do not be afraid or discouraged, rather Be strong and courageous in Him!!
I'm reminded of Jonathan, who when the rest of the Israelite army were quaking in fear, realised that the enemy were only 'uncircumcised men' ... they did not have God with them. And so he said "Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few" (1 Sam 14:6) and set out boldly in God's strength. He struck down 20, but God routed 100's of thousands. Yet the task had seemed impossible. It was, without God. But by taking Him at His word, throwing off fear and discouragement, and by looking to Him and by His Spirit putting on strength and courage, God brought about tremendous victory and encouraged the remainder of God's people to fight and triumph.
May God help us to again see His plans already laid out for us in our 'works of service already laid out for us to do' (Eph 2:10), to see that He has provided and will provide all we need, and so may we walk out boldly in His service, refuting fear and discouragement, but being strong and courageous in Him.
So, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged."